NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Speaking during a news conference on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo went after the federal government’s response to the alarming number of coronavirus cases that have been popping up in other parts of the country.
Cuomo launched a blistering attack on President Donald Trump, using as ammunition the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading medical expert on the virus, who said he wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. soon sees 100,000 new cases per day.
“The buck stops on the president’s desk. That’s a fact. He was in denial of the COVID virus since Day 1,” Cuomo said, and then paraphrased earlier statements made by Trump, “‘It’s just the flu. It’s gonna go away. It’s gonna be a miracle. It’s not going up; it’s only the testing that’s going up.’ He denied the reality of this situation from Day 1.”
While Cuomo said the data indicates that New York has gone from the state with the highest rate of infection to the lowest, the situation in parts of the South, West and Southwest has become dire, specifically in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona.
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In all, 35 states are seeing increasing infection rates. In what Cuomo called a “great irony,” the U.S., is now seeing 40,000 cases per day, while Europe is only reporting 4,000, and as a result the European Union has announced a travel ban against Americans.
“(Europe) had it. They dealt with it. They sent it to us. We’re going higher and now they ban us,” Cuomo said.
The governor said the main reason the U.S. in the situation it’s in today is because many states decided to reopen quickly, at the president’s behest.
“‘Reopen right away. Reopen right away. Liberate those states. I had all the demonstrations every day. Liberate, liberate, liberate. You’re artificially keeping the economy closed. There’s no reason.’ That came from him,” Cuomo said. “You know what’s funny in this country? Sometimes when the president speaks, people listen, even if the president is Trump. Sometimes they listen, and those Republican governors listened, and a lot of Republicans listened, and won’t wear masks. (Trump) is holding rallies, bringing thousands of people together, in close quarters, no masks. What signal did that send to the American people?
“Well, you know what Mr. President? Reality wins, every time,” Cuomo added. “You don’t defeat reality. Denying reality does not defeat reality. And he has lived in denial, and he has been denying the scientific facts from Day 1. He has been denying what every health expert in the United States of America was saying.”
Cuomo said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back on March 13 projected that at least 2 million people would be hospitalized.
“You know how many 2 million is? The nation only has 900,000 hospital beds,” Cuomo said, later referencing the memo by Trump assistant Peter Navarro that said 1 million people could die from COVID-19. “(Trump) denied it all … and now the country is suffering because of the president.”
The governor reiterated what he said earlier this week when he begged the president to change course and start setting an example by wearing a mask.
“The first thing he can do is come clean to the American people and admit the threat of this virus, admit you were wrong,” Cuomo said.
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As for New York’s coronavirus numbers, the governor said the state is still making significant progress, with all primary metrics either down or holding steady. He said the main reason for that is due to the state’s test and trace program, and people mostly complying with mask and social distancing guidelines.
Cuomo said New York has conducted 4 million tests, out of a population of 19 million. That’s more per capita than any country.
“That’s the key to our success. If you test, you will find people who are positive,” Cuomo said. “And if you find people who are positive you then have the tracing in place. You can find out where they got it, you can isolate them, and you reduce the spread. That’s how it works. That’s how we always said it would work.”
He said there are 750 testing sites state wide and any New Yorker who wants to get a test can now go get one.