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Era Of Restraint Ends As Cuomo, Trump Trade Criticism

File photo: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had taken pains since the coronavirus pandemic took hold weeks ago to avoid criticizing President Donald Trump, saying the state would need the federal government to save lives. That ended Friday.

President Trump sent a tweet critical of Cuomo during the governor’s late-morning daily coronavirus briefing in Albany. The Republican wrote Cuomo “should spend more time doing and less time complaining,” adding, “Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking!” Cuomo responded that the state needs federal assistance to ramp up testing before state shutdowns can end. The Democrat said “the federal government cannot wipe their hands of this.”

He then responded to Trump for several minutes, saying "I don't need the president of the United States to read the Constitution for me. Maybe he should have read the Constitution before he said he had the power to open the states."

“I have no agenda but delivering for the people of this state and without ego," Cuomo added. "You want me to say thank you? Thank you for doing your job in helping build Javits and sending the U.S. Navyship Comfort. Thank you for participating in a modicum of federal responsibility in a national crisis – which you know is a national crisis because he declared a federal emergency.”

Later, Cuomo was asked why he responded to Trump directly.

“Well this is an important moment," Cuomo said. "He’s saying he doesn’t want to provide funding to the states and he doesn’t want to help on testing. And I can tell you the states can’t do it otherwise. And if this testing doesn’t work that’s a serious problem. I don’t care about his politics but if we don’t have federal help on testing — that’s a real problem.”

Cuomo continues to press for more monetary aide from the federal government. The governor wrote a joint letter to the President and Congress with Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, asking for $5 billion to help state governments pay for coping with the crisis.  

President Trump said Thursday that it’s up to the states to determine when to reopen businesses and lift stay-at-home orders. Cuomo says if states are doing all the work, then they need the funds to help them.

Cuomo has repeatedly credited Trump and his administration for providing additional beds and ventilators, saying the reason that they did not need to be fully used, is that New Yorkers cooperated with stay at home orders, and flattened the curve of the infection. But he says the federal government is just doing what it’s supposed to do in crisis.

"Thank you for participating in a modicum of federal responsibility in a national crisis,” Cuomo said. 

The governor says the reason why he asked for the additional beds and equipment, was because the CDC projected that they would be needed. He suggested, sarcastically, that the president should revise his role on the TV series "The Apprentice" and “fire” the head of the CDC, as well as leaders of the White House coronavirus task force.  

Cuomo says he’s frustrated because he fears that without the federal government helping to coordinate the testing that’s needed to re-open the economy, there will be a repeat of the chaos during the first phase of the pandemic, when he says the federal government was unprepared and hospitals struggled for beds and personal protective equipment.

“This is an important moment,” Cuomo said. “If we don’t have federal help on testing that’s a real problem, and I’m not going to go through the chaos that was created last time.”

Cuomo addressed other issues in the briefing, as well. There have been complaints from families with relatives in nursing homes that they have been unable to get information about their health conditions, or whether there is COVID-19 in the facility. The governor says he is now ordering nursing homes to disclose that information to families.  

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