COVID-19 has ravaged the coastlines of the United States. Both New York and California are the two hardest-hit regions. Their governors are also the two biggest non-federal front-liners in the war against the virus.
Last Thursday, during one of his daily coronavirus briefings, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that 385 people have died in the state so far. Currently, about 37,000 have tested positive and over 1,000 are in a hospital intensive care unit.
Still, had it not been for the leadership exhibited by Cuomo, the human toll would have been much worse.
“No one has been here before,” said Cuomo. “And that’s why, look, it is going to change us. I can see it in my daughters’ eyes when I talk to them about this every night.
“I can see the fear…. They’re taking it all in. What does it mean? This is going to form a new generation and it will transform who we are and how we think. But you’re not alone. You’re not alone. Nobody is alone.”
However, the question must still be asked: why wasn’t New York prepared for a pandemic? With so many people living in NYC and the state’s proximity to border countries like Canada, the tendency is to believe all disaster scenarios have been thought out.
As the media and industry hub of the country and for some the world, one would think there was a contingency already in place for any great calamity.
What 9/11 has taught us is that there are no foolproof moments and Mayor’s and Governors are often caught handling major catastrophe on the fly. This also makes their efforts even more unique as when something unexpected happens, only the strong will step up to lead the rectification process.
Cuomo’s 9/11 Moment
Cuomo leads the country’s financial and media epicenter and he knows it. From a relatively muted media presence, Cuomo has been on a full blitzkrieg giving the media unprecedented access into his thinking and looking like America’s Governor.
When former mayor Rudy Giuliani had to deal with the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks, he placed partisanship aside and went to work. His take-charge approach resonated with the country and eventually the world. It made him, “America’s Mayor.”
The same effect is happening to Cuomo and for good reason, he and fellow California Governor Gavin Newsom look more adept at battling this than the federal government.
With the world praising the $2 trillion dollar bailout to the economy, it comes late in relation to the State response which has been constant.
The federal government’s failure to coordinate a major relief effort also elevated the Governor’s profiles. With states left to search for masks, ventilators and other medical necessities, a competition for crucial supplies was created.
Newsom became the first governor to order a mandatory quarantine for state residents with limited exceptions. When NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was still on the fence about shutting down schools, Cuomo announced he would invoke his own executive authority to close the city schools.
De Blasio shut them down soon after.
Cuomo is the quintessential touch New Yorker even being critical of the $2 trillion virus relief bill calling it “irresponsible” and “reckless” for the amount of relief it provides for New York and other state and local governments.
By never directly going at Trump and focusing on how his state will defeat its current center of the pandemic position, Cuomo is also showing he is diplomatic nationally.
“I watched, over the last few days, Gov. Cuomo, I watched Gavin Newsom,” Trump said on Sunday. “I watched both of them. And they’ve been, you know, very complimentary.”
With all eyes on New York during the COVID-19 barrage on the country, Governor Cuomo is here for it and ready to do battle.
Isn’t that what a potential President looks like?