We have had disagreements about your actions against New York, which we can pursue at another time. Today, let’s work together as Americans. Time is short.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo - Letter to President Trump
Likewise, the Governor of the State of New York has provided a fair amount of fodder for these pages: taxes and the high cost of living, license plates and the naming of a new Hudson River crossing all come to mind. But while we can all agree to disagree on many things, the governor deserves credit for taking a proactive stand in combatting COVID-19 at a time when the federal government has clearly not done enough.
Cuomo has worked closely with officials of New Rochelle, which has become the state’s epicenter for the pandemic. One of the nation’s first drive-through coronavirus testing facilities. He also put the state’s prison population to work making hand sanitizers.
On Monday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a regional approach to combating the coronavirus. These include restricting crowd gatherings of more than 50 people, and limiting bars and restaurants to take-out and delivery services only. The three governors also said they will temporarily close movie theaters, gyms and casinos. Private businesses, meanwhile are being urged to close or enable employees to work from home. Decisions to close schools (here in Orange and Ulster Counties) were made at the county level.
It was only this past Monday - after schools, sporting events and many other events were closed - that the President seemed to acknowledge the severity of the situation, telling us that we may be well into summer before things are back to normal.
Cuomo readily admits that we need more help, and has asked the Federal government for assistance. Specifically we need more tests available and more hospital beds. New York State, he noted, has just 53,470 hospital beds, only 3,186 of which are intensive-care beds. Our country as a whole, he added, has fewer than one million staffed hospital beds, fewer proportionately than China, South Korea or Italy
To that end, he is asking that the Army Corps of Engineers be mobilized to help create more hospital beds. Shuttered college dormitories at New Paltz or SUNY Albany could be adapted for that purpose.
“Doing so still won’t provide enough intensive care beds,” Cuomo writes in his letter to the White House, “but it is our best hope.
He is right. Albany has shown us leadership in this health emergency. We need more of it from Washington.