ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus infection rate and new deaths data keeps getting better and better in New York state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered positive developments and also took the federal government to task over its handling of the pandemic during his daily media briefing on Wednesday.
With New York City on track to begin Phase 2 of reopening on Monday, the governor touted the behavior of state residents as the primary reason why regions haven’t had setbacks as they’ve started to move forward and leave the pandemic behind.
Cuomo said Tuesday’s numbers were the best yet. There were just 17 new deaths reported, including just two in previously hard-hit nursing homes.
“The only way I could feel better is if that number ever becomes zero,” Cuomo said.
In addition, the governor said the rate of infection statewide was below 1%, based on nearly 60,000 tests.
Those are the lowest numbers since the outbreak began in mid-March.
“That is one of the lowest levels in the United States of America,” Cuomo said. “And we once again have demonstrated that we’ve gone from the worst infection rate in the country, to the best infection rate in the country.
“Just think about what this state accomplished, what the people of this state accomplished. And if I told you, 108 days ago, we will go on to accomplish that, what would we have said? What would I have said? I would have said I didn’t believe. I would have said I didn’t believe it was possible. But facts are facts,” he added.
The governor then switched tracks and criticized how the federal government has handled the pandemic in the wake of reports saying the number of positive cases has spiked in other parts of the country.
“I’m telling you today, the federal government is making a mistake. It is making an historic mistake. And that is not a political comment,” Cuomo said.
Citing disturbing statistics in states like Arizona and Texas, where reopening hasn’t been done in the same deliberate fashion as New York, Cuomo said the Trump administration has let political ideologies get in the way of fact-driven analysis.
“More conservatives argued that government should just get out of the way, let the free market do it, right? … And then there was another theory: Let’s reopen based on data,” Cuomo said. “Let’s not just reopen blindly. As an expression of political ideology, we’re dealing with a virus. The virus doesn’t have a political ideology. No doctor ever said to me, ‘Oh, we did a COVID test and found that it was conservative, found that it was liberal.’ It’s a virus. It moves, as a matter of science.”
Cuomo said it’s a fact that 20 states currently have increasing rates of infection, while New York is barreling down the other side of the mountain. He said New York has legitimate concerns about what’s happening elsewhere.
“First of all, we’re Americans, and we care about other Americans. Secondly, on a parochial level, If those states are going up they could spread the virus to New York. They have a higher rate of infection than New York. What happens when those people get on planes and fly to New York?” Cuomo said. “That’s how we got here in the first place, right? People landing at our airports. So we do have a selfish interest, the same interest that so many states expressed when we were at the beginning of this and they were worried about New Yorkers going to their states. We lived through that. Well, now it’s the inverse. Now people are getting on planes, they’re traveling. They could actually be bringing the virus to New York.”
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The governor also took issue with the federal government’s stance that since more tests are being conducted, it’s only natural that the number of infections is increasing. He said it is leaving out one important thing.
“The number of people going into hospitals is going up. How do you explain that? Are they pretending to be sick? Are they not really sick?” Cuomo said. “You see the number of hospitalizations going up in those places where the percentage is going up and testing.
“These policies have real consequences,” he added. “This is a moment in history where it’s not going to be about the partisan divide when they write the books. They’ll talk about the absurd politics.”