February 3, 2021

Governors Under Fire

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration confirmed [last] Thursday that thousands more nursing home residents died of COVID-19 than the state’s official tallies had previously acknowledged… The surprise development, after months of the state refusing to divulge its true numbers, showed that at least 12,743 long-term care residents died of the virus as of Jan. 19, far greater than the official tally of 8,505 on that day… Those numbers are consistent with a report released just hours earlier by state Attorney General Letitia James charging that the nursing home death count could be off by about 50%.” AP News

On Monday, the New York Times reported that “9 top N.Y. health officials have quit… as morale plunged in the Health Department and senior health officials expressed alarm to one another over being sidelined and treated disrespectfully… Their concern had an almost singular focus: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.” New York Times

On the other coast, “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s job approval rating among California voters has plummeted, driven largely by dissatisfaction over the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and adding fuel to a Republican-led recall campaign… More than a third of the state’s registered voters said they would vote to oust Newsom from office if the recall qualifies for the ballot.” Los Angeles Times

Both sides are critical of the governors:

“Everyone should have some humility about criticizing anyone in authority during the pandemic, when many decisions were made with imperfect information and when most choices had agonizing trade-offs. Yet Cuomo’s Department of Health’s March 25 order directing nursing homes to accept incoming residents known to have the coronavirus, an order he did not rescind until May 10, stands out as foolish and disastrous — especially because New York was warned of the danger. Cuomo still refuses to say whose idea the order was…

“More than 12 percent of New York nursing-home residents have succumbed to the virus. In New Jersey, where a policy similar to Cuomo’s was enacted, the death toll was similar: 12 percent of nursing-home residents felled by the virus. In Florida, where nursing homes were forbidden to accept people with coronavirus, that figure is 1.6 percent.”
The Editors, National Review

“‘Look, whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it’s — the people died,’ Cuomo said. ‘People died. ‘I was in a hospital, I got transferred to a nursing home, and my father died.' ‘My father was in a nursing home, got transferred to a hospital, my father died.’ People died.’ It is true that the people died, and where or how they died doesn’t change that particular fact. But Cuomo repeatedly suggested that it’s of no concern — even saying at one point, defensively and ill-advisedly, ‘Who cares?’…

From a public policy perspective, we should care. A death is indeed a death, but there are major and very valid questions about whether nursing home policies led to unnecessary ones. To the extent that more deaths occurred in or came from that setting, it allows us to evaluate how significant that problem was and how much corrective action is needed. Cuomo has to know that.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“California governor Gavin Newsom, who promised to be the model of transparency, is unilaterally making pandemic policy for the world’s fifth largest economy while keeping nearly all other 40 million Californians in the dark… State officials claim that the process being used to determine shutdown orders is too complex to understand, and that providing this information would confuse and mislead the public. Really? Are Californians just simpletons who can’t process information with potentially life-and-death consequences?…

“More confusion has been created as the state has moved the goalposts in determining when and where it will implement shutdowns, changing the models it uses to make its decisions, and changing the geographic regions for which decisions apply… Californians have [also] been understandably frustrated by showing up for vaccinations after Newsom publicly stated that all over 65 were eligible to be vaccinated, only to be turned away from several clinics that refused to vaccinate them, stating that they were still vaccinating health care workers. What a mess.”
Lee Ohanian, Hoover Institute

“[Angela Hart, who covers health policy for California Healthline, states that] People can’t find very basic information here. People can’t find out where to get an appointment. They can’t figure out who to call. They can’t figure out where their place in line is…

“I spoke to this woman Joyce Hanson for a story. She specifically said, I understand the governor doesn’t control the supply of vaccines coming to California, and I can handle waiting until March or April if that’s how long it’s going to take for me to get vaccinated. She’s 69. But the governor made it sound like she’s going to be able to get signed up and get vaccinated tomorrow. So she said, I can take it, I can take the truth, but just be honest with us. And she feels wholeheartedly misled by the governor.”
Mary Harris, Slate

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Even though New York was walloped by the virus last year, Cuomo was a breakout star. He was portrayed as a success, in large part because he was treated as Donald Trump’s foil in the media… There was a leadership vacuum. The media needed a Covid hero, and Cuomo fit the bill. In contrast to Trump, his news conferences were clear, personal, and respectful of scientific opinion. He acknowledged the severity of the situation. He did not tell people to drink bleach. He was, most importantly, something Andrew Cuomo has almost never been throughout his political career: relatable…

“Cuomo’s actual performance was secondary to his persona. Criticism of his slow response to the threat posed by Covid-19—he downplayed the virus in early March—and his handling of the Covid outbreak in nursing homes led to spates of bad press. But Trump was always there to make him look better… Compared to the forty-fifth president, New York’s governor was a skilled administrator and communicator. Without him, he’s the thin-skinned, controlling leader he was before.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

“California’s pandemic outbreak is so out of control that public officials have had to lift air pollution regulations in order to accomodate a spike in cremations… In response to the emergency, Democratic governor Gavin Newsom is lifting stay-at-home restrictions, removing essential workers from the state’s vaccine priority list, and championing a complex deal that extends the state’s expiring partial eviction moratorium but still allows landlords to pursue evictions. Newsom has long insisted his decisions are ‘[led] by data and science’ — but his moves come just as new studies show that keeping workers out of the workplace and banning evictions play pivotal roles in reducing the spread of the deadly virus.”
Walker Bragman and David Sirota, Jacobin Magazine

“Newsom defended the decision [to lift stay-at-home orders] by saying that projections based on testing and transmission rates, as well as a steady decrease in the demand for ICU beds, make him confident about returning to the system that imposes various levels of restrictions by county and is tied to the percentage of positive coronavirus test results. But his words weren’t all that reassuring, given the governor’s record. In the spring, Newsom ignored his own pandemic framework and bowed to political pressure to allow counties to reopen too early. It was a mistake that came with a terrible human cost during the ensuing summer surge…

“Lifting any restrictions during this critical time will open the door to a setback. The latest change may loosen restrictions just a little, because most of the state is still under the strictest tier. Counties can decide to let nail and hair salons reopen at limited capacity and restaurants reopen for outdoor dining… they can’t give the green light to bars or parties. But the bigger threat is that Californians will take this as a signal to drop their guard, even as the virus continues to rage.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

“One of the most inexplicable phenomena during the pandemic has been the efforts of the media to prop up Cuomo as some sort of Churchillian figure. In their need to create a hero character to contrast with Trump, they rallied around Cuomo and praised his daily press briefings even as his state bungled its response to COVID-19 as badly as, or perhaps worse than, any other…

Cuomo’s leadership cost lives. He waited months before cleaning up the subways; he fumbled the reopening of schools; he incredibly forced providers to throw away COVID-19 vaccines to avoid the fines he imposed against anybody who vaccinated people outside the rigid sequence he had commanded. But by far, the deadliest decision Cuomo made was to force nursing homes to readmit residents who had tested positive for COVID-19 and then been hospitalized. This allowed the virus to spread like wildfire among an extremely vulnerable population.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“We get that political leaders have the job of weighing the advice of experts along with other factors. But the state Health Department has seen a remarkable rash of resignations, retirements and reassignments over the past year as Cuomo has tossed out professionals’ years of work in favor of his own plans, often developed with the help of lobbyists for industries that give big to the gov…

“Notably, state and local health departments had worked for years planning for any mass vaccinations, but Cuomo tore it all up, ignoring his own task force. Instead, The New York Times reports, he ‘spoke with hospital executives, outside consultants and a top hospital lobbyist in closed-door meetings’ and decided to task hospitals with coordinating jabs, making the Greater New York Hospital Association — a major donor to Cuomo’s causes — the Gotham hub. ‘Chaos’ and ‘bedlam’ were the result, upstate officials told The Post, as plans that counties developed years ago were scrapped and vaccines were reallocated without notice.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

Similarly, “Newsom’s coronavirus response has been a train wreck. Californians were forced under one of the harshest lockdowns of any state. As businesses were shuttered and schools were closed, California’s coronavirus numbers remained worse than those of Florida, which has abandoned lockdowns and school closures…

“Combine that with Newsom’s infamous birthday celebration for a lobbyist, which took place indoors, in violation of Newsom’s own dining guidance. With his incompetence and arrogance on full display, Newsom is facing a recall that is gaining steam as his approval rating continues to drop… This is the big opportunity California Republicans have been waiting for. The Golden State needs to be pulled back from the brink of death by progressivism. This is a chance to do just that, and the California GOP must offer a cohesive message to make it happen.”
Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.