New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was celebrated in the early weeks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His approval ratings shot up and his conflicts with President Trump had some on the left toying with the idea of drafting Cuomo to replace Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket in November. And then the New York City area became a coronavirus hotspot, not just in the United States, but the hotspot of the world, and the combined failures of Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were suddenly too difficult to deny.
A Wall Street Journal investigation published Thursday details how their response “was marred by missed warning signs and policies that many health-care workers say put residents at greater risk and led to unnecessary deaths.”
In the first few days of March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio assured New Yorkers things were under control. On March 2, Mr. de Blasio tweeted that people should go see a movie.
Only after the disease had gripped the city’s low-income neighborhoods in early March did Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio mobilize public and private hospitals to create more beds and intensive-care units. The hasty expansion that ensued, led by New York government leaders and hospital administrators, produced mistakes that helped worsen the crisis, health-care workers say.
And the disaster of their failed leadership can be seen in the numbers. “New York state’s death toll of 30,575 accounted for 7% of the world’s deaths and 27% of American deaths as of June 11, according to Johns Hopkins University data.”
To investigate exactly what went wrong, the Wall Street Journal spoke with “nearly 90 front-line doctors, nurses, health-care workers, hospital administrators, and government officials, and reviewed emails, legal documents, and memos, to analyze what went wrong.”
They identified seven missteps: improper patient transfers; insufficient isolation protocols; inadequate staff planning; mixed messages between state, city government, and hospital officials; overreliance on government sources for key equipment; procurement-planning gaps; and Incomplete staff-protection policies.
At times it also seemed that Governor Cuomo was completely unaware of his state’s actual needs. He requested 40,000 ventilators and blamed Trump for not providing enough. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die,” Cuomo dramatically said during a press conference.
Cuomo didn’t get 40,000, because the Trump administration used realtime data from hospitals to estimate the needs of each state, and this method successfully provided enough ventilators to meet the needs of the states, which was fewer than 6,000. Anyone who needed a ventilator got one.
The Wall Street Journal notes that “leaders in states like California and Ohio acted quickly to contain the spread,” Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio “delayed taking measures to close the state and city even as the number of cases swelled, despite warnings from doctors, nurses and schoolteachers.”
The failures of Cuomo and de Blasio largely get a pass from the media, which seems intent on blaming Trump for the pandemic and those who died because of it. It’s about time they start answering for it.
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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis