ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that New York has reached the apex of its COVID-19 novel coronvirus battle and as plans unfold to reopen the economy he insisted he will “not engage” President Donald Trump in a fight over who has the power to make that decision.
The debate about states’ rights versus the federal government’s erupted Monday when Cuomo and five other regional governors said they were creating a task force to determine the best way forward in reopening the economy.
President Trump responded on Monday saying that it was his determination to make, not the governors for each individual state.
On Tuesday during his daily COVID-19 news conference, Gov. Cuomo said that the president is spoiling for a political fight but he’s not going to get one. Instead, he said that since much of the national shutdown was due to decisions by individual states and not by the President, it would only make sense to also have the governor’s involved with reopening it.
“The close down of the economies was left to the governors,” Cuomo said. “You get to the reopening of the economy, well the governors closed it down, wouldn’t they get to reopen it? The president says ‘No. I have a different modeling that I’m envisioning.’ That’s okay too, but it’s a shift…. but what is that model? And let’s talk about who does what, which is the intelligent conversation we have to have.”
Both Trump and Cuomo have acknowledged that restarting the economy, including reopening schools and businesses, must be done in a way that helps ensure there is not a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. But Cuomo admits that will cost money.
“Where’s the funding for states to help do this? I’m broke. There’s no fancy way to say that. We have a $10 Billion deficit,” Cuomo said. “You can say we have to do this and this and this…. but I don’t have two nickels to rub together.”
Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) held a conference call on Tuesday and also said that he believes states should be given flexibility for deciding how to reopen the economy.
“You can have a national order that could be issued saying, ‘It’s safe to open up the nation.’ Now, if a state choose to say, ‘We appreciate the national order but we’re going to choose to keep our state closed.’ I will tell you that I believe the state has the authority to issue such a thing,” Reed said.
Reed also said that in addition to the states making the call, he said there should also be different approaches to reopening different regions of New York State.
By late Tuesday afternoon, Trump had backed down from his initial comments and acknowledged governors will have the authority to reopen each state – though he said it was only because he was “authorizing each individual governor” to do so.
As for COVID-19 deaths in New York State – that did see a noticeable increase with 778 deaths on Monday, up from 671 on Sunday. So far there have been 10,834 fatalities attributed to COVID-19 in New York State with a large majority of those involving individuals who had other underlying diseases or health problems.
Locally in Chautauqua county, the total number of confirmed cases has held steady at 24 with three deaths reported. But due to limited testing, local health officials have repeatedly said the actual number of cases within the county could be much higher.
Gov. Cuomo also said on Tuesday the state is continuing to see a troubling surge in the rate of infections and deaths in nursing homes – though none of those so far have been reported by local health officials in Chautauqua County.