New York’s Governor Cuomo thinks he did a great job defeating the Coronavirus. If you don’t believe it, just ask him. He will show you visual aids at his press conferences. Acording to the New York Post, Cuomo commissioned an artist to complete “yet another self-centered painting that includes quotes from himself and even features his muscle car.”
The poster is the one that says “New York Tough,“ not the one that shows New York at the top of the per capita COVID death rate chart. The greater New York City area leads the world in COVID death rate with more than twice the rate of any European country, and quadruple the rate of the United States.
I’m not blaming Gov. Cuomo for the high death rate in New York, but he shouldn’t pat himself on the back either. Back in March, we were in a crisis, we had to make quick decisions, and some were bad. Right now, our cases in NY are very low. But, it’s not the result of policies different than anyone else’s. The virus simply burned itself out. Or, to put it more scientifically, the virus hit New York so hard that many got immune. An astounding sixty-eight percent of the residents of one neighborhood in Queens have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Ironically, that neighborhood is named Corona.
Maybe Cuomo couldn’t have done better, but he shouldn’t be lecturing others. Maybe New York City was doomed from the beginning. It is an international crossroads where people live on top of each other. We were inundated with the novel Wuhan Coronavirus before we knew what hit us. Cuomo went into panic mode. He demanded, and got, thousands of ventilators that were never used. He got a Navy hospital ship and an Army field hospital that never had more than a few patients Yet, still he complains in his poster about an inadequate federal response.
When other states wanted to ban New Yorkers, Cuomo threatened to sue. When the President floated the idea of quarantining New York City the way Wuhan was, Cuomo fought it. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. In a display of New York chutzpah, Cuomo is banning people from other states, despite fighting a similar ban when it was imposed on New Yorkers.
Cuomo claims that he makes decisions on science and data. When politicians make these pronouncements, I get nervous. In school, the people who were interested in social studies and politics were usually the ones that were bad at science and math.
He says his decisions about when to open businesses and schools are scientific, but that is impossible. Science can never tell us when it is safe to go outside. If we have good data and analyze it properly, we might be able to calculate the relative risk of reopening, but no one can construct a mathematical equation to tell us it is safe. That is a judgment call. How much risk are we willing to tolerate is determined by our values, not science.