In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was showered with praise from both the media and Democratic voters across the country for the manner in which he was handling the outbreak in his state.
However, according to Politico, as more information becomes known, and the results of the state’s response are assessed with the benefit of hindsight, “Cuomo’s coronavirus halo begins to fade.”
Governor’s luster fades
Politico reporters Anna Gronewold and Erin Durkin noted that Gov. Cuomo made it abundantly clear early on that it was he who was in charge and he who would bear responsibility for whatever occurred, even going so far as to declare on March 17 “The buck stops on my desk.”
That sort of boldly expressed leadership together with Cuomo’s occasional verbal clashes with President Donald Trump won the governor soaring support in the polls and, for a time, resulted in his consideration as someone who could replace former Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.
“Two and a half months into the crisis, Cuomo’s take-charge attitude has begun to soften,” the journalists wrote. “The governor, who gained legions of fans for his briefings that blended an authoritative tone with a personal touch, is increasingly on the defensive — and casting blame on the federal government and its guidance.”
Cuomo is still holding his daily briefings, but even with President Trump backing away from the spotlight somewhat with fewer of his own such events, there simply isn’t as much attention — at least not good attention — focused on Cuomo and the job that he’s been doing.
Fatal errors made
Arguably the biggest reason for Cuomo’s “halo” losing its shine among New Yorkers and the American people is his devastating initial order in March that placed COVID-19-positive patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities — even as it was already known at that time that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions were the most susceptible of contracting the disease and dying from it.
That order has since been reversed — even as Cuomo and his people insist there was no reversal — but the damage had already been done as the toll of positive cases and deaths from coronavirus in nursing homes reached horrifying heights.
“The limelight’s fade coincides with mounting scrutiny of New York state’s response to the crisis, particularly in nursing homes, where more than 5,700 residents have died from Covid-19,” the Politico reporters noted.
Interestingly, as attention has focused in on the nursing home issue, Cuomo has decided that “the buck” no longer stops on his desk but should be forwarded to the desk of President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose guidelines Cuomo attempted to blame for his own decisions, as Fox News reported.
Harshness of hindsight
To be sure, even with a case count and death toll markedly higher than any other states — or even numerous states combined — Cuomo probably still won’t be regarded as the governor responsible for the worst handling of the public health crisis, as several other state leaders performed even more poorly.
That said, the governor of New York has slipped off his pedestal because of his own actions and the harsh glare of reality, and it will be interesting to see if steps up to take responsibility for what occurred or continues to sidestep the issues and shift blame wherever else he can.