Gover­nor hits out at Trump’s over ‘by Easter’ claim

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - Alexan­dra Villareal

The New York gover­nor, Andrew Cuomo, hit back yes­ter­day at Don­ald Trump’s sug­ges­tion that the US could soon be open for busi­ness, warn­ing that coro­n­avirus cases were ris­ing much faster than ex­pected and the state’s hos­pi­tals were in dan­ger of be­ing over­whelmed.

A day af­ter Trump in­sisted that the US “can­not let the cure be worse than the prob­lem it­self”, Cuomo said the New York health sys­tem was un­equipped for an im­mi­nent surge in coro­n­avirus pa­tients. Al­ready, the state has about 25,000 cases – more than 6% of the global to­tal.

“The in­escapable con­clu­sion is that the rate of in­fec­tion is go­ing up,” Cuomo said. “It is spik­ing. The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad com­bi­na­tion of facts.”

The Demo­cratic gover­nor at­tacked the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of the cri­sis, say­ing fed­eral au­thor­i­ties had of­fered his state just 400 ven­ti­la­tors when he es­ti­mated an ad­di­tional 30,000 would be needed. Es­ti­mates sug­gest New York state will need to triple the num­ber of beds from about

50,000 at present. “We need to be smarter about this,” he said. “We need the fed­eral help and we need it now.”

Cuomo’s ur­gent mes­sage comes as a spokesper­son for the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion warned that the US had the po­ten­tial to be­come the next global hotspot for the pan­demic. The coun­try al­ready has al­most 50,000 con­firmed Covid-19 cases, re­sult­ing in 600 deaths, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

New York is con­duct­ing more test­ing per capita than coun­tries such as South Korea, which may par­tially ex­plain the steep rise in num­bers.

“What hap­pens to New York is go­ing to wind up hap­pen­ing to Cal­i­for­nia, and Wash­ing­ton state, and Illi­nois. It’s just a mat­ter of time,” Cuomo said.

“We’re just get­ting there first … We are your fu­ture.”

As of Mon­day, the New York Times es­ti­mated that more than 158 mil­lion peo­ple in 16 US states would soon be un­der strict or­ders to stay at home – ap­proach­ing half the pop­u­la­tion.

But even as state and lo­cal govern­ments took dras­tic mea­sures, Trump is in­sist­ing the coun­try may restart its econ­omy long be­fore it was ex­pected, per­haps in as lit­tle as two weeks.

“I would love to have the coun­try opened up and just rar­ing to go by Easter,” the pres­i­dent said yes­ter­day. He ar­gued that tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans die from the sea­sonal flu or in car ac­ci­dents each year but “we don’t turn the coun­try off”.

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