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NYC hit hardest by COVID as Cuomo preens on the sidelines

A shocking report from the Empire Center reveals that New York was hit much harder and earlier by COVID-19 than originally reported, experiencing one of the deadliest peaks of the entire pandemic. This undermines former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s claims of great leadership during the crisis. The report’s author, Bill Hammond, states that New York’s response was not only sub-par but one of the least effective in the world based on the number of lives lost. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation conducted new modeling, showing that the first wave of COVID-19 had already peaked by the time Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented lockdown measures. In addition, research suggests that the first known COVID-19 death in New York occurred in late January 2020. The Institute’s findings indicate that widespread COVID-19 spread began in early February, with the infection rate likely peaking around March 19, three weeks earlier than previously believed. This earlier insight could have significantly impacted officials’ response to the crisis. Cuomo’s directive on March 25, forcing nursing homes to readmit infected patients, was unnecessary as hospitals were not overwhelmed. The USNS Comfort hospital ship and the Javits Center’s additional beds were underused, with fewer than 700 patients combined. Cuomo relied on state data on COVID tests, which indicated a later peak, but this was due to the availability of testing rather than an accurate representation. However, Cuomo and other leaders should have thoroughly investigated the data instead of rushing into drastic action. Cuomo enjoyed praise from the media for his daily press conferences, while dissenting expert opinions on lockdowns were suppressed. He subsequently secured a $5 million book deal while continuing the lockdowns. As a result of his decisions and those of his successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, New York’s lockdown and school closures lasted longer than most of the nation, hindering the state’s economic recovery and causing significant learning loss for school children. Furthermore, New York’s COVID-19 death toll in the metropolitan area was among the highest in the world. The report suggests that a well-functioning public health system should have anticipated and prepared for such risks before the virus emerged in China. Despite facing similar disadvantages, other cities worldwide managed the crisis better than New York. The city and state must ensure better leadership, including competent public health officials, to prevent another disaster in the future.

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