Opinion | Andrew Cuomo Takes a ‘Hatchet’

Opinion | Andrew Cuomo Takes a ‘Hatchet’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a ceremony unveiling a statue of Mother Frances Cabrini in Battery Park, N.Y., Oct. 12.


Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo likes to say that his virus policies, including a strict, prolonged lockdown of New York City, are based on science. Well, he finally revealed the truth when he told Jewish leaders last week that he is locking down their communities again due to public fear.

Cases in Brooklyn, Queens and some New York City suburbs have been rising, and Mr. Cuomo blames orthodox Jewish communities not adhering to his rules. Last week he shut down nonessential businesses and schools in these communities and limited gatherings at houses of worship to 10 people.

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“They have never been following the regulations with any rigor,” Mr. Cuomo said earlier this week. “I had an eye-opener in talking to them. Now you see the result.” Eye-opening for New Yorkers too. The Jewish newsletter Hamodia posted a recording of the call between the Governor and Jewish leaders. Here he is explaining his decision to lock down:

“I am 100% frank and candid. This is not a highly nuanced, sophisticated response. This is a fear-driven response. You know, this is not a policy being written by a scalpel. This is a policy being cut by a hatchet. It’s just very blunt. I didn’t propose this. It was proposed by the mayor in the city. I am trying to sharpen it and make it better. But it’s out of fear. People see the numbers going up—‘Close everything! Close everything!’

“It’s not the best way to do it, but it is a fear-driven response. The virus scares people. Hopefully if we get the numbers down in the zip codes, the anxiety comes down, and then we can have a smarter, more tailored approach. Your point is right. ‘Why close every school? Why don’t you test the schools and close the ones that have a problem?’ I know.

“First I don’t know that we have the resources to do that now, but I can tell you honestly the fear is too high to do anything other than ‘Let’s do everything we can to get the infection rate down now. Close the doors. Close the windows.’ That’s where we are.”

Mr. Cuomo’s virus rules have always seemed arbitrary, and now we know he’s not trying to educate the public about the balance of risks. He’s protecting himself politically by letting fear drive state policy.

Wonder Land: Leading epidemiologists have come together to write “The Great Barrington Declaration,” which urges a “Focused Protection” strategy in managing the coronavirus, and has already been signed by thousands of scientists. Images: Getty Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the October 16, 2020, print edition.

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