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Cuomo takes off the gloves in response to Trump critique

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Friday, said he is mandating in a an executive order that private labs in New York State work together to develop testing for the coronavirus. He said he needs the federal government to coordinate and scale up testing to allow the economy to reopen sooner but, so far, that is not occurring. And Cuomo had some choice words for President Donald Trump, after Trump live-tweeted criticism of Cuomo’s daily briefing.


Cuomo continues to press for more monetary aide from the federal government. The governor wrote a joint letter to the president and Congress with Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, asking for $5 billion to help state governments pay for coping with the crisis.  

President Trump said Thursday that it is up to the states to determine when to reopen businesses and lift stay-at-home orders. Cuomo says if states are doing all the work, then they need the funds to help them.

During the governor’s briefing, which often run 40 minutes to an hour in length, Trump live-tweeted that Cuomo “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.’” The president also said that the federal government already gave New York hospital beds and ventilators that went unused.

“Governor Cuomo should spend more time “doing” and less time “complaining”. Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking! We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing. We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks. Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!,” the president said in two tweets.

Cuomo, who earlier in the week said Trump was spoiling for a fight, but that he chose not to argue with the president, was clearly angered by the needling.

“If he’s sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo has repeatedly credited Trump and his administration for providing additional beds and ventilators, saying the reason that they did not need to be fully used is that New Yorkers cooperated with stay-at-home orders and flattened the curve of the infection. But he said the federal government is just doing what it is supposed to do in crisis.   

"Thank you for participating in a modicum of federal responsibility in a national crisis,” Cuomo said.

The governor said the reason why he asked for the additional beds and equipment was because the CDC projected that they would be needed. He suggested, sarcastically, that the president should revise his role on the TV series ‘The Apprentice’ and “fire” the head of the CDC, as well as leaders for White House Coronavirus Task Force.  

Cuomo said he is frustrated because he fears that without the federal government helping to coordinate the testing that is needed to reopen the economy, there will be a repeat of the chaos during the first phase of the pandemic, when he says the federal government was unprepared and hospitals struggled for beds and personal protective equipment.

“This is an important moment,” Cuomo said. “If we don’t have federal help on testing that’s a real problem, and I’m not going to go through the chaos that was created last time.”

Cuomo addressed other issues in the briefing, as well. There have been complaints from families with relatives in nursing homes that they have been unable to get information about their health conditions, or whether there is COVID-9 in the facility. The governor said he is now ordering nursing homes to disclose that information to families.  


Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.