New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the federal government to task for failing to provide funding to increase capacity for necessary diagnostic novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, triggering a back-and-forth war of words with President Donald Trump.
There were 630 new COVID-19 deaths in New York, as the death rate topped 14,000. There have now been 222,284 reported cases of the virus, though the hospital rate continues to drop
During his daily COVID-19 news briefing on Friday, April 17 in Albany, Cuomo said he is issuing an executive order that will direct 301 public and private labs in the state to coordinate with the Department of Health to prioritize diagnostic testing for the virus.
Cuomo said that testing is the key to ensuring public health and restarting the economy.
“We had to get our private hospitals to work with our public hospitals and government in a coordinated way that’s never happened before, and it was extraordinarily difficult,” Cuomo said. “The Department of Health will be coordinating with labs that are licensed by the state of New York to perform virology testing, but we cannot do it without federal help.”
Cuomo criticized Trump, who a day earlier announced that it will be up to states on when to reopen their economies. The governor said that despite doing that, the federal government has refused to provide any financial assistance to the states he saddled with the responsibility of safely reopening.
“Don’t pass the buck without passing the bucks,” Cuomo said.
“The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this and say the states are responsible for testing, but then not give us any financial assistance,” he added. “The federal government has passed three stimulus bills, and state governments have gotten zero dollars in unrestricted aid.
“We’re told that the states should do this and this and this, but there’s no support from the federal government. How is that even plausible? We need financial resources to support the states.”
“If it’s up to the governors to reopen, then provide the funding," Cuomo fired back at Trump. "You’re putting individual states up to this monumental task but you’re providing no help or financial funding.
“You’ll say airlines need a bailout, but not the states. Why don’t you show as much consideration to the states as you do to your big businesses and airlines?”
That prompted Trump, who was apparently watching Cuomo's news briefing live, to fire off a tweet saying, “Governor Cuomo should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.’ Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking!”
A reporter then read the tweet to Cuomo at the news briefing, asking for his response.
“If he’s sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work,” Cuomo said.
Before that back and forth, Cuomo said that he’s worried that with testing as the next frontier in the fight against the virus that all 50 states and the federal government will now be bidding against each other for testing supplies, similar to the scramble to secure PPE and ventilators at the outset of the outbreak.
“We can’t get our testing up to capacity without the federal government, it’s just not possible," he said. "States just can’t do it, and we don’t want to relive the mayhem of the (equipment) debacle. We need funding to do it.
“Now going forward, and we’re still in the midst of it, and we need help. The president doesn’t want to help with testing. I said the one issue we need help with is testing, and he said 11 times, ‘I don’t want to get involved in testing, it’s too complicated and too hard.’ That’s why we need you to help.”
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