It’s been a rough couple of days for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As cases of Wuhan Virus ramp up in his state, his attempts at striking the right tone in addressing the situation are coming up a little odd. First came some strange advice for straphangers in New York City in which Cuomo said:
“If citizens are taking mass transit, if you can move to a train car that is not as dense, if you see a packed train car, let it go by, wait for the next train, same with if you’re taking a bus. It’s the density to proximity that we’re trying to reduce. And private businesses can help, citizens can help in their day-to-day life.”
This was echoed by unpopular New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Plan to have some extra travel time in your commute. If the train that pulls up is too packed, move to a different car or wait to take the next one.
Bike or walk to work if you can.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 8, 2020
Have these two ever taken the subway? Wait for the next train until there’s an empty one? Until when? Four in the morning? New York City cannot function if everyone refuses to board a crowded subway car. Nobody would ever get home. The stations themselves would become wildly overcrowded creating an even worse public health condition. Put simply, this is nonsense.
But it wasn’t just weird public transit advice. This morning Cuomo held a press conference in which he announced the launch of “Clean,” a new hand sanitizer made by the State of New York. It was like the saddest tech rollout ever. Cuomo assured us that his new product had 5 percent more alcohol in it than Purell. And he also informed us that it has a floral bouquet scent, with hints of lilac and hydrangea. He seemed like he was trying to be funny, but instead he was vaguely disturbing.
“Open that curtain!”
Governor Cuomo unveils New York state-branded “floral bouquet” hand sanitizer and threatens “Purell, and Mr. Amazon and Mr. Ebay” with his “superior product”.
“And you don’t even have floral bouquet.” pic.twitter.com/YP3ZVP4dpB
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) March 9, 2020
As the Wuhan Flu shifts from being primarily a federal issue to a state and local one, our nation’s governors will step into a leading role; thus far Cuomo has left a lot to be desired. As cases spike in New York State, especially in Westchester County just north of New York City, he seems confused as what the real threat is. Sometimes he warns us to avoid the subway, sometimes he tells us the biggest worry is that we will panic.
In the last two weeks, President Trump’s handling of the virus has been roundly criticized by many Democrats and some in the media, such as myself. But now we see that this isn’t all so easy. There is no straight simple answer, no Ikea set of directions to fighting a virus with an Allen key.
Much like President Trump, Andrew Cuomo needs to find a consistent message and stick to it, and not focus on impossible subway solutions and hand sanitizer. New Yorkers are genuinely confused about what they should and should not be doing. Neither the governor nor the mayor is making things clearer for and that has to change.