Cuomo: $500B Request For States Essential, Federal Govt. Must Step Up

By Janet Ekstract

NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the National Governor’s Association made a $500B proposal for states to the federal government. In his Friday daily briefing, the governor reiterated that no state can do what’s needed in terms of testing and expense without the federal government stepping up with funding. The governor explained: “We did not get into the allocation. The allocation should be proportionate to the need.” He said you allocate the funding to where the COVID problem exists.

What Governor Cuomo has expressed about funding has been echoed around the country by numerous high level medical personnel who say that without a plan on testing or proper funding from the federal government, the U.S. would not have the capacity to carry out required mass testing in order to reopen the economy. Cuomo emphasized: “It’s important to open the economy when you can and where you can. Death is bad but staying at home and not getting a paycheck is not as bad as death.”

The governor explained that at the present moment, New York is “right up to that line of possible outbreak.” Cuomo made it clear that just because “we’ve gotten the number down, that still doesn’t mean we are ready to open up.” As he mentioned in previous briefings, the virus can’t be under control until there is a vaccine. He commented: “It’s going to be an incremental process between today and tomorrow. We have to be smart as we do this. We also have a lot of work to do operationally in terms of the healthcare system and testing.”

Cuomo stressed that “testing and tracing is the guidepost.”  He said the net change in total hospitalizations is undeniably on the decline and that the number of intubations is down which the governor said is good news.  But, he cautioned that the reality is that new COVID cases are still running at about 2,000 per day. He added that testing is a “totally new challenge,” and reminded everyone that so far New York’s entire response has been “a response to a crisis.” Cuomo pointed out that “we’re still in phase 1” and transitioning to another place. He said that means: “Un-Pausing – you can’t keep the economy closed forever.” Cuomo asked: “How do you plan a reopening of an economy and be cognizant of the public health crisis you’re still in?” He added: “If we open up too fast, we’ll be right back to what we started.”

Cuomo said: “The next frontier is testing and the public health testing system, it’s a relative diminimis capacity.” He said the private sector capacity for testing is also at a diminished capacity. The governor explained that the current system has no capacity to large scale COVID testing. He said because the test is complicated and expensive, there’s no network that does that. Cuomo highlighted the fact that in New York’s downstate area there are 100 hospitals and only 15 of those are public hospitals, the remainder are private hospitals. He said his job was to get the private hospitals to work with the federal government. The challenge remains how to get 300 private labs and hospitals to become one system to do COVID testing if the labs can get the test which they have to purchase from private sector companies. The issue is obtaining the chemicals to use for the test that are only manufactured in China and China has many global requests for these chemicals. Cuomo said: “That is a piece of the equation I can’t figure out, that’s where the federal government must step in.”

The biggest block to get everything up and running is the fact that state finances must be stabilized, not just New York but each state, Cuomo reiterated. The governor commented: “We’re spending money every day that we never dreamed of spending. We’re paying in a position where we don’t have any money. You can’t keep writing checks if you have no balance.” Cuomo once again pointed out that the federal government cannot abdicate its responsibility. He added: “The federal government passed three bills to address this crisis. Of those three bills, the states have gotten zero, nada in this.” He also said: “When you starve the state governments, we can’t fund schools, we can’t fund hospitals, we can’t fund small business, we can’t fund all these extraordinary efforts we’re undertaking.” The governor summarized the situation: “I don’t do China relations. I don’t do international supply chain and that’s where the federal government can help.” Cuomo explained there must be a coordinated approach between the federal government and the states. The governor had a message for the White House: “Reopening is up to the states but then don’t give them this massive undertaking that has never been done before.”

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