Cuomo vows to walk 'fine line’ in coronavirus meeting with Trump
Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers his daily press briefing on COVID-19, Coronavirus in the Red Room of the Capitol. April 20, 2020.(Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Gov. Cuomo said 481 New Yorkers died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours as he prepared for a key face-to-face meeting with President Trump at which he hopes to unlock a logjam caused by a severe lack of testing kits.
The governor said on Tuesday that he will push Trump to take responsibility for aspects of testing as the nation seeks to chart a path toward reopening the nation’s economy.
He conceded that will require walking a fine line with the mercurial commander-in-chief.
"I’ll tell you how I’ll negotiate the fine line. You tell the truth, Cuomo said. “By the way, he’s done the same. He has no problem telling me when he disagrees, and he tells me when he agrees.”
Cuomo vowed not to sugarcoat what he sees as the unsustainable situation where governors are scrambling for testing kits and materials while the federal government claims there is unused testing capacity.
“You know what? To heck with it,” he said. “Just tell the truth and whatever it is, it is.”
The remarkable White House meeting promises to bring the nation’s two most prominent leaders in the coronavirus crisis face to face at a key crossroads in the nation’s fight against the pandemic.
Trump has veered between downplaying the impact of the virus and claiming credit for avoiding a worst-case scenario that would have seen hundreds of thousands of dead.
Cuomo has mostly maintained a cordial relationship with Trump during the crisis. But neither one has held back when they think the other is grandstanding, like Cuomo’s remarkable attack that Trump should “stop watching TV and get to work.”
The governor suggested the agenda for the leaders’ afternoon meeting would focus on dividing up the roles played by federal and state governments over testing.
Public health experts say widespread testing is necessary to reopen society because the pandemic can make a second wave of death and infection if it’s not kept in control.
“Let’s just coordinate who does what. What do the states do? What does the federal government do?” he said. “What do you do and what do I do?”
Cuomo also stressed the importance of flattening the pandemic curve across the length and breadth of New York state, and vowed to treat different regions differently as the state starts to plan for potential reopening.
Speaking from Buffalo, Cuomo vowed to surge resources to each community as it suffers a coronavirus outbreak.
“We are one state, one family, one community,” he said. “The rest of the state will be there for you.”
Along with his daily charts of statewide cases, which are weighted toward the city and suburbs and show a clear decline in hospitalizations, the governor showed a chart of Buffalo’s Erie County, which is still rising or at a plateau.
Seven people died in the Buffalo area in the past day, a high number for the biggest city in western New York.
Cuomo suggested that when some rural regions of the state see a decline in cases, they may be allowed to reopen slowly. Other areas where cases are still high or numbers are still rising will have to wait longer.