New York’s economy, along with the rest of the world, has largely ground to a halt in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Millions of New Yorkers have been ordered to stay home. Businesses have closed, some have laid off thousands of workers.
And Governor Andrew Cuomo in an interview with his brother Chris Cuomo on CNN on Monday night acknowledged not just the toll that was taking in order to flatten the wave of hospitalizations, but that a pivot at some point was needed to open the economy back up.
“This is New York and we're with the home of so much of this. So coming up with the plan to restart the economy is very important,” the governor said. “But this, you don't want to -- it's a false choice to say public health or restart the economy. Nobody's going to make that choice, and by the way, if you have to make that choice, it's public health. Because you cannot put a value on a human life.”
Cuomo had referenced earlier in the day at a press briefing the work of David Katz, the founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, who has questioned the wisdom of total shutdowns to halt the spread of the virus. Instead, Katz in a New York Times op/ed last week argued for a more surgical approach that keeps older and vulnerable people at home and with targeted health care, while allowing younger and healthier people to return to work.
Cuomo is still urging caution about how, in essence, to restart the world.
“If you now look at it, it didn't make any sense to close the schools, send my kids home with me or older people, or with grandmothers who were vulnerable to this virus,” Cuomo said in the CNN interview. “And young people were then maybe bringing it into the house. We didn't have any data or science to instruct us. But now you can come up with a smarter public health strategy that actually protects older people, lets younger people get back to work, and that can start the economic recovery. But it has to be that smart. It can't be reactive. It can't be emotional.”
President Donald Trump has signaled an eagerness to re-open for business as well, if not an impatience with mass closings.
Cuomo, meanwhile, indicated both the public health response and the opening back up of the economy can be done in concert.
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But for now, the priority remains reducing the rate of hospitalizations from the virus that threaten to overwhelm New York’s public health system, which could happen as early as 10 days from now.
“Do we have to think about restarting the economy? Do we have to plan for it? Yes. Should we be thinking about a public health strategy that starts the economy? That to me is the art form for government in this situation,” Cuomo said. But what we're looking at right now is this wave of increasing cases.”