Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi on Wednesday came armed to his news conference on COVID-19 with a slide presentation on rising COVID cases in various regions of New York. He proposed returning to a colored-coded system to identify region-based "microclusters" of cases.
He even asked and answered his own question at one point. But if this all seems a little too familiar to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's style in his public handling of the pandemic, Suozzi insisted he's very different.
"I don't want to get in the position of comparing myself to Gov. Cuomo, but I do think he accomplished a lot of good things for our state," Suozzi said.
Suozzi on Monday formally entered the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, entering a crowded field that includes incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
He has called for changes to the state's cash bail laws, and staked out a decidedly moderate lane in the primary. And on Wednesday, he called on the state to do more to tackle the pandemic as the holiday season gets underway, the weather becomes colder and a new variant of concern has emerged.
"New York needs a holiday plan for COVID. Why do we need a holiday plan? Because everybody is going to be gathering, because we already have the concerns about delta and because we have concerns about omicron," he said. "So we don't know what's going to happen."
Suozzi wants a focus on booster shots for fully vaccinated adults and a push to increase mask wearing in regions where COVID-19 cases are on the rise. He spoke favorably of how Cuomo, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct toward women on Aug. 24, handled the pandemic.
"One thing he really did well was that he constantly laid out a comprehensive plan regarding out to attack the coronavirus and he shared it with the public," Suozzi said.
Investigations in recent weeks have revealed a less rosy assessment of Cuomo's handling of the pandemic. Testimony of former state workers, including the state's top epidemiologist at the time, told investigators of how Cuomo and his top aides asserted a large role over the crisis and would often make unreasonable demands.
If elected, Suozzi said he would not replicate that approach.
"I believe there needs to be a state-led strategy by the governor," he said. "I totally agree the state needs to be leading the way. I do not believe it has to go through a bottleneck of the governor."