An unseen enemy was causing bodies to pile up in understaffed morgues. Tax revenues weren’t just down, they were nonexistent. The public, skeptical about an enemy it couldn’t see, was unwilling to follow recommended protocols. These are types of issues that county executives had to deal with in real life and discuss in a new book, titled “Our Darkest Hours: New York County Leadership & the COVID Pandemic," published in May. 

Authors include award-winning author Peter Golden and both Mark LaVigne and Stephen Acquario of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). 

Acquario, who appeared on Capital Tonight, discussed the genesis of the book.

“When we went through the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no rules. There was no warning. There were no notes,” he explained.  “So, what happened here is that the county executives are incident commanders and they had to spring forward and act immediately.”

The book details county executives’ personal stories from the pandemic, including one from Albany County’s Dan McCoy who shared his surprise when learning he had, at one point, been COVID-19 positive without knowing it. 

“NYSAC chronicled each individuals’ story so that each of them end up sharing a moment in time,” Acquario said. “How did they respond? What did they see in their community?”

The second half of the book includes lessons learned by the county executives. 

Capital Tonight also asked Acquario to comment on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to declare a state of emergency in New York over gun violence.

“It was a powerful speech,” NYSAC’s Stephen Acquario said. “This was a very passionate plea by the governor declaring gun violence a public health crisis. That’s the first time I’ve seen that.”