NYS update: Cuomo appears to be losing discipline under the stress of the situation, and some of his unhelpful instincts are coming to the fore. Today’s announcement about PPE and ventilator requisition could have been handled much better. I’m sorry, but no matter how dire the situation, you do not announce via press conference that you are sending the National Guard to wrest an unspecified amount of critical equipment from already-stressed upstate hospitals, and then dare them to sue you. Which hospitals? What version of Upstate? “I’ll return them or reimburse the expense” is not good enough when health officials in Erie, Monroe, Onondaga and other counties are watching their numbers of critically ill creep upward every day, having fully taken seriously the warnings about coming waves, and having scrambled mightily to keep their own health systems afloat. These counties are not going to conveniently postpone their own COVID wave crests until you are able to write them a reparation check for unsourceable equipment.
No, Governor, you do not say that it way. Not in an age of social media where you have a mentally unbalanced child for a U.S. president who likes to open up Twitter and read things like this:
This type of stuff was posted within minutes of his announcement. Doesn’t Cuomo realize that Trump also likes to govern by press conference (and worse, by tweet)? They can be like brothers from another mother, and I can easily imagine the monumental shit that would hit the fan if Trump wanted to suddenly “adopt” upstate New York as his own. One’s mind goes all kinds of places, and they are all ugly.
Onondaga County update: Central New York remains trapped in the limbo of steadily rising cases and intubations. I admit to being almost nail-bitingly interested in what CE McMahon and Dr. Gupta had to say, but Dr. Gupta was not present at this briefing (busy tracking down contacts, it was explained). If our situation really is that we’re sitting helplessly waiting for the National Guard trucks to roll up and take away our vents to the more critical regions, it seems the only thing we can do is social distance ourselves like social distancing has never been distanced before. As usual, all we can do is survive. Survive the lost factories, survive the winters, survive the virus, survive getting squashed by the needs of the many and the good and the great. Distancing is the only thing left.
And indeed the CE was hinting that more social distancing “sacrifice” would be asked of residents (my guess, listening to the briefing, was that access to stores might soon be limited by executive order). He also expanded on his usual theme of Syracuse’s central position in tending to medical needs “from the Canadian to the Pennsylvania border,” citing 800 positive cases in the greater region served by the Syracuse hospitals. (You know, at least McMahon had the guts to use the s-word here. You’d think Cuomo’s announcement would have acknowledged the reality of the potentially dire sacrifices that upstate doctors would be expected to make if the downstate and upstate curves didn’t obligingly arrange themselves one after the other.)
On the ventilators themselves:
I have not seen the executive order. I carry a large burden on a daily basis. The governor is carrying a very large burden. Our downstate neighbors in these communities, I know many of these leaders personally. And they are going through hell. We have families in our community that are going through hell. And we’ve made decisions and we’ve had more time to plan and prepare. That does not mean that we have put ourselves in a position where we are hoarding things that are unnecessary to our population. I have not heard from the governor’s team that they need PPE or ventilators from Onondaga County… I don’t know the context of the governor’s concern is. In our conversations with the state, we in Central New York very early came together and we figured out a plan for this community, knowing we would be where we are today, and we may be in a position where it’s worse weeks from now. And we knew that… So I don’t know what the term “surplus” means and who they’re talking to. We will review that with our lawyers… Part of why you haven’t heard me screaming at the top of my lungs for more PPE from the state, is because we are uniquely positioned with this medical infrastructure, and we have been going out and when we find a deal we’ll go buy it…but if we didn’t have any of that, and weren’t doing all this, and I was in a situation where St. Joe’s or Crouse or Upstate doesn’t have PPE for their employees, I would be screaming to the heavens. And because we’ve done a decent job to stay afloat of that, doesn’t mean we have “surplus.” It makes sense if we can meet the needs of the 800 COVID-19 patients, then certainly if there needs to be a surge of patients from the city, to the Island, to Westchester, to the Hudson Valley, to the Capital district, to Central, to Western, that makes sense and we’re going to do our part. And if there’s ways that the state thinks we can do our part, they just have to call us and let us know what they think.
This was a very good press conference and the most calmly-argued response to the situation that I saw today. The entire briefing can be viewed here. (This one understandably deviated from the usual formula, so it’s mostly all meat and no potatoes.)