They say politics make strange bedfellows. And, as it turns out, so do pandemics.
After a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with President Donald Trump, Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged to say that he and the commander-in-chief will work together on federal assistance for New York state to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
The unexpected announcement of the day was Cuomo’s pivot to a plan to restart the economy on a region-by-region basis, which seemingly contradicts the governor’s statements two weeks ago that such a strategy would encourage people in lockdown in other areas to travel to places where businesses are open.
Another hopeful sign is that good things will come from Cuomo and Trump’s tete-a-tete in Washington. At the very least, it will discourage the blame game the two leaders have been playing since the onset of the pandemic. At best, it could result in the doubling of the number of tests the state conducts — an increase the governor says has to happen before business returns to normal in New York.
Cuomo said Tuesday the state will increase the rate of testing to learn whether people are carrying COVID-19 antibodies, get an idea of the mortality of the virus, and the number of people who actually died of coronavirus and how many died of ancillary conditions.
Economically, the state is divided into 10 regions, each with its own special characteristics. In other words, Greene and Columbia counties are in a completely different situation than the New York metropolitan area. Variations will be analyzed and a phased-in plan to reopen businesses and schools will be formed.
Cuomo and Trump made good progress with their meeting. A phased-in schedule to restart the state’s economy, one region at a time, sounds workable, provided it is carried out safely and doesn’t lead to a new spike in the virus. This happened in Singapore, where a restart plan got a premature green light.
New York is different in many ways from Singapore, however, and if a gradual, regional approach is done correctly, it will be good for all.