New York governor Andrew Cuomo pushed back on claims that state lockdowns were creating more harm than the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “how can the cure be worse than the illness if the illness is potential death?”
Speaking to reporters as protestors demonstrated outside New York’s state capitol in Albany, Cuomo denied that his measures, which closed nonessential businesses and banned unnecessary gatherings, “equal death.”
“Economic hardship — yes, very bad — not death. Emotional stress, from being locked in a house — very bad, not death. Domestic violence on the increase? Very bad, not death. And the death of someone else,” he stated. “See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yea, it’s your life, do whatever you want, but you’re now responsible for my life, you have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you, you have a responsibility to me, right?”
A reporter asked Gov. Cuomo what he’d say to New Yorkers who want to go back to work because they’re running out of money, to which he replied, “economic hardship doesn’t equal death”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 22, 2020
Lockdown protests have occurred across the country, with some governors pushing back. During an address on Monday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer compared state residents protesting her social distancing restrictions to Americans who protested the World War II production effort in the 1940s.
On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr said that the Justice Department could take action against states whose measures are deemed too strict, as a coalition of southern states — Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee — all plan to reopen businesses in coming days.
Cuomo, who last week extended the rules to May 15 in coordination with other states, added that “when I see 484 New Yorkers die, I feel that it’s like people in my family, and nothing comes before the public health risk of somebody else’s life.”
“We started here saying, ‘it’s not about me, it’s about we,’ get your head around the ‘we’ concept. So it’s not just all about you. It’s about me too, it’s about we,” he explained. “ . . . And think about it as if, it was your family that might get infected, right? And that’s what we’re talking about. And when you think about it as your family, you have a different perspective.”
Pressed on claims that New Yorkers wanted to return to work, Cuomo retorted, “if you want to go to work, go take the job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow.”