FLASHBACK: NY Gov Cuomo Downplays Coronavirus During Press Briefing (WATCH)

During a press briefing held on March 2, 2020 from his Manhattan office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo downplayed the Chinese coronavirus.

*Scroll down to watch video.

During a press briefing held on March 2, 2020 from his Manhattan office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo downplayed the Chinese coronavirus. Over a month after President Trump made the life-saving decision to temporarily suspend travel from China, officials in New York were encouraging citizens to take public transportation and to go to restaurants.

“…[T]his is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York,” Cuomo told the assembled press. “[In] 1968 we had the Hong Kong flu.” Cuomo continued to reassure citizens that the coronavirus “tends to [affect] people who are debilitated, senior citizens, many of whom have an underlying illness.” Cuomo further boasted that New York has “the best healthcare system on the planet.” Cuomo bragged that New York will be doing their own testing:

“It was a big break when the federal government allowed us to do our own testing because now we are actually in control of the systems ourselves. And as New Yorkers we like control.”

The comments made by Governor Cuomo were based on the information available at the time but underscores the remarkable double standard in the mainstream media. President Trump has been relentlessly criticized for seeking to reassure citizens after he took the most effective measure of temporarily suspending travel on January 31, 2020.


As reported at RAIR Foundation USA, statements made by New York City officials Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot were highly criticized for downplaying the risk of the coronavirus. Further, RAIR Foundation USA published a video of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer assuring citizens on February 14, 2020 that the coronavirus “is not anything that is taking place in the state of New York” and further encouraged New Yorkers to come to Chinatown. “There is nothing whatsoever preventing you from coming to this wonderful neighborhood,” she said.

On Mar 11, 2020, Democratic Socialists of America member Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told citizens that they should be “patroning” Chinese restaurants.

“Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say, but there’s a lot of restaurants that are feeling the pain of racism, where people are literally not patroning [sic] Chinese restaurants, they’re not patroning [sic] Asian restaurants because of just straight-up racism around the coronavirus.”

Watch, courtesy of Ryan Saavedra:

As of May 6, 2020, New York has reported 25,956 fatalities from the coronavirus, over a third of the fatalities experienced in the entire United States.

Transcript of highlighted footage:

First of all, this is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York. 1968 we had the Hong Kong flu. 2009 we had the swine flu where we actually closed like 100 schools in New York State. Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, MRSA, measles, right. So we have gone through this before. When you look at the reality here, about 80 percent of the people who are infected with the coronavirus self-resolve. They have symptoms. The symptoms are similar to what you would have with the normal flu. And for most people, they treat themselves, over 80 percent, and the virus resolves that way. About 20 percent get ill.

The mortality rate is estimated to be about 1.4 percent, 1.4 percent. What does that mean? The normal flu mortality rate is about .6 percent. And the CDC says 1.4 but they’re extrapolating from what we know from countries around the world. First, even on the 1.4 percent, again that tends to be people who are debilitated, senior citizens, many of whom have an underlying illness. That tends to be the people who are vulnerable to this. Good news, children do not appear as vulnerable to this virus. Less vulnerable than to the normal flu. So that is good news. But, 1.4 percent, that’s extrapolating from China and other countries, 80 percent it will resolve on their own. The woman who has now tested positive, she’s at home, she’s not even at a hospital.

So the perspective here is important. And the facts, once you know the facts, once you know the reality, it is reassuring and we should relax because that’s what dictated by the reality of the situation. I get the emotion, I understand it, I understand the anxiety. I’m a native born New Yorker, we live with anxiety. But, the facts don’t back it up here.

Also, we’re extrapolating from what happened in China and other countries. We have the best healthcare system in the world here. And excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers, I speak for the Mayor also on this one, we think we have the best healthcare system on the planet right here in New York. So, when you’re saying what happened in other countries vs. what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries. We are fully coordinated, we are fully mobilized, this is all about mobilization of a public health system. Getting the testing done, getting the information out and then having the healthcare resources to treat people who are going to need help. Again, that is going to be primarily senior citizens, people who are debilitated. And we’re going to have a special effort for our nursing homes, et cetera, congregate facilities where senior citizens are being treated.

Renee Nal

Renee Nal is an investigative journalist and documentary film producer.

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