VOA News By Margaret Besheer
NEW YORK – New York’s governor fired back Friday at criticism from President Donald Trump over whether the state had requested too much federal help to fight the coronavirus.
During his daily press briefing, a reporter asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his reaction to two tweets the president sent out during the briefing, which Trump appeared to be watching.
In one, Trump said the Democratic governor should spend more time “doing” and less time “complaining.”
“We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use,” Trump said. The president also said New York received large numbers of ventilators that he believed the state should have had itself.
In a second tweet, Trump said, “We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far” and he complained that the governor never “says thanks.”
New York is the U.S. state hardest hit by the pandemic. As of Friday, New York reported more than 223,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Nearly 13,000 state residents have died in hospitals from the virus, although numbers are expected to rise as “probable” COVID-19 deaths at home are added to the data.
“First of all, if he’s sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work,” Cuomo fired back.
Cuomo added that he has repeatedly thanked the president for federal government assistance, including building a 2,500-bed field hospital at a New York City convention center and for sending the U.S. naval hospital ship Comfort to the city, which has more than half of the state’s total COVID-19 cases.
“I don’t know, what am I supposed to do, send a bouquet of flowers?” the governor quipped.
Cuomo emphasized that New York made its hospital capacity and equipment requests based on projections from the federal government — specifically from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the president’s White House Coronavirus Task Force.
In March, they forecast that as many as 160 million to 214 million Americans could become infected with the virus without mitigation efforts, such as social distancing. They also warned that between 2.4 million and 21 million people could require hospitalization and a further 1 million to 2 million could die.
“The number came from a projection from him,” Cuomo said of the president. “He should read the reports he issues.”
Cuomo said if the president is not happy with the predictions, he should fire the heads of the CDC and his task force, as well as his senior aide, Peter Navarro.
Earlier in the week, Cuomo said he had no desire to fight with the president when Trump said it was in his power to decide when states would lift restrictions on businesses and reopen.
“The president will have no fight with me,” the governor said on Tuesday. “I will not engage.” But Cuomo appeared to have changed his mind by Friday, launching a series of criticisms that went on for nearly half an hour.
Trump did shift his position in line with the Constitution and said state governors should make decisions on reopening. Cuomo said without giving them funding and assisting with wide-scale virus testing, the president is “doing nothing.”
“All he’s doing is walking in front of the parade,” Cuomo said.
The president also tweeted that states should step up their testing.
Cuomo has repeatedly said that individual states do not have the capacity to test on a mass scale. New York alone has a population of 19.5 million people.
“He’s saying he doesn’t want to provide funding to the states, and he doesn’t want to help on testing,” Cuomo said Friday. “And I can tell you the states can’t do it otherwise. And if this testing doesn’t work, that’s a serious problem.”