Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat from New York, reportedly addressed anti-lockdown protesters outside the state capitol in Albany Wednesday and said that if they are so desperate to find work, “go get a job as an essential worker.”
The Daily Beast reported that Cuomo’s comment appeared to be half-joking, but possibly emblematic of the growing strain between government officials and an uneasy public.
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
“I just have a question for Governor Cuomo. Since we have been living without salaries, is he willing to give up his salary for two months to help the people?” asked Jeanne Colangelo, a protester, according to CBS 6 Albany. Protesters there were calling him “King Cuomo.”
Many of the protesters there echoed the same concerns as other protesters across the U.S. There is no sign of the U.S. reopening in any dramatic fashion and millions of Americans are without employment. One protester said, “We can’t let the solution to the problem be worse than the problem itself.”
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Cuomo asked, “How can the cure be worse than the illness if the illness is potential death?”
Cuomo has become one of the key Democrat figures to emerge from the coronavirus outbreak and has shown some political savvy in working with President Trump on some initiatives while measuring his criticism of the White House’s response to the epidemic.
“I get the economic hardship,” he said. “You want to go to work? Go take a job as an essential worker.”
Cuomo has insisted that the health of New Yorkers needs to be the top priority, even if the economy continues to suffer.
“I get the pressure,” he said, according to the website. “But we can’t make a bad decision. Frankly, this is no time to act stupidly. Period. I don’t know how else to say it. He continued, “I’m not going to have the political obituary of this year be, well, they acted imprudently.”
New York has been hit hard by the coronavirus and had 257,246 total cases and over 15,000 deaths. President Trump has spoken out about the need to reopen the economy but stressed that it will have to be a slow rollout that begins with states that are least affected.
New York’s stay-at-home order will be in place until May 15, but will likely be extended.