(CN) — In the 21st century version of fireside chats, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo showed viewers a dramatic piece of data Wednesday, contrasting the downward slope of coronavirus cases in the New York metro area against the still-ascending mountain seen across the nation.
“To me, that vindicates what we are doing in New York, which says ‘follow the science,’” Cuomo told reporters. “What we are doing here shows results.”
The coolheaded governor’s advice came hours after President Donald Trump made the baffling announcement that, despite what Vice President Mike Pence had said a day earlier, there is no plan to shutter the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio put the news in more blunt terms at a separate press conference, despite having tempered his usual harsh criticism in a diplomatic dance for federal assistance.
“I think that he is losing touch with the reality, and that is very, very dangerous,” de Blasio said.
New York City is seeing fewer cases of the deadly virus but shut down the subways Tuesday night for the first time in 115 years — a process that involved removing scores of homeless people who live there. Just how many were removed is a matter of dispute between City Hall and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The MTA president Pat Foye told the radio station 1010 Wins that approximately 2,000 homeless were removed from the subways last night, but de Blasio insisted that the true figure is roughly a tenth of that number.
Of the 252 homeless people pushed put of the subways, de Blasio claimed, more than half agreed to enter New York City’s system.
“We have never, ever seen so much success in a single night before,” the mayor told reporters, turning an issue that engendered national criticism into a point of local pride.
For de Blasio, the subway’s rare closure and deep cleaning provided an opportunity to engage with homeless people and disrupt a decades-old pattern.
Cuomo, on the other hand, attributed the statewide spike in homelessness to local authorities.
“We’ve increased funding dramatically, exponentially,” the governor said. “It’s not just a question of funding. It’s how you use that funding.”
Neither of the men would be lured by the positive signs into prematurely opening New York’s economy.
In the city, de Blasio said the task will fall to 10 advisory councils, bringing together small businesses, faith groups, construction, real estate and other sectors of industry.
Cuomo pushed forward a plan of integrating the state’s hospitals to operate as one system.
One of the challenges both men will have to deal with is the June 23 Democratic primary, which was reinstated Tuesday by a federal judge who blocked an attempt by state authorities to canceled it.
Cuomo urged New Yorkers to avoid a surge of infections after that date.
“Please vote by absentee ballots so you don’t have to show up,” the governor said.
His top aide Melissa DeRosa added that there is a chance the contest would not be called that night, as election authorities scramble to count those ballots.