Many agreed that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did a commendable job at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak. New York City was hit extremely hard, but the governor's aggressive actions helped lower the hospitalization rate and flatten the curve. The death rate is still staggeringly high, but it's a positive sign that New York did not exceed the need for hospital beds. Officials have even sent the USNS Comfort back to Virginia as it became clear the state wouldn't need it.
But that success has been overshadowed by a few outrageous decisions, including Cuomo's mandate to force nursing home facilities to accept COVID-19 patients as they were discharged from hospitals. The governor and his staff have defended the policy and reiterated that these facilities can only accept those infected patients if they have the capacity to care for them. Still, New Yorkers have seen outbreaks in previously healthy facilities. Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean blamed Cuomo for the death of her in-laws, both of whom died in a nursing home.
Earlier today, Guy broke down the worst parts of Cuomo's nursing home policy, and, as it turns out, several other decisions that may have led to the somber death toll. According to a ProPublica report, the state also severely downplayed the number of nursing home deaths in the state.
Other New Yorkers are frustrated by Cuomo's stay-at-home order and slow response to their unemployment claims. One Western New York law firm has seen enough. This weekend HoganWillig Attorneys at Law announced that they were suing the governor and Attorney General Letitia James for what they perceive to be an abuse of power.
"The steps Governor Cuomo has taken, and AG James has enforced, in an attempt to 'flatten the COVID-19 curve' far exceed the Governor's authority under Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, which Governor Cuomo has cited as his authority for issuing the Executive Orders," Corey Hogan said.
In their complaint, the attorneys quote the Founding Fathers to try and prove that Cuomo has let power go to his head. For instance, they quote John Adams as having said, "The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty"; and "Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."
"Defendants, in a disturbing and gross abuse of their power, have seized the COVID19 pandemic to expand their authority by unprecedented lengths, without any proper Constitutional, statutory, or common law basis therefor," the complaint reads. "Plaintiff thus brings this lawsuit to assert challenges to the ultra vires actions taken by Defendants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
WBEN listeners called in to tell radio host Sandy Beach that they were rooting for the plaintiffs. The consensus could be summarized as: give the power back to the people.
"Let individuals decide how to best protect themselves," one listener said.
"I believe it's time the power is given back to the people," another agreed.
"We're turning into sheep," another concerned New Yorker said.
@hoganwillig hope you guys win this lawsuit and soon and put an end to the ny governors lockdown orders before the nyc and nys economy gets completely destroyed.— Joshua Mirakhor (@phython216) May 18, 2020
People need to decide when they’re ready to go back to work. Government can help them be safe about it but should not hold back businesses or people ready for some sort of normalcy!— Amy Pearson Coleman, NBCT (@amy_forreal) May 17, 2020
Asked to respond to the new lawsuit at his Monday press conference in Buffalo, Cuomo replied, "That falls in the category of 'a lot of people say a lot of things.'"
The governor also claimed that protecting nursing homes has been one of his top priorities.
After forcing nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients in March and only stopping it in May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo states: "We now have a top priority, which we had from day one, which is our nursing homes." pic.twitter.com/KdzzGlQtE6— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) May 18, 2020