Amid weeks of protests and violence throughout New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared surprisingly good news for the state during a Friday press conference. The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic in New York, which was the epicenter of the disease during the heart of infection spread and deaths just weeks ago, now has the lowest transmission rate of all 50 states.
"New York state has the lowest rate of transmission, the virus is spreading at the lowest rate of every state in America,” said Gov. Cuomo. “We were the number one in the nation, number one on the globe per capita."
Cuomo credited following the data with the state's success and also said other states were seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases because of reopening too soon.
"You have states now that reopened that are now scaling back their reopening,” the governor said, without saying specifically which states had failed. “We are the exact opposite. Since we’ve reopened, the number has continued to go down."
But while Cuomo touted the success of his phased reopening for the state, much of New York City, home to 9 million people and the undisputed economic heart of the Empire State, remained shuttered by early phase restrictions. Thousands of businesses closed their doors for good when government assistance was not enough to cover the loss of an unprecedented months-long closure.
During a Townhall visit to the Big Apple last week, shopping districts and restaurants normally teeming with visitors, shoppers, and residents were boarded up with plywood. The ghostly store fronts of those businesses that didn't survive the pandemic were a reminder of the price still being paid throughout the country.
Flashback to last Friday in NYC. A dystopian nightmare and nothing less pic.twitter.com/nwzsjIsWC3— Ellie Bufkin (@ellie_bufkin) June 12, 2020
For those businesses fortunate enough to hang on, hopes were dashed again when protests and unrest came to the city. On the precipice of reopening, the fear of failing economically was simply replaced with a fear of looting and physical violence.
On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced that some rural areas of New York would be allowed to enter phase three of his plan in the coming days. Most of the state went into phase two on Wednesday but NYC is still in phase one. Even with Cuomo's acknowledgement that New York has surpassed expectations in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation's largest city remains handcuffed to a severely throttled economy.
Cuomo also addressed the recent protests in New York sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Though the initial violence and burglary of retailers across NYC quieted after the first week, demands for defunding the NYPD soon followed. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to cut $1 billion from the city's police budget but was still booed by protesters when he would not commit to abolishing the police entirely.
On Friday the governor also admonished the police department of New York, taking the side of protesters and thanking them for "standing up."
"Today is ‘enough is enough,'” Cuomo sad. “How many times do you have to see the same case over and over before you do something? God bless this country for standing up." He then announced an executive order that would require police municipalities in the state must "reinvent" themselves or forfeit state funding.
"We will not going to fund police agencies in this state that can’t look at what is happening, come to terms with it, and reform themselves," he said.
Nearly 400 NYPD police officers have been hurt, some critically, since protests in the name of George Floyd erupted in New York just two weeks ago.