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Nate Jackson / May 11, 2020

A Tale of Two States — New York and Georgia

Despite a death toll 15 times higher, Cuomo is a hero while Kemp is a villain.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been hailed as a hero for how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic, while Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has been mocked and vilified for reopening “too soon.” Yet New York has suffered over 21,000 COVID-19 deaths (one-fourth of the U.S. total), while Georgia has had less than 1,400. Clearly, media treatment improves with a “D” after your name.

There are a number of reasons for New York’s dramatic numbers that have little to do with Cuomo — primarily the population density of New York City. With 26,000 people per square mile, the disease is simply going to spread faster there, and it has so far killed more than 19,000 people in the city.

But other factors lay at Cuomo’s feet, including many of the 5,300 coronavirus deaths in New York’s nursing homes. “We’ve tried everything to keep it out of a nursing home,” he complained, “but it’s virtually impossible.” Especially when you order nursing homes to admit recovering COVID patients, as Cuomo did, ensuring its deadly spread. He then refused to provide personal protective gear to those nursing homes, saying, “It’s not our job.” And it wasn’t until six weeks had passed and the death toll surpassed 5,000 that he finally reversed his March 25 order and allowed nursing homes options when admitting residents.

Naturally, he did so while smugly insisting that he was right all along. “First of all, if you look at the facts, which is always fun, you can test your hypothesis on what’s flawed,” he said. “Look at how many residents we have in nursing homes. Look at the percentage of our deaths in our nursing homes vis-a-vie other states. We’re down by like number 34. So, whatever we’re doing has worked on the facts.” Well, skewed and deceptive “facts,” anyway.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, the outcry over Kemp’s April 24 reopening was so great that even President Donald Trump threw him under the bus. Even with greatly increased testing in the state, however, The Wall Street Journal reports good news: “The virus curve flattened in the Peach State. Data from the last 14 days show a welcome trend of declining new cases and deaths.”

Kemp said on Saturday, “Today marks the lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized statewide (1,203) since hospitals began reporting this data on April 8th.”

That isn’t to say that any state is out of the woods yet. But Cuomo has been particularly critical of other states for opening up, all while his state is mired in a terrible death toll that is partly of his own making. Perhaps he shouldn’t throw stones from a glass house.

Ultimately, this contrast matters because the entire American economy has been devastated by onerous lockdown orders. In many cases, Democrat-run states with the harshest orders have the highest death tolls. Yet millions of Americans in states with far lower death rates have lost their livelihoods and suffered mental-health consequences because the future is bleak. Is it any wonder that governors in those states are reopening and hoping it’s not too late?

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