No touching allowed? (Mark Lennihan/AP)
The rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated. No, Gov. Cuomo is not a dead duck or even necessarily a lame duck — and he shouldn’t be. He may not be perfect, but he has been the perfect man for our perilous pandemic times.
How quickly the pols calling for his ouster over unproven sexual misconduct allegations have forgotten that New York was, at the onset of the pandemic, COVID central.
In fact, New York in April of 2020 had not just the highest rate of COVID positivity of any state, but the highest rate of COVID positivity of any country!
New Yorkers were dying and suffering all around us like some dystopian play about the end of the world. We were confused, we were panicked, we were out of toilet paper.
The morgues were so full of the dead that hospitals had frozen food trucks parked in back to hold the overflow of corpses. We started with a 31% positivity rate for those tested, and six months later in October it was down to under 1%. Yes, the COVID positivity rate fluctuated due to holiday travel and gatherings, which Cuomo had warned us against, but on March 5 it was back down to 2.80% — the lowest since Nov. 21.
Have people forgotten how the whole country tuned in every day to watch Cuomo’s honest pandemic updates — and how he gave us the only hope we had that somehow we’d get past it?
These numbers are due to his mandates, measures, closures and the systematic vaccine rollout — with the highest number of vaccinations administered of any other state in the country. It hasn’t been pretty, it certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been effective.
Despite all of this, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said he should step down, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stopped just short of saying it. Both Democrats suggested that the sexual harassment allegations are distracting him from the business of running the state. Ever notice how, with sexual misconduct allegations, Democrats seem to immediately want to destroy the man and Republicans seem to immediately want to destroy the woman? What happened to waiting to condemn until all investigations have been done?
Distractions? This is a guy who has steered us through the worst of times by keeping laser-focused on the task at hand. The pandemic is a distraction, as are the deaths of nearly 48,000 New Yorkers; the loss of billions in revenue; businesses, schools, cultural and arts venues closing, and the accompanying loss of tourism.
Ironically, calling for his resignation because he’s supposedly distracted is in itself a distraction.
He has shown us he can multi-task as he continues to deal with all of the overwhelming horrors that have beset us as a state. Yes, he’s been a bully. But damn — it took a bully to deal with a bully. Remember, he was one of the few governors who managed to stand up to the biggest bully in the country, former President Donald Trump when he was threatening to withhold emergency aid to what he deemed poorly run states — with Democratic governors.
He set out to prove how focused he remains on righting this ship of state, again, on Monday when he held a vaccination progress event at the Javits Center. He did so without the press — which wasn’t the right thing to do politically — but it was the right thing to do in order to refocus on the most right thing right now: getting all New Yorkers vaccinated.
Look, as a single mother who needed a job and faced and stood up to bullies and sexual predators in newsrooms for all my working life, I understand just how serious allegations of harassment should be taken. But 15-year-old allegations that weren’t either reported then, or were in fact dealt with correctly back then, should not be causing this uproar now that the news has shifted away from the pandemic and we begin to emerge from the darkness of quarantine.
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As for the allegations, let the very competent and tough Letitia James do her investigation, and while it’s ongoing, let the governor continue to do his job. On Monday, 21 female members of the Assembly even signed a statement asking that she be given the time to do just that. That’s common sense and sensibility.
I’m not saying that these allegations aren’t real, and that the governor never figured out that in this day, that a boss just can’t go around hugging and kissing people — no matter how Italian he is. I’m a hugging and kissing Italian-American myself.
Meantime, and almost ridiculously, the pols calling for his head have themselves become distracted by the hugging-kissing scandal.
Right now what we don’t need is herd mentality — we need herd immunity.
Stasi was a Daily News columnist.