On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged Americans to be “socially distanced, but spiritually connected” during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We all have to now confront that that is a new reality,” he said. “That is not going to change. You are not going to turn on the news tomorrow morning and they are going to say, ‘Surprise, surprise, this is all now resolved in two weeks.’ That is not going to happen. So, deal with this reality. Understand the negative effect of this, which I have spoken to personally, because these are personally negative effect. You do not feel them governmentally, you feel them personally. You feel then in your own life.
“And don't underestimate the emotional trauma and don't underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real. This is not the human condition – not to be comforted, not to be close, to be afraid and you can't hug someone. … You know this is all unnatural. My daughter came up. I can't give her the embrace and the kiss that I want to give her. This is all unnatural and disorienting. And it is not you, it is everyone. It's the condition.
“And we are going to have time. And the question is how do we use this time positively? Also, at the same time we have to learn from this experience, because we were not ready to deal with this and other situations will happen. Other situations will happen, and let's at least learn from this to be prepared for the next situation as dramatic as this one has been.
“Also finding the silver lining, the positive. Life is going to be quieter for a matter of months. Everything will function. Life will function. Everything will normal operations, there won't be chaos. The stores will have groceries. Gas stations will have gasoline. There's no reason for extraordinary anxiety. But it is going to change. You won't be at work, you can't be sitting at restaurants, you're not going to be going to birthday parties, you don't have to go to business conferences on the weekends. There's less noise. You know what, that can be a good thing in some ways: You have more time. You have more flexibility. You can do some of those things that you haven't done, that you kept saying, ‘Well, I'd love to be able to; I'd love to be able to.’ Well now you can. You have more time with family.
“And yes, I get family in cramped quarters can be difficult, but it's also the most precious commodity. … So, one door closes, another door opens. Think about that.
“And as I said, normal operations will continue. As I said from day one, the level of anxiety is not connected to facts, there is no chaos the net effect – many people will get the virus, but few will be truly endangered. Hold both of those facts in your hands: Many will get it, up to 80% may get it, but few are truly endangered, and we know who they are. Realize the timeframe we're expecting, make peace with it, and find a way to help each other through this situation, because it's hard for everyone. And the goal for me: Socially distanced but spiritually connected. How do you achieve socially distanced but spiritually connected?”
On Sunday, the governor issued a similar sentiment.
“It's going to be hard. There is no doubt. I'm not minimizing it and I don't think you should either, but at the same time it is going to be OK,” he said. “We don't want to overreact, either. The grocery stores are going to function, there is going to be food; the transportation systems are going to function; the pharmacies are going to be open; all essential services will be maintained. There's not going to be chaos; there's not going to be anarchy; order and function will be maintained.
“Life is going to go on. Different – but life is going to go on. So, there's no reason to be going to grocery stores and hoarding food. You see all this overreaction on the TV every day, which makes you think, ‘Maybe I'm missing it; maybe I should run to the store and buy toilet paper?’ No. Life is going to go on. The toilet paper is going to be there tomorrow. So, a deep breath on all of that.
“But I do believe that whatever this is – four months, six months, nine months – we are going to be the better for it. They talk about the greatest generation, the generation that survived World War II. Dealing with hardship actually makes you stronger. Life on the individual level, on the collective level, on the social level. Life is not about avoiding challenges. Challenges are going to come your way. Life is going to knock you on your rear end at one point. Something will happen. And then life becomes about overcoming those challenges. That’s what life is about. And that's what this country is about.
“America is America, because we overcome adversity and challenges. That's how we were born. That's what we've done all our life. We overcome challenges and this is a period of challenge for this generation. And that's what has always made America great, and that's what going to make this generation great. I believe that to the bottom of my soul. We will overcome this, and America will be the greater for it. And my hope is that New York is going to lead the way forward and together we will.