On Sunday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cautioned New Yorkers about abandoning safety practices put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“My gut says the weather is going to warm. People are bored. People want this over. They see the numbers going down; they can take false comfort. ‘Oh, it's going down. That means it's over.’ No, no,” he said. “We never said it was over. We said the numbers are going down. We said roughly 1,000 new people, every day, walk into the hospitals. ‘Oh, no, it's basically over.’ No. ‘Well, I hear other states are reopening.’ No. We're not out of the woods, and we are this very dense environment. And you can see that virus pick up dramatically.”
He added, “How people cannot wear masks, that, to me, is even disrespectful. It's disrespectful,” Cuomo said. “It's disrespectful to the nurses, the doctors, the people who have been frontline workers, the transit workers. You wear the mask, not for yourself; you wear the mask for me. It's a sign of respect to other people.
“And you make me sick (with the coronavirus) – that's disrespectful. I have to go into the hospital. I have to call an ambulance. That's an ambulance driver. I have to go into an emergency room; that's a nurse, that's a doctor who has to put on PPE, that somebody has to buy and pay for. They have to risk being exposed to the virus, because you wouldn't wear a mask. Because you wouldn't wear a mask?
“You put so many people at risk, because you didn't want to wear a mask. I think that's disrespectful by you. It’s disrespectful of your relationship and obligation to one another.”
Cuomo has said over the past few weeks that reopening this state – taking New York off the “PAUSE” he placed it on to control the outbreak – is akin to releasing pressure in a valve. If it is done too fast, the pipe will burst – or, in this case, if he reopens certain popular destinations while others remained closed, an influx of people will descend on that location, potentially bringing the coronavirus with them.
“What happens to you is dependent on what I do, and how I act,” Cuomo said. “I don't wear a mask. I sneeze on a park bench, you walk up two minutes later and sit down on the park bench – oh, by the way, you walk up a half an hour later, maybe, and sit on the park bench; and you put your hand down, and then you wipe your face. Now you have a problem – because of me. That's why the mask wearing (matters).”
Cuomo noted, “I've said to all the local government heads, enforce it. Enforce it. Because it's not only wrong, a public health risk, it really is such a little thing to ask of people at a time when people are doing so much – so much.”
Speaking of the coronavirus curve, Cuomo said, “And ‘it is not going down.’ It's not, ‘it is going down.’ There's no ‘it.’ We are bringing it down. That number was going (up). The only reason the number’s (dropping) is because New Yorkers grabbed that projection curve with two hands and pulled it down. And that's why it went (down).
“You go back to your old behavior, that number goes right back up. And it's warm, and you want to get out of the house, and everybody's antsy, and ‘I haven't gotten a paycheck,’ and ‘I'm worried about my job.’ I know – but big caution sign to me.
“Let's watch the numbers; numbers are going down. But we are a very dense environment. We've had more cases. We almost overwhelmed the whole health care system. So, caution moving forward.”
Show Support to First Responders
He added, “We are all very thankful to our health care heroes, our front-line workers, our essential workers. You watch television, there are all these nice commercials thanking everyone for what they did, and we should: nurses, doctors, police officers, transit workers – God bless them. But if you really want to say ‘Thank you,’ make their life easier by not getting sick and not making someone else sick.
“An individual's role is to act responsibly and intelligently for yourself and for your family and for your community. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. I mean, that is the basic step, right? Socially distance. If you can't socially distance … (and) you're going to walk up next to a person, wear a mask.
“OK, it’s not the most attractive garment ever created – so what? ‘Well, I don't like it; it feels uncomfortable, unnatural.’ So what? You want to honor the health care workers and the people who literally gave their lives, in some cases, for what they did here? Act responsibly. Wear a mask.
“I know the weather is getting warmer. I know people want to get out of the house. Fine, wear a mask and socially distance. That is your social responsibility in the middle of this overall pandemic. And when we talk about New Yorkers together and this spirit of unity and how people are helping one another, and how tough we are, and how smart we are, and how disciplined we are, and how we love one another – show it. You know how you show love? By wearing a mask – please.”