New York state is ground zero for America’s coronavirus pandemic. People who have tested positive there represent more than half the U.S. infections and about 7 percent of those globally; the state’s cases, most of them in New York City, are doubling every three days. Its needs—for equipment, hospital beds, personnel and expertise—are as daunting as the scale of the outbreak.
When the pandemic’s history is written, there will be long chapters detailing the mistakes made by leaders. Some of those, inevitably, will be Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s. But what’s notable is what he is getting right as a communicator, priority-setter, admonisher and empathetic voice of reason.
It’s a tricky balance, as is clear from the counterexamples set by President Donald Trump above him and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio below.
The whole country would be better off if the federal government heeded Cuomo’s call for a standardized national shutdown to flatten the pandemic’s growth curve, and a frontal attack on the massive shortage of masks, ventilators, testing kits and other equipment.
Stylistically, Cuomo is not so different from Trump. Both men, from Queens, are blunt, bullying, transactional rule-breakers who prize loyalty and punish adversaries. But governors are problem-solvers by definition: They must balance the budget; they must meet payroll. Now, as Trump dangerously flirts with a premature end to social distancing, the country may have to rely on governors such as Cuomo to keep its virus response on a rational and evidence-informed track.
Print Headline: OTHERS SAY How to lead during crisis