New York State governor Andrew Cuomo became a national figure earlier this year, largely thanks to his daily press briefings about the COVID-19 pandemic. The reasons for that are fairly obvious: In the early months New York City saw the largest outbreak of cases and deaths than anywhere else in America, and those briefings were in stark contrast to the misinformation and spectacle peddled by Donald Trump’s national press conferences.
Cuomo’s no-nonsense appearance and someitmes silly slideshow-style presentations offered a calming presence to those in lockdown and uncertain about the future. And while Cuomo is a more controversial figure in his own state, as politicians often are for their actual constitutes, his rise to national prominence has made for some interesting happenings in recent days.
For starters, Cuomo won an Emmy for his daily press briefings. As the New York Post phrased it, he won the award for “just doing his job,” which is largely true. But it’s the way he did the job, you could suppose, even if many still believed the state’s handling of the COVID-19 was more a mixed bag than a triumph.
A slew of New York-bred celebrities from Robert De Niro, Spike Lee and Rosie Perez to Billy Crystal and Billy Joel played along by fawning over the Democratic governor and his International Emmy Founders Award in a montage tribute.
Crystal and Joel hailed Cuomo as “the nation’s governor” and “the epitome of New York tough” — even though as many as 11,000 people died from the virus New York’s nursing homes, a tragic situation that critics say the pol helped create.
Criticism of his past actions aside, Cuomo’s current handling of rising case counts in New York State, particular in the western part where Buffalo and Rochester lay, is causing him to be raked over the coals. And on Monday, the same day he was awarded his Emmy, word of his Thanksgiving plans drew a new round of outcry. While many health officials and experts have strongly recommended Thanksgiving gatherings be canceled and celebrations be limited to members of your own household, Cuomo said he would be hosting extended family on Thursday.
According to Mediate, the news was criticized as “reckless” and a clear contrast from what medical officials recommend Americans do this holiday season. The news brought widespread outrage on Monday. As Campbell reported via USA Today, while the gathering would have been OK under his current gathering rules in the state, it was in direct contrast with plans laid out by most medical officials. As the US Centers For Disease Control has stated, the “safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”
Which is likely why Cuomo, facing immense pressure on social media, cancelled his own Thanksgiving plans.
Ultimately, it was no matter. By 5:30 p.m., Cuomo nixed the gathering entirely.
In a statement, Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi noted Cuomo said his plans were subject to change.
“(G)iven the current circumstances with COVID, he will have to work through Thanksgiving and will not be seeing them,” Azzopardi said. “Don’t tell his mom — she doesn’t know yet.”
It’s safe thing to do, and while it will likely not quell his critics it does send a good message to anyone still trying to force through multifamily gatherings this holiday season: It’s never too late to do the right thing and cancel your Thanksgiving plans.