(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded exasperated as he talked with media members on Thursday.
The breaking point came when a reporter asked him if he agreed with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sentiment from earlier in the day that officials would likely know by this Sunday if the restrictions the state enacted in COVID-19 clusters could be lifted soon.
“I don't want to play this game with you guys anymore,” he said.
For the record, Cuomo said it’s still too early to tell if the restrictions the state enacted last week in the six cluster areas could be lifted next week. What was evident from Cuomo’s comments Thursday and even from earlier in the week is that Cuomo has grown tired of calling on local leaders to take up enforcement on the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.
De Blasio has been the main target, even if Cuomo hasn’t mentioned him directly, but over the nearly 230 days the governor has given COVID-19 briefings, he’s made it clear he thinks other city and county leaders haven’t done their job, either.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken over the enforcement on day one,” he said Wednesday.
That clear direction, while it likely wouldn’t have been popular, probably would have made things easier on businesses and residents, many of whom have complained about confusing or mixed messages from New York’s elected officials.
Take, for example, the steps that led to Cuomo’s cluster announcement last week. De Blasio made a similar announcement on Oct. 5 saying he would close schools and nonessential businesses in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, where the virus was rapidly spreading. His plan called on using ZIP codes
The next day, Cuomo made his own announcement, but rather than use ZIP codes, which he dismissed as too arbitrary, he offered up the cluster plan with intricate levels. That plan led to a lot of confusion in the days afterward as officials in New York City and elsewhere where clusters were identified tried to disseminate the information to those affected.
Greg Biryla, the New York state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said there was a lot of confusion in the messaging from state officials during the summer when the state rolled out its phased reopening plan. That needs to change, he said, especially if more clusters pop up across the state.
“We are going to require New York state to be an absolute partner in communicating what is expected of small businesses in any of these concerning areas and communicate that information as efficiently and as quickly as possible,” Biryla told The Center Square.
According to Cuomo, it would help if local officials stopped muddying the waters. He said de Blasio talking about when officials would have enough information would be like him commenting on the COVID-19 relief negotiations between the Trump Administration and House Democrats.
Cuomo said he has no authority over the former and the mayor has none on the latter.
“It's of no relevance, and it only confuses people,” Cuomo said.