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It’s always the hot seat for Cuomo

Life is a bipolar experience filled with highs and lows — especially in this era of extremes. Our governor is not exempt from life’s extremes and like Morton salt, when it rains it pours, even in the middle of a COVID pandemic. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s detractors are hot on his heels. New opportunists continue to emerge to join in the hunt. Thank goodness they were kept at bay earlier in the course of the pandemic when the governor was concentrating all his attention on fighting the advances of the COVID virus.

Had these now prevalent media accusations been a distraction then, he may not have been able to accomplish the life-saving results that he did. Now he finds himself under siege on two fronts.

Admittedly, there have been rumblings of the nursing home controversy right along. Critics of the handling of nursing home residents that were hospitalized have continued to beat the old horse that nursing home deaths were caused by patients released from the hospital and returned to their nursing home facility.

One of those complaining is our Congressman Tom Reed. Even though this charge has been addressed, investigated, and disproven, he continues to insist that it is true and must be proven. That is not the way truth works.

Critics are getting their way as state Attorney General Leticia James announced that her office will do an investigation. Reed made a statement that the “coverup” as he labeled it, “was not political, it was just wrong.” But the attacks on the governor personally are political.

The media dam broke on this idea of a coverup from a remark made by Cuomo’s assistant, Melissa DeRosa, in a teleconference to state Democratic legislators which was leaked by one of them to the New York Times. The article interpreted her use of the word “froze” as an intentional withholding of a report on the COVID death counts due to fear of retaliation from the Trump administration.

Assuming that had been the case, to me it would have been excusable given the animosity of former President Donald Trump toward the state governor and “blue” states in general. I’d look at it as an effort to preserve assets for the state’s COVID battle. More logical a reason for the delay, which Cuomo admitted in a briefing created a void that allowed assumptions to circulate, was that they simply had their hands full in the constant fight to keep up with changing strategies in the war on the virus. The governor expressed his regret that this void was exploited for personal and political agendas and aggravated the grief for the families of nursing home fatalities.

Questions on the issue of the March 25 order allowed hospitals to release recovering patients to their nursing homes was addressed at length by Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a recent legislature budget hearing. He said the March decision was based on two factors.

First, watching the hospital breakdown nightmare in Italy, and the projections of more than 140,000 hospital beds needed with only 53,000 available statewide, it was imperative for patients able to be discharged to free up needed hospital space. Second, the protocol to return patients was one that had previously been established and was based on federal policy guidance.

The worst-case scenario was avoided. In Cuomo’s briefings, he repeated over and over that facilities that were not equipped to accept these returning patients were to contact the health department and other arrangements would be made. They were instructed to accept them, but only if they could offer proper care.

After a year’s long battle to save as many lives as possible, and obvious stress-induced gray hair, Cuomo is facing a personal low. He is under an avalanche of accusations. So soon his leadership during those frightening and uncertain months is forgotten, now he is a target for political snipers.

His daily briefings gave many hope and faith that the pandemic war was being fought by a strong leader with data-driven plans, and New Yorkers enlisted and followed the scientific recommendations to flatten the curve. Cuomo is tough and no-nonsense. He was elected to protect the citizens of this state and he did a good job getting us through the COVID hell of the past year.

On Wednesday, he held a briefing. I was glad to see that he was tending to business as usual. We aren’t out of the pandemic woods yet, he has more to do to see us through and he is not going to abandon us. He said, “I wasn’t elected by politicians; I was elected by the people of the state and I’m going to do the job they elected me to do”.

It is no secret that Reed is after the governorship. He recently bragged about “standing up to the bully,” claiming that a federal planned vaccination site in our area was rejected by the governor. Cuomo’s deputy press secretary said the state was unaware of any such plan, but by his proclamation Reed poised himself to take credit should one be established. How proactive has he been all this time? He boasts but what does he do? He votes “no” on the House COVID relief bill. Our state senator follows in lockstep with Reed, aiming at his job should Reed run for governor.

A man in a position of power, already weakened in the media, can expect the emergence of sexual harassment charges. The media focus is already there, the risk from coming forward is lessened.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell has praised the so-far three women for being brave. The conditions under which they have made their stories public do not indicate bravery. Of course, now everyone must denounce Cuomo or appear insensitive. And now, James has one more job to do. I can’t help feeling that her precious time and resources could be put to better use – the two dozen sexual accusations made against Trump for instance.

Unfortunately, Republicans give that behavior a pass. Democrats take it seriously, sometimes too much so, given that they sacrificed Sen. Al Franken without any due process. I am glad that the governor will get an impartial investigation at least, and this will be handled appropriately by our Attorney General. He deserves that and we should withhold judgement until she gives us the facts.

Isn’t it interesting, though, how the media is now more interested in promoting salaciousness out of a single middle-aged man and his interactions with women than concern for the deaths of elderly nursing home folks and how to prevent future tragedies? When crises subside, sensationalism comes roaring back. It just appears to me that we focus too much attention on that and on blaming and not enough on fixing, getting out of the COVID low and back to the high of normal life again.

Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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