Key Words: New York Gov. Cuomo hits back at Trump after president posts critical tweets during Cuomo’s coronavirus briefing

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lashed back at tweets sent by President Donald Trump during his daily press briefing Friday criticizing the governor for complaining about the lack of federal funds for testing for COVID-19 and for states facing the challenge of reopening for business after weeks on lockdown to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

‘If he’s sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work.’

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo has for days insisted that the federal government is failing states, which are facing massive budget deficits in the midst of the pandemic as revenue sources dry up while costs balloon. The National Governors Association has requested $500 billion in federal aid, but in the three stimulus bills that have been approved not a penny has been allocated to the states.

New York state is facing a deficit of $10 billion to $15 billion, money it will need to reopen schools, maintain its public-transport systems and fund hospitals, which are still full of patients suffering from COVID-19. New York is the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with more than 223,000 positive cases of the illness and more than 14,800 deaths.

“Don’t pass the buck without passing the bucks,” said Cuomo, adding that putting the burden on states without funding “is the opposite of [the Harry Truman motto] ‘The buck stops here.’ ”

Cuomo defended himself by saying he has repeatedly thanked Trump for two things: government help in expanding hospital bed capacity, by adding 2,500 beds at the Javits Center, a major conference and exhibition space; and sending the Navy’s USNS Comfort to New York Harbor last month to add extra capacity. Trump complained that most of those beds were not used.

“He’s wrong … Javits treated 800 people, and it’s disrespectful to dismiss them,” said Cuomo.

Read now:Coronavirus update: 2.18 million cases worldwide, 147,384 deaths; China revises Wuhan death toll 50% upward

The president is implying that the request for extra capacity was not valid, but the projections that New York used to estimate its needs were provided by the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency, said Cuomo, who also projected slides at the daily briefing showing the CDC forecasts in question.

“If the projections were high, they were the president’s projections,” said Cuomo. “So for him to say to anyone, ‘You relied on projections. and they were wrong’ — they were yours, Mr. President.”

Read:Trump announces guidelines to ‘open up’ U.S. economy, ease coronavirus restrictions

Trump has said he does not want to help states with testing, which public health officials agree is a linchpin of the effort to safely reopen states and avoid a second wave of infections.

“He said it’s too complicated, and it’s too hard,” said Cuomo. “And it is! And that’s why I need help. He wants to say, ‘I did enough,’ but no one has done enough, because this is not over; we’ve a lot more to do, and nobody can take the posture, ‘Just say thank you, and I’m not doing any more.’ What if I said that?”

The CDC on March 13 said it expected 160 million to 240 million Americans to be infected with the coronavirus, and that 2.4 million to 21 million Americans would need to be hospitalized. The U.S. had a capacity of just 900,000 hospital beds at the time, said Cuomo.

Cuomo went on to quote a memo sent by Trump adviser Peter Navarro to the president in January in which Navarro warned that the pandemic could cause 100 million infections and the loss of 1.2 million lives. Trump has claimed he never saw the Navarro memo.

“Blame the CDC, blame Navarro and whoever else is on the White House task force” if the numbers were wrong,” said Cuomo. “But if the testing doesn’t work, that’s a serious problem.”

Trump and Cuomo clashed earlier this week over who is responsible for reopening the economy. The president, who had earlier claimed “absolute authority,” released guidelines for the states on Thursday that no longer asserted executive-branch control over governors’ decisions. These guidelines did not include a time frame.

See:Governors reject Trump’s timeline to reopen economy; ‘Job 1 has to be save lives,’ Cuomo says

The governor is planning to sign an executive order requiring private and public laboratories to work together with New York’s Department of Public Health to increase testing capabilities.

The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases of any country at 672,293 and the most fatalities at 33,898, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

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