ALBANY — COVID-19 infections can be controlled and mitigated, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday in a dissenting retort to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ claim earlier that morning that the nation is not going to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Meadows said the United States is “not going to control the pandemic.”
When Tapper asked why, Meadows responded: “Because it is a contagious virus.”
Meadows said the country is “making efforts to contain it.”
“What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this,” he said.
Meadows’s logic is incorrect, Cuomo said in response during a telephone call with reporters Sunday, and reveals the federal government’s incorrect understanding of the coronavirus and lacking pandemic response.
“We controlled the virus, so he is wrong, but, that’s what they believe, and that’s why they never tried to control the virus,” Cuomo said. “They have believed from the beginning that they can’t control the virus. That’s the only rationale that explains the denial and the lying. If you believe you could control it, then you try to control it. If you don’t believe you can control it, then you lie about it and deny it and you minimize it.
“Meadows spoke the truth today and said that’s their opinion (that) you can’t control the virus.”
Cuomo recalled how President Donald Trump denied the late-January memo from Assistant and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, who warned between 2 million and 3 million Americans would become infected with COVID-19.
New York’s flattening and reversal of its virus spread, or infection rate, prove the virus can be controlled, the governor said, reiterating controlling the virus spread is different than eliminating the disease.
“He is fundamentally wrong on the facts,” Cuomo said of Meadows. “We are in the state of New York and New York proved, definitively, you can control the virus. When you go from the highest infection rate in the country to one of the lowest, it means you control the virus.
“Flattening the curve is controlling the virus by definition, friends. This is not political discussion — this is just English language.”
The governor’s top aides weighed in after thousands of New Yorkers participated in the state’s first day of early voting Saturday, which continues through next Sunday, Nov. 1. Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s special counsel, said state Board of Elections officials did not report any significant voting issues to date.
Officials did not have exact figures Sunday, but Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said more New Yorkers had cast ballots by 1 p.m. Saturday than in the combined 10-day early voting window before the June primary elections.
“As of mid-afternoon, we were on pace in a single day to outpace the entire (June) early voting turnout,” Garvey said. “We have not seen those updated numbers. We have been in touch with the state Board of Elections, and other than seeing some long lines, we did not have reports of any major issues.”
The coronavirus infection rate in state microclusters in Brooklyn, Queens, Orange, Rockland, Steuben and Chemung counties reflected an average positivity rate of 3.1%, reflecting a decline from the past several weeks.
Brooklyn had an average positivity rate of 4.4% this week, down from 5.3% last week. Rockland County reported an average of 3.6% positive, down from 4.5%. In Orange County, COVID-19 infections were down to 2.6% from 4.6% the week before.
“That is great news,” Cuomo said. “This says the focus works and it says we can get the positivity under control, and as we saw with Queens this past week, we get the numbers down, we then open up the areas. It’s just math.”
New coronavirus infections reached an all-time daily high Friday with more than 85,000 new cases in the U.S.
“We are fighting the national tide, and so far, we have defied the national tide,” Cuomo said.
The state reported 1.06% COVID-19 infection rate Sunday without microclusters, and 1.3% positive with microclusters included of more than 120,000 daily diagnostic tests.
New York’s coronavirus infections remaining one of the nation’s lowest proves the spread of the disease can be controlled, Cuomo said after announcing Sunday’s statewide numbers.
“They could have controlled the virus — we are still controlling the virus,” the governor said. “They capitulated. They surrendered. They surrendered without firing a shot. It was the great American surrender. Americans don’t surrender, and they didn’t even put up a fight. If you put up a fight, you would have won because New York won.
“Now we have 217,000 people dead because of pre-emptive capitulation. They were wrong then — they’re wrong now.”
New York COVID hospitalizations decreased 30 patients to 1,015 people Sunday.
Twelve New Yorkers died from COVID-19 on Saturday, about flat from 11 fatalities Friday.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.