Lessons From New York

The state has crushed the curve. Other governors need to pay attention.

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
5 min readJul 14, 2020


Credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

There are successful examples of cities and states taking on Covid-19. And there is one story like no others: New York.

New York did not get off to a good start. In fact, it was the example of what not to do. California acted six days earlier than New York did when they had cases hit. The mayor clearly didn’t take it seriously, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo was slower to act.

So some thought it was unfair that Cuomo drew such high praise for his handling of the crisis. He earned it for one reason. He talked to people.

At the time, he was doing what Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, Katrin Jakobsdottir, and others around the world were doing and sharing:

  • This situation is going to be difficult
  • I know it will be hard for you
  • Here’s what we need to do and why
  • We will pull through this

There’s something else. He didn’t lie. He didn’t sell. He didn’t pat himself on the back or avoid responsibility. We had that already. He told the hard truths. He showed data. He asked for help. He demonstrated some empathy and some effort. And the country needed that.

I have had my issues with Cuomo and don’t like the way he runs New York’s Medicaid program. But I respected what he was doing. I have never mentioned this, but I saw the data Cuomo was first presented with that he later shared. And I saw the model President Donald Trump was presented with.

For all his flaws, when Trump was hiding under his desk, pointing fingers, searching for credit, and ignoring scientists, Cuomo was fully present.

This isn’t about Cuomo as much as it is about New Yorkers. But I have to make one more comment. There’s a right-wing meme about how Cuomo killed people in nursing homes.

The nursing home meme was generally spread by people whose principal skill is retweeting unread clickbait. I ran the agency that oversaw nursing home safety and have been talking about this on TV, in writing, and with governors. You can watch.



Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Former Medicare, Medicaid & ACA head for Pres. Barack Obama. https://twitter.com/ASlavitt