‘The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue. This is too important for anyone to play politics…’
(Liberty Headlines) The official death toll from the coronavirus soared in New York City on Tuesday after officials began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested.
It came as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued his power struggle with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Donald Trump while the three New Yorkers clashed over who got to set the terms of the pandemic response, which has ravaged the Empire State by all accounts.
The state already accounted for approximately 4o percent of U.S. deaths before padding the numbers with probable deaths. The county of New York—encompassing much of the Big Apple—led the country by far with roughly 30 percent of U.S. deaths.
City officials reported 3,778 “probable” deaths, where doctors were certain enough of the cause of death to list it on the death certificate, and 6,589 confirmed by a lab test. Combined, that would put the total fatalities in the city over 10,000.
The change in the city’s accounting of fatalities came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they ever reached a hospital.
“Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
“While these data reflect the tragic impact that the virus has had on our city, they will also help us to determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions,” Barbot said.
New Yorkers with COVID-19 continue to die at an unnerving pace even as the number of patients in hospitals level off.
State officials earlier in the day said 778 deaths were recorded statewide Monday, bringing the statewide total to more than 10,800. That figure, though, did not factor in the probable deaths now being counted in New York City.
Cuomo, whose efforts to grandstand during the crisis have alternated between praising and attacking Trump over his response, once again went on the attack after the president asserted that he had “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy.
The Democratic governor criticized Trump’s assertion Monday that “when somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.”
“His proclamation is that he would be king, that’s what a king is,” Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “A king has total authority. That statement cannot stand.”
Ironically, Cuomo himself recently attempted to pull rank after de Blasio insisted that New York City schools would remain closed for the remainder of the year.
Trump made his comments after Cuomo and other blue-state governors announced multi-state compacts to coordinate reopening society amid the global pandemic.
In a tweet Tuesday, the president appeared to liken the governors to mutinous crew members in the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” in which a crewman attempts to usurp the captain’s authority only to find that the crew later turns against him.
Cuomo said the president was “clearly unhappy.”
Even after taking aim at the president’s comments Tuesday in multiple TV appearances and during his state Capitol briefing, Cuomo later attempted to claim he would not engage in a fight with Trump.
“The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue,” Cuomo said. “This is too important for anyone to play politics.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press