Pandemic Report No. 13:
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo obviously loves the spotlight that the Covid-19 pandemic has given him, and he loves the powers he has assumed thanks to the virus—whether they are constitutional or not.
He issued his latest travel edict on August 11. If you travel to New York from 32 states, you have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The other 18 states have Covid-19 statistics acceptable to the guv, so you don’t have to quarantine if you come to New York from them.
The whole thing is utter nonsense. Suppose your license plate or plane ticket says you are coming from an “acceptable” state, but en route you had a layover in a highly “unacceptable” place to get refreshed, let’s say, at some very crowded bar or a rock concert. Oops.
The silliness is even more apparent when you look at the statistics for the two states (Hawaii and South Dakota) and one territory (U.S. Virgin Islands) that were added to the governor’s “unacceptable” list on August 11, and compare them to the statistics for his own New York State.
As I’ve explained in previous pandemic reports, all of the Covid-19 statistics are suspect. That’s especially true with “infection cases,” since that depends on the amount of testing, which varies from locality to locality, and the accuracy of the tests themselves, which can be questionable. Death statistics are a little more reliable, but not completely so, since standards vary as to whether a death is due to the virus or to underlying medical conditions that made the patient more susceptible to Covid-19.
But let’s look at the statistics we have, and compare those newly “unacceptable” locations with New York State:
|Cases per 100,000 population||Deaths per 100,000 population|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||542||8|
This is truly a case of the pot (Cuomo) calling the kettle black! What has Hawaii done to piss off the governor, when New York’s Covid-19 death rate is more than 50 times greater than Hawaii’s? I can guess what he has against South Dakota. Its governor is an articulate conservative Republican, Kristi Noem, whose pro-business and anti-lockdown agenda is the opposite of Cuomo’s, and whose future political stars are rising even as Cuomo’s are plummeting. (No White House for him in the foreseeable future. Even if Biden is elected to be caretaker president—a big if—Kamala Harris will now be next in line to succeed him. Bye-bye, Cuomo.)
Now, Cuomo’s excuse is that his list changes with the changes in hotspots, based on 7-day rolling averages. The problem with that approach is that the lists can then change as frequently as every day. Suppose you’re a New Yorker who takes a business trip to an “acceptable” state, and while you are there it becomes “unacceptable”? You’re supposed to be quarantined from business outside your home for two weeks after returning to New York? That may be inconvenient for you, but it makes the governor seem oh so “scientific” as he announces each new change in the quarantine list from his podium.
Perhaps the real purpose of Governor Cuomo’s quarantine list is not to prevent infected people from coming to New York, but to keep the governor in the spotlight week after week after week. And to shift the statistical spotlight away from his awful record, as reflected in the Covid-19 cases and deaths in New York State under his leadership.
And see all my articles in this pandemic series.