Andrew Cuomo lashed out at reporters during his Wednesday press briefing, scolding one journalist for what he called an ‘obnoxious’ and ‘offensive’ tone before telling another he ‘didn’t care’ what they thought.
Social media reacted quickly to make light of the terse exchange, comparing the New York Governor’s irate demeanour to that of actor Al Pacino.
Cuomo’s sign language interpreter, Arkady Belozovsky, meanwhile, was widely applauded for his stellar performance in perfectly conveying Cuomo’s ‘livid Sicilian sass’ with animated hand and facial gestures throughout the ordeal.
‘It’s kind of crazy how much Cuomo morphs into Al Pacino during this exchange,’ wrote journalist Stephen L. Miller, likening the scene to that of Pacino’s famed ‘You’re out of order’ speech from the 1979 movie, And Justice for All.
‘Ya’ll, watch the sign language interpreter while Cuomo goes off,’ Michelle Lehman added of Belozovsky. ‘That man looks like he’ll need a drink after this presser.’
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Andrew Cuomo lashed out at reporters during his Wednesday press briefing, scolding one journalist for what he called an ‘obnoxious’ and ‘offensive’ tone before telling another he ‘didn’t care’ what they thought
‘Ya’ll, watch the sign language interpreter while Cuomo goes off,’ Michelle Lehman said of Arkady Belozovsky. ‘That man looks like he’ll need a drink after this presser’
Cuomo’s ire was seemingly struck in Albany on Wednesday when veteran Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind asked the Governor whether New York City public schools would be staying open or closing on Thursday, amid rising COVID infections across the state.
‘Alright, first of all, let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone. Because you’re 100-percent wrong,’ Cuomo thundered in response to the inquiry.
The Governor then explained that schools in the Big Apple will move into a designated medium risk ‘orange’ zone and will then shutter if the city hits a 3 percent infection rate.
Vielkind responded: ‘Does the city have the ability to close its schools, are you now taking control saying you have the power to make this decision? And for the millions of parents who want to know — are the schools going to open tomorrow in New York City?’
A visibly aggrieved Cuomo then replied, in a drawn-out tone, that if the reporter ‘had been paying attention’ he’d be aware that ‘orange zone law’ has been in place for over a month.
‘Follow the facts,’ Cuomo then barked.
Vielkind responded that he was ‘still confused’ over whether schools would be closed tomorrow, adding that ‘parents are still confused as well.’
‘Well, then you’re confused,’ Cuomo protested. ‘No, they’re not confused, you’re confused.’
Social media reacted quickly to make light of the terse exchange, comparing the New York Governor’s irate demeanour to that of actor Al Pacino, and applauding his animated sign language interpreter for his stellar performance in perfectly conveying Cuomo’s ‘livid Sicilian sass’
Schools reporter for the New York Times Jesse McKinley then followed up on Vielkind’s question, asking Cuomo to definitively clarify whether schools will be open or not in NYC on Thursday.
‘The schools are open by state law,’ Cuomo railed, pointing to state data that shows New York City remains below a positivity rate of 3 percent – the threshold for closures – with a seven-day rolling average infection rate of 2.5 percent.
‘But will they [New York City schools] be open tomorrow? That’s the question. I think Jimmy’s correct in asking that question. I don’t think it’s obnoxious at all,’ McKinley responded.
Cuomo hit back: ‘Well, I don’t really care what you think. Of course, you agree with him because you’re in the same business with him.
‘The schools by state law — well, what is the answer to your question?’ Cuomo then asked McKinley, who responded that he didn’t know the answer.
‘Yes, you do,’ Cuomo then insisted.
While the frantic back and forth ended there, the drama spilled out on social media with hundreds taking to their keyboards to admonish Cuomo for his ‘meltdown’.
‘Gov. Cuomo just had a mental breakdown when a reporter simply asked a question about whether or not schools are open in NY tomorrow. He literally started screaming at the reporter,’ filmmaker Caleb Hull wrote, attaching a clip of the exchange.
‘Cuomo is being incredibly condescending and rude for someone who wrote a book about how well he managed the pandemic before It was over,’ added David Mack.
While critique for Cuomo flooded in thick-and-fast, praise for his sign language translator, Arkady Belozovsky, flooded in in equal measure
While critique for Cuomo came in thick-and-fast, praise for his sign language translator, Arkady Belozovsky, flooded in in equal measure.
Throughout the near-three minute spar, Belozovsky was seen signing animatedly in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, perfectly conveying Cuomo’s enraged tone.
Some viewers credited Belozovsky with having done such a good job that they, despite not knowing sign language, didn’t even need to turn the sound on their screens to understand what was going on.
‘I watched this one mute and can tell by the sign language interpreter that [Cuomo] probably needs to change his tone,’ wrote comedian Dana Goldberg.
Similarly, in response to journalist Robby Soave’s claims that Cuomo hadn’t ‘handled matters well’, one user responded: ‘One could simply turn the sound down and watch the sign language to know that Cuomo is not, in fact, handling this well.’
Gawrsh Sora also noted: ‘I watched it on mute and i must say the sign language translator did a bang up job conveying Cuomo’s livid Sicilian sass. I don’t even know sign language but i got the message loud and clear.’
Others suggested Belozovsky ‘deserves a raise’ for his stellar portrayal of just ‘how disrespectful Cuomo was being’, while some pointed out that he shared a likeness with comedian Bill Burr.
Belozovsky wasn’t alone in earning himself a celebrity likeness, with Cuomo himself drawing comparisons to a vast range of Al Pacino characters, from Detective Frank Serpico to Michael Corleone.
‘Cuomo went from Al Pacino in The Irishman, to Al Pacino in City Hall but quick,’ wrote Bradley Milne.
William Resh insisted that Cuomo’s comments, ‘they’re not confused, you’re confused,’ seemed a ‘pretty solid’ impression of Al Pacino in And Justice for All, in which he famous quipped: ‘You’re out of order, this whole courtroom is out of order.’
Angus Kirk, meanwhile, wrote: ‘You know Cuomo practices his Pacino impression in front of a mirror every night’, accompanied with an image of Al Pacino in Scent of Woman and the quote: ‘I’m just getting warmed up.’
While Cuomo’s briefing ended with no further clarity on whether public schools in New York City will be open on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that they will indeed be closing after the Big Apple’s test positivity rate hit the three percent threshold.
The earliest they could reopen, he said, was the week after Thanksgiving but he would not be drawn on specifics.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio closed schools again on Wednesday. The COVID-19 positivity rate in New York City is 3%
‘No one is happy about this decision,’ de Blasio said. ‘We are all feeling very sad about this decision.’
The positivity rate in schools is only 0.19 percent but de Blasio said he was sticking to 3 percent citywide threshold because that’s what he decided earlier this year.
De Blasio also went on to say that more restrictions were ‘coming’ to New York City and ‘coming soon.’
Cuomo, who decides if businesses stay open or not, said the test positivity rate was 2.5 percent in New York City based on state data, but that if it rises to 3 percent, he would start closing indoor dining and gyms.
He said that could happen soon.
The state’s numbers differ slightly from the city’s because New York City positivity figures are based on the day the test was taken.
So if someone is deemed positive, they’re counted positive in the data on the day they took the test.
The state’s data is based on the day the positive result is received. Both methods of data-gathering are pointing in the same direction, deBlasio noted.
NYC POSITIVITY RATES
MANHATTAN – 2.3%
BROOKLYN – 3.9%
QUEENS – 4.6%
BRONX – 5.1%
STATEN ISLAND – 4.5%
Within New York City, there is a considerably higher positivity rate in the boroughs of Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx than in Manhattan and most of Brooklyn.
Along with the case count, the number of daily hospitalizations and deaths is also creeping back up.
Meanwhile, Cuomo said surges in western parts of the state were ‘astronomical’.
On Tuesday, there were 29 deaths across the state of New York.
The number is a far cry from the hundreds that were dying every day in the spring, but it’s a worrying increase from the single-digits seen throughout most of the summer.
The increase also fits with the national trend of rising COVID-19 cases and looming lockdowns.
Various states have started imposing lockdown rules again.
New Mexico had closed most businesses and California is also imposing restrictions.
The gathering clouds come amid a bright spot – the promising news that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, two American companies, have both proven to be effective in trials.
The first doses are likely to be given out in December.
They will go first to the elderly and vulnerable or to frontline workers.
Then, they will gradually be rolled out among the public and should be widely available by the end of spring, federal health officials say.
This is the rising case count in New York City. As of Wednesday, the test positivity rate was 3 percent, according to NYC data
Hospitalizations are also increasing. Above, city data until November 15
Deaths are starting to rise across New York City, too, but at a slower rate. Statewide, there were 29 deaths on Tuesday
This is the statewide trend of hospitalizations in New York since the start of the pandemic
Until then, lockdowns are becoming more and more likely.
If Cuomo decides to shut some businesses down, indoor dining – which is currently at 25 percent capacity – will be banned and outdoor dining will be limited to four people at a table if NYC hits a 3 percent positive-test rate, based on the state’s data.
A decision like that would deliver a big blow to the hospitality industry, which clung on through the summer by offering outdoor dining.
Houses of worship will still be allowed to operate, however, at a 33 percent capacity.
Cuomo warned that there will be a ‘tremendous spike’ after Thanksgiving due to people ignoring his rules to avoid large gatherings.
The rules now are that no more than 10 people can gather together.
Cuomo said the rising infection rates were all ‘self-imposed’ and compared it to a person ‘eating cheesecake and having a weight problem.’
‘You will see a tremendous spike after Thanksgiving,’ Cuomo warned on Wednesday, saying: ‘Thanksgiving is a holiday and people come together.
‘If you don’t have a real fear about COVID, you’re going to come together.’ He said he has told his own mother that they cannot spend Thanksgiving with his family.
Cuomo said there were ‘astronomical’ increases in some parts of the state
‘Your family sounds safe, doesn’t it? No. You won’t be safe. It’s an illusion. My sister loves me, my sister could infect me. Not maliciously, but accidentally,’ he said.
‘Don’t be the turkey on Thanksgiving,’ he warned.
Since the start of the pandemic, parents in New York City have found the conflicting remarks and rules confusing.
In his letter to teachers, the schools chancellor said: ‘This as been an eventful and challenging year on so many levels.
‘With your efforts and contributions, our school buildings have been safe places for teaching and learning for hundreds of thousands of students over the past several weeks.
‘To date, we have seen a COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.19 percent out of 120,000 students and staff tested.
This has been reassuring sign that our schools are safe, and we are grateful for the tireless work you do to ensure this is possible.’
How US states currently rank with COVID-19: Hotspot North Dakota has the most cases and deaths per capita in the WORLD – as nationwide infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to surge
The COVID-19 crisis continues to deepen across the United States, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths surging and hotspot North Dakota currently seeing the most infections and fatalities per capita than any other country.
The number of new cases across the US reached close to 162,000 yesterday and hospitalizations once again set record highs with 76,000 patients being treated.
Deaths also continue to trend upward nationally with 1,700 Americans dying yesterday of COVID-19. The daily death toll is still below the peak 2,500 deaths recorded in April during the initial peak of the virus.
While the surge is widespread, the Midwest is particularly hard hit with hotspot states, including the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin, recording the most cases and deaths per capita in the last week.
Across the country, states are re-entering various stages of lockdown as the second wave sweeps the nation. Deaths are now going up as much as cases are but they are starting to increase
This chart tracks the states with the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days. North Dakota has had the most new infections per capita in the last week with 180 infections per 100,000, according to CDC data
This chart tracks the states with the highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 in the last seven days. North Dakota has had the most deaths per capita in the last week with 1.8 fatalities per 100,000, according to CDC data
North Dakota has had the most new infections and deaths per capita in the last week with 180 infections per 100,000 and 1.8 deaths, according to CDC data.
South Dakota ranks second with 161 new cases per capita and 1.7 deaths.
In the last week, nine US states – mostly in the Midwest and led by the Dakotas – have seen more COVID-19 infections that any other part of the country, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins data from the Federation of American Scientists.
North Dakota has also had the highest number of deaths per capita in the world in the last week.
South Dakota ranks third behind the Czech Republic.
Eighteen of the top 50 places with high death rates per capita globally have been in the US in the last week.
South Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming currently all have positive test rates over 50 percent, according Johns Hopkins data.
The World Health Organization considers rates above 5 percent concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, public health officials are bracing for a holiday-fueled surge and doctors are urging families to stick to small gatherings as overwhelmed hospitals across the country struggle to cope.
In the last week, nine US states – mostly in the Midwest and led by the Dakotas – have seen more COVID-19 infections that any other part of the country, according to an analysis from the Federation of American Scientists
North Dakota has also had the highest number of deaths per capita in the world in the last week. South Dakota ranks third behind the Czech Republic. Eighteen of the top 50 places with high death rates per capita globally have been in the US in the last week
In its weekly internal report, the White House coronavirus task force warned of an ‘aggressive, unrelenting’ spread of COVID-19 across the country ‘without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration,’ a senior administration official said Tuesday.
The officials said the task force concluded that existing efforts to slow the spread ‘are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve’ and that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings could ‘amplify transmission considerably’.
The deadly rise in COVID-19 cases across the US is forcing state and local officials to adjust their blueprints for fighting the virus, with Republican governors adopting mask mandates – skeptically, in at least one case – and schools scrapping plans to reopen classrooms.
Since the election, Republican governors in hard-hit Iowa, North Dakota and Utah have reversed course and put in place requirements on masks, and others have extended or expanded earlier orders.
In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds had pushed back against a mask mandate for months but imposed a limited one Tuesday, becoming the latest GOP holdout to change course on face coverings.
In South Dakota, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has said she has no plans to issue mask requirements.
Dr Shannon Emry, a healthcare worker in South Dakota, told CNN that she believes a mask mandate in the state could help slow the spread and ease the pressure on already overwhelmed hospitals.
‘Our governor has been misleading her constituents. From the start, she has downplayed the dangers of the virus, downplayed the importance of wearing a mask and it has really undermined the people’s trust in their medical community,’ Emry said. ‘By doing that, she’s putting people in danger.
The number of new cases across the US reached close to 162,000 yesterday
Deaths also continue to trend upward nationally with 1,700 Americans dying yesterday of COVID-19. The daily death toll is still below the peak 2,500 deaths recorded in April during the initial peak of the virus
Hospitalizations once again set record highs on Tuesday with 76,000 patients being treated
WHO WILL GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE FIRST AND WHEN WILL THEY GET IT?
Pfizer’s vaccine is now on track for potential emergency approval as soon as this month, but it won’t immediately go to all Americans.
Health care workers will be able to get the first doses in December or January, head of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Dr Jose Romero told NPR.
Next, non-health care essential workers such as grocery store staff, elderly people and people with underlying conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 will probably get the vaccine.
They can likely get the vaccine early next year.
Elderly people include anyone over 65. People with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and autoimmune conditions are considered at-risk due to their medical histories.
It’s not clear in what order these next three groups will likely be vaccinated.
Dr Anthony Fauci said last month that the general public will likely start to get vaccinations ‘within the first quarter of 2021, by let’s see April of 2021,’ he told CBS Evening News.
U.S. officials have not yet made official recommendations for who should get the COVID-19 vaccine yet.
The ACIP will meet and make recommendations with in 24 to 48 hours of a vaccine getting emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
‘Our hospital systems across the state are already at capacity, are already at this critical state. The health care workers are obviously exhausted and the devastating thing for them is that we don’t see an end in sight. There’s not a stop date, there’s not a timeline.’
Meanwhile governors in Ohio, Maryland and Illinois imposed restrictions on business hours and crowd sizes on Tuesday, while their counterparts in Wisconsin and Colorado proposed economic relief packages. Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million, ordered similar business restrictions.
The US is facing what health experts say will be a dark winter because of the onset of cold weather and crowded holiday gatherings, as well as a disregard for mask-wearing and other precautions.
The rising infection rates are prompting some school districts to revert to remote learning or postpone a return to classroom instruction.
In South Dakota, the Rapid City-area school system plans to close all schools and move to virtual instruction on Wednesday. The district’s latest data showed 94 students and 47 staff with an active case of COVID-19, while 105 staff and 676 students were in quarantine following exposure.
In metro Las Vegas, the Clark County school district postponed plans to resume partial in-class instruction and will continue with remote learning through at least the end of the calendar year.
West Virginia’s largest teachers organization urged Republican Gov. Jim Justice to make public schools online-only. The state recorded more than 4,400 cases during the week ending Sunday, a 63 percent increase from the previous week. The governor already has barred in-person instruction from Thanksgiving through December 3 to avoid outbreaks from holiday travel.
Still, former FDA commissioner Dr Mark McClellan said that the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the US would likely be ‘last big surge’ before a vaccine is readily available.
‘The months ahead are going to look better than the weeks ahead,’ he said. ‘Things are going to start gradually getting better.’
He said that things will improve by early 2021 when a vaccine becomes widely available.