Tuesday, June 15

New York politicians respond to Trump COVID comments

ALBANY — As critics jumped on President Donald Trump’s “don’t be afraid” comment about COVID-19 after his infection and hospitalization for the respiratory disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, local Republicans said the president was simply trying to give people hope in the ongoing fight against the virus.

But not everyone was so accepting of the president’s comments.

“Be afraid of COVID. It can kill you. Don’t be cavalier. This is just more denial. This is where it started,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a Tuesday press conference as he addressed Trump’s statement. “The president was saying when it started, ‘It’s a hoax. It’ll be gone by Easter. It’s going to disappear like a miracle.’ Yeah, none of that was true. None of that was true. He knew it wasn’t true. And it’s not true now to say: ‘Don’t be afraid of COVID.’”

The president’s most recent COVID-19 comments were posted from his Twitter account after being released from the hospital Monday: “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life …  I feel better than I did 20 years ago!

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” he also wrote. He was pictured on video at the White House on Monday in a brief moment in which many social media observers believe he was taking deep breaths.

Trump tested positive for the virus last week. He announced the positive test at 1 a.m. on Friday, three days after his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, where he had mocked Biden for wearing a mask too often. Contact tracing has identified dozens of people, including military members, U.S. senators and White House aides, who may have exposed to the virus at events where Trump was in attendance.

“You can survive it. He has survived it, and we still have to go on with our lives during this pandemic. I feel this way personally. We have to obviously take calculated risks. We don’t want to be naive to the virus,” state Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay said. “We also cant shut ourselves up in our house and have no kind of exposure to anything.”

Rich Crist, a Republican strategist and the operations director for Rensselaer County, agreed.

“I don’t think he’s as guilty as downplaying the effects of COVID as he has been accused of,” Crist said. “I think what the president was trying to do was strike a hopeful tone for those who are struggling with the economic and emotional impacts of COVID.”

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