Key Words: Cuomo on his biggest fears during New York’s coronavirus pandemic: ‘I had two nightmares when this started’

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had sleepless nights, but two of them have haunted him.

“I had two nightmares when this started,” he told his daily press briefing. “One that I would put out directives on what we need to do, and 19 million New Yorkers would say, ‘I haven’t been convinced, I’m not going to do this.’” He added, “I can’t remember when government was more disruptive to individual life. What if New Yorkers said, ‘It’s too much, it’s an overreaction, it’s political.’”

‘They have honor in their souls and dignity in their character.’

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on essential workers during the pandemic

“My second nightmare was: What if the essential workers don’t show up?” the governor said Tuesday. “You have to have food, you have to have transportation, the lights have to be on, someone has to pick up the garbage, the hospitals have to run. What if you communicated so effectively, the essential workers say, ‘If everyone is staying home, I’m staying home too.’”

“What if they said, ‘You don’t pay me enough to put my life in danger? I’m not doing it.’ They showed up. They didn’t show up for a pay check. They didn’t show up because government asked them to show up,” he said. “They showed up out of their honor, out of their values, out of their dignity. That’s why they showed up.” He added, “They have honor in their souls and strength in their character.”

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As of Tuesday, 5.6 million people had been tested in the U.S. for SARS-CoV-2. There were 989,357 confirmed cases, and 56,386 deaths, of which 17,515 were in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. Worldwide, there were 3,062,557 confirmed cases and 212,221 deaths. Cuomo said 335 people had died of the virus over the previous 24 hours.

“We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting more people or infecting the hospital system,” Cuomo said. “Government is not about spouting philosophical or political opinions, government is about delivering services.” He added, “Separate the emotion from the logic.” He said he won’t be swayed by protesters, adding that the CDC set reopening guidelines for states.

He also told an episode of Axios on HBO that he regrets believing that China had the virus under control. “I wish someone stood up and blew the bugle and, if no one was going to blow the bugle, I’d feel much better if I was a bugle blower last December and January.” He added, “I’d feel better sitting here today and saying, ‘I blew the bugle about Wuhan province in January.’ I can’t say that.”

Dispatches from a pandemic: Letter from New York: ‘New Yorkers wear colorful homemade masks, while nurses wear garbage bags. ‘When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren?’