Wielding executive authority: Does Cuomo or God have more sway?

Jerry Moore

Watertown — As I write this column Saturday afternoon, we’ve somehow managed to avoid having martial law declared by the autocrat in Albany.

But that may change at any moment. On Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued yet another edict regarding the mobility of New York residents. He has “ordered” all non-essential workers to stay home in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

His mandates have grown more extreme day by day. On March 13, he stated that public gatherings couldn’t exceed 500 people and that businesses had to restrict occupancy to 50 percent of its seating capacity.

Then on Monday, Cuomo said that bars and restaurants could only offer delivery and take-out services. Casinos, gyms and movie theaters also would be temporarily closed. And public gatherings were now limited to no more than 50 people.

Wednesday, Cuomo ruled that non-essential businesses could have no more than 50 percent for their workforce show up on their premises; everyone else had to stay home. And amusement parks, bowling alleys and shopping malls were added to the naughty list.

He upped the ante on Thursday by decreeing that 75 percent of the workforce for non-essential businesses needed to remain in their residences. In addition, all barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, and related personal care services were now verboten.

And, of course, Cuomo followed this up Friday by directing 100 percent of the workforce for non-essential businesses to stay home. The state also has taken measures to address paid sick leave and evictions.

The pressure on Cuomo to act must be enormous. Information from LiveScience.com reports that as of Saturday afternoon, more than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus with 56 deaths statewide.

But Cuomo hasn’t said all that much about how he expects businesses to survive after being closed or having their staffs reduced so dramatically. And given the number of companies that can still operate with a full workforce, does he believe the spread of this disease will truly be contained?

Here are some of the businesses considered “essential” under Cuomo’s executive orders:

Animal health services and veterinary clinics, airports, auto repair sites, banks, bars/restaurants (deliver and take-out only), convenient stores, doctor and dentist offices, doormen, elder care facilities, electricians, food banks, funeral homes, gas stations, grocery stores, hardware stores, homeless shelters, hospitals, human services providers, insurance agencies, janitors, nursing homes, pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, plumbers, public transportation, tech support, telecommunications and data centers, trash/recycling services and utilities.

Oh, I don’t want to forget two other very important essential services: farmers markets and the news media. This list does not exhaust everything covered under this category. Naturally, numerous government services (defense, law enforcement, fire, mail, etc.) are included here as well.

Reviewing all the businesses that are allowed to remain open, I can’t come up with too many companies the state classifies as non-essential. Travel agencies? Event planners? Typewriter repair shops?

The state government’s label of “essential businesses” leaves millions of individuals still passing germs between each other. How will this facilitate a slowdown of the disease?

With all the people from all these businesses still out and about, to what extent will the coronavirus be contained? And all kidding aside about which industries are on what list, is Cuomo willingly throwing a huge wrench in the state’s economy for nothing?

One commenter on our website has proposed a “stop everything” approach for about two weeks to curtailing the spread of the virus. This is not to suggest that everyone stop working, the commenter explained, but that all people (with the exception of health care-associated employees) should perform their work from home. Let’s isolate ourselves so that we can thwart the disease’s progress.

Looking over the list of businesses considered essential by the state shows this simply isn’t possible. Health care staff members need to get their offices to report to work, so they’ll need gas for their cars. They won’t be able to fuel up at a service station attendant’s home.

And the health care industry depends on other industries to keep it going. Many of these people must work on-site to provide their critical services.

Then there are all the businesses that provide necessary services to these other industries, and so on. Many of the tasks they need to carry out cannot be done while they’re lounging around in their jammies.

So the idea of a “stop everything” approach is a pipe dream. And while wallowing in fantasies is great if you’re writing novels, it’s not at all appropriate for crafting public policies.

The common denominator for all businesses is that they need a constant stream of revenue to do their work. So even though Cuomo exempted many companies from his edicts, they’ll be severely hampered by the drop in overall economic activity.

We need to face up to several very unfortunate but incontrovertible facts: This virus is out there infecting more people every day. Numerous individuals will become very sick as a result, and far too many will die. Whatever draconian measures that government authorities want to inflict upon us will not make these realities go away.

We do not have reliable data on how many people have actually been exposed, so estimates about the death rate are speculative at best. This is not to suggest that we shouldn’t take the virus seriously.

But impairing the economy will lead to another problem we don’t need. New York is in no shape to fund everyone’s daily needs, so severely damaging the businesses they work for is reckless.

It’s easy for Cuomo to make all these mandates because he has a secure job and won’t have to worry about how he’ll make ends meet for the next several years. There’s no such certainty for many of his constituents.

And if he ruins them financially to possibly spare them from becoming infected, will it be worth it? Once they lose their jobs and health insurance, they could well eventually be at greater risk of incurring other medical problems. So Cuomo may end up imperiling them in the long run with his shortsighted solutions.

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to jmoore@wdt.net.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(30) comments


Reading your editorial left me in a state of confusion. You seem to dislike our governor’s quarantine and yet state this is needed to help slow down the virus spread.

Yes I agree that closing non essential businesses is a drastic measure that hurts financially but life trumps everything else.

Looking forward to your next column where you give your solutions to controlling the pandemic and saving lives while keeping our businesses healthy too.

You apparently have all the answers. Right?

Holmes -- the real one

Andrew Cuomo: "I am sure there will be political consequences. I had one individual say this state will never elect me again. Frankly, I don’t care. I did the right thing and I am proud of it."



I like you and respect you and enjoyed our moments chatting at the Times before I retired , but I have three Cuomo-inspired words for you regarding this editorial:


And four more words which I am certain our wonderful and loving moms are singing from their places in the hereafter:


Finally, two words to close:


Judy Goodfriend Jacobs

PS: You will change your tune. Stay healthy and safe and STOP THE SPREAD!


Can someone tell me if NNY360's paywall has been lifted temporarily as a community service during the crisis? Or is Mr. Moore's myopic obsession with the economy dictating the show there?


Come on Jerry!!

Holmes -- the real one

Readers: Jerry Moore may be doing more harm than good

A slogan for today:

Just Don't Do It.



Too bad Cuomo didn't buy those ventilators in 2015 when he had the chance. "Instead of buying ventilators, he “asked his health commissioner, Howard Zucker to assemble a task force and draft rules for rationing the ventilators they already had.”


According to tRump's promise we're free and clear of the virus now.


For anyone who feels Cuomo is being heavy handed I suggest you watch the following on YouTube if you are able - "Coronavirus: How the deadly epidemic sparked a global emergency". Spoiler alert, it ain't pretty.


My theories of moral philosophy hold it as absolute that the government shouldn't interfere with business and that everyone should receive all the medical care they need. Any messenger who tells me something different clearly doesn't have a pure soul like me. I demand only the best. I'm heroically stomping my morally flawless feet, what are those governors and doctors doing with their quarantines and triage?

keyser soze

Mr. Moore:

The coronavirus is coming to a town near YOU.

It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly; case, case, cluster…BOOM!!

It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.

When it does, YOUR healthcare system will be overwhelmed.

YOUR fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.

Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.

They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.

The only way to prevent this is social distancing TODAY. Not tomorrow…TODAY.

That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting NOW!!

If unlike Governor Cuomo, you are unable to lead, get the h@ll out of the way – NOW!!


Cuomo has clearly been phasing this in to get us used to it so it's not such a shock. My guess is that there will be additional controls phased in. Close the liquor stores. Gas stations and convenience stores only allowed to sell gas, no going inside. Restaurants and bars not even allowed to sell take out or delivery Grocery stores can only sell groceries (like on Sunday under blue laws when I was a kid in Texas). Then grocery stores can only sell groceries and that's only take out: no wandering the aisles (I saw dozens of filled carts set aside at Sams Club the other day, where people had called in orders to be picked up; that's the model). Five points (or seven or how many points the editorial indicated) makes a line. There's no evidence that this one ends here.


I am a native of NNY, and have lived in Manhattan for the past 16 years. Friends around us are becoming gravely ill, every day we hear of more. My husband and I have a friend who passed away from Covid-19 on Wednesday, he was 57. Another friend of my husband’s was intubated last night, he is 44 and has run the NYC marathon, twice. In a matter of 10 days our worlds have been turned upside down in ways you cannot imagine. A third of the cases in the United States are in New York, these numbers will multiply by the day. I am horrified that the WDT would publish this incredibly arrogant, out of touch, and dangerous Op-Ed. It’s not a matter of if, but when your community will be faced with this public health emergency. This virus is deadly, it is NOT the flu, it is like nothing else we’ve seen. Your only hope to save lives is to shelter in place and flatten the curve, NOW not later.

Holmes -- the real one

I’m sure I speak for all of us here when I say that we are profoundly moved that you have made the effort and taken the time to address this editorial’s content in the midst of your own personal anguish.

You statements are timely and compelling.

Please know that there are those up here who are willing to support you in whatever way we can. There are varied resources available. If you know of a need -- just post some info so you can be contacted.

We stand together.


Holmes, you seem to have your oars in the water and navigating life well. I had a chance chat with an aide to Pres Trump, young guy, tight suit and I suggested reusing face masks and other protective gear by sanitizing the stuff. He was eager to hear the suggestion, but his eyses glazed over when I explained the process. Using European made food sanitizers which irradiate the food rather than chemically bathe it. Gives milk a 2 year shelf life, unrefrigerated. In the 1980s and 19990s these were availble to anyone with about $5000.00 . Our earstwhile Trumpie kept bringing up wet autoclaves, and did not get that the new systems are dry. Nor did he know that the operation is legally banned in the US for food. More to the point, we have several hundred in the country now, irradiating mail for corporations around the States(anthrax scare). There is no reason theses machines would not work on face masks. As an aside, I grabbed a 2 face masks, spit in them, and microwaved one. I waited a day and did a wet plate culture on both, the microwaved mask came out clean. No growth. Any way to pass this infor on to our leaders for implementation? Ideas are welcome.

Holmes -- the real one

How proud I am to stand among you, gracious commenters!

"Hope for the best.

Prepare for the worst."

And work like h___ to ensure it's the former,

not the latter.


There's no going back, Mr. Moore.

By the time we've lived the pandemic to its end, the mindsets of Americans and the condition of our society, if not the world, will have been altered and changed. They will alter and change our long-held devotion to capitalism, leading to a re-envisioned form of it, from a monetary-centered one to a human-centered one. Humanity-- human well-being and fulfillment-- will measure the value of the dollar, not vice-versa. While it may appear to some as a "novel," now, watch it become non-fiction. There will always be the resisters who squirm and won't or can't read it.

Americans are long over the inhumanity of capitalism. It's evident in the opioid crisis, the loss of the middle class, homelessness, student debt, the gig economy, income inequality, the meltdown in higher education, the suicide rate (having affected you and me, personally), climate change and its threat to our existence, immigration, etc. The human condition in America exceeds miserable. Bring on a human-centered form of capitalism. Indeed, it's happening as we speak. Presently, the health of Americans is the main priority, followed by the health of the economy.

I used to be married to a man like you. Need I say it's over?


Wow, we can only hope you're right zeitgeist.


The worst form of "capitalism" is alive and well. Bailing out the oil companies. The government isn't buying corporate bonds bonds, not getting equity. Just, "It's an emergency, don't think, give us (socialist) free money for the rich!!! " The problem isn't government or market, it's that the interface between the two is messed up. And a lot of the blame for that comes from the fact that we have two parties: the plunder party and the pander party.


Let us do nothing and when it get widespread and out of control.We can blame Cuomo for not doing enough. There seem to be for some reason these group of people that will never recognize the problems at hand.


Jerry, you are being unrealistic or you don’t understand the problems hospitals are going to face. Talk to any medical professional on the front line and you’ll change your tune. Remember, old age and obesity are underlying conditions for a severe reaction to this virus. You.


This column demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that Mr. Moore’s well-known animus toward Andrew Cuomo has taken over his ability to reason. The current Covid-19 crisis is the most serious challenge the nation has faced in most people’s lifetimes—precisely the time when strong, well-informed leadership is needed. Whether people like Cuomo or not he is providing it. Carping about issues a very busy leader has not yet had time to deal with is small-minded and divisive.


I wonder what the Italians would say about your editorial? I wonder what the Italians think about Cuomo's approach? I'm no mind reader but I think I can answer those two questions with confidence. Your editorial reflects that of someone who is not on the frontlines of this pandemic. I'm sure to a person those that are would vehemently disagree with you. We will look after our own, first things first.

Dean, so you think this is comparable to the ice storm and 911? Wow, ignorance reigns supreme in the north country.


Well said, rocky!

Holmes -- the real one

Wow. Why isn't the editorial board of NNY360 out there advising the world on how to manage things?

From other sources:






The president spent all of January calling this a Hoax, and spent all of February blaming others and doing nothing. Yet the WDT editorial staff has a big problem with Cuomo. Amazing. Young people are calling the Coronavirus “the boomer remover”, maybe we should let natural selection do it’s thing.

Holmes -- the real one

Nice_Commenter --

If Covid-19 is indeed the "boomer remover" it will be taking me with it.

Until then, I will be laboring to do what I can to support my fellow beings and to stand against injustice. At least there is no age limit on that.


rite on Jerry, many of us had to work thru 911 & Ice Storm of 98 , being a service company & survived, could still use the help DFW


This is a pandemic, nothing like a storm or 9/11.


Nailed it ADKVET... being unable to see the difference between an ice storm/9-11 and a pandemic is beyond comprehension... OMG... That comment ranks along the lines of the college spring break kids on the beach...

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.