NEW YORK — President Donald Trump is actively trying to kill New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, before announcing an executive order Tuesday expanding where New Yorkers can submit ballots to cast a vote in the upcoming presidential election.
The governor declared the executive mandate during a pandemic briefing in Manhattan on Tuesday requiring all Boards of Elections to develop a plan to allow registered voters to submit completed absentee ballots at county Board of Elections offices, at an early voting location between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 or at area polling sites.
“You can drop off your completed ballot today at a county Board of Elections office,” Cuomo said. “This is our way of developing a drop-box system. ... Some will actually have a box, some will take it from you in person.”
All Boards of Elections must develop and submit a plan by Sept. 21 and publicly post to their websites.
“We want fair voting, we want accurate voting,” Cuomo said. “...To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard.”
New Yorkers can request an absentee ballot online at ny.gov/earlyvote.
Hundreds of New York University students crowded Washington Square Park for a dance party in the Lower Manhattan park over Labor Day weekend. Students gathered in close proximity in the park for hours Saturday night — many without face masks.
“Frankly, NYU security didn’t do anything about it, the local police didn’t do anything about it,” Cuomo said. “You have NYU students who come from other countries. You have a large gathering with many people without masks. It went on for hours. What do you think is going to happen?”
Cuomo said the danger of crowding and noncompliance differs from protesters at Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which continue nationwide in response to multiple deaths of unarmed black men in police custody.
The state was fortunate that protests in late May and June did not cause a virus resurgence or subsequent outbreak, Cuomo said, adding demonstrators largely did not hail from other states with high coronavirus infection rates.
“From an epidemiologist point of view, that is a major difference,” Cuomo said. “An out-of-state person who is infected can be a super-spreader. It just takes one.”
Travelers from 35 states must quarantine for two weeks when arriving in New York because those states report a positive COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Officials in the state’s coronavirus task force conducted a random sample of protesters after hundreds of New York demonstrations late this spring — especially in urban areas and New York City, where thousands of people congregated.
“We had reduced the rate of infection in New York to the point it was so low — thank God — to the point we didn’t see a spread,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said Tuesday of COVID-19 infections related to widespread protests this past spring. “We attribute kids coming in from other states... that is the X factor here.”
Economic and quality-of-life issues, including crime and habitability concerns, continue to ravage New York City and the state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Washington is doing absolutely nothing — Washington is hanging us out to dry.” Cuomo said, reiterating his and officials’ frustration as Congress fails to agree on another COVID-19 relief bill to fund state and local governments.
“The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments, and that’s the sticking point. ... It starts with the president.”
Cuomo compared the historic Daily News headline “Ford to city: Drop dead” about President Gerald Ford after he denied federal assistance to spare New York City from bankruptcy in an Oct. 29, 1975, speech to Trump’s recent decisions against the downstate metropolis.
“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo said. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological.”
The governor named Trump’s failure to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway, approve the LaGuardia AirTrain or congestion pricing for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as examples of how the president wants the city to “drop dead.”
Cuomo also assailed the president for neglecting to rebuild Amtrak train tunnels between New York and New Jersey, or passing the controversial state and local tax, or SALT, deduction, which allowed taxpayers of high-tax states to deduct local tax payments on their federal tax returns. The decision cost the city $14 billion, Cuomo said Tuesday.
The governor railed against Trump for the federal government’s lacking coronavirus response. The United States continues to have one of the largest daily COVID-19 fatalities in the world, behind India and Brazil.
“You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence,” Cuomo said. “Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and (Dr. Anthony) Fauci admitted. ... It was not the China virus; it was the European virus that came to New York. They missed it.
“...Too little, too late, Mr. President.”
Cuomo refuses to give up hope that the federal government won’t fund U.S. states and localities to assist with widening budget gaps nationwide.
“I’m not giving up on the federal government raising some federal revenue,” he said. “I’m not giving up that there won’t be some short-term federal relief just to get us to next year.”
Cuomo and top state aides remain concerned about the potential resurgence, or second wave of the coronavirus, as school classes resume, activity increases and influenza season begins.
Officials expect the annual flu outbreak will complicate the pandemic, as the coronavirus and influenza have similar symptoms, including fever, cough and congestion.
“Flu symptoms are much like COVID symptoms,” Cuomo said. “Flu season means there will be more stress on the COVID testing system. People who are sneezing, people who are sniffling, it could be the flu. It could be COVID.”
The State Liquor Authority and state police task force issued violations to 37 downstate establishments after visiting 4,824 businesses over the holiday weekend.
The state’s rate of new coronavirus cases has remained under 1% for more than a month, or 32 straight days Tuesday.
“You’re not by any practical measure going to get much lower,” Cuomo said. “Just make sure you don’t go up — and that’s what we’re doing. Protecting the progress. ... The rules we put up, we promulgate a rule is only as good as the compliance.
“If you’re not doing enforcement, they’re going to violate the rules. It’s human nature.”