New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said April 22 that protestors demanding the state reopen so they can return to work amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic should “get a job as an essential worker.”
Cuomo made the comments during a press conference on Wednesday after WRGB reporter Anne McCloy told him that she had spoken with some demonstrators who had gathered in Albany to stage an “Operation Gridlock” protest calling for an end to the “PAUSE” plan that closed non-essential businesses statewide.
The order went into effect March 22 in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus and also banned non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason until at least May 15.
McCloy said the protestors had told her that that they “don’t have time to wait,” for widespread testing, which Cuomo has been pushing for, and which can help determine how many people in the state were infected by the virus. She said many Americans “are not getting a paycheck,” and desperately want to get back to work so that they can feed their families.
“By the way, if you want to go to work, go take a job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow,” Cuomo said following a heated discussion, to which McCloy responded, “But the people aren’t hiring because of the pandemic.”
“No, there are people hiring,” Cuomo said. “You can get a job as an essential worker, so now you can go to work and you can be an essential worker and you’re not going to kill anyone.”
While Cuomo expressed sympathy for the plight of the protesters and those who are currently struggling with economic hardship, he noted the virus is still killing hundreds of New Yorkers every day and that the risk of death outweighs economic hardship.
“It’s not about me. It’s about we,” Cuomo said, “I get the economic hardship, everybody gets it, everybody feels it,” before adding that the state is “moving heaven and earth” to get unemployment insurance out to those who need it.
“We get the economic anxiety, the question is how do you respond to it and do you respond to it in a way that jeopardizes public health and possibly causes more people to die?” the governor said before urging protesters to “think about it as if it was your family that might get infected,” and gain a new perspective on the pandemic.
He added that all New Yorkers would eventually receive their unemployment check, noting that while they are a “couple of days” behind, everyone “will get their unemployment check from the date of unemployment,” and it “will not cost them an extra penny.”
A number of states across the United States are beginning to announce timelines for relaxing strict measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, including Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Many are dropping stay-at-home orders beginning May 1 amid a surge in unemployment numbers and the prospect of economic depression. However, several states have not yet announced an end to restrictions and health officials have warned that lockdown measures being lifted too swiftly may create a second wave of infections.
As of April 23, there have been 262,268 confirmed cases of the CCP virus in New York and 20,354 deaths in the state have been attributed to the disease.