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Andrew Cuomo
In this screenshot from the DNCC's livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. (Photo by Handout/DNCC via Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls state's COVID-19 response 'beautiful' despite more than 32,000 deaths

'COVID is the symptom, not the illness'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked directly into the camera, with a straight face, and described New York's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as "beautiful" during his speech for the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.

"For all the pain and all the tears, our way worked," Cuomo said. "And it was beautiful. We showed that our better angels are strong, and that Americans will rise to their call. We saw that even at the end of the day, even if it is a long day, that love wins."

The state of New York has suffered more than 32,000 reported deaths from the virus, which accounts for nearly 20% of the COVID-19 deaths in the entire country.

While it would be unreasonable to place full blame for those deaths on one politician, more than 6,500 of those deaths were in New York nursing homes, which were required by Cuomo's March 25 policy to accept people who had COVID-19 but had been discharged from the hospital. Cuomo did not end that policy until May 10.

Cuomo blames the federal government, specifically President Donald Trump, for the damage that was done to New York by the novel coronavirus.

"Our collective strength is exercised through government. It is, in effect, our immune system," Cuomo said, according to Fox News . "And our current federal government is dysfunctional and incompetent. It couldn't fight off the virus. In fact, it didn't even see it coming. The European virus infected the northeast while the White House was still fixated on China."

President Trump limited travel from China at the end of January, because that's where the virus originated. In March, he suspended travel from Europe, a move that was widely criticized by his political opponents at the time even though the virus was spreading uncontrollably in places like Italy.

Cuomo — again, the governor of a state where more than 32,000 people died of COVID-19 — described the virus as a political metaphor. He called COVID-19, which is literally a deadly illness, "the symptom, not the illness."

"Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, COVID is just a metaphor," Cuomo said. "A virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. Over these past few years, America's body politic has been weakened."

An NBC/Marist poll from July found that 86% of New York Democrats approved of Cuomo's performance, an apparent reflection of their belief that Cuomo handled the pandemic properly.

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