“We have done a full 180 from worst to first,” said Cuomo. “We are controlling the virus better than any state in the county and any nation on the globe.”
The governor also officially announced that New York City will enter Phase 2 of its reopening on Monday, a timing he had previously suggested was likely but had not confirmed definitively.
The expanded reopening will include al fresco dining and the return of in-store shopping, office jobs, hair salons and barbershops, the real estate industry and car dealerships.
Cuomo’s Friday briefing was an abrupt departure from what has become the new gubernatorial normal in recent months. The governor, more a political mechanic than a wordsmith, has traditionally shied away from holding regular press conferences. He made one public appearance in the Capitol in the eight months after the conclusion of last year’s legislative session.
But with concerns over the virus beginning to emerge in late February, he gave five briefings in a six-day stretch. When New York announced its first positive test on March 2, he gave 17 updates in 12 days. After a Saturday on which he held a couple of conference calls, he then began a 96-day streak of daily press briefings, the vast majority of which were in Albany.
No reporters were present for Friday’s update, as Cuomo spent 10 minutes addressing the camera from behind his desk.
“Why did it take a crisis to bring us together?” he said. “Why does government usually appeal to the worst in us rather than the best? … Why doesn’t government urge us to realize we are members of the same community, the same family, and that we all benefit when we work together?
“Isn’t that what we really showed over the past 111 days, that working together works? That the only way forward is if I protect you and you protect me — I wear a mask for you and you wear a mask for me.”
The speech was followed by a video montage featuring highlights of past press conferences, pictures of people wearing masks and a recording of a March 24 speech in which Cuomo promised that “love wins, always.”
It ended with a PowerPoint slide referencing the viral catchphrase Cuomo started using in the early days of the pandemic, when widespread home confinement and the elimination of regular social schedules led to the weeks collapsing in on themselves: “And don’t forget, tomorrow is Saturday.”