Cuomo Says Higher U.S. Death Projections Due to Reopening Push

(Bloomberg) --

The number of expected deaths in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus has doubled because of governors’ push to reopen, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said as he warned against prematurely ending lockdowns.

“There’s a cost of reopening quickly,” Cuomo said Tuesday at a press briefing. “The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost, but the more lives lost.”

Cuomo Says Higher U.S. Death Projections Due to Reopening Push

The governor cited data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has increased its first-wave death projection to more than 130,000 from earlier estimates of about 60,000.

“How much is a human life worth? That’s the real discussion that no one is admitting openly or freely, but we should,” Cuomo said. “I say the cost of a human life is priceless, period.”

President Donald Trump has made clear his belief that states should move toward resuming commerce, and governors have responded to the complaint of business people and citizens weary of lockdowns without an end game. Today, Trump said Americans should be “warriors” in the face of danger from the disease.

New York, the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, has lost 19,645 lives due to Covid-19. The state is seeing a continued decline in hospitalizations and is making plans for some regions to begin reopening May 15. Florida, Georgia and Texas have taken more aggressive steps to reopen, while Cuomo and Phil Murphy, governor of hard-hit New Jersey, are among those who have presented more cautious plans.

Cuomo again pushed for the federal government to provide funding to help states weather the economic storm brought by the virus.

“The federal government has passed legislation in the past that helped airlines, helped small businesses, helped hotels. Great. Great. They haven’t provided any aid to state and local governments,” Cuomo said. “It’s the state and local governments that fund police, fire, education, teachers, health-care workers. If you starve the states, how do you expect the states to be able to fund this entire reopening plan?”

“Every state has coronavirus cases, and it’s not just Democratic states that have an economic shortfall,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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