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Politics and Government
Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Cuomo says New York 'may be at the apex' of coronavirus cases; de-escalates fight with Trump

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that New York may be at the apex of coronavirus infections, with hospitalization rates remaining stable at over 18,000 COVID-19 patients a day for the past week. 

Since April 7, the number of New Yorkers in the hospital with the disease has held steady, and as of Monday, 18,697 people were in the hospital being treated for the virus. 

Monday's death toll of 778, however, is up from Sunday's, Cuomo said. The numbers in the past weeks have ranged from a low of 671 on Easter to 799 deaths on April 8.  

“It’s basically flat at a devastating level of pain and grief,” Cuomo said.  

Of the deaths on Monday, 133 were in nursing homes. Cuomo said that’s despite a no-visitors rule since mid-March and a policy of taking staff temperatures daily. 

The governor renewed his plea for the federal government to help provide more tests, saying New York can’t come up with enough tests alone, and they are needed in order for society to reopen. 

Meanwhile, Cuomo tried to tamp down an escalating war of words with President Donald Trump, during the governor’s daily briefing on COVID-19’s impact on New York state. The governor said Trump is “spoiling for a fight," but Cuomo said he does not plan to further engage.

On Monday, New York joined with six other Northeastern states to develop a coordinated plan to reopen the economy, when it is safe to do so. Three west coast states- California, Washington State and Oregon- formed a similar pact.

Trump, in his daily briefing on the coronavirus on Monday evening, claimed, falsely that he has sole authority to reopen businesses and schools in the states, and that he might do so.

“The federal government has absolute power,” Trump said. “As to whether or not I’ll use that power, we’ll see.”

Cuomo responded on several morning news shows Tuesday, saying the President would be creating a “constitutional crisis” if he tried to order that businesses and schools in New York should reopen, before the governor and his health experts believe it is safe to do so.

“He basically declared himself ‘King Trump’,” Cuomo said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Cuomo compared the President’s briefings to a comedy skit, and said they are “infuriating” and “ignorant," and that there is “no value” in watching them.

Trump lashed out on Twitter, saying Cuomo had been “begging” for more hospital beds and ventilators, when it was the state’s responsibility to get those items. And he compared Democratic governors to mutineers, saying one of his favorite movies is “Mutiny on the Bounty.” 

Cuomo, in his daily briefing, pulled back from the dispute.

“The President is clearly spoiling for a fight,” said Cuomo, who said he would not be drawn further into one.

“Sometimes it takes more strength, frankly, to walk away from a fight than engage it,” Cuomo said. “The president will have no fight with me.”

Cuomo said his earlier remarks about Trump were about correcting the facts on the separation of powers in the Constitution between the federal government and the states.

“The statement that he has total authority over the states and the nation cannot go uncorrected,” said Cuomo, who said it is “factually wrong."

The governor in recent weeks has built a mostly positive relationship with the President, and the two have praised each other at times. Cuomo credits Trump for helping get field hospitals built in New York and providing the Navy ship the U.S.N.S. Comfort. The governor said he has no plans right now to talk to the President.