Knives sharpened, curtains measured
The thing about being heavy-handed
and strong-armed is that when things
go south you don’t have many friends.
This thought comes to mind when thinking
of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fall from grace.
Between the nursing home scandal, sexual
misconduct allegations and third-term voter
fatigue, Cuomo is possibly down for the count.
At best he’ll limp along in offi ce until next
year’s gubernatorial election. It’s hard to see
him overcoming all this en route to winning
a fourth term in offi ce.
Should he resign, Lieutenant Governor
Kathy Hochul will become the place holder
governor but watch out for two ambitious
titans of the left. New York City Public Advocate
Jumaane Williams and state Attorney
General Letitia James could very duke it out
in the Democratic primary next year.
Both Williams and James are smart and
dynamic, but in this match-up, James currently
holds the advantage. James is slightly
more centrist than Williams (which will
appeal more to suburban and upstate voters),
and she comes from a chain of Black
political women leaders — a cohort that is
the bedrock of the Democratic Party, and
which was instrumental in President Joe
Biden’s successful White House bid.
If James and Williams split the leftist
votes, this could leave Hochul, a centrist,
a sliver of a chance to nab the Democratic
But only fools would count out a replay
of 1994 where Republican George Pataki
defeated three-term incumbent Governor
Mario Cuomo - Andrew’s dad.
Among the GOPers to watch for in this
scenario is Congresswoman Elsie Stefanik, who
represents the extreme north region of the state.
Stefanik, the daughter of small business
owners and a Harvard University graduate,
worked in the George W. Bush administration,
and — as a proud Trump supporter
— would likely have the loyalty of Trumpists.
She stands a chance at bringing together
both factions of the fractured Republican Party
(at least in New York), and drawing votes from
independents who might fear a leftist agenda
that could damage the state’s economy.
But at this point, even if Cuomo doesn’t
resign, it wouldn’t be diffi cult to imagine a
Republican nominee knocking off a scandalscarred,
three-term incumbent governor
on the strength of voters who are simply
exhausted after 12 years and want change.
After all, it’s happened before — as
Cuomo knows too well.
To stop the spread, we
must stay a step ahead
BY DR. DAVE CHOKSHI
New York City is at a crucial point in
the COVID-19 public health emergency.
On the one hand, there is
reason to hope for better days ahead: Safe,
effective, lifesaving vaccines are arriving,
and new cases of COVID-19 are starting
to trend down.
On the other hand, we have reason to
be concerned. New strains of the COVID
19 virus are being detected in New
York City. One in particular is called the
“B.1.1.7” variant, and it was fi rst found in
the United Kingdom. Currently, there are
at least 59 known cases in New York City,
and likely many more will be detected. In
a random sample of specimens submitted
to the New York City Pandemic Response
Lab during the most recent week, 6.2%
were confi rmed as B.1.1.7—compared to
2.7% in January.
The best protection against the coronavirus,
including new variants, are the public
health precautions that we know work.
While we push for an increase in vaccine
supply, our guidance remains as urgent as it
has always been: Wear face coverings, wash
your hands, keep your distance, stay home
if you’re feeling ill, and get tested regularly,
and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
I hope my own recent diagnosis with
COVID-19 serves as a reminder that all of
us are susceptible to the virus. Particularly
with the new variants, our public health
precautions are that much more important,
both to protect ourselves and others.
Understandably, New Yorkers have
many questions about B.1.1.7, other emerging
variants, and how the City is preparing.
What we know is, mutations are common
when a virus continues to spread. Like
the COVID-19 strain with which we are
familiar, new variants are primarily transmitted
through the air in droplets, but some
of them seem to spread more easily and
may be more likely to cause severe illness.
Because of this, it could lead to a spike in
people ill enough to require hospital care.
We are still learning about the effectiveness
of vaccines on these new variants, but
the research so far is consistent that the
COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA
will help lower the risk of severe infections
The Health Department is continuing to
investigate variants in New York City and
pore over the latest data from the U.S. and
around the world.
To test for B.1.1.7 and other variants, we
use genomic sequencing, which is a highly
specialized process that involves sophisticated
laboratory equipment, computing
facilities, and staff. The City is doubling
capacity at our own Public Health Lab,
supporting new, high-volume sequencing at
the Pandemic Response Lab, and collaborating
with New York State and academic
laboratories to ensure that we are tracking
the emergence and spread of known and
emerging variants—including those found
in South Africa, Brazil, or other states in
I know that staying apart is not easy,
especially in the winter months and after
the year we have endured. But remember
that the virus spreads best when groups
gather indoors, even in smaller gatherings.
PHOTO BY KEVIN HAGEN/REUTERS
Nurse Ellen Quinones prepares a
dose of the Moderna’s coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the
Bathgate Post Office vaccination
facility in the Bronx, in New York,
U.S., Jan. 10, 2021.
Just as viruses evolve, so must our defenses.
That’s why the Health Department
recently put out new guidance on masks.
The single most important thing remains
wearing face coverings consistently and
properly, covering both your nose and
mouth, indoors and outdoors. The guidance
also recommends double-masking for
additional protection—with a cloth face
covering over a disposable mask—and if
you are at an increased risk of the virus,
consider higher-grade masks like the KN95
Right now, it’s all-hands-on-deck. We
are asking New Yorkers to do everything
possible to avoid those hard months last
March and April when we collectively
suffered through so many losses of family
members and neighbors.
In the weeks ahead, spreading positive,
public health messages must become more
contagious than the virus itself. That’s
how we’re going to stop the spread of this
Dr. Chokshi is New York City’s Health
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