by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Donald Trump tells the truth, finally,” exclaimed one of the former president’s most unlikely supporters, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The disgraced author of New York’s draconian Covid-mitigation policies, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and corruption investigations that were bearing fruit, has to take the defenders he can find. Trump has become one in the course of his frenetic efforts to bludgeon Ron DeSantis with any weapon at hand. This arsenal includes unfavorably contrasting the Florida governor’s approach to Covid with Cuomo’s and, of course, Trump’s preferences. Anyone who wishes to ensure that America’s mistakes during the pandemic never happen again should emphatically reject Trump’s revisionism.
Trump claims that Florida is “Third Worst in the Nation for COVID-19 Deaths (losing 86,294 People)” and “Third Worst for Total Number of Cases, at 7,516,906.” So, “why do they say that DeSanctus [sic] did a good job?” the former president asked. In response to this rhetorical question, the mainstream press’s hyperactive fact-checking apparatus has gone quiet, a silence rendered more conspicuous by the sheer audacity of Trump’s conclusions.
That Florida had more cases and deaths than New York tells us little, given that the former has 2 million more residents than the latter. What’s more relevant: Florida has a larger elderly population, and so its age-adjusted mortality rate from Covid was 8 percent lower than even the median state, to say nothing of New York, which is surpassed in this gruesome metric only by New Jersey and the two Dakotas. Florida’s better policies surely played a role in its better outcome. As journalistic outlets revealed and New York State attorney general Letitia James’s office confirmed, the Cuomo administration’s policy of warehousing Covid-exposed seniors in long-term-care facilities contributed to excess deaths among the elderly — a fact Cuomo’s administration tried to cover up.