The governor of New York has slammed Congress over a Covid-19 relief package that he suggested provided disproportionate funding per case to states with lower figures than those facing major outbreaks of the novel virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) blamed the distribution of aid on politics during a press briefing on Sunday, describing how “everyone wants their piece of the pie” in Washington when creating legislation.
“Now is not the time” for “pork barrel” aid, the governor continued, citing a Kaiser Health analysis of the funding that showed states like Nebraska and Montana receiving $300,000 per Covid-19 patient, compared to New York — the current epicentre of the pandemic in the US — only receiving $12,000 per case.
“You did an injustice to the places that had the need”, Mr Cuomo said on Sunday, while announcing executive orders to expand antibodies testing throughout the state and mandating businesses provide essential workers with face masks at no cost to the employees.
The analysis Mr Cuomo was referring to dissected the $30bn in emergency grants, which the US Department of Health and Human Services said was distributed based on a historical share of revenue from Medicare programmes for senior citizens rather than the actual number of Covid-19 cases in each state.
Those funds are the first wave of $100bn in grants designed to aid state and local hospital systems as they cope with an influx of Covid-19 patients.
In a memo to association members of the Greater New York Hospital Association, CEO Kenneth Raske described the funding as “woefully insufficient to address the financial challenges facing hospitals at this time, especially those located in ‘hot spot’ areas such as the New York City region”.
On Sunday, Mr Cuomo confirmed another 758 deaths throughout the state in a 24-hour period, saying the death rate was flattening, “but flattening at a terribly high level”.
The governor called for “more testing, faster testing than we have now” and said: “We’re going to need federal help.”
He added: “Without federal assistance, how does this state economy come back?”
He warned that recent good news of the state’s declining numbers “may have been a blip” and noted how residents must continue adhering to social distancing measures in order to continue flattening the curve.
“You’re not seeing a great decline in the numbers, but you’re seeing a flattening”, he said.