Virus Outbreak Unemployment Overload

Visitors to the New York Department of Labor are turned away at the door March 18, 2020, in New York City.

(The Center Square) – There’s a new number that frightens New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and it’s not a COVID-19 metric – at least not in the health aspect of the pandemic itself.

“We have 13.5% unemployment in New York City,” Cuomo told reporters Monday.

As he wrapped up the afternoon call with reporters, the governor, after repeating the unemployment figure, said he had just given himself anxiety.

There’s plenty of other reasons for Cuomo to feel anxious, including the investigations at both the state and federal level that have led to a slew of lawmakers calling for him to step down. However, now that the year's budget work is complete for the Cuomo administration, it’s time to focus on “operational” aspects of governing.

That includes such items as setting up COVID-19 vaccination sites, both large-scale sites and smaller “pop-up” ones, too. That involves working with community groups and engaging with minority communities to get them to the vaccination sites.

That’s just one of the items on Cuomo’s to-do list over the next few months.

“Rebuilding is a major operation,” the governor continued. “Re-energizing, renewing the confidence in New York. Renewing the mojo and the optimism in New York. … As I said before, I don't believe in the natural recovery process. That only takes you so far. We have to do better than that, and we have to go further, and we have to go faster.”

Cuomo added that recovery typically becomes an urban issue, and it’s not just one for New York City, but for all the major cities across the state as well.

The governor was asked who he wanted to see win the upcoming New York City mayoral election. He didn’t reveal his pick, adding that he was just “observing” the race, which he said comes at an important point in time for the city.

Whoever ends up winning will have an important role in the recovery effort, Cuomo said. Besides the high unemployment rate, there’s also a huge public safety concern. In addition, the governor said the remote work style that emerged during the pandemic will pose problems, too.

“The competence of the mayor is vital,” Cuomo said. “We have seen good mayors and we've seen less good mayors, and we know that it makes a difference. But we need the best we can get at this time.”