After holding a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday night to reassure New Yorkers over Ebola, he threw de Blasio under the bus Friday afternoon when he held a press conference with Chris Christie to announce stringent new mandatory quarantine rules for anybody who had come in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.
The NY Times noted the "public rift" that had developed between city officials and Cuomo, with unnamed city sources saying Cuomo had not alerted anybody in the city about the sudden change in state protocol for Ebola.
That was Friday.
Then came Saturday, with Governor Chris Christie setting up "Gitmo on the Passaic" for a nurse returning from Sierra Leone who had worked with Ebola patients and forcing her into a mandatory quarantine in a tent outside Newark University Hospital even though she showed no signs of the Ebola virus.
The nurse, Kaci Hickox, wrote a scathing critique of the New Jersey Ebola protocol, saying it was characterized by "fear," "chaos," and "disorganization," and retaining counsel to sue the state over civil rights violations.
Christie got hammered in the press over the weekend for the treatment of Ms. Hickox, but refused to back down from his mandatory quarantine of her, falsely claiming that she was "ill" and needed to be held by the state of New Jersey until it could be determined what she was ill from.
Cuomo, seeing the hammer job being done to his pal Christie across the state and taking a load of flak from the Obama administration for putting in place a stringent new Ebola quarantine protocol that was ill-thought out and seen to be a barrier against recruiting future volunteers to battle the Ebola crisis in West Africa, suddenly shifted course last night and held a joint press conference with Bill de Blasio to announce more details of the state's protocol:
Facing fierce resistance from the White House and medical experts to a strict new mandatory quarantine policy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday night that medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa but did not show symptoms of the disease would be allowed to remain at home and would receive compensation for lost income.Mr. Cuomo’s decision capped a frenzied weekend of behind-the-scenes pleas from administration officials, who urged him and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to reconsider the mandatory quarantine they had announced on Friday. Aides to President Obama also asked other governors and mayors to follow a policy based on science, seeking to stem a steady movement toward more stringent measures in recent days at the state level.It was the second striking shift in Mr. Cuomo’s public posture on the Ebola crisis in 72 hours; after urging calm on Thursday night, then joining Mr. Christie to highlight the risks of lax policy on Friday, Mr. Cuomo on Sunday night appeared to try to dial back his rhetoric and stake out a middle ground.He said his decision balanced public safety with the need to avoid deterring medical professionals from volunteering in West Africa. “My No. 1 job is to protect the people of New York, and this does that,” he said. Those quarantined at home will be visited twice a day by local authorities, he said. Family members will be allowed to stay, and friends may visit with the approval of health officials.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, sitting beside Mr. Cuomo at a news conference in Manhattan, nodded in approval, and praised the governor for developing a set of flexible quarantine guidelines that, the mayor said, would show proper respect to those required to abide by them.After Mr. Cuomo’s announcement, Mr. Christie issued a statement saying that, under protocols announced on Wednesday, New Jersey residents not displaying symptoms would also be allowed to quarantine in their homes.
What else to say here but Cuomo tossed his pal Christie under the bus just two days after tossing his "old friend" Bill de Blasio under the bus.
And this wasn't the first shift in Cuomo's stance on Ebola this weekend either.
On Saturday he made a statement saying he didn't think his quarantine was legally enforceable, then backtracked on that statement Sunday morning, saying he did think it was enforceable (see here.)
Here's how some on Twitter put the weekend shifts in protocol from Cuomo:
Cuomo swings back & forth on #Ebola. Ends with quarantine at home + income compensation. http://t.co/M8966kLNKz pic.twitter.com/33HVJLob62
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) October 27, 2014
@perdidostschool @peterfeld @POsroff I'm not sure how Gov Sparky did it, but in one weekend he managed to look both evil AND weak.
— Seema Kalia (@seemakalia) October 27, 2014
Cuomo wanted to come out of this looking tough and decisive.
Clearly he and Christie wanted to draw a sharp contrast between how New York and New Jersey were going to handle Ebola cases and how the federal government has been handling them.
There were political calculations behind all of this for both Cuomo and Christie, with Cuomo running for re-election in 2014 and Christie running for president in 2016.
But they announced a stringent new Ebola quarantine that they couldn't actually carry out well and so, in the end, instead of looking tough and decisive, they both look like putzs who have played politics with the public's health.
In addition, Cuomo looks even more expedient than usual, with New Yorkers getting to see him throw two different "friends" under the bus in one weekend.
One last point - the guy who looks the best in all of this is de Blasio, who never shifted policy or rhetoric and has remained constant in how he has handled the crisis.
It has been an extraordinary four days of policy shifts, dueling press conferences and betrayals by Governor Cuomo.
As Seema Kalia noted on Twitter, he managed to come out of these four days looking both evil AND weak.