- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed President Trump Monday for downplaying the risk of the coronavirus and accused him of being a “co-conspirator” in the pandemic.

The Democratic governor argued the president’s messaging is making it harder for state and local governments to get their residents to comply with official health recommendations to combat the coronavirus.

“He doesn’t want to admit that there’s a COVID virus,” Mr. Cuomo said a press conference. “What he said to the American people is that there’s no problem. And then they don’t wear a mask and they don’t socially distance and they don’t take any precautionary behavior. … He is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus.

“We’re not the United States of Denial. We have never been a nation that has excelled because we refused to admit the problem,” he added.

Mr. Trump is facing backlash Monday for saying over the weekend that 99% of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

Global authorities say one in five patients require special treatment for the disease, which has killed about 130,000 people in the U.S.

Food and Drug Commissioner Stephen Hahn refused to defend or refute the president’s comments Sunday, but the White House doubled down Monday.

“When you start to look at the stats and look at all the numbers that we have, the amount of testing that we have, the vast majority of people are safe from this,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

“When you look at the deaths that we have, if you’re over 80 years of age or if you have three [of] what they call comorbidities — diabetes, hypertension, heart issues — then you need to be very, very careful. Outside of that, the risks are extremely low and the president’s right with that, and the facts and the statistics back us up there,” he added.

There’s been a spike in coronavirus cases in several areas across the country as local and state governments move into reopening phases, with particular concern in states such as Texas, Florida and California.

New York was one of the hardest-hit states, but Mr. Cuomo touted its success in flatting the curve Monday. He said cases have declined and the death rate has dropped, but stressed the state needs to keep up with taking precautions.

“We’re actually down from where we were when we started reopening which … no one predicted,” he said.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this story.

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