ALBANY — Hundreds of people paraded in front of the state Capitol on Wednesday, March 22 to protest the shutdown that will not likely end any time soon.
“The governor has overstepped his bounds. He is totally destroying our economy,” said a man from the Capital District who only gave his name as Michael. “He likes to push the blame off elsewhere but it’s his responsibility. He shut things down and he is not opening them up quickly enough. People are dying in other ways from suicide and addiction and they can’t take care of their families. This is horrendous. The governor needs to open up the small businesses in upstate New York today.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the vast disparity between the number of cases and fatalities downstate compared to upstate said that he would open New York on a regional basis with the hardest hit areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County opening later than areas north.
But, he did not give a time frame and said Wednesday a massive testing campaign would begin to determine who is infected, and then track everyone that person has come into contact with and isolate them as necessary.
“It is ridiculous. Hospitals are not overwhelmed. Everything is under control. The curve is going down and people need to get back to work,” said a woman from Long Island who would only give her name as Janice. “The kids are getting depressed. They are not in school. You talk about kids today and emotional wellbeing and you have them sitting home doing nothing. He is going to have bigger problem than the coronavirus.
“He doesn’t have a right to do this. We are struggling and he sits in his little bubble and talks about how he understands. He doesn’t understand. He’s never had a real job in his life. We have been paying his salary forever.”
There have been similar protests across the country. Some states less hit than the New York City area are preparing to reopen under guidelines from the federal Center for Disease Control. New York, though is not one of them.
In Albany County, the death toll jumped by four to 29 on Wednesday with 713 positive cases out of more than 7,000 tests conducted.
“These idiots who come out and protest. We don’t want to shut you down. We don’t want to keep you home,” said Albany County Dan McCoy. “And the thing is people say [the ones who died] ‘had underlying health issues’ but does that really matter?”
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department, said there will always be a segment of the population who cannot be swayed by “science or evidence,” and instead are playing on a sense of frustration.
“None of us are happy about not being able to work or go to school or do the normal things we are used to doing,” she said. “What I would say to those who may be swayed, please consider the science, consider the evidence and consider the reasons behind the decisions.”