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Cuomo, Trump, both NY pols, clash again over handling of pandemic

Left, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo holds a coronavirus

Left, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo holds a coronavirus briefing in New York City last month and at right, President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Wednesday. Credit: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo/ Getty Images/(Kevin P. Coughlin/ MANDEL NGAN

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and President Donald Trump, two Queens natives with a long history of clashes, went at it again Thursday, with Cuomo calling the president a "bully" who botched the coronavirus crisis and Trump accusing Cuomo of letting thousands die in nursing homes.

The latest skirmish started when Trump tweeted that the New York governor "should get his puppet New York prosecutors, who have been illegally after me and my family for years, to investigate his incompetent handling" of the coronavirus " … and all of the deaths caused by this incompetence. It is at minimum a Nursing Home Scandal — 11,000 DEAD!"

Not long after, in a news briefing convened with shorter notice than usual, Cuomo lambasted Trump and his administration, comparing their response to COVID-19 to a failed battle strategy in a world war.

"The president as a commander in chief has been an abysmal failure in the war against COVID … You look at the number of deaths from COVID, just the past couple of days," Cuomo said, citing statistics such as 42 in Spain, 25 in France and six in Italy. "You know how many were in the United States? 1,074."

He added: "Commander Trump, you are losing, you are losing the world war. The other countries are doing much, much better and losing far fewer people than the United States is losing.”

Cuomo’s office also said later Thursday that the number Trump used in his tweet for nursing home deaths in New York was incorrect, adding that the official death toll in state nursing homes was 6,600.

The governor noted that federal officials including Trump have talked this week about a vaccine for the virus coming out soon.

"How convenient,” Cuomo said sarcastically. “It’s going to be an Election Day miracle drug. Some people are concerned that the vaccine may wind up being hydroxychloroquine," the governor joked, referring to the anti-malaria drug that is unproven in treating COVID-19 but which Trump has promoted and said he has taken to try to ward off the deadly virus.

Cuomo said that if federal agencies such as the FDA approve a vaccine before the election, the New York State Department of Health will review the research and protocols and then determine whether to recommend New Yorkers take it.

A day earlier, Cuomo issued a scathing rebuke to Trump after a news report said the president wants to “defund” New York City due to a spike in shootings.

“You want to do something about public safety?” Cuomo had told reporters. “Try doing your job. One thousand people under your federal leadership are dying currently per day from COVID."

Trump tweeted in response: "My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today."

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