Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers his daily press briefing on...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo delivers his daily press briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday in Buffalo. Credit: Office of the Governor / Darren McGee

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo met at the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss ramping up COVID-19 testing and the prospect of providing federal aid to hard-hit state and local governments in a fifth stimulus package.

Trump, speaking at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, said he was “proud of the relationship my administration has forged with New York” and said the federal government will “work together” with national manufacturers to help New York and other states secure more coronavirus test kits.

“The federal government has spared no expense to get New Yorkers the care they need and deserve,” Trump said.

As the Trump administration continues to press states to ramp up testing as part of a nationwide reopening strategy, Cuomo has said New York has the capacity to do so, but needs aid from the federal government in securing scarce testing supplies such as swabs and reagent chemicals for laboratories throughout the state. Cuomo, speaking in Albany later, said the state is looking to double the number of tests conducted per day to 40,000.

Speaking to MSNBC after his meeting with Trump, Cuomo said he had a “productive” conversation about the state and federal role in ramping up testing. Further, he said Trump was “open” to the idea of sending direct funding help to state and local governments in what will likely be the next aid package Congress considers.

“I think we had a very good conversation,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said Trump wanted to know “what was working, what was not working” in New York’s approach. The governor said he told Trump that while states are responsible for carrying out testing, “we need help from the federal government on the supply chain.”

Cuomo said the president asked questions about New York’s plans to reopen, “but he never editorialized” on when it should “reopen.”

The governor said he spoke to the president about the “need for the states to get funding,” as the current $480 billion aid package approved by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday doesn’t address the issue. 

“The states are in desperate shape and everything is being left to the states to do the reopening … and then they don’t provide any funding to the state governments,” Cuomo said. “The president seemed very open and understanding of that and said the next piece of legislation that passes, he’s going to be open to that.”

Trump, asked by Newsday about calls for aid to be distributed to states based on infection rates, said he agreed with Cuomo on the need for funding for states and municipalities. But the president stopped short of saying whether distribution should be based on infection data.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) told reporters Trump has “been just so understanding and sympathetic in that conversation” about aid to states and municipalities. Zeldin noted Brookhaven Town is facing “a $12 million revenue loss as a result of what they're going through.”

Asked about his relationship with Trump, a fellow Queens native, Cuomo said:  “For the president and myself, this is not about anyone’s emotions. I mean, who cares what I feel? What he feels? We have a tremendous job that we have to get done. And put everything else aside and do the job. And that was, the tone of the conversation was, very functional and effective.”

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