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New Yorkers, from heroes to pariahs

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol on April 5, 2020. Credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor An/Mike Groll

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After 9/11, the nation saluted New Yorkers for our fortitude after the terrorist attacks, bravely digging out from the rubble, carnage and contamination. We were respected nationwide.

One shining moment of unity.

New York has been harder hit by COVID-19 than any other corner of America. But this time some areas across the nation are reacting much differently.

We have become pariahs. Outcasts. If President Donald Trump suggested building a wall around New York City or the tri-state area, I suspect many Americans would cheer him on.

How did we move from heroes to targets of hate?

Although we did nothing to become the epicenter of this nightmarish virus, some people need someone or something to blame, and we are always a handy target.

A number of states have imposed strict sanctions on New Yorkers attempting to cross their borders. Governors Florida to Texas have mandated that those arriving from this area, including Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey, self quarantine for at least two weeks upon arrival. Fair enough.

Until recently, Rhode Island police were singling out drivers with New York license plates and questioning them. Only when the legality of this was challenged did the state expand its policy to include all drivers with out-of-state plates.

A friend who lives in a condo in Pompano Beach, Florida, told me his condo association is now flat-out refusing to rent to New Yorkers.

I understand 100% why they want to protect themselves. But unfortunately too many people also are looking to scapegoat us. On Twitter, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose daily briefings are a godsend and who’s brother Chris of CNN recently tested positive for the coronavirus, is being viciously attacked under the hashtag #CuomoVirus, featuring hatred of our governor and New Yorkers in general.

“They [New Yorkers] hoard all the ventilators so no one else can use them,” complained one Twitter ignoramus. “Sun and sea soaked [expletives] from the Tri-State area have brought CuomoVirus to our sunny shores!” whined another hater from Florida.

Keep the faith. While the next few weeks will be hell, this nightmare, too, shall pass. In the meantime, fellow Americans, please don’t take it out on us. Because the truth is, we’re all in this together.

Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.

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