Andrew Cuomo has hit back at Donald Trump after he said New York City was “dying” as a result of Covid restrictions, and had become “a ghost town”.
The president, in the second election debate on Thursday night, used New York City as an example of over-zealous lockdowns, which he said were harming businesses and doing more damage than the virus.
“Take a look at New York and what’s happened to my wonderful city," he said.
"For so many years, I loved it, it was vibrant.
"It’s dying, everyone’s leaving New York.
“If you go and look at what has happened to New York, it’s a ghost town."
Mr Cuomo, the governor of New York, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shortly after, and shrugged off Mr Trump’s attack.
“New York has a lower infection rate than the White House,” he pointed out.
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, on Friday morning added: “The only ghost town is going to be Mar-a-lago after this election when Donald Trump is forced into retirement there.”
NYC Mayor de Blasio on Pres. Trump calling the city a “ghost town” during the presidential debate:
“The only ghost town is going to be Mar-a-lago after this election when Donald Trump is forced into retirement there.” pic.twitter.com/7TwrWgeeBh
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 23, 2020
The governor, who has written a book detailing his handling of the pandemic, called the president a "bully" who deceived people in America about the facts of the virus.
Mr Cuomo called Mr Trump's vaccine plan a "scam" and called him “paranoid”, a “liar” and a “narcissist”.
"He’s never had an idea about how to do this," said Mr Cuomo, criticising the president for telling journalist Bob Woodward that he knew how serious the virus was back in January, but failing to share the information with the public.
Mr Trump has said he did not want to make people “panic”.
“The American people don’t panic,” said Mr Cuomo. “He panicked.”
He called Mr Trump's handling of the virus "a historic government blunder."
New York City is hardly a ghost town, with restaurants and bars reopened, but it is certainly suffering.
He thinks New York is a ghost town because every time he’s here all he hears is “Booo” #Debates2020
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) October 23, 2020
The pandemic has battered businesses, with almost 6,000 closures in the city, a jump of about 40 per cent in bankruptcy filings across the region and shuttered storefronts in the business districts of all five boroughs, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.
The pandemic could permanently close as many as a third of New York’s 230,000 businesses, according to the Partnership for New York City, a business group.
Critics of the president were quick to defend New York from his attack.
“He thinks New York is a ghost town because every time he’s here all he hears is “Booo”,” said comedienne Samantha Bee.