Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) grew visibly irritated after reporters asked if schools would remain open in New York City, raising his voice and mocking reporters while failing to offer a definitive answer to the question.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, Cuomo accused the Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind of using an “obnoxious” and “offensive” tone after he asked the governor to clarify whether schools in New York City would remain open on Thursday.
“The other day you said this is the city’s decision. They have an agreement at three percent. Today you said, ‘Well I might have to impose an orange zone, and I might have to close the schools, which an orange zone does.’ So what’s going on,” Vielkind asked, requesting Cuomo specify whether the city has the ability to close its schools.
“Are you now taking control and saying that you have the power to make this decision? And for the millions of parents who want to know, are the schools going to open tomorrow in New York City?” he asked.
Cuomo immediately expressed irritation with the question.
“First of all, let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone … because you’re 100 percent wrong,” he began.
“These laws have all been in effect for months. I’ve always said, we set initial parameters and then the school district picked a percent within those parameters. New York City picked three percent,” he continued, explaining that the “orange zone law” has been in place for over a month.
“It always said if, by the state’s numbers you hit three percent, the schools close. What’s going on here is nothing that the law hasn’t said for over a month,” he said.
“If you were paying attention, you would have known we closed the schools in New York City two weeks ago. Remember when we did an orange zone and a red zone in Brooklyn and Queens and we closed the schools? Don’t you remember that?” he said in a sarcastic tone before raising his voice.
“So what are you talking about? What are you talking about? ‘Are you going to override.’ We did it already!” Cuomo yelled. “That’s the law — an orange zone and a red zone. Follow the facts.”
When pressed to clarify on school closures, Cuomo grew more irritated.
They’re [parents] not confused. You’re confused,” Cuomo snapped, adding, “Read the law and you won’t be confused.”
When asked again, Cuomo continued to dodge the question, stating that “schools are open by state law.”
New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley defended Vielkind’s question, prompting another angry quip from the governor.
“But will they [New York City schools] be open tomorrow? That’s the question. I think Jimmy’s correct in asking that question. I don’t think it’s obnoxious at all,” McKinley said.
“I don’t really care what you think,” Cuomo snapped. “Of course you agree with him because you’re in the same business with him.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that New York City schools will be closed beginning Thursday.
New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out an abundance of caution.
We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 18, 2020