A Series of Reassuring and Oddly Endearing PowerPoints from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo’s response to coronavirus may be imperfect, but his daily presentations are my coping mechanism.

As of Monday, there are nearly 40,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. More than half of them are in New York, making it the epicenter of America’s rapidly developing pandemic. Though New York Gov. Cuomo has long been resistant to ordering a shelter-in-place, last week he issued an executive order advising New Yorkers to “stay home as much as possible,” banning large gatherings and shutting down nonessential businesses.  On Monday morning, Gov. Cuomo instructed hospitals to increase capacity by at least 50 percent and requested retired medical professionals temporarily come out of retirement to assist overburdened frontline medical workers. 

Throughout all of this, Cuomo is emerging as a national source of guidance. His daily coronavirus press briefings have become “appointment viewing”  for New Yorkers and beyond (I stream them from California). Each one runs about an hour, and typically involves Cuomo, with the help of his signature PowerPoint slides, running through the numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations, a summary of actions the state is taking to “flatten the curve,” and reassurances that New York—and the country at large—will only be a better place after all of this is over. Then he takes questions from journalists, who sit in chairs strategically placed at least six feet apart. 

His calm authority is in direct contrast to President Trump’s tantrum-esque responses to the press when asked about the pandemic, leading one media columnist to describe Cuomo as “The Control Freak We Need Right Now.” Some corners of the internet are even debating whether the tough-talking Queens native, known for bullying his dissidents and most recently, using prison labor to manufacture hand sanitizer, is hot. As Rebecca Fishbein wrote for Jezebel, “when I stream his presser on the governor’s website—every day around 11:30 a.m., complete with a PowerPoint presentation—I feel comforted. I feel alive. I feel protected. I feel… butterflies.”

This is neither the time nor place to litigate whether Cuomo is hot, but it’s worth highlighting how his PowerPoints, complete with reassuring platitudes and some strategic clip art, are oddly charming and a tiny source of comfort while the country scrambles to address a deadly pandemic. Here are a few of my favorite slides:

 

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LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

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