by Peter R. Breggin and Ginger Ross Breggin
May 3, 2020
The death toll for the coronavirus in New York State has been staggering. It is more than one third of the total deaths in the rest of the nation. But was it inevitable? Many of us who live in New York State believe that too much has been due to human error, and unfortunately to the mistakes of one man, our governor, Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo, please listen!
Many of us who live outside metropolitan New York and surrounding Connecticut and New Jersey—those of us, for example, who live in Upstate New York—resent having to pay for your mistakes or challenges in Downstate New York. We have not chosen to live crammed together in an urban sardine can. We live in open spaces amid innumerable lakes, waterfalls, mountains, hiking trails and parks. Yet we are under the same stay-at-home orders as Manhattan and other New York city boroughs.
You, Governor Cuomo, have refused to learn that most of the contagion takes place within closed spaces and you have made our homes into our jails. We demand to be let out to return to our work and to enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine that is so lethal to the virus and so healthy for us. Nor are we the only ones suffering from your misdeeds, because the horror being perpetrated upon Downstate New York has led governors throughout the nation to adopt more draconian measures to manage their local fights against the coronavirus.
We know that you will resist with all your official might any efforts by the people of Upstate New York to secede from Downstate New York, so that we may elect a governor more sympathetic to our ideals of personal responsibility and individual liberty, and to create a legislature that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. As others have done in the past, we resume that process of liberation with a bill of particulars, a list of our grievances and charges against you, a Declaration of Independence that lists your crimes against all of us in Upstate New York—and in Down State, and more indirectly to the rest of the nation, and ultimately humankind.
We will focus on how you have and continue to abuse us in the current epidemic crisis:
A Militant Approach to Your People
On April 30, 2020, you announced that you are preparing an “army” of people for the purpose of “contact tracing,” that is, to make identified victims of COVID-19 list all their contacts so that you can coerce them to be tested as well. You estimate that between 6,400 to 17,000 persons will be needed to accomplish this task, as more than 4600 COVID-19 patients were identified just Friday. The goal will be to trace all contacts of the patients back for 14 days and then to isolate them, sometimes in specially designated “isolation facilities.” You are joined in this China-style activity by Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as Johns Hopkins University and others—a formidable number of generals for your troops. Governor Cuomo promises that his program can become a template for other states.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Micheal Ryan, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme, stated that causing people to lockdown in their homes drove the disease down to the family level. He continued that “now we need to go and look in families to find those people who may be sick and remove them and isolate them in a safe and dignified manner.” The bit about a “dignified manner” sounds a little too much like hospice care (we will make her “comfortable.”) We are free-born American citizens, entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which includes being responsible for ourselves, our families and our communities, in work and in leisure.
Nursing Homes Seeded with COVID-19 Infectious Patients
As of April 30, 2020, 3,065 patients have died in New York nursing homes. Perhaps the deadliest decision by you, Governor Cuomo, is your March 25th Department of Health order to nursing homes to accept or re-admit COVID 19 patients. As reported in the New York Post, COVID 19 patients immediately began being transferred to city and state nursing homes from city hospitals. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and body bags were sent along with the patients. Testing patients for COVID-19 before admission was not allowed. No wonder the New York Post called your state health commissioner “Dr. Death.”
Furthermore, you accepted the CDC policy that allowed nursing home staff who were Covid-19 positive to return to work right away if they were asymptomatic. You did this despite the fact that asymptomatic persons may be contagious, and the knowledge that the elderly are most at risk for severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19.
One Manhattan nursing home has 98 deaths and counting. That facility has had to hire a refrigerator truck to hold all the bodies. The New York Times reports “The disease caused by the virus has killed more than 10,500 residents and staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide, according to a New York Times analysis. That is nearly a quarter of deaths in the United States from the pandemic.”
And to add to your malfeasance, you are now blaming the nursing homes!
Allowing New York Subway System to be a Carrier for Covid-19 Infections
New York City’s subway system has not been closed. The trains move every day, pushing air through tunnels and out of the subway grates into the cities. The subway system in New York shares its air with the city through those grates. Remember the famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe, trying to hold her skirt down as it was blown up around her waist? That was a subway grate she was standing on for the photo shoot.
Throughout all of March and April you have insisted the subway system remain open, Governor Cuomo, in order, you said, to service essential workers. City Council members requested in mid-April that the Subway and bus services be shut for at least a week for a deep clean, but this has not been done. As of April 30th, this changed, when you ordered the system shut for 5 hours a night for cleaning.
Meanwhile, despite servicing less than 10% of customers, the trains are still running, pushing the air and all the pathogens in it around and throughout the city. Tragically, 83 New York MTA employees have died of COVID-19. These MTA deaths have been mounting for weeks. These employees have been canaries in the mineshaft, warning us all of the contamination and degree of infection present in the system. Actions to clean, let alone to close the transportation system have been much too slow and remain inadequate.
Not Following the Science of Subway Contagion
Clandestine U.S. studies from the 1960’s have documented how efficiently the New York subway system spreads pathogens. In 1966 the US Army experimented with how efficiently Bacillus subtilis released in the subway system would be spread. These biological agents were packed into lightbulbs. Soldiers with sensors were positioned throughout the system and the lightbulbs were thrown to the tracks, smashing the containers and releasing the bacteria.
Leonard Cole, the director of the Terror Medicine and Security Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, documented these experiments in his book Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas. Cole cites declassified documents that discuss the New York tests in his book whose conclusions are chilling: “Test results show that a large portion of the working population in downtown New York City would be exposed to disease if one or more pathogenic agents were disseminated covertly in several subway lines at a period of peak traffic.”
According to an army report, scientists concluded that it took between four and 13 minutes for train passengers to be exposed to the bacteria. Five minutes after bacteria were released at 23rd Street Station, the bacteria could be detected at every station between 14th Street and 59th Street. Between June 6 and June 10, they calculated that more than a million people were exposed. Surely this information is known to your disaster and anti-terrorism teams.
Adding to potential contagion, particulate pollution appears to increase lethality of COVID-19 according to a recent studies out of University of Cambridge, London, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, Aarhus University in Denmark, and Harvard University in the US.
The grime and filth of New York City and the subway system especially enhance the possibility of infection.
Homeless Allowed to Live in Subway Cars During Lockdown
The homeless have migrated to New York City’s subway cars and are using them for shelter. Photos show images of ragged people surrounded by their collected belongings asleep on subway cars, precluding any chance of social distancing for riders who are using the subway to get to work.
Governor Cuomo, you defended the subway staying open for essential personnel who need to get to work. Recommendations from City Council members for alternative transportation plans were not heeded, leading to a subway occupied by sleeping homeless. Western civilization was able to pull off Dunkirk in WWII—New York could have devised alternative travel for its essential personnel, as well as alternative shelter for its homeless. Instead there is a filthy, infected public transportation system that is a deathtrap for a growing number of Metro Transit Authority Workers as well as for those who use the system. Your current order to stop it at night for cleaning is too little much too late.
Failure to Provide for Management of the Dead
America was told we could expect up to 2 million deaths in mid-March when the federal government ordered 15 days to “Slow the Spread.” But the proper removal, storage and disposal of the dead was a failure in New York City as the disease surged. Hospitals required refrigerator trucks. Funeral homes ran out of room. One funeral home stored bodies in a gated back yard, another in rental trucks parked in front of the home.
You Issued Do Not Resuscitate Orders to Emergency Medical Techs and Ambulances
A statewide do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order was issued April 17, 2020 by the New York State health department. The order instructed EMTs and other first responders to no longer attempt to revive anyone without a pulse. Usual procedure would allow for 20 minutes of attempted resuscitation. The DNR order was so unpopular with EMTs and others that it was rescinded a week later. But for one week, your orders prevailed, cardiac and other patients found without a pulse were not to be revived, and your death toll increased.
Do Not Use Hydroxychloroquine
You, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order March 23, 2020 to pharmacies, severely limiting the distribution of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, and preventing many physicians in New York State from being able to prescribe these drugs to patients who have been diagnosed or appear with symptoms of covid-19. You in effect limited these treatments to hospitalized patients when they are probably most effective in the earliest phases of the disease. You did this despite two international small studies and clinical reports from dozens of physicians of successful treatment.
Your executive order came long before the failed Veterans Administration study that tried to discredit these medications. The VA study was a partisan attempt to embarrass the administration and to pave the way for a very expensive and marginally successful alternative treatment. We have documented the fallacies of the VA Study and showed that it actually demonstrates the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, especially when combined with azithromycin.
Big Pharma politics and partisan politics have disrupted the doctor/patient relationship and threatened physicians with censure and worse should they violate your order. Worst of all, a treatment that could save lives has been falsely discredited and removed as an option of treatment, except for within hospitals, in New York State.
You Have Ordered Release of Prisoners Causing Crime to Spike
You released hundreds of prison inmates to protect from the hazards of potentially widespread coronavirus infection in these facilities. As a result, over 1000 criminals were released on March 18th. In mid-April, murder, grand larceny and armed robbery were all significantly up in the city.
Check Temperatures of Arrivals at Airports and Quarantine
You, Governor Cuomo have failed to insist that temperatures of airplane passengers be taken upon arrival from other states and from other countries around the world, despite this being one of the major actions taken by countless other countries. Once again, this has added to intensity of the epidemic in the downstate area and also nationwide as many of these arrivals would have spread out around the nation.
Stay Indoors—Your Lockdown Orders
Citizens of New York State are on mandatory stay at home orders until May 15th. As we described earlier, this applies to the entire state, including regions with many fewer COVID-19 cases and fewer people per square mile. Studies are demonstrating that both sunshine and fresh air are good for the immune system and help to kill any viral spores. In contrast, being cooped up in small spaces together encourages the transmission of disease. One size fits all types of executive orders are not even fitting for all of New York State, let alone our entire country or our world.
Do Not Wear Masks
Governor Cuomo, you discouraged wearing of masks by citizens and employees in March 2020, based on the recommendations at the time of the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control. The chairman of the NY city MTA believes that the no masks rule was in part responsible for the deaths of 83 MTA employees and the infection of COVID-19 of thousands. Of course, many people obeyed these suggestions which nonetheless defied science and commonsense.
Our Immediate Demands
We end where we began, with the observation that many deaths from the epidemic of coronavirus have been unavoidable, but that many others were man-made, with you, Governor Cuomo, as the man. You cannot undo the harm you have already perpetrated against the people of your state, with its ramifications for people throughout the country and the world. But you can begin to set things right by paying more heed to basic civil rights and by reversing as many of your damaging decrees as possible.
Here is where you can begin, Governor:
First, rescind this newly announced military style assault on people who test positive for the coronavirus and on their contacts. You have no right and it makes no sense to in effect lock up so many thousands of people, whether it is in their homes, or worse, within facilities of your choosing.
Second, end all your limitations on doctors prescribing for their patients. Let patients and their healthcare providers decide together, and without you, on treatment regimens.
Third, allow Upstate New Yorkers the freedom to leave their homes for outdoor recreational purposes in small groups with social distancing.
Fourth, start in general letting individual counties loosen the shutdown restrictions on commercial, social and educational activities. Upstate New York cannot be treated as if it were a crowded urban center.
Fifth, shutdown the NYC subway system and provide alternative and much safer transportation alternatives for healthcare providers and other indispensable or essential workers.
Sixth, stop releasing prisoners and roundup those you can, especially if they were in prison for violent crimes.
These demands will not fix everything. Your actions, Governor Cuomo, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic have created the tipping point in your callous treatment of Upstate New York in particular as if it were your constituent city like downstate New York and New York City. Probably everyone in Upstate New York will suffer these kinds of oppressive government actions until we can live in The Free State of Upstate New York. Meanwhile, we urge the remainder of the United States to pursue their own self-determined approaches to the pandemic without modeling after the deadly politics of our governor.