A day before New York Assemblyman-elect Mike Lawler takes office, the Republican is already taking aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and current vaccination efforts.
After Cuomo blamed other officials and hospitals for the state's low rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, Lawler said any blame should fall squarely on the governor himself. As of Dec. 30, the state had reportedly administered less than a third of its vaccines.
"It’s very simple: @NYGovCuomo asked for and was given complete control of the pandemic response back in March of last year," Lawler tweeted Tuesday. "He therefore is completely responsible for the consequences of his decisions: nursing home deaths and the failed vaccine distribution.
"That he continues to pass the buck to others, including the hospitals, is as jarring as it is arrogant," he continued.
He then stated that people should expect as much given that Cuomo wrote a book about his response to the pandemic while it was still going on, and sold a poster celebrating his effort.
Cuomo’s office fired back against Lawler while also blaming President Trump for the problems of the pandemic itself.
"The Assemblymember-Elect must have been too busy tweeting during new member orientation, because if he had paid attention, he’d know that any of the Governor’s actions during this emergency could be overturned by a simple majority vote of the legislature," Administration Spokesperson Jack Sterne said in a statement to Fox News. "I know it’s easy to take cheap shots from the cheap seats, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that New York was ambushed by the virus in the spring due to Donald Trump’s incompetence – and while this former political operative whose candidate lost to the Governor has been busy on social media, Governor Cuomo has been on the frontlines fighting this pandemic. Despite federal failures on everything from testing to vaccine distribution, the Governor’s actions have unequivocally saved lives."
The governor has also faced criticism from the left over his recent statements. Actress Cynthia Nixon, who challenged Cuomo in the 2018 Democratic primary, slammed the governor for shifting blame.
"Typical Cuomo: blaming others for his slow vaccine roll out," she tweeted.
Cuomo drew ire due to statements he made at a Monday press briefing, during which he addressed the slow vaccination process, passing blame and issuing threats.
"We need the public officials to manage those public hospitals," he said, according to the New York Post, referring to distributors including New York City's Health and Hospitals system. He included visual aids that showed images of leaders such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"I need them to take personal responsibility for their hospitals," he said. "This is a management issue of the hospitals. They have to move the vaccine, and they have to move the vaccine faster."
Cuomo threatened hospitals that do not distribute their vaccines quickly enough by warning that they could be fined or kept from receiving additional shipments of the vaccine.
"That’s just arrogance," de Blasio told NY1’s Errol Louis, referring to Cuomo's apparent belief that threats of fines would improve matters.
"Does he think that our health care professionals are uninterested in vaccinating people?" the mayor asked. "How about trusting the people who have been our heroes?"
Cuomo's remarks came days after he faced scathing criticism from Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, who blamed the governor for vaccination woes.
"The state has no idea what it’s doing," McLaughlin said according to the Post. "The Cuomo handling of the vaccine is blithering incompetence."