LEADERSHIP

Governor Cuomo’s Most Empathetic Moments During the COVID-19 Crisis

“Don’t underestimate the emotional trauma that people are feeling.”

Image by Diana Robinson

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been praised for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and in particular, for the way he has acknowledged the mental health of New Yorkers. His emotional and empathetic press briefings have contributed to the development of a nationwide Cuomo fanbase as many — even those previously uninterested in politics — find comfort and solace in his words.

A leader must continue to be a leader in times of crisis — and empathy is a crucial component of leadership. Yet, there is a stark contrast between Cuomo’s heartfelt expressions of sorrow and Trump’s blatant lack of compassion. Recently, Trump lashed out at a reporter for saying that Americans are scared, while Cuomo talked about the importance of saying “I love you” during quarantine.

There’s a reason people are latching on to Andrew Cuomo — and it has nothing to do with politics.

“Those three-word sentences can make all the difference. I miss you, I love you, I’m thinking of you, I wish I was there with you, I’m sorry you’re going through this, I’m sorry we’re going through this.” (March 20, 2020)

I, as you know, had my daughter who was in isolation and I was very aware of what she was dealing and what she was feeling. And I’ll tell you the truth, I had some of the best conversations with her that I have ever had. She was alone for two weeks with her own thoughts, not talking to anyone else, no noise, no activity, and we talked about things in-depth that we didn’t have time to talk about in the past, or that we didn’t have the courage or the strength to talk about in the past. Feelings that I had about mistakes that I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret — I talked through with her.

“I know this is hard.” (April 16, 2020)

“There’s an accompanying affliction to the coronavirus that we talked about early on. It is cabin fever. It is a real situation, not medically diagnosed…” (April 5, 2020)

It’s often accompanied by radical mood swings, resentment of people around you, varying degrees, for no reason whatsoever… Irrational outbursts can come at any time without any warning, just an irrational outburst, frustration, anger with no rational basis. Cabin fever in many ways also threatens the essence of our constitution, which is premised on people ensuring domestic tranquility, and it can be disruptive to tranquility. I can attest to that. It’s a real thing. Think about it. It’s only been one month, but it’s been a long month.

“That’s your mother, that’s your sister. These are people we love. These are our grandparents and we’re going to do everything we can to protect every one of them.” (March 25, 2020)

This is deep breath time again.

“This is not just a number — it is real lives lost forever.” (April 12, 2020)

“Several hundred [ventilators] could represent several hundred lives. So am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people for several hundred lives? You’re damn right I am.” (April 3, 2020)

Several hundred ventilators doesn’t fix the problem, obviously, but it’s a significant number of ventilators when you can’t find ventilators anywhere else, and you’ve done everything else that you can do… You think they might sue me? It would be a slow day if I didn’t get sued five times, John. But if they want to sue me for borrowing their excess ventilators to save lives, let them sue me.

“There’s a gentleman who I still look to for guidance and for leadership and for inspiration. He’s not here anymore for you, he’s still here for me.” (March 25, 2020)

But he said things more profound and more beautifully than most other people ever have and one of the things he said that is so appropriate for today…

The Governor shared a quote from his late father in this emotional press conference.

“This is a soul-crushing loss.” (April 18, 2020)

“I’m doing everything I can, but people are still dying and that is hurtful and humbling and painful. Just painful. And this is a long time to be under that level of pain. What do you look like when you come out the other side? I don’t know.” (April 2, 2020)

I take my job very seriously and I take my responsibility very seriously and I don’t make excuses. If I fail, I fail. If something breaks or something doesn’t work, that’s on me. I see those number of deaths every day and I take that personally.

“We’ve talked about the emotional stress that this brings on people and the mental health stress and the mental health challenges. No one’s really talking about this.” (March 25, 2020)

You know, we’re all concerned about the immediate critical need, the life and death of the immediate situation, which is right, but don’t underestimate the emotional trauma that people are feeling and the emotional health issues. We asked for mental health professionals to voluntarily sign up to provide online mental health services. 6,000 mental health professionals agreed to volunteer to provide mental health services for people who need it. How beautiful is that.

Cuomo’s daily press briefings are streamed live on Facebook (where you can get notified every time he goes live) and on a variety of local news channels. They start each day around 11:30 AM ET.

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✨ serial questioner • technical writer/devops • editor of Diary of an SRE • thank you for connecting 👩🏻‍💻 kerisavoca.com

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