Coronavirus Update 5/17/2020

By Whitney Tilson

Sunday, May 17, 2020
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In one of my emails a few weeks ago, I explored the question why the two most densely populated cities in the country, New York and San Francisco, have had such vastly different outcomes vis-à-vis the coronavirus: 15,756 confirmed and 4,820 probable deaths (20,576 total) in NYC vs. a mere 35 in SF. Even though NYC has 9.5x the population, the death toll per capita is still 62 times higher in NYC! 

There are many reasons for NYC getting hit harder: higher population density, a greater percentage of more vulnerable people, a packed subway system that spread the disease, more people flying in from China and Europe, etc. 

But 62 times higher??? What could possibly explain that?

Well, thanks to this in-depth article by ProPublica (note: not a right-wing publication looking to embarrass Democratic politicians), the answer is clear: our mayor, Bill de Blasio, and governor, Andrew Cuomo, completely f**ked us.

The article shows, in great detail, that, in total contrast to what mayor London Breed and Gov. Gavin Newsom did in SF and CA, de Blasio and Cuomo:

  • Failed to listen to the increasingly desperate warnings from their own highly esteemed health departments;
  • Regularly minimized the dangers of the rapidly spreading virus, both publicly and privately;
  • Delayed days, sometimes weeks, in taking actions that were being taken in CA; and
  • Perhaps worst of all, played petty political games, hampering coordination between state and city officials, which was critically needed in light of the federal government’s complete absence. In this area, the facts are particularly damning to Cuomo, who apparently directed state health department officials (who, until then, as in CA, had been working hand in glove with their city counterparts), to cease all communication and cooperation, right in the critical moment of the crisis.

Reading this article made my blood boil. It’s completely damning to both de Blasio and Cuomo, and the contrast with Breed and Newsom couldn’t be greater. Can we impeach these guys???

PS–Before my Republican readers celebrate two leading Democrats getting slammed (by a highly credible, left-leaning publication, no less!), don’t even get me started on our Denier in Chief and the incompetent sycophants he’s surrounded himself with. Let me be clear, as bad as de Blasio and Cuomo were, Trump was much, much worse and bears far more responsibility for the total disaster that’s occurred.

Don’t forget: South Korea and the United States had their first confirmed coronavirus cases on the same day (January 20) (confirmed by Snopes). Since then, we have had 90,246 deaths; they’ve had 262. Adjusted for our population being 6.4x larger, our death rate is 54 times higher.

Hmmm, sound familiar? In fact, there are striking parallels between how we, as a country, handled this vs. South Korea, and how NY handled it vs. CA… It mostly comes down to preparedness, yes, but mostly leadership – and we wet the bed…

But no impeachment needed here. Instead, Americans can tell our leaders what they think of their performance at the ballot box on Nov. 3…

Whitney Tilson

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About Whitney Tilson

Prior to creating Empire Financial Research, Whitney Tilson founded and ran Kase Capital Management, which managed three value-oriented hedge funds and two mutual funds. Starting out of his bedroom with only $1 million, Tilson grew assets under management to nearly $200 million.

Tilson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in government in 1989. After college, he helped Wendy Kopp launch Teach for America and then spent two years as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1994, where he graduated in the top 5% of his class and was named a Baker Scholar.

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