Several elected officials on Twitter have been critical of Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, for a long while now. No prizes for guess their political affiliation. After the recent spikes in Brooklyn, several accused the governor and mayor of targeting the Orthodox Jewish community. Which would be a bad thing if they were targeted on religion. When a neighborhood gets tighter restrictions because they are experiencing spikes in virus transmission, it’s impossible to separate the spike from the locality where the spike is happening. There is no mystery to transmission – wherever the social distancing and masking message gets through and followed, it shows up in transmission rates. Staten Island, for example, has the same problem as parts of Brooklyn – a certain disdain for the health of friends and neighbors, other New Yorkers. Look at the daily graphs of the five boroughs that I post here. Staten Island has a population density a quarter of the city’s – it should have the lowest transmission rates. But thanks to messaging by local political and social leaders, it leads the other boroughs in transmission per hundred thousand.

So I decided to step back from local policy and outcomes, and compare New York state with other countries. See if there is a connection between public health policy and health outcomes. Of course there is. The connection is most visible in the case of France, which was on par with NY state and Germany till around August 21. A rapid lifting of restrictions, it appears, led directly to the second wave. Then there is Israel which, during that same period, was also stable, but at rates already 5 to 8 times the rates in NY state, France and Germany. The evidence is clear – public health policy matters and enforcement matters. My question to the elected officials actively jeopardizing the health of New Yorkers is this – which example would you emulate? What sort of targets would you have as a mayor or governor, president or prime minister? I am fascinated by people who have a calculus that translates a billion dollars in GDP to x number of deaths they can “tolerate” and y number of people recovering but with long-term health negatives.

All are 3 day moving averages, to (minimally) smooth out reporting quirks in France and Israel.