In the middle of March, Bay Area leadership ordered residents to “shelter in place.” Conservatives derided the decision as panic, and other states’ leadership, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, decided to wait and see. In fact, Gov. Cuomo’s arrogance is one of the reasons he may have delayed taking important steps.
After a second person in New York who had not traveled outside of the country tested positive for COVID-19—a warning sign that the virus was “in the wild”—Gov. Cuomo confidently explained that what was happening in Italy and abroad could not happen in New York City: “We have the best healthcare system in the world here. And excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers, I speak for the mayor also on this one, we think we have the best healthcare system on the planet right here in New York. So, when you’re saying what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”
By March 19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom extended the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders to the entire state. New York’s death toll as of this story will exceed 16,000 by the end of the day. California has had less than 797 deaths confirmed to be related to COVID-19. As with all of these estimates, they are rough and most likely well under the actual numbers.
At the very least, the Bay Area has clearly been able to “flatten the curve,” taking stress off of the area’s medical infrastructure and, in certain cases, improving the outcomes for people suffering from the virus.