Before the question and answer session of the briefing with reporters, the governor reiterated a past sentiment in thanking New Yorkers for their collective diligence in preventing the spread of the virus, noting the historical reference of the moment.
“They will be talking about what we did for decades to come,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It really was a historic moment. Personally traumatic, socially traumatic, and historic.”
On the note of historic, the governor said he is a fan of history, and more specifically, historic poster art.
“So I love history,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I love poster art. Poster art is something they did in the early 1900s and late 1800s when they had to communicate their whole platform candidacy on a piece of paper. You wanted to run a campaign, they didn’t have TV commercials, or mail, or any of these things. So they got their whole message on one piece of paper, and they used so many words.”
So the governor took that interest and depicted New York state’s struggle with the virus into poster art, as he has from time to time during his gubernatorial tenure regarding other matters like his State of the State address earlier this year. Here’s a hi-resolution version of the coronavirus poster:
There’s quite a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down piece by piece.
“I think the general shape is familiar to you,” Gov. Cuomo said as he first introduced the poster. “We went up the mountain, we curved the mountain, and we came down the other side.”
The shape is, of course, reminiscent of the governor’s model of Mount Marcy, used to demonstrate the state’s curve of the virus over time since the first comfired case on March 1. The governor first introduced the model on June 29, and it has made several cameos in briefings since then.
The Projection Models
It’s hard to miss the large, sharp arrow labeled “Projection Models” that slices right through the middle of the poster.
“That big arrow that goes right up through it, that was the economic models,” Gov. Cuomo said. “‘We needed 120,000 beds, we needed 140,000 beds,’ right? And those models shot straight up. We had to bend the curve despite those models. ‘We need 30,000 ventilators,’ those models said.”
“When you get almost to the top of the mountain, you see Economy Falls,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Get it? Economy Falls like Niagara Falls, but then the economy drops, the economy falls, and the economy comes running down.”
Although the long term fiscal ramifications from this pandemic are ultimately to be determined as far as specifics go, millions of New Yorkers did become unemployed while public resources primarily shifted to focus on PPE, testing equipment, and medical treatment.
In April, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli estimated that the state had lost $13.3 billion to due the COVID-19 crisis — and that was three months ago.
“The timeline on the bottom, from day one, to day 111,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s roughly scaled.”
This is pretty self-explanatory. New York state’s first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 1, and from that day through June 19, the governor held a daily briefing — going “up the mountain” to the highest rate of hospitalizations of 18,825 on April 12, down to 1,220 on the day of the governor’s final daily consecutive briefing.
The numbers continue to improve as Monday’s official count of 792 virus hospitalizations was the state’s lowest number since March 18.
The Early Stages
On the bottom left corner of the poster, right above the day one marker, you’ll see an octopus holding a cruise ship. Seemingly random, but the governor explained:
“The little octopus is a call back to the William Jennings Bryan poster,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It first comes on a cruise ship, the COVID virus.”
Also featured in the early stages of the pandemic poster are the beginning of the daily briefings, the debut of the New York State, a fiery symbol for the original virus “hot spot” in New Rochelle, and the beginning of the shutdown under the NY PAUSE executive order.
Above the early stages is a cloud blowing the “winds of fear” over the mountain, and a plane labeled “Europe” with “January-March” and “3 million,” depicting that the coronavirus outbreak on the east coast of the United States didn’t come from China as initially reported.
Climbing the Mountain
The next stage of the poster art depicts New York’s “climb” as the state approached the peak of the pandemic.
This section of the illustration features the state’s increased efforts in testing and tracing, preparations for an anticipated hospitalization surge and the subsequent adaptations that took place, the transition of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which was turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus downstate, and the implementation of the mandated mask in public executive order on April 15.
“Testing, hospital surge, Javits Center, we’re pulling down the curve together, right?” Gov. Cuomo said. “111 days of hell.”
Past the Peak, Reopening Begins
After those aforementioned “111 days of hell,” New York state began to turn the corner, and that’s illustrated in this next section of the poster.
This portion depicts the beginning of phase one reopening, emphasizing six feet of social distancing, following data in an informed approach of economical return, ultimately reaching phase two of reopening, and of course, “Boyfriend Cliff,” which remains shrouded in mystery.
“We turn the corner, masks up, social distancing,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The sun is on the other side of the mountain, we just had to make it to the other side of the mountain.”
This part also shows the governor in a car, which he said was a good a thing.
“I’m driving once again, one of the few benefits of this, I get to drive myself now,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The last portion of the poster art coronavirus curve features the most recent experiences for New Yorkers during this saga.
This stage includes the subway disinfection in New York City, phase three reopening, the stock market reopening, the tri-state travel advisory which requires incoming travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival if they are coming from states with high infection rates, phase four reopening, and a caution ahead sign — because while New York’s situation improves, much of the country is seeing rising case numbers at an alarming rate.
This section of the poster also shows “The Power of We,” including New Yorkers, health care workers, essential workers, out-of-state volunteers, the governor’s family (including his dog Captain), in “pulling down the curve together.”
The Man in the Moon
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the governor has been critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the situation. In this poster, the president is depicted as “The man in the moon.”
“There’s the man in the moon, ‘just a flu,'” Gov Cuomo said Monday while describing the poster.
The governor noted that the map ends above a “Sea of Division,” which he says has only gotten worse in recent months, and is why the caution ahead sign was placed adjacent to it.
New York Tough
After saying the phrase “New York Tough” more than 100 times to end his consecutive briefings each day for more than three months, it was only fitting that the motto serve as the title for the governor’s coronavirus poster art: