In the spring and summer of 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo preached love and optimism, toughness and strength. His soliloquies on national television brought him fame and fortune (in the form of a seven-figure book deal). 

But it didn’t last.

He went from hero, to, well, something else.

What You Need To Know

  • Cuomo appeared to provide New Yorkers the boost they needed early in the pandemic

  • But that quickly faded once scandals surrounding his handling of nursing homes appeared to emerge

  • It's unclear how New Yorkers will look back on his leadership during this time

Cuomo rose to national fame during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing praise from across the country for what many people perceived as a steady hand in crisis. He even won an Emmy for his hours-long press conferences at the height of the crisis in 2020.

But that veneer quickly faded — that leadership questioned.  

The administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and the subsequent potential manipulation of data on deaths are now the subject of several investigations. The question is: was his administration deliberately undercounting deaths of New Yorkers who live in nursing homes? The U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is looking into it. So is the state assembly as part of its impeachment investigation.

As the scandals mounted, earlier this year it became increasingly clear his power to guide New York through the ongoing crisis was dwindling. The legislature even stripped Cuomo of his extraordinary powers, powers which allowed him to effectively control the state’s response to COVID-19 unilaterally.  

“We will be repealing the governor’s ability to make directives, because that period is over,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in March.

Indeed, it was over. As vaccinations climbed, cases fell. At one point, the governor appeared to claim victory, hoping to put the pandemic and his scandals behind him. 

Of course, that did not last either. The delta variant hit our shores and cases are now back on the rise.

Just as Cuomo is leaving office, leaving the next phase to a new leader.