Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a comprehensive state plan Thursday to respond to a potential Zika virus outbreak. But as State House Reporter Zack Fink explains, that plan comes on the heels of the state's sluggish response to a water contamination crisis in upstate New York.
Cuomo was busy Thursday outlining an extensive state response to a new public health threat, the Zika virus.
According to the governor's office, 49 cases have been reported in the state.
The virus, which can cause health effects for pregnant women in particular, is spread through mosquitos but can also be sexually transmitted.
"From the research we have done, we believe it's the most comprehensive and most aggressive plan that has been designed in the country," the governor said. "Hopefully we don't have to deploy the full extent of the plan."
Cuomo is calling for the distribution of 100,000 larvicide tablets statewide to cut down the mosquito population, among other measures.
The state's war against Zika stands in stark contrast to Cuomo's initial response to a water contamination crisis in upstate Hoosick Falls.
As NY1 reported last month, elevated levels of a hazardous chemical were detected in the village's water supply, and residents felt that the state was slow to respond.
We asked state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker if the Zika response was influenced by criticism of his actions in Hoosick Falls.
"Not at all. Not at all. First off all, we are moving forward very much so in Hoosick Falls, just to respond. There have been many steps that we have taken to address that, and we can address that at another point," Zucker said Thursday. "This is an aggressive plan for the Zika virus — remember spring is right around the corner."
After not being in Hoosick Falls as the crisis unfolded, Cuomo appeared there March 13 — but only alerted reporters about two hours before his visit, sparking speculation that the governor wanted to avoid the media.
"First of all, every situation that deals with an emergency, there's always criticism, always criticism," Cuomo said Sunday. "Some snarky reporter always finds something to criticize. I think it's in the job description."
Cuomo built his brand as always erring on the side of caution when it comes to public health and safety. After what some consider to be missteps in the handling of Hoosick Falls, the governor appears to be trying to right the ship.