Byrne on Alabama’s COVID-19 response: New York City ‘could learn from us but won’t’
U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on Thursday pushed back on the idea that New York handled the coronavirus pandemic well, arguing the state could learn from how it was dealt with in Alabama.
Byrne’s initial comments were posted to Twitter in response to a report by the New York Times that showed New York City, where 24,000 people tragically died with COVID-19 and strict lockdowns are still in place, is now on the precipice of a “financial abyss.”
“The numbers obviously speak for themselves, what they show is a difference in leadership. We were criticized – as were other southern states – when we reopened as being irresponsible. Point of fact it was irresponsible of [New York] not to reopen,” he told Yellowhammer News in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, unemployment in Alabama is 5.6%, and the State ended its fiscal year yesterday in the black. We reopened our economy wisely and safely. #NewYorkCity could learn from us but won’t. https://t.co/eiMc3lU2T3
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) October 1, 2020
“Our state government ended their fiscal year yesterday in the black. It shows the philosophy we’ve used in Alabama to open our economy, to do so safely but to open our economy, has worked for us,” Byrne remarked Wednesday on the phone, echoing his post from earlier.
“What they’ve done has not worked for them,” he added about New York, which the Times says is “likely” facing “drastic layoffs and service cuts.”
In talking about the state’s coronavirus response, Yellowhammer asked Byrne’s thoughts on Governor Kay Ivey’s (R) statewide mask mandate.
“If that is the price I’ve got to pay to keep our economy open, I’ll put the darn mask on,” he replied, while also acknowledging that masks could be annoying and uncomfortable on occasion.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) was widely praised by members of the Democratic Party and many in the national media over the spring and summer for the way he conducted his state, and its largest city’s, response to COVID-19. That treatment was disputed by many conservatives like Byrne.
They point to information like data from nonprofit health care experts at KFF that show New York has the second-highest per capita death rate in the country, while Alabama’s is lower than the national average.
As the congressman pointed out, the Yellowhammer State’s unemployment rate is currently 5.6%. The Empire State’s is 12.5% as of the most recently available numbers.
Yellowhammer News asked Byrne about the current state of a second coronavirus relief bill, a topic of fervent discussion in the nation’s capital.
He called the draft of a bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that is currently being considered by the U.S. House “purely partisan,” and said it “was going absolutely nowhere.”
Byrne added the “biggest differences” on an aid package right now were “how much money we’re going to give to these state and local governments that have not managed themselves well.”
“I just don’t think the taxpayers in Alabama ought to be subsidizing blue states and blue cities that are in the financial predicament they’re in because they made poor decisions,” Byrne concluded.