|A week before Governor Hochul announced plans to have consultants review the state’s COVID-19 response, five government watchdogs sent a letter asking the Governor to form an independent, expert-led commission to conduct such a review. This letter, which can be found here and below, has not been published until now.|
The letter recommended the following for the commission:
Governor Kathy Hochul VIA EMAIL
May 16, 2022
Re: The urgent need for an independent, expert-led commission to review New York State’s COVID-19 response.
Dear Governor Hochul,
We urge you to create a commission of experts on public health, pandemic emergency response and government management to review the New York State government’s response to the COVID-19 disaster.
According to reports in the New York Times and Gotham Gazette, you have ordered a two-week, internal review by the State Health Commissioner and other administration officials. Given the magnitude of the COVID disaster – which killed 70,000 New Yorkers, sickened millions and inflicted massive societal and economic costs – we believe this is far too brief and superficial and will not produce an independent, comprehensive analysis of what New York State did right, what it did wrong, and what it should do going forward.
When one aircraft crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board sends a team of experts that spend months analyzing what happened, why, and how such crashes can be prevented in the future. In New York, COVID-19 took a human and societal toll equivalent to many hundreds of jetliners crashing. A sober-minded, independent, expert assessment of how New York State responded to COVID should be proportional to the enormity of the disaster New Yorkers have endured.
We believe it is imperative that New York State government and the broader public are provided with an impartial, objective assessment that we all can learn from and that will improve the state response to future pandemics or other disasters. To ensure a credible and useful inquiry, we recommend the commission appointed by the governor:
Please contact Bill Hammond at billh [at] empirecenter.org, or Tom Speaker at tom [at] reinventalbany.org should you wish to discuss the matter further.
Senior Fellow for Health Policy
Empire Center for Public Policy
Common Cause New York
Laura Ladd Bierman
League of Women Voters of New York State
New York Public Interest Research Group