New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.   | Photo Credit: AFP

COVID19: Pulitzer winning Indian-origin physician, compatriot in NYS commission on economic recovery

Mr. Cuomo on Sunday announced that the state’s Blue-Ribbon Commission, chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, will also focus on improving telehealth and broadband access using new, innovative technologies.


Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian-American physician Sid Mukherjee and compatriot higher education leader Satish Tripathi have been named by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo among members of a commission that will focus on plans to jumpstart the state’s economy badly hit by the COVID19 pandemic.

Mr. Cuomo on Sunday announced that the state’s Blue-Ribbon Commission, chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, will also focus on improving telehealth and broadband access using new, innovative technologies.

The 15-member commission will include Mr. Mukherjee, Mr. Tripathi and other eminent leaders namely Chair of Rockefeller Foundation Richard Parsons, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and President of Cornell University Martha Pollack and IBM Chair Ginny Rommety.

India-born Mr. Mukherjee is a hematologist and oncologist and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.’

Mr. Tripathi is the President of University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Tripathi graduated from Banaras Hindu University and holds three master’s degrees - one in computer science from the University of Toronto and two in statistics from the University of Alberta and Banaras Hindu University.

According to his profile on the university website, Mr. Tripathi is a leader in the national higher education community and serves on the board of directors for the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

Mr. Cuomo had tapped Mr. Schmidt to head the commission that will look into how the state’s economy can recover, taking into account lessons learnt from COVID19 pandemic.

“How does that Eric Schmidt commission come up with new ideas that we can jump start to grow the economy? That is what the next chapter is going to be about. It is going to be about the government working with the private sector, with businesses to jumpstart the economy, to stimulate it, to get some big projects going that get the business sector engaged and confident and believing once again.”

How do you improve the mass transit system? How about new technology for education? How about new telemedicine? We talk about a new health care system that can do testing and tracing and has surge capacity and hospital beds. Let’s build that new public health system and let the government get ahead of it and let the government lead the way, Mr. Cuomo said.

The United States, the worst-hit country by the coronavirus, has over 1.68 million infections and 98,024 deaths. New York State currently has 361,515 coronavirus cases and 23,282 deaths.

Despite high number of cases in the New York State, regions across the state are gradually beginning to re-open as daily hospitalisations, ICU admissions and daily death numbers slow down.

Total number of hospitalisations is down, that’s good news. The rolling average of hospitalisations is down, that’s good news. The intubations are down and the new cases are up a little bit on the rolling average, but all part of the decline. That’s all good news. Number of deaths ticked up, which is terrible news, but the overall line is still good, Cuomo said, adding that 109 New Yorkers lost their lives on Sunday due to COVID19.

On Saturday, New York reported 84 deaths from the novel coronavirus, the first time since March 24 that fewer than 100 people died in a single day from COVID19. At the peak of the outbreak in April, more than 1,000 people were dying daily from the deadly disease in New York.

Cuomo recalled a conversation with a healthcare professional who had told him that if the state got to the point where fewer than 100 people were dying daily in the pandemic, he can “breathe a sigh of relief.”

It’s not official. I don’t even know if it was 100 per cent accurate. But in my head I was always looking to get under 100. And under 100 doesn’t do any good for those 84 families that are feeling the pain. But for me it’s just a sign that we’re making real progress and I feel good about that, Cuomo had said.

The novel coronavirus has hard-hit New York and the state’s economic health has deteriorated, and it faces a difficult and painful recovery without significant help from the federal government, according to the Voice of America.

In April, Cuomo said that,”We are at a point financially where we have a USD 10 (billion) to USD 15 billion deficit. We have real financial problems right now.”

The northeastern state of 19.5 million people has seen a record 1.2 million unemployment claims filed in April, since the virus started spreading rapidly and the state paused its nonessential businesses and workforce to contain the outbreak, leading to a drying up of revenue, the report said.

On March 25, the US Senate passed a $ 2.2 trillion stimulus package to address the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. New York, which leads the nation in confirmed cases and hospitalisations, received only $3.8 billion, the report added.

The shuttering of so many businesses has crippled the state’s thriving economy, which had a GDP of more than $ 1.5 trillion in 2017, according to the New York state comptroller’s website.