During a press conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo contended that God has nothing to do with the notable decrease in COVID-19 cases across the state.
“The number is down because we brought the number down,” he told reporters. “God did not do that. Faith did not do that.”
“A lot of pain and suffering did that,” Cuomo, a professing Catholic, continued. “That’s how it works. It’s math.”
Over the last month and a half, New York City has become a world epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 123,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of April 17. The state, meanwhile, has recorded just over 218,000 cases.
The state and city have set up new hospital wards, scoured the world for ventilators and protective gear while also aggressively recruiting doctors and nurses around the country. And on April 1, Samaritan’s Purse opened a 68-bed Emergency Field Hospital in New York City’s Central Park to treat coronavirus patients.
In recent days, the number of hospitalizations and fatalities from the virus have decreased significantly, suggesting that New York City has crested “the curve” and is now on the downhill path to recovery.
Cuomo credits the slowing of the spread to “our actions,” reiterating his previous comments in an interview with CNN on Tuesday: “Our behavior has stopped the spread of the virus,” he said. “God did not stop the spread of the virus. And what we do, how we act, will dictate how that virus spreads.”
But while a Christian worldview requires humans to act with wisdom and skill, including the work of modern medicine, it also acknowledges the role of a sovereign God in bringing the world relief from suffering and illness.
“We always must be careful what we take credit for,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, warned Cuomo. “Yes, we must be cautious and combat the spread, but make no mistake—God can help us. His power is as infinite as His love. Millions of Americans and millions of New Yorkers have prayed for New York and for an end to the spread of this virus. We continue to see answered prayer in our field hospital.
“Gov. Cuomo, I urge you—don’t dismiss the power of prayer and the ability of God to work in this crisis and in the ones we will face in the future,” he added. “He is our hope, and we continue to pray for His mercy on our nation.”
Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, also responded to Cuomo’s comments:
“As a person of faith, I … believe God is in the middle of everything—including people’s decisions to self-isolate and abide by the government’s directives. In other words, as a Christian, I believe it’s impossible to de-link God from any aspect of our lives or our world.
“In these uncertain times, how encouraging it is to be reminded that, as the old song says, ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands.’”