In the early days of the pandemic, he often brought out posters depicting a Covid-19 “mountain,” where the peak of the mountain represented the day with the highest coronavirus death count.
But during a coronavirus news conference on July 29, the governor dramatically pulled back a navy curtain to reveal a monstrous green mound his team had constructed out of foam and paint.
Social media had a laugh at the enormous prop, but the governor’s office had poured time and money into the project.
At the time, the governor’s office said the materials to craft the foam mountain cost $185 and the governor’s team was “happy to support businesses in New York.”
Through a Freedom of Information Law request, the Democrat and Chronicle found the bill was $415.34 for 10 polystyrene foam boards and two gallons of paint and had come from Lowes’, a North Carolina-based hardware chain store.
The entire Lowes receipt was reimbursed from Cuomo’s campaign coffers, Heather Groll, a spokesperson for the state Office of General Services, which originally purchased the materials, told the Chronicle.
According to campaign filings, Cuomo’s campaign paid OGS $415.34 as “Reimb. for Mansion Activities,” referencing the governor’s mansion where Cuomo lives. It did not specify the mountain sculpture.
Groll also said only a portion of the $400-plus supplies went to use — $183.72. She didn’t specify how the state came up with that number. On the cost of labor to construct the prop, Groll replied: “The mountain was built in-house.”
Cuomo shuttled his foam mountain between Manhattan and Albany and used it as the backdrop for a number of briefings.
When it was unveiled, the mountain had a sign with the number 42 at its top to signify the number of days it took from the first coronavirus case in the state on March 1 to what was then the peak number of cases per day, 10,841 on April 3.
“We dealt with that spike, and we climbed right up the mountain,” Cuomo said that day as he pointed to the sculpture’s peak. “We got smart. New Yorkers stepped up. We wore masks, we socially distanced, we closed down and we stopped the curve.”
If the mountain were made today, it would have another peak, as coronavirus cases spiked again in New York and across the country in late fall and early winter.
Some on social media said the foam mountain looked like something elementary school students would make. Others likened it to Star Wars’ Jabba the Hutt.