Heroes stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s who didn’t.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March 2020.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March 2020.
Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock
Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March 2020.

Heroes stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s who didn’t.

Meet the Zeroes.
July 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought out the best in some people. New Yorkers who, in desperate times, worked with and for those in need – even as many were under incredible stress themselves. But not everybody stepped up – in fact, some players across the New York political sphere seemed to step down. We’re calling them the Zeroes. 


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Glenn Nussdorf

The CEO of Quality King Distributors on Long Island probably thought he could make a quick buck by doubling the price of Lysol disinfectant during the pandemic. But the attorney general called his “profiteering” “appalling” and sued him for price gouging.


Image Credit: 
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Elon Musk

The tech exec talked a big game about manufacturing ventilators when New York was in dire need. That was more flash than substance, and he just ended up donating some BiPAPs, medical machines that weren’t as helpful. 


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Yaron Oren-Pines

This Silicon Valley mini-Musk talked New York into giving him $69 million to procure ventilators. But Oren-Pines didn’t have any experience, and when he couldn’t deliver, the state had to claw back the money.


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PL Gould/Shutterstock

Randy Garutti 

Americans can debate who should be getting federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, but everyone seemed to agree the massively popular, well-funded Shake Shack should not. After hearing the backlash, its New York-based CEO returned the money.


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Edward Scharfenberger

Despite filing for bankruptcy in response to more than 250 lawsuits accusing the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo of being complicit in sexual abuse, the bishop leading it applied for a federal PPP loan. So the diocese didn’t get much sympathy when the loan was denied.

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.