Apr 4, 2020

Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 4: China Donating 1,000 Ventilators to NY

Andrew Cuomo Briefing COVID 19 April 4
RevBlogTranscriptsAndrew Cuomo TranscriptsAndrew Cuomo COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 4: China Donating 1,000 Ventilators to NY

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York held his daily coronavirus press conference today. He announced that China is donating 1,000 ventilators to New York. He also discussed being sued by the NRA. Read the full transcript here.


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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… 1,482 cases. 23,000 people were tested yesterday. That’s the highest number of testing we’ve ever done. That’s good news, 283,000 total tested. Number of new cases, 10,841, new high. Total hospitalizations, 15,000 people currently hospitalized, 4,000 ICU patients, 10,000 patients discharged. Right? That’s some good news. Number of deaths, all time increase up to 3,565. Most impacted States, you see New York at the top again. New Jersey has a serious problem in New Jersey and a growing problem, then Michigan, then California, then Massachusetts. Total number of hospitalized is down a blip, but we believe that’s not statistically meaningful. You have the number of ICU cases are up. The number of intubations are up. The number of discharges are also up. And this is interesting, two thirds of the people who have been hospitalized have been discharged. Okay? Two thirds of the people who have been hospitalized have been discharged.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:41)
That’s what we’ve been saying all along. Most people won’t be hospitalized. People who are hospitalized will come in, be treated and leave, that’s two thirds. One third of that number has a serious condition which will require continued hospitalization. We’re tracking the growth of the number of infections by hospital and we can see just where the numbers are increasing. We’ve been talking about hitting the apex. The apex is the point where the number of infections on a daily basis is at the high point, and that is the ultimate challenge for the healthcare system. Can we handle that number of cases at the high point of the curve? I call it the battle at the mountain top because that’s what it’s going to be. That’s going to be the number one point of engagement of the enemy. By the numbers, we’re not yet at the apex. We’re getting closer. Depending on whose model you look at, they’ll say four or five, six, seven days. Some people go out 14 days, but our reading of the projections is we’re somewhere in this seven day range, four, five, six, seven, eight day range.

Andrew Cuomo: (03:15)
Nobody can give you a specific number which makes it very frustrating to plan when they can’t give you a specific number or a specific date, but we’re in that range. So we’re not yet at the apex. Part of me would like to be at the apex and just, let’s do it, but there’s part of me that says, “It’s good that we’re not at the apex because we’re not yet ready for the apex either.” We’re not yet ready for the high point. We’re still working on the capacity of the system. The more time we have to improve the capacity of the system, the better, and the capacity of the healthcare system, bed, staff equipment. We are going to be doing a conference call with all the hospitals today to coordinate equipment deployment. Watching the spread of the rate of infections is interesting.

Andrew Cuomo: (04:14)
This chart is what we’ve been talking about, but you can see it here. The upstate number is the top bar. The rest of New York has been fairly constant, 4%, 5%, 4%, 5%, Westchester, Rockland, 8% 6%, 6%, 7%, seven, seven, seven. Long Island is the area that is growing, and you see Long Island goes from 16% to 17% to 18% to 19 to 22%. New York City is actually dropping as the number of cases in Long Island increases as a percentage of cases within the state. For us, this is about tracking the virus, tracking the spread of the virus and then deploying as the numbers suggest. In terms of beds, the 2,500 bed facility at Javits is going to make a major difference. That has to work.

Andrew Cuomo: (05:35)
The White House agreed to make that a COVID positive facility. Remember originally, the Javits Center, which is a state convention center, we worked with the federal government. They constructed a 2,500 bed facility. It was supposed to be non-COVID. I spoke to the president, transferred that, with his intervention, to a COVID facility. The federal government will staff that and the federal government will equip that. That is a big deal because that 2,500 bed facility will relieve a lot of pressure on the downstate system. That’s a significant number of beds and that facility now has to make that transition quickly and that’s what we’re focused on. It’s going to be very staff intensive, very equipment intensive. But the theory there is, to the best we can, relieve the entire hospital system downstate by bringing those COVID patients to Javits, from the intake to the treatment, and it’s going to be a very difficult to run that large a facility. But if that works and if that works well, that changes the numbers dramatically.

Andrew Cuomo: (07:04)
So that’s a top focus for us. I spoke to the white house today on planning the logistical operation to get that up and get that running ASAP, and that’s the top operational priority. In terms of staffing, we have 85,000 volunteers, 22,000 out of state volunteers. How amazing is that, 85,000 volunteers. I’m also signing an executive order to allow medical students who were slated to graduate to begin practicing. We need doctors, we need nurses. So we’re going to expedite that.

Andrew Cuomo: (07:43)
On ventilators, remember we ordered 17,000 ventilators. To give you an idea of how many 17,000 is, the federal stockpile was about 10,000 ventilators for the nation. We ordered 17,000 just for the state of New York. And when we ordered the ventilators, we were paying for the ventilators. So trust me, you know the situation, financial situation of the state. We were not looking to spend a penny that we didn’t have to spend, and we placed that order for the ventilators and we were paying for that order. That order never came through. And this goes back to the China’s situation. We had signed documents, we placed the order. Governor Baker talks about this in Massachusetts. But then you get a call that says, “We can’t fill that order because you had all that demand going in.” So what do we do? We find what equipment we have, we use it the best we can. If you ask hospitals today, what ventilators do you have that are-

Andrew Cuomo: (09:03)
What ventilators do you have that are unused and available that they don’t need in the short term? Take 20% of that number of available ventilators. That’s 500 ventilators. 500 ventilators is a significant number now.

Andrew Cuomo: (09:28)
China is, remarkably, the repository for all of these orders. Ventilators, PPE, it all goes back to China, which, long-term, we have to figure out why we wound up in this situation, where we don’t have the manufacturing capacity in this country. I understand supply chain issues. I understand the cost of manufacturing. But there’s a public health reason, as we’ve all learned the hard way, why we need the capacity in this country to do this.

Andrew Cuomo: (10:01)
But anyway, it all comes back to China. So New York has been shopping in China. We’re not really China experts here. International relations is not what we do on a daily basis. I’ve been to China before, when I was HUD secretary. Did a trade mission with China. So I have a basic understanding.

Andrew Cuomo: (10:19)
But we went to the Asia Society to help us navigate China. I asked the White House to help us navigate China. I spoke to the ambassador, and we got really good news today that the Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1000 ventilators that will come into JFK today. I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba. But I’m not stating a preference. For their donation, that’s going to be very helpful, and I want to thank Ambassador Wang very much for his help in making all of this happen, because this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a significant difference for us.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:20)
Also, the State of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators, which is, I tell you, just astonishing and unexpected, and I want to thank Governor Brown. I want to thank all of the people in the State of Oregon for their thoughtfulness. Again, this was unsolicited, but the 140 ventilators will make a difference, and I was thinking about it on behalf of New York and what it means for Oregon. First, it was a kind gesture. I know Governor Brown, and she is a kind person. But it’s also smart from the point of view of Oregon.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:14)
Why? Because we’re all in the same battle here, and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus. Right? Look at what they did in China. It was in the Wuhan province. First order of business was contain the virus in Wuhan. Why? Because you want to contain the enemy. That’s always the first step. Oregon, we’re dealing with it now. We don’t stop the spread in New York, it continues. If you look at the projections, it could get to Oregon. They could have a significant problem towards May. Our problem is now.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:06)
So it’s also smart from Oregon’s self-interest. They see the fire spreading, stop the fire where it is before it gets to my home. That was the Wuhan province. Somebody sent me a great quote from FDR, who had such a beautiful way of taking complicated issues and communicating it in common sense language. FDR was the dealing with trying to get the lend-lease program approved and accepted by the public. Why would this country help another country fight its war? That was the lend-lease program.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:55)
His point was, “It’s a common enemy, and we want to contain the enemy,” and that other countries’ fight is actually our fight. If we don’t stop the spread, then it’s going to burn down our own country. But this is how he does it, right? Because the concept is right, but how does he explain that?

Andrew Cuomo: (14:19)
Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose 400 or 500 feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don’t say to him before that operation, “Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15. You have to pay me $15 for it.” What is the transaction that goes on? I don’t want the $15. I want my garden hose back after the fire is over.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:53)
All right. If it goes through the fire all right, intact without any damage to it, he gives it back to me and thanks me very much for the use of it. But suppose it gets smashed up, holes in it during the fire. We don’t have to do too much formality about it, but I say to him, “I was glad to lend you that hose. I see I can’t use it anymore. It’s all smashed up.” He says, “How many feet of it were there? I tell him there were 150 feet of it. He says, “All right, I will replace it.”

Andrew Cuomo: (15:32)
Now, if I get a nice garden hose back, I am in pretty good shape. State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind. It was smart. Stop the virus here. It’s better for the state of Oregon. It’s better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We will return the 140 ventilators, and there’s never been a discussion. But, frankly, I know New Yorkers, and I know New Yorkers’ generosity. We will return it double-fold, because that’s who we are, and that’s what we believe.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:12)
So stop the fire in New York. Kind, generous. Also smart. Personal opinion, look, I want this all to be over. It’s only gone on for 30 days since our first case. It feels like an entire lifetime. I think we all feel the same. This stresses this country, this state in a way nothing else has, frankly, in my lifetime. It stresses us on every level. The economy is stressed. This social fabric is stressed. Social systems are stressed. Transportation is stressed. It’s right across the board, but the most difficult level is the human level. It is for me, anyway. It’s every day, and it’s everywhere.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:11)
My brother catches the virus. That is stressful. My mother’s worried about my brother, and she’s concerned. We had a birthday party yesterday for Stephanie, was standing around the cake. Everybody’s six feet from each other in this bizarre … what’s supposed to be just a fun, usual celebration of a birthday. My daughter’s cousin has a tragedy, and that’s just emotionally very painful. They can’t hug each other and hold each other. They can’t even grieve together through these cyber chats. I mean, this is so …

Andrew Cuomo: (18:03)
These cyber chats. This is so emotionally taxing that you can’t even begin to, you can’t even quantify the effect on society, and the effect on individuals and the burden that we’re dealing with. So yes, I want it over. If there was anything I could do to accelerate getting it over, I would. Some ways I want to get to that apex. I want to get on the other side of that apex, and let’s just slide down that mountain. On the other hand, we have to be ready for the fight and we have to handle that fight. That’s where we are. So what do we do? You have to get through it. You have to get through it. There is no simple answer here. You’re not going to wish this away. You have to get through it, and you have to get through it intelligently, saving as many lives as you can.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:08)
That’s hard work, and that’s perseverance and that’s mutuality, and that’s community, and that’s finding your better self, and that’s finding your inner strength and dealing with a situation that is almost unmanageable on every level. Because you are out of control and this is a painful, disorienting experience. But we find our best self, our strongest self. This day will end, and we will get through it, and we will get to the other side of the mountain and we will be the better for it. But we have to do what we have to do between now and then. And that’s just what we’re doing here. Questions, comments?

Speaker 2: (19:57)
On those 17,000 ventilators, you previously said that 2,500 we’re committed. So you’re saying that we didn’t get any of them now, not even 2,500?

Andrew Cuomo: (20:04)
No we have, we received some about, 2,500 but we had ordered 17. And when I say ordered 17, we had paperwork, we had contracts and then they just never appeared.

Jesse: (20:21)
On the issue of data, you’re now reporting 3,500 deaths in the state of New York. New York City is reporting about 1,800. Can we now assume that more than a thousand people have died outside of New York City, or is there some discrepancy in the data?

Andrew Cuomo: (20:37)
No. That’s the statewide versus the citywide is what you’re looking at.

Jesse: (20:42)
Can we assume that more than a thousand people died outside the city since there’s this kind of-

Andrew Cuomo: (20:46)
Do you have the numbers, Jim, of where?

Jim: (20:47)
I’ll have to go back and double check. We keep it by a hospital by hospital basis, so we can break that down and give you a regional breakdown.

Jesse: (20:56)
When you’re talking about growing concern in Long Island, should people in Long Island anticipate the [crosstalk 00:03:01].

Andrew Cuomo: (21:00)
Jesse, if you look at the numbers again, that’s why I keep saying… can you put back the bar chart, please? Look, for me, I’m not a medical doctor, and even a medical doctor, you follow the data. You look at the numbers. You look at the numbers. We’ve been saying for the past few days, watch Long Island because it is like a fire spreading. At one point the fire, it doesn’t max out in one place, but it consumes where it is and then it’s moving out. You look at where it’s moving, you see that Long Island number is growing. It’s been growing for the past 10 days, right? And it’s been growing steadily. So where interestingly, it’s not moving north, it’s moving more east than it is north. And that’s what those numbers say.

Jesse: (21:59)
To press on the data once again, is there a reason the state is not breaking it down by age, by gender, by race? New York City is doing that, and some other places are doing that. Can we get that sort of data because, people are concerned about that.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:11)
I don’t know [crosstalk 00:04:10].

Jim: (22:11)
We could do that. Yes.

Jesse: (22:13)
You can break that down and you will provide that?

Speaker 3: (22:15)
So Jesse, yesterday we launched covid19tracker.health.ny.gov that breaks it down by county. In the following days, we’re going to add age range, and we’re going to add deaths by county, and put some of this information that you guys are asking for so that you get more precise information in real time. It will be updated twice a day.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:33)
For me, it’s… excuse me one second. We get it by hospital because, those hospitals are just dots on a map. So if you’re looking for where it’s moving, which is our number one concern, and then deploying equipment right ahead of the fire, that’s what we’re doing. But we can run the data however they have it.

Speaker 4: (22:55)
Is there any indication that the spread on Long Island is because New York City residents have sort of fled out east or are seeking treatment there?

Andrew Cuomo: (23:04)
I don’t think we know.

Speaker 5: (23:04)
When are the ventilators from Oregon expected to arrive, and with those additional from China and from Oregon, how many days do you think we have left before they arrive?

Andrew Cuomo: (23:15)
We have… I love that expression. You go to war with what you have, not what you need, right? We’re not at the apex, so we’re still in the stage where we have the luxury, if you will, of gathering as much as we can. So the 1,000 ventilators from China and the 140 from Oregon, and we’re still shopping, and all those other devices that we talked about splitting. Theoretically, splitting means every ventilator can help two people. It doubles the number of ventilators, theoretically. Now the medical professionals, I feel the doctor moving. Splitting is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s splitting BiPAP machines. We have 9,000 BiPAP machines. They’re not a ventilator. They can’t replace a ventilator, but it can replace a ventilator for a person who doesn’t need a full ventilator. So we’re still gathering equipment because we’re not at the apex.

Andrew Cuomo: (24:24)
But then when we hit the apex, you have what you have. I talk to the White House several times a day. The federal government says the stockpile is about 10,000, moves a little bit, but let’s say it’s 10,000. That’s for the nation. That’s for the nation. So there’s no place, there’s no repository that is going to have everything that we need. By the way, even if we had total access to China, I think they have distributed so much product that they don’t have it. So, at one point you are where you are, and then you have to do the best with what you have. Right? We’re not there yet but we’re getting close, and then we have all those backup measures. We’re going to have to make do with all of that, the splitting, and the BiPAP, and the anesthesia machines, and the available units, and shifting units. That’s where you’re going to be. You go to war with what you have.

Speaker 5: (25:35)
How many days before you run out of the… you said six days, a few days ago. You said we’re burning through them at a rate of 300. Is that still the case?

Andrew Cuomo: (25:44)
That’s still the case, but you don’t know what the number is at the apex, so nobody can tell you that. Tell me what the inflow is on the apex and I’ll tell you what we need. We don’t know the inflow at the apex. Nobody can tell you that. Nobody can tell you the number that it stops at. You’re still going up the mountain. I say to them five times a day, “What’s the number at the top of the mountain?” They say, “Who knows?” Nobody can tell you the number at the top of the mountain, so nobody can answer that question.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:14)
Hopefully it starts to peak as soon as possible. I’d like the apex to be tomorrow. Right? So nobody can answer that specifically because, you just don’t know what the number is at the top.

Jesse: (26:29)
Are you still anticipating 110,000 beds for coronavirus patients? That was a prediction earlier.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:36)
You know, Jesse, it depends on where it stops.

Jesse: (26:42)
What, 15, 16,000 at this point? That seems like a long way to go. Right?

Andrew Cuomo: (26:46)
You are looking at a system that is now at 75,000 beds. We are at 75,000 beds, right? We had 53 we mandated.

Andrew Cuomo: (27:02)
We had 53. We mandated an increase of 50%. That takes us to about 75 and change. And then we added 2,500 at Javits. We added the other temporary facilities. So we probably are up close to, must be 80,000 beds.

Jessie: (27:25)
The question is if you’ve got 16, 17,000 people hospitalized with corona, are you actually going to need…?

Andrew Cuomo: (27:31)
I don’t know. But I think, Jessie, what it did is it flipped. Nobody expected the need of equipment that we have. Nobody diagnosed or suggested PPE shortages, so you have to adjust. We were focused on beds early on and we scrambled on the beds, but now it turns out it’s PPE and masks and ventilators.

Male Reporter: (28:01)
You were sued on Thursday by the NRA. Do you expect more legal challenges to come challenging your executive order keeping people home, but also your anti-gathering orders?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:13)
I think I’ve been sued by the NRA must be a dozen times. I didn’t even know I was sued this time. You become sort of lawsuit immune. I wish you could become immune to this virus the way I’ve become immune to NRA lawsuits.

Male Reporter: (28:30)
Do you still expect legal challenges though to these executive orders from more friendly sources?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:38)
Yeah. As I said the other day, it’s a slow day if I don’t get sued five times, right? The state’s a great target.

Female Reporter: (28:47)
What’s the status of the volunteer healthcare workers? Have any of them been sent out to different hospitals? If so, how many? And what’s sort of the vetting process like for that?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:58)
Jim will answer. But remember we collect the universe, then it has to be vetted and people basically hired by individual hospitals to meet their needs. And they have to be comfortable that that person meets those needs. But Jim, do you want to-

Jim Malatras: (29:15)
I’ll take the second question first. We have a vetting process internally. About 175 people vet the respective volunteers. We check for licensing, and we check for disciplinary problems mostly. Then those get put into the portal. Often the hospitals will also do their own vet as well to make sure. We’ve had about two dozen hospitals already connect with several thousand employees. Every hospital that has had a need has been met in the portal so far, and we expect that to grow on a daily basis as we continue to manage this process.

Female Reporter: (29:55)
Governor, can you update us on what the response has been since you put out the call for New York State companies to start manufacturing some of the equipment that is so desperately needed for our frontline workers?

Andrew Cuomo: (30:07)
Thank you. We have some companies that have come forward to manufacture. Empire State Development, Eric Gertler is working with them. Again, it’s all timing. When we’re talking about being several days from the apex and our need is one week, even if you want to take the longest projection two weeks, to say to a company, “I need you to start making a million gowns, and I need them here in two weeks,” is hard. But there are companies that are interested. They have come forward, and we’re working with them. Just Jessie, back to your point, the 10-day shift in this bar chart is dramatic. I mean look, New York City went from 75% of the cases in the state down to 65, and that is almost all growth in Long Island, from 15% of the cases to 22. So the shift is undeniable.

Jessie: (31:02)
New York City suburb, Rockland County officials have been asking why there has not been a containment zone set up in and around some of the communities in Monsey, New York. Can you explain your rationale to not contain those communities if they are hotspots?

Andrew Cuomo: (31:15)
Have you heard that?

Rob: (31:17)
Haven’t heard about that, but I know-

Andrew Cuomo: (31:18)
Nobody’s asked me.

Melissa DeRosa: (31:20)
No. But I think, Jessie, also when you talk about the containment zone, like what we did in Westchester, that was about ending gatherings, that was about shutting down houses of worship and places where a lot of people were packed into one place, and closing schools. We’ve now done that statewide, so we’ll certainly reach out to the people in Rockland County after this and find out what more they want us to do. Of course, if there’s more measures, we’re all ears at all times. But when you talk about that containment zone, what we did essentially in Rochelle, we’ve now done statewide.

Jessie: (31:46)
One other question-

Melissa DeRosa: (31:46)
And also to answer your other question, Jessie, the deaths in New York City, it’s 2,624. So statewide outside of New York City, it’s still under 1,000. It’s 941.

Jessie: (31:56)

Melissa DeRosa: (32:00)

Andrew Cuomo: (32:00)
That was impressive.

Male Reporter: (32:01)
What all did you want to get done that weren’t done during budget [inaudible 00:00:32:05]? And the legislative session is effectively over at this point.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:11)
Marijuana, gig economy were two of the more complicated initiatives that we wanted to work through that we didn’t get a chance to do off the top of my head, unless Rob or Melissa remember any others. Is the session effectively over? It’s up to the legislature, but I think it’s fair to say it’s effectively over. They have a number of people who are infected, and they did a phenomenal job working through all those policy issues and all the budget issues. So I think it’s effectively over. It’s up to them.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:51)
Good. Anyone who hasn’t asked yet? Everybody’s asked a question. Go ahead.

Male Reporter: (32:56)
Can you please explain why it appears that an extender on the Child Victims Act was not included in the budget? Can you please explain why you didn’t push for that, why an extender was not in the budget?

Andrew Cuomo: (33:07)
Obviously this was such an abbreviated session, we didn’t get to everything. I don’t think we even seriously considered… Was there any conversation about the extension?

Melissa DeRosa: (33:18)
No. There wasn’t any conversation about the extension. But obviously if it’s something that bubbles up, we can always revisit it. The legislature did, as you all know, pass a resolution to be able to vote remotely during this time of crisis. So if there’s something that we need to revisit and they’re not able to come back, it’s always on the table.

Male Reporter: (33:34)
So why was there any discussion over it? The bill’s sponsor says that now that door’s shut for victims now.

Melissa DeRosa: (33:40)
I don’t know that that’s true because we signed the bill in July, and I think there was a one-year window. So the door is not shut, and the bill’s sponsor hasn’t called me. So I’m open. I’m all ears.

Andrew Cuomo: (33:49)
Yeah. It hasn’t expired, has it?

Melissa DeRosa: (33:50)

Male Reporter: (33:50)
[inaudible 00:06:51].

Andrew Cuomo: (33:50)
I’m sorry?

Male Reporter: (33:54)
There’s concerns-

Melissa DeRosa: (33:54)
I think it’s August.

Male Reporter: (33:55)
There’s concerns though that it will extend to such a great period that it will effectively close the filing period.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:01)
Yeah. Except it’s technically not closed. It goes until August. So if they wanted to take an action, they could. But it was just not… Look, there are bill sponsors that sponsor… How many bills do they sponsor? Hundreds. And then there are priorities that are brought to the table. I never had a conversation about that bill with either of the leaders.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:23)
Let’s take one more

Female Reporter: (34:24)
President Trump said yesterday that he had sent more ventilators to New York as of yesterday. Have you received more from the federal government? How many more have you received?

Andrew Cuomo: (34:32)
Yes. How many more did we receive? Do you remember?

Rob: (34:36)
I’ll find out. We’ll find out.

Female Reporter: (34:37)

Andrew Cuomo: (34:39)
We’ll find out. But the Javits Center is going to be the main federal assistance. That is 2,500 beds, their staff, their equipment. That will be a significant relief valve for much of downstate if we get that up and running. And that’s their priority.

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