Mar 18, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus News Briefing March 18
Governor Andrew Cuomo provided another coronavirus news conference briefing for the people of New York State today. Read the full transcript right here on Rev.com.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Level of care. Second, the federal partnership which is key, and as we discussed yesterday, the state cannot do this on its own. We don’t have the capacity. We don’t have a workforce. We are very ambitious. We’re very aggressive, but the most important thing in life to know is to know what you cannot do. Know your limitations. We can’t build new hospitals in 45 days. The federal government can be extremely helpful here and we need the federal government’s help. I had a conversation with the President yesterday. It was an open and honest conversation. We’ve always had a very good dialogue. Even when we don’t agree, we’ve always had a very good dialogue, but the President and I agreed yesterday look, were fighting the same war, and this is a war, and we’re in the same trench, and I have your back, you have my back, and we’re going to do everything we can for the people of the state of New York, and the President agreed to that and I agreed to that, and his actions demonstrate that he is doing that.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:12)
I’ve had a number of conversations with White House staff who are working on this. I had a conversation with the Secretary of the Army. The President sent the Army Corps of Engineers here this afternoon. I’ll be meeting with them this afternoon. I spoke to the President this morning about specific actions the President is going to take. I can tell you he is fully engaged on trying to help New York. He’s being very creative and very energetic, and I thank him for his partnership. As I said, the Secretary of Defense, they can be very helpful. The Army Corp of Engineers can be very helpful, and FEMA can be very helpful, and we’re speaking with all of them and we’re working with all of them as we speak, and we have been around the clock and all through the night. So if Commissioner Zucker looks a little tired today, that’s why. Young people have no stamina, I like to say.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:16)
The President, I spoke to this morning, he’s going to be making arrangements to send up this hospital ship, which is called the U.S. Comfort. It has about 1000 rooms on it. It has operating rooms and the President is going to dispatch the Comfort to us. It will be in New York City Harbor. It’s an extraordinary step, obviously, but it’s literally a floating hospital which will add capacity, and the President said that he would dispatch that immediately. The President also spoke about the mobile hospitals that the federal government has, and where we could set up mobile hospitals where they come in with a mobile hospital that has a capacity of 200 people, 250 people. I told the President that we would do everything we need to do to expedite siting of those facilities, and we’re talking about a couple of locations now, but that is also specific and concrete help and something that we can get done within the 45 days.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:33)
At the same time, as I said, we’re proceeding on all these tracks simultaneously. Density reduction, we have taken a number of dramatic steps, but I think they are necessary steps. You’ve seen the curve. We can’t handle the number of cases in the healthcare system at that current rate of spread. We have to get it down. We’ve taken dramatic steps. I’ve said, and I’m going to repeat today, I’m asking all businesses voluntarily, if it is at all possible, work from home and have your people work from home. We also have already announced a mandatory requirement that all schools are closed statewide, a mandatory requirement that no more than 50% of any government’s employees can show up for work, essential personnel, yes, but no more than 50% of city local governments. We also have a mandatory requirement, as you know, of a tri-state agreement. Pleased to announce that Pennsylvania is going to be joining our state coalition, and that’s very exciting because none of these measures work unless you have a large enough geographic basis.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:58)
It makes no sense for a county to try to put its own rule into effect, or a city to put its own rule into effect because people will just move. If I can’t go to a bar in Queens, I’ll drive to Nassau and go to a bar. If I can’t go to a restaurant in Albany, I’ll drive to Schenectady. So the geographic footprint, by definition, is essential for these to work. And frankly, even if I come up with a rule for the entire state, people will drive to New Jersey, or Connecticut, or Pennsylvania, and that’s why the first ever we have this statewide coalition, and I want to thank Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy very much, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who’ve been great colleagues and I thank them very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:48)
Again, I’m asking all businesses to work from home, but today we are announcing a mandatory state wide requirement that no business can have more than 50% of their workforce report to work outside of their home. No more than 50% of the workforce can report for work outside of the home. That is a mandatory requirement. I’m going to do that by Executive Order and that is statewide. That will exempt essential services, meaning food, food delivery pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc. Society has to function. People stay at home, people still need to be able to order food, etc., they need to be able to shop, so you have to keep those essential services running.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:50)
I understand that this is a burden to businesses. I get it. I understand the impact on the economy, but in truth, we’re past that point as a nation. There is going to be an impact on the economy, not just here in New York, but all across the country and we’re going to have to deal with that crisis, but let’s deal with one crisis at a time and let’s deal with a crisis at hand, and the crisis at hand is a public health crisis. Once we get past that, then we’ll deal with the economic crisis. There’s an older Italian expression that basically says, rough translation, a rich person is a person who has their health. Everything else you can figure out. And that’s true for society also. Let’s maintain the public health. We’ll figure out the economy afterwards.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:46)
We’ve consulted with a number of business organizations and I want to thank them for their cooperation and their receptivity, the Business Council, the Retail Council, ABNY, the Partnership for New York City. They’re the main business groups in this state. They understand the concern and the crisis that we’re dealing with, and they’re helping communicate the message, and I thank them for their understanding and for their civic consciousness in this matter.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:22)
You can see from the number of cases why we’re taking these actions. We are responding to science and data. There’s no politics here. The Health Commissioner and health officials advise us of what we should be doing. The number of cases is way up. The number of cases is up because we’re taking more tests, but the numbers are going up, hence the increased actions to reduce the spread, the density reduction. You see total positive cases 2300, new positive cases 1000. You see the number of counties that now have cases spreading just as you see it spreading across the United States of America. This is just a metaphor for the entire country.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:17)
You see our number of tests has gone way up. We’ve now tested over 14,000 people. That’s a dramatic increase and again, that’s why you see the number of positive cases going up. We have the highest number of cases in the United States, again by a significant margin, now we’re about double the next state. I don’t know how much of that is due to our increased testing, but we are a more dense environment. We have more people than Washington state, so science would dictate, mathematics would dictate that you’ll have a higher rate of spread. Current hospitalizations of 549, again, that is the number we watch because that’s the number that are flowing into the healthcare system. That’s the rate of cases flowing into the healthcare system. 23%, we had 20% yesterday. We had 14% last week. So the number of hospitalizations is going up. And again, this is all about the capacity of the healthcare system and it always has been. Again, perspective, perspective, perspective. I understand the anxiety, I understand the fear. You look at the pictures on television, empty grocery shelves. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion, but you also have to remember the facts of the situation, right? And the facts are still very clear. We know what this virus does. We know who it is. We know where it lives. We know what it does to people.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:07)
It’s been tracked since China. 200,000 cases have been tracked. 8,000 people have passed away. 80,000 have recovered. 113 are still pending. We even know what it’s done in the state of New York. Of the numbers we’ve seen in New York since it started. 108 people have already recovered and been discharged from the hospital. The first case we had in New York, which was the healthcare worker and her husband who returned from Iran and tested positive, she never went into a hospital. She was at home quarantined. She has now been recovering at home. She actually took second coronavirus test and tested negative. Okay?
Andrew Cuomo: (12:05)
So 39 year old female came home, was at home, was on quarantine, recovered two weeks later, tests negative, which means she has resolved the virus in her body, right, and now tests negative. And as we’ve said, 80% of the people, that’s what will happen. She was never hospitalized and she resolved two weeks later. That’s what people have to keep in mind and look, this is a health issue. It’s a public health crisis, but more than that, I’m telling you, worse than the virus is the fear that we’re dealing with, and the rumors and how they spread, and I’m going to be quarantined, I’m going to be locked out, they’re not going to allow me to leave my house-
Andrew Cuomo: (13:03)
I’m going to be locked out. They’re not going to allow me to leave my house. I better stock up on groceries. That’s not going to happen. It’s a deep breath. We know what is going to happen here. People will get ill, they will resolve, people who are vulnerable, we have to be careful. But the panic and the fear is wholly disconnected from the reality. The only way I know to communicate it is just what I experience in my own life and I get those calls every day and people are just disconnected from the reality of the situation. One of my sisters called me yesterday. I have to have my daughter tested for coronavirus. Why? She has a fever. She’s sick. She has flu like symptoms. I said, “Has she been exposed to someone positive?” “No, not that we know.” “Did she travel to a hotspot?” “No.” I said, “Then there’s no test and there’s no reason for a test. Leave her home. Help her. Be careful that she doesn’t infect you, but that’s it.”
Andrew Cuomo: (14:23)
And flu like symptoms and a couple of weeks, she’ll feel better and she’ll get on with it. The one thing I said to my sister is, “Don’t let her go near mom.” It’s my mother. My mother’s in a different situation. Again, senior citizen, but senior citizens, compromised the immune system, underlying illnesses. I said, “Don’t let her go near mom. Otherwise, treat her as if she has the flu.” Well, what do I do? What’s self quarantine? Well, self quarantine is what we used to do when somebody had the flu, right? My father would say, “Go in the room. Stay there until you feel better.” Right? That’s crude self quarantine. Don’t get infected. Stay away, throw things away, use hand sanitizer, et cetera. That’s the reality of the situation. I get the drama, I get the anxiety, but all in moderation and all in connection with the facts.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:34)
Few details. Essential services, does that include building supply stores like Home Depot, Curtis Lumber? When does this order take effect? And then for the doctor, obviously health care workers are exposed. They’re going to get sick, they’re going to resolve. If you’ve been 14 days and you’re resolved, do you get to return to the healthcare workforce? I guess, Governor, start maybe-
Andrew Cuomo: (15:58)
Yeah, Jimmy, let me, I’ll answer your question, but I forgot one thing. I want to show you the ventilator, our main scramble now is for ventilators and everybody says, “Well, what are the ventilators? What are the ventilators?” This is a respiratory illness. We need ventilators, which will actually, the ventilators actually help people breathe. This is the machine that you often see in hospitals. It’s commonplace in hospitals. It’s just the number that we need is much higher and any manufacturers of ventilators, this is a national need. Every state across the country needs it. I’m talking to governors all across the state. GE makes them, Phillips makes them, but this is the number one device that we need because we can create more beds, but it’s literally the supply of ventilators now and countries all across the globe are all trying to get these devices. That’s a main challenge.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:16)
The question on, after 14 days if you test negative, can you go back to work? You can go back to work.
She can be [inaudible 00:04:24].
I don’t know. Okay, and then for you, building supply stores and when does this take effect?
Andrew Cuomo: (17:30)
We’re going to have a full list of essential services. I don’t want to get into any specific business right now, but we’ll list all of the essential services.
Governor, do you have any timetable of how long these restrictions are going to last? Just for parents, small businesses, et cetera that are trying to plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:50)
No, but all of the restrictions are statewide. They will track the trajectory of the disease. If we get that spread down, Jesse, if we slow the spread and we can handle it in the healthcare system, we’ll relax them as soon as possible. Past data, China, South Korea, shows that if you take more dramatic actions sooner, you actually reduce the spread and you recover faster, so more dramatic on the front side, the faster you get out of it.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:27)
I’ve also spoken with elected officials all across the state. I’ve told them that this 50% mandatory requirement was going to be in place and we’ve heard nothing but support and I want to thank all of the local officials and I want to thank them for their cooperation. [crosstalk 00:00:18:47].
Speaking of dramatic action though, what about shelter in place? Can you explain why you’re resistant to that and why that’s no longer on the table for you?
Andrew Cuomo: (18:54)
Shelter in place, first, would have to be done, I don’t believe any policy works unless the geographic footprint is large enough. I’m from Queens, New York. If you tell me shelter in place and I’m living in Queens, I’ll go stay with my sister in Westchester and I’ll go out and have a good time. Right? It can’t just be New York City. It would have to be Long Island, Rockland, Westchester, and the rest of the state. Also, shelter in place, you closed down your healthcare system, you closed down your food system, you closed down your transportation system.
I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think in the Bay area, it’s certainly essential services like food and-
Andrew Cuomo: (19:41)
It depends on how you do it and you close down businesses, you close down all businesses when you do shelter in place. That doesn’t make sense to me because people have to eat, travel, et cetera. What this, doing it this way, all workforce 50% except essential services, we’ll see if that slows the spread. If it doesn’t slow the spread, then we will reduce the number of workers even further. That 50% can be calibrated. Now, you could get to 100% of workers stay home besides essential services. That’s what Italy wound up doing and we’re at 50% now, but I would never shut down food, transportation, essential services. [crosstalk 00:20:37]
Speaker 1: (20:38)
Yesterday put out a revenue forecast as you know, worst case scenario, $7 billion hit the state is facing. Will that require a cut in spending as you had initially proposed in the budget? Will this mean more spending for schools for instance?
Andrew Cuomo: (20:53)
That’s something we’re going to have to work out in the budget, but as I said, the original estimates we did were before any of this and they are any reasonable person would say too high, so we’ll have to do a budget on the best projections that we can do and then we go from there.
Speaker 1: (21:12)
Does that mean then, is it time to look at raising revenue? You were reluctant to do that in your proposed budget. Now with such a big hold, do you have to raise taxes?
Andrew Cuomo: (21:19)
Yeah. Look, yeah. Businesses closing. You have people out of work. I don’t think now is the time to tell people, “We’re going to raise your taxes.”
Speaker 2: (21:28)
Governor, yesterday you said that you’re going to be meeting the Army Corps of Engineers. Has that been done yet?
Andrew Cuomo: (21:32)
Speaker 2: (21:34)
And what are you hoping to get out of it? [inaudible 00:21:34]
Andrew Cuomo: (21:36)
Army Corps of Engineers, both, let’s say federal writ large because you have DOD, you have FEMA, you have the Army Corps of Engineers. Additional hospital beds, the mobile hospitals, helping to retrofit existing buildings. Those are all within the purview of the federal government.
Speaker 3: (21:58)
Governor, is the media considered an essential service? I know it’s a tough question to be asking, but, and do we fall under the 50% umbrella?
Andrew Cuomo: (22:07)
That is a very good question. We have to ponder that. I think, are they an essential service? Depends who you would ask. I personally consider it an essential service, but I don’t know if that’s a global definition.
[crosstalk 00:22:22] Are you investigating a cluster in Borough Park, Brooklyn?
We’ve heard about that and we’re looking into that.
Do you believe it is a cluster or do you believe it’s a result of [crosstalk 00:09:31].
Well, there’s two possibilities. A lot of testing that’s going on or a potentially one or multiple individuals that have been infected. That’s something that’s new on the radar and we’re investigating today.
Speaker 4: (22:43)
Governor, Westchester was the epicenter. It’s moved now to New York City. When you talk about expanding the capability of hospitals, is Westchester an area where you’re looking at perhaps opening some new temporary facility and can you describe where those might be at this point?
Andrew Cuomo: (22:58)
Definitely. Our planning will track, again, it’s science, it’s data, will track where the cases are. Wherever you have a cluster of cases, that’s where you want to add to the capacity. You look at how many beds you now have, how many beds you may need, and that’s where you enter the capacity. New York City is the natural area for it to increase because of the density. Westchester wasn’t anomaly, that whole New Rochelle situation, and look, we responded to it dramatically and I want to thank the Westchester County executive, George Latimer, who’s done a great job, but we’ll increase the capacity in Westchester, that cluster, and New York City. We also have a cluster in Nassau now. Wherever we see these clusters pop up. [crosstalk 00:23:46]
Speaker 5: (23:47)
Is the 50% rule outside, it’s just New York state? You didn’t get an agreement from neighboring governors?
Andrew Cuomo: (23:51)
I have not spoken to them about it at this time, to a point where we have agreement. Our numbers are somewhat worse. We don’t yet have agreement with Connecticut, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, but again, on this mandate, this one is not really geographically specific because a business can’t pick up today and move to New Jersey to get around the mandate. [crosstalk 00:11:21].
Speaker 6: (24:21)
Governor, how fast are you looking to move on the state budget?
Andrew Cuomo: (24:24)
April one. If they want to do it sooner, great, but the date is April one. I’m going to be here. Government is functioning, government is here. Police officers are doing their job. Nurses are doing their job. Correction officers are doing their job. A lot of people are putting themselves in harm’s way. You have great public service heroes. Those nurses who are at the testing stations drawing blood, God bless them. This is public service. We’ll be here. We’ll be doing our job. If they want to come up and do the budget early, fine. Otherwise, the date is April one. [crosstalk 00:12:03].
Speaker 6: (25:03)
What are you going to be discussing what the DA’s then later today? Are you meeting with them?
Andrew Cuomo: (25:07)
I met with the district attorney and criminal justice experts talking about bail reform.
Speaker 7: (25:16)
Governor, can you give us-
Andrew Cuomo: (25:17)
This morning. I had that meeting and this morning, sir.
Speaker 7: (25:17)
Can you give us an update on New Rochelle and is there any evidence that the containment zone, in effect, in that city, has been effective?
Andrew Cuomo: (25:22)
You want to speak to that, Doctor?
Well, we are still tracking the cases in that area, in the whole Westchester County, but we do believe that the effectiveness of decreasing numbers is happening with that.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:36)
Yeah, but certain things are inarguable. It is inarguable, but to the extent you reduce density, you reduce the transfer of the virus. That is inarguable. Closing schools, closing gatherings, that is inarguable.
Speaker 4: (25:54)
Governor, sick leave bill is expected to be voted on today and passed. Do you expect to sign that today and it’s supposed to be immediately-
Andrew Cuomo: (26:01)
As soon as they pass the bill, I’ll sign I.
Speaker 4: (26:03)
When would people start…
Speaker 8: (26:03)
Supposed to be-
Andrew Cuomo: (26:03)
As soon as they passed the bill, I’ll sign it.
Speaker 8: (26:03)
When would people start benefiting from that?
Andrew Cuomo: (26:06)
The quarantine bill goes into effect immediately. Right?
Melissa DeRosa: (26:09)
The quarantine bill goes into effect immediately. The larger paid sick bill, we’re actually going to hold on and do in the budget and that’ll come into effect in 180 days.
Speaker 8: (26:17)
Would people be getting these checks from their employer as potentially next week or?
Melissa DeRosa: (26:21)
If they’re in mandatory quarantine or if they’re in precautionary quarantine it goes into effect immediately.
Speaker 9: (26:27)
Governor, why amended that bill? Because obviously what was introduced yesterday had the statewide system taking effect later. What led you to split it?
Melissa DeRosa: (26:34)
We’re giving a message and we believe that’s necessary immediately for the quarantine provision, but as this other part of the bill doesn’t go into effect for 180 days, it’s not necessary to give a message of necessity.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:45)
Do you have a plan in place for law enforcement, specifically the NYPD and the State Police, but is the NYPD being provided with extra protective gear and also do you have a plan in place for what happens should any of these officers, et cetera, get ill.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:04)
Every police department has been advised to expect people to get ill. I mean, you’re talking about a public facing position in this environment, so reality would dictate you’ll expect the number of people to get ill. I have mandated that New York City and all local governments have masks provided to their police departments.
Do you have any plans that should the NYPD need to cut hours or as we saw in Philadelphia they relaxed certain… they told the officers to stop detaining people for certain crimes.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:47)
I’ll leave that to the local police departments unless there’s a situation that requires state action, but right now we’re leaving it to the local police departments.
Speaker 8: (27:56)
Governor, could you please expand more on your discussions on bail reform with the DAs and the criminal justice experts? Can-
Andrew Cuomo: (28:02)
We spoke to the issue. There’s is a divergence of opinion. I said to them that I’m very proud of what we did on bail reform. I think we made a significant difference. Obviously, there’s people who have different opinions on what needs to be done now and it was just a general conversation without a conclusion. It will be concluded in the budget. Let’s take one more question and then we’ll get you work.
Speaker 10: (28:30)
You mentioned that 108 people have been released from the hospital. Maybe this a question for Dr. Zucker. Are those people out of the woods? Can we get coronavirus twice or have they built up an immunity?
Dr. Zucker: (28:41)
You do build up an immunity to all viruses. Sometimes the nudity lasts for years, sometimes for your lifetime, and they are out of the woods. I mean if they’ve recovering, that’s a positive finding.
Speaker 9: (28:53)
Doctor, you gave-
Andrew Cuomo: (28:55)
The conversation I had with my sister, if you take your daughter to get a coronavirus test and she tests positive, what do you think happens? They send you home and they say chicken soup and take care of yourself and if it gets worse and you need hospitalization, call me. Getting the test and getting the result. All it really does is inform us to isolate that person so that person doesn’t transfer it, but there’s no medicine that you get for the coronavirus, right? It’s just like a flu. The body has to develop its own immunity to that virus. We’ve been doing this testing just to slow the spread, and again, it’s what I said to my sister, keep her away from mom. Don’t go into a nursing home. Don’t go into a senior care facility. Don’t expose a person whose immune compromised, who’s recovering from cancer, who has emphysema, was a respiratory illness. That’s all this is. We’re going to go to work. Thank you very much.