Mar 16, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript: March 16
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference today on COVID-19. He called for more help from the federal government, urged NYC to shut down schools, and non-essential businesses were strongly urged to close after 8 p.m. Read the full transcript of Cuomo’s press conference here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… with a different set of rules, and Rensselaer with another set of rules, people would be confused, and again, if you don’t like the rule, you get in your car, you drive 15 minutes, you’re in a different jurisdiction subject to a different set of rules. So in New York, you cannot shop New York City versus Westchester versus Nassau versus Albany versus Schenectady. It’s one set of rules for the entire state, and it should be one set of rules for the entire nation, and that is the role of the federal government and national leadership, and it is lacking. The federal government should put one position in place and coordinate it with the states. If the federal government isn’t going to do what it should do, then the states have to try their best, right? And the best way is for me not only to have a uniform policy within the state of New York, but to the extent you can, cooperate with surrounding states so you all have a common set of practices, right? I don’t want to close down bars in New York, but Connecticut leaves the bars open. Why? Because then many people will get in their car and they’ll drive to Connecticut to go to a bar, which is the last thing we want. Now we have people who are drinking and driving. It makes no sense. I don’t want to have one set of rules here and a different set of rules in New Jersey, because then I close down the bars, you’ll get in the car, you’ll drive through New Jersey. It makes no sense.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:05)
“Well, then get the states to coordinate themselves.” Yes, very hard to do. Luckily we have set a template where our regional states work together. Many of you came to our regional meeting on marijuana laws, and I have a good relationship that I’ve developed with the surrounding governors, so we have actually deployed that here, and I just did a call with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, and we are adopting the same policies, so there is no benefit to try to shop New York versus Connecticut versus New Jersey.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:53)
There will be no more gatherings of 50 plus people, so if you were hoping to plan a graduation party, you can’t do it in the state of New York. You can’t go do it in the state of New Jersey, and you can’t do it in the state of Connecticut. Casinos. We all have casinos. If I close my casinos but New Jersey keeps their casinos open, you’re going to have the same problem. All casinos will be closed effective 8:00 PM tonight, and they will stay closed until further notice. On all these closings, they are all until further notice, and hopefully I can coordinate with the other governors so we can have this same opening period just the way we had the same closing period. Gyms are closed, effective 8:00 PM tonight. I know that’s a specific hardship for the people in this room, because I can all see your masterful shape, buff even. There are other ways to exercise. Theaters closing at 8:00 tonight until further notice.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:16)
Any bar or restaurant closes at 8:00 tonight. However, there is a silver lining for these establishments, because we’re also very aware of the economic consequences for these establishments. So the state liquor authority is going to change its rules. They’ll have guidance up by 5:00 PM this evening that will allow bars, restaurants, distilleries to sell their products off premises. So whatever you could get, whatever you could order in the bar or restaurant or distillery or winery, you can purchase through takeout, and we hope that goes a long way towards alleviating any economic hardship. Stay home and order from your favorite restaurant, order from your favorite bar, order from your favorite winery, order from whatever establishment that you were thinking of patronizing. Just order it and stay at home. And again, the state liquor authority will change their rules to allow that. It’s not currently allowed. We will only allow it during this period of closure, but I think it will help those businesses. As you know, we’ve done a lot of work with the wineries and distilleries to grow that industry in New York, and I want to make sure we protect them.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:58)
Now everybody is at home, and they’re at home with their kids. My kids are a little older, but I remember the old days. When you’re in the house with a number of young kids, the house can get very small very quickly. The kids can get very rambunctious very quickly. We’re going to waive all park fees in all state parks, local parks, county parks. So you want to get out of the house, great, go to the park, the weather’s changing. Take a walk, enjoy. Enjoy your family, and do it in an environment that is not a dense environment, which is exactly what the parks provide.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:50)
Other actions, all local governments must reduce their workforce by 50% minimum. I’m directing all local governments to allow their non-essential personnel to stay home, work from home, with a 50% minimum. Local government can go higher than 50%, but it must be a 50% minimum work from home, which is the same thing I’m asking private businesses. If we can ask private businesses to do that, the government I think leads by example. So not just for New York State government, which will do this also, all local governments, non-essential people work from home, and a minimum of 50% of the workforce must stay at home.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:55)
Second, I’m directing local governments to make sure that all their local police departments and emergency management services are supplied with masks, surgical masks. You have police officers who are encountering people in all different circumstances, EMS workers who traditionally wear masks, police officers who traditionally do not, but I was at the New Rochelle drive through testing center the other day, and if you’re a police officer, you’re walking up to a car, you’re stopping a driver, they roll down the window, by definition you’re within more than six feet. You don’t know who you’re talking to. People who are positive who don’t even know that they’re positive. I want all the police officers who are showing … All first responders are showing great courage, getting up and going out and doing their job every day. I want them to know that we understand the situation they’re putting themselves in and we’re providing the necessary precautions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:11)
So every local government must provide the local police department, EMS workers with masks. New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland must have childcare, educational services and meal programs in place by midnight. We said that those schools will be closing, but we need to take care of the negative, the downside of closing the school. This is not an easy decision. There are negatives when you close a school. Most notably, you don’t have childcare for central personnel. You don’t have childcare for healthcare workers. Remember, remember, please, the greatest challenge and the greatest damage is going to be done by an overwhelmed healthcare system. Nurses, healthcare workers, 1199 members don’t have alternatives to childcare.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:24)
Public education is also this state’s childcare system. It’s this nation’s childcare system, and it’s not that easy to say, “Well, let them get a babysitter.” They can’t afford it, it’s hard to find, and we would have created a true negative situation if we lost healthcare workers or first responders because we closed schools and they had to stay home with their children. This is solved easily enough. You’re closing schools, don’t close all the schools. Leave a couple of schools open or parts of schools open to provide childcare for the essential personnel. We also have to have meal programs and meal services in place and educational services in place. On that condition, I ordered the schools closed, but it’s on that condition, and I want those plans and I want them in place by midnight, and they have to be approved.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:43)
We strongly advise that only services and businesses that are essential stay open after 8:00 PM. Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, medical facilities. We want people home. We want less density. We strongly advise this. This is not mandatory, but it is strongly advised. And it’s not mandatory at this time, and it may be in the future, but it is strongly advised at this time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:17)
Testing. We have had a phenomenal increase in testing. We’ve been able to use our laboratories. Our emergency management team has done a very good job of reaching out to our state labs, getting them on track, getting them coordinated. Our testing numbers are way up, as you’ll see. By the end of this week, we think we’re going to be up to about 7,000 tests per day, which is an exponential increase of what we have done. I made this suggestion to the Vice President. I made it to the President. I often tell you when I am unhappy with the federal response to this state. The fairness dictates that kudos where kudos are due, and here the Vice President and the President responded very quickly, so I want to thank them for that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:23)
We started at a drive through testing facility in New Rochelle, Westchester, where we have one of the highest clusters. It’s one of the first in the United States, I believe actually the first on the eastern seaboard. It has worked very well. It’s safe for everyone. You drive up in your car. You never get out of your car. You’re tested in your vehicle. They take the test kits back. The time that it takes to take the test is actually faster than we thought. Doesn’t normally happen in government. We allotted 15 minutes per car. It’s actually running ahead of that schedule. We want to replicate that, because it’s just smart.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:08)
The worst thing is a person walking into an emergency room. If you are positive, you infect other people. If you’re negative, you may get infected by walking into the emergency room. So this is the best way to test someone. We said we were going to open one on Long Island after the positive New Rochelle experience. We’re also going to open one on Staten Island. Staten Island does not have an abundance of hospitals. Staten Island is a community where people drive, and Staten Island I believe is an appropriate location for this. I also think that Staten Island feels that they have not gotten the level of attention of health services that they need, and I’ve spoken to Max Rose, I spoke to Senator Andrew Lanza, and I believe this is going to make a difference. We’re also open one in Rockland County on the same theory.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:18)
We’re going to a new phase in this entire process. We talked about early detection, and we’ve talked about testing. We talked about containment. You see those numbers are going up, that means you’re moving towards a mitigation phase and you’re moving to a phase where you must expect a significant inflow into the hospital healthcare system. Now again, this is the great curve they talk about, plus or minus. “Flatten the curve, flatten the curve, flatten the curve.” That’s what all you hear. That’s what you hear every day on TV. You see this curve. “We must flatten the curve.” The concept is right. Flatten the curve, slow the spread so the healthcare system can handle it. When they say this, I don’t think of a curve. I think of a wave, and the wave is going to break, and the wave is going to break on the hospital system.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:29)
We’re doing everything we can to flatten the curve. I believe we’ve taken more dramatic actions than any state in the United States. I believe we’ve had the most effective response of any state in the United States. I don’t believe we’re going to be able to flatten the curve enough to meet the capacity of the health care system. So in this business, plan ahead, plan forward, anticipate what’s coming down the road and get ready for it. Expanding the capacity of the health care system for a state is virtually impossible. Building a hospital is a very elaborate, extensive, expensive undertaking.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:25)
Again, we need the federal government to play its role. The federal government has tremendous capacity. I was in the federal government. I was a cabinet secretary. I worked with the military. I worked with the Army Corps of Engineers. They have tremendous capacity. This is what they do. This is what they do. They build airports. They build the bridges. They build hospitals. This is exactly what they do. Deploy the Army Corps of Engineers to come work with states to build temporary medical facilities. Get us backup beds, so when the hospital is overwhelmed, we can have some of the people who are in the hospital beds go to a backup medical facility. It makes all the sense in the world, and if you don’t do it, you know what is going to happen. You’re going to overwhelm the hospitals. You only have 53,000 hospital beds. You only have 3,000 ICU beds. Why? Because our health system is basically a private system. They don’t build capacity that they don’t need. They don’t build extra ICU beds just in case. An intensive care bed is very expensive. They don’t build a wing of ICU beds that sit vacant for 10 years on the off chance that there’s going to be a public health emergency and you will need the beds. They don’t. It’s not economic. It’s not their business model, so we don’t have them. We have the capacity that people use day in and day out, and that’s not just New York. That’s every state in the United States. You now have this influx. You can’t handle it. You overwhelm the hospitals. You have people on gurneys in hallways. That is what is going to happen now if we do nothing. That is what is going to happen now if we do nothing, and that, my friends, will be a tragedy. We know what lies ahead. Look at the numbers from China, South Korea and Italy. You don’t have to guess. You just have to project. The numbers are on a chart. Our numbers are on a chart.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:03)
The numbers are on a chart. Our numbers are on a chart. Just extend the current trajectory. Just go dot, dot, dot, dot, and you’ll see the numbers rise. And you compare those numbers to our hospital capacity and it’s still math at the end of the day, and it doesn’t work. The federal government must do this. Assume the federal government doesn’t do what the federal government is supposed to do, which would not be a wild assumption as it hasn’t happened today. Well then as a fallback, the states have to do whatever they have to do and the state has to mobilize to create backup medical facilities and that is what we are going to do. We’re going to organize the National Guard, we work with the building unions, and work with private developers to find existing facilities that could most easily be adapted to medical facilities. Meaning what? Meaning dormitories, meaning former nursing homes, facilities that have that basic configuration that could be retrofit.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:36)
Even that is not easy because you have the construction element and you also have the equipment element. It is very, very hard to get medical equipment now because everybody on the globe is trying to buy the same medical equipment. Everybody wants to buy a ventilator, everybody wants to buy oxygen. Everybody is trying to buy the same equipment and it’s terribly scarce. That’s why you go back again to the capacity of the federal government, which operates and maintains a medical emergency stock where they have stocked medical equipment for domestic issues or for wartime, right? When you go to war and they set up a wartime hospital, they have equipment, they have it stockpiled. That’s why they are uniquely suited to do this,.but in any event, we’re going to do the best we can.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:41)
I need first and foremost to find available facilities that can be converted. And I’m asking local governments, especially in the most dense area, to immediately identify a number of beds in facilities that are available. Frankly, I hope they’re surplus because we don’t have… This is very expensive and I don’t want to pay money for acquisition of property and real estate, but we need the communities that are most effected to begin finding available beds. New York City, we estimate conservatively, at this point should identify 5000 additional beds. Nassau, 1000 additional beds. Suffolk, 1000 additional beds. Westchester, 2000 additional beds. Why more for Westchester? Westchester has the New Rochelle cluster, which as you know has a significant number of people who tested positive. We will do everything we can, but we need federal assets and we need federal assistance. I am very proud of this state government and what it can do. And we have done things that no state government has done before. We build the bridges. We build the airports. We’ve responded to emergencies, but know what you can’t do. We don’t have the billions of dollars that you would need to implement an immediate emergency hospital construction program. This state can’t do it. No state can do it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:47)
To increase hospital capacity of the existing hospitals. In the meantime, DOH is going to be suspending its regulations to allow existing hospitals to increase their space and capacity. DOH has regulations about how many beds per room, how much space between beds, etc. How wide the hallway has to be. Those are going to be suspended so hospitals can actually use their physical space with more efficiency. We’re leaving it up to the hospitals for their discretion and prudence in making these decisions, but we do have to get very aggressive about them better using their existing space.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:39)
I want the private hospitals to be on notice that we may soon be canceling elective surgery. We are not doing it now. Elective surgery is between 25% and 35% of the beds. Some of the elective surgery is critical, some is not critical. The noncritical elective surgery may be canceled on a mandatory basis. I’m asking them now as a precaution to start to plan to cancel elective surgery that is not necessary. We will need that capacity in the hospitals when those numbers peak.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:28)
Michael Dowling, who was the former health commissioner for the state of New York, phenomenal fellow. He worked with my father and was in my father’s administration. He was health commissioner. He was deputy secretary. He’s just a jewel of a human being, and he’s one of the best healthcare professionals in the United States of America. He runs Northwell now, which is a magnificent organization. But Michael and Ken Raske… Ken Raske runs Greater New York Hospital Association. They coordinate all the hospitals. I ask them to convene all the hospitals and now start developing the maximum surge capacity. So if a hospital’s capacity is 500, what if we bring in more beds? How many more beds can you hold? What if we brought in more staff, et cetera. We also have a number of efforts going on on finding more staff, more doctors, et cetera, not just for the surge capacity, but also for the additional facilities we may open.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:45)
These are the new number of tests. We’re up to 7,000 tests, so it’s a dramatic increase. 1600 new tests. What happens when the testing capacity increases? The number of positives increase by definition. So the number of new cases has gone up 221 to 950 cases. And you can see New York City is increasing. Westchester is still disproportionate to the population of Westchester. That still represents the New Rochelle cluster. Nassau, 109; Suffolk, 63; Rockland, 16; Albany, 12; Orange at 11; Dutches 10; Monroe, nine; Ulster, seven. Number of new cases, New York City and Westchester. Some in Nassau, some in Suffolk, but you’ll see the cases rise in the most dense areas because that’s where people are transferring the virus among themselves.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:03)
Counties with new cases today, Allegheny, Onondaga, Ontario, and Wyoming. So you see the spread continues.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:14)
Most impacted States in the United States. We are now 950 number one in the country. 676 for Washington state. Again, these cases are more an example of how many tests you are doing and who you’re testing rather than a raw number of cases in that area. Our deaths have increased to seven. Washington is the next hightest at 42. Total deaths in United States 67.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:57)
Hospitalizations 158 out of 950. That’s 17% of the cases. When we talk about hospital capacity, just take that 17% and it’s always, if you notice, 14%, 15%, 16%, 17%. run that 17% against whatever you think the total infected population will be and then compare that to our hospital capacity and that will keep you up at night. Hence the situation that Dr. Zucker and myself and my colleagues are in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:44)
Again, perspective, perspective, perspective. I went through the numbers in Italy. I went through the numbers in South Korea and China last night. You look at all these numbers, they’re the same story. You look at the deaths in New York, it’s the same story. People who had underlying illnesses, if they got the flu in a normal season, they would be in grave trouble. Instead, they got the coronavirus and they had existing illnesses and they passed away. Remember before any of this, somebody would pass away in a hospital, an older person and you would say, “How did they die?” And they would say, “Pneumonia.” You’d say, ” Pneumonia. Well, how’d they catch pneumonia?” Well, it wasn’t really pneumonia. It was they had heart disease. They had emphysema. They was struggling with cancer and then the pneumonia becomes the accelerant to a bad situation and that’s what’s happening here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:49)
Any of my colleagues, additional points. Why don’t you make them? Melissa?
Melissa DeRosa: (31:54)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:56)
Speaker 1: (32:01)
You said that gyms will be closed. Can you elaborate on that? And also, did you confer with city hall or Mayor de Blasio on this because he was at the gym this morning, and I’m just wondering if he knew about the fact that you’re going to-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:15)
He can be in the gym this morning, and you can be in the gym this afternoon. You can be in the gym this evening. You just can’t be in the gym after eight o’clock.
Speaker 1: (32:23)
Should he be in the gym already as is with social distance?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:27)
Yeah, you can use the gym.
Speaker 1: (32:28)
Have you been using the gym?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:31)
Are you asking me if I go to a public gym?
Speaker 1: (32:33)
Yeah. Do you? Or a gym in general?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:36)
No, I have my own workout routine that I have developed over a number of years that I do alone. So I don’t do it in the gymnasium.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:48)
Speaker 2: (32:49)
I’m sorry. Governor, have you heard back from the White House about the matter of deploying the Army coordinate-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:56)
We’re having ongoing conversations and none have been conclusive.
Speaker 3: (32:59)
What’s your overall prediction or projection for the number of people who could potentially get this in New York. And what’s the overall projection for the need for hospital beds? I mean, I know we’ve got like a cap of like 50,000 or so beds, but what’s the need looking like at this point?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:17)
It’s an unfair question for Commissioner Zucker because it’s anyone’s guests. But I recommend this to you, Google that question, and you will get a range from 40% to 80% of the population. Merkel said, what? 70%?
Speaker 4: (33:38)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:39)
60% of her population. 40% to 60%. So take 40% or 60% of 18 million, take a hospitalization rate of our sample of about 17% and then compare that to 50,000 hospital beds. You will then break out in a sweat, maybe hives. You will feel great anxiety, panic attack. And you’ll be right.
Speaker 5: (34:14)
How’s the state workforce… What are the plans in place… I know you have restrictions downstate, but I drove in today. The Empire State Plaza seems to be full and as you’re telling local governments get to 50%, what about state workers here in Albany?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:28)
Yeah, that was yesterday’s policy. Today’s policy is non-essential workers, a minimum of 50% of the workforce for our state government and every local government in the state.
Are you requesting the federal government shuts school, shut businesses, shut bars. It seems like that’s where you’re heading?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:50)
I want federal guidance, Jesse. You can’t have one state taking actions that are different than other States. There are ways to do it. You could say if your state has a density index of over X; if you have more than this many cases, then this. But when you leave it… This is like the reverse federalism. This is a national pandemic and there are no national rules. So literally the national news broadcast today would cause somebody to panic. Everybody on their own with all these hodgepodge. Just say, you don’t even have to make it mandatory. Just let the federal government say, “Here’s what we think you should do.” So I know what Connecticut is going to do and Massachusetts is going to do and Pennsylvania is going to do or they’re likely to do. So I do the same thing. Look how much damage you can do. I close down my bars. Jersey doesn’t close down their bars. Everybody drives to Jersey to drink. Everybody drives home. It makes no sense.
By extension though, did you try to include Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, other regional states in this contact-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:21)
I did not get there here. We are the tristate area. We have the most interaction. Obviously part of New York or Butts, Massachusetts and Allan share tacos back and forth. Part of it goes, we have contiguous with the Pennsylvania also. We did convene them for the marijuana regional discussion. We started here. We will be expanding, but this was quite an elaborate undertaking because you had to align three states’ policies. So this is not just consultative. We actually all adopted the same policies, Jesse. I don’t ever remember this happening, period.
So presumably is this preempt for Mayor de Blasio announced last night in terms of closings of-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:21)
This preempts what any mayor anywhere or county executive anywhere in the state set. The same point I make about the national government is even more true on the state level. You can’t close bars in Manhattan but leave them open in Nassau because now everybody drives to Nassau for the bar. You have to have one set of rules that are uniform and that’s why in an emergency situation, there’s actually a protocol that makes sense. Local governments can set rules, the state can override those rules, and the federal government can override state rules because it’s not a situation where you can allow all these disparate policies. They are actually counter not only to common sense, but they’re counter to public safety and they’re counter to public health.
Speaker 6: (38:34)
[crosstalk 00:38:34] the same thing with the schools then in New York? Why don’t you just have a blanket policy, they’re all closed like the city going to be closed at eight o’clock.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:41)
Speaker 6: (38:45)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:46)
Speaker 6: (38:46)
When is that going to happen?
Melissa DeRosa: (38:49)
So about 86% of the schools are closed already statewide. We have to talked to SED this morning. We are closing the remaining 14% that will go into effect by Wednesday.
Speaker 6: (39:00)
So then is there a date specific as to when they would reopen?
Melissa DeRosa: (39:04)
We’re starting with two weeks and then we’ll adjust as it makes sense moving forward.
Speaker 6: (39:11)
Just so I’m clear, by the end of the day this afternoon, you’ll be closing all schools for two weeks.
Melissa DeRosa: (39:12)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:12)
Well, yeah. And we’ll have an announcement this afternoon on the specifics of that because people want to know exactly how and when and what hour, et cetera.
Speaker 6: (39:21)
Why just the two week period? Obviously New York city’s closed for a month or so. Why just start at two weeks and then reevaluate? Is that kind of-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:29)
Reevaluate. That’s all it is. Even two weeks, miraculously, everything is fine, I’ll reopen every school in New York in two weeks. So-
So two weeks, all schools are staying closed for two weeks at least.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:48)
Yeah. I haven’t communicated with SED yet, Jesse. So that’s what we’re planning. We will have specific guidelines that we announced this afternoon.
Speaker 1: (39:59)
Governor, I have 50 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. Has any of them-
Speaker 7: (40:03)
The people go to test the product for coronavirus. Have any of them self resolved or gotten better at this point?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:09)
Dr. Howard Zucker: (40:09)
We’ve actually had patients discharged from the hospital, 16 have been discharged from the hospital and I am sure there are many people out there that we have not tested, who have gotten coronavirus and they’ve gotten better that it out there in the community and is-
Speaker 7: (40:21)
Is the state keeping track of how many people tested positive and how many people are now…?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (40:27)
We’re tracking all of that information, yes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:29)
Excuse me. Just look at these numbers please. Where are they for you? Since it started, 169,000 cases. 77,000 recovered on the 169, since it started. 85,000 are pending, which means there’s still ill. 6,000 passed away. I’m sorry.
Speaker 8: (40:58)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:59)
Just to go back to Jesse for a second. Jesse, I want a uniform policy on the schools also because you have two parent families who have children in schools, businesses that are operating, that have employees with in children in different school districts. So we want to get a uniform school closing policy also. And that’s what we’re working with SED about. So hold on the details of the school closing policy, but we will be closing all schools. That is true. And I then want to have a uniform policy so we have a semblance of a normalcy.
Speaker 10: (41:42)
Is that sort similar to what you’re doing downstate. You want to ensure that there’s childcare?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:47)
Speaker 10: (41:47)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:48)
Yes sir. And I want to make sure every school district is in a position to do that and they know it’s coming and they’re preparing for it.
Speaker 7: (41:57)
Do gyms need to suspend their billing purposes while they’re closed? Asking for-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:02)
Speaker 7: (42:04)
Asking for one who hasn’t been to the gym in awhile.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:06)
[inaudible 00:42:06] My gym did, but I don’t have-
Speaker 9: (42:09)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:10)
But I don’t know what the other gyms’ policy is going to be.
Speaker 9: (42:13)
Governor, what’s going to happen with the budget at this point and should there be money set aside like a rainy day fund set aside for when we’re still dealing with this several months down the road?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:23)
There should be a rainy day fund set aside. There should be a snowstorm fund set aside. There should be a fog fund set aside. All those set aside should be done. Obviously, I’m kidding. The budget I asked the controller to give me his re-estimate of the revenues. Let’s just take a second on this because it’s important that you understand. The essential element in the budget is the projection of revenues and that’s why there’s always a disagreement on the revenue projection and we have this whole elaborate process to come up with a consensus revenue forecast. We did a revenue forecast. Since we did a revenue forecast, the world has changed 180 degrees three times. I asked the controller for a revenue forecast. He’s doing it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:33)
You turn on the television, you look at the stock market. You tell me what the revenue forecast is. My best guess is our revenue forecast was outrageously high compared to what is going on. How high, who knows? Rob Mojica, who can be an optimist for very brief intervals of time, says that there’s a theory that the market is a V it dropped quickly and it’s going to come up quickly. That’s the theory. What is the effect of these businesses that are closing down? How much revenue did they lose and how much less tax revenue will we get? How many people will be laid off and not earning income, and how much tax revenue will we lose? There is no doubt that the revenues are going to be way down. So, rainy day fund, that was my attempt at humor, have a rainy day fund, a number of reserve funds.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:48)
That is very true. On top of that, you have the Medicaid redesign team coming back, which is trying to close what was already a $2.5 billion hole. We now have a new complication that could only happen in a world of total chaos. The federal government is, passed the first coronavirus bill, which I have lamented. $8 billion, New York state only gets $35 million. They’re now passing a new Coronavirus bill. In that Coronavirus bill, New York state gets the lowest level of reimbursement. They do it based off the Medicaid funds. New York State gets 50% of their Medicaid funds reimbursed. Some states get 75%. No state gets less than 50% in raw dollars. We do very well, but that’s only because we spend more than anybody else.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:03)
But in that bill, they tucked in a provision that said you can make no changes whatsoever to your Medicaid program. Which means if you want to take the literal approach, the MRT, which is recommending changes in the Medicaid program cannot be accepted because of that federal bill. Why the federal government would have passed the written-in language that says you can’t make any changes to your Medicaid program. Why our New York delegation allowed it when they knew in January we had an MRT, Mike Dowling, Dennis Rivera, were heading it, the second time we did it to find improvements. I have no idea.
Well Governor, I read those provisions. My read was that there’s one that basically says you can’t cut benefits for people, which I don’t think you were hoping to do anyway. And the other one says you can’t do what you tried to do, which is to shift more of the share of costs on the counties. So counties and the city of New York are delighted that you’ve lost on the second.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:23)
I understand your position. Would you like to make a wager my friend, that you’re incorrect?
Incorrect on what? I read the bill and I talked to the Senator Schumer.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:31)
Okay, I know. And we went through this. Okay, so you want to make a wager that you are wrong casinos.
They’re closing the casinos, I don’t think you can.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:40)
I will wager you that you are wrong, that you misread the bill, that the bill says you can’t make any changes to the Medicaid program, which would preempt the MRT changes. I have no doubt that they did it as political protection. You’re half right. They did it for political protection so the counties wouldn’t have to pay anything more, which is ironic by the way, since we voluntarily now pay all the excess from the counties, which we did on our own. The federal government never said, “You should pay all the increased costs,” but they not want to tell us you can’t raise it. It also said, do you have the language here?
Robert Mojica: (48:35)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:35)
Wait, don’t read it yet. How much are we wagering I?
I’ll bet you a beer.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:41)
Okay. Read the language.
Robert Mojica: (48:43)
Yes, it says you can’t change any eligibility standards or methodologies. It also says you can’t make any changes to any of the enrollment standards going forward. It talks about making changes to any premiums.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:01)
I’ll take the beer right now as a matter of fact, because you’re not going to be able to give it to me after eight o’clock.
Robert Mojica: (49:08)
And it also refers to any kind of income checks or any qualifying checks. So it keeps, it goes on and on, but it basically limits substantially the ability of the MRT to do what the MRT was intended to do.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:19)
And here’s the problem with [inaudible 00:09:22]. Without the MRT, you can’t balance the budget. So I spoke to Senator Schumer. They tried to say, “Oh no, all we did was protect the local governments and New York City.” This provision says, goes well beyond that says, “No, MRT.” You can’t do a budget without the MRT. Now we can’t do a budget until they fix that. Anyway, I spoke to Senator Schumer, I spoke to Congresswoman Lowey, calling Congresswoman, Speaker Pelosi. But it was a terrible blunder by the federal government and it makes it impossible to do the budget. And they have to fix it and they have to change it.
Speaker 11: (50:01)
[crosstalk 00:50:01] Last question.
Speaker 12: (50:02)
Speaking of the Senate and Assembly just canceled session for the day. Postponed until at least Wednesday, I know you had some bills that you wanted them to do. Does that put a crimp in your plans?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:14)
No, Wednesday’s fine. April 1 is the budget.
Speaker 12: (50:18)
But didn’t you have things this week that the petition gathering numbers and [inaudible 00:50:23]-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:23)
No, I did the petition by executive order.
Speaker 12: (50:25)
They don’t need to be here?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:28)
Well, what they don’t pass is the paid sick leave, which also gave people pay for their quarantine period. So I’m sure the people who are in quarantine and wanted to get paid wish that they voted for the bill so they could get paid.
Speaker 13: (50:51)
Governor, do you believe it’s the seven day waiting period on the unemployment benefits? We’re hearing reports that-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:55)
On what, I’m sorry?
Speaker 13: (50:56)
On the unemployment benefits.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:58)
Speaker 13: (50:59)
It seems like people going to the website can get the website but then they’re told to call a number and they’re saying that the week could be several days before they hear back from DOL? So, can you kind of address that. Is there anything done to fix that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:13)
I have not heard that obviously, but I will check forthwith. Shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be.
Just go back to Medicaid because I’ve got a beer on the line here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:23)
Oh no, you lost the beer. Let’s be-
We’ve applied for waivers in the past successfully. What makes you think you couldn’t be come up with a way to do this that would also be eligible for a waiver?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:34)
Okay. You want to go double or nothing on that question?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:39)
On what theory could you apply for a waiver for law that is not changed and be granted the waiver in time to do a budget for April 1.
You come up with the plan, you bake it in, you do a contingent on the waiver. Much like the budget you proposed-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:57)
I do a budget contingent on a waiver?
You proposed the budget earlier this year contingent on a waiver.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:02)
$2.5 billion, maybe we’ll get it, maybe we won’t.
You did it earlier this year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:07)
You did it earlier this year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:09)
I never had a $2.5 billion contingency. You couldn’t get it rated.
Speaker 9: (52:14)
Does the closing the casinos affect the [inaudible 00:52:15] affect what other casinos do as well as [inaudible 00:52:17] and casinos?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:19)
Who knows that?
Speaker 12: (52:20)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:20)
Robert Mojica: (52:21)
What was the question?
Speaker 9: (52:22)
Does the closing of the casinos affect the closing of Racinos as well, such as Batavia Downs or the [inaudible 00:52:28] casino?
Robert Mojica: (52:29)
I think I believe it does.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:30)
Robert Mojica: (52:31)
I believe it does.
Speaker 9: (52:32)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:33)
Two beers, Jimmy. Two beers.
Speaker 9: (52:34)
Have you been modeling on this thus far and can we anticipate how many cases or can you share how many cases we can anticipate?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (52:42)
We actually are working with some of the associations on a modeling to try to figure out exactly where on that spectrum this will fall both in New York as well as on national level.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:52)
But Jesse, if you take your story in that, not that you didn’t write it. Your Times story on projections, it answers that question. See, the range is so broad. If you go from 40% of the population to 70% of the population, it is so broad and the hospitalization rates tend to be somewhat predictable. China will tell you their hospitalization rates. South Korea will tell you, Italy will tell you. The overall universe, they can’t tell you the 40 to 70 but if you start with, if you go to 40% if you go to- [inaudible 00:53:36] any projection, you are, it’s an avalanche on the healthcare system. [crosstalk 00:53:48] Any projection. I mean there’s like hundreds of thousands.
Speaker 14: (53:51)
[crosstalk 00:53:51] How many deaths do we have recorded so far?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:53)
Speaker 14: (53:54)
Seven? And whereabouts are they? How many in the city?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (53:57)
There are five in New York City, one in Rockland, one in Suffolk.
Speaker 14: (54:00)
Also, with the bars and restaurants closure. How does that impact the city’s-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:04)
So you cannot ask three questions about bar and restaurant closures.
Speaker 14: (54:07)
I’m not shy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:10)
I’m just saying it’s, go ahead.
Speaker 14: (54:10)
I’m Irish. So anyway, how-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:14)
You said it.
Speaker 14: (54:15)
… does that impact impact the city’s executive order that DeBlasio announced last night supposed to go into effect tomorrow?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:22)
This is a statewide executive order. Different governments may have different executive orders. This one overrides all executive orders.
Speaker 14: (54:31)
Also, is your gym at home? Or where is that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:35)
I’m going to take you to my gym one day.
Speaker 13: (54:42)
[crosstalk 00:54:42] Subways, [inaudible 00:54:42] close the subways?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:43)
Speaker 12: (54:45)
Governor, given the uncertainty around the budget and all this talk about Medicaid, are you still pushing for a bond act this year?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:50)
Speaker 9: (54:50)
Similar question for marijuana.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:54)
Speaker 9: (54:54)
Can we anticipate that bail and marijuana will both be in the budget?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:56)
Yes. We’re here, we’re doing our job like everybody else, especially like government employees. Like the police are out doing their job and the correction officers are doing their job and the nurses are doing their job and the transit worker unions are doing their job. Public service, we’re here in public service and that’s what we’re doing at a time when you desperately need public service. You join the military, you know when they need you? When there’s a war, that’s when they need you.
Speaker 9: (55:30)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:33)
And this is a war against coronavirus. So we’re here, we’re working.
Speaker 9: (55:37)
So even with all of the moves that the state is making at the state level, you still want to see bail, some changes to bail reform and marijuana legalization within the budget?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:47)
Yes. I want to see as much as we can get done. Only caveat, I want to do things right. I know the legislature, sometimes they’re overly anxious to pass a bill and then you pass a bill and then it turns out it was a mistake and then you have to come back and fix it. I want to do as much as we can do. Only caveat if it has not been thought through, that’s a different story. I want to do what we can do as long as we can do it right. Thank you.