Apr 15, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 15
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily coronavirus briefing on April 15. He ordered all New Yorkers to wear face coverings in public. Read the full transcript with details here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Good news just on a real life level. When a person is intubated, they’re on a ventilator, 80% of the people will never come off the ventilator or thereabouts. That’s good news.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:13)
A little reality check, you still have on a day-to-day basis about 2,000 people who are being diagnosed with COVID. We’re out of the woods. No, we’re still in the woods. The good news is we showed that we can change the curve. Good news is, great news in my opinion, we can control the spread. That is great news, because can you imagine if we couldn’t control the spread, if we did all this and the spread kept going up? We can control the spread, but you still have about 2,000 people a day who are new diagnosis coming into the hospital system. It’s still a serious public health issue.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:10)
Lives lost yesterday, 752, which is the painful news of our reality day after day. They are in our thoughts and prayers. You see 707 in hospitals, 45 in nursing homes. People are interested in those numbers and how those numbers are changing, but you see the terrible news has basically been flat over the past several days. Again, the number of death is a “lagging indicator”. It’s almost disrespectful to put it in scientific terms, but these are people who were probably intubated. They were on a ventilator. Then again, period of time on a ventilator normally has a bad outcome. The total losses, total number of deaths number, the CDC changed guidelines on how they want information reported. They want deaths and then another category are probable deaths, which is a new category that’s done by the local department of health or the coroner. We’re going to rationalize those new reporting requirements with local governments and get that information out as soon as we can. Since we have a little bit of a period to take a breath, we’re going to contact nursing homes and facilities to find out if there were other people who passed from COVID who were not necessarily in a hospital or in a nursing home. Because there is a sense that there may be additional people who have passed away and they weren’t included in the count because they weren’t in a hospital, they weren’t in a nursing home. We’ll be going through that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:13)
But basically, the healthcare situation has stabilized. The fears of overwhelming the healthcare system has not happened thanks to the phenomenal work of our frontline workers. Thanks to all the additional capacity that the hospital system created, over 50% additional capacity in one month. Just think of that. Thanks to the work that our federal government did, Army Corps of Engineers providing the beds at Javits and Comfort. By the way, Javits, which is 2,500 bed capacity as the overflow valve, about 800 people have gone through Javits. Thank you very much. That was a great service that was done by the federal government in a very short period of time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:07)
We have that stabilized. People are still getting infected, but we have the infection spread down to a manageable number. We’ve accomplished that. People are restless. We have to talk about the reopening of the economy. How do we do this? We have to build a bridge from where we are to the reopening of the economy. What does that look like? Let’s say that where we’re going, it’s not a reopening in that we’re going to open what was, we’re going to a different place. We should go to a different place. We should go to a better place. If we don’t learn the lessons from this situation, then all of this will have been in vain. We learned a lot if we’re willing to open our eyes and open our ears.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:02)
We’re going to a different place, which is a new normal. We talk about the new normal, we’ve been talking about the new normal for years. We’re going to have a new normal in public health. By the way, the way we have a new normal on the environment, a new normal in economics, a new normal in civil rights, a new normal in social justice. This is the way of the world now. We’re moving to a new place, more challenging place, but also potentially a better place. When is this over? I say, personal opinion, it’s over when we have a vaccine. It’s over when people know, “I’m 100% safe and I don’t have to worry about this.” When does that happen? When we have a vaccine. When do we have a vaccine? 12 to 18 months. Who determines that? The federal government has to test the vaccine, FDA. That’s a big gap, 12 to 18 months, yes. I say the sooner the better. Anything we can do to work with the federal government to get the vaccine done faster, we are all in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:03)
You want to use New York State as a laboratory, we are ready, willing and able. Any way the New York State Department of Health can work with the FDA to reduce that testing period, we are all in and energized and creative and ambitious about it. Anything we can do to accelerate that vaccine, we will do. You need a place to test it in large numbers? Think of New York. But that’s the ultimate end. We have a vaccine now. We don’t have to worry about this. By the way, we’ll probably have to worry about the next public health risk at that time. Don’t forget everything we learned.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:44)
Besides the vaccine, there’s a possibility that they develop a medical treatment. “We can’t prevent you from getting the virus, but we have a new medical treatment. If you get the virus, don’t worry. It’s no big deal. You go and you get this medical treatment.” That’s another way of having a natural end. That’s what convalescent plasma is all about and the antibody testing to find people who had the antibody and then injecting the antibody into a person as a treatment method.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:15)
Maybe the hydroxychloroquine works. Now this has been a very politicized topic. I have done my best to stay 100 miles away from politics in all of this. Everybody wants to see hydroxychloroquine work, everybody. “The President says he believes it works,” but he’s not a doctor. You’re right. He says he believes it works, but he’s not a doctor. Find out, find out. Everyone hopes that it works. Anything New York can do to test it, we will. We are now testing hydroxychloroquine. There are a number of hospitals that are doing it. It’s not a government decision. It’s not a political decision. The medical doctor decides. If a medical doctor decides it works, fine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:06)
We have an executive order that limits the prescription of hydroxychloroquine only because we don’t have enough. There was such a demand on it that people who needed it and were using it can’t get it. If the federal government sends us more, we will dispense more. It’s a pure supply side issue. Or maybe they develop another drug that they figure out has an effect. That could happen between now and the vaccine. We all pray that it does, but until you have the vaccine, until you have the medical treatment, what do you do?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:44)
How are you building the bridge? It’s going to be a phased reopening, right? During the phased reopening, the priority is make sure you do no harm and keep your eye on the public health issue. That is what is key in all of this. It’s going to be a calibration of reopening based on public health safety and that infection rate. Because what we have done in the reducing of the infection rate is a pure function of what New Yorkers have done and what people across the country have done. When you relax that social distancing, you could very well see an increase in the infection rate. It’s all a calibration to the public health, but it’s going to be a gradual increasing of economic activity in calibration with the public health standards.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:42)
The single best tool to doing this gauging is large scale testing. Test, trace and isolate, it’s what everybody’s talking about. What does this mean? It means you test, you find a positive, you trace back who they were with, where they were, test those people and you isolate the people who are positive. It’s inarguable. It’s just very, very hard to do. It opens this new world of testing. This new world of testing is a new world to all of us by the way. There’s diagnostic testing. Are you positive or negative? There’s then testing for antibodies. Were you exposed? If I find out that you were already exposed and you had the virus, now you can go back to work because you had the virus, you have antibodies.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:34)
Antibody testing, once you have the antibodies, you can help develop convalescent plasma where they can take your blood, take those antibodies, use it as treatment. There’s saliva testing, which is faster and easier. It’s not blood testing. It’s not a swab. It’s just saliva, but that’s a new form of testing that’s just being developed. This finger- prick testing, which is less invasive but also being developed. There’s full blood sampling testing, which is obviously more intrusive. But to do the testing you need testing equipment, you need swabs, you need vials. You need all of these things at a capacity that does not now exist.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:26)
Where do you do the testing? We’ve been doing testing in hospitals. Frankly, that’s not a great place to do testing. You don’t want people walking into a hospital emergency room who may be positive for COVID. Our drive-thru locations are better, but how do you bring that to scale? Then even if you have the equipment and the testing site and the personnel to do the testing, where do you get the labs to test all of these tests? This is a whole world of questions that nobody has ever seen before.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:06)
The bottom line is, you need large scale testing. Let’s do it. We can’t do it yet. That is the unvarnished truth. I know because New York has been doing this since this started exploring this new world. We have done more tests than any other state. We’ve done over 500,000 tests, which is more than the other states that are near us combined. We’ve been very aggressive here, but in all this time we’ve only done 500,000 tests. Now, that’s a large number of tests, yes. But this is over a one-month period. Even 500,000 tests, you’re talking about a state with 19 million people. You get a sense of the scale of what we have to do here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:10)
We cannot do it without federal support. I’ve been saying this for days. If you have a state that has a lower need, yes, they may be able to do it. But when you have a state that has to do a large number of these tests, I’m telling you we can’t do it without federal support. I’ve said that from day one. We will coordinate and we have been coordinating all the tests in our state. That’s how we got to that 500,000 number, more aggressive than I think anyone else. We have 228 private laboratories in this state. We will coordinate with them. We’ll make sure that we’re not competing with ourselves because there are a lot of groups that are now testing. New York State Department of Health developed their own antibody test. That test is going to be very important. It’s in our control because we’ll actually do those tests. We don’t need a private lab. We don’t need anyone else.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:17)
With those tests, it will go to about 2,000 per day capacity. That is a finger-prick test. It’s not terribly invasive. Even I can endure the pain of that one. We’ve asked the FDA to approve a state test that could get us to 100,000 people per day. To give you an idea that’s then 500,000 a week if you don’t work the weekends. I don’t know if you do, and I don’t want to raise something I don’t know about, but 500,000 a week. We’ve only done 500,000 to date. You get a sense of how powerful that would be if the FDA approves that. We’re going to prioritize the antibody testing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:02)
We’re going to prioritize the antibody testing for first responders and essential workers and this is important. We’ve all been saying thank you to the healthcare workers and that’s nice, but I’ve been talking to George Gresham through this. He’s the head of 1199 which represents many healthcare workers. His point is always been the gratitude is appreciated, but we need support. The healthcare workers need support, they need the PPE equipment and they need the tests to make sure they’re not getting infected or if they are infected, what is their status? And he’s been exactly right. More than thank you, actions more than words, right? Nurses, the same thing, NYSNA. They’ve been doing phenomenal work. They need support, they need the equipment, they need time off, they need to recuperate. And the first responders, the NYPD, Pat Lynch, who represents the NYPD has said to me from day one, my guys need support. Guys being gender-neutral.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:09)
They’re out there every day. They live in the downstate area and they work in the downstate area. Many work live in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and they’re working in New York City. They need not only PPE equipment, et cetera. They need testing. They need to know if they’ve been infected for themselves and also they could wind up being spreaders if we don’t know. And Pat Lynch and the NYPD have been extraordinary here. Okay. Make them a priority for the testing that we can do and we can control. And that’s the antibody testing and we will. So, the more testing, the more open the economy. But there’s not enough national capacity to do this. I’ve been speaking to governors across the country. Every governor is now in the same situation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:05)
I was speaking with Governor Pritzker of Illinois. He has some companies that do this testing in his state, but everyone is in the same position. And we have to be clear on this. Who does what between the federal government and the state government? The states cannot develop national testing. There’s no simple answer to it. It’s basically controlled by private sector companies who have been doing it at a reduced volume because that was the world. You didn’t need such a high level of tests. So the private sector companies only developed to the capacity that the market demanded. This is an entirely new market. And then when you talk to the private sector companies, which I have, they’ll say, “I can’t increase my volume. I can’t get enough swabs. I can’t get enough vials. I don’t have enough machinery to manufacture it or test it.” They need chemical agents that are part of the test. Many of these chemical agents aren’t even manufactured in the United States, so there’s an international supply chain.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:24)
All this to say it is very hard to bring this to scale quickly and we need the federal government to be part of this. Testing capacity to me is like what ventilators were over the past month. All of a sudden because of this virus and the respiratory attack, we need massive numbers of ventilators. I never heard about ventilators before this. I now know more than I ever wanted to know about ventilators. But, it came out of the blue. They’re very hard to manufacture. There’s a whole supply chain. They’re a sophisticated piece of equipment and it’s very hard to get them manufactured quickly. No one is to blame on ventilators. No one is to blame on testing. I know we’re in a political world where who’s to blame? Who’s to blame? Somebody. Sometimes there’s nobody to blame. On this testing situation, there’s nobody to blame.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:26)
Just how do we now do it? How do you now scale this up and scale it up quickly because we want to phase the reopening as fast as we can between now and a medical treatment and a vaccine, right? That’s what we’re doing. I do know this as learning the lesson of ventilators. The answer on testing is not what happened on ventilators, which is 50 states competing against each other to buy testing capacity from these private sector companies and the federal government, which is also buying testing capacity, competing against the 50 states. That is not learning the lesson of what we did before.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:11)
So, partnership with the federal government, 100% but, we need that partnership to do this. Once you test, then you have to trace the contacts. So we test Bernadette. Bernardette turns up positive. Okay. Who were you with over the past week? What family members were you with? Who do you sit next to in the office? You now have a list of 30 people. If it’s Bernadette, even more, because she’s highly social, has a lot of friends. Now somebody has got to run down that list of 30 people from one positive. It’s a detective, investigator, in the public health space. That is a massive undertaking. It’s intelligent, but it’s massive. And that is an army of tracers. So, testing, have to get that up to scale and then tracing. Yes, but that’s a massive undertaking that we now don’t do. So testing, tracing, isolation. Yes, we have to do that in concert with the federal government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:39)
Again, no one’s done it before. No one has done it to this volume and second, for the states to do this role of reopening, we need funding. And the past federal legislation has not provided it. It’s that simple. They funded many good causes, hospitals, more businesses, et cetera. Yeah. But you now want the state governments to do all this work, do this, do this, do this, do this. Okay, I’ll do everything I can. I need your help with the things I can’t. But, you have to provide funding because at the same time, the state governments are broke. And that’s not just me.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:22)
That’s every governor in the United States. That’s the National Governors Association, the Chairman, Governor Hogan, good man, Republican and myself, Vice Chairman for the National Governors Association, wrote a joint letter saying these states need $500 billion in funding because I have to be afloat and have some capacity to do all these things you want the governors to now do. And that has to be in the next federal legislation and there can’t be excuses about it. So from today to 18 months, which is the last date for a vaccine, that’s what we have to work through.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:09)
First rule, do no harm. This is a public health crisis. We’re still in the woods. And just because that number has plateaued, doesn’t mean it’s any time to relax what we’re doing. So do no harm. Don’t go backwards. Hope we find the medical treatment between now and 18 months. In the meantime, testing, tracing, testing, tracing, trying to get that up to scale, which is going to be the equivalent of trying to get Apollo 13 back to earth 220,000 miles 50 years ago. It is a very difficult task. It can’t be done perfectly, I can tell you that right now, but we can do better than we’re doing and in the meantime, a phased reopening of the economy as educated by testing tracing. Now, one other point on the phased reopening, what does that mean? And how do we phase this reopening until we get to a medical treatment or a vaccine? This is what we’re thinking about.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:25)
We need clarity on what the federal government is going to do and what the state governments are going to do. I heard the President last night, the states, it’s up to the states basically. Great, I get it and the states can do the do no harm. It is their job to do the public health monitoring. The states can also do the phased reopening plan. We cannot do, the states that have a large problem, can not do the testing and tracing without federal assistance. And that’s important. On the reopening, we can do and we have a blueprint for the reopening, again, as guided by testing tracing. But there are two factors really on the reopening. How essential is the business service or product or function? The more essential a business service or product, the more urgent the need to immediately get them back online or as soon as possible.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:42)
So, how essential is what the business does? And then second, what is the risk of infection spread of that business? Some businesses can say, I can open tomorrow. In my business, I’ll have all sorts of precautions. People will not be less than six feet apart, period. There will be no congregation of people. I won’t do conferences, I won’t do joint meetings. It’s not the way my business operates. I can bring everybody back, put them at separate desks. They’ll never be near each other. I have a very low risk of infection spread. Businesses can start to redesign their workplace to think that way. All right, so your business poses a low risk of infection spread. That’s the second factor. Then the first factor is how essential is your business? So, that is a almost a business by business evaluation that has to go on.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:46)
And then, once you determine the essential nature of the business, because right now we have all quote unquote, essential workers who are working, right? This would be, well what’s the next traunch of essential workers and how high or low is the possibility of infection spread if that business becomes operational? And then you basically have a matrix where the lower risk of infection spread and the higher nature of essential services are the businesses that you would start prioritizing, right? So that’s how we will inform our economic reopening as we’re being guided by the testing tracing and as we’re making sure we’re not jeopardizing the success we’ve made in handling the public health issue. That’s the whole outline, the whole vision from here to 18 months, building that bridge to the new normal for the economy until we get to a conclusion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:11)
In the meantime, for today, stop the spread. I’m going to show you a chart in the next couple of days. We’ve been tracking the infection rate, which is what? Which is one person. How many people does one person infect? Does one person infect one person? Two people? Three people? That rate of infection is the difference between a manageable situation and a pandemic. And they can calibrate that for what Wuhan did, where we are now and where we were and it is a fascinating analysis, but in the meantime, what do we do today?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:05)
We have to continue to stop the spread and this is a constant calibration also. I’m going to issue an executive order that says all people in public must have a mask or mouth and nose covering, and they must wear it in a situation where you cannot or are not maintaining social distance. Meaning what? Meaning the same thing we’ve been saying from day one. If you are going to be in public and you cannot maintain social distancing, then have a mask and put the mask on when you are not in socially distant places. You’re walking down the street, you’re walking down the street alone, great. You are now at an intersection and there are people-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
You are now at an intersection and there are people in the intersection and you’re going to be in proximity to other people, put the mask on. Your right to go out for a walk in the park, go out for a walk because you need to get out of the house. The dog is getting on your nerves, fine, don’t infect me, you don’t have a right to infect me. If you are going to be in a situation in public where you may come into contact with other people in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering nose and mouth. That is by executive order. So if you’re going to get on public transit, you’re going to get on a bus, you’re going to get on a subway, you’re going to stand on a subway platform, you’re going to walk in a neighborhood that is busy, you’re going to be on the sidewalk, you’re going to pass out people on the sidewalk, you’re not going to be able to maintain social distancing, you must wear a mess or cloth or an attractive bandana or a color coordinated bandana cloth, but you have to wear it in those situations. We’ll give people three day notice to allow compliance just on the off chance that somebody doesn’t have a cloth covering or a mask and we’ll go from there. On the ventilators, we’ve stabilized our healthcare situation. New York had one of the earlier curves. There are other places in this country are now seeing increases in the death rate and they’re seeing stress on their healthcare system. I will never forget the generosity that people, of course this country showed to our state. And I said at that time, new Yorkers are generous and they are grateful and gracious and when you need help we will be there for you and we will be.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:20)
State of Michigan in is going through an issue right now. State of Maryland is going through an issue. We’re stabilized. We’re going to send 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 to the state of Maryland. Last point, personal opinion, build the bridge. We built a bridge and I learned a lot by building that bridge. And it’s a lesson that is informed me and a lesson that I think should inform people who are hearing about us needing to build this bridge. It was a bridge across the Hudson river called the Tappan Zee bridge. It was in very bad shape, had been in very bad shape for 20 years. For 20 years, everybody talked about we’re going to replace the Tappan Zee bridge, nobody did. That means the bridge was in such bad shape that there were actual holes in the roadway that they would put these large metal plates over. And when you were driving of course the Tappan Zee, you go over one of these metal plates and the plate would bounce a little bit and you could actually see glimmers of light that would come through the hole and the metal plate traumatized two generations of drivers, me included.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:34)
And government kept saying, “Yeah, we have to replace this bridge, we have to replace the bridge.” Never did. I become governor. I say we have to replace the bridge. Whole raft, the bureaucrats say to me, I mean that in a nice way, “You know what? It’s too risky a venture.” It goes across the Hudson river. The Hudson river’s an environmentally sensitive place. You try to build a bridge in the Hudson river, you have to put down piles, you have to do all that construction, it’s going to annoy environmental concerns. It’s going to be very expensive. It’s a very high risk, difficult project. And they cautioned me not to do it. And by the way, for 20 years nobody had done it. I said, “Yeah, but then you don’t build the bridge. I understand the risk. I understand you could get blamed, I understand something could happen, I understand whatever you do in life, people are going to have 57 different opinions and it’s never going to be perfect and yes, they can always write stories. This one criticized this. There’s one criticize this, and we love negative in society for some reason, but then you don’t get anything done.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:52)
Long story short, we built the bridge on time, on budget. It’s beautiful. We did go through all the heartburn of going through a construction project in the public domain. Yes, many people criticized. We picked blue, they wanted green, we did this, they wanted that. That’s the nature of people. But we did it, we did it, and it is a beautiful symbol for me. And for anyone who sees it, don’t tell me that we can’t do it, don’t tell me we can’t do it because I knew that we can do it because we did do it and we did it very well.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:43)
Have we dealt with a situation like this? No. Can we build a bridge that takes us from today to 18 months? Yes. Yes, because we are bridge builders. That’s what we do. We build bridges, sometimes literally, sometimes symbolically, sometimes metaphorically, but we build bridges. The bridges can be a bridge, can be an airport, it can be a new civil rights legislation, it can be new labor rights legislation, no minimum wage legislation, but we build bridges. That’s what we do in New York and we’re going to do this. Questions.
Speaker 1: (36:23)
Governor on the mask issue. So this will be any public space where there is congestion, we’re talking busy streets stores? We’re just trying to get clarity on what these means.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:33)
Any situation in public where you cannot maintain social distancing.
Speaker 1: (36:48)
Six feet, is that what we are talking here?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:50)
Six feet. If you can’t maintain that social distancing because you’re going into a congested area or it’s a situation where you can’t maintain social distance. You cannot maintain social distancing on public transit. You can’t. You can on the street that is unoccupied, but if you’re going out for a walk and you may come to a place where you can’t maintain social distancing, you have to have a mask.
Speaker 1: (37:17)
[inaudible 00:07:19] criminal prosecutions?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:20)
There’s a possibility for a civil violation. You could get a penalty. You jaywalk theoretically, you get a penalty. A local governments would enforce it. I don’t want to go to a penalty yet. We haven’t seen a flagrant noncompliance so there won’t be a penalty, but it is an executive boarder I’m directing. If people don’t follow it, we could do a civil penalty. You’re not going to go to jail for not wearing your mask, but if we get there, but for now, no, there’s no civil penalty, but local government should start to enforce it and they should come up and say, “Jesse, you’re supposed to be wearing a mask.” By the way, people will enforce it. They’ll say to you, if they’re standing next to you on a street corner, “Where’s your mask buddy?” In a nice New York kind of way.
Speaker 2: (38:14)
Is it of public interest for public health for New York to release the number of COVID cases and fatalities in individual nursing homes?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:23)
Two interests. One interest is release as much data as possible. We will release as much data as possible on people who have died in nursing homes. Second interest is respect and legal rights to privacy. You pass away in a nursing home or your parent passes away in a nursing home, God forbid. Should your parents picture really be on the front page of the newspaper the next day because they passed away from COVID? Did that mean their privacy should be violated and I should release their name so that they could be on the news that night? So that’s the balance. I’ve said to them, “Air on the side of more disclosure,” and that’s what they had been doing and that’s where they’re going to continue to do. But don’t discount a person’s right to privacy about the death of a loved one and your right to publicize that death because you want to. So it’s a balance. Just remember.
Speaker 2: (39:45)
I am talking about names and I think what you are talking about is counts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:49)
No people are, maybe you’re not, but people are.
So in this executive order, what kind of coordination do you have with the city? Because mayor De Blasio said today if you go into a grocery store, you have to wear a mask. That’s his new order. But did you talk to him at all? And also going back to my question yesterday with those homegrown tests, you’re talking about, you need federal assistance in order to up capacity and capability, but if the city’s already trying to do that as well, how much are you working with those city partners?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:17)
Yeah. Melissa can talk about the overall coordination. We have 400 local government officials in this state. This is a statewide order. I have 700 school districts. I have 50 something County executives. We coordinate as much as we can with everybody. Local governments should and must be doing what they think is necessary. And then we have statewide directives that everyone should do because we have to have one state plan. And then I have to turn around and coordinate with New Jersey and Connecticut and five other States, so we have to have one state plan. And then I try to coordinate down, then I try to coordinate up with the federal government, all this coordination. So you do the best you can, but when you have a state wide situation, which is what this is, you have to have rules that are statewide and we try to coordinate with everyone. They can have their own rules. They just can’t conflict with a statewide rule. That’s the balance, that’s the law. So they can do anything they want, just they can’t conflict.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:43)
There will be times when they take a local action, which happens usually also. They take a local action, the state then takes action. The state action overrides the local action, whether it was plastic bags or whatever. A lot of times we get into situations where you have a lot of local laws, different local laws, and then the state takes an action which overrides the local laws. That’s not just in this situation, this is just a more condensed version of it. So I don’t know all the local laws that are out there on masks to tell you the truth and as long as they don’t conflict, great. But if there’s a conflict, the state law governs.
Bernadette, I could just to follow up on that. So the details here are obviously important. What the mayor announced yesterday was that he is going to be moving to the new testing system and that they’re going to be acquiring testing systems. What he’s talking about is the swabs and the vials that they go in. What the governor is talking about is testing capacity. We’ve been limited by the testing capacity in the labs. So there’s two parts to that. There’s the swabs that you use to actually get the sample and then you send it to the lab and you are constrained by the testing capacity in the lab. So the governor is talking about is increasing the capacities in the lab and we are working hand and glove with the city on that and all of our local governments.
On the masks, yes. I’ve been speaking to the city, we’re fully supportive of what they said this morning in grocery stores and we discussed it and this was the next logical step was to build on top of that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:17)
Just so you understand testing and how complex this is. The first issue is you can’t bring it to scale, but forget that. Before you even get there, you can’t get enough equipment, testing equipment, swabs, vials, literally the the material that you need. When you talk to a private sector company, this is all done by private sector companies. When you talk to them about how do you triple capacity, they’ll say, “I can’t get the swabs. I can’t get the vials, I can’t get the physical equipment.” That’s one step. They’ll then say, “I can’t get the testing agents,” the chemicals that they need to do the actual testing. They’ll then say, “I don’t have the machines that can do the testing.” So you have that whole supply chain. On top of it, you have people contracting for tests, all the States, the federal government, local governments, cities, counties, towns, all across the country. You then have private companies that are trying to buy tests. Why? Because I have my workers coming in and I want to test my workers. I’m an essential service. I’m a food manufacturer. I have 200 employees. They’re going out to buy tests to test their 200 employees. All of this volume is descending on these private sector testing companies that never anticipated this tremendous volume. So you’re one of these testing companies. They’re getting calls from…
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
So you’re one of these testing companies, they’re getting calls from everybody, private companies, local government, states, federal government. I need more. I need more. I need more.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:13)
So you have this whole … It’s just a complicated, chaotic … It is what ventilators was, probably even worse. Now, can the federal government do this? No. Can the state government do it? No. Can anyone do it? No. But we have to do the best we can to try to figure out, how do you get the supply chain up? Where do the chemicals come from? What countries do they come from? And that has to happen with the federal government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:41)
The state has shut down at least one state park in Rockland County, at the request of local officials there. Why was that done? And do you anticipate closing down more state parks across the state?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:57)
I don’t know why the park was closed down. Does anybody know?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:00)
There were complaints from some local elected officials, I believe, in Rockland County. And so the parks department evaluated the situation, and they decided to err on the side of caution. And so they’ve temporarily closed the park.
Our goal is to leave the state parks open. Because, as the governor said, we do want green space where people can go and get fresh air and exercise safely, while they’re able to social distance. So we’re going to evaluate that situation and make a determination for the long-term. But, for the short-term, it is closed.
[crosstalk 00:46:28] incidental now outpaces way too many other states. Can you please comment on whether or not you think that the state should have closed down sooner? And if you believe closing down the state sooner would have saved more lives in New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:44)
Yeah. Look, we can go back and do a retrospective sometime when this is over. As I said, I don’t like to do Monday morning quarterback when you’re at halftime, because you’re at halftime. So I don’t know how this turns out. I don’t know how it turns out for New York. I don’t know how it turns out for the nation. So I just don’t see how you start to do a game review while you’re at the middle point of the game.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:12)
If you forced me for a game review now, I would say, “Yeah, I’d like to know. Let’s go back to December, January. Who was saying what when? Where was the international health community?” The president says, “Where was the World Health Organization?” This is not my world, right? I don’t know who should have done what when, in January, February, etc.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:42)
On New York, which is a convenient fact that people miss, there is no state that moved faster than the state of New York, from the time of our first case, to starting to shut down, to total shutdown. That all happened in 19 days in the state of New York. We didn’t have a case early on. Remember, this was Seattle, state of Washington, California, first. It came to the East coast later.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:25)
But from time of the first case, to total shutdown, New York state was the shortest period of time. [crosstalk 00:03:33]. Excuse me one second. And then we had steps in the middle, between first case in total shutdown. We did schools. We did 25%, 50%, 75%. But the whole thing was 19 days. And what you also have to remember is … And, just as a matter of days, on the factual question of speed of movement, no state moved faster than 19 days, from first case to total shutdown.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:06)
Second point is it was not about my declaring a total shutdown. No one had been here before. And, yeah, I can sign an executive order saying, “Total shutdown.” And the people of New York can say what they would like to say, which said nicely is, “I am not going to comply with that, because it’s highly intrusive. And you have not shown me any need for that action.”
Speaker 3: (49:39)
Do you personally regret not moving quicker?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:40)
No, I moved faster than any state in the nation. [crosstalk 00:04:45]. What else do you want? [crosstalk 00:49:47].
Speaker 4: (49:48)
Governor, I have two questions on the masks. There’s video out of Philadelphia of 10 officers pulling a man off of a train who was not wearing a mask, when he was told to put one on or get off. Obviously, in New York, public transit is big. If that happens, if people refuse to get off the trains, what will happen to them?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:08)
Yeah, we’re not there yet. There is no civil penalty yet. There is no mandatory eviction from a public transit yet. Step one is, during before, the way I govern is I try to lay out the facts to New Yorkers. And then say, “This is what I propose, given the facts.” Right? You started by saying, “Here are the facts. It’s not my opinion. It’s just here are the facts.” Then I’ll offer my opinion. And you can throw it out the window. Throw it in the garbage pail. Then I’ll say, “This is what I proposed, based on the facts.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:50)
Our success here has been the very high compliance rate, with a very aggressive policy that came out of the blue. I mean, just think what you’re asking people to do. Stay home and don’t go outside. Why would you ever believe New Yorkers would comply with that? I think we were very effective at laying out the facts and explaining why. They’re staying home, not because I’m giving them a ticket, or because I am saying, “You’ll go to jail.” They’re staying home because they say, “I heard you. And it makes sense to me. And I’m doing it because it makes sense to me.” So I haven’t given anybody a ticket for running a business. I haven’t given anybody a ticket for violating anything. It’s because they understood the facts. Where I am now, I’m saying, “Here are the facts.” Stopping the spread is everything. How can you not wear a mask, when you’re going to come close to a person? On what theory would you not do that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:58)
Now, if they don’t accept that and there’s widespread noncompliance, could we go to civil penalty? Or could I say, “You can’t be on the trains or buses, unless you wear a mask.” You could get there. I assume that’s what Philadelphia did, if they said they’re taking a person off a train. But we’re not there yet. And I hope New Yorkers will do it because it makes sense. [crosstalk 00:00:52:22].
Speaker 3: (52:24)
Also, I think people are … Is this going to put people in a situation where they’re scared not to wear a mask? They want to go on a run or a walk, and they don’t think they’ll see anyone, and they’re worried about getting shamed for not wearing the mask. People, even in this news conference, viewers are writing, “Why isn’t everyone in this room wearing a mask?”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:43)
Yeah. I want to know why you’re not wearing masks. [crosstalk 00:52:47]. I know why. So you wear a mask, you keep it below your chin. And then when you are running and you come close to a person, you either run across the street, or you put the mask up over your mouth and nose. So, look, it’s not the biggest inconvenience in the world, right?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:06)
It doesn’t have to be a surgical mask. It could be a cloth mask. Have it with you. And if you’re in a walk in the woods, and you don’t see anyone, great. If you’re on the walk in the woods, and here comes John Campbell, because that’s what he does a lot is walk in the woods, and you happen to run into him, then you have to put up your mask. Because here comes John Campbell. [ crosstalk 00:00:53:30].
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:31)
When you think about … Look, everybody’s working so hard to spread the disease. The harm done if someone gets the disease, the number of people impacted, the health care workers. Wear the mask. What’s the big deal? It can be a mask, it can be a cloth, it can be a bandana. You can make it colorful. You can have a design. Make it advertising. What’s the big deal? Right? Risk reward is life. [crosstalk 00:00:54:08]. Go.
Big freeze for that hits about 80,000 union workers. I think there’s 5 to 600 docks workers who have now been infected. That’s the prison system. That’s parole. Some of them are nurses in state hospitals. So we have now a group of state senators, led by Tom O’Mara, is asking that you unfreeze at 2%, so they can see that tiny amount in their paychecks. Would that break the bank?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:40)
Joe? Yeah, Joe, it would break the bank. You know how you know? The bank is broken. That’s how you know. And the state is broke. And there’s a lot of good things I would like to do for a lot of good people, that we cannot do until we have some financial stability.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:03)
And if they want to help, tell them, “Call Washington and tell Washington that you neglected the state’s financial needs. And the legislation you passed was wholly disrespectful of the reality of the situation. And you know that state governments are insolvent. You know they had to freeze pay increases. You know they had to take all sorts of drastic measures. They couldn’t fund education the way they wanted to. Provide financial assistance to state governments, so they can do their work.” I have to go to work. [crosstalk 00:55:42].
Speaker 5: (55:42)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:42)
Speaker 5: (55:46)
[inaudible 00:55:46] on ending the pause or winding down the pause?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:49)
That’s one of the main systems, right? We have these states working together. What they need to coordinate are the systems. You need transportation, you need economics, school system. They all go together. Or none of the gears can turn, unless all the gears turn. Remember?