Apr 16, 2020

Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 16

Andrew Cuomo Briefing April 16
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsAndrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 16

Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily coronavirus briefing on April 16. He extended the New York shutdown to May 15, even as state’s coronavirus death toll dropped sharply.

 

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Andrew Cuomo: (05:46)
Good morning. In case anyone doesn’t know anyone who was here today, from my far right, Dr. Malatras, not really a doctor, Dr. Zucker who is really a doctor. To my left, Melissa DeRosa secretary to the governor. To her left, Robert Mujica, budget director. Let’s give you some facts today. My man, Sergeant Joe Friday, just the facts, ma’am. My daughters say nobody understands who Joe Friday is. That’s their mistake. Dragnet was an underappreciated, cinematic treasure in my opinion. Joe Friday, just the facts, just the facts. They’re just the facts.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:33)
Hospitalization rate is down from 18,000 to 17,000 mark. That is good news. Total hospitalizations down. You talk about the flattening of the curve, the apex. How long is it flat? When does it start to curve? We don’t know, but this is a good sign today. If you look at the net change in hospitalizations, it’s down more significantly than it has been. So that’s positive news, three day average, which again is more accurate than the day-to-day counts. I’m a little skeptical about the day-to-day counts. This is all a new reporting system, but the three-day average is more reliable. ICU admissions number is also down significantly for the first time, so that’s good news.

Andrew Cuomo: (07:31)
Intubations is down, and that’s really good news because the intubations ultimately lead to the worst news. 80% roughly of people who get intubated never come off the ventilator. The number of new people who are diagnosed with COVID, about 2,000 still yesterday. So when you see the reduction in rates, remember what we’re talking about, we’re talking about a reduction in increases. You still have 2,000 people every day about who are walking into a hospital for the first time or who were being diagnosed with COVID for the first time. And 2,000 is still a lot of people. But the good news is it means we can control the virus, right? We can control the spread. And we did not know for sure that we could do that, we speculated that we could do it, but we didn’t know. So now we know that we can control this disease. The bad news is 2,000 people walked into a hospital yesterday for the first time with a disease, and the worst news is 600 people died yesterday from the disease.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:52)
That is still continuing at a really tragic, tragic rate. Of those deaths, 577 in hospitals, 29 in nursing homes. We’ve been watching the nursing homes because nursing homes in many ways are ground zero for this situation. Last night, the number in nursing homes was relatively low. Everyone asks the same two questions, when is it over, and how do we get there? How do we start to make our way from here to there? When is it over? As I’ve said when is it finally over? It’s over when you have a vaccine, and that’s 12 months to 18 months. We’ve said to the FDA any way we can be helpful in the testing of that vaccine, how do we accelerate that? How do we expedite it? New York is ready, willing, and able to do that with the FDA.

Andrew Cuomo: (09:49)
Maybe there’s a medical treatment between now and the vaccine, that would be great. But those are unknowns and it’s out of our bailiwick. We are working with a lot of companies that are working on treatments. We’re testing treatments in our hospitals, but that’s a pure medical research and development function, which is beyond us. At the same time, how do we unpause New York? New York is now on pause, how do we unpause it? First, do no harm. Don’t let that infection rate go up to the best of your ability. Don’t lose the progress that you have made. Second, now go back that we have some stability and we can actually work with the healthcare system, which we had on overdrive for many, many weeks. And we had increased the capacity as you remember, every hospital had to increase capacity 50%. Just think about that. 50% more beds, staffing those beds during this horrific period. Now we have a chance to be more intelligent frankly about handling our healthcare system, testing and tracing, testing and tracing, testing and tracing. And we need the federal government to work with us on that. And then phasing an economic return to the ‘new normal’.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:20)
Those are all activities that are going on at the same time, and that’s our plan to ‘unpause New York’. You stopped everything, how do you now restart that machine in a coordinated way that doesn’t drive up the infection rate? That’s the balance that we’re trying to strike. On unpausing and having businesses open, that is a nuanced question. There’s no light switch, it’s not all businesses go back. It’s what business is, what do they do, what risks do they pose, and what changes can they make in their business to make them more safe? This is not just government deciding, it’s government deciding with private businesses who now have to take a look at this new normal, this new reality and tell us how they think they can adjust to it.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:23)
One of our questions in evaluations is how essential is that business service? You have to start somewhere. Right now we have the economy working with what are ‘essential workers’. That’s why the grocery store is open, that’s why public transit is running. So we want to start to bring the economy back, move up one traunch on how you define essential, what’s the next level of essential businesses? Are there certain businesses that are inherently safer or can be safer? And then let’s talk about how we reopen them and where we reopen them. And these are all questions that we have to work through on a case by case basis. But there is a matrix, and the matrix is how important is the business to society? How essential a service, and how risky is that business from a rate of infection? And obviously, the more essential a business, the lower the risk, the more they are a priority.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:35)
And then how do you do it? You do it in phases of priority, and then you phase it up the way we phased down, which is by percentages. And this is going to be an ongoing process over the coming weeks that we’re working through with the other states. But the what, the how, the when, looking at how important that business is and what the risk that business poses. And then do it in coordination with our other states because this is really a regional issue, and it should be addressed on that basis. Coordinating with the other states doesn’t mean we’ll always be in lock step, but we’ll talk through everything first and hopefully we’re not doing something that’s contradictory to another state at a minimum. And so far so good on that exercise. And then analysis is ongoing. But it’s not going to be all about what government does, what government does.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:44)
The private sector now has to think about what they do and how they do it and how they can do it differently in this new normal, reimagine your workplace. And we learned a lot through this situation, people worked from home. Well, how many people can continue to work from home and the business still work? How do you socially distance in the workplace? Can you socially distance in your workplace? What are your new normal procedures and practices? How do you think you’re going to get workers back and forth? And what precautions would you take? In the workplace, how would people work and where would they sit or where would they stand? And how do you do it without conference meetings, and how do you do it without gatherings? How are you going to interact with the public in a way that keeps the public safe? We’re talking about businesses that pose a lower risk, tell us how you intend to organize and conduct your business, and can you do it in a way that poses a lower risk, and what would you do with your workforce to make sure if an

Andrew Cuomo: (16:03)
… To our workforce, to make sure if an infection happens that we can jump on it quickly.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:09)
And then as we’re going through all this planning, this is going to be a moment of transformation for society. And we paid a very high price for it. But how do we learn the lessons so that this new normal is a better New York. And there are lessons that we must learn from this because we do need to do things differently, or we can do things differently, and we can do things better.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:40)
Part of the way across that bridge is testing. It is the single best tool to inform decisions and to calibrate all of this. This new testing world is a new frontier for all of us. New York state has been very aggressive about doing testing. We set a very ambitious goal when we began, and I’m happy to say they did it. We’ve done 500,000 tests in 30 days. That’s more than California, Florida and Michigan combined. And this is all about figuring it out first and taking a system that frankly didn’t exist and creating this testing system and this testing regimen. 500,000 tests in one month. That sounds great, and it was great. It was a great accomplishment. And congratulations to everyone who put it together.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:39)
But when you think of 500,000 tests in one month, and then you compare it to the fact that you have 19 million people in this state, you have 9 million workers so 500,000 doesn’t sound so big. So we have many questions to answer. Where do you test? How do you get the supplies? How do you coordinate the private labs? How do you coordinate the demand going to these private lab? Everybody wants testing. Private sector companies are calling for testing, and they’re going right to the labs. Everyone is going right to these labs, and 50 states are competing, and the federal government is buying product from these labs. This has to be figured out. And it can only be figured out in partnership with the federal government. On top of that, once you go from testing, you have to trace every person who comes up positive. Trace means investigate, investigate all those prior contacts. And then one contact, you test that person, leads you to another person. So the tracing investigators are really assembling an army that does not now exist.

Andrew Cuomo: (18:58)
I spoke to the White House again this morning about it. I understand that this is a problematic area, and the federal government’s not eager to get involved in testing. I get that. But the plain reality here is we have to do it in partnership with the federal government.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:16)
You’re talking about supply chains that go back to China. A state does not have the capacity to do that. And there’s no reason why you would have 50 states each trying to figure this out on their own, competing with the federal government, competing with the private sector. So I’m very much looking forward to the federal government’s willingness to tackle this, understanding that it will be imperfect at best. But if we work together, we can do better than any of us could do alone. And that’s what this is all about. You’re not going to achieve optimum performance. You can’t put together this national system with perfection. So people are understandably reluctant to get involved, but understanding the risk and understanding that it’s never going to be done perfectly, if we work together, we can do better. And that’s what we have to actually accomplish.

Andrew Cuomo: (20:24)
We have to strengthen the health healthcare system. Our surge and flex, which is the first time we’ve ever called upon all these hospitals to work together and coordinate. Every hospital was basically its own enterprise. And then we go back and say, well, you all have to work together and coordinate, and we’re going to help you coordinate. It was the first time that’s ever happened. We understand about a stockpile like we’ve never understood before. We understand about sharing resources like we’ve never understood before. And we understand about sharing among states and how good people were to New York when we needed it. And states stepping up and sending us ventilators. And I said New Yorkers don’t forget. And New Yorkers are the most generous and most gracious and will be there when people need help.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:15)
New Jersey is still looking at their curve rising. The wave hasn’t crested in New Jersey. They’re our neighbors, anything we can do to help. I’ve told Governor Murphy all he has to do is ask. We’re here, and we’re going to send 100 ventilators to New Jersey.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:37)
But the key to all of this, the calibration is the infection rate. And this gets a little technical, but I need people to really understand this. Why don’t you open tomorrow? Because we’re afraid the infection rate will go up. And everything we’ve been doing is to slow the infection rate. Well, how do you track the infection rate? We don’t. We don’t track infection rates. We see hospitalization rates, which are different. A hospitalization rate is a person who got infected and became seriously ill so they had to go to the hospital. But we don’t know how many people have been infected or are getting infected. We only know at this point how many people walk into a hospital or how many people get tested in a nursing home.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:36)
If you have advanced testing, then you’ll have a better idea of what percent of your population has actually been exposed. That’s where the antibody testing is all about. But the key is, as you’re making this calibration on the reopening of the economy, as you’re bringing more people out of their homes, how fast is that virus spreading? And how quickly is that infection rate rising? Dr. Fauci said early on that this virus spreads. It does it very well. And we know that, and we’ve learned it the hard way. The rate of infection is everything. All those early projection models assumed a higher rate of infection, a higher rate of spread. That’s why they were calling for so many more hospital beds, many more mortalities because they projected a higher rate of spread. That has not happened so far. Caveat, so far. We’ve controlled the beast. We brought the rate of spread down. If their rate of spread actually happened, we would’ve been in a much, much worse situation. And we would have been in a really bad place. I mean their projections were staggering. And it didn’t happen because we slowed the models.

Andrew Cuomo: (24:14)
But remember what they were talking about, CDC, which is supposed to be the preeminent source, 160 million to 214 million people infected, they were projecting. That was only March 13th. That’s what the CDC was projecting. You know how many 160 to 214 million are? Now we only have 328 million people in the country. They were projecting more than half of the population, and maybe two thirds of the population, infected. And that was only a month ago. They were saying 2.4 million people to 21 million people would be hospitalized. Do you know how many that is? We only have 900,000 hospital beds in the nation. They were saying by their projection, a minimum of twice as many people would need hospital beds as we have hospital beds. Just imagine that. That was the CDC.

Andrew Cuomo: (25:21)
The White House Coronavirus Task Force, the same thing. The White House Coronavirus Task Force was saying 1.5 to 2.2 million deaths. Deaths. And that was the White House Coronavirus Task Force as of March 31, Best case scenario, 100 to 240,000 with mitigation efforts. March 31, just over two weeks ago.

Andrew Cuomo: (25:51)
So, and that’s why all of these models said the same thing. They were all believing a higher infection rate. Now, and that’s McKinsey, and that’s Columbia, and that’s Cornell. That’s all of them. That’s the Gates-funded model. They were all projecting a higher infection rate. We slowed the infection rate by our actions, and that’s why we’re in a better position today.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:22)
Now, what does the infection rate mean? And I know this gets a little granular, but people have to understand it if they’re going to understand why we need to do what we need to do. The infection rate is how many people does one person infect. How fast is the virus spreading from one person to another? And they talk about the R nought factor. The R nought factor is the projected spread of the virus. If one person infects less than one other person, the disease is on the decline. If one person basically infects one more person, the rate of spread is stable. I get infected, I infect one, one person infects one. When you have a really situation out of control is one first person infects two people or more because then the increase is just exponential. And that’s fire through dry grass.

Andrew Cuomo: (27:37)
This is what they were all trying to project, and this is what we have to control as we start to reopen the economy. We say we turn the valve on the economy, we open a little bit, and we watched the meter. What’s the meter? The meter is the hospitalization rate, or even better, the virus spread rate. So you start to turn that valve, you start to bring people out of their homes, you start to reopen businesses, you see that number going up, turn the valve back right away. And this is what we’re trying to deal with going forward. And again, nobody has been here before so we’re trying to figure it out.

Andrew Cuomo: (28:21)
If one person, if the virus spread increases to the place where one person infects two people, that is an outbreak. If one person is only infecting one other person, that is basically a stable increase. Ideally one person is infecting less than one person, and that is a decline of the spread of the virus. And that’s what we’re shooting for. Just to belabor this one more point, where you’ve seen an outbreak epidemic spread, it’s when one person is infecting more than one other person. That’s when you’re out of control. On the Diamond Princess cruise, the infection rate was one person infects 2.2 additional people. Wuhan was one person was infecting two people or three people. The 1918 pandemic, one person was infecting one and a half to 2.8. On our severe projection, one person was infecting 1.4 to 1.8. On the moderate projection, one person was infecting 1.2 to 1.4. What we’ve done because of our mitigation efforts, social distancing, stay home, lock the door, we’ve brought it to less than one. Our infection spread rate is 0.9. Wuhan, which really closed down everything, everything, everything and locked it up, Wuhan brought the infection rate down to 0.3. So that’s the range we’re talking about.

Andrew Cuomo: (30:12)
But when you think about that, we’re now 0.9, we only have a margin of error of 0.9 to 1.2. 1.2 takes you back to the high projection rate. We’re at 0.9. That does not leave you a lot of wiggle room. So you’re going to start to phase the reopening. You’re at 0.9 now after this entire close down. If you go to 1.2, you’re going to have a problem again.

Andrew Cuomo: (30:49)
So you see how narrow the window is. But New York Pause has worked, the close down has worked. That’s how we control the beast. That’s how we got it down to 0.9. However, we’re not there yet. We’re just at 0.9. Again, Wuhan got down to 0.3. So we have to continue doing what we’re doing. I’d like to see that infection rate get down even more. The New York Pause policies, the close down policies, will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15th. I don’t want to project beyond that period. That’s about one month. One month is a long time. People need certainty and clarity so they can plan. I need a coordinated action plan with the other states, so one month we’ll continue the close down policies. What happens after then? I don’t know. We will see, depending on what the data shows. What does that mean? Tell me what our infection rates spread is. Is it 0.9? Is it 1.0? Is it 0.7? Tell me what the hospital…

Andrew Cuomo: (32:03)
Is it point nine, is it one, is it point seven? Tell me what the hospitalization rate is and then the experts will tell us the best course of conduct based on that data. No political decisions, no emotional decisions, data and science. We’re talking about human lives here. As relatively simple and possibly annoying as it seems. Wearing a mask is one of the best things that we can do. And I understand I’m getting a lot of not happy phone calls of what I said yesterday about wearing a mask in public, but I’m sorry it makes people unhappy. I do not consider it a major burden and it really is a simple measure that can save lives. And yes, people say it’s a personal intrusion on them, but again, remember it’s not just about you, right? I have rights also and my kids have rights and your kids have rights and you have a right for another person to take reasonable safeguards not to get infected.

Andrew Cuomo: (33:26)
So the masks work. We said in public today I’m going to include public transportation systems, private transportation carriers for hire vehicles, any operator of a public system and operator of a private carrier and for hire vehicles must wear a mask at all times. What does this mean? If you get on the bus, you need to wear a mask. If you get an a train, you need to wear a mask. If you get into a private car service, Uber, Lyft, the operator needs to wear a mask. If you get on a private bus, the operator needs to wear a mask and you need to wear a mask on a private carrier. So is this inconvenient? Yes, but you’re in a closed environment. By definition, you’re not socially distancing. By definition, you’re the front seat of a car to a back seat of a car. You’re one seat in a bus to another seat in the bus.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:35)
This is a precaution for everyone that I think balances individual liberties with a social conscience. This will going into affect Friday 8:00 PM. Ultimately what determines the rate of infection? You do, and I do. That’s what this all comes down to. As simple as it sounds, it’s not about government. It’s not about anything else. It’s about what people decide to do and what people have decided to do. They have brought this infection rate down. It’s that simple. Nurses, doctors did a phenomenal job. First responders did a phenomenal job. Essential workers did a phenomenal job. But that rate came down because people changed their behavior. That’s what happened. It is about the behavior of our people. It’s that simple. It’s our behavior. It’s our level of discipline. It’s how we educate our children. It’s how considerate we are of others, what we’re willing to do to safeguard others’ health in our community.

Andrew Cuomo: (35:53)
That’s what makes all the difference on what we’re doing. And it is the simple things. It’s wearing a mask. It’s washing your hands, it’s the hand sanitizer, it’s the social distance. It’s making sure your children understand what to do, what not to do. It’s all of these simple procedures that seem almost insignificant but on a collective basis make all the difference in the world, and it is making smart choices. I want to get out of the house. I’m going crazy. I need to do this. I need to do this. I know, but be smart, be smart and engage what you’re doing relative to everyone else and relative to the overall goal. But I will tell you, and I don’t know that people truly appreciated this. I don’t know that I did. Of all the unique aspects that we have learned going through this, the most positive and the most surprising to me has been how people have responded.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:02)
The policies that I have communicated are not worth the paper they are printed on. I could stand up here as governor and say, “We must do this. We must do this. We must do this.” These are some of the most life changing policies government has ever issued. Think about it. This is not government saying, here’s your tax rate. Here’s age of voting. This is government saying, stay in your house. Don’t touch another person. Wear a mask. Government, I don’t even have the ability to enforce these measures on any scale. If people said, I’m not willing to do it.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:53)
So these policies, which are difficult, which are life changing, they are being implemented by people because people are choosing to do the right thing. It is that simple. And what this is all about today, the masks on transportation. I trust in New Yorkers. I believe if the facts are presented to the people in this state, New Yorkers will do the right thing. What is the right thing? There’s always the right thing. It is the appropriate path that is socially and morally correct. And New Yorkers have a very strong right thing quotient. They know what the right thing is when they hear it. And all I’m trying to do is give them the facts and the information to explain why I’m suggesting these actions.

Andrew Cuomo: (38:58)
They decide whether or not to follow them. I can’t put a mask on 17 million people. 17 million people will decide whether or not they’ll do it. But they have done it, because they have the facts, they have the information, they understand the risks, they understand the rewards, they understand the consequences. And what they have done has worked. And it’s brought this state forward. And it’ll bring this nation forward. And that’s New Yorkers at their best. And that’s because we are New York tough. And because New York tough is more complex than the word suggests. It’s smart, it’s united, it’s disciplined and it’s loving. And New Yorkers have proven that time and time again every day for 46 days. Questions.

Speaker 1: (39:51)
[crosstalk 00:39:51] to nursing home residents have died of COVID-19-

Andrew Cuomo: (39:55)
Can we do this today? Let’s something new. I will listen to all, not talk over everyone. I’ll make sure we answer. I’ll get to you to answer the question and let’s just start, let’s go to Jesse, or let’s go to you first. Okay.

Speaker 1: (40:12)
In Cornell New York, at least 10 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19. Philmont, there’ve been at least 23 cases and six deaths at one nursing home, the state helped mass test 15 residents that a New Windsor assisted living facility. How many and which nursing homes have reported clusters, outbreaks or requested mass testing from the state? And where are they? And is the state advising nursing homes facing outbreaks to open COVID only units or transfer patients elsewhere? Would you seen a least a couple cases?

Andrew Cuomo: (40:38)
I don’t know, we have hundreds and hundreds of nursing homes in this state, so I don’t know what has happened in every nursing home in the state. I don’t have a firsthand knowledge of what happened with the nursing homes, in Cornell, New York. But we will get you today a list of information by nursing home to the best we have. And as we get that updated, we’ll get it to you. Jesse.

Jesse: (41:08)
Governor, on the economic toll of this, Mayor De Blasio is talking about a $7.4 billion hit in terms of tax revenue. Have you discussed help for the city of New York vis-a-vis that as well as the 1.2 million people who are now applying for employment in this state?

Andrew Cuomo: (41:26)
Yeah, Jesse, it’s simple. Yes. We’ve had multiple conversations. It’s not just New York City, it’s Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County. It’s every county in this state. It’s every local government in the state. And the short answer is we cannot do it. I have a 10 to $15 billion hole, so I’m not in any position to help any of them. That’s why I’ve said this is what the federal government has to step in and it defies understanding that the federal government is going to say, we passed major pieces of legislation, pat us on the back to protect the economy and move the economy forward. But you don’t fund state and local governments? And when you don’t find the state and local government, it means the state and local government has to turn around and cut everybody that relies on them. It’s not smart. It’s not right.

Andrew Cuomo: (42:25)
It’s counterproductive. I understand you don’t get the same political credit when you fund New York state or New York City or Nassau County or Suffolk County because it doesn’t represent any voters, any people. It’s just a governmental entity. I get that. And I get that politically, they like to pass legislation where they can call up someone when they get home and say, “Hey Jesse, I got a check for you.” I understand that. But at one point you have to put the politics aside and say we have to do something that actually makes a difference.

Andrew Cuomo: (43:02)
And can you even pretend that you’re addressing this crisis when you’re starving state and local governments and that’s not a Democrat to Republicans. National Governors Association headed by a chairman who’s Republican, Governor Hogan, great guy, great Governor. Myself as vice chairman, we sent a letter saying that to the administration. And by the way I say it to my democratic congressional members, I said to Senator Schumer, I said to Senator Gillibrand, “You pass a piece of legislation that starves state and local governments. Your not helping the country. You’re just not.” Well, we have to get to yes. It doesn’t matter to get to yes. If the bill doesn’t do what the purpose is. Bernadette.

Jesse: (43:55)
Just a follow up on Maria’s question real quickly. Why has it taken so long to get specific information about specific nursing homes that would seem to be in the public interest for people to know where people are dying?

Andrew Cuomo: (44:07)
We’re putting it together. You have to appreciate the practical reality here. That’s why I say watch this whole reporting system. You have hospitals that are dealing with hell every day and you’re basically saying make sure your report isn’t light, which is what the department of health says. Nursing homes that are dealing with halesia situations or make sure your report is on time. Yeah, and look, I’ve been on the phone with these types of facilities and they say, “I understand, make sure my report is on time.” I have seven people critically ill, I’m short staffed, I don’t have enough PPE. And you’re giving me a hard time about reports. So in the balance of things, I understand the degree of difficulty, and how many nursing homes are there?

Speaker 2: (45:04)
613.

Andrew Cuomo: (45:05)
613 nursing homes. Right? So you’re not talking about one phone call. But we are getting the data. It is coming in. When will we have it? Do we know?

Speaker 2: (45:15)
Today.

Andrew Cuomo: (45:15)
Today.

Speaker 3: (45:18)
Governor, you mentioned that there’s obviously the flattening of the hospitalizations, but we had yesterday the highest, for the day before the highest number of positive cases since testing started. Are you concerned about seeing that number tick up and why might that be while the hospitalization-

Andrew Cuomo: (45:34)
Testing is not indicative of anything, in my opinion. It is not a random sample. It is a function of how many tests you are doing. What’s been happening is our testing capacity is going up. As our testing capacity goes up, the more tests you do, the more positives you find. Remember the testing is not random. It’s people who believe they are positive because of the circumstances. They were exposed to a positive person, et cetera. So you’re getting people who you think are positive to test and then the more tests you take, the more positives you’re going to find. The hospitalization rate of any of these rates, the most indicative is the hospitalization rate. Because what it’s telling you is these are people who are infected and were seriously ill. That’s what the hospitalization rate tells you. It’s the only real data you now have. It doesn’t tell you the rate of infection spread and whether it’s increasing or decreasing, but it tells you how many people walked into the hospital who were positive after they were tested and who was seriously ill. That’s the only number you have that is statistically representative. Bernadette.

Bernadette: (46:58)
President Trump accused New York City of padding the death count, padding the numbers because they changed the way that they’re recording. So now they’re saying they added something like 3,800 new deaths based on in-home deaths. What do you say to that? Do you think that the President is correct in saying that and also when is the state going to start having that separate category?

Andrew Cuomo: (47:20)
Yeah, Melissa knows this better than I do. Look, I think what you’re seeing is, well first I don’t know what the President said specifically what his words were. Why would New York City want to inflate a death toll? I mean it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s bad enough as it is. It’s painful enough as it is. Why would you want to inflate a death toll? Look, I don’t know, but it sounds even more bizarre than usual that anyone would want to do that. I think what’s happening is they’re changing, CDC put out different guidelines about what numbers.

Andrew Cuomo: (48:03)
The CDC put out different guidelines about what numbers you must report. We’ve always said, “All we really know are deaths in a hospital or deaths in a nursing home.” Could people be dying at home because of the coronavirus and we’re not counting them? Yes. Was this a rough estimate? Yes. So now we’re trying to refine the estimate, other categories, other possibilities. I think that’s what it is more than anything. It’s more of a reporting process. But Melissa, do you know anything more about it?

Melissa: (48:35)
No, it’s exactly what the governor said. So the CDC put out guidance on reporting. So actually it’s the president’s own CDC that put out this guidance, and the city was very clear. They actually did not tack on that number to the total death count. They created a new category that’s called probable deaths. This gets murky because a lot of people are dying of various things and if it’s shortness of breath or you had a fever, there’s a lot of assumptions that could be going on behind the positive. Everybody knows in this room, Assemblyman Brodsky, the assumption was that he had died from COVID. A few days later, they discovered it actually wasn’t COVID. So the number is not precise and the city actually did not put that number into the death count number. It’s a separate category. I actually believe the press misreported this in some instances and conflated the two. And so that’s what it was. But they did not pad the numbers. And this was a CDC directed category that the city started reporting that the state is actually also working to report.

Andrew Cuomo: (49:29)
Excuse me a second. Did you want to add something, doctor?

Dr. Zucker: (49:30)
It’s exactly what you had mentioned. Melissa, they’re presumed deaths. That somebody died from something which may have been a different respiratory illness and they said, “Well, maybe it’s coronavirus.”

Speaker 4: (49:42)
Right. The Post reported last week that EMS and law enforcement were going to homes and getting that raw data and saying, “Hey, this could potentially be a much larger number.” So is that the kind of misreporting?

Melissa: (49:55)
No, no, no. What I’m saying when I say conflating, I’m saying there’s probable deaths and then there’s the people who we know to have confirmed died of COVID, they tested positive or after they died there was an autopsy done. They tested them and they confirmed after they died that they had COVID. So probable is a category that it’s somebody who died and based on the symptoms or based on how they died, they believe that it could probably have been COVID. So that’s that category. The under-reporting of the deaths in the home is another added complication into all of this. But to answer your first question, the city did not pad the numbers. They created a separate category to address the probable deaths, which was a directive of the CDC.

Andrew Cuomo: (50:34)
Yeah, I think what happened … I think that refreshes my recollection. I don’t think the city put the numbers together. I think The Times wrote a story that put the numbers together and then said they had a much higher number. I get it’s a great headline, but it’s not totally accurate. Karen.

Karen: (50:51)
[inaudible 00:50:51] reports out of hospitals that some of the COVID patients, a significant number are having kidney failure and that now there’s a shortage of the dialysis machines. I guess maybe that’s more of a question for Dr. Zucker of how … Is that something that you’re worried about [crosstalk 00:51:10]-

Andrew Cuomo: (51:09)
A shortage of dialysis machines.

Dr. Zucker: (51:12)
We have heard that. We are looking into this about those who need renal dialysis and to make sure the machines are available for individuals. And regarding having kidney failure as a result of having coronavirus, often when people get that ill and end up in the intensive care unit with multi-organ system failure, multiple problems, the kidney are one of the organs which take the hardest hit initially.

Karen: (51:34)
Is there a shortage right now?

Dr. Zucker: (51:35)
We have heard about an individual report, but there aren’t shortages that are across the board now. Everyone has probably heard that they needed a dialysis machine and we worked on that to get them there.

Andrew Cuomo: (51:47)
If they have a shortage, Karen, they call us. We have these daily inventory equipment sharing. It’s a surge flex. So if any hospital has a shortage of anything on a daily basis, they let us know, and then we find that and we’ve been able to find that equipment for them or that PPE. So nobody’s had an actual shortfall. But if somebody had a problem that they couldn’t do dialysis because they didn’t have machines, they would have more than likely let the state know. Karen.

Karen: (52:21)
I have a few follow-up questions on masks. Does the mandate apply to kids?

Andrew Cuomo: (52:27)
Two years and older.

Karen: (52:30)
Two years and older.

Andrew Cuomo: (52:30)
It depends how you define kid.

Karen: (52:31)
Which is what the CDC recommends. Okay. Yesterday when referring to the mask mandate, you said, “It’s not that inconvenient.” You said, “What’s the big deal?” For many people, we’ve learned it is a big deal to wear a mask. They feel that this is a symbol of government control. A lot of people feel that this is a symbol people are falling prey to fear, and we’ve seen doctors on the news for weeks now saying that regular medical masks and the cloth masks do little to protect you from coronavirus. Do you feel like you’re underplaying the impacts of your mandate?

Andrew Cuomo: (53:10)
No. I don’t know how it can be underplaying. I said that I know there’s a lot of opposition to this. I’ve had many people say they don’t like it. So no, I’m fully aware of the opposition to wearing a mask. It’s a face covering, just so we’re all saying the same thing. It’s a mask or a cloth covering of the nose and mouth. It doesn’t have to be a mask. It could also be a cloth covering. But no, I understand that people do not like it, some people do not like it, and some people think it is an imposition and it is a government overreach. I understand that. By the way, some people think the close down order was a government overreach. Some people think that this is all a fabrication and a political conspiracy.

Andrew Cuomo: (54:03)
To them I say, if you don’t think 600 people died yesterday, and if you don’t think that’s a problem, I disagree with you. If you doubt that 600 people died, I’ll bring you to see the 600 people. So is it a fabrication? No, 600 people died yesterday. And that’s a reality we deal with every day. We want to see fewer people die. I’m asking New Yorkers to wear a mask, not just to protect yourself, but to protect other people from you. If you have the virus, you can infect other people and you have a liability, a responsibility not to infect me because you’re sick, and that’s what a mask would help. I understand the opposition. My phone’s ringing off the hook with the opposition. I also understand what 600 deaths mean. I understand the toll on the healthcare system. I understand the nurses and the doctors who are stretched to the limits. I understand the police officers who go out there every day and who are afraid. And asking New Yorkers to wear a mask at this time, I think is more than reasonable. I understand that people disagree.

Karen: (55:23)
Are you wearing a mask on the day-to-day?

Andrew Cuomo: (55:28)
When I am in public circumstances, yes. Here in this room, no. Let’s do someone who didn’t ask a question.

Karen: (55:35)
What will it take for us not to have to social distance? You’ve said that a vaccine can take 12 to 18 months. Is that how long we’ll have to social distance for?

Andrew Cuomo: (55:43)
It depends on how good we are at reducing the spread of the virus, and we don’t know that. It also depends on when they come up with a medical treatment, and we don’t know that. So I understand people want certainty and closure, but we don’t have it. We don’t have it. Let’s do someone who didn’t ask a question. Josefa.

Josefa: (56:04)
In California, Gavin Newsom was giving undocumented immigrants $500 since they were cut out of the federal stimulus package. Is New York considering doing something similar, and can we do that considering our financial state?

Andrew Cuomo: (56:18)
Well look, we financially, if we don’t get the federal government to actually pass a piece of responsible legislation, and I’ve said to the extent they care for my two cents, if our senators don’t pass a piece of legislation, it’s not responsible. Well then they’ll say, “We didn’t pass the legislation.” Yeah. Say I wouldn’t sign a piece of, I wouldn’t pass an irresponsible piece of legislation. Better than passing an irresponsible piece of legislation, if those are the options. Life has options. So yeah, we are at a point financially where we have a $10 to $15 billion deficit. Yesterday I was asked about, well, why not just let the raises go through for state workers? When you are broke, it would be irresponsible to do these things. I do hope and believe the federal government should have a more inclusive policy. All right. Let’s do one-

Josefa: (57:16)
So does that mean that undocumented immigrants, that there’s no shot [crosstalk 00:09:19]-

Andrew Cuomo: (57:19)
Well, we’re looking at it, but we have real financial problems right now.

Speaker 5: (57:23)
Governor, at a time when you were talking about the importance of regional coordination, it seems Governor Murphy is allowing state parks to stay open, yet here in New York State they are closed. Is that problematic?

Andrew Cuomo: (57:35)
As I said, there’s not going to be 100% conformity of the plans. More, it’s understanding what they’re doing, what we’re doing, so we don’t conflict and bump into each other, which has happened in the past because people make decisions. The state parks, look, I can argue it either way. All of these things are judgment calls, but I don’t think that’s especially problematic.

Speaker 5: (58:03)
And regarding unemployment, we’re hearing stories of people are still not getting returned phone calls within 72 hours, particularly people who are self-employed, who have a lengthy documentation to fill out. Has that been an issue? I don’t know if it’s for you, governor, or-

Andrew Cuomo: (58:19)
I have not heard that. Melissa, do you know where that is?

Melissa: (58:21)
So again, let’s do some context here. As Jesse noted, and the Labor Department is going to be putting out the figures later today, another 400,000 people filed claims on insurance in the last week, the week ending this past Friday, which brings us up to 1.2 million claims in the last five weeks. To give you guys a sense of comparison, during the entirety of the 2008 crash, New York State lost 300,000 jobs. So in terms of the volume the Department of Labor is dealing with, just for everyone’s understanding. At this point, they have done, completed 925,000 claims. There’s 275,000 claims that are outstanding. Some of those people are from the last week. Some of those people unfortunately date back to the middle of March. Most of the people who date back to the middle of March are people who require additional forms for, as you said, people who are self-employed, people who are contractors, and so that process has been taking longer.

Melissa: (59:13)
We’re working together to try to figure out the best way possible to expedite this. It’s great that the system has worked better for some. If you’re one of the people who are still struggling, it doesn’t matter at all, and we understand that. And I sympathize with that and I apologize for that. And we’re going to continue to do everything we can to bring the system up to deal with the scale as soon as possible.

Andrew Cuomo: (59:32)
Let’s do one more. Somebody, go ahead.

Speaker 6: (59:34)
What about low income people or homeless people who maybe might not be able to purchase a mask? Is there going to be a way for them to maybe pick up one or something?

Andrew Cuomo: (59:40)
Yes, we’re working on that and we’re working with local governments in making sure people who can’t pay for a mask can have one. Remember, it’s not a mask. It’s a face covering. So, it can be a handkerchief, a bandana, it can be a cloth covering, et cetera. It can be stylish or fashionable or just boring and plain like mine. All right. I’m going to go to work.

Speaker 7: (01:00:13)
How’s your brother feeling, by the way?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:13)
He’s feeling better. Thank you for asking. His wife now tested positive, so he feels … Obviously we’re not sure how Christina, who’s my brother’s wife, how she got the virus, but assuming he gave it to her because she was helping take care of him. He feels bad about that on a personal level. And on a practical level, he’s sick in the basement. Christina’s quarantined upstairs. They have three kids. So it’s a practical hardship, but he’s feeling better. Thank you very much for asking. Thank you.

Speaker 6: (01:00:48)
Dr. Zucker, has the-