Apr 19, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 19
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily coronavirus briefing on April 19. He said New York can supply 400 ventilators to Massachusetts should the state need them, and the state will roll out antibody testing in ‘aggressive way’ this week.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
They have an extraordinary leader in Michael Dowling. Michael Dowling ran healthcare for the state of New York, Social Services for the state of New York. He worked with my father, came for one year, wound up staying with my father for 12 years in state service. So he’s one of the really beautiful and brilliant leaders in this state, and it’s a pleasure to be with him. I want to say to all the people of Northwell who’ve done extraordinary jobs, thank you so, so much and thank you for having us today.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:32)
To my right is Melissa DeRosa. She is the Secretary to the Governor. To her right is … What’s your name young lady? Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, who is part of my team, and it’s a pleasure to have her with me today. I’ll be mentioning more about that in a second.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:50)
Today is Sunday. That is a fact. I know these days tend to run one into the other, but today is Sunday. I like to focus on the facts in this situation because facts are what’s most important. A lot of people have opinions and a lot of theories. But Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was a great Senator from the state of New York, liked to say, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not his own facts.” So let’s give the people of the state the updated facts.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:23)
This is the chart of total hospitalizations. We’ve been watching this 24 hours a day for it seems like most of our lives, but it’s only been about 40 days. The total hospitalization rate is down again in the state of New York. We’re down to 16,000. If you look at the numbers, we’re at 18,000 people hospitalized for a period of time. It flattened there for a while. It paused there. Then it went down to 17,000, but this is a low from our high point of 16,000. Big question of whether we’ve been past the apex, past the high point. It turned out the high point wasn’t a point, but the high point was a plateau. We got up to a high point, and then we just stayed at that level for a while.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:16)
But if the data holds and if this trend holds, we are past the high point, and all indications at this point are that we are on a descent. Whether or not the descent continues depends on what we do, but right now we are on a descent. That’s in all the numbers. The hospitalization numbers are down. The three-day average of the hospitalization rate is down. I was speaking to Michael and that’s what he’s seeing in his hospital system. That’s what emergency rooms across the state are saying. That they see the maximum inflow is less than what it was. That all tracks with what the numbers are saying.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:09)
This number of intubations, which I watch carefully because intubations are the number of people put on ventilators, and 80% of the people who are put on ventilators don’t make it. So this is a very important chart to look at, and the fact that those numbers are down is very important.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:29)
This is a reality check. With all the good news in the reductions, we still have 1300 people that yesterday came in and tested positive and were hospitalized. 1300 is a lot of people coming into the hospital system with that diagnosis. Less than it had been, so that’s good news, but it is still 1300 people who are testing positive and need hospitalization.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:59)
We’ve been watching the spread of the virus from the New York City area, and there have been little outbursts on Long Island and in Upstate New York, and we’ve been jumping on those outbursts. But overall we have controlled it, and the numbers are about the same. Westchester and Rockland, where we had real problems … Remember the first problem was in Westchester County, New Rochelle. But Westchester, Rockland, Long Island, Upstate New York is still only about 7% of the cases, so we’re watching for a potential spread in other parts of the state, but so far we have contained it and we have controlled it.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:39)
Nursing homes are still our number one concern. The nursing home is the optimum feeding ground for this virus. Vulnerable people in a congregate facility, in a congregate setting where it can just spread like fire through dry grass. We have had really disturbing situations in nursing homes, and we’re still most concerned about the nursing homes.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:06)
The worst news of all for us to live with every day and an every day tragedy. We lost another 507 New Yorkers, and those are not just very large numbers we see. Every number is a face and a family and a brother and a sister and a mother and a father and people who are in pain today and will be in pain for a long period of time. So we remember them in our thoughts and prayers.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:37)
But on this Sunday day of reflection, thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all New Yorkers for what the people at Northwell have done, the entire team. Talk about team effort. This is the team effort. To all our healthcare workers all across the state. One million healthcare workers, 445,000 hospital workers, 160,000 nursing home workers. They have made all the difference in the world. A crisis like this, it tends to bring out the best and the worst in people, and certain people can break your heart in their response to this. But on the other hand, other people can rise to the occasion and just give you such a sense of confidence in the human spirit. The healthcare workers have done that.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:37)
I’ve been looking at this chart for 40 days, and it looks like a bar chart. It looks like numbers and a line. I don’t see it as a bar chart as we’ve been going through this. To me it was a mountain that just kept building and building and building and you didn’t know where the top of the mountain was. Those numbers kept growing and we kept going up the mountain and we kept wondering, where is the peak? Where is the apex? What is the high point? When does this stop? And we get to the top of the mountain and by the way, it’s not a point. Then it plateaus and it plateaus at a very, very high rate, which means every day those healthcare workers have to come in and they’re seeing a tremendous number of people come in the door, overwhelming the capacity of the hospital. Remember, we asked hospitals to increase their capacity 50%, so if a hospital had a 100-bed capacity, now they had a 150-bed capacity and it stuck at that very high level on that plateau.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:44)
That was day after day after day, people who were at their max and had given it all, and then the next day it’s the same thing all over again. But they did it. They got us through the plateau, and now they’re getting us down the other side. We just pray to God that it remains down on the other side. So there’s been a lot of pain and a lot of anguish for a lot of people. But the skill, the courage and the love of our healthcare workers, of our first responders, of our police, of our essential workers, they have really gotten us through all of this. We also want to thank our neighbors. 95,000 medical professionals who agreed to help in this state and outside of this state who said they would come and help us. I want to thank the other states and communities who we put out a call for help, and we got help from all across the country.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:46)
It reminds me in that post 9/11 time when we needed help and other communities in the Northeast needed help, and people came from all across the nation and they just wanted to help. They just showed up. That’s what happened here. That, when I talk about seeing the best and the worst of people at a time of crisis, that outpouring of generosity, I’m sure you felt the same, gave us such a sense of confidence that we’re not in it alone. Humanity and the love of the American people was there for us. I said, “We need your help today.” But New Yorkers also never forget, and thank you for the help. And we will be there when you need us, and we will be there when anyone needs us.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:37)
Right now our neighbors in Massachusetts are looking at an increase in cases. I spoke to Governor Charlie Baker yesterday. They may need 400 ventilators, and we know how important ventilators are. If their numbers keep going up and if they have to scramble, and I said, “You were there for us and we’re going to be there for you.” If they need 400 ventilators, we’ve already identified them, and we will bring them over on 24 hours’ notice. We wish them well, and anything they need we’re going to be there.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:10)
So the recent news is good. We are on the other side of the plateau, and the numbers are coming down. But that’s good news only compared to the terrible news that we were living with, which is that constant increase. Remember, you still have 1300 people who walked into the hospitals yesterday testing positive. So it’s no time to get cocky, and it’s no time to get arrogant. We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way. We have been playing catch-up from day one in this situation. So it is no time to relax, and this is only halftime in this entire situation. We showed that we can control the beast and when you close down, you can actually slow that infection rate, but it’s only halftime. We still have to make sure that we keep that beast under control, we keep that infection rate down, we keep that hospitalization rate down as we now all get very eager to get on with life and move on.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:27)
So it’s not over. And we have a whole second phase. In this second phase, first do no harm. Don’t jeopardize what you’ve already accomplished by seeing that infection rate increase. We have to be smarter, especially when it comes to the new frontier of testing and how we test and how aggressively and how we get that organized.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:54)
Then when we talk about rebuilding, we have to talk about not just rebuilding, but let’s learn from this horrific experience, and let’s take these lessons forward and how do we build the back better than before. I don’t want to have gone all through this and then just say we are reopening. No, no, no. We have to open for a better future than we have ever had, and we have to learn from this. As we go through this, remember, I know people are eager to get on with life. We have slowed the infection rate down to 0.9%. 0.9% means one person infects 0.9% of a person. Less than one. That means the virus is slowing. If one person is infecting 1.2 people, the virus is increasing, and is an epidemic and an outbreak and is out of control.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:53)
So we have a very small margin of error here as we navigate going forward. Any plan that is going to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data and that means it has to be based on testing. And this is a new world for all of us. Testing. How do you get testing up to scale? How do you get it up to scale quickly? How do you find out where we really are right now in terms of this virus? You have all these scientists and all these experts who are basically trying to extrapolate from the data, but we don’t really know. How many people were infected? How many people had coronavirus but self resolved? We don’t really know because we haven’t been able to do testing on that large a scale.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:45)
But we’re going to start, and we’re going to start here in the state of New York with antibody testing. Antibody testing means you test a person to find out if they have the antibodies, which they would have if they were infected with the coronavirus. We’re going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation where we’re going to sample people in this state, thousands of people in this state, across the state to find out if they have the antibodies. That will tell us for the first time what percent of the population actually has had the coronavirus and is now, at least short-term, immune to the virus. This will be the first true snapshot of what we’re really dealing with, and we’re going to be doing that over the next week. The New York State Department of Health will be running that.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:39)
There’s also another set of tests which are called diagnostic testing. Diagnostic testing is whether a person is positive or negative. We’re coming up to scale on this, even though it is very, very hard. Northwell is leading the parade on this, and I just looked at some of the technology they’re bringing in. All these different manufacturers who make different machines to run-
Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
[inaudible 00:15:00] all these different manufacturers who made different machines to run different tests. And there’s a number of big manufacturers, and Northwell is bringing in as many as they can, but this has to be brought to scale. Nobody has done testing at this level ever. And we have to do this in partnership with the Federal Government because there’s all sorts of logistical questions and supply chain questions and people can’t get certain chemicals they need to do tests and the chemicals are made in other countries. So we have to do this with the Federal Government.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:34)
I spoke to the head of the CDC yesterday and he was very smart and very informed and we talked about how we can do this together. Talk about being smart, the Federal Government is talking about passing another piece of legislation which would help in the reopening, and they want to help small businesses and that’s great. They also have to help state governments and local governments, which have not been supported in the previous legislation. Everyone is saying, “Well, it’s up to the States to come up with a reopening plan. It’s up to the governors, up to the governors.”
Andrew Cuomo: (16:11)
Fine, and that’s true and right and legal, but the governors in the States have to have resources and yes, you have to help small businesses, you have to help the airlines, you have to help all these private sector interests as well as citizens. But if you don’t help the state government and local government, then how are we supposed to have the finances to reopen? And if you don’t give state and local government support … we’re the ones who support the schools, we support the police, we support the fire, we support the hospital workers, we support the transit workers. So if you starve state and local government, all that means is we have to turn around and reduce funding to the people who we are funding.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:55)
If we don’t get Federal assistance, you’re looking at education cuts of close to 50% in the State of New York, where school districts would only get half of the aid they got from the State last year. You’re talking about cuts to hospitals from the State. I mean, how ludicrous would it be to now cut hospital funding from state governments? So the governors, bipartisan Democrat and Republican in this crazy political environment when you can’t get Democrats and Republicans to agree on anything, all the governors agree and have said to Washington, make sure you fund the states in any next bill you pass and we asked for $500 billion, again on a nonpartisan basis.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:51)
We also must remember as we go forward what we have done so well thus far, the mutuality and discipline that we have shown. I have many school districts in the State, over 700 school districts, they’re calling saying they want to open up their local schools, they want to make these decisions. Local officials are calling. We have beaches, we have parks, we have businesses. We want to make decisions. I understand the pressure that the local school districts are under. I understand the pressure that the local officials are under. I understand the mounting political pressure. People see those numbers come down. They are like, “Okay, let’s go. Let me get out of my house.”
Andrew Cuomo: (18:38)
I get it, but we have to stay smart and we have to stay united. Now is no time, as I said, to get arrogant. We’re working with our regional States, our partners, New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera, the surrounding States. We’re coordinating with them and we have to continue to do that. The weather’s getting warmer, the numbers are coming down, cabin fever is getting worse. I believe that’s going to be a documented disease when this is over, cabin fever. But we have to stay smart and we have to stay coordinated.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:16)
We’ve been working with the New Jersey and Connecticut because whatever one state does affects other states, right? You live in Nashua, you live in Suffolk, you live in New York City, you can get in your car and be in New Jersey, you can be in Connecticut in a matter of minutes. So it’s very important to plan accordingly. It’s not that we can be on the same page on everything, but at least let’s know what each other is doing. So, for example, on state parks, we’re coordinating what our policies are because you could see people go from one state to another. I was in Albany yesterday, talked to a couple who drove up from Queens for Thai food to Albany, and I said, “You came up for Thai food from Queens?” You know, it’s a two and a half hour ride. And they said, “Yeah, we had to get out of the house.” I said, “Just for Thai food? You know, Queens, they have Thai food also. Very good Thai food. I’m from Queens.”
Andrew Cuomo: (20:19)
But it just shows how people need to get out and do something. So we get it. New York State Parks are open, New Jersey, they’re closed, Connecticut, they’re open. New York, our beaches are closed. In New Jersey, the State beaches are closed, some of the local beaches are open. Connecticut, they’re open. Connecticut marinas are open and New Jersey and New York also. So staying coordinated with our partners is very important and it’s important within the State also.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:55)
I get the political pressure that everybody is under, I get the political pressure that local officials are under. But we have to be smart and we have to be coordinated. People have to have the best government from government officials in the State of New York. Government matters today in a way it has not mattered in decades and it’s important that government sends the right signal and one message and there’s no confusion because if people don’t have confidence in government right now, if they think this chaos or confusion or politics … that would be a terrible message to send. We’ve done a great job as government officials, all of us, Democrat, Republican, state, local. We have to keep doing it and now is not the time to send mixed messages.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:52)
And also on a very parochial level, I get that and the conversations I’ve had, people feel political pressure. Here’s the simple answer. The State’s emergency powers now govern in this emergency. Blame me, blame me. Somebody’s complaining about a beach, somebody’s complaining about whatever, businesses open, schools open? Blame me. It’s true. It’s right. It’s the State law and I don’t have any issue with that. So blame me.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:33)
Also as we’re planning the reopening, let’s set the bar a little higher, and let’s all start to think about this now. What did we learn during this? Personally what did we learn? Socially what did we learn? Collectively what did we learn? And how do we incorporate that into our reopening, right? How do we have a better healthcare system when we reopen? How do we have a better transportation system? Better telecommuting? A smarter telemedicine program? Better technology in education? How do we have more social equity?
Andrew Cuomo: (23:12)
You can see the disparate effect of this disease and how it reinforced the disparity and inequity in society. How do we remedy that and how are we more cohesive as a community for having gone through this, right? So it’s not just reopen, it’s not just build it back. It’s advance. Use this as a moment in time where they look back when they write the history books and they say, “Boy, they went through a terrible time, but they actually learned from it and they improved from it and they moved forward.”
Andrew Cuomo: (23:48)
We had 9/11. Yes, we built back. We built back different. We built back smarter. We had Hurricane Sandy, devastated long Island. I was Governor, I didn’t say we want to replace. I said we’re going to learn how to do a new grid system. We’re going to learn how to do better infrastructure and we did. Long Island today is better for having gone through Hurricane Sandy, as terrible as that was. We have to do the same thing here. How do we come back even better?
Andrew Cuomo: (24:20)
So the long and the short of it is thank you to all New Yorkers for all the good work. To our healthcare workers. A special thank you to the police, to fire, to the transit workers. You know the economy has not been closed down, right? All the essential services have still been functioning. You still could go to a grocery store and get food. Lord knows you could go to a health care institution and get health care. The transportation worked, the buses worked. All these people who kept everything working, we thank them from the bottom of my heart, our hearts.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:59)
But also remember we still have more to do and New Yorkers know that because New Yorkers are tough, but tough doesn’t mean just tough. Tough is easy. It’s tough, but smart, but discipline, but unified and, but loving and that’s who we are as New Yorkers.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:21)
Last point, on a personal point, I have my daughter Mariah who is with me and she is the third daughter for me and she just came home if you will. She was quarantined. So now I have all three daughters with me and they can’t appreciate this, but it’s such a comfort to me personally to have them home. You know when your child is not at home, especially at a difficult time like this, you’re always wondering where are they? Are they okay? Are they doing what’s right? And every instinct is you want to be able to protect them. And when they’re not there, you have this constant hole in your heart, right, and this constant question as you’re going through the day. So you’re trying to do everything that you have to do, but you still have this question in the back of your mind, “Where’s Mariah? How’s she?”
Andrew Cuomo: (26:15)
So that they are now all three with me gives me a great sense of comfort and in this crazy situation we’re in, but for the craziness, I would never have my three daughters with me again. You know, they’re 25, 25, 22 years old. The last thing they want to do is hang out with pop, right? They have places to go, people to see. They’re taking life by the horns. So I get this beautiful silver lining in the midst of this hell where my daughters are with me again and we get to celebrate family and we get to bring back traditions and we get to enjoy each other and have really in-depth conversations that we even haven’t had in years, right? And reconnect in a way we haven’t had the opportunity in years.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:11)
Today is Sunday and I come from an Italian American household where we had a great tradition on Sundays that a family had to come together at the table. You had to be there. They called it dinner, but it started at two o’clock in the afternoon. It was somewhere in there. I don’t really know why they called it dinner, but everybody was at the table. Spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. I started my tomato sauce before I left. We’re going to go back, we’re going to sit at the table, have our spaghetti and meatballs on Sunday and I know what I’m going to talk to them about. My daughters Mariah, and Mariah brought her boyfriend, who’s also here. The boyfriend is very nice and we like the boyfriend. Advice to fathers, the answer on, “What do you think of the boyfriend,” is always, “I like the boyfriend.” Always because there’s only two options. Either you like the boyfriend, in which case you say, “I like the boyfriend.” Or you don’t like the boyfriend, but you can never say you don’t like the boyfriend. I learned this lesson the hard way. Otherwise it triggers NDS, NDS is natural defiance syndrome. It’s a not documented, but it is a psychological condition where if you say as a father, “I don’t like him,” natural defiance syndrome kicks in and then they like the boyfriend more because he is opposed by the father. So the answer has to be, “I like the boyfriend.” In this case, I actually like the boyfriend, but even if you don’t like the boyfriend, the answer can only be that, “I like the boyfriend.”
Andrew Cuomo: (28:56)
But we’re going to be at dinner with the boyfriend and we’re going to have our spaghetti and our meatballs. They won’t eat the spaghetti and the meatballs because when I cook it, they just won’t eat it, but they move it around the dish and that’s all I can ask.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:13)
But I’m going to tell them, going to recall to them how important that meal was on Sundays, to have the family together, to take the time to sit and to talk and to reconnect. People talk about the Italians and they love the food. Yeah, they love the food, but the food was just a magnet to get the family to the table, right? It was just the device to get people to spend two hours at the table, and that’s where you talked and you went through the week. And I used to do it at my grandfather’s house. My father, mother, my kids, all the siblings would go to my grandfather’s house. My grandfather’s name was Andrea. I’m named for him Andrew. And at the end of the meal, my grandfather would always say, he was at the head of the-
Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
My grandfather would always say, he was at the head of the table and he would say, “Okay, that was my vacation.” And then he would get up and they would do whatever they were doing. I never really understood what he meant. And later in life I said to my father, who was his son, I said, “What did grandpa mean, that was my vacation.” He said, “Well, your grandfather never had a day off. Your grandfather worked seven days a week.” He ran a little grocery store, delicatessen in Jamaica, and he worked seven days a week. And he was saying that was his vacation. He never took a vacation. And everybody would take a vacation on TV and the TV commercials. That was his vacation. The three hours at the table for dinner with his family, that was his vacation. And then he would go back to run the store.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:52)
You think of how our immigrants work in this country, and wherever the immigrants are from, what that whole immigrant philosophy and drive does for us. And I’ll end where I started. You think of all the essential workers, “Well, we had to stay at home. I’m tired of staying at home.” Yeah. Think of all the people, all of the essential workers who had to go out there every day and work in the middle of this, who frankly would’ve much rather stay home. And they didn’t know what the virus was. And they’re out there working with the public, exposing themselves.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:40)
Why do we have a higher rate of infection among African Americans, Latinos, et cetera? Well, who were the essential workers? We have a higher rate of infection among the essential workers because they were out there driving the buses, and they were out there driving the trains, and they were out there running the hospitals and the emergency rooms, and the nurses and the police officers. They didn’t get to stay home. And they got sicker and they died more than anyone else, because they were there honoring their responsibility to their job and to public service.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:23)
And let’s remember that. And let’s remember them. Yeah, we’re all going through a tough time and it is a tough time, but a lot of people have shown a lot of courage and a lot of beauty, and they’ve had very tough lives and let’s appreciate them at the same time.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:39)
Any questions for myself or Michael Dowling or Melissa DeRosa? No questions for Mariah Kennedy Cuomo because that would be trouble. I’m just kidding.
Speaker 1: (32:49)
Good morning Governor, or afternoon Governor. The COVID tracker on the Health Department’s website seems to be a few days behind. I wonder if you have any idea of why that and if it has, do you have concerns over the nursing homes?
Andrew Cuomo: (32:59)
Speaker 1: (32:59)
The Health Department’s COVID tracker online.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:11)
I don’t know why the COVID tracker would not be up to date. That’s the first I’ve heard it, but I will check. It should be up to date because the numbers I just gave you are the up-to-date numbers. So I can check why they don’t have that on their website.
Speaker 2: (33:27)
You mentioned about the antibody testing rolling out over the next week. I’m wondering if you have a more concrete sense of when you plan to start and what’s the status the requests for the FDA to approve them for testing?
Andrew Cuomo: (33:43)
The FDA has approved the state’s antibody test. That’s what we’re going to be rolling out this week. Now that we have the approved test, we’re going to be rolling it out to do the largest survey of any state population that has been done. And we’ll take thousands of tests, antibody tests over this next week all across the state to give us a real snapshot, a real baseline of exactly how many people were infected by coronavirus and have the antibodies. So we’ll have the first real statistical number on exactly where we are as a population. And you know, they talk about herd immunity, we talk about infection rate, and we’re all trying to extrapolate from that.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:36)
But we have not had hard data on where we are. And that’s just one of the testing, right? Diagnostic testing is are you positive or negative? How do you do that fast? How do you do that large? Antibody testing tells you if you had the virus and are past it.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:54)
And this whole world of testing is complicated, is going through Northwell. All these different manufacturers make a very big expensive machine and then each manufacturer has their own test, and you have to buy that test from that manufacturer. And then you have to buy the chemicals that go with that test. Northwell must have seven, 10 different machines from different manufacturers that are all running different tests. And each one of those tests, they’re all for COVID, but you have to go back to that manufacturer and get all the new supplies to run the tests. And that is what gets very complicated.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:41)
And I go back and forth with the federal government on this. We have to figure it out. The states can do the tests, but when I go back to the manufacturers, they will say, “I can’t find the reagents, the chemicals that are used in the test.” “Well, how do you get more reagents?” “I have to get them from China. I have to get them from this country. I have to get them from this country.”
Andrew Cuomo: (36:06)
I can’t help them do that. I can’t do an international supply chain and that’s where the federal government has to help because no state can do that. The same manufacturers who are selling to me, to New York, they’re selling to Chicago, to California, to all these other states, so everyone has to do their part. I know it’s hard and I know it’s complex, but everything we’re doing here is hard and everything is complex.
Speaker 3: (36:36)
Governor, what’s at stake in terms of getting this decision wrong with reopening America? You’ve got people on the streets and cities across the country saying coronavirus is a scam. You’ve got the President tweeting out to liberate states. What’s your experience here in New York showing you? What would you say about that?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:57)
I’ll respond to your question. I’m going to ask Michael to follow up afterwards on the testing and the machines we saw and how that works.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:06)
Look, nobody can say. Well, anyone can say anything. God bless America as my grandfather would say. God bless America, first amendment. Anyone can say anything. So yeah, anyone can say anything, right? It’s conspiracy theories. Everybody has a theory. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, God rest his soul. Anyone can have an opinion. Anyone can have their own facts. Anyone can not have their own facts. Facts are facts, opinions, opinions. So yeah, some people say coronavirus is a hoax. Yeah. God bless America.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:38)
600 people died two days ago. 500 people. Those are real deaths. That’s real. That’s a fact. That’s a fact. Okay? 16,000 people in hospitals who test positive for coronavirus. That is a fact. I don’t care what you think or what your opinion is. That is a fact. So you can’t say it’s a hoax because that is a fact. Okay? So that’s a fact, and I’ll leave that at that.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:14)
People are anxious. They see the numbers coming down. You exhale a little bit, and they should exhale. Look, I was afraid. Nobody said that we can stop the growth of the virus. People said we think maybe you can, if you do socially distance and you close down and you do masks. But nobody said we know for sure. So my fear was always, we’ll do all this and the virus will still increase. That would have been a really bad place to be. You did everything you could, you closed everything down and the virus continued to spread. That would have been really frightening. That didn’t happen. We controlled the beast. We apexed, we plateaued, it’s coming down the other side. That is good news. Okay, so we exhale. We can control the beast. Yes, but the beast is still alive. We did not kill the beast. And the beast can rise up again. We know that. This is a temporary reduction in the virus rate. The virus rate is wholly dependent on what you do. You tell me what you do today, I’ll tell you the infection rate three days from now. You tell me what you do today as a society, I’ll tell you how many people are going to walk into a hospital three days from today. It is purely contingent on what we do.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:51)
Well, the numbers are down. We have to get out of the house, we have to get back to work, I need a paycheck. I get it. But you go back to where we were, infection rate will go up, that hospitalization rate will go right back up again.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:05)
So all this with a calibration. How do you start to reopen, start to increase activity, start to bring people out, make sure they socially distance, et cetera, make sure you’re doing it intelligently, so you start to reopen? But watch that hospitalization rate in that infection rate because if that starts going up again and you don’t immediately correct, or you make such a dramatic movement that the virus infection spreads, you could go right back to where you were in one week’s time.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:44)
And if we went through all of this and lost all of these people, and forced essential workers and hospital workers to do unbelievable tasks to get us through this crisis and we recreate the crisis, then shame on us. Michael, you want to speak about testing knowing that the machines and the reagents in the supply chain?
Michael Dowling: (41:09)
Yeah, as the Governor said, they just separate [inaudible 00:41:14] diagnostic testing, which is to demonstrate whether or not people are positive. And we’re continuing to do all of that testing, and we continue to expand our testing capabilities. Then you’ve got antibody testing, which is, I really had to recalibrate, get a lot of new machines, get a lot of new equipment. And we are now doing some of the antibody testing. We will over the next week, this is at Northwell alone. I can not comment about some of the cooperation with other systems. We will anticipate getting up to doing 10,000 antibody tests a day. Eventually, [inaudible 00:41:54] potentially getting 20,000 tests a day.
Michael Dowling: (41:58)
And we’re also working with all of the other health systems in the region, all the other big health systems. We collaborate. We have every other day meetings. All of the lab people from all of the various systems are getting together daily. In fact, I know they had discussions early this morning. And so all collaborating to make sure that we expand the capacity for antibody testing. And the anticipation is that we will be able to do hundreds of thousands of tests. And again what you bring the labs across the state.
Michael Dowling: (42:30)
It does mean that we have to keep one side of the lab working on diagnostic testing and another whole side of the lab developed for changing and building the capacity to develop the antibody testing. The goal is to do the maximum amount of testing as we possibly can because that’s the way that the economy can get to be reopened, and healthcare can get to be reopened. If you don’t do the testing, as the Governor said, and you make a too quick a move to open too quickly, then you can walk into the scenario the Governor just described. That will be one of the most dangerous things that could ever possibly do.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:05)
Thank you, Michael. Remember the context here. We have accomplished what no one thought could be accomplished. The top experts, the CDC, the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, they all had multiples of more infections projected and multiples of more deaths projected. CDC, Coronavirus White House Task Force, they were talking about 2 million people hospitalized in this country just a month ago. 2 million people. You know how many hospital beds we have in this country? 1 million. Their low estimate was for double the hospital capacity of the nation on like March 13th. That’s what the top experts were predicting. Here in New York State, McKinsey, Cornell, Columbia, the Gates funded operation, they all had multiples of what we did.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:12)
This is a great success story on everyone’s behalf. You know, if people weren’t so angry and frustrated right now, this has really been a great triumph. What the federal government did, what the states did, what the healthcare workers did, the way Americans responded and acted responsibly, it is better than any of the predictors. The President is right when he gets up there and says the models had many more people dying. President’s right. Or the experts said that. So this was heroic efforts that changed that curve. God bless America. But don’t-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
God bless America, but don’t under appreciate what you just did and don’t go backwards. That would be a real mistake.
I have a three parter. Basically weddings, funerals, and the president. So weddings, this push about [inaudible 00:45:24] clarify about clerks only being able to marry people now that you’re allowed to marry again. Secondly, efforts to alleviate bodies coming into funeral homes, and thirdly, just your faith and the president moving forward.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:40)
I’ve taken a lot of actions during this period of time. The action that probably is caused me the most amount of grief is what I said about marriages. Marriages, you can now do. You can get a marriage license online and we’ve authorized marriages online by any licensed or legal official who can perform a marriage.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:12)
So I said yesterday no one has any excuses anymore. Now it’s a simple yes or no, “Will you marry me?” Simple, yes or no. You lose all those possible excuses, “Well, I have to set a wedding date. I have to do this.” You can do it tomorrow. It’s all online. You can get your certificate, you can get your license, you can do it online, the judge can do it, any official can do it. So there’s no excuses anymore. Yes or no? Will you marry me?
Andrew Cuomo: (46:39)
I got all sorts of a bad ugly comments about that. Melissa, well I’ll ask her if she knows anything about funeral homes. Do I have faith in the president? Look what the federal government did working with states, as I just said, was a phenomenal accomplishment. We bent the curve, we flattened the curve. Government did it, people did it, but government facilitates people’s actions, right? We had a double the hospital capacity in New York state. That’s what all the experts said. President brought in the Army Corps of Engineers. They built a 2,500 beds at Javits that Michael and Northwell were operating, it was a phenomenal accomplishment. Close to a thousand people have gone through Javits. Luckily, we didn’t need the 2,500 beds, but all the projections said we did need it and more by the way.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:39)
So these were just extraordinary efforts and acts of mobilization and the federal government stepped up and was a great partner and I’m the first one to say it. We needed help and they were there, state and local governments were are fantastic. The hospital system was fantastic, New Yorkers were fantastic and that is an undeniable fact. Just to look at what they said was going to happen, CDC, Coronavirus Task Force, Cornell, McKinsey, all of them and they had a line up here and the actual line is down here.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:16)
What do you owe the variants to? Heroic efforts on behalf of people as facilitated by government, federal and state. So that was phase one. Now we have to go forward to phase two. Big challenge is going to be testing. It will not be done perfectly. We can’t bring it up to scale in this period of time, I will tell you that, but we can do better working together than working apart and that’s the federal state partnership. I will do my part as a governor. I know the other governors will do their part. Federal government is involved in testing. They had a whole presentation at the last presidential briefing. We have to work together and do the best we can and we will, and I have faith that we will because we have in the past. You know anything on funeral.
On the funeral homes, the governor signed an Executive Order to allow funeral directors who are either retired or from out of state to be able to be licensed immediately in New York to help with some of the backlogs. On the weddings, yesterday, the Executive Order that we did allowed clerks to perform the weddings remotely and today the governor is signing a new Executive Order to allow anybody who is licensed to be able to perform weddings, to be able to do it. So it won’t just be limited to clerks and on the website it’ll be updated by two o’clock today, the COVID website tracker.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:36)
I’m also licensed to perform weddings, so I am available for online services, special vows that I do. Did you know that?
I would have assumed it.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:48)
Let’s take one more question.
Just to follow up about the president and I have one other unrelated question. We heard during your press conference that he was right on ventilators and now he’s right on testing. Governors must step up and get the job done, we will be with you all the way. Did you speak with the president recently, today, yesterday about this and has there been any forward movement with getting more reagents for the diagnostic testing?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:18)
I haven’t had a conversation with the president in the past day about this, but we’ve had conversations about it and the president is right. He’s right. States have to do what they have to step up on testing and the federal government has to step up on testing. Federal government is involved in testing and they did a whole presentation at the president’s briefing on testing and what they’re doing on testing and what they’re doing on helping the supply chain, et cetera, and that’s great, and between the States working with the federal government, we will do the best job we can. What was the president’s tweet exactly? Just so I’m responding to the right [inaudible 00:51:00].
He said, ” Just like I was right on ventilators our country is now the King of ventilators. Other countries are calling, asking for help, we will. I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you all the way.”
Andrew Cuomo: (51:15)
We will be with you all the way. Great. States must do their part and the federal government must do its part. Perfect. That’s what’s called partnership. I agree.
And just as a followup on the testing. I know that initially there was some rationing of the diagnostic testing. What is it going to look like for the antibody testing? Who’s going to be getting those and who will be able to get the antibody testings once that gets wrapped up?
Andrew Cuomo: (51:41)
The antibody testing that we’re doing now, this week, is a random sample. So it’s not like testing where somebody can ask to be tested. It has to be a random sample that is conducted throughout the state. Thousands of people get tested so we know this percentage of the population had the antibodies. That is not a test where a person can call up and say, “I want to be tested,” or go to a place, that has to be done on a random sample basis.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:14)
In terms of the antibody testing being added to the diagnostic testing, we now have an antibody test that the state can perform. We can do about 2000 tests per day for the state. That’s about 14,000 per week. It sounds like a big number. It’s not that big a number in the total context of a state of 19 million people. Also, when you talk about testing, just to give it a relative proportionality, we have tested in this state more than any state in the United States. We have tested more than any country has tested on a per capita basis, so nobody is better at testing than we are. With all the testing we’ve done since this started? 500,000 tests. Wow, it’s a lot. Not really. It’s been a month and we did 500,000.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:19)
At that rate if this goes on for three months we would have tested 1.5 million people. We have 9 million people in the workforce. We have 19 million people in the population, so we have to increase that rate and that’s why the partnership with the federal government to get the reagents, et cetera, is so important and that the federal government provides the States with resources to do this.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:52)
You have the president saying 15 times, “It’s up to governors. It’s up to the governors. It’s up to the governors,” and then they’re going to pass a piece of legislation that gives you know what to states? Zero, zilch, nada, yantais whatever language you want to say it, nothing. Then how are the state supposed to do this?
Andrew Cuomo: (54:14)
Then you know what happens? I’ll tell you exactly what happens. The state now has about a $15 billion deficit, somewhere between $10 and $15 billion deficit. I don’t have any funding to do what I normally do. I normally fund schools. You’ll see a 50% cut in education. You’ll see a cut to hospitals in the midst of all of this. I give local governments aid. They pay the police officers, they pay the firefighters, they pay the bus drivers, public transit. Those are the essential functions that are now working. How can you not fund that? Well, we want to fund small business. Great, fund small business, fund the airlines fund whatever you want, but how do you not fund the state government that you know is in charge of reopening this entire nation, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:14)
So we have to be smart. I want to thank Michael Dowling again. I want to thank Northwell and all the people, not just for today’s hospitality, but more importantly, for all the beautiful work that they have done. Thank you very much.
Governor, are you [inaudible 00:55:29] taxes then [inaudible 00:55:31] Would you rather cut schools and hospital funding by 50% or raise taxes?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:35)
It’s in the budget already.
You have the ability to do rolling cuts. Does that include no more raise in taxes?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:49)
If the state budget adjusts to what the federal government does and the overall revenue. Thank you very much.
So do you see the overall revenue [inaudible 00:55:50].