Apr 20, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 20
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York held his daily coronavirus briefing on April 20. He said New York cases are slowing but the state is facing a “quagmire” of testing supply problems. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:13)
Good morning. Happy Monday. All devices off, by the way. To my far right, Dr. Jim Malatras. To my immediate right, real doctor, Dr. Howard Zucker. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To her left, Robert Mujica, the Budget Director. Calls himself doctor of the budget, he’s not a real doctor.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:38)
Today’s 51 days since the first case in New York, just for perspective so we know where we are. It’s 92 days since the first case came to the United States of America. It was in Seattle and in California. These are the hospitalization numbers for today. Tick down from yesterday, but a slight tick, statistically irrelevant. The question for us is are we past the apex? We have had a number of days that have seen a reduction and reductions across the board. Hospitals also say anecdotally that they have less patients in the emergency room. Which again, perspective, the emergency rooms were way over capacity. It was chaotic, it was hellish. And the emergency rooms are still at or over capacity, but it’s better than it was.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:47)
The total change in hospitalizations, you see that has been going down. The three day average of hospitalizations is going down. Number of intubations is down. Again, that is great news. Not down as much as yesterday, but down. A number of new people coming in the door with COVID diagnosis is again just about flat with yesterday. This was reporting over a weekend. Sometimes the weekend reporting can get a little funky because it’s Saturday and Sunday and they have less of a staff. The reporting may not be as accurate, but it’s basically flat. The question that we initially dealt with at the beginning of this, as the numbers were going up, the question was how long until we reached the top of the mountain, right? Every day it was the number’s higher, the number’s higher, the number’s higher, the numbers higher. Question was when do you get to the top? How high can it go? Then we get to the top. The top turns out not to be a peak, it turns out to be a plateau. And then we’re on the plateau and it’s basically flat. And then the question was how long are we going to be on this plateau? How long, how wide is the plateau?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:06)
The question now is, assuming we’re off the plateau and we’re seeing a descent, which the numbers would suggest we’re seeing a descent, the question is now how long is the descent and how steep is the descent? And nobody knows. Just the way nobody knew how long the ascent was, nobody can tell you how long the descent is. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out. The number’s coming down, but how fast does the number come down? And how fast does the number come down to where it becomes a low enough number that we have some confidence that we have a margin of error? Does it take two weeks for it to come down? Some projections say that. Does it take a month? Some projections say that. And again, the projections are nice, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on them and I don’t even have a farm. Worst news is the number of lives lost. That number’s still horrifically high. If you’re looking for the optimist’s view, it’s not as bad as it was, but 478 New Yorkers died yesterday from this terrible virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:26)
Everyone is anxious to reopen. Everyone is anxious to get back to work. So am I. Question is what does that mean? How do we do it? When do we do it? Nobody disagrees that we want to get out of this situation. Nobody. You don’t need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work and we have to get the economy going and we have to get out of our homes. Nobody. The question is going to become how, when, how fast, and what do we mean in terms of reopening? With reopening, I want to set the bar higher. Meaning the question shouldn’t be when do we reopen? And what do we reopen? The question should be, let’s use this situation, this crisis, this time to actually learn the lessons, value from the reflection, and let’s reimagine what we want society to be. And since we are going to have to go through all of this and it’s not going to be fast, let’s at least make this a moment that when we look back, we can say, “Wow, we went through hell, but look at all the lessons we learned then look at how much better we made this place from this incident, right?”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:54)
We went through 9/11, we’re hellish, what we had to rebuild. Yeah, but we were smart enough to say, “How do we build back better?” You look at downtown Manhattan now, it is better than it was before 9/11. You look at the security procedures that this nation has, we’re better than we were before 9/11. We had Superstorm Sandy here on Long Island. Terrible, terrible. Thousands of people’s homes gone. Long Island is better today for having gone through Superstorm Sandy. Okay, how do we use this situation and stop saying reopen, but reimagine and improve and build back better? And you can ask this question on any level. How do we have a better transportation system, a better housing system, better public safety system, better health system, better social equity, better use of technology? People who are working from home, a lot of them are saying, “You know what? I should’ve been doing this all along.” You have telemedicine that we’ve been very slow on. Why was everybody going to a doctor’s office all that time? Why didn’t you do it using technology? Why haven’t we been using more technology for education? Why haven’t we incorporated so many of these lessons? Well, because change is hard and people are slow. Now is the time to do it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:21)
And that’s what we’re doing in a multi-state regional coalition. And that’s very important because that is the smartest way to do it. On a more granular level, here in New York, we’re going to have a reimagined task force that focuses primarily on downstate New York, which has been the most effective area, and led by the state with those local elected officials. But let’s get the best housing experts, let’s get the best transportation experts, and let’s use this as a moment to really plan a change that we could normally never do unless you had this situation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:05)
In the meantime, do no harm. And this is my number one concern every day. Do no harm. Don’t let that infection rate go up. And that’s testing and that is watching the dial, right? We know what’s going to happen now. The weather is going to warm. People are a little more relaxed because they see the numbers coming down. And we know human behavior, right? They want to get out of the house, they want to be more active. And there’s a sanity quotient to this whole situation. There’s only so long you can say to people, “Stay in the house and lock the door,” right? They have to go out and do something and they will. They will come out with the warmer weather and we do have parks and there are recreation areas. It’s not even healthy to stay in the house all the time. But that is going to happen. That activity level is going to increase naturally.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:08)
When that activity level increases, you can very well see that infection rate spread. Infection rate is primarily a function of contact. You touch a surface and then I touch a surface. You cough and the droplets go on me. It’s contact. And that’s why places like New York City or anywhere you see a hotspot cluster, New Rochelle, it was about contact. People start coming out, they start moving around more, there will be more contact. That contact will increase the virus spread. Watch the dial, watch the virus contact spread. You’ll see it in the hospitalization rate. To the extent we’re doing testing, you’ll see it in the testing rate. But-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
Extent we’re doing testing. You’ll see it in the testing rate, but remember how thin our margin of error. We were at 1.2, 1.3, 1.4. That’s when the virus is a outbreak. One person is infecting more than one additional person. When you get the infection rate below one, theoretically the virus is slowing. We’re at 0.9. We are 0.9 to 1.2. That is a very fine margin of error. I don’t even know that it’s statistically relevant frankly, because all of these numbers are a little loose. But that’s what we have to watch and we will and we have to watch this until we have a medical treatment or we have a vaccine. That’s when this is really over.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:59)
In the meantime, I say again to my local government officials… I’m getting a lot of calls from a lot of supervisors, town elected officials, et cetera. They’re under increasing political pressure and they’re wanting to do things. The state rule is now everything is closed and the state rule is they can’t take in the action that is contrary to that, because coordination and discipline is now key. Beaches, public facilities, schools, parades, concerts, these would all be magnets for people. I work with our other states because frankly, if they open up a beach in Connecticut, you could see a flow of people from New York going to a beach in Connecticut if I don’t open our beaches. Or if they have a concert in New Jersey, people are cooped up here, you could see them get in a car and drive to New Jersey to a concert. By the way, if you drive to New Jersey to concerts anyway without COVID.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:06)
I told someone yesterday, I ran into a couple in Albany who said, “We’re from Queens.” They’re in a car eating out of styrofoam trays. They drove up from Queens to buy Thai food and Albany take out because they liked the Thai food restaurant in Albany. I said, “You drove from Queens to Albany to buy Thai food? Two and a half hours, three hours.” I said, “They have Thai restaurants in Queens.” All due respect to the Thai restaurants in Albany. They’re very, very good, but would you really drive three hours? They said, “We just had to get out of the house. We had to do something. So we like to take a drive.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:48)
Anything that Jersey, Connecticut, New York does can affect everyone else. Suffolk does something, Westchester does something, New York City does something, it affects everyone else. That is the reality. So everything is closed unless we say otherwise.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:09)
And the most important thing, I just had this conversation with a local official. Look, people need government to work. Government has to be smart and if it looks confused between the state and the county or the state and the town, that’s the wrong message for everyone. So let’s just be smart.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:32)
On testing and funding, those are the two areas that we’re looking to work with our federal partners. Testing is going to fund… is going to require everyone to work together. Federal and state, state and locals. By the way, we’re starting the largest antibody test ever done today in New York, the largest sample, but this has to be a multi-level government coordinative project, because we have to do this on an ongoing basis.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:06)
Also, on the funding issue, this is obviously a unique period in a lot of ways. We did a state budget in a way we’ve never done it before. Since our state didn’t have any revenues, the way we did the budget was we basically said it’s dependent on what we get from the federal government and the federal government that promised funding all along. We said whatever we get from the federal government will determine our state budget. Right? Because the state has a 15, 10 to $15 billion hole right now and that’s never been done before. It basically said, “I’ll tell you the state budget when I know the state budget and the state budget is going to be a function of whatever the federal government gives us.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:58)
The federal government has not funded states to date. The National Governors Association, bi-partisan, headed by a chairman, Governor Hogan, Republican. I’m the vice chairman. We have said with one voice, “You want the governors to do the job, we need to provide funding for state governments.” There is now another piece of legislation they’re talking about passing in Washington, and again, it doesn’t have state and local governments in it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:35)
But if this week we’re going to do a state forecast, if they exclude state government again, our state forecast will project without any federal funds… you can’t spend what you don’t have. If you would have do, allocate the shortfall relatively on a flat basis across need, you would be cutting schools 20%, local governments 20% and hospital 20%, and this is the worst time to do this.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:11)
Now, federal government has said from day one, don’t worry, we’re going to provide funding to the states. Yeah, don’t worry. But I’m worried because I’ve heard this over and over again and my job is very simple. I have one agenda. I have one purpose. I fight for New Yorkers. That is my job. I don’t have any side jobs. I don’t have any other places to go, people to see. That’s all I do. And I’m telling you, New Yorkers need funding for this budget because we can’t do it otherwise.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:52)
And look, Washington is saying what? We want to fund small business. Yeah, great. You should fund small businesses. And they want to fund financial services and large corporations and airlines and hotels. Yeah, that’s all great. Fund all those businesses. But at the same time, don’t forget teachers and police officers and firefighters and transit workers and healthcare workers and nursing home staff, because those are the people who I fund with the state budget and you shouldn’t make us choose between small businesses and large businesses and people who are on the front line doing the work day in and day out.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:38)
I would even go a step further and I would propose hazard pay for frontline workers. We all say, “Boy, they did a great job. The healthcare workers did a great job. The police, they’re heroes.” Yes, they are, but you know what? Thanks is nice, but also recognition of their efforts and their sacrifice is also appropriate. They are the ones that are carrying us through this crisis and this crisis is not over. And if you look at who they are and the equity and fairness of what has happened, I think any reasonable person would say, “We should right this wrong.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:25)
40% of the front line workers are people of color, 45% in public transit, 57% of the building workers, 40% of the healthcare workers. People of color are also disproportionately represented, represented in delivery services and childcare services. Right? The economy closed down. The economy did not close down. It closed down for those people who frankly have the luxury of staying at home. All those essential workers who to get up every morning to put food on the shelves and go to the hospitals to provide health care under extraordinary circumstances and the police officer who had to go out to keep you safe and the firefighter who still had to go out and fight the fire, those people worked and they went out there and they exposed themselves to the virus. 2/3 of those frontline workers are women. 1/3 come from low income households, so they’ve been doing this work. They’ve been stressed. They’re going home to a household, often had two wage earners. One of them is not now not working that they are living just on that one salary.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:38)
And after all of that we see the infection rate among African American and brown Americans higher proportionately than other groups. Why? Because they were out there exposing themselves. That’s why. And you can talk about health disparities, etc. But I believe all the studies are going to wind up saying “Yes. When you were home with your doors lock dealing with cabin fever, they were out there dealing with the coronavirus and that’s why they are more infected.” Pay them what they deserve. I would say hazard pay, give them a 50% bonus and I would do that now. Yes, airlines, also frontline workers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:27)
Also, we have a need and a responsibility to get the assistance we need to people in low income communities. NYCHA is public housing in the city of New York. High concentration of people in one place. Many people in a small lobby, many people in elevator, many people in hallways, a higher number of people in the apartment, just a higher occupancy. That’s where the virus spreads. We’re going to set up a test program in NYCHA where we’re going to have on site health services and testing in the New York City area with New York City Housing Authority projects, working with local officials. We’re doing it as a pilot program to see how it works. If it works well, we’ll go for further with it. We have, as you see, Congressman Meeks, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Attorney General Letitia James, Speaker Carl Heastie and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, who will be working on this and coordinating it and I thank them very much.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:44)
We’re also going to bring 500,000 cloth masks to a NYCHA. That is one mask for every person who is in public housing, and hand sanitizer, et cetera. Just so they have the necessary equipment they need to do the social distancing and protection.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:07)
A personal opinion, not a fact. Throw it in the pale. What we’re doing here… as a general rule, what we do determines our future, right? As smart as government is, as smart as people are, that’s how you shape your future. But this is cause and effect on steroids. What we do today will determine tomorrow and we’re not going to need to wait to read the history books. We make smart decisions, you will see smart outcomes in two weeks. We make bad decisions, you will see bad outcomes in two weeks. When they say the future is in our hands, the future is really in our hands and we’re going to get through this. We can control the beast. The beast will not destroy us. We can control the beast. Great news.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:13)
We have a lot of work to do to keep the beast under control and we have a lot of work to do to reopen. But we’re going to set the bar high and we’re going to reimagine and what we reopen will be better than what we had before. Build back better, build back better, BBB. And that’s what we’re going to do because we are New York tough. Tough isn’t just tough. Tough is smart. Tough is disciplined. Smart is united and smart is loving. Questions.
Speaker 1: (28:48)
When will New York released the number of COVID cases at nursing homes like California has done?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:54)
Dr. James: (28:55)
Just let me get… we updated our survey this past week and we’re sending to get that data in and as soon as that’s ready, we’ll post it.
Speaker 2: (29:04)
Governor, the president just tweeted that the testing is up to the states, not up to the federal government. Just a quick reaction on that. And also is the state capable of doing the type of testing it needs to be doing in order to not only identify who has the disease, but who has had the disease?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:20)
The president is right. The state’s testing is up to the states, which will implement the tests and logistically coordinate the tests. For example, in this state, I should make the determinations as to what labs participate in testing. We have about 300 labs in New York. It’s my job to coordinate those 300 labs. Which ones should do this? Which ones should not? How do I decide what labs work where? They’re regulated by the states, these labs. How many labs do I have work in Suffolk? How many labs where I have work in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
So how many labs do I have worked in Suffolk? How many labs where I have worked in Nassau? How many labs do I have worked in Buffalo? How many tests can I get done in total? How do I allocate those tests? How many antibody tests, different types of tests, antibody tests can I get from those labs? How do I allocate the antibody tests? That’s all within the state purview. So I think the president is right when he says the states should lead, and that’s the states leading. What the states will run into is when you talk to those labs, the 300 labs, they buy machines and equipment from national manufacturers. And those labs can only run as many tests as the national manufacturers provide them chemicals, reagents, and lab kits. The national manufacturers say they have supply chain issues. I’d like the federal government to help on those supply chain issues.
Speaker 3: (31:12)
So essentially it’s funding or is that-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:15)
No, it’s harder than funding. This is a quagmire because it’s not just funding. Because I’ve offered funding to the national manufacturers and I’ve said, I’ll pay. What do I have to pay to get the tests? The national manufacturers will say, “Well, it’s not that easy. I can’t get the chemicals. The chemicals come from China. I can’t make the vials fast enough. I can’t make the swabs fast enough.” So I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong with that national supply chain question. But that’s where the federal government could help. But should the states take the lead on the tests? Yes, that’s exactly right. But we need the volume and the volume is going to be determined by how well those national manufacturers provide the kits to the 300 labs in New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:13)
Once you take the test, this is all second function that we’re now talking about, which is you take the test, tracing. We have to talk through tracing because people don’t understand what tracing is. Tracing is then this function that we’ve never done before where you hire an army of people, thousands of people, to be investigators in essence, not a scary investigator, but an investigator who traces the contacts of every person who is positive. That’s an entire undertaking that no one has even imagined before.
Speaker 3: (32:51)
So ideally, would you like the federal government to use say the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of say supplies and things like that? And then also have the federal government hire this army of tracers? Is that what you’re asking for?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:03)
The tracers, I would argue, and just my personal opinion as the governor of New York, I would do the tracing as a state responsibility also. Some people think the federal government should help on tracers. I would say the state can do the tracing. And I’ll coordinate Buffalo tracers, Rochester tracers, Westchester, New York City tracers, Nassau, Suffolk. I think that’s too discreet an action for the federal government. Anything that is granular and specific to the specific details of a state, leave that to the state government. You’re in the federal government. I used to be in the federal government. Federal government, you’re painting a room with a roller. You can’t do corners with a roller. You can’t do trim and molding with a roller. Somebody has to come behind you with a brush and do the details. The state government has a brush. So federal government has a roller, I have a brush. Let the federal government do what they can. If it requires a brush, let the state government do it. The big question on the testing is that national manufacturer supply chain and getting that up to scale quickly. I’ll handle my 300 labs, but my 300 labs are now saying I can’t get the tests from the national manufacturer. And the way this happened, because nobody designed this before and it’s nobody’s fault. Right away, everybody wants to go to who’s to blame. Nobody’s to blame. The way the testing world worked was a national manufacturer made their machine, the Andrew Cuomo testing machine. I sold my machine to private labs and hospitals. My machine only operates if you have an Andrew Cuomo testing kit. It doesn’t work with the Howard Zucker testing kit. You have to buy from me. And now what’s happening is you call up and say, okay, I want to buy 1,000 kits. I say you normally only buy 100. I know, but now I want 1,000. I can’t get you 1,000. So even though you have the machine, as a national manufacturer, I have such an increased demand, I literally can’t produce it in time. And to unravel that supply chain issue and manufacturing issue, I think that’s the best way the federal government can help. Do you have a followup?
Speaker 3: (35:48)
I guess I’m just a little bit confused because are you asking the feds to step in and tell manufacturers or bring in different manufacturers to make this sort of equipment? And then you’re also asking for the federal government to pay for the tracers, but you’ll handle the kind of nuts and bolts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:04)
Oh, we didn’t get into payment of tracers. I don’t think there’s been any proposal where the feds pay. Do they? No. No one’s even talking about paying. The states right now pay for the tests and pay for the tracers. That’s why I say when they say the states governors go reopen, okay, I’ll do the test. By the way, I paid for the tests. I pay for the tracers. So it’s not about the money on this front. It’s about division of labor and responsibilities. And on the testing, I can’t solve for the national manufacturers not being able to produce the volume to sell to my state labs.
Speaker 4: (36:49)
Given the high number of deaths in nursing homes, on Friday, we saw a division between those that are nursing home residents that have passed away both in the home but then also, in the nursing homes that is, and also in the hospitals, but what is the state’s policy regarding admission or readmission to these nursing homes? Whether or not one of these people have tested for the virus. There was a state directive that said that people can not be denied readmission or admission. Just wondering what the state policy is right now, again, judging the high number of deaths that are coming out of these areas.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:25)
If you are tested positive for the virus, are you allowed to be admitted to a nursing home, is the question.
Speaker 4: (37:32)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:34)
It’s a good question. I don’t know.
Speaker 5: (37:36)
The policy is that if you are positive, you should be admitted back to a nursing home. The necessary precautions will be taken to protect the other residents there.
Speaker 4: (37:45)
Is that safe though and does staff have the capacity to treat those individuals? Is that the best place, again, judging how rapidly the virus spreads and also this is a very vulnerable population as you guys have expressed multiple times?
Speaker 5: (37:59)
And that’s why we’re working closely with the nursing home, both the leadership and the individuals who are working in the nursing home, to protect those individuals who are coming back who had COVID-19 and were brought back to the nursing home from where they came.
Speaker 4: (38:12)
What are you working on? What are there some of those [crosstalk 00:38:14]?
Speaker 5: (38:13)
All the issues of supplies, PPE, staffing, testing of other individuals. As I mentioned the other day, just monitoring to be sure that the necessary precautions are being taken.
Speaker 6: (38:23)
I wanted to ask about the hydroxychloroquine test results. Do you have them? Can you share what the results are?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:30)
The hospitals, those tests have been done by hospitals in New York. I think we had 20… How many hospitals?Over 20 hospitals were ministering hydroxychloroquine and doing a test. They are today, those hospitals are the send their results to the FDA. Who do they send them to?
Speaker 5: (38:56)
Down to the FDA and to the CDC.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:58)
FDA and CDC. And they should be sending the first traunch of results today.
Speaker 6: (39:03)
Will you be getting a copy of those results as well?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:07)
Department of Health gets a copy, but it’s really a study that’s being done for the federal government. So it goes to the FDA and CDC. Yes.
Speaker 7: (39:14)
Governor, I know you’ve been against a regional approach, but due to so many upstate hospitals laying off people right now, do you think there is a way to bring back elective surgeries, at least for upstate hospitals? And with so many, there’s different projections going on right now. You spoke earlier about a rolling wave, but there are some projections saying like Erie County for example, they’re not necessarily getting better and they’re projected to hit I think late June. Are you worried at all about rolling projection if there were to be a regional approach to reopening?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:42)
Yeah, two questions. Both good ones. Is there a rolling curve? Yeah, it’s an ocean. I see an ocean. They’re rolling curves. New York City had the first curve, and then they project higher curves in other states and other parts of our state. So Massachusetts is now coming up to a high point, and we’re working with them. Anything they need, we’re with them. God bless. Buffalo will have a later curve. Albany will have a later curve. And we are watching those curves in different parts of the state. And our strategy has always been we deploy to wherever the curve is highest. Massachusetts has a problem. We run to Massachusetts. Buffalo has a problem. We run to Buffalo. We run to Rochester. So whenever you get up towards that point, and the locality we’re working with to prepare for that high point.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:44)
Second question, on the elective surgeries, we stopped elective surgeries for all hospitals in the state. That was one of the ways we increased capacity. Now we’re at a point where some of the upstate hospitals have significant financial burdens because they’re not doing the elective surgery, which is one of the places where they make money frankly. And they’re saying, “We have lower vacancy. We don’t need those beds for New York city people or Buffalo people or anyone else. Why not let us start going back to elective surgery if we don’t need the capacity?”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:28)
That is a good question and we’re going to look at, we have been looking at that. It’s again a little question of balance in the valve and the dial. You let them go do elective surgery. They fill up the beds with elective surgery. Then what happens if you have a need for those beds because of the coronavirus and you don’t have the bed because someone is a doing some form of elective surgery? That’s the balance. That, we’re going to announce tomorrow a policy that we believe provides for that and has some variables that take the coronavirus rate in that region and compares it to the vacancy rate in that region and a potential for a high point in that region. And we’ll announce that tomorrow.
Speaker 8: (42:26)
Regarding unemployment insurance, I believe at the end of last week, and maybe this is a question for Melissa, I’m not sure, I think there were 275,000 unprocessed claims. Have you been able to make a dent in that, especially with people who are self employed?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:41)
Melissa. She has all the answers. Melissa. I have only question.
They’ve made a significant dent in that. They brought on over 3,100 people to work daily for the last four days. They brought that 275,000 applications down to just over 4,300 that are now outstanding. So that’s all been cleared. Those phone calls all happened. Those applications are closed. Now those applications get inputted and the controller starts to process the checks. So that backlog of people this week should see the money coming. About 78% of people choose to get their money through direct deposit. That happens within 48 hours of when the claim is finally processed, which again is happening this week. The applications and the phone calls getting done was one piece of that. This is now the second piece of it. And then others choose to get their money on debit card. That’s a longer process. That takes about a week to come in the mail. So if you can, I would encourage people to go the direct deposit route.
And the Department Of Labor announced this morning, there was this incredibly inefficient, frankly stupid process that the federal government laid out around pandemic unemployment insurance where if you were a gig worker, if you were self-employed, if you were a contractor, you had to apply for unemployment insurance, get denied and then go through the process, a second process of employing for pandemic unemployment insurance. And what the Department Of Labor came up with was a new form that was launched this morning where you can now fill out one application, put in all of the information, and the Department Of Labor determines if you are not able to get regular unemployment insurance, it will automatically put you into the pandemic unemployment insurance. So you don’t have to wait, get rejected, reapply. So that should hopefully streamline for those people who I know have been really struggling to get their money faster.
Speaker 8: (44:25)
In the meantime, I believe the total figure was 1.2 million last week. Has that increased?
It has, but we release those numbers weekly in accordance with the federal guidelines, so I can’t speak to that publicly until the end of the week.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:38)
Let’s do someone who didn’t ask a question.
Speaker 9: (44:43)
So a few weeks ago you had mentioned that the state department of health would be partnered with SUNY Albany in Northwell to research disparities with COVID related to the black and Latino community. When do we expect to see some of that research come to light, and has any of the [inaudible 00:45:00] emails today regarding NYCHA and doing testing there, is that…
… regarding [inaudible 00:45:00] and doing testing there. Is that born out of that research?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:05)
No, that’ll take a while. That is a smart academic project. That has a questionnaire that’s developed to get the right demographic data. You’re doing diagnostic testing, which is good, but with the questionnaire survey data to get the right demographics, and then you have to study that. That is not going to be done in time for any of these immediate policies. What we’re doing in public housing in New York City is just common sense. You look at the numbers. You know that the virus attacks in places of concentration, right? Which is why we have this issue in New York City in the first place. Where are the places of concentration in New York City? Public housing is one of the greatest places of concentration, and it’s one of the greatest places of health disparities in the first place, and we know the people in public housing often don’t have the resources to do a lot of these accommodations themselves, so they’ve always been the most vulnerable populations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:11)
You look at almost any emergency that happens in the nation, people in public housing always pay the highest price, it seems. When I was HUD secretary, one of the things HUD did was public housing across the country. I don’t care if it was a flood in the Midwest, a hurricane, an earthquake in Los Angeles, Hurricane Katrina. The people on the top of those buildings at Hurricane Katrina and in the stadium, those were people from public housing. Go ahead.
[crosstalk 00:01:43]. If the research is going to be taking a while to compile, what more could the state do to address the disparity in deaths between black, Latino, and …
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:52)
Well, we’re doing everything we can. This is my proposal on hazard pay, focusing on public housing, food banks, additional testing, doing everything we can.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:06)
Let’s do … Who didn’t ask a question? Go ahead.
Thanks. I have a couple questions on rate of infection and one on antibody testing. I asked you about this last week. I asked you if you had calculated the rate of infection for individual regions. My question is why aren’t you calculating the rate of infection for individual counties?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:29)
Yeah. You asked me last week, and it’s the same answer that I gave you last week. You need testing to do that. We don’t have enough testing where you can break out the sample to a county level, right? We’re taking the most aggressive survey in the nation right now. So we’ll have, let’s say, 2000 people statewide. With 2000 people, you can break down that sample a number of ways. You can look at sex, male, female. You can look at demographics, African-American, blah blah.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:04)
You can’t break it down to 62 counties, because the sample size would be so small that it statistically would not be representative. So you would need a tremendous sample size to be able to get it down to the county level, and, “Well, why don’t you do more tests?” Yeah, I know. We come right back to where we started. We have to get testing up to scale, and that’s this ongoing conversation with the states and the federal government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:44)
Let’s just not interrupt each other, if we can, and let people who didn’t ask a question ask a question. Go ahead.
So with all the issues surrounding testing, is it possible for you to come up … Do you even have a threshold of how many people you would want to see tested in each county? Do you have a goal?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:59)
A county? No. But also, policies are not going to really work on just the county level. You’ll never open businesses in just a county, because all you would do is overwhelm that county with everyone in the surrounding area. I think the most discreet jurisdiction you would get to is a region. Think the regional economic development council regions. Western New York is region, right? The North Country is a region.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:31)
That is an area where you could come up with a specific strategy, because you know the numbers in that region, and it’s just different than it is anywhere else. We can get testing information by region, and the more tests we get done in what they call the sample size, then when you break it down into demographics, you’ll have a higher number in that area, right? So if you only have 10 people in the North Country, you can’t do anything with 10 people in the sample. Well, if you had 50 people in the North Country in the sample, can you tell anything from 50 people? So you need a larger sample size, and that’s what we’re working towards, more testing. Go ahead.
Governor, last thing. You mentioned people have been coming upstate from other areas to get food and things like that. People are supposed to be staying at home. Do you need to take further action to prevent people from traveling to get food when we’re in the middle of a pandemic?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:39)
That’s the exact opposite of what you suggested I do last week, which is I was being too tough on keeping people home. Look, it’s a balance, and a certain amount of this is personal responsibility and civic responsibility and social conscience, frankly. I have been probably the most aggressive governor in the country on putting in regulations and precautions. I think I was justified, because we had a worse problem than anywhere else, and we had that concentration density to deal with and other issues. But I think where we are now is right.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:23)
I can’t mandate personal behavior. I never could. My strategy from day one, knowing that we were going to have to ask people to do things that no government has asked them to do maybe since World War I or World War II, that the only way I would actually get compliance, because I can sit up here and say whatever I want to say, and then New Yorkers are very good at saying, “Fine, but I’m not going to do it.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:00)
Excuse me a second. My strategy has been give them the facts, tell them why, why it’s in their best interest, why it’s an all of our best interests, and New Yorkers are smart. If they understand why, they’ll do it, and they have done it, by and large.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:18)
You’re right. Last week, some people were not happy about masks. Some people were not happy about staying home. But nobody’s happy about any of this. So it was never, “Are you happy?” I think they’ve gotten enough facts where they know we’re talking about their personal health. By the way, it’s not even a question of health. It’s a question of life and death. You’re irresponsible here, you’re reckless here, you could die, or you could get infected, come home, kiss your mother, and your mother dies. I mean, that’s what we’re talking about.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:49)
So I think they got it. I don’t think there’s anything more I can do. There will always be some people who say, “I deny everything.” I ran into a gentleman the other day. “There is no virus. It’s a hoax. It’s just a hoax. There’s no virus.” Okay, go talk to the 400 people’s families who died yesterday and tell me it’s a hoax. But some people, you just can’t do anything with.
Governor, can you just explain the state’s reasoning why it doesn’t release where people are incarcerated, staff, those facilities, why they don’t release where those cases are?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:25)
Why don’t we release cases of incarcerated people?
Yeah, state prisons, including their staff. Doc says it’s because of security reasons, but they haven’t really explained why.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:36)
What is the list that we would release, people of …
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:39)
List of infected people?
No, not people. Facilities where those infections are or counties or regions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:49)
Prison, the COVID cases per prison?
Per prison or county or region.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:54)
Or county or region. I don’t know. Does anyone know who’s working on …
Melissa DeRosa: (53:59)
I don’t know why they haven’t done that. I know we have that information. I get briefed on it daily. I’ll work with them after this, and to the extent that we can release the information, we’ll release information.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:08)
Who hasn’t asked a question? Go ahead.
Governor, what preparations are the made for if and when schools reopen? Will we see smaller class sizes, deep cleaning in the future?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:19)
Whole different exercise. Schools are closed. Schools are closed all across the state, period. There is no plan to reopen schools, period. Local school districts, I would not be surprised if you heard some local school districts say they plan to reopen. We have 700 school districts. By law, they cannot reopen, but some want to, so they may say, “We want to reopen.” If they want to reopen, they can’t reopen, because it violates the plan we have in place.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:58)
So no schools will reopen. If we make a decision to reopen schools, we then would need a whole plan on how to reopen a school, with the right public health standards, with disinfecting, with all the precautions, which is a major, major undertaking. So we’re not there yet.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:25)
Who didn’t ask a question? Sir?
Governor, can you explain your faith in contact tracing as part of this restart plan? That was obviously a big emphasis early on in New Rochelle, and that didn’t exactly prevent the current situation that we’re in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:37)
The New Rochelle contact … That’s a little bit of a non-sequitur. The contact tracing in New Rochelle didn’t prevent what situation?
Well, that was an emphasis of the state early on, was to try to track down who the lawyer had contact with and find those cases, but then we still had this massive outbreak that extended far beyond that. So if you’re trying to …
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:55)
Well, yeah. You also saw the cluster go … Right? That’s what contact tracing does. Once the outbreak happens, contact tracing is too late to stop the initial virus infection. But what contact tracing then does is it comes in. “Okay, you were tested positive. Who did you contact? These two people?” Contact those two people. Who did they contact? These two people. Okay. Test, test, test, test, test, test. Find the positive. Isolate.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:34)
It worked in New Rochelle. We did massive contact tracing after it broke loose. That’s how we found out about it. It broke loose. It was the hottest cluster in the nation. I mean, this was very early on. But then we came in with heavy contact tracing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:51)
However, the number of people you need to do contact tracing is tremendous, and no one has even scoped this out, right? So the first question is how many tests can you do? For every test you can do, you then need a contact tracer to come in and trace those contacts from that person. I’m saying we want to get up to the hundreds of thousands of tests. Well, if you’re doing hundreds of thousands of tests, how many contact tracers do you need? Nobody has near this capacity, logistical, management, operational.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (57:38)
So that has to all be started, and then you have to isolate those people. We’ve been doing isolation. We’re good on isolation, as good as you can be. But all of this is a place where no one has gone before. It’s management-intensive, operational-intensive. It’s also cost-intensive, which takes us back to cost. Who didn’t ask a question?
[crosstalk 00:58:04] antibody tests?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:08)
How are you guys randomly selecting people for antibody tests?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:11)
Randomly, hence random selection. [crosstalk 00:13:16]. It is a statistical model that statisticians drew up to come up with a representative sample. So if New York City is 60% of the population, then New York City is 60%. Buffalo is this percent. It’s a statistical model and then literally random. So you just have to find a way to be on a street corner or whatever and actually get random people.
[crosstalk 00:58:45] as you just said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:48)
Clearly, people are still allowed to come back in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:51)
Yes. Look, you should test in nursing homes, which we are doing.
Will there be more? Will there be more tests available?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:56)
There will be more. The question is how fast can you increase the volume of tests? Because the more tests, the better. That is the axiom. The more tests, the better. How do you get more? Go to the labs. Go to the national manufacturers. The higher, the better. Test nursing homes. Test schools. Test teachers. Test prison facilities. But you need the volume of tests. I have to go to work.
[crosstalk 00:59:28] of additional testing capacity.