Apr 22, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 22
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily coronavirus briefing on April 22. Read the full transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (06:15)
Good morning. Full crew today. Today’s day 53. It’s important just to get a sense of bearings. 53 days since we closed down New York, 53 days since this nightmare happened. It’s such a disorienting period, 53 days. Is it a long time or is it a short time? Well, if you look back compared to what other generations have gone through, other periods of crisis in this country, 53 days is nothing. We’ve dealt with really intense, terrible situations for a long time in the past, but it feels very long and it’s very stressful and that’s across the board. You have families that haven’t had a paycheck come in in a couple of months and meanwhile, the bills keep coming in. That’s tremendous economic anxiety and insecurity. And by the way, it’s exactly right. When do I go back to work? When do I get another paycheck? And that’s a pressure that people feel in the household.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:33)
Even the good part of it. Well, my family’s together. I have all my three girls, in my case, with me and that’s nice and that’s good news, but you put even the family together and you lock them up, cabin fever and everybody has their own stress that they’re dealing with and everyone’s trying to figure out their life and they’re all together in this intense period. Even that is stressful. I feel it in my own household. My daughters are getting tired of my jokes, believe it or not, how that can happen, I have no idea, but somehow they managed to do that.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:13)
You even have trouble now picking a movie at night because the rule is if you pick a bad movie, then you are on movie probation. You don’t get to pick the next movie. Everybody is on movie probation in my house now, so that’s a problem. Even the dog, Captain, is out of sorts and relating to stress. Maybe there’s too many people in the house and he’s having trouble adjusting. Captain doesn’t like the boyfriend. I said I liked the boyfriend, so it’s nothing that I said, but all sorts of tension that people are living with, real tension and then just the day to day stress.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:55)
So yes, it’s a terrible period of time. I get it, but we have to deal with it. And when you look at the reality of the situation, we are actually in a much better place. We’re not home, yet, but we’re in a better place. The really bad news would have been if we concluded that we couldn’t control the spread of the virus. That was a possibility. You looked at all those initial projections, how do you know that we could control the spread? We could’ve done all those closed down measures and it didn’t work and the spread continued. That would have been bad news.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:37)
We’re in a relatively good place. In downstate New York, the curve is on the descent. The question is now, how long is that descent? Is it a sudden drop off? Is it one week, two weeks, three weeks, six weeks? We don’t know. But, better to be going down than to be going up. Let’s keep that in mind and we are going down. How fast? We’ll find out, but we’re in a better place. Hospitalization numbers are coming down, intubations are coming down, number of new people going into the hospital every day is still troublingly high, but better than it was, but still problematic. Number of lives lost is still breathtakingly painful and the worst news that I have to deliver every day and the worst news that I’ve ever had to deal with as governor of New York, but at least, it’s not going up anymore and it seems to be on a gentle decline.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:59)
But make no mistake, this is a profound moment in history. Our actions are going to shape our future and you’re not going to have to wait for a 10 year analysis, a retrospective to find out how our actions affected our future. What we do today, you will see the results in three, four or five days. You tell me what the people of this state and this country do today, you will see the results in the number of hospitalizations in just a few days. We get reckless today, there are a lot of contacts today, unprotected contacts today, you’ll see that hospitalization rate go up three, four or five days from today. It is that simple and it’s that pressing that every decision we make is going to affect how we come out of this, how fast we come out of this. In this moment, more than any other, truth, not what you would like to see, what you hope to see, not emotions, truth and facts, truth and facts. That’s how we operate here in the state of New York. Truth and facts, give me the truth and give me the facts and that has to guide our actions. Period. We had a productive meeting at the White House yesterday, productive visit, everybody says productive visit. Very few people come out and say, unproductive visit. What does that mean, productive visit? To me, a productive visit means we spoke truth, we spoke facts, we made decisions, and we have a plan going forward and that was accomplished yesterday and I feel good about it personally because it’s what should have happened, the big issues on the table. In the political process, well, he said this, she said this, and you get into a he said, she said, or you get into a blame game, finger pointing, but the meeting was very productive and by the way, these are people in the White House who politically don’t like me. That’s the fact. You see the president’s tweets, he’s often tweeted very unkind things about me and my brother. Politically, we’ve had conflicts back and forth, but we’ve sat with him, we sat with his team and that was put aside because who really cares how I feel or how he feels, who cares? Get the job done. I don’t care if you like him or he likes you. We’re not setting up a possible marriage here. Just do the job. When you’re at war, you’re in a foxhole. Nobody says, well, do you like the person you’re in the foxhole with? Who cares? You protect the other person in the foxhole. Then you get out of the foxhole and you take the hill, charge up the hill, and that’s how we should be operating now. I don’t care what your politics are, I don’t care what you think about my politics. It doesn’t matter. We both have a job to do. Let’s do the job. And that was the spirit of the meeting yesterday and it was very productive on what were very contentious, unclear issues. It was very good.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:41)
The main issue was testing, which I’ll talk more about in a second, but we also talked about state funding. All the governors are united, Democrat and Republican, National Governor’s Association, every governor is saying the same thing. We have to have state funding. The states have a role basically in a deficit situation and we need funding from Washington. They’ve passed bills that help a lot of Americans, that’s great. Help small businesses, that’s great. But you have to help state governments because state governments fund the people that the federal government can’t fund. State and local governments, we’re funding police, we’re funding fire, we’re funding teachers, we’re funding schools. You can’t just ignore them. And when you don’t fund the states, then you’re saying to the states, well, you have to fund them and the states have already said in one united choir, we can’t, we can’t. We talked to the president about that. The president gets it, the president says he’s going to work very hard in the next piece of legislation. But I’ve been in Washington, I was there for eight years.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:49)
The Congress has to insist that this is in the legislation. And yes, they passed funding for small business and funding for testing and that’s good. That is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not enough either. And they don’t come back every day, the Congress. It’s hard to get them to come back and this was not the time for baby steps. This is when you should be taking bold action. The action is proportionate to the issue. And you haven’t had a problem that is any bigger than this that any of those senators or Congress people have ever dealt with. Well then your action should be proportionate and responsive to the problem and it wasn’t.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:38)
The president also agreed, which is a big deal for New York, to waive what’s called the state match for FEMA. Normally, a state has to pay 25% of the FEMA cost. That would be a cruel irony for New York and adding insult to injury. New York had the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country. Therefore, our cost of FEMA was the highest cost in the nation and therefore, New York should pay the highest amount. How ironically cruel would that be? You’re going to penalize us for having the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country and at the same time that Congress passed a piece of legislation not even funding the states. The president agreed to waive that and that is a very big deal. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars to the state of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:37)
But the big issue was testing and we’ve been talking about testing, tracing, and then isolating, and that is going to be the key going forward. That’s how you are educated and have some data points as you’re working your way through this reopening calibration. How does it work? You test the person, if the person
Andrew Cuomo: (18:03)
You test the person. If the person winds up positive, you then trace that person’s contacts, contact the tracee. You have to start with a large number of tests. And we set as a goal yesterday to double the number of state tests, to go from 20,000 on an average to 40,000. That is just about the maximum capacity for all of the laboratory machines in this state. Okay? We have private labs, about 300 of them, that we regulate. They have purchased machines over time. These are very expensive machines. If you took every machine we had and they had all the supplies they needed from the national manufacturers and you ran that machine seven days a week, 24 hours a day, how many tests could you do? About 40,000. So that’s if you put your foot to the floor, you brought the engine up to maximum RPM, up to the red line, you brought it up to 6,000, assuming the red line was 6,000. And you held it there seven days, 24 hours a day at red line, how many tests could you do? 40,000.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:21)
Now there’s a lot of buts and ifs in there. But the machine has to stay together for seven days, 24 hours a day. You have to have enough people feeding the machine. But that is our maximum potential. So where did we set the goal? At our maximum potential. Why? Because we need to. Well, it’s unrealistic. Might be a little unrealistic, but I’d rather set the bar high and try to get there and then whatever we get is what we get. But once you do all those tests, every positive, you have to go back and trace. And the tracing is a very big, big deal. Once you trace and you find more positives, then you isolate the positives. They’re under quarantine, they can’t go out, they can’t infect anybody else.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:15)
This entire operation has never been done before. So it’s intimidating. You’ve never heard the words testing, tracing, isolate before. No one has. We’ve just never done this. There were a few textbooks that spoke about it, but we’ve never done it and we’ve never done it anywhere near this scale. So it is an intimidating exercise. But I say, so what? Who cares that you have never done it? That’s really irrelevant. It’s what we have to do now, so figure out how to do it. Well, we have to put together a tracing army. Yes. Okay. We put together armies before. Never a tracing army, but we can put together people, we can organize, we can train, and we can do it. And yes, it’s a big deal, but it’s what we have to do and it’s what we will do.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:14)
We want to operate on a tri-state basis. Spoken to Governor Murphy in New Jersey who’s doing a great job and Governor Lamont in Connecticut who’s doing a great job and who have been very great neighbors to New York. It’s best to do this tracing on a tri-state area. Why? Because that’s how our society works. The virus doesn’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries. Well, I’m at the town of Brookhaven. I stop here. No, the virus doesn’t say that. The virus just spreads. And you look at the spread pattern of the virus, it is in a metropolitan area. So we’ll work together.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:59)
This is going to be a massive undertaking. Good news is Mayor Michael Bloomberg has volunteered to help us develop and implement the tracing program. Mayor Bloomberg was mayor of New York City, as you know, three terms. As governor, I worked with Mayor Bloomberg. He has then developed an organization, he works with mayors all across the world literally, and providing them guidance. He has tremendous insight both governmentally and from a private sector business perspective in this. Remember his company, Bloomberg, they went through the China, closed down, open up. They went through the European, closed down, open up. So he’s had quite a bit of experience in this area. It’s a very big undertaking and we thank him very much for taking it on because it is going to require a lot of attention, a lot of insight, a lot of experience, and a lot of resources. We’re also going to be partnering with Johns Hopkins and Vital Strategies in putting together that tracing operation.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:13)
It’ll be coordinated tri-state and downstate. Why downstate? Because again, downstate operates as one area. About 25%, 30% of the workforce that goes into New York City comes from outside of New York City. I have a house in Westchester. I work in New York City. Who’s supposed to trace me? Westchester or New York City? If I turn up positive, yeah, my residence is in Westchester County, but I work in New York City and I would have contacted many more people in New York City than I did in Westchester because that’s where, if I work in New York City, that’s where I’m contacting people. I live in Suffolk, but I work in New York City. I’m a police officer who has a house in Rockland, but I work in New York City. I’m a firefighter who lives in Rockland or Orange, but I work in New York City. I live in New Jersey, but I work in the city. I live in the city, but I work in Connecticut. Right? So all those interconnections, if you’re going to do these tracing operations, you can’t do it within just your own county because you’ll quickly run into people who are cross jurisdictional.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:33)
So understand that going in, blur the governmental jurisdictions because they don’t really make sense, put everybody together, work together. Harder done than said, but 100% right. There’s no doubt about that. We’re going to take the initial tracers that people have now. The state has about 225 today. Rockland is 40, Westchester’s 50, Nassau 60, New York City, 200. They’re going to work together. Mayor Bloomberg is going to start with that core, but we have to build on that because we will literally need thousands. SUNY and CUNY have 35,000 medical students that we’re going to draw from, but we have to put together a significant operation because the numbers get very big very quickly here.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:23)
Today’s also the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. When you look at many of the numbers that we’re finding and you look at the disparity between the African American community, Latino community that has a higher rate of infection than people in the white community, you start to ask why and you start to study those health disparities, you also find that in those areas where the coronavirus infection rate is higher, they tend to be minority areas. And by the way, those minority areas tend to be the places where we cited plants that pollute. The asthma rates, respiratory illnesses are three times higher among people in the African American community. Three times the asthma rate, the respiratory illness rate, they’re getting more coronavirus. They’re a higher percentage of essential workers. You see how these two factors come together and make a bad situation worse. Let’s learn from that. It’s one of the lessons that we have to learn and we have to go forward. And we will.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:42)
The positive messages is look how well we do when we actually focus and we make a decision and we say, “We have to do this.” If you had told me two months ago that I would be able to stand up before the people of the state and say, “By the way, we have to close down everything. Business is closed, everything closes. Everybody go into their home, close the door, lock it, don’t come out.” I would have said, “It’s not going to work. It’s not going to work. You’re not going to get 19 million New Yorkers. We’re just a defiant group of people, questioning everything. They’re not going to do it.” Well, maybe if you give them all the facts and they understand and they’ll do it. And we did. Look at the potential, look at the possibility of what you can actually do. Well then, can you really make a real difference on these issues that we’ve been fighting for decades, but we haven’t really made the progress we need to?Climate change, the environment. Yes, you can.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:41)
Last last point. My phone is ringing. I’m talking to many local officials. They feel political pressure to open. I understand. I said yesterday that we’re going to make decisions on a regional basis because just as the nation has different states in different positions, New York state has different regions in different positions. North country has one set of facts, facts. This is about truth and facts. North country has one set of facts. Western New York has a different set of facts. Capitol District has a different set of facts. Make decisions based on the facts and the facts are different than downstate New York and many areas. Also, make them on the facts and realize the consequence of what you could do opening one region but not other regions and how you could flood that one region and give them a host of problems they never anticipated. But make the decision on the facts. I get it.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:36)
Don’t make the decision based on political pressure. I’m not going to do that. I am not going to do that. This is a profound moment. We make a bad move, it’s going to set us back. And I get the political pressure and I get the political pressure that local officials are under. We can’t make a bad decision. I get the pressure, but we can’t make a bad decision. Frankly, this is no time to act stupidly, period. I don’t know how else to say it. And I’ve said it innumerable times to local officials on the phone. I get the pressure, I get the politics. We can’t make a bad decision and we can’t be stupid about it.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:22)
This is not going to be over anytime soon. I know people want out, I get it. I know people want to get back to work. I know people need a paycheck. I know this is unsustainable. I also know more people will die if we are not smart. I know that. I have to do that count every day of the number of people who passed away. We’re not going to have people lose their life because we acted imprudently. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that. And I’m not going to allow the state to do it. And I’m not going to have the obituary of this period be well, they felt political pressure, so they got nervous and they acted imprudently. That’s not who we are.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:18)
So I’ve said to them, “Look, if you look at any of the facts, the 1918 flu, they talking about it now, there can be waves to this, right?” You walk out into the ocean, you get hit with that first wave. Oh great, I’m done. The wave hit me, I’m still standing. Beware because there can be a second wave or there could be a third wave. So don’t be cocky just because you got hit by a wave and it didn’t knock you off your feet. There can be a second wave. And if you’re not ready for the second wave, that’s the wave that’s going to knock you down because you’re not ready for it. So that’s what I’m worried about.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:09)
And also to the local officials and local politicians, I have no problem with them blaming me. It’s a very simple answer. Say to everyone, whatever they say, “I agree with you. It’s the governor.” Because by the way, it is the governor. It is. These are state laws that are in effect, the local official can’t do anything about them anyway because they can’t contradict the state law. So it’s true. So the local official can say, “It’s the governor, blame him.” It’s true. And it will stop us from doing something that’s counterproductive. And it’ll also stop us from getting into a dispute between me and the local government where the net message will be to the people there’s disagreement or confusion among government. And this is not the time for confusion or disagreement among government. So the state laws govern. I get the local political pressure, blame the governor. It’s the truth. And the local laws can’t counteract state laws anyway.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:28)
And to this political pressure, this is a quote that I think people should take to heart. “When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then they ceased to be free.” Edith Hamilton, originally, Edward Gibbon in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. “When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then they ceased to be free.” We have a responsibility today to ourselves and to others. There is a codependency and a mutuality among people in society that is more clear and distinct than we have ever seen it. You sneeze, I get sick. You sneeze, I get sick. It is that close a connection. You have a responsibility to act prudently vis-a-vis other people because you’re not just putting your own life at risk, you’re risking my life and my children’s life and my parents’ life and you don’t have that right. You have to act responsibly. And to advocate for total irresponsibility, let’s all be irresponsible. No, not here. Not now. Any questions?
Governor, what is Michael Bloomberg going to be doing? Can you talk about how that’s going to dovetail with what the city-
Andrew Cuomo: (34:14)
Let’s try another new first in the new normal. We don’t need to speak over each other. I will answer your question. So let each person ask a question and then we’ll go onto the next.
Governor, talk to me specifically. Has Michael Bloomberg provided funding? Are you giving him the power to hire people? And Mayor de Blasio this morning talked about the city launching its own effort to do tracing and testing. How will the two things overlap?
Andrew Cuomo: (34:42)
They will all be coordinated, city’s effort will be coordinated, Nassau’s effort, Suffolk’s effort, Westchester’s effort. They will be hiring people independently. You have city employees that start with the number of employees, those will be Westchester employees, state employees, city employees. But it all has to be coordinated. There is no tracing that can work within one jurisdiction.
So Michael Bloomberg is leading some-
Andrew Cuomo: (35:10)
Yeah, let me just finish.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:11)
Yeah, let me just finish. You cannot trace someone within the boundaries of New York City because once the person goes outside of New York City, well now that would be a Westchester person, right? I live in Westchester. Take me. I lived in Westchester. I worked in New York City. New York City is going to trace me? How? I’m in Westchester. That’s a different county. You can’t trace me. Well, we’ll go trace people in Westchester. Oh no, no. Then Westchester’s going to say, “That’s my resident. Don’t come in here and trace my resident.” All right. Let’s forget the jurisdictional fight and the political local fight. We’ll coordinate everyone. This is a monumental undertaking. Who’s going to do it? We’re all going to do it. City, state, Nassau, Suffolk, Jersey, Connecticut.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:02)
Nassau, Suffolk, Jersey, Connecticut. Okay, how do we do it? I don’t know. We’ve never done it before. Michael Bloomberg will design the program, design the training. He’s going to make a financial contribution also, put together an organization that can help hire the people because we have to expand this number tenfold and get this all done like this. This has to happen. You don’t have months to plan and do this. You have weeks to get this up and running. Super ambitious undertaking and Mayor Bloomberg will help coordinate the entire effort. He’ll be working with this state. I’m working with the city and the Nassau and Suffolk and Jersey and Connecticut.
Speaker 2: (36:53)
How much money, do you think?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:57)
I don’t know what the financial contribution is. Does anybody know?
Speaker 3: (36:59)
It’s upwards of $10 million but what Mayor Bloomberg is doing is through the program at Johns Hopkins, which he funds very heavily their public health program, which is preeminent in the country. He’s helping us to design the programmatic operational and technological components of our contract tracing program. And they in partnership with us, are creating an online curriculum to train the tracers, to recruit them to interview, to perform the background checks and then we’re going to coordinate all of the counties and also with New Jersey and Connecticut.
Speaker 4: (37:28)
The state already has a quarter of a million people infected. Are you planning on contact tracing that cohort as well, a quarter million people that have already been diagnosed?
Andrew Cuomo: (37:37)
You will trace as many positives as you can and as the testing number goes up, that number of possible people to be traced is going up. The implication of your question is right. Won’t you be identifying more positive people than you could possibly ever trace? Yes, I believe that’s true. I don’t care how big an army you put together, you now have, let’s say take your number, 250,000 people tested positive. How do you start to trace 250,000 people? How many people do you need to trace 250,000 people? That’s why it’s an extraordinarily impossible task and you do the best you can.
Is that a good use of resources considering, I mean, the state itself is strapped. I mean $ 10 billion, $15 billion hole. Quarter million people exponentially, just look around this room and there’s 30 people in this room. If one of us were infected, the contact tracing on that, I mean it spirals out of control almost immediately.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:42)
Yeah. Look, contact tracing, life has options. Going forward, how do you educate yourself on reopening? Well, we need data. Where does the data come from? The data comes from testing. Now you have a hard database of hospitalizations. You can look at the hospitalizations and they will tell you how many people got sick enough to go into the hospital. That’s all it tells you. You don’t know how many people were infected. You don’t know what is happening on the infection rate spread. All you know is the hospitalization rate. Testing will give you first of all, more data on how fast the infection is spreading and how fast it’s spreading where. You’re going to get a very different number in New York City than you get in Buffalo than you get in the North Country, than you get in Albany. Okay, that’ll inform the regional re-openings.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:37)
And then what you’re trying to do to the extent possible, the whole concept of testing tracing isolation, not just here, but every state is talking about this. To the extent you can, when you find the positive person, trace it back and isolate. Well, if you wind up with a population, let’s say we wind up with a 10% infection rate in the state or in the city, that’s a million people in New York City infected. How could you possibly trace a million people? You can’t. You do the best you can. But for every person you isolate, Jesse, that’s one less person walking around infecting another 10 people.
But isn’t there an argument that it’s endemic already that, even if it’s just 10%, some estimates have said it might be 50 it might be 60. How much money could this possibly cost and where is that money going to come from?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:34)
Well, if it was 50, 60% you’d be at a different point. If you were at 50, 60 then you would be arguing with a called herd immunity. That would be … Don’t do any of this. That’s sort of Sweden and like Brazil. Just let it go and whoever gets infected, gets infected. Whoever dies, dies and at one point everybody, a critical mass of the population is infected and then whatever happens happens. It’s not going to be 50, 60 and that strategy, some countries have adopted, a lot of people die with that strategy, which is a downside. But it’s not going to be 50, 60 my guess is it’s going to be 10% about now, in the high infection areas. It’s a guess, but I would guess 10% downstate, single digits upstate.
Speaker 5: (41:32)
Governor, you never really get a better understanding of this virus than when you have a parent in the throws of the virus. I wanted to know what you were doing in terms of convalescent serum, maybe Dr. Zucker is better to answer this and monoclonal IL6. Is that something that state is using?
Andrew Cuomo: (41:56)
You’re right, Dr. Zucker is in a better position to answer.
Dr. Zucker: (42:00)
On the question about that the serum, we are working on this. There have been patients who have received this from within some of our hospital systems. The data, we’re still waiting to hear about the clinical results from that, so that’s moving forward. The more people that we have that end up positive and recover, the more serum will be available in the more information we’ll have on that part on the monoclonal antibodies, this Regeneron Corporation here in New York state has been looking at this issue and we’ve been speaking with them. There is data to suggest that the use of monoclonal antibodies may be beneficial based on how the monoclonal antibodies have been used for other conditions where they end up with this same kind of response where the what’s called cytokine storm, where their lungs are damaged as a result of infection. There may be a relationship here and we’re working closely with them on that.
Speaker 6: (42:53)
From personal experience, the oxygenation level went from the low 70 one day and overnight the mid nineties. I mean it was a dramatic turn of events.
Dr. Zucker: (43:05)
And that was part of it.
Speaker 6: (43:05)
Dr. Zucker: (43:05)
Right, the monoclonal antibodies.
Speaker 6: (43:10)
And it’s not in this state. I just want you to know, I’m not saying anything that’s what … But, you’ve shared a lot, Governor, so I thought I’d share.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:20)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 6: (43:20)
But I wanted to let you know that, is there a shortage of this monoclonal IL6? Is this something that still has to be developed? Is it readily available?
Dr. Zucker: (43:32)
Well, the IL6 receptor antibodies, there’s two different companies that have been working on it and that has been given to patients across the state who have this in already and the monoclonal antibody, there’s a specific therapy for that. That’s also in not really experimental, but it has been provided to those who are ill.
Speaker 7: (43:53)
Upstate tracing, are you interested at all on moving that upstate to also do tracing? Also you said there was going to be an announcement with nursing home inspections, possibly today?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:02)
Yes, we’re going to make the nursing home announcement tomorrow. It’s in the works though. We wanted to talk about this today. What was the first part of your … Tracing is going to be done statewide and testing has to be done statewide .testing those two things for you, remember, the rate of viral infection spread, so you have a calibration on the reopening. And second on the antibody testing, one of the upsides is you find people who have the antibodies so they can contribute for the convalescent plasma by donating their blood. Joseph.
Governor, you talked a lot about the real big businesses upstate, how about opening schools? It seems like in recent days you suggested that that’s becoming increasingly difficult. Is it unlikely that schools will open before fall?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:55)
When you say, my opinion, when you say you’re not going to open schools, you may as well say you’re not going to open businesses because the two are connected. I don’t know how you really open businesses without opening schools. You want me to go to work? Hallelujah. What do I do with my kids? The two, to me, are very connected. The school year is up in June, to say we’re not going to open businesses until June, I’m not there yet. I don’t think people are there yet. This is a situation that changes week to week, so let’s get the information week to week. Let’s get the data and then we’ll make a determination. Plus we’re trying to coordinate with Jersey, Connecticut, other states. Let’s get the data.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:51)
In the meantime, schools will not open until we say schools will open, statewide. Period. New paragraph. Opening schools is very difficult. I would not open a school unless we knew that the schools were disinfected, that they had a protocol going forward to disinfect the schools, that they had a protocol where there was going to be a certain amount of social distancing and protective personal behavior in the school. That is a very, very big undertaking job.
When you think about schools from a regional basis, can you do that regionally as well? You open some schools in some parts of the state where the infection rates are lower and then…
Andrew Cuomo: (46:38)
Theoretically could you? Yes. Could you say North Country schools are going to open with all those provisos? Yes, you could say that. You could say you can open North Country schools having nothing to do with Nassau schools and Westchester schools. Yes. They’re totally disconnected and you could argue that you could make those as isolated decisions.
Okay, so that would be part of this whole…
Andrew Cuomo: (47:02)
Yes. Yes sir. Yeah, because once you say we’re moving towards reopening, one of the first integral pieces is business and school and then transportation. You need those three gears to turn at the same time. You can’t turn the business gear, which is inter-meshed with the school gear, which is inter-meshed with the public transportation gear. You turn one gear, you have to turn all three gears. Karen.
Do you have an estimate on any update on the antibody testing that was taking place at grocery stores…
Andrew Cuomo: (47:40)
Few days, few days. How do you know it was taking place at grocery stores? Did they ask you? I can’t tell if you’re smiling behind the mask.
[inaudible 00:11:49]. So it’s going to be a few days?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:47)
How’s the process, what is an update on it?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:57)
It’s going very well. We’re taking surveys, random surveys all across the state, literally grocery stores, street corners, just to get random samples of people to take an antibody test. It’s going to be the largest study done in the country to find out basically how many people have been infected. Jesse said maybe 50, 60% of the population, that would take you to one place. If it’s 5, 10% it would take you to another place. What is it? What percent of the population has been infected? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. I think this. I think this. I think this. Yeah, it’s nice what you think. What’s the fact? Nobody knows the fact. Bernadette.
Governor, what is the state doing though to help nursing homes comply with that executive order saying that patients can not be denied readmission or admission to nursing homes? Because I’ve spoken to several different sources in that field who have said it’s difficult to keep staffing levels high and then also separate the COVID from the non COVID patients. What is the state doing to assist with those facilities and then also plan B if these facilities don’t have enough space to separate those patients?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:13)
Do you want to answer that doctor?
Dr. Zucker: (49:14)
So two parts to that. One is the issue of what we’re doing. As I had mentioned once before, we are working very closely with the leadership from the nursing homes, both to get more staff to help them out. Obviously, the supplies we are working very hard on that. We’re also looking at how they could help cohort patients a little bit better so that those who are positive are cohorted within the nursing home to address that. And the second part where you said?
What happens if they can’t? What if the space doesn’t allow? Is there a plan B, another space? Can they be moved somewhere else?
Dr. Zucker: (49:48)
We’re looking at that as well. You have to remember that one of the challenges a little bit with nursing home patients, those who are really elderly, you take them out of their environment, it’s very disruptive, so we’re trying to work to balance, both, maintain the environment that they’re comfortable with, but also provide the safety from the standpoint of public health and just general safety.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:06)
Bernadette, let’s just flip the equation for a second. Okay? The state doesn’t run a nursing home. Your questions sound like it’s the state runs the nursing home. The state does not run the nursing home. It is run by a private corporation. The Acme Corporation said you should bring your mother to the Acme Corporation. It’s the best nursing home in the world and they get paid for that service. The state regulates the nursing home, but it’s a private corporation, sometimes it’s not for profit, but basically the same thing. That gets paid for their service and they’re supposed to provide that service. That’s what they do. They take care of senior people, people with illnesses, et cetera. That’s what they get paid to do. We set a regulatory framework for them to do it. If they can’t do it, they should say, I can’t do it. I can’t take care of your mother. Don’t pay me. I can’t take care of your mother. I don’t have this space. I don’t have the staff. I can’t take care of your mother and then we’ll help you find another facility for your mother.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:18)
Because there were a lot of beds in nursing homes so we could find another nursing home for you, but they have to do the job they’re getting paid to do. And if they’re not doing the job they’re getting paid to do and they’re violating state regulations, then that’s a different issue. Then they should lose their license. That’s how this relationship works. The state is not going to come in and do their job for them. That would be a state run facility. That’s a prison. That’s a different situation where we run the facility, we don’t run these facilities.
Right, but the state’s saying that these nursing homes that as you said, are private, have to take back these COVID patients, so that’s a state mandate. How do you rectify those?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:04)
Well, it’s their patient. It’s their patient and their patient that they’re getting paid to take care of now contracts the COVID virus. Okay, now you have to take care of that patient who you’re getting paid to take care of with the COVID virus.
And what if they can’t? Wouldn’t they be noncompliant with state regulations?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:25)
Yeah, if you’re saying I can’t take care of my patients, then fine, then tell us you can’t take care of the patients and we’ll make other accommodations.
What’s the penalty for that if they can’t comply?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:37)
Well, if you can’t run your business, you can’t run your business. Penalty is your own. You’re out of business,
But if people are dying because again, the facility, it seems like a revolving door…
Andrew Cuomo: (52:47)
If you are not providing adequate care for your patients, then you’re violating your license.
What about providing hotel rooms? The city has put..
Andrew Cuomo: (52:56)
Yeah. Look, any nursing home that calls up and says, “I can’t do this,” we’ll make other accommodations.
Speaker 8: (53:04)
Andrew Cuomo: (53:05)
We’ll get there. We’ll get there.
Speaker 8: (53:05)
Do you have a timeline on when this contact tracing will be fully operational and any update on the timeline for the 40,000 tests and when you’ll meet that goal as well.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:13)
No, no timeline on either. The tracing will start, it’s actually starting now, but it has to be brought to a level that nobody even imagined before so that’s going to be an iterative incremental process. You’re starting now with what you have. We have about 500 tracers now, but build on that, hire more staff, more training. How do you do this cross-jurisdictional tracing? Which doesn’t happen now. The tracers have in the old framework of I do my city, I do my county. This is going to be all new and we’ll be ramping up. Tracing is going on. Tracing will be ramping up…
Andrew Cuomo: (54:02)
… going on. Tracing will be ramping up incrementally going forward. When do you stop ramping up? Maybe never. On the 40,000 testing, same thing. Testing is going on now. We’re doing more testing than any state in the United States. More testing per capita than any country on the globe. We’re doing a phenomenal amount of tests and we’ve ramped up faster than anybody else, and we’ll continue to ramp up. [crosstalk 00:54:34] Let’s just do everybody at once. Just go ahead.
Speaker 9: (54:37)
I have a couple questions for you and one for Melissa. I don’t know if you can hear, but there are protesters outside right now honking their horns and raising signs. We did speak to a few of them before we came in and these are regular people who are not getting a paycheck. Some of them are not getting their unemployment check, and they’re saying that they don’t have time to wait for all of this testing and they need to get back to work in order to feed their families. Their savings is running out. They don’t have another week. They’re not getting answers. Their point is the cure can’t be worse than the illness itself. What is your response to them?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:19)
The illness is death. What is worse than death?
Speaker 9: (55:23)
What if somebody commit suicide because they can’t pay their bills?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:27)
Yeah, but the illnesses may be my death as opposed to your death. You said they said “the cure is worse than the illness.” The illness is death. How can the cure be worse than the illness if the illness is potential death?
Speaker 9: (55:47)
But what if the economy failing-
Andrew Cuomo: (55:52)
Worse than death?
Speaker 9: (55:53)
… equals death [crosstalk 00:55:54] because of mental illness-
Andrew Cuomo: (55:56)
But it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t.
Speaker 9: (55:56)
… the people stuck at home.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:58)
No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t equal death. Economic hardship. Yes, very bad. Not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house. Very bad, not death. Domestic violence on the increase. Very bad, not death; and not death of someone else.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:26)
See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yeah, it’s your life. Do whatever you want, but you’re not responsible for my life. You have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you. You have responsibility to me, right? We started here saying, it’s not about me. It’s about we. Get your head around the we concept. It’s not all about you. It’s about me too. It’s about we.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:57)
Also, I get the economic hardship. Everybody gets it. Everybody feels it. The federal government is sending out a check for individuals, $600, an additional $1,200. We are moving heaven and earth to get the unemployment payments going. We get the economic anxiety. The question is, how do you respond to it and do you respond to it in a way that jeopardizes public health and possibly causes more people to die? And think about it as if it was your family that might get infected, right? And that’s what we’re talking about. And when you think about it as your family, you have a different perspective.
Andrew Cuomo: (57:48)
I’ll tell you the truth. It’s not an abstract argument where they say, he says, she says, he says, she says. I know that’s how it works. Well, the protestors say this. Governor says this. The protestors say this. The governor says this. Okay, think about it as your family might be in the mix. Because when I see 484 New Yorkers die, I feel that it’s like people in my family, and nothing comes before the public health risk of somebody else’s life, and that’s where we are.
Speaker 9: (58:27)
But they’re also saying, if you can’t afford to pay me unemployment or your system is not set up-
Andrew Cuomo: (58:35)
You will be paid. You will be paid unemployment from the day-
Speaker 9: (58:39)
But they can’t wait for the money. They’re out of money.
Andrew Cuomo: (58:41)
Yeah. We’re talking about a couple of days lag on the unemployment insurance, and they will get the check from the date of unemployment. It does that cost them an extra penny. Now, they can say unemployment insurance isn’t enough. I get it. Even with a $600 check and the $1,200 check and the unemployment insurance benefit is not enough. I understand the economic hardship. We all feel it. The question is what do you do about it, and do you put public health at risk, and do you drive up the number of deaths for it because you have no idea how to reopen now?
Speaker 9: (59:20)
They’re saying that, “Is there a fundamental right to work if the government can’t get me the money when I need it?” Is there a fundamental right to go to work?
Andrew Cuomo: (59:29)
By the way, do you want to go to work? Go take the job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow. Right, you’re working.
Speaker 9: (59:39)
Andrew Cuomo: (59:39)
You’re an essential worker. Go take the job as an essential worker.
Speaker 9: (59:42)
But the people are hiring because of the pandemic.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:47)
No, there are people hiring. You can get a job as an essential worker, so now you can go to work and you can be an essential worker and you’re not going to kill anyone.
Speaker 10: (59:54)
[crosstalk 00:59:54] job estimate of how many of the 250,000 people that have been traced and is the 10 million going to be enough? How much can the state afford for this, if anything? Will federal funding be needed?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:06)
There’s $1.3 billion available from the federal government for tracing.
Speaker 11: (01:00:11)
Speaker 10: (01:00:12)
Is there a rough estimate on how many-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:14)
$1.3 billion available from the federal government, which will help fund tracing for New York. Yes.
Speaker 10: (01:00:22)
Is there a rough estimate of how many of the 250,000 people have been traced? That have tested positive, have been traced?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:28)
Speaker 10: (01:00:28)
Speaker 11: (01:00:30)
Governor, you pointed out the nursing homes are private entities. We are hearing reports that many of the nursing home staff are not getting the proper PPE, and so the question is who has the onus of providing the PPE?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:45)
The ownership of the nursing facility? No, no, they’re not a state-run entity. That’s what I’m trying to say. I know there’s a thought a nursing home is run by the state. It’s a wrong thought, you know, facts. The private entity runs it. We regulate the private entity. If the private entity is not performing their duty as they should be, then the state takes the action versus the private entity. You can lose your license. You’ll be out of business. If you’re not providing your staff with the right equipment, you’re out of business. That we can do.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:20)
See, for the state, the question should be-
Speaker 11: (01:01:25)
[crosstalk 01:01:25] system in getting more PPE.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:25)
We have been helping them with more PPE. But again, it’s not our job. The question would be, why don’t we put that nursing home out of business, which is a fair question to the state. And if we have a nursing home that is violating, and that’s part of what we’re going to talk about tomorrow, then they should lose their license. If they can’t do the jobs-
Speaker 12: (01:01:46)
[crosstalk 01:01:46] What about hospitals? You gave PPE to hospitals.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:48)
Yeah, let’s do one person-
Speaker 13: (01:01:49)
Should families be at stake though putting their sick, loved ones into nursing homes? But also what about the people who’s family member are not sick? Like what if my grandma’s in a nursing home? She’s healthy but she’s old. She might have a preexisting condition, and the same facility that she’s living in is now accepting COVID patients and the facility doesn’t have the capacity to separate the two?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:13)
Speaker 13: (01:02:13)
What happens at the state policy?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:17)
[crosstalk 01:02:14]. There is no state policy on [crosstalk 00:08:19]. Yeah, but if the question is, should I put my mother in a nursing home, anyone who has read any of the facts or any newspaper article has to appreciate that this virus attacks people in nursing homes. It is ground zero.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:42)
Our introduction was in Seattle in a nursing home. The nursing homes are the top location with this predator feeds. It puts together vulnerable people in one location, right? When the lion is going across the plain looking for prey, here’s the prey: vulnerable people in one place, under one roof. That’s where the predator will attack, and has attacked, and will continue to attack. And the predator is insidious and very good at what it does.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:28)
And we’ve tried everything to keep it out of a nursing home, but it’s virtually impossible. I believe we can reduce the rate of infection in nursing homes. But once it gets in, it is vicious. That is a fact. If somebody says to me, “Should I put my mother in a nursing home now?” Now is not the best time to put your mother in a nursing home. That is a fact.
Speaker 13: (01:03:55)
[crosstalk 01:03:55] grandmother’s already there right now?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:57)
Let’s answer someone who hasn’t asked before. Go ahead. We’ll take one more.
Speaker 14: (01:04:01)
[crosstalk 01:04:01] government employees and how many would you like to see in Upstate New York? What departments do they work through? The Department of Health?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:09)
We’re going to have to hire many, many more tracers. The capacity is going to have to expand. It will be concentrated downstate because that’s where the concentration of cases are, but it will also be employed in Upstate New York. Will be a statewide, again, coordinated on a tri-state basis, but it will be proportionate to where the cases are. And when we see a cluster and an outbreak, “hot spot”, then one of the strategies is send testers, tracers, isolate. That’s how you reduce the spread in that hotspot.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:52)
Let’s do one more. Somebody who hasn’t asked one.
Speaker 15: (01:04:54)
[crosstalk 01:04:54] It’s not just nursing homes that are having issues gathering PPEs. It’s also volunteer firefighters, so EMTs. Is there some sort of stockpile that the state can draw from to help them-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:02)
Whatever we have, we distribute. And then we asked the federal government for assistance. They’ve been sending us what they have and what they can get. But one of the lessons learned from this is, soon as we get our head above water, this is madness that we have to buy gowns and masks from China, and we’re wholly dependent on China for masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators. Everything came back to China. That all has to change.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:34)
And look, it’s an opportunity for this state, other states too. But we have to be able to make this equipment right here and be able to turn up the volume when something like this happens. It’s been right across the board. We can’t get masks, we can’t get gowns, we can’t get ventilators, vials, reagents. The entire supply chain has to be brought back to this country, period.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:04)
I meant you in the back. I’m sorry.
Speaker 16: (01:06:07)
Two questions, actually. I haven’t seen an updated figure in a while about what is the estimate on what the state has spent to combat COVID-19 to-date? I also wanted to know about on antibody testing, are there people who are being tested since they are asymptomatic, so many people, are they being given an antibody test? How is that= working?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:26)
Do we antibody test asymptomatic people?
Speaker 17: (01:06:29)
Yes. It’s a random sample.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:29)
Yes. It’s a random sample. I’m sorry. I should have known that answer. It doesn’t do symptomatic/asymptomatic. If Karen was in a grocery store and anybody who walks up to the counter, they will test, so it’s not symptomatic/asymptomatic. It’s random-
Speaker 17: (01:06:45)
[crosstalk 01:06:45] if they were asymptomatic, they wouldn’t be given the antibody test at that point, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:49)
Oh, if you were symptomatic, you don’t get the antibody testing.
Speaker 17: (01:06:53)
Speaker 18: (01:06:54)
[crosstalk 01:06:54] And what’s the answer to the cost? What’s the estimate of the cost?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:54)
Cost of what?
Speaker 16: (01:06:59)
What’s update to-date what the state has spend to combat the-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:02)
What’s the updated spend to-date on COVID?
Speaker 19: (01:07:04)
It’s approximately $2.8 billion, about half of that is in New York City. [crosstalk 01:07:10] $2.8 billion.
Speaker 20: (01:07:10)
What do you estimate the tracing program will cost?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:14)
I don’t know.
Speaker 20: (01:07:15)
Tens of billions?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:16)
I don’t know. The federal government has provided money in this past budget. But whatever it costs, it costs. What’s the value of a life, Jessie? [crosstalk 00:01:07:25].
Speaker 21: (01:07:30)
Governor, regarding nursing homes, [inaudible 01:07:30] when they go out into the world and then they come back in, can the regulation from the Health Department, can there be some regulation to ensure that the nursing homes are doing better in terms of whether they’re taking a temperature or doing something with the staff to make sure that they don’t bring this into the nursing home?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:48)
We have done regulations on that and we’ll have more to say on that tomorrow. I don’t want to give away tomorrow’s news because then you won’t come.
Speaker 21: (01:07:54)
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:13:55].
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:54)
Thank you, guys.
Speaker 22: (01:07:54)
Should nursing homes be fined for not having adequate reporting at this point?