Apr 26, 2020

Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 26

Andrew Cuomo April 26 Briefing
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsAndrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 26

Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on April 26. Cuomo outlined “Phase 1” of reopening New York, and plans to start with upstate New York. Full transcript here.

 

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Andrew Cuomo: (05:42)
Good afternoon, technically. Happy Sunday. Today’s day 57. Feels like many more, but it is only day 57, I can assure you. Just feels like 57 years. News today on the numbers is relatively good. The descent continues and that’s a very good starting place. We are now back to where we were on March 31st before we started this dramatic increase in the number of cases. We’re still watching. Big question is, how fast does that number continue to come down? First, does that number continue to come down? Because that would be a nightmare if it ticks up. And how fast does it come down? And how low does it go? Before we started this, you only had a couple of hundred cases. When do we get back to a couple of hundred new Covid cases going in? The overall hospitalization rate is down. The number of intubations is down.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:42)
Even the number of new Covid cases is down. Still not good, still 1000 new Covid cases yesterday, to put it in focus. That would normally be terrible news. It’s only not terrible news compared to where we were, this is just terrible news, 367 deaths. Which is horrific, and there is no relative context to death. Death is death. 367 people pass, 367 families.

Andrew Cuomo: (07:21)
What I’ve been working from day one is to make sure that people understand the facts of what we’re dealing with because this is a unique situation. Government really can’t act unless the people fully support the action. What we have done here, government couldn’t do. It was a pure function of what people did. My plan all along has been give people the facts, and if they have the facts, they will act responsibly. But they have to have the facts, they have to buy into the plan. And it really is an individual decision, right? Who’s taking care of your health? You are.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:07)
We’re mutually dependent in that what I do can affect your health, but it really comes down to giving everybody the information so people can make their own decision. And the great achievement in this period has been that when people get the facts, and they trust the facts, and they understand the facts, they do the right thing. And that is a lesson that I hope people remember after this is all over. But we still have to remember the facts. And we talk about reopening, we talk about re-imagining. Let’s start to put some meat on the bones of what we’re talking about so people understand.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:48)
The federal guidance from the CDC is that before you start reopening the state and the regional hospitalization rate must be in decline for 14 days. That’s the CDC’s guidance. The federal government leaves it up to the states. It’s up to the governors, up to the governors, but they also give guidance. And in this case, I think the CDC guidance is right. So we’re monitoring the hospitalization rate, we’re monitoring the regional hospitalization rates. We’ve said in this state, it’s a very diverse state. Upstate regions are like states in the Midwest, even out West. And we have very different hospitalization rates, so we look at the rates all across the state as well as across the regions. We’re going to reopen in phases. A regional analysis on what we call our economic regions that we’ve been working with the state on, and those regions have been working together on economic policy, et cetera. So to analyze the regions which are existing coalitions actually works. But look at the regional analysis, make a determination, and then monitor whatever you do.

Andrew Cuomo: (10:02)
Phase one of reopening will involve construction and manufacturing activities. And within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk. There is a range of construction activities, there’s a range of manufacturing activities, but those businesses that pose a low risk within them. Phase two would then be more a business by business analysis using the matrix that we’ve discussed. How essential a service does that business provide? And how risky is that business? If you reopen that business, how much risk are you possibly incurring? And how important is it that that business reopen? And that matrix will be guiding us through phase two. In phase two, when we get there, we need businesses to do that analysis. They have to think about how they’re going to reopen with this “new normal”. What precautions are they going to take in the workplace? What safeguards are they going to put in place? It’s very much going to be up to businesses.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:22)
Then we’re going to leave two weeks between phases so we can monitor the effect of what we just did. Take an action, monitor. Two weeks, that’s according to the experts, the incubation period of the virus so you can actually see if you had an effect where you increased the rate of infection, which you would then see in hospitalizations, testing, et cetera. So everyone understands the overall risk that you start to increase activity, the infection rate goes up, two weeks to actually do that monitoring. That’s the broad outlines of the reopening plan, and then you get into caveats.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:08)
One caveat is you can’t do anything in any region that would increase the number of visitors to that region. You have a whole multi-state region in lockdown here. It’s possible that you open something in Syracuse, or you open something in the north country, where you now see license plates coming in from Connecticut, New Jersey, people from downstate all coming to that area because they’ve been locked down and they’re looking for an activity. That’s something that we have to pay attention to. And all of this is done in a multi-state context with our neighboring states. Most relevant, especially downstate. Downstate is obviously the most complicated situation. That’s New York City, that’s Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, the surrounding suburbs. Multi-state coordination is vital there because the New Jersey, Connecticut, New York City area is basically very intermixed. People are going and coming. They live in one place, they work in the other place. So that coordination is important.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:18)
You get upstate, coordination with Massachusetts is more important in some areas. Some parts of the state, Pennsylvania coordination is more important. So coordinating with those states that are neighbors to that region. Downstate, we’ve said we have to coordinate the main activities. There are gears that inter mesh, you can’t turn one gear without turning the other gears. That’s how you strip gears. Keep trying to explain to my daughters. Transportation, parks, schools, beaches, these are all coordinated activities. You turn one they all have to turn. And that’s true for New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, they all have to be coordinated and we’re working with local businesses and leaders to do that.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:06)
Again, on the phased reopening, does my business reopen? Well, what is your business? And how would you do your business in this new normal? You normally have people in a conference room, are you going to do that? You normally have people in workstations that are right next to each other. Do you plan on reopening that way? This is not a one sided equation here. Businesses, you develop a plan on how you would reopen given everything we now know. And if you have a plan, I’ll show you in a moment, that actually takes into consideration these new circumstances, more essential, lower risk. The way a business opens will determine the risk. They can’t really determine how essential their service is, but they can determine how risky opening them up, opening their business would be.

Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
Risky, opening them up, opening their business would be. Also, we need them to be creative and think outside of the box and we’ve been speaking with business leaders across the state, but some people even need a new economic model. We want to bring sports back, right? So this an activity that people can watch on TV. What sports can you do without an audience? What sports can you make work economically where you don’t have to sell a seat in the stadium or in the arena? How do you do drive-ins? How do you do different types of businesses that could actually work in this environment? And again, they have to be creative and they have to think about it.

Andrew Cuomo: (15:48)
Downstate, which does have particular needs. We need some activities in Downstate New York. You can’t tell people in a dense urban environment all through the summer months, we don’t have anything for you to do. Stay in your apartment with the three kids. That doesn’t work. There’s a sanity equation here also that we have to take into consideration. Special attention for public housing residents, special attention for low income communities. That number one, paid a higher price for this disease than anyone else. We talk about the racial disparity. African Americans and Latinos, we’re increasing the testing we’ve got. We’re going to have more to say on that this week, but lower income communities need more assistance through this and we need to focus on the basics. We need more food banks, more food assistance. There are people who literally struggling for food and for child care. We have to make that more available and I want to bring in a coordinated way the philanthropy’s. There’s a lot of goodwill. A lot of people want to help. Philanthropy’s represent the positive force in our society. I want to make them part of this in a partnership and we’re doing that.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:11)
So working through all of this with partners in the business community and the healthcare community, right? Because we have an economic strategy and we have a public health strategy. It has to work with businesses who are creative and more thoughtful and healthcare professionals who just learned a very important lesson with what we went through. And I don’t want to lose that lesson. In terms of businesses thinking about the new normal, think about it in terms of people. How are you going to protect your people? What are you going to be doing differently with your employees, your actual physical space? What does the physical space look like when you reopen in this new normal? What are you doing about PPE equipment? How are you cleaning? What’s the hygiene? What’s the access? What’s the screening? How do you move people? What’s the travel and transportation?

Andrew Cuomo: (18:13)
And then what processes can you put in place to make your business less risky? Right? How can you train people? How can you communicate about this disease? Can you do testing in your workplace? These are all factors for businesses to consider that want to reopen quickly and again, it’s between the two, it’s governmental decisions in partnership with business decisions. Because I think every business leader gets, you can’t go back to where you were. We have to go back in light of the circumstances that have developed and in the midst of all this monitor the public health impact. All that progress we made by flattening that curve, we could lose that in a matter of days if we’re not careful. And it’s important that people understand what that actually means and this gets a little technical, but it’s worth understanding. If I can understand it, anybody can understand it.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:20)
They talk about the rate of increase of the spread of the infection, right? The R naught factor, but it’s basically straightforward, if one person infects less than one person, that’s the first category of R naught.. One person affects less than one person. The next step up is one person infects one person who then infects another person. One-to-one, to one-to-one, to one. The worst situation is one person infects two people and then those two people go out and infect two people and that’s fire through dry grass. Right now you’re in bad shape. That’s where we were when this started. We were actually there before we even knew we were there. This is now the insight that the disease came from Europe to New York because it was already out of China by the time we realized that. It went to Europe, went to Italy, went to the Lombardi District. Got on a plane, came to New York and was here much earlier than we knew and it was spreading much earlier than we knew at a much higher rate.

Andrew Cuomo: (20:45)
We have to be down to the one person infects one other person. You can’t really go beyond that margin. Right now we’re at 0.8. One person infects 0.8% of a person. So one person is infecting less than one person. That is good news. At that rate, you see the virus declining. Upstate interestingly, it’s 0.9. Again, statistically very close, but Upstate, the infection rate is one person infects 0.9%. Downstate one person is infecting 0.75 okay. So that’s where we are across the state. If we keep the infection rate below one person infecting one person, that is where the infection rate continues to drop. That’s where you’ll see the curve dropping. So we have to stay there.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:51)
How do you monitor it? You have three basic dials. Number of hospitalizations, which you see every day, which I show you every day. The number of hospitalizations and you can see that by region. The number of positive antibody tests. This is why testing is so important. We’re doing antibody testing around the state in regions. Antibody testing tells you how many people have been infected. A little bit of a lag because you only have the antibodies after you’ve had the virus, but it tells you on a lag basis how many people have been infected. The third dial is the diagnostic tests which are just positive or negative, and they tell you on an absolute basis what your infection rate is.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:44)
Those are the three dials that you are watching. You take these activities, you watch those three dials and you have your hand on the valve, right? The activity valve. So you open the valve a little bit. Phase one, watch those dials like a hawk and then you adjust. That’s called the RT factor, rate of transmission factor. What is the rate of transmission of the virus? We’re now at about 0.8. You cannot go above 1.2, 1.2 you see that number, go right back up again and we’ll be sitting here talking about showing you a chart that showed up down and then up again. That’s what happens if the rate of transmission gets to 1.2.

Andrew Cuomo: (23:36)
So this is the balance that we collectively need to strike. I want to get back to work. I want to get back to work. My kids want out of the house. I need to do something. I understand. We have to do it intelligently and this is the definition of intelligence in this context. Also, I don’t want to just reopen. We learned a lot of lessons here, painfully, but we learned a lot of lessons and that’s what re-imagined means to me. How do we take the lessons we learned? Take this pause in life and say, “When we reopen, we’re going to be better for it and we’re going to reimagine what our life is and we’re going to improve for this pause.” Look even on an individual level. You had time to decompress a little bit or compress for a different set of factors, but I think everybody went through a period where they analyzed their life and what they were doing and when somebody all of a sudden pulls the rug out from under you and you wind up in a different place, you just see life differently. And I think that’s true for most people. Okay. After that reflection, what have we learned? How do we improve and how do we build back better? Because it’s not about return to yesterday, there is no return to yesterday in life. It’s about moving forward. It’s about taking your experience and what you learned and bringing it to a positive effect. And with that, I want to end on just sharing a story that taught me a lot. There’s a tunnel in New York called the L train tunnel. People in New York City know it very well. It’s a tunnel that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn and 400,000 people use this train in this tunnel, 400,000 people is a larger group than many cities in this country have. Okay, so they had to close down the tunnel because the tunnel was old and the tunnel had problems and everybody looked at it and they said, “We have to close down the tunnel.”

Andrew Cuomo: (26:06)
Four hundred thousand people couldn’t get to work without that train and they had all these complicated plans on how they were going to mitigate the transportation problem in different buses, in different cars, in different bikes, in different horses. The whole alternative transportation and this went on for years. Everyone said you had to close the tunnel and it was going to be closed for 15 to 18 months. Now when government says it’s going to be closed for 15 to 18 months, I hear 24 months to the rest of your life. That’s my governmental cynicism, but that was the plan. We’re going to close it down, rebuild the tunnel, 15 months to 18 months, the MTA.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:52)
This was going to be a massive disruption. I heard a lot of complaints. I get a few smart people, Cornell engineers, Columbia engineers. We go down into the tunnel and we look at it and the engineers say, “You know what? There’s a different way to do this.” And they talk about techniques that they use in Europe and they say, not only could we bring these techniques here and we wouldn’t have to shut down the tunnel at all, period. We could just stop usage at nights and on weekends and we can make all of the repairs and we can do it with a partial closure for 15 months. The opposition to this new idea was an explosion. I was a meddler, I didn’t have an engineering degree. They were outside experts. How dare you question the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy knows better. It was a thunderstorm of opposition, but we did it anyway and we went ahead with it and we rebuilt the tunnel and the tunnel is a now done better than before. With all of these new techniques, it opens today. It opens today and the proof is in the pudding, right?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:25)
We went through this period of, I don’t believe it, this is interference. It opened today and it opens today, not in 15 months, but actually in only 12 months of a partial shutdown, so it’s ahead of schedule. It’s under budget and it was never shut down. I relay this story because you can question and you should question why we do what we do. Why do we do it that way? I know that’s how we’ve always done it, but why do we do it that way and why can’t we do it a different way? Why not try this? Why not try that? People don’t like change. We think we like change, but we don’t really like change. We like control more than anything, right? So it’s hard. It’s hard to make change. It’s hard to make change in your own life, let alone on a societal collective level.

Andrew Cuomo: (29:31)
But if you don’t change, you don’t grow. And if you don’t run the risk of change, you don’t have the benefit of advancement. Not everything out there has to be the way it is. So we just went through this wild period where people are walking around with masks, not because I said too, but because they understand they need to. How do we make it better? How do we make it better? And let’s use this period to …

Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
How do we make it better? And let’s use this period to do just that. And we will, and we’ll reimagine and we’ll make it a reality because we are New York tough, and smart, and disciplined, and unified, and loving, and because we know that we can. We know that we can. We showed that we can. Questions?

Jess: (30:20)
Governor, what you presented today seems to be an outline, kind of a philosophical approach to reopening, but when can people expect dates and hard facts and times of opening? When are we going to get details?

Andrew Cuomo: (30:32)
You have them there, Jess. You have May 15th, the pause is statewide until May 15th, right? Then you have the CDC guidance that says total hospitalization is declining for 14 days. Okay? So we get to May 15th, what regions have seen a decline for 14 days? Well, we’re assuming we will have seen a decline in the state for 14 days. But what regions of the state have seen a decline for 14 days, that’s where you will start the conversation to get to Phase One in that region. The regions that would be more likely able to open sooner would be the Upstate regions. You take like central New York, you take the North country, you take the Mohawk Valley. Those regions have seen lower numbers from day one, so you would talk about Phase One opening there, which is construction and manufacturing with the caveat don’t do anything that’s going to bring people in from all across the board, and then you have people from New York City and Massachusetts and Connecticut coming in.

Andrew Cuomo: (31:55)
Also the construction by manufacturing is a business-by-business analysis. Not all construction is the same. Not all manufacturing is the same. What are those businesses doing to incorporate the safe procedures? But you would see that more likely in the Upstate areas if those numbers continue to decline the way the CDC recommends. Downstate New York is going to be more complicated. You can’t do anything in New York City that you don’t do in Suffolk, you don’t do in Nassau, you don’t do in Westchester. You can’t do anything in downstate that we don’t do in coordination with primarily Connecticut and New Jersey. Coordination does not mean total consistency, but it does mean coordination. We have to know if we’re doing something different. We’ve had issues where certain activities were open in Connecticut and you saw many New York license plates in the Connecticut parking lot. We open beaches in New York City, but Jersey doesn’t open beaches, you’ll see New Jersey people at our beaches.

Andrew Cuomo: (33:03)
So you won’t be in lock step, but before we do anything, I want to make sure we know what we’re doing because you’ll see people react to different activity levels in different communities.

Jess: (33:21)
Conceivably, you could see manufacturing and construction start to come online in certain upstate regions after May 15th?

Andrew Cuomo: (33:27)
With certain precautions after May 15th, yeah.

Reporter 2: (33:30)
What about the schools [inaudible 00:33:30]?

Andrew Cuomo: (33:32)
Schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening, so you couldn’t really get to a maximum Phase Two without opening schools. The question on schools is going to be, do you reopen for the rest of the school year? And then there’s going to be a question. Many local school districts are talking about summer school, and they’re contemplating summer school to make up for some of the lost time. Remember, you have a real problem.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:06)
This remote learning, I think it’s going to be one of the lessons we learned. Remote learning is great in concept. We had to jump into it with both feet, and we didn’t really have a chance to scale up for it. So many of the school districts, we have 700 school districts in the state, many of them are saying they want to do summer school because they want to make up for some of that class time. So that we have to feel out as we go. See, on any of these things, I’m not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves. You want to talk about a two week window? I think that’s an intelligent window to talk about. Anybody who sits up here and says, “Well, I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen a month down the road,” I wouldn’t believe that person.

Reporter 3: (34:55)
Districts right now are trying to put together their budgets, to put out a financial plan that is a broad based cut coming. So what guidance for them? What should they expect? [crosstalk 00:35:06] Well, they need to put together a budget. Now they want to call Washington. They get that. You said 20%. Is that the right number? The financial plan doesn’t have a number?

Andrew Cuomo: (35:14)
What number should they do?

Podium Speaker: (35:15)
So in the financial plan it could be up to 20% additional reduction on May 15th. May 1st was the first checkpoint. On May 1st we’ll know exactly what the revenues are. We’ll know exactly where we are with Washington and whether we have more money. We’ll release a plan by the middle of May. That still gives time for the school districts to make their budgets. So between now and May 15th, we’ll have more clarity and more specificity in the financial plan. Right now we’re letting you know this is where we stand. This is where the revenue picture is. Those are the facts. And by the time they put their school budget votes together, they will have those numbers and we’ll have that time.

Reporter 4: (35:56)
How will they be done?

Andrew Cuomo: (35:58)
I’m sorry?

Reporter 4: (35:59)
Your executive order puts the school budget votes after June 1. Do we know when they’ll be? How they’ll be done? By mail? By board?

Andrew Cuomo: (36:07)
Yeah, I don’t know. We haven’t gotten there yet.

Mark, Reporter 5: (36:11)
[inaudible 00:36:11] about in your presentation, I heard a lot about the businesses and the private sector, but have you been in touch with the state union leaders, and have you gotten any pushback like, well, we don’t want to be the guinea pig, but our workers are the first ones out at work? I mean, have you laid out a plan of the spacing and social distancing at state office buildings? I don’t see it in the presentation.

Andrew Cuomo: (36:37)
Well, when you talk about opening up a government office that is not now open, we are part of that same analysis as for a business. We would not open any government office that doesn’t have all those social distancing measures, reconfiguration of the work place, etc. So we would do the same thing we’re asking businesses to do.

Mark, Reporter 5: (37:03)
Doing planning or anything on that?

Andrew Cuomo: (37:05)
Yeah, yeah. We are planning that. We come back in phases, reduced workforce, more space, etc. And then we have certain functions that are more essential than others also. The same thing I’m asking business to do, we are doing. It’d be easy for me to say every state agency is essential. And every state agency is essential; otherwise, we wouldn’t have it. But there are some that are more essential than others in a short term basis. For a business, every division is essential. I get it. But short term, do you have more essential divisions than others that you could bring back and do spatial distancing, etc., in your workplace?

Andrew Cuomo: (37:54)
Also a big factor here that is implicit, I think, but let me make it explicit in case I’m wrong and it’s not implicit. The big factor here is what people do. That’s been the factor from day one. Andrew, why do you spend so much time going through all the facts? Because I need people to understand so they actually do it. Right? Or not do it. I gave them the facts on why I think they need to wear a mask. If people don’t wear a mask, do we have the ability to force people to wear a mask? 19 million people? No, no. So they have to understand it, and if they understand it, they will do the right thing. I believe that. If they think my facts don’t add up or my conclusion doesn’t add up, then they don’t wear the mask. Luckily, they wear the mask.

Andrew Cuomo: (38:52)
On this Phase One opening, monitor, monitor, monitor, that assumes they are going to be responsible in their behavior. That they can now go out and go to a new store that’s opened. Okay. If they’re wearing a mask and they’re cleaning their hands, that’s one scenario. If they go to work, and they’re using a mask, and they keep social distancing, and they don’t get sloppy, they don’t get undisciplined, that’s one situation. That personal behavior changes. I am telling you. We are talking about a window of 0.8 to 1.2. That’s all we’re talking about. We can blow through that like wind through reeds. So it depends on what people do, how smart, how disciplined they are through this whole process.

Reporter 6: (39:52)
Has the state showed the way for the private sector so that you can set up a scenario that would work, and then the state-

Andrew Cuomo: (39:58)
Yes, we will do that.

Reporter 6: (39:59)
And then the private sector?

Andrew Cuomo: (39:59)
Yes, we will do that. We will show a workplace that is socially distant. People wear their masks. They don’t go to a cafeteria. There is no congregate. The transportation is accommodated. We will show that in what we do.

Reporter 7: (40:15)
What can the state do to ensure that businesses are complying with PPE regulations or mask wearing?

Andrew Cuomo: (40:22)
They have to give us a plan before we say they can reopen. [crosstalk 00:40:28] We’re talking to businesses now, literally individual businesses. We have groups that have been set up that are meeting with businesses, talking to businesses. Steve Cohen, who was a former secretary, Bill Mulrow, who is a former secretary to me, have been doing this for weeks. They were here at one meeting, one briefing, dealt with your questions, ran away. I don’t know that there was a connection between the two. But they have been talking to businesses, coming up with individual business plans. Because even construction and manufacturing, which are in Phase One, what construction, how will you operate? Manufacturing can be anything. Right? How will your business operate in this “new normal”? And that is business by business. [crosstalk 00:41:27]

Reporter 7: (41:27)
I’m sorry. How would the state keep track of new infections or transmissions while Phase One is in effect?

Andrew Cuomo: (41:34)
Just the way I said. With the three dials. You have hospitalization rate, which you know now we have a new system in place. Every hospital in this state on a day-to-day basis gives us their hospitalization rate, so that’s Dial One. Dial Two is the antibody testing, which we are now bringing up to scale in a large number, statewide and regional. Antibody testing tells you how many people were infected with the two week lag. Okay? Because that’s what, roughly, two weeks to develop the antibodies. That’s the second dial. The Third Dial is diagnostic testing statewide and by region. This is what we got last week when we tested. Last week we were in Buffalo and we tested. 3% of the population were positive. This week, 4% of the population is positive. Oh, maybe that’s statistically relevant, irrelevant. Four days later, 5%. Oops, close down the valve.

Andrew Cuomo: (42:46)
So you have those three dials. Those three dials, hospitalization rate, antibody testing rate, positive diagnostic testing rate, positive, negative, they give you the rate of transmission, which is how fast is the virus spreading.

Reporter 7: (43:07)
Has there been testing done in the regions that are in Phase One?

Andrew Cuomo: (43:08)
Yes. That’s why we’ve said all of this is dependent on testing. Because without testing, you only have one dial. You only have the hospitalization dial. And the hospitalization dial is a little misleading. Well, it’s not misleading. It tells you what it tells you. But it tells you people who got infected in some period over the past two weeks or maybe three weeks and who are seriously infected so that they had to go to a hospital. But that’s all that hospitalization rate gives you. The antibody test and the diagnostic test give you a higher level of information by region. Go ahead, John, [crosstalk 00:43:54].

John, Reporter: (43:53)
Governor, the Westchester County Center was one of the facilities that was crafted into a temporary hospital. The infection rate’s going down. The work has been completed there, but there have been no patients as far as I know. What do you do now with those facilities, with that facility in particular that there doesn’t appear to be much of a use for it?

Andrew Cuomo: (44:15)
Yes, today we are in good shape and today that would be a true statement. Do you know if that’ll be a true statement in 60 days?

John, Reporter: (44:25)
I don’t know.

Andrew Cuomo: (44:26)
Ah, so what would you do with the facility?

John, Reporter: (44:29)
I’m not the governor.

Andrew Cuomo: (44:29)
Yeah, but what would you do if you were the governor? You’d leave it right there because you don’t know what it’s going to be in 60 days.

John, Reporter: (44:34)
I mean, is there a possibility that you could transfer… There’s been lots of talks about nursing home patients and residents. Could you move people out of nursing homes into this facility?

Andrew Cuomo: (44:42)
Nursing home patients. Let’s go back to square one. A nursing home can only provide care for a patient who they believe they can provide adequate care for. If they cannot provide adequate care for a patient, they must trans-

Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
… provide adequate care for a patient, they must transfer that patient. If they can’t find an alternative nursing home or facility, Department of Health will find an alternative nursing home or facility. We have vacancies in nursing homes and in facilities. There is no nursing home who says, “I have John. I can’t take care of John. I don’t know where to send him.” Then call the Department of Health, and we’ll find a bed for John in a facility that can take care of him. That is how it works.

Andrew Cuomo: (45:39)
There was one story that said a nursing home said they wanted to send someone to the Comfort, which was the ship the federal government gave us, and the Department of Health said they can’t send them to the Comfort. Yes, a nursing home can’t send the person to the Comfort, because that’s not the agreement with the federal government. Comfort only took referrals from hospitals, so the person was assessed at a hospital first. But forget the Comfort. If a nursing home calls up and says, “I can’t take care of this person,” we will find a bed for that person. Period. Georgia.

Georgia: (46:18)
Isn’t that at least a mixed message from the March 25th memo that said, “You cannot deny admission or readmission just because of a suspected COVID-19 case?”

Andrew Cuomo: (46:27)
No, you were in that facility. You have Covid. You’re back in that facility. That facility, if they’re going to care for you, if they’re going to care for you, must quarantine, must have PPE for staff, must follow these guidelines. Or they say, “I can’t take care of John. I can’t take care of him. I’m not equipped. I don’t have the space to quarantine. I don’t have the staff. I don’t have the PPE. I can’t take care of John. I’m going to transfer John to another facility or I’m going to call the Department of Health and tell them to come pick up John.” But if you keep John, and I’m paying you to keep John or John’s family is paying you to keep John, then you have to give John the appropriate care. Here’s appropriate care for a person who’s Covid. Sir.

Speaker 2: (47:22)
Alec Baldwin has released a video calling on you to grant broad clemencies to people in the prison system here. Do you have any plans to do that? What do you make of this comments?

Andrew Cuomo: (47:34)
We have been doing that. I haven’t heard his comments.

Speaker 2: (47:36)
Provide clemency as far as you granting-

Andrew Cuomo: (47:40)
Based on what? Right? That’s a good question.

Speaker 2: (47:41)
Based on vulnerable populations, pregnant inmates, inmates who are-

Andrew Cuomo: (47:43)
How about if they are violent and they just started their sentence?

Speaker 2: (47:49)
Specifically, the call is for prisoners who are near the end of their terms within a year come or they’re prisoners-

Andrew Cuomo: (47:55)
Yeah, that we’ve been doing.

Speaker 2: (47:56)
Hmm?

Andrew Cuomo: (47:57)
That we’ve been doing. Dan.

Dan: (48:00)
To the economy, how can you possibly help farms that are struggling upstate? Obviously, the supply chain is in a bind right now. Can the state do anything?

Andrew Cuomo: (48:08)
Yeah. The Department of Agriculture is looking at just that, into these stories about dumping milk. I don’t really understand what the economic forces are where they have too much, and we’ve talked to the Department of Agriculture. Look, if there’s a way we can buy it … We’re talking about food banks in New York City for low income communities, and then we’re talk about dumping milk in upstate New York, right? I don’t get it. That’s the exact issue that we’re looking at, and if there’s a way that the state can purchase as part of these food bank programs, for example, we will do that.

Andrew Cuomo: (48:47)
One of the things is New York City schools bought a lot of the product from upstate New York, because we worked very hard to develop that relationship. Apparently, the purchasing of the schools is down or it’s different purchasing, I don’t know the exact specifics, but any way we can fix that, we will.

Dan: (49:13)
A very different topic, domestic violence. You guys did that hotline and website. Is there any updates on the data? Are we still seeing incidents go on?

Andrew Cuomo: (49:21)
Look, we see domestic violence going up. We see apparent trends in alcoholism going up. We see some trends that say drug usage is going up. Mental health needs are going up. Do not underestimate the stress that this situation has created, the abnormal circumstances that it has created. I don’t know if I have a job. I’m not getting a paycheck. The bills are still coming in. I see no light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m cooped up in my home and I’m under tremendous stress, and then I have this added stress of being in this situation that I’ve never been before in my life. Yeah, that is a toxic mix. So when we talk about reopening, getting people out, some activities, places where people can walk, just something. I say tongue in cheek it’s the sanity index, but people need to know that there’s an opening, there is a future, that there’s hope that somebody’s doing something, and then you need a relief valve just on a day-to-day basis so people have some relief in their lives, some vent.

Speaker 3: (50:48)
Just about everyone at this point has said that this crisis has emphasized how important healthcare workers are, even outside of a crisis. That being said, does that shine any sort of light or add any urgency to the plight of the pensioners of the former St. Clare’s Hospital in Schenectady who are, frankly, dying off at this point?

Andrew Cuomo: (51:07)
Oh, that’s a good point. I don’t know if we can get to that problem with this situation. I’m aware of it. I don’t know how we can help those people through here, but it’s something we’ll look at.

Speaker 3: (51:24)
Financially it would be difficult because the state is strapped for cash, but as far as investigating to figure out who’s responsible for the disappearance of their money, is that something that should be emphasized seeing as those people are literal heroes?

Andrew Cuomo: (51:36)
Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Jim: (51:41)
On Monday you canceled the presidential primary in New York.

Andrew Cuomo: (51:45)
I’m sorry.

Jim: (51:46)
Do you think tomorrow the democratic commissioners or the Board of Elections should cancel the presidential primary in New York?

Andrew Cuomo: (51:52)
I haven’t expressed any opinion through them.

Jim: (51:55)
I know. I’m asking you to express an opinion.

Andrew Cuomo: (51:56)
Yeah, have we said any opinion?

Speaker 4: (51:57)
No. It’s up to the VOA.

Jim: (51:58)
Okay. Do you have an opinion? You’re a smart guy, probably democrat-

Andrew Cuomo: (52:01)
Not that smart, not that opinionated. Just a cool dude in a loose mood. You know me, Jim.

Jim: (52:08)
As the leader of the party of this state you won’t weigh in?

Andrew Cuomo: (52:09)
Nope. Mark. Mark and then we’ll come right back to you, Jesse.

Mark: (52:15)
Since deaths leg behind hospitalizations, why not use a decline in the death rate as the bellwether for reopening instead of hospitalizations?

Andrew Cuomo: (52:27)
Well, we look at both, right? We look at the death rate by region and we look at the hospitalizations. They basically track more or less. Do we know statistically what the variance is between the two?

Speaker 5: (52:44)
The death rate … We look at … Hospitalizations are important because that’s the front end, that’s the newer cases so you know what the capacity is on the system. We still know as a ratio about 25-30% of all hospitalizations due to Covid end up in the ICU, and of those 25-30%, 90% of those people end up on intubation, and then that rate of death is fairly high, so we work … When the government talks about hospitalizations, that’s that entire process that’s factored in to the dial of reopen, not reopen.

Andrew Cuomo: (53:15)
Yeah, and remember the train comes off the tracks here. The train comes off the tracks when you overwhelm the healthcare system. That’s when everything goes bad. That was Italy. That’s what we were very worried about, right? That infection rate keeps going up, you will have a death rat associated with that infection rate, but first you’ll have a collapse of the hospital system, and you’ll have people in hallways, on gurneys, who aren’t getting cared for. That’s what we were petrified of, frankly, and that’s why we boosted all the hospital capacity, all these extra facilities. That’s why that hospitalization rate, 1000 people walked into a hospital today, that number of people walking into the hospital, that number gets too high you overwhelm those emergency rooms, we go back to where we were, shuttling equipment all across the system, shuttling patients all across the system. That’s the first indicator warning sign.

Speaker 6: (54:28)
So my question related reopening and the economy and the state as opposed to using the death rate going down for 14 days.

Andrew Cuomo: (54:33)
Yeah. The CDC came up with the hospitalization rate. I don’t know their methodology to tell you the truth.

Speaker 6: (54:40)
But it was a different set of values.

Andrew Cuomo: (54:41)
Yeah, we do use both. We look at both. Jesse, take the last question.

Jesse: (54:45)
What would you say to business owners, particularly in upstate, who are being absolutely clobbered by this economically? What sort of words of hope? What sort of words of comfort can you offer them? This will get better, this will be over by X date.

Andrew Cuomo: (54:59)
Well, X date. Nobody has X date. There is no X date. You listen to the national experts, listen to Dr. Fauci, right? Dr. Fauci says there may be a second wave. It could come back in the fall, right? So nobody’s giving anybody a date here. But short term, the numbers are on the decline. Everything we have done is working. The rates are all dropping. The hospitals did phenomenal work, but they did not get overwhelmed and we coordinated the healthcare services. The policies are working. We’re now looking at a relatively short period of time, 14 days of decline. If you don’t have 14 days of decline, nobody would say be reckless and open anyway, right? That doesn’t help any business leader in this state. And start incrementally, which is what everybody says, construction and manufacturing. The piece you wouldn’t have, and the business owners who are feeling pain, retail stores, hospitality, hotels, etc., that is a more problematic area to open up. Even in some of the states that are rushing to open.

Andrew Cuomo: (56:25)
You see those retail stores, Jesse, they still are trying to figure out how to do that, and they’ve sort of left it up to the … Some retail store owners are opening, some aren’t opening, some let people in, some don’t let them in. That is a complex sector to deal with. The hospitality and hotels, it’s hard to do these precautions in a hotel setting, but there’s no doubt but that we at this point gone through the worst, and as long as we act prudently going forward, the worst should be over.

Jesse: (57:05)
On the issue of sports, do you imagine Yankees games happening in an empty Yankee Stadium this summer?

Andrew Cuomo: (57:09)
Look, I asked. I’ve talked to many of the sports owners and sports companies. Look, I don’t know. It’s not my business. I don’t know the economics. But if your choice was players stay home, I don’t know what players get when they stay home by their contract, but assume the players are getting less money or no money, right? If you could make the economics work without the seat sales, right? And you could have teams play without the seat sales, but you had televised and you had the television revenue and whatever else went with that, we’re in a different place. Be creative, try to figure it out, but if players could get paid more than staying home and owners will get some revenue versus total shutdown, why not? I’d love to watch it.

Jesse: (58:15)
You’ve spoken to Mets and Yankees owners?

Andrew Cuomo: (58:18)
Yes, yes. No, I’ve talked to a number of sports owners. I don’t want to get into names. But it does depend … I know enough to know the economics of baseball are a little different than the economics of basketball, a little different than the economics of other sports, so it would have to be up to them that they do an economic analysis that says, “Yeah, some revenue is better than no revenue and my players are willing to negotiate a contract reduction.” And if they could do it, yeah. But everybody has to think outside the box, right? Because there is no box. Okay.

Speaker 7: (58:54)
Any other legislative measures-

Andrew Cuomo: (58:54)
Thank you, guys.