Apr 28, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 28
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on April 28. Cuomo said hospitalizations continue to decline in New York. Full transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… with the doctors here, but he’s still technically a doctor, runs Empire College, he’s done all great policy work for the state for many years. To his right, Gareth Rhodes, he’s not a doctor either. Well, technically he’s a doctor too. But, he’s an attorney, he’s a doctor who was at the Department of Financial Services, but who has worked with me in the state for many years, and he’s been a great talent here.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:29)
It’s a pleasure to be here today. We’re in Syracuse, the State University of New York, Upstate Medical School and Hospital. I had a chance to say hello to the nurses and doctors who work here. Had to wave from a social distance. But, I wanted to say thank you for all they’ve done here. They also sent a team down to New York City. So, it’s just been an extraordinary experience, but we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in all of this.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04)
… is beautiful. Let me talk to you about some of the facts that we’re dealing with today. Facts are our friend, right? People want to make decisions. They want to know the facts without spin, without opinion, and that’s what we’ve been giving them.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:22)
The total hospitalization rate is down a tick, which is good news. The change in hospitalization on a rolling total you see is down. The number of intubations is also down. The number of COVID hospitalizations per day, these are new people who are newly diagnosed with COVID. It’s under 1,000, which is good news. It’s still a significant number of people, 900 hundred people. After all of this, we still have 900 new infections yesterday, on a three day rolling average. But, overall you see the numbers coming down, so that’s good news.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:10)
This is the worst news, every day, I think maybe today is the day the nightmare will be over, but it’s not. 335 people passed away yesterday from this virus, in this state. That’s 335 families. You see this number is basically reducing, but not at it a tremendous rate, and the only thing tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who still pass away.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:41)
Everyone is talking about reopening. I get it. You can’t sustain being closed. The economy can’t sustain it. The individual families can’t sustain it. We can’t sustain it on a personal level. Our children can’t sustain it.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:58)
But we have to, when we talk about reopening, this should not be a political discussion. It shouldn’t be a philosophical discussion. It shouldn’t be because people are protesting, or some people want it, some people don’t want it. It is a factual discussion on reopening, right? So, let’s demystify it a little bit, because in this environment it’s becoming rhetorical rather than factual. We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting more people, or overwhelming the hospital system. We’re at Upstate Medical today. Our great fear was the number of people infected would overwhelm the hospital capacity. So, that’s the balance. Reopen, but don’t increase the number of infected people, and don’t overwhelm the hospital system. Well then, design that system in reopening, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (04:06)
You can factually, with data, design a system that does just that, and that’s what government is supposed to do. Government is not about spouting political or philosophical opinions. Government is about running services, designing programs that actually work for the people to address the problem. And in this situation, we can actually measure. We have data, we have facts. So, measure what is happening in society, and calibrate your reopening to those measurements, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (04:43)
So, we’re adopting a set of rules, a set of guidelines. We’ve studied reopening plans all around the country. We’ve spoken to every expert on the globe who’s been through this before, and we’ve come up with factual data points to guide us on reopening.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:05)
The first point, don’t overwhelm the hospital system. If the hospital system in an area exceeds 70% capacity, which means you’re 30%, you only have 30% left, or the rate of transmission of the virus hits 1. 1, those are danger signs. We know that. Remember hospital capacity, if you’re at 70% on your hospitals, there’s a two week lag on this virus. So, if you ever hit 70%, you can expect the number to go up for the next two weeks as people become, who just got infected, actually ill, and some of them come into the hospitals. So, 70% is a safe metric to use for your hospital capacity.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:07)
If the transmission rate hits 1.1, that’s what they call outbreak. That means it’s going to spread much, much faster. You wouldn’t start reopening unless you had a transmission rate below 1.1, really below one. But if it hits 1.1, that means you’re in trouble. So, those are the two main data points.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:31)
If you look at the state, and this state is different than most states. This state has New York City, one of the most dense urban areas on the globe. And then, we have upstate New York. And, if you look at our infection rate upstate New York, it’s very different than the rate downstate New York. And, if you look at the rate upstate New York, it’s comparable to many states in the Midwest and the West.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:58)
We hear the discussion every day. Well, some states are reopening because they don’t have that bad a problem. Some of the places in upstate have a problem that’s comparable to states in the Midwest or the West. Much, much different than New York City. Okay. Then let’s come up with data points, factual points, of what we have to do to reopen, so everyone has the same opening template that we’re dealing with. And, we have to be smart about this.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:35)
Again, I know it’s emotion, and I know people are feeling emotional, but emotions can’t drive a reopening process, right? We’re talking about infection rates. We’re talking about hospital capacity. Separate the emotion from the logic, and we have to act as our logical selves here, and that’s what smart means. Be smart about it. Don’t be emotional, don’t be political, don’t get pushed politically into a situation. Protesters are in front of the Capitol. We better reopen. No, I’m not going to do that. That’s not how we make decisions.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:12)
The first point is, the CDC set guidelines as to reopening for states. We think those CDC guidelines make sense, which is you have to have a 14 day decline in the number of hospitalizations before you go forward. Second, identify industries that you can start reopening that will bring people back to work. Get the economy going, but you know you can do the appropriate precautions and social distancing.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:45)
So, in phase one, we’re talking about the construction and manufacturing industry, right? Those are two industries that employ a lot of people, but we believe you can put the right precautions in place and learn the lessons from where we have been. And, say to those businesses, this is not just about government. Say to the businesses, tell us how you are going to incorporate the lessons that we just learned.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:11)
How do you incorporate social distancing? How do you incorporate fewer people in the space so you reduce density? How do you have the right PPE? How are you going to monitor? Are you going to take temperatures of everyone who walks in? That’s for businesses to decide also.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:29)
A separate point, make sure you don’t have what we call attractive nuisances. Not really the right use of the term. Attractive nuisance is a legal term. But, an attractive nuisance in this context, you open up a facility or an attraction that could bring people from outside the region to you. You have all this pent up demand in the whole tri-state region. Make sure you don’t open up something that’s going to bring hundreds of people from the outside in.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:03)
What business precautions will those individual businesses take? Watch the healthcare capacity. Your healthcare system cannot go over 70% capacity. Again, there’s a two week lag. If you’re at 70%, bells should go off. Don’t go over 70% in your ICU beds.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:27)
Many of the people who come in with COVID need an ICU bed, because it’s a respiratory illness. As a matter of fact, almost at the heat of this, almost every bed in a hospital turned into an ICU bed. That’s why we needed the ventilators, because these people who get seriously ill with COVID need that level of care.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:49)
Remember, you have a flu season coming up in the fall, and the number of hospitalizations normally goes up in the flu season, so anticipate that. Stockpile the equipment. We learned a lot of painful lessons here. One is you have to have the PPE, you have to have the masks, you have to have the gown. There’s an international demand on it. So, make sure we have a stockpile of reserve of the PPE.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:17)
We have to have testing. How many tests? Dr. Burkes recommends 30 per 1,000 people. Different people, different record, have different numerical percentages. But, I think we start with that. Do we have enough testing sites? How long does it take to turnaround the test? And then, are we advertising to people, this is where you go, and this is what you do to get a test if you think you may be infected.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:46)
The whole thing with keeping that infection rate down is find a person early who is infected. Let them know it, and then trace, and then isolate. Do we have a tracing system in place? Mayor Bloomberg is helping us organize this. It’s never been done before. Nobody ever heard of tracing to this extent.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:06)
But, tracing is once a person says they’re positive, you trace their contacts back, you notify people, you test people. That’s a whole different operation. The current recommendation is you need at least 30 tracers per 100,000 people. So, we have to have that in place.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:29)
You have to have isolation facilities in place. Isolation facilities are when someone gets sick, you know they’re positive, and they don’t want to go home to quarantine, because if they go home they could infect their family, which is what’s happening now, a lot of these new cases. So, we have to have a facility where somebody who is positive can quarantine for the two weeks without going home, and we have to identify them now.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:59)
We have to coordinate regionally the schools, transportation, network testing, tracing. This all has to be coordinated on a multi-county effort. We have to reimagine telemedicine, re-imagined tele-education. We have to have a regional control room that is monitoring all these indicators, and gives us the danger sign if we get over 70% capacity, if the infection rate pops up. We have to have one central source that’s monitoring all of these dials, that hits the danger button so you could actually slow down the reopening. And then, we have to protect and respect the central workers, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:45)
On businesses, they have to have social distancing, continued testing, ongoing monitoring protocols. That’s all part of the new normal, and businesses are going to have to do that if they want to reopen. They’re going to have to adopt the federal and the state guidelines on this issue.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:01)
Today we’re announcing an advisory board that is made up of statewide business leaders, academic leaders, civic leaders who’s advising us on just this, and they have been for weeks, and I want to thank them very much. Manufacturing/construction as the first phase businesses, that’s 46,000 jobs in a place like central New York. So, it’s a major employer. And, these are businesses that can adapt to the new normal, in terms of their employees, in terms of the places of business, and in terms of the processes that they put in place.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:38)
On the healthcare capacity, again, we just lived this. We cannot be in a situation where 70% capacity is exceeded. You need at least that 30% buffer on hospital beds, and you need 30% of your ICU beds available if that number starts to tick up. In terms of testing-
Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
… starts to tick up. In terms of testing, we have to have the testing regimen in place and we have to prioritize the people who get tested. Symptomatic people, individuals who came in contact with a symptomatic person, and frontline and essential workers. They do have a higher rate of infection because they’re putting themselves in harm’s way and we want to make sure they have the testing so we have an early alert system. You have to have the right number of sites. Testing won’t work if it’s impossible to get. Testing won’t work if it’s too hard to get. So you have to have the right number of sites for the area that you’re dealing with. The advertising is very important. It has to be available, but people have to know it’s available and they have to know what the symptoms are that would have them go get tested because again, this is about people understanding it and people buying into it.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:02)
This is not government orders. This is people get it, they know the facts, they know what they’re supposed to do, and they do it because we’ve communicated successfully the circumstances and the facts. But you need that testing and you need it to trace the contacts, otherwise, you see that infection rate increase. On the tracing, the estimate is 30 tracers for every 100,000 people, so that’s a data point. That’s what it means to have tracing in place. And then isolation facilities is a proportionate number of people who test positive who say, “I can’t go home,” or, “I don’t want to go home, I don’t want to infect my family. I don’t want to infect my significant other. I have enough issues without having to explain how I infected my significant other with COVID,” which, a valid point.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:03)
So isolation facilities available for those people. And then the regional control room where you’re monitoring all of those metrics. You’re monitoring hospital capacity, the rate of infection, the PPE burn rate, how businesses are complying and it has an emergency switch that we can throw if any one of those indicators are problematic. Because remember, we have gone through hell and back over the past 60 or so days. What we’ve done has been tremendous, really tremendous and what people have done, what the American people have done, what New Yorkers have done has been to save lives literally, but we have to remain vigilant. This is not over. I know as much as we want it to be over, it’s not over. And we have to respect what we accomplished here.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:02)
When they started this, the projections for this state were 120,000 New Yorkers would be infected and hospitalized. Only 20,000 were infected and hospitalized. How could they be so wrong? They weren’t wrong. We changed reality. The differential, the variance is what we did. It’s the close down. It’s wearing masks. It’s all of that. We reduced the rate. We so called flattened the curve, flattened the curve. Well, that meant 100,000 fewer New Yorkers didn’t get seriously ill, didn’t go into a hospital, didn’t overwhelm the hospital system, and a percentage of those people who got seriously ill would have passed away. So we literally saved lives. We can’t now negate everything that we accomplished. We have to do the opposite. We have to take this experience and we have to learn and grow from the experience and we have to build back better than before.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:09)
As a society and as a community, we need better systems. This exposed a lot of issues, fundamental issues. We have to do a better job on tele-education, remote learning sounds great, but you have to have all the equipment. People have to be trained and teachers have to be trained. We jumped into it. We have to do a better job. We have to do a better job on telemedicine. Not everybody has to show up at the doctor’s office. You can do a better job. We have to do a better job on our basic public health system. I mean, when you look back, the virus was in China last November and December, last November and December. Why didn’t someone suspect, well, maybe the virus gets on a plane last November, December, and lands in the United States the next day? Right?
Andrew Cuomo: (20:11)
Everybody talks about global interconnection and how fast… Everybody knows there’s a virus in China last November, December, China says, “Don’t worry, we’re taking care of it.” Yeah, but all you need is one person to get on a plane. As it happened, one person got on a plane and went from China to Europe and then it went from Europe to New York. The flights from China basically go to the West Coast, the flights from Europe basically go to the East Coast. We got it through Europe. But where was the whole international health community? Where was the whole national host of experts? The WHO, the NIH, the CDC, that whole alphabet soup of agencies.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:59)
Where was everyone? Where was the intelligence community? With the briefings saying this is in China and they have something called an airplane and you can get on an airplane and you can come to the United States. Governors don’t do global pandemics, right? But there’s a whole international, national health community would do that. Where were all the experts? Where was the New York Times? Where was the Wall Street Journal? Where was all the bugle blowers who should say, “Be careful. There’s a virus in China that may be in the United States.” That was November, December. We’re sitting here January, February still debating how serious this is. And again, it’s not a state responsibility, but in this system, who was supposed to blow the bugle and didn’t? Because I would bank that this happens again and is the same thing going to happen again? I hope not.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:09)
So we have to figure these things out. We also have to remember that as a society and as a community, we’re about government and we’re about systems. But even more, we are about values. What makes us who we are are our values. And that’s my last point, which is point number 12. Protect and respect the essential workers. I had two nightmares when this started. One, that I would put out directives on what we need to do and 19 million New Yorkers would say, “I haven’t been convinced, I’m not going to do this.” Because look at what the directives were, we’re going to close down every business. You have to stay in your home. I mean, the most disruptive government policies put in place. I can’t even remember the last time. I can’t even see in the history books the last time government was more disruptive to individual life.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:18)
No businesses. Everybody stays home. No schools. What happens if New Yorkers said, “We’re not doing that? We’re not doing that. It’s too much. It’s an overreaction. It’s political.” Because everything’s political nowadays, right? It’s so easy to say, “Well, that’s just political.” That was a fear because if New Yorkers did that, governmentally, I had no ability to enforce 19 million people staying in their homes. That’s why the communication was so important. Give them the facts, give them the facts, give them the facts so they understand why. That worked. Second nightmare was what if the essential workers don’t show up? You have to have food. You have to have transportation. The lights have to be on. Someone has to pick up the garbage. The hospitals have to run.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:16)
What if the essential workers said, “I’m not showing up?” You’ve communicated so effectively the fear of the virus that the essential workers say, “If everybody’s staying home, I’m staying home too.” It could have happened. I went through the HIV virus. When HIV started, people were petrified. Nobody knew what it was, nobody knew how it lived, how it was transferred, how long it lived. People were petrified. Nobody wanted to go near it. What happens if the essential workers here said, “I’m not going to show up to run the bus? You don’t pay me enough to put my life in danger. I’m not doing it.” They showed up. They showed up. I just finished communicating how dangerous this was to convince 19 million people to stay home and close schools and close businesses and the essential workers still showed up.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:23)
That is a value. They didn’t show up for a paycheck. They didn’t show up because government asked them to show up. They didn’t show up because their employer said, “I need you to show up.” They showed up out of their values and out of their honor and out of their dignity. That’s why they showed up. My grandfather, people know my father in this state, my grandfather, little Italian immigrant, Andrea Cuomo, named for him, no education, ditch digger, came here. The classic immigrant story, winds up having a little grocery store in South Jamaica, Queens, poor community. And during the depression, he almost lost the store and he loved to tell the story. Why did he almost lose the store?
Andrew Cuomo: (26:19)
Well, it was the depression and the finances. No, because he gave away food during the depression because he wouldn’t let anyone be hungry. So a family would come in, nobody had money, it was the depression, and he would give them food. And he was giving away so much food that he had problems paying his bills, gave him a lot of stress, wound up having a heart attack as a young person, but no one told him to do that. That was just his values. And I would ask him about it afterwards. I said, “Grandpa, well, why would you…” He said, “What am I going to do? Let them go hungry? I’m going to let somebody go hungry?” That was unimaginable to him. He was an essential worker. Nobody called him an essential worker, but he was an essential worker and that’s what people are doing day in and day out here.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:23)
The person who delivers the groceries, the person who’s driving the bus, the person who’s driving the subway, the nurses, the doctors, the orderlies, all these people who are showing up every day, not because of the check. They could stay home too and file for unemployment. No, they’re doing it out of their sense of honor and their sense of dignity and their sense of pride. This is their mission. This is their role. They’re New Yorkers, they’re Americans and they’re going to show up. The police officers, the firefighters. I mean, everyone’s petrified. You’re going to be a police officer. You’re going to pull people over in a car. You’re going to go into a house for a domestic disturbance, wrestle with somebody in the house, you don’t know who it is. That’s what they do. That’s their job.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:14)
That’s why I wanted to thank the healthcare workers and everybody thanks the healthcare workers, but it’s not just the healthcare workers. It’s all the people who’ve been out there all this time making sure everyone else could stay home. They have higher infection rates. They’re getting paid a minimal amount of money. They have families at home too that are suffering, but they’re getting up every day and they’re doing their job. So as we talk about reopening, protect and respect the essential workers, they need testing. They need equipment. They’re putting their lives on the line. Protect and respect the essential workers. Public transportation. We’ve kept running because they need it to get to work.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:09)
That’s why public transportation continued. We talked early on about closing down public transportation. They said, “Forget it.” That’s how the nurses are getting to work. That’s how the orderlies are getting to work. Nobody will be in a hospital. Nobody will be there to deliver the food. Nobody will be in the power plant to keep the lights on. Nobody will be at the telecommunications’ department. Public transportation is vital for them. Well, then make sure public transportation is safe and disinfected. The New York Daily News ran a story today on the public transportation in New York City, and their front page is a picture of a subway car filled with homeless people and their belongings.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:01)
… Their belongings. Respect the essential workers. That is disgusting, what is happening on those subway cars. It’s disrespectful to the essential workers who need to ride the subway system. Upstate New York need to ride the buses to get to work. They deserve better and they will have better. We have to have a public transportation system that is clean, where the trains are disinfected. You have homeless people on trains. It’s not even safe for the homeless people to be on trains. No face masks. You have this whole outbreak. We’re concerned about homeless people so we let them stay on the trains without protection in this epidemic of the COVID virus? No, we have to do better than that, and we will. And we will learn from this and we’ll be better from this because we are New York tough, and tough means not just tough because tough is easy.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:14)
It’s smart and it’s disciplined and it’s unified and it’s loving and that’s who we are and that’s what we are. And that’s why we got through this as well as we have thus far together because of our values, because of our respect, our dignity, mutuality, our love for one another, our willing to sacrifice and because we’re fortunate where we have many, many heroes in our midst, not because they have metals on their uniforms but because they have honor in their souls and they have strength in their character and they have dignity and pride in themselves and because they show up every day, every day to make sure everyone is protected and they have to be at the top of the list. They’re going to be at the top of the list in the next iteration of whatever this is. They’re going to be at the top of the list at the golden gate, but they deserve our respect and protection here and they’re going to get it. Questions?
Michael Betting: (32:33)
Governor, Michael Betting from CMI Central. This week you introduced a lot of folks to the concept of an attractive nuisance and in central New York we have the Syracuse nationals car show, which I know you’re a fan. The state fair last time around drew 1.3 million people, our lakeside towns, when you think about summer central, New York in the summer, in my estimation, is an attractive nuisance. How can these things go on?
Andrew Cuomo: (33:01)
Yeah, it breaks my heart, but they can’t unless it’s done statewide and unless it’s done, not just statewide, but in with our neighboring states. We had a situation in Connecticut where they had certain things open that we didn’t have open. They had waterside parks, just what you mentioned, and Connecticut called and said, “I have all New York license plates in my parking lot.” People will get in the car and drive several hours to go somewhere. Look, if you open the state fair this year, you’d have the highest attendance we ever had, that I can guarantee you, but it wouldn’t be good. Everything is about reducing density. So it would have to be statewide parks, beaches, waterside attractions that would have to be statewide or whatever region did it without the others, you would have a massive infusion of people from everywhere. And that’s then density, and density is the problem.
Michael Betting: (34:10)
So that’s a no.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:12)
That is a no, unless it was done statewide in collaboration with the other neighboring states. Right? We do almost everything together with Connecticut and New Jersey, or at least we know what they’re doing and the consequences of what they’re doing. But can you open the state fair unless the entire state is at a point where it’s opened? I don’t believe so.
Speaker 2: (34:37)
Governor, the unemployment system is still a mess in New York. Hundreds of thousands of people applied four or five six weeks ago for money and have not received anything. I know you keep saying they’ll get their money, it’ll come when it comes, but a lot of these people live paycheck to paycheck. They’ve gone weeks without money. What more can you do to try and help them?
Andrew Cuomo: (34:58)
Look, it’s something we work at every day. It’s not a New York problem. It’s a nationwide problem. The number of unemployed hit an all time high. They all called the local unemployment office in the state. Every state is dealing with this. I talk to the governors on joint conference calls. Every state is overwhelmed and trying to design new technology and new apps and new this. Our state actually is doing much, much better than the other states in how many people haven’t been able to sign up. We have over 1,000 people working on phones and technology. It’s even more now, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (35:46)
3,000 people hired just to man phones and the website, et cetera. So we have the number down dramatically. But it was just a sheer function of quantity and volume. Now, good news, bad news. Yes, it’s frustrating as heck. Good news is the check, it doesn’t cost you any money. You will get the check for the same period of time, but your point is right. You are without that check until you get signed up. But the numbers are way down. Melissa, do you remember the …
So right now we have 3.1 billion dollars to over 1.5 million people. And as the governor said, we’re heads and shoulders above all the other states who are dealing with this crisis. The problem is that as we get the backlog down in the previous weeks, that continues to build. We’re still getting claims in real time. Right now we’re down to around 400,000 outstanding claims. The majority of those are the pandemic unemployment insurance, the self contractors, the gig employees, people who are out of work because their kids’ schools are closed, which is something that the state has never dealt with before. That was new as a result of the CARES act that was done at the end of March. And so the department of labor, as the governor said, we now have 3,000 people that are working on this issue and they’re going to keep working at it until everybody gets their money.
The one thing I will say is the governor did an executive order that said that you can’t be evicted for the 90 days, and obviously that’s something that will extend going forward if that’s necessary. So while folks are waiting to get this process and while we get through this, at least they know they can’t be evicted from their homes and they will get the back pay back to the first day that they were due it. And we understand and we sympathize and we’re asking people to please remain patient and we’re doing everything we can to resolve the problem.
Speaker 2: (37:37)
You were asked about the exposure for some of those folks yesterday and you said you believed it was three dozen or so. I spoke to three dozen family myself, just me that had someone else’s information [inaudible 00:37:50] their social security numbers, their phone number, where they work, all their financial information. Have you had a chance to reexamine that exposure?
So that’s what we were aware of as of yesterday morning we did a further investigation. It appears there was one mailing that was the problem where literally two pieces of paper when they were printed and correlated were stuck together and then that caused the whole mailing to be off and so we haven’t identified the specific number. They’re looking at that right now, but out of an abundance of caution, everyone whose forms were printed and mailed that day are going to receive free credit monitoring for an entire year and they’re having their claims prioritized, so they are working on that. As of yesterday morning that was the number, we fear that number is higher, but we have isolated the one mailing that it was impacted from.
Speaker 2: (38:33)
I can get that information too. It was the end of last week.
Speaker 3: (38:39)
All the points that you made today seem to be very similar to the points that were made in yesterday’s briefing. Are we as a region, CNY, now having permission to reopen [inaudible 00:38:50] ?
Andrew Cuomo: (38:51)
Today what we did, I gave concepts more yesterday. Today I actually gave the numbers and the data, the actual steps to a reopening plan. We said that we’ll look at regions. May 15th, state goes on unpause. We are on pause, unpause. That’s about two weeks. The CDC guideline says declining cases for the preceding two weeks. So if we see the cases continuing to go down, we get to November 15th we’ll have met CDC guidelines in some parts of the state. Not New York City, not downstate, unless a miracle happens, please, please. But so then you’d have regions which would meet the CDC guidelines, like some of the other states have met CDC guidelines. They could then plan a reopening. The question will be, what is a reopening plan, right? Everybody’s talking about reopening. I’m going to have a reopening plan. What is a reopening plan? There is no such thing as a reopening plan. Nobody’s done it before. So we went back, we studied every reopening plan, spoke to every international expert and went through this epidemic wave, second wave, flu season and actually came up with 12 steps, which are a reopening plan with metrics, with data. Here are the numbers and this is what has to be in place to reopen. And regions that in two weeks have reduced rates by the CDC guidelines, these would be the reopening plans that we have to have in place. They’re regional, which means those counties would have to coordinate on the County responsibilities. The state has to coordinate certain responsibilities, the federal government has responsibilities here, they’re providing supplies for the testing because the testing has been a big problem. So this is the probably most specific reopening plan with data that I have seen, and I’ve went through many of these, but it’s a very fact based, data driven, reopening plan for regions that would keep them safe and allow the economy to reopen in phases.
Speaker 4: (41:24)
Yesterday [inaudible 00:41:27] had a phone conversation with several governors around the country and he said, quote, “States should seriously consider reopening their schools before the academic year is over.” What is your stance on that. Also, were you on that call?
Andrew Cuomo: (41:42)
I was on that call. He’s talking to states … When you talk to the governors, you have 50 governors, you have 50 different situations, right? You have states that have a diminutus problem and then you have me on the phone who has the worst problem in the country, so some states are reopening. If a state is reopening, then it would make sense for some states to reopen schools. I don’t know how you really reopen businesses statewide without reopening schools, right? Because schools primarily they educate our children. As a practical matter, many people go to work because their kids are in school. If the kids are not in school, now you have a childcare issue. So for those states that makes sense. We’re going to have a decision on schools. We have all schools in the state closed. We’ll have a decision the end of this week, what we’re going to do on schools, and then on summer schools.
Speaker 5: (42:45)
Governor, [inaudible 00:42:47] hospital sits across the street from Syracuse University. Students want to know if classes return on campus this upcoming fall, when and how do you expect for private universities like Syracuse to reopen, what phase of your plan and what does the new reality for college students look like in terms of social distancing and [inaudible 00:13:06]?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:05)
Can’t tell you what September looks like. I could guess, but the guess doesn’t help anything. We have to see where we are. I have a college student at home who was supposed to graduate this year and she’s taking her courses remotely. They don’t plan any graduation, they don’t plan any ceremony, so we’d have to figure out September before we get there. But we have a long way between here and September
Speaker 5: (43:36)
[inaudible 00:43:36] private universities. Would they be able to open as the SUNY schools do as well, at the same time?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:42)
Whatever rules would apply to SUNY, I would imagine apply to private schools unless private school can always make their own decisions.
Speaker 6: (43:51)
Governor, hospitals like Glenn Falls Hospital that say they haven’t received guidance from the Department of Health in regards to resuming elective surgeries. What do you have to say to that, are they going to receive guidance?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:06)
Speaker 6: (44:07)
Andrew Cuomo: (44:08)
Nope, because they’re in the capital district.
Speaker 6: (44:12)
And other hospitals.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:12)
Yeah. When we were in the midst of this, we were worried about the hospital capacity, so we did a couple of things. We mandated that every hospital add 50% capacity, so we went from 50,000 beds in our system, about 53,000 to about 75,000 beds. We were looking at a projection of 120,000 hospital beds needed. We only had 50, we went to 75 with a 50% additional, and then we said, “No elective surgery.” So you don’t fill those beds with elective surgery, that can be postponed by definition, it’s not life threatening. Some regions of the state where the numbers have come down, you can-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
… the state where the numbers have come down, you can allow elective surgery again in those hospitals because you don’t have a capacity issue. Some parts of the state we still worry about a capacity issue and we don’t want to wind up in a situation where hospitals say we can’t take any COVID patients because we have beds filled with elective surgery. But it depends on the region you are in in upstate New York but Dr. Malatras knows this better than I.
Dr. Malatras: (45:33)
As the governor said, it depends on the region. Today there will be some guidance going out for those regions that can resume elective surgery that the governor announced last week. Particularly prioritizing key surgeries that were put off for several weeks. That should be coming today.
Speaker 7: (45:50)
So hospitals specifically [inaudible 00:45:53] said no, so Glens Falls will not be [inaudible 00:45:55]
Andrew Cuomo: (45:55)
Capitol District Region still has a capacity issue. Western New York has a capacity issue. Central New York, I don’t know. Do you know?
Dr. Malatras: (46:04)
Central New York will have guidance because they’ve fallen under the capacity threshold. So all the regions will be notified if you’re above the threshold, below the threshold, and then receive guidance based upon where they sit right now in relation to what the number of COVID cases that they do have in their regions.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:20)
So central New York, he’s saying can resume elective surgery because their capacity number is lower. The number of cases they have is lower. Western New York, Capitol District, that’s not the case.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:36)
Let’s ask somebody else if I could.
Speaker 8: (46:38)
Hi. Governor, as other States started to reopen. Is there any concern that New York could fall behind economically, if people are maybe not quite ready to open yet?
Andrew Cuomo: (46:48)
We’re talking about regions of New York, right? So different regions are in a different place. Downstate New York is one of the most hard hit places on the globe, let alone in the state of New York or the nation. But look, now downstate New York also had 9/11. Downstate New York also had Superstorm Sandy. Yeah, there will be a disturbance to the economy, I have no doubt. But we will come back in downstate New York. Upstate New York, again some of the regions in upstate New York are much like other States, that was that slide I showed you. So we can be at about the same place that they are, but I’m not going to trade off economics for life and death. Public health comes first. Life comes first. Thinking about my grandfather, he used to love to say, “If we have our health, anything else we can figure out, but you have to have your health.” If you’re ever in a situation with yourself, God forbid or loved one where they give you a really devastating diagnosis, you see how fast everything else becomes irrelevant. It’s just gone. If you have your health, you can figure out anything else. If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters. Let’s take one more.
Speaker 9: (48:18)
Governor how has [crosstalk 00:48:19]-
Andrew Cuomo: (48:28)
Both. You have County health departments that technically have tracers or people who do this function on a much lower level now. But you have County health departments, you have state health department officials, and then we’re going to have to hire people also. This is something that no one has ever done before and a Mayor Bloomberg, former mayor of New York city is going to help us design a system, do the training, but it’s going to be a collaborative. So if you said central New York, if you look at those numbers, central New York would need about 150 tracers. You look at the counties in that region. How many people can do tracing who are now employees of the health departments, governments in that region. You don’t have to be a health department person to be a tracer. How many state employees and then how many do we have to hire to put that system together?
Speaker 9: (49:28)
Governor, how was the new 24 hour mandate going for nursing homes when it comes to releasing new COVID-19 information? Have you guys found any that haven’t been following that new rule?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:39)
I don’t believe we found any. We haven’t had any complaints. There are 600 nursing homes, so I’m sure there are complaints out there that I haven’t heard, but normally when you have a significant significant number, I hear about it and I haven’t heard anything about it.
Speaker 11: (49:57)
As a follow up to that, we’ve been inundated with calls from our viewers about nursing homes and just lack of transparency. I’ve been in touch with the AG’s office and obviously they’re investigating. They can’t really delve into details about that. What would you tell our viewers and the people who are fearing for their loved ones who have no clue what’s going on inside of the nursing homes?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:24)
Well, they have a right to know and that is a responsibility of the nursing home. The nursing home has to inform family members of the status of a person in a nursing home. And that we can help with and the Attorney General’s investigating, Department of Health is investigating also. What’s really happening in nursing homes is what we feared from the get go. We were introduced to this virus in the state of Washington in a nursing home. This virus is an efficient, effective predator and the virus preys on the vulnerable and the vulnerable are primarily elderly people, people with a compromised immune system and a nursing home is ground zero for this virus, period. It is a congregate facility of vulnerable people and to stop the virus from getting in, where every staff member who walks in they have to take their temperature, et cetera, testing, et cetera. But it just takes one person, one facility person, one nurse, one orderly, one doctor, one anything to walk in there with a virus and then it is fire through dry grass in that nursing home. That is, you look at the people who have passed with this virus, predominantly senior citizens, predominantly people with a compromised immune system. That is where this virus goes and it is frightening. It is frightening. And if you have a loved one in a nursing home, yes, it is frightening.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:19)
One more, sir.
Speaker 12: (52:19)
Governor, [inaudible 00:52:22] plan for opening, if that second wave does occur later this year will you consider a regional plan to close down the regions [inaudible 00:52:31].
Andrew Cuomo: (52:31)
Well, the way the plan would work is you have built in monitoring mechanisms. You have a built in, I would say governor, but I don’t want to say that, governor can be a limiting device. You have a built in circuit breaker. If you go above 70% capacity on your hospitals circuit breaker, so if you had flu season and people start to come in for the flu and you hit that 70% threshold, then circuit breaker. You have to do something different. You’re in the red zone. If the infection rates for COVID goes over 1.1 which is one person has it and it transfers to more than one person, 1.1, circuit breaker because you’re off to the races at 1.1. That is what they call outbreak status. We’re down by like 0.8 now, so it’s a tight margin of error 0.8 to 1.1 but those would be two built in circuit breakers and they are afraid of the flu season for two reasons.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:54)
The flu season takes up hospital capacity, the flu season takes up testing capacity. We’re working to get all these labs to do COVID testing. Well what do the labs normally do? They do all the flu testing, seasonal, but they do all the flu testing. Well, if you have all the labs doing COVID testing, what happens when flu season comes? You’re going to have to reduce the number of COVID tests so they are worried about the flu season. And then if you get to a flu season and you start to feel achy and you’re sneezing and you’re coughing, you’re going to say, “Oh, either I have the flu or I have COVID.” And having the flu is one thing. Having COVID is something else. You’re going to run to the emergency room and now they worry about hospital capacity again. That’s just with the flu season. That’s without the so-called second wave.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:56)
What they’re worried about what the second wave is, you look at the 1918 flu pandemic. It came in waves. The first one and then the virus mutated and came back stronger, so could the virus mutate and come back stronger? Maybe. That’s what the second wave is. That’s why I say it’s so important when we’re doing the retrospective here. What happens next time China says, “I have a virus.” Or South Korea says “I have a virus.” Is it going to take the international community and the federal agencies two months to figure out that we’re in trouble? I think the attitude has to be a virus anywhere is a virus everywhere. That’s the only safe operating principle. Well it was in China on Monday, it could be here today. ” Well, we’re not so sure. We don’t…” Yeah, but it could be. But that’s the second wave they’re afraid of. And then the flu.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:09)
I have to go back to Albany. Thank you very much guys. Thank you.
Speaker 13: (56:14)
[inaudible 00:56:14] about schools. How do you get [inaudible 00:56:16].
Speaker 14: (56:14)
Are universities an attractive nuisance?
Speaker 13: (56:17)
How do you get buy in from parents after the disease [inaudible 00:00:56:19].
Andrew Cuomo: (56:19)
That we’ll be governing on… Well, the parents will follow facts because parents are worried about the safety and health of their child. The state emergency powers govern over the 700 school districts. So whatever we do will be binding on the school districts.
Speaker 14: (56:43)
Are universities an attractive nuisance?
Andrew Cuomo: (56:46)
Speaker 15: (56:47)
You are [inaudible 00:56:48] furloughing front line workers. They just announced this today. [inaudible 00:56:48] your reaction to that [inaudible 00:56:49] times of this COVID pandemic hospitals [inaudible 00:56:49] furloughing, frontline furloughing.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:55)
Well, the balance is, I don’t know the facts, the circumstances of that hospital, but obviously the last thing anybody wants is to furlough frontline workers who’ve been true heroes.