Apr 29, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 29
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on April 29. Cuomo responded to GOP senators’ state “bailout” rhetoric and said this is turning into a “political brawl”. Full transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (04:35)
Members of the esteemed Legislative Correspondents Association. Thank you very much for being here. Everybody knows Joe Friday. My daughters tell me that nobody knows him and nobody knows what I’m talking about, but that’s okay because what he would say is, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Just the facts, ma’am, very droll, dry because people want to give their editorial comments. Well, I think this, I think this. No, no, no, let’s just start with the facts. Just the facts, ma’am. That’s what we do. Joe Friday, get to know him.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:17)
Hospitalization rate ticks down, good news. Net change down, that’s good news. Intubations down, that’s good news. COVID hospitalizations new ones per day, just about flat. That’s not great news. Actually up a tick, so that is not good news. What we’re watching now is how fast the decline, how low does it go? We don’t want to see 1000 new cases every day. We’d like to see that in the low 100s, ideally, of new cases every day. Death rate, terrible news, 330. You see the decline has been slow at best and still disgustingly high.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:16)
We’re making progress, that’s for sure, but we’re not out of the woods, yet and we’re proceeding with caution and there are caution signs out there that we should pay attention to. Singapore is talking about a second wave with 900 new cases. This is after they controlled the beast. They’re on the decline. They’re now looking at new cases. Germany is a situation that we should also watch and learn from. They relaxed and started to reopen. They’re now seeing an increase. These are interesting, the rate of infection, which is what we watch, was at 0.7. One Person infecting 0.7 of per cent, obviously less than one person, 1% infection rate is one person effecting one person. They were at 0.7. They started to reopen. In 10 days, they went up to a 1 on the infection rate. That’s troubling, shows you how fast the infection rate can increase if you don’t do it right on the reopening. So proceed with caution.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:43)
Our reopening is different. We don’t have a conceptual plan. We don’t have an abstract plan because there is no conceptual plan, there is no abstract plan. You have to have a plan that is based on facts, based on specifics. This is not about politics. This is not about spin. This is not about emotion. There are no conspiracy theories that work here. We outlined a 12 step plan that is factual, that is based on numbers, based on data. And then it has a numerical circuit breaker that is not subject to personal emotion or desire, but just checks and monitors that infection rate that we just saw in Germany and is watching for those increases and if there’s an increase, circuit breaker stops the reopening at that point.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:44)
Some of the specifics we’re looking at, you must have 30% of your hospital beds available. We can’t go back to where we were, where we overwhelmed the system. We have to have a 30% buffer. We have to have 30% of ICU beds. We have to have that buffer before we start bumping up against total capacity. And we have to watch the hospitalization rate and the diagnostic testing rate. How many are positive, how many in negative, which we’ll take on a continuous basis. You see that number start going up, worry. But it’s all based on the data and the numbers, I’m sorry. And the rate of transmission our T-rate of transmission [inaudible 00:09:35] rate of transmission has to be 1.1 or less. We just said Germany is at 0.1 because the 1.1 that is textbook outbreak. Watch the numbers and watch the transmission rate.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:54)
And how do you do that? You do that with testing. And that’s why everybody’s talking about testing. The testing allows you to continually test sample how many people are positive, how many people are negative. You see the positive start to increase through your day to day testing, that is a pause sign. We’re doing about 20,000 tests. We said we wanted to double that. We’re now on average about 30,000 tests per day, which is a dramatic increase, not where we need to be, but a dramatic increase. Where we are now, you should know, is New York state is doing more than most countries are doing. We have been very aggressive in testing and we have made great progress and New Yorkers should feel good about that, but we have more to do.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:49)
On elective surgeries, we had canceled all elective surgery so we could have increased capacity in the hospitals. When you cancel all elective surgeries, hospitals feel a financial pinch because that’s where they make their money is on elective surgeries. For areas that don’t have a fear of a COVID surge, we’re going to allow elective surgeries to begin. That’s primarily in counties upstate. Again, counties where we’re still worried about a surge in the COVID beds, we’re not going to open it up to elective surgery until we know we’re out of the woods on the COVID virus. And this is a list of counties that are eligible now for elective surgeries. I’ll do an executive order on that today.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:37)
We’ve been worried about frontline workers because they are the heroes who are out there every day, so everybody else can stay home. Somebody asked me yesterday on a radio interview, “Well, you’re out there every day, are you taking care of yourself?” I’m out there every day. Forget me. I’ll tell you who’s out there every day. The nurses who are in the emergency room, the doctors who are in the emergency room, the police officer who is going into homes and apartments because there’s a domestic disturbance, the EMTs, the fire department, the delivery worker who goes to 50 doors a day and gets paid, those people are out there every day. They’re the ones who are really doing the work. Compared to them, what I do is de minimis. And they’re doing it not because they get paid a lot of money, not because people say thank you God bless you, they’re doing it because it’s their value and their honor and their pride and their dignity and they show up. Even when it’s hard, they show up. My hat is off to them, but I want to make sure that we do what we need to do to protect them. That they have the equipment, they have the PPE, they have our respect, they have our gratitude, and I also want to make sure we’re testing so we get them the
Andrew Cuomo: (13:03)
And I also want to make sure we’re testing so we get them the results of tests so they can be taken care of themselves. I also want to see if we have a significant problem in any of those frontline workforces, so we’re doing testing. We started with the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department. What we found so far, Fire Department, which also has an EMTs, tested 17% positive, NYPD 10% positive. Number much higher in the FDNY EMTs. We believe that’s because the EMT number is driving it up. But we have to do more numbers and more research to determine that. Remember the EMTs, they are the front line, they’re the ones who are there, assisting the person in the closest contact in many ways. FDNY also. But we want to find out exactly what’s going on. They compare to a downstate average of the general population of about 18%. And again, we’ll do further research, further surveys to look at it by race and gender also.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:19)
We’re also going to do the same thing with the transit workers, the people who drive the buses, the subways, who clean the buses and the subways. Without those buses and subways, the essential workers couldn’t get to work. Why didn’t we just close down subways and buses? Because you close down the subways and the buses in New York City, don’t expect the nurses and the doctors to be able to get to the hospital, don’t expect a delivery worker to be able to deliver food when you ring on your telephone. So we need that public transportation to transport the essential workers. But those frontline workers are at risk. So we’re going to do additional testing for the transport workers.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:05)
I also commented yesterday, the Daily News had pictures of things that are going on in the New York City Subway System, where the cars were filthy, they were disgusting, homeless people were there with all their belongings. And it was not just the Daily News picture. It reflected what has been in the press and what people have been saying, which is the deterioration of the conditions in the subways.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:32)
Crime, some crimes are up in the subways even though ridership is down 90%. I don’t even know how mathematically that is possible. The trains are filled with homeless people and you’re not doing the homeless any favor. I’ve worked with the homeless all my life. To let homeless people stay on the trains in the middle of a global health pandemic with no masks, no protective equipment, you’re not helping the homeless. Letting them endanger their own life and endanger the lives of others is not helping anyone.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:10)
So I told the MTA yesterday, in two days, which means tomorrow, I want a full plan. How do we disinfect every train, every night, period? Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before. We want them to show up. We don’t want them to stay home. We owe it to them to be able to say, the train you ride, the bus you ride has been disinfected and is clean.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:50)
Also, state and local funding from Washington is essential. This is now turning into a political brawl on state and local funding. More and more, some of the elected officials in Washington are saying they’re against it. They’re led by Senator Mitch McConnell who leads the Senate, who makes it blatantly political. No blue state bailout, no blue state bailout. What is he trying to say? The States that have coronavirus are democratic states. And he’s a Republican, so he doesn’t want to help the democratic states. He wants so far as to say, well, he’d be in favor of the states going bankrupt. First, states have never gone bankrupt. States can’t go bankrupt. There are serious constitutional questions about whether or not a state can go bankrupt, declare bankruptcy. And you need a federal law that would allow the states to declare bankruptcy even if you got around the constitutional question on bankruptcy.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:04)
So if he believed that, if it wasn’t just political rhetoric and personal vitriol, then pass a law that allows states to declare bankruptcy. He would have to do that. And I dare him to do that, and get that bill signed by the president. But to make it partisan is what is most disturbing.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:35)
And you can see they’re now rallying the partisan troops. Senator Scott from Florida says we’re supposed to bail them out. We versus them. We’re supposed to bail them out. It’s we and it’s them. That’s not right. Who is we and who is them? Who is we and who is them? Them, the people who had coronavirus. They are the ones who had the coronavirus. We without the virus are supposed to bail out those people who have the virus. What an ugly sentiment. First of all, on the facts, it’s not even close to right, and why they would even want to go down this road when the facts damn everything they’re saying. And there are still facts. I know it’s hard to communicate facts in this environment. I know a lot of the filters don’t communicate facts. They all communicate spin now. Everybody has their own spin. But there are still facts that are not political theater, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (19:55)
New York State bails them out every year. They’re not bailing us out. We bail them out every year. New York state pays $29 billion into that federal pot, 29 billion more every year, that we never get back. Our state contribution into the federal pot, the United States of America pot, every year we put in $29 billion more than we take out.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:36)
On the other hand, they take out, every year, $37 billion more than they paid to the federal government. Senator Mitch McConnell, you are bailing out New York when every year you take out more from the kitty, the federal pot, $37 billion more than you put in? Who was bailing out whom? Senator Scott, Florida, you’re going to bail us out? You take out $30 billion more every year than you pay in.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:25)
How dare they? How dare they when those are the facts. How long are you going to play the American people and assume they’re stupid. They are not. And they can add, and they know facts. And I don’t care what the news media tries to do to distort these facts. They are numbers and they are facts and they can’t be distorted. And this is every year.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:57)
And look, what this is really about, it’s the Washington doublespeak. You look at the bills that they want to pass and who they want to help. They want to fund the hotels, the restaurants, the airlines, the big corporations. That’s who they want to fund. Well, who do state and local governments fund? State and local governments fund police, firefighters, nurses, school teachers, food banks. That’s who I want to fund. And that’s what it means to fund a state and local government. And that’s the choice that they’re making.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:34)
Everybody applauds the healthcare workers, jets fly over in tribute to the healthcare workers. That’s all nice, saying thank you is nice. How about actually rewarding them and making their life easier? How about giving them hazard pay? How about helping with their childcare? How about helping families who can’t feed their kids right now? How about helping the police and helping the firefighters and all the people who are out there right now killing themselves to make life easier for us?
Andrew Cuomo: (23:13)
That’s what this is really about. They want to fund corporate America. That’s who puts money in their pockets. And I say let’s fund working Americans. That’s the choice. Bail out us, them. No, it’s just theater. It’s just smoke and mirrors to avoid the American people seeing the reality, which is whose pocket they want to put money in versus whose pocket state and local governments want to fund.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:48)
The reason is so disturbing to me. I’m not surprised by anything in politics. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly for many, many years. I was in Washington for eight years, I know what it’s like. But if there was ever a time that one could reasonably believe you could put aside partisan politics, if there was ever going to be a moment where we could say, you know what, let’s stop, just for one moment, the partisanship, the ugliness, the anger, the deception. Let’s just stop for one moment. If there was going to be one moment to hit the pause button, the moment would be now. You have human suffering. You have people dying. You can’t stop the politics? Even in this moment? Even in this moment when people are dying all across the country, you still want to play your politics?
Andrew Cuomo: (25:06)
That’s what this is about and that’s why it is so disturbing on a fundamental level. Politics. I’m getting up and I’m reading that death toll number. I’m speaking to the widows and the brothers and the sisters and the children of people who died, and then we’re going to play politics with funding that’s necessary to save people’s lives. I mean, when does it stop? And the disconnect is between the political leadership and the people, because the American people, it’s not them. They are principled. They are kind. They are better than what they are getting. The American instinct is to help each other in crisis. The American instinct is to be good neighbors. The American instinct was the farmer who sent me the one-
Andrew Cuomo: (26:03)
… neighbors. The American instinct was the farmer who sent me the one mask to help a New Yorker when he only had five masks and a wife with one lung and underlying illness, and he sends one of his five masks to New York. Think about that generosity, that charity, that spirit. That’s America. Why? Because we’re good neighbors, because we care about one another.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:33)
America was when I said, “We need help in our emergency rooms and hospitals,” and 95,000 nurses and doctors from across the nation said, “We will come to New York to help. We’ll come into the emergency room. We’ll come into the hospital. I understand it’s COVID. I’ll leave my family and I’ll come to help yours.” That’s America. That’s who we are and that’s who we have shown ourselves to be in the middle of this crisis. The crisis brings out the best and the worst? Yes, and the best of America is beautiful and that’s what we’ve seen, because yes, we are tough, yes, we are smart, yes, we’re disciplined, yes, were united, yes, we’re loving, loving, because we are Americans, and that’s who we are and how we are as Americans.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:49)
And I just hope the political leadership of this nation understands how good we are as a people. And the textbook says, “Politicians lead, elected officials lead.” No. Sometimes the people lead and the politicians follow, and that’s where we are today. Follow the American people, look at what they’re doing, look at how they’re reacting, and politicians, try to be half as good as the American people.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:29)
I want to show you a self-portrait that was done by American people. This is a self-portrait of America. That’s a self-portrait of America. And you know what it spells? It spells love. That’s what it spells. You have to look carefully, but that’s what the American people are saying. We received thousands of masks from all across America, unsolicited, in the mail, homemade, creative, personal, with beautiful notes from all across the country, literally, just saying, “Thinking about you. We care. We love you. We want to help.” And this is just people’s way of saying we care and we want to help. This is what this country’s about and this is what Americans are about. A little bit more of this and a little bit less of the partisanship and the ugliness and this country would be a better place.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:07)
Thank you. Thanks you, guys. Questions, Bernadette?
Regarding the MTA and cleaning, you want it done on a 24-hour basis. How will this be done and-
Andrew Cuomo: (30:21)
I didn’t say on a 24-hour basis, Bernadette.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:25)
I said when people get into the train in the morning, they had to know that that train was disinfected the night before.
So what time will this happen and will it impact service?
Andrew Cuomo: (30:36)
I don’t know. I told the MTA, “Give me a plan whereby you will clean and disinfect every train every night so that I can say to the essential workers who are killing themselves for our state, ‘We are keeping the subways open for you, and when you get on the subway in the morning or in the afternoon, know that that car was disinfected the night before.'”
How realistic is this and is there money for that?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:07)
It’s realistic. It’s an essential. How realistic is it? What is the alternative? Essential workers go to work. By the way, you may get infected with the coronavirus on the train on the way to work. That’s not realistic. I’m not going to do that.
How come this hasn’t been done prior? I mean, we’re-
Andrew Cuomo: (31:26)
We have been starting. It is a tremendous undertaking that has never been done before, and you’re going to have to get homeless people into shelters where they can get housing and the services they need, so that’s a second operation. And the MTA has been going back and forth with the NYPD about this for weeks and weeks and weeks. The MTA hired private security guards to help, but all a private security guard can do is call 311, which is the city hotline, which then has them called the NYPD who are there in the first place.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:09)
So MTA’s story is, they’re at their wit’s end. But what I said is, “Look, I don’t care. I don’t care who’s to blame. I don’t want to point fingers. I don’t care. I’m at a place where I’m dealing with people losing their lives every day. I just want to get it done,” and I will get it done. Just tell me what I need to do to get it done. Let’s start telling the truth. Let’s stop with this filters and everyone covering their own rear-end and people skewing facts to cover their own rear-end and let’s start telling the truth, the blunt truth. And if it makes some people unhappy, that’s the way it’s going to be, but it has to stop. The trains have to be clean, the homeless need the services that they need and we have to be able to do it as a society. We have to. Tell me what it takes to clean the trains and disinfect the trains so I know that I can say to the essential workers, “It’s safe to go on those trains.”
You don’t think it should be on a 24-hour basis? Because right now, they do a 72-hour cleaning and another [crosstalk 00:07:33]-
Andrew Cuomo: (33:34)
I’m not going to do a cleaning schedule. I don’t do that. I told them, “Give me a plan as to how to make sure every train is cleaned so that when the train comes in in the morning, it is cleaned.” It’s their job to figure out the schedule and how they do it, but however it has to be done, I will do whatever I have to do to make that happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:01)
You can’t be in a position where you say, “We’re going to send a plane tribute to the nurses and we’re going to applaud the nurses at Elmhurst Hospital, and yesterday I got out of my car and I applauded the nurses in Syracuse and the doctors in Syracuse and I said, “On behalf of every New Yorker, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did on behalf of every New Yorker.” I believe that, but then at the same time, if that’s what you believe, well then help them. And you know that they’re getting on the subways to go to work. Make sure the subways are clean.
What should be done with homeless people? Because right now-
Andrew Cuomo: (34:55)
Look, I’ve been working on the homeless issue-
Andrew Cuomo: (34:57)
Bernadette, I’ve been working on the homeless issue since I was 20 something years old. I did the first plan for Mayor David Dinkins on how to help the homeless in New York City. Mayor Dinkins accepted it. Next mayor was Rudy Giuliani. He came in, he accepted it. We made tremendous progress on the homeless. I then went to Washington. I did a homeless plan for Bill Clinton, for the nation on how to help the homeless. He accepted it, we implemented it. It made tremendous progress. It was called the Continuum of Care. This federal government still is operating the program.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:37)
We have done this before. This is a false choice. While the homeless are on the trains, they have a right to be on the train. No one wants to live their lives on a subway train, and we have a higher obligation as a society than to say, “Okay, you can sleep in a subway car.” No. You deserve a shelter that is safe and services if you need them, to help you improve your life.
[crosstalk 00:36:11] Governor?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:11)
That’s what we should offer and that’s what we will. Jeremy?
[crosstalk 00:36:15] you got more problems with nursing homes, more infections, more deaths. Is the state at any point going to take action to set up maybe some kind of overflow facility for nursing home patients as you’ve seen in other states? I think-
Andrew Cuomo: (36:28)
What facility? I’m sorry.
One major source of controversy has been your policy that nursing homes have to accept COVID patients subject to all the restrictions, but it seems in many ways that’s setting off an impossible standard. So is New York going to set up some kind of overflow facility? There’ve been calls [crosstalk 00:10:46]-
Andrew Cuomo: (36:46)
We have done that.
… these federal facilities-
Andrew Cuomo: (36:48)
All right. Let’s see the facts again, okay?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:50)
We’ve done that.
… facility? Yes or no and why not?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:54)
Let me give you the fact, okay? Because facts, we’re talking about facts. You can have an opinion, but you can’t have your own facts: Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. A nursing home takes a COVID person if, capital I, capital F, if they can adequately care for that person. If they cannot adequately care for that person, they say, “I can’t adequately care for a COVID person.” Fine. Either they transfer that person to a different facility or they call the Department of Health and say, “We have to transfer that person.” We have other facilities. We have COVID-only overflow facilities, just what you’re talking about. We have it. We’ve discussed this, so we can do that, but it starts with their determination. They have to say, “I can’t provide for this person.”
Andrew Cuomo: (38:06)
As long as they say, “I can’t provide for this person.” And by the way, nobody even asks why. It’s just, “I can’t provide for this person.” Okay, we’ll take the person. And we have overflow facilities. Nick?
Governor, and maybe this is a question for the commissioner, Commissioner Zucker. There’s a Department of Health guidance that essentially allows asymptomatic nursing home staffers to work with COVID-positive patients. Some local officials are raising some concerns with this because it means people are still going to work while they’re asymptomatic and are COVID-positive. Is there any concern that you have with nursing home staffers still going to work even though they’ve tested positive for coronavirus?
Andrew Cuomo: (38:49)
Commissioner Zucker: (38:53)
Sure. So the patients who are … Your question about being asymptomatic, we make sure that they have the necessary precautions that they need if they’re going in there to care-
Doctor Howard Zucker: (39:03)
Ensure they have the necessary precautions that they need if they’re going in there to care for other individuals, that includes all the PPE and we monitor them and we’re working on a way to test and we are testing individuals who are in the nursing homes, both the workers as well as the patients.
Speaker 1: (39:15)
Is there any indication of how many nursing home staffers are COVID positive, asymptomatic and are still going to work every day?
Doctor Howard Zucker: (39:21)
We are looking at those numbers.
Speaker 3: (39:26)
[crosstalk 00:39:26] Governor, #extendthelockdown is trending on Twitter today. Yesterday you said one of your fears was that, one of your fears early on was that essential workers would not go to work out a fear of Coronavirus.
Speaker 3: (39:41)
As you get ready to open businesses in the state, are you worried that the next round of workers will not want to go back to work? Will be fearful of going back to work?
Andrew Cuomo: (39:54)
Just let me understand the question. Extend the lockdown is trending meaning people want to extend the lock down and not open up?
Speaker 3: (40:06)
Andrew Cuomo: (40:07)
Okay. Last week, your question was we had the protest outside. People wanted to go to work and I was oppressing people by keeping them in lockdown. So today I may artificially open the lockdown?
Speaker 3: (40:26)
The people outside said that they wanted to go back to work.
Speaker 3: (40:32)
Andrew Cuomo: (40:32)
And these people are saying they don’t want to go back to work.
Speaker 3: (40:36)
Because they are fearful of, they’re still fearful of the Coronavirus.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:40)
So we have people last week protesting because they want to go back to work. This week we have people protesting because they don’t want to go back to work. Yeah, welcome to America. That’s right. You have some people who say they want to go back to work. Liberate. Democracy. You have other people who say, I don’t want to go back to work. I want to live. Yes.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:10)
What I’m saying is I hear both voices. I hear the politics. I feel the tension. I get the tension. Let’s decide on the facts because this is emotion on both sides and I get the emotion because this is an emotional time. Everybody’s under stress. Everybody’s anxious. Mental health issues are way up. Domestic violence is way up. Alcoholism is way up. Substance abuse is way up. People are anxious.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:46)
These decisions we have to make without emotion and we have to make them on the facts and I’m not going to be swayed this week by this one and now the next week by the other one. Make the decisions on the facts, make the decisions on the numbers. I laid out yesterday, 12 steps, first plan that we’ve ever seen on the numbers.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:11)
You can reopen if you don’t increase hospitalizations and you don’t increase the infection rate because you can’t overwhelm the hospital. What does that mean? Here are the numbers. Here are the numbers and we’ll make the decision on the numbers. We’ve said from day one, follow the data. Follow the numbers.
Speaker 3: (42:34)
Concern though from some small business owners is that their employees went on unemployment and now they may not be able to get those employees back. So is there a way to deal with that if a business tries to reopen and then they can’t get their workers back to function?
Andrew Cuomo: (42:49)
Forced labor, not in this country.
Governor, who are the 900 to a thousand New Yorkers who are still coming into hospitals every day for COVID? Are they family members? I think you might’ve mentioned that yesterday or frontline workers. Do we know who these people are?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:04)
Marina, I don’t know that we have a statistical breakdown. The thousand people are troubling to me, for all the progress we made. I mean, just put it in perspective. If I came in here one day and said, we have a thousand people who tested positive for the COVID virus, you’d say wow in one day? Yeah. So it is startling news. The only thing that makes it less startling is that relative to everything we’ve gone through, it’s relatively positive news. I don’t know that we have any data though. They’re predominantly downstate New York. They track the statewide numbers, predominantly downstate, Western New York, Upstate, but I don’t know if we have any breakdown of who they are, where they’re coming from?
Jim Malatras: (43:56)
It’s by region, so we know which hospitals they’re going into, but not necessarily people’s occupations. The governor announced a couple of weeks ago, a study with University Albany and the Department of Health on diagnostic testing to collect a lot more demographic data so we know who’s getting tested, who’s positive. That doesn’t necessarily result in hospitalization rates but it will give us a better sense of who’s testing positive in the state. That’s not ready yet. They’ve just begun that study.
Governor, why did you stress that New York was the quickest to shut down after the first known the state when many other states since then have responded swifter. But what’s one thing you would change about New York’s initial response going forward, just based on what we know now as a lesson learned?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:34)
Yeah. I said at the time, New York was the fastest state to shut down. We went from our first case to total shutdown in 19 days. That, at the time, was the fastest shutdown. Since then, other states that came later, that saw what was going on moved faster.
Speaker 5: (45:01)
If I read your charts correctly, it appears that Saratoga Hospital can resume elective procedures. The Glens Falls Hospital cannot. Why is that? And as long as we’re talking about Saratoga, how do you feel about the race track opening up this summer if they can guarantee that their employees and their staff are safe?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:20)
Yeah, the Saratoga, Glens Falls, do you know that?
Jim Malatras: (45:22)
So some individual hospitals, they have to meet the governor’s criteria, the criteria that established by the Department of Health, which is 30% that capacity overall, 30% ICU bed capacity and then not an uptick in a number of COVID patients per day. So some of the individual hospitals don’t meet one of those tests and some of the counties haven’t met that test. So that’s why you see some of the differences in the regions just based on the hospitalizations of those specific regions.
Speaker 5: (45:48)
Saratoga and Glens Falls hospitals are not too terribly far apart, many people consider them to be in the same region.
Jim Malatras: (45:55)
Right. The issue is though that they had the bed capacity they have, if there are emerging issues where they think they do have the capacity, the Department of Health has established an exemption policy but they want to review that to make sure that there is actual capacity at those hospitals because you don’t want to be overwhelmed. So what they’re seeing in that data are increases in hospitalizations potentially, so we want to make sure that those beds are available as potential infections increase.
Speaker 5: (46:20)
What about Saratoga Race Track?
Andrew Cuomo: (46:21)
Yeah. This runs into our new concept of attractive nuisance, although the lawyers would say this is a improper use of the term, which it is, but we’ll just bother the lawyers a little bit.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:39)
You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region. State fair in Syracuse. Saratoga Race Track. I don’t think we have time, first of all, but today I don’t think you can open those unless we do it statewide because there was such a pent up demand to get out of the house and do something.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:13)
You open the Saratoga Race Track, I guarantee you have the highest attendance in the history of the Saratoga Race Track. You will have people from the entire Northeast region driving to the Saratoga Race Track just because I want to get out of the house. Now you could say, well that’s great for the Saratoga Race Track, but density is not our friend. Right. Even when you talk about opening a venue, you look at some of the pictures of some of the states that are opening venues, two seats apart, six feet, six feet apart. You know, how do you do six feet apart at the race track?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:48)
How do you do six feet apart at the state fair? How do you do six feet apart at the race track or the state fair when you have double the attendance you’ve ever had and people are all crammed in there? So I think it would have to be a statewide opening, coordinate with Connecticut, coordinate with Jersey. Otherwise, you will have a much, much more dense situation if you wind up being the only attraction in town and town is a tri-state region.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:19)
Let me just make sure I put an exclamation point in a point that I was trying to make earlier. This political patina, this politicization of what we’re going through in this country is extraordinarily dangerous. We are dealing with probably the most dramatic situation we’ve dealt with in modern political history. We’re dealing with the situation that we don’t really understand and we don’t know how to deal with.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:54)
This is all uncharted water. I’ve talked to every expert on the globe. Nobody has been here before. It’s going to take us at our best to navigate this, to save lives; at our best. At our best, we have to be working together. We have to be logical. We have to be cooperative. We have to be sane. We have to work with people who sometimes we don’t like. We have to work across the aisle. We have to be at our best.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:26)
When you start to politicize this situation and you start to say red and blue and this team and that team, you may as well take a wedge and hammer it right into the middle of this country. And if you do that during this time, and this becomes a political football or closing and opening becomes a political football, or funding becomes a political football, or this becomes a finger pointing blame game and you divide this country, the worst could lie ahead.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:05)
We think we’re coming out of it, but that’s only if we do what we have to do. What you hear coming out of Washington, and I was there for eight years, I’ve heard this music before. This is the music of a campaign season. This is a music of a rally and balloons and it’s us versus them and we’re good and they’re bad and that is poison right now as to where we are.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:34)
Thank you, guys.