May 1, 2020

Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 1

Andrew Cuomo May 1
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsAndrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 1

Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on May 1. He said schools in New York state will close for the remainder of the academic year. Full transcript here.

 

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Andrew Cuomo: (00:03)
Good morning. Good to be with you. Everybody knows Dr. Malatras, Dr. Zucker, Elizabeth Rosa, secretary to the governor, Robert Mojica budget director, also a member of the MTA board. Today’s day 62. Feels like just yesterday. Before we look at the numbers, I just want people to recall the context for these numbers and remember what we have accomplished. We were faced with a situation where the infection rate and those numbers were going straight up. That was only 30 days ago that we saw the number of cases and number of people coming into hospitals, the infection rate, everything was going straight up. That number would have just continued to go straight up and that’s why all the projections, national projection, state projections and local projections turned out to be incorrect. Excuse me. Because they were all believing that that line was going to continue to keep going up.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:19)
What happened is New Yorkers, Americans changed reality, literally changed reality. They literally changed the path of the virus spread and reversed the spread, and that’s what the close down procedures did. That’s what the masks have done. That’s what the socially distancing has done and New Yorkers, and all across this country, you saw that number change from that up trajectory to the downward trajectory. That shift in the trajectory reduced by about 100,000 the number of new Yorkers who would have been in hospitalized, 100,000 hospitalized. To be hospitalized you have to be seriously ill. A portion of those 100,000 would have passed away. So all this inconvenience, all this turmoil, for what? To keep 100,000 people out of hospitals. That’s for what. And the 100,000 people into hospitals would have overwhelmed the hospital system, would have been chaotic. That’s where Italy was, and a number of those 100,000 would have died.

Andrew Cuomo: (02:43)
So remember that context, and not just for the retrospective, but for the prospective. Our past actions changed the past trajectory. Our present actions will determine the future trajectory. It is that clear. It is cause and effect. You tell me what we do today, I will tell you the number of people sick tomorrow. So every day we get up every day everyone says, “Oh my gosh, I have to do this again.” Yes, but what you do today is going to determine the number of sick tomorrow. And New Yorkers have continued to do what they have to do and you see that number of hospitalizations dropping and that is all good news and that is a credit to the community and the social conscience and the responsibility of New Yorkers. The question now is as we’re on the decline, how fast is that decline and how far is that decline?

Andrew Cuomo: (03:58)
How low will the number actually wind up? Right now we’re at about 1,000 new cases per day. Okay? In the 900s. 954, 933, 970, 973. That’s four days. Day before that it was 1,076. That looks like the number is flattening, is plateauing at about 900, 1,000 cases. Three, four days, five days, if you want to say between 900 and 1,100. That is still too high a number of new cases to have every day. It’s not where we were. It’s a lot better than where we were for sure, but 1,000 new cases every day is still a very high infection rate. It’s still a burden on the hospital system, so we now want to take it to the next level. Let’s drill down on those 1,000 new cases. Where are they coming from? Why is the infection rate continuing? Who’s getting infected and let’s get more targeted in our response, right?

Andrew Cuomo: (05:18)
We’re fighting this statewide, but you have to wage the battle, wage the war on many fronts. It’s a statewide battle. Now that we have it basically stabilized and on the decline, the enemy is on the run, the virus is reducing, let’s get more refined, more targeted. And I’m going to be speaking with the hospitals this afternoon and say that we want to get more specific information on those new cases that are coming in the door. Where are they coming from? Who are they? To see if we can come up with a more specific target. If you look at the past few days where the cases have been coming from, this is a three day what they call rolling average, but you see 17% from Manhattan. Much of it correlates to population, but much of it also correlates with downstate New York. 17% Manhattan, 17% Kings, 12% Bronx, 11% Queens, but then 10% Nassau, 7% Westchester, Suffolk, so it’s the downstate region and then upstate it’s Erie County.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:39)
So gives you a snapshot of where the cases are coming from, but we need more specific information to have a specific battle plan. Literally, where do the new cases come from? Are they essential workers? Are they people who are staying home and getting infected by a family member, or are they essential workers who are still traveling and possibly getting infected at work? Where do they work? How do they commute? Is this a question of getting infected on public transportation? We just announced new subway buses, Long Island railroad, Metro North protocols. Where in the state? Are these people who are being transferred from a nursing home? What’s their sex? What’s their age? What’s their previous health status? What are the demographics? Let’s get more specific information from the hospitals to see if we can come up with a strategy that is more tailored to the reduction of these 1,000 cases per day.

Andrew Cuomo: (07:47)
The number of deaths, 289, lower than it has been, but still tragic and terrible and all the good numbers, all the good news, for me every day this number just wipes that all away. We announced a statewide policy for our schools. We did it last March 18th, we said that we were going to close schools all across the state, K to 12 and higher education schools. We waived what was called the 180 day requirement, which was the state regulation that schools had to have 180 days of teaching. Schools then transferred to distance learning programs, meal delivery services, childcare options for essential workers. That has actually worked out well, not perfectly. We had to do it in a rush, but there are lessons that we can learn here that could change teaching going forward and teaching in these types of situations going forward. But it did work.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:57)
It basically functioned well and teachers did a phenomenal job stepping up to do this. It was a hardship on everyone, but we made the best of the situation. Colleges and universities were also moved to distance learning. Campuses were closed unless the student really needed housing on the campus. Schools obviously by definition have higher density. They have transportation issues. Kids who are getting on a bus, we didn’t have the protective measures to put in place. You have 700 public school districts, 4,800 schools in this state. Then you have 1,800 private schools, 89 SUNY and CUNY campuses, 100 private colleges. In total there’s 4.2 million students, so the decisions on the education system are obviously critically important. We must protect our children. Every parent, every citizen feels that. We must protect our students, we have to protect our educators, and given the circumstances that we’re in and the precautions that would have to be put in place to come up with a plan to reopen schools with all those new protocols.

Andrew Cuomo: (10:17)
How do you operate a school that’s socially distanced with masks, without gatherings, with a public transportation system that has a lower number of students on it? How would you get that plan up and running? We don’t think it’s possible to do that in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe. So we’re going to have the schools remain closed for the rest of the year. We’re going to continue the distance learning programs. Schools have asked about summer school and whether we’ll have attendance in schools for summer school. That decision will be made by the end of this month. Again, nobody can predict what the situation is going to be three, four weeks from now. So we’re trying to stage decisions at intervals that give us the information, but also enough time for people to make the preparations they need to make.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:18)
So any decisions on summer schools will be made by the end of this month, but in the meantime, meal programs will continue, the childcare services for essential workers will continue. And then we want schools to start now developing a plan to reopen. And the plan has to have protocols in place that incorporate everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we learn. We’re going to be asking businesses to come up with plans that safeguard workers when they reopen. We need schools to come up with plans also that bring those precautions into the school room. And that’s for schools. That’s also for colleges.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:02)
And that’s for schools, that’s also for colleges and the state will approve those plans.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:08)
Related issue that we need to discuss and we need to pay attention to, this COVID crisis has caused significant disruption and many unintended consequences and ancillary issues that have developed, and one of them is when you have people who are put in this situation immediately with no notice, it has caused serious mental health issues. You have anxiety, depression, insomnia, loneliness, that feeling of isolation. We’re seeing the use of drugs go up, we’re seeing the use of alcohol consumption go up. This is a chronic problem. If you’re feeling these issues, you’re not alone, as a matter of fact, half of all Americans have said that their mental health has been negatively impacted.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:14)
Don’t underestimate the stress of this situation. It happens on a lot of levels. Three out of four say that their sleep has been affected. You don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. You don’t know if your job is going to exist. You’re at work one day, the next day they say everything’s closed, stay in the house. You’re in that house in a confined situation or you’re in an apartment in a confined situation, you can’t get out. It’s difficult.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:49)
For emotional support, we have a hotline that is set up. People shouldn’t be shy in any way or have any second thoughts about calling for help. It is a pervasive problem and people should make the call and get the help if they need the help.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:13)
We also see in line with what we’re talking about, a dramatic increase in the incidents of domestic violence. There was a 15% increase in March, a 30% increase in April, March is when this started. 15%, April 30%. That is a frightening rate and level of increase. Again, New Yorkers in need. We have a domestic violence helpline, (844) 997-2121. You can call, just discuss the issue. You don’t have to give your identity, you don’t have to say where you live, but people who need help should reach out. There was no shame in reaching out and saying, I need help. This is a national epidemic. It’s a statewide epidemic. Ask for help and we’re here to help.

Andrew Cuomo: (15:13)
We’re especially concerned about these issues for frontline workers,, just think about what the frontline workers are going through, think about what the healthcare workers are going through. They’re working extended hours, they’re seeing a large number of people die. They’re working in very frightening situations. They’re worried about their own health, they’re worried they get infected, they then have to go home, worry if they’re infected. Are they bringing that infection home? So this is a terribly stressful, difficult time, especially for the frontline workers, and we want them to know that we not only appreciate what they’re doing, but we’re there to support them. Saying thank you is nice, acting in gratitude is even nicer. So we have an special emotional support hotline for our essential workers.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:08)
We’re also going to direct all insurers to waive any cost sharing, co-pay deductibles for mental health services for essential workers, which means the mental health services will be free for frontline workers and they’ll be at no cost.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:35)
Too many people, too many families have said to me, “Well, I would go for services, but I don’t want to pay the cost. I can’t afford it. I don’t want to take that money from my family.” That’s gone. There is no cost to get mental health services. So just wipe that reason away and get the help that you need. It’s even in the best interest of your family.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:05)
Last point, personal opinion. Who said when life knocks you on your rear, learn, grow up and get back up? Was it AJ Parkinson? It was not AJ Parkinson. It was me. Nobody ever said that. Just me. When life knocks you on your rear… learn, grow and get back up. This has been a very difficult, difficult situation for everyone. But when life knocks you on your rear, learn and grow. And we will collectively learn and grow. We’re going to learn many difficult lessons from this situation. We’re going to learn about public health threats that we never saw before, we never heard of, we never really anticipated, we never actualized. Everyone talked about global pandemics and that possibility, but you know what, until it happens, people don’t really get it. Our hospital system and how that works and how it works in an emergency, how tele-education works, how tele-medicine works, how you keep society functioning during an emergency, how you communicate to people the dangers of a situation without panicking people because you still need essential workers to come out and do their job, you don’t want to panic people where they say, “I’m not leaving the house,” but you need to communicate the facts so people act responsibly. How do you do that in a short period of time? What do you do about public transportation? We learned the whole lesson with a downstate public transportation system.

Andrew Cuomo: (18:52)
So there’ll be a lot to learn from this, which we will learn and we will be the better for. I believe that. And that’s part of life. In the meantime, we have to go day to day and we try to make the best of a bad situation. You try to find that silver lining through the dark clouds. All of us try to do it in our own way. Everybody is struggling with it in their own way, and that’s all across the board. In many ways, this is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, this impacts your life dramatically. But personally, if you work at it, maybe you can find the little silver lining.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:41)
I’m sitting there last night with my daughter McKayla. She’s my baby. The baby’s now 22. And she says to me, “Dad, think about it. I’ve spent more time with you now than I will probably spend with you in the rest of my adult life.” I said, “Wow, what does that mean?” She said, “Well, think about it. I’ve been with you for over a month. I won’t be with you for another month for the rest of my adult life.” Which is kind of jarring because I still think of her as my baby, but you know what? That’s probably right. She’s 22, she’s going to go off, do whatever she does, and then you see her at holidays for a few hours here, maybe you steal a Saturday once in a while. Reminded me of the Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle, which is a great old song from a great, great man. Great New Yorker too.

Andrew Cuomo: (20:41)
These are, with all of the bizarreness, I haven’t been able to see my mother in two months, but I have my daughter probably for a longer period of time than I probably have for the rest of her adult life. That’s probably true. So you try to find the silver lining. You try to stay positive. We stay socially distant, but we stay spiritually connected.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:10)
New Yorkers have been so supportive of each other. You can feel it. There’s this spirit of community and mutuality. People are there to help one another. People understand that everybody’s going through this. Everybody’s in stress. You look at the way people have complied with these rules, as annoying as they are, masks, six feet. That’s out of respect, one for the other. I love the metaphor of the mask. The mask does not protect me. I wear the mask to protect you. What a beautiful sign of caring, of mutuality. I wear a mask to protect you. That’s the spirit even in this terrible time of difficulty.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:02)
So yes, you can be socially distant, but you can be spiritually connected and closer in ways you’ve never been before. And I believe that’s where we are because we are New York tough, which means tough, smart, United, disciplined and loving. Question.

Speaker 1: (22:26)
When will states start to submit their reopening plans? Could schools start to reopen as early as this fall? Possibly sooner? And we’re hearing that New York city, their teachers are looking at remote learning possibly in the fall. So I was just talking about the timeline of all this and what could happen at the earliest.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:43)
There will be no opening of any school in the state for the remainder of the academic calendar year. We have to decide on summer school, that decision will be made by the end of May. There is no decision on the fall because the fall is a long time away.

Speaker 1: (23:05)
When will schools start to have to be submitting their plans by for the fall?

Andrew Cuomo: (23:09)
It depends when they’re going to open, but they should start preparing their plans now because this is going to be a real exercise. We’re talking about how manufacturing companies socially distance, how construction companies socially distance how does the school socially distance. This bizarre set up here, look at this room. How do you run a school like this? How many more rooms would you need to do this? How many more buses do you need to socially distance on a bus? How about a cafeteria? There’s a whole set of questions. How about a dorm room? So they should start working on those plans now.

Speaker 2: (23:53)
How will you ensure that free and available childcare-

Speaker 3: (23:59)
This is a follow up on what [inaudible 00:23:57] assessment. Do you think that teachers can realistically do this? And school administrators? Kids are kids. They’re going to want to run around and be…

Karen: (24:03)
… administrators. I mean, kids are kids, they’re going to want to run around and be together in a school setting.

Andrew Cuomo: (24:05)
Look, that is a very good question, Karen. Talking to people all across the state educators all across the state, you can come up with a plan, which is by the way, very hard, right? They talk about spatial requirements. If you did this, if you required this in a classroom, how many more classrooms would you need in a building? Right? But then there’s the other question of K to 12, and then how do I get students not to socially distance? How do you tell a 10-year old to socially distance? We’re going to err on the side of caution now, that’s for the rest of the school year. Summer school, you would need to see, in my opinion, a drop in the, or stabilization of, the infection rate for a period of time because kids are going to be kids. I think you’re right.

Karen: (25:02)
[crosstalk 00:25:02] schools are going to lose money because they’re already talking about cuts. I mean, how are they going to manage all this? They would need more classrooms. They don’t even have the money for that right now.

Andrew Cuomo: (25:12)
Well, that’s right. Well, you couldn’t get to more classrooms anyway. Right? You couldn’t build more classrooms in a way that would have any difference for summer school or for the fall. Money is going to be tight, depending on what Washington does. They’re doing remote learning. The fiscal consequences are going to be mixed because of this period. Some ways they save money. Some ways it costs money.

Speaker 4: (25:43)
Governor, sorry to harp on this, but anticipate a decision on pause this week, again, in terms of businesses?

Andrew Cuomo: (25:51)
May 15th is the decision on pause.

Speaker 4: (25:54)
But will you announce it prior to that or …

Andrew Cuomo: (25:56)
We’ll announce it prior to May 15th.

Speaker 4: (25:59)
Also, just to follow up, it’s been two months since the first case was reported. You spoke today of what we have accomplished, and yet there’s 18,000 people dead at least, over 300,000 people sick. How would you evaluate your performance during this crisis?

Andrew Cuomo: (26:13)
Tried my best.

Jessie: (26:16)
Governor, on the legal re-opening, you said that Connecticut, New York and New Jersey should try to coordinate. The Connecticut governor announced that as of May 20th some restaurants will open their outdoor areas [inaudible 00:26:26] open outdoor areas. Should New Yorkers expect that to happen here as well?

Andrew Cuomo: (26:32)
Well, we’re aware of what New Jersey’s doing, what Connecticut’s doing. We’re trying to coordinate with those states. I’ve said from day one, you will not have uniform policies across all the states, but knowing what other states are going to do because a state can have a significant effect on a neighboring state, knowing what they do is helpful, and then at the appropriate time we’ll make those decisions.

Andrew Cuomo: (27:03)
The decisions around summer activities are very difficult. You want to look at the tension. You want to get people out of their homes, give them something to do, but you want to keep the infection rate down. You have these mental health issues, you have domestic violence issues, you have a lot going on, so you do want a relief valve, right? It’s going to get hot in the summer, hopefully, and you want to have a level of activity. You don’t want to overwhelm a neighboring state by keeping everything closed, but you don’t want to have high density and violation of social distancing. That’s what we’re trying to work through for the summer activities. We have a little more time and we’re talking about that now.

Andrew Cuomo: (27:52)
Jessie, to go back. Jessie, to go back to your question for a second, I can tell you this, New Yorkers did an extraordinary job and reduced the rate of hospitalizations by about 100,000 and saved thousands of lives, so kudos to New Yorkers.

Morgan: (28:16)
[crosstalk 00:28:16] Isabella Geriatric Center, they had around 100 suspected coronavirus deaths, but the state only had about 13 on hand. They had bodies outside in storage containers. Is there going to be an investigation into the Isabella Geriatric Center and is there a way that there can be more investigation into some of these coronavirus suspected deaths?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:36)
Well, we have the joint effort between the attorney general and the Department of Health that is going to investigate systemically how nursing homes handled this situation and, specifically, individual problem areas that we’ve seen in nursing homes. That will certainly be part of the attorney general and the Department of Health investigation.

Morgan: (29:01)
But will there be an investigation into that specific nursing home?

Andrew Cuomo: (29:03)
Do you know the facts …

Commissioner Howard Zucker: (29:04)
Well, we have 613 nursing homes. We investigate anything that comes up. If there’s a concern, we will go in there, find out and report back.

Morgan: (29:11)
[crosstalk 00:29:11] going into hospitals. Is there a way to connect those from hospitals? I mean, some of these deaths they’re saying are in hospitals, but they’re actually from nursing homes. Is there going to be more of a, I guess, uniform way of reporting these deaths?

Commissioner Howard Zucker: (29:24)
I understand your question. There is a formal process of how we go into investigate, try to find out what happened, what were the events, what could we do to prevent that in the future. We’re addressing all of them and whether it’s tied to a hospital tied to the nursing home or both.

Andrew Cuomo: (29:41)
Just so you’re clear on the facts now, what we’re doing, we report hospital deaths and nursing home deaths separately. That’s on the slide every day. The question we’re now asking the hospitals, one of the questions that I posed, was someone transferred from a nursing home to a hospital and then passed away in the hospital? We want to know that. That’s your question, and that is a good question. We’re going to be asking that today. When I get on the phone with the hospitals, I’m going to ask them just that question.

Speaker 5: (30:17)
[crosstalk 00:30:17] on the importance of protecting essential workers. You’re disinfecting subway cars and buses in New York City. We’re hearing from essential workers in grocery stores who tell us they’re overwhelmed by people who are rushing into the store, who are not wearing masks, who are not practicing social distancing. I guess the question is, should these stores be refusing to allow customers in who are not wearing masks? And if one of those essential employees is fearful of showing up for work, can they be denied unemployment benefits?

Andrew Cuomo: (30:52)
The unemployment benefit denial, I don’t know. Maybe. It’s a legal question. I don’t know. Maybe Melissa or Rob would know, or we can check.

Andrew Cuomo: (31:02)
Look, on the grocery stores, if I’m a private grocery store owner and we have these social distancing requirements in place and masks in place, I think unless the lawyers want to argue with me, if I’m a private grocery store owner, I would deny admission to a person who was not wearing a mask. You could endanger my other patrons, you could endanger my employees. I would do that. I don’t know about the behavior inside a store, but I think the private grocery store owner would be in their rights.

Speaker 6: (31:40)
Governor, you mentioned summer school. Are you talking about for those students who failed or for everyone?

Andrew Cuomo: (31:44)
Summer school, they will do remote learning. They have to continue to do meals, et cetera. We’re talking about summer school attendance in the building.

Bernadette: (31:51)
[crosstalk 00:31:53].

Andrew Cuomo: (31:51)
Bernadette?

Bernadette: (31:54)
Could you or Commissioner Zucker also explain the discrepancy between the nursing home reported deaths? As a follow-up to Morgan’s question, that specific spot, there’s only 13 reported deaths from that nursing home on the COVID tracker. However, we’ve got a report that they had 26, or 46 deaths specific to COVID and then potentially more in the 50s. What’s the explanation for that discrepancy and what are the consequences for that?

Andrew Cuomo: (32:22)
What’s the name of this nursing home, Bernadette?

Bernadette: (32:23)
It’s called the Isabella Geriatric Center and it’s in Manhattan.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:26)
Does anyone know? Jim?

Jim: (32:28)
For some of this, Bernadette, we went back and asked the nursing homes to provide more detailed data. What they were doing in some cases and not others, confirmed plus unconfirmed cases, so what we asked them to do is go back and say what were confirmed and what were unconfirmed. Sometimes the number is higher because those are actually unconfirmed cases that they put into certain reporting. We asked them for the confirmed at first, but to get at this sense of what you’re talking about which why is the number a little higher, we asked them, do you also include unconfirmed numbers in that as well? What we’re finding is they were also including unconfirmed. What we’re doing is putting together a data set right now that has it by confirmed by nursing home and unconfirmed like we were doing with the others too. But that takes a little time to tease out from the nursing homes. This is coming directly from the nursing homes.

Bernadette: (33:13)
Are you concerned with that large gap? 13 verse almost 50 deaths that are being reported, that’s a very large number. Are there consequences in case nursing homes are not reporting the accurate numbers and what are those, Commissioner?

Commissioner Howard Zucker: (33:29)
As Jim mentioned, there’s two parts of this, but this is an evolving situation of the data that’s coming in. We do track this. If there’s a concern about a specific nursing home and what the numbers are, we will look into that as well.

Bernadette: (33:44)
What are they facing? What penalties though?

Jim: (33:44)
Bernadette, they have to attest to the fact that the numbers are true and accurate and every report they submit to us. If the commission at the Department of Health finds that there was intentional misleading or whatever, they can revoke their license. They can fine them penalties under the public health law. They will send people. I think under this specific instance, the Department of Health will go in and investigate this to see like we’ve done with others as well. Sometimes as the governor and others have said before, this was an emerging situation, there were mistakes made on reporting. Some people reported deaths from December. That’s a mistake. Other cases, if there’s potential intentional misleading, the Department of Health will investigate those and then do the appropriate actions.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:23)
Let me give you the answer, former attorney general, they are giving you two sets of numbers. Right? Confirmed COVID deaths is one number. Then unconfirmed, possible COVID deaths, which is this vague category. Maybe the person died of COVID, but we’re not sure. Unconfirmed deaths, which is a vague category to define. Hospitals are doing the same thing, by the way. The local governments have to submit unconfirmed, potential COVID death, so that’s a little squishy by definition. Then I can see where there’s a vagueness in that category. But they submit these numbers under penalty of perjury. You violate, you commit fraud, that is a criminal offense, period. They can be prosecuted criminally for fraud on any of these reporting numbers.

Andrew Cuomo: (35:37)
John?

John: (35:40)
Governor, the-

Bernadette: (35:40)
Are you concerned that these numbers are so high? Are you concerned? You have been saying the past two months, nursing home would be like a fire through dry grass. Are you concerned that there is this vast gap between the reporting? Also, what has the state been doing the past two months to alleviate that? Or has this been mainly a county-level thing? A facility?

Andrew Cuomo: (35:59)
You can’t alleviate when they put possible-

Andrew Cuomo: (36:02)
You can’t alleviate when they put possible or probable or unconfirmed cause of death. That by definition, you’re asking them a vague question and they’re giving you a vague answer. They could argue that’s not fraud because they did not know. You’re asking them for cause of death. They’re saying it’s unconfirmed, it’s possible, it’s probable. But if they misrepresented, then you have a criminal fraud case. John?

John: (36:33)
Governor, regionally, you’ve said reopening, lifting the pause of order will be done on a regional basis as we shift into phase one. So why isn’t the school opening or school closure decision made on a regional basis as well?

Andrew Cuomo: (36:45)
Because it’s one thing to say you can figure out how to socially distance in construction or say you can figure out how to socially distance in a manufacturing facility with adults and you can figure out social distancing, et cetera. To say we’re going to figure out that plan and put it in place in the next few weeks is virtually impossible. Just think of a school facility. Right? And again, go back to this room. You have 30 kids in a classroom. But with social distancing, you can only put 10 kids in a classroom. Okay, then get another three classrooms with another three teachers. I can’t. A cafeteria at lunchtime. I put 200 kids in the cafeteria. Well, now you can only put 70 kids in the cafeteria. So have them eat in six shifts and figure all this out and get it done in a few weeks. And make sure you don’t make a mistake because we’re talking about children and we’re talking about them getting infected and either getting sick themselves or bringing it home. So the stakes are higher. Yes.

John: (38:01)
In the past though, you have said in the past that you can’t get to a full phase two of the reopening unless you have tool for schools open from a childcare standpoint. Does that mean that we won’t get to a full phase two in any area of the state by the end of the academic year?

Andrew Cuomo: (38:17)
During the academic year, you would need to get to a full phase two, the schools to be operational, right? You can’t say, “Okay, everybody in the state go back to work, but the schools are closed.” It’d be very hard for part of the workforce to do that. But you’re at the end of the school year anyway here in a few weeks. Right? And then you’re in the summer months and then the big question is going to be September. Are you ready to reopen the schools in September? And if you don’t, then you can argue you’re not going to be ready for a full business opening if you’re not opening the schools in September. I think that’s true. Let me just make sure everyone asks their question.

Speaker 7: (39:05)
I have two questions. I hope you’ll answer both. First off, I mean, there’s a huge protest. This time, there’s two protests going on outside. I know you can hear this time because I can hear in here. So I went and talked to them. I wanted to know what was going on. One is reopen New York state, who you’ve already heard from. The other is Citizen Action New York, and they are asking you to cancel rent. I asked the organizer how it would be funded and she suggested that you tax billionaires. Is this idea feasible? And what is your response to that group of protesters that are lined down Washington?

Andrew Cuomo: (39:46)
Yeah. Look, you have protestors in front of this building on a continuing basis. You think these are protesters? There’s several dozen. You come when we’re doing a controversial bill, we have hundreds of protestors all filling the entire building. It’s like the building vibrates with the chants. And that’s, in some ways, great. That’s democracy. People have an opinion. Last week, you asked about the protesters who wanted everything open. The other day you asked about protesters who wanted everything closed. That’s what you get. One day it’s everything open and one day it’s everything closed. My point is I get their political opinion. I get the political spectrum. I hear them. I understand why people say, “Liberate New York, open everything up.” I understand why people say, “Close everything. You’re going to kill my children.” So I get the arguments. And what I said is this is not a political decision. Let’s make a decision on the facts, et cetera.

Andrew Cuomo: (40:59)
I get the people who say nobody should have to pay rent. I get that argument. I get the landlords who say and the building owners who say, “If nobody pays rent, I’m going to walk away from my building and then it’s going to be vacant and I’m not going to pay any bills because if they don’t pay rent, I’m not paying bills.” And then you’re going to have collapse of buildings. What we’re doing is no one can be evicted for nonpayment of rent between now and June. Period. Period. If a person can’t pay their rent because of the situation, they cannot be evicted. That is the law until June. That law is in effect until June. And between now and June, we’ll see what happens. We’ll figure it out and then we’ll figure out what we need to do in June. Last one. Go ahead.

Speaker 8: (42:05)
Now that hospitals have to report to the state where people are coming from when they’re sick with COVID, their addresses, occupation, we’re now two months into this outbreak. Why didn’t we require that sooner when we could have tracked it more, I guess, feasibly?

Andrew Cuomo: (42:20)
We have some of the information, but this is now going to be an extraordinary … When I get on the phone with the hospitals, they’re going to say this is an extraordinary reporting requirement, right? You had emergency rooms that were overwhelmed. You had administrators who were overwhelmed working 24 hours a day. To get this level of granular detail on people who were walking in the door and get it to us on a nightly basis, this is going to be a significant administrative burden on them.

Andrew Cuomo: (42:57)
Are they essential workers? There’s no such thing as an essential worker before this. How do they commute? That’s a question that I don’t think has ever been asked of a patient before. If you are an essential worker, where do you work? These are not questions that the healthcare system ever asks. But since it’s down to 1000 new cases per day, I’m going to say to the hospitals, “I understand it’s a burden, but it’s 1000 people statewide. It’s only several hundred in downstate New York. I understand the burden. The volume is a little lower. This is a little granular. It is more detailed than anything you’ve ever done, but it’s important for us to get it now so we can come up with a more specific targeted plan.” Okay, guys, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Andrew Cuomo: (44:10)
Summer camp decisions will follow the regional decisions. Whatever we do in that region will apply to the summer camp. Thank you guys, I’ll see you tomorrow.