May 3, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 3
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on May 3. He called the current PPE shortages a national security issue, and announced a 7-state consortium for buying PPE. He was joined by governors Lamont, Wolf, Murphy, and Carney for the announcement.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:01)
Good afternoon. Good to see you all here today, appropriately socially distanced. For those of you who don’t know, to my right is Melissa DeRosa Secretary to the Governor, to my left is Robert Mujica, Director of the Budget, always happy, always smiling.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:23)
Today is Sunday. It’s a beautiful day in New York City. Sunday for me is a day of reflection. We will do a little reflecting. Today is day 64 since we closed down New York. Only 64 days. Feels like a lifetime, but only 64 days. Today’s numbers, the total hospitalization rate is down and that is good news for all concerned. 9,786. Below 10,000, which is a big deal for us. You have to go back to May 18th and 19th to see where to get near that number. March, I’m sorry.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:08)
The number of total hospitalizations, again, is down. The number of intubations is down, and that’s really good news because intubation is generally bad news.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:20)
The number of new cases is 789, that’s good news. We were hovering at about 900, 1000. That may be just a reporting anomaly because this is over the weekend and the weekend reporting tends to be a little different. And remember this reporting system we just put in place, this never happened before, where hospitals were reporting on a daily basis and hospitals have a lot going on, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on any of these specific one day numbers. But the overall trend is good. The number that is the most important number that we look at, which is still tremendously distressing, is the number of deaths. 280. And you can see that that number has not moved dramatically in a relatively long period of time. But the overall direction is good, even though it’s very painful.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:27)
I think it’s important that we take a moment and learn the lessons of what we’ve been going through. This has been unprecedented, what we’ve been doing for the past 64 days. This was all an urgent situation. This was all hurry up. We had to quickly figure out a plan, quickly enact a plan, but now we’re a couple of months into it and I think simultaneously we should be learning the lessons of what we just went through. People talk about this like it’s going to come and go and it’s a once in a lifetime. I don’t know that it’s a once in a lifetime and I don’t know that it’s going to come and go. There are people now talking about a second wave. They’re talking about a possible mutation of the virus, so caution would suggest that as we go through this, we learn at the same time to make sure if we have to go through this again or if this is a prolonged situation, that we are learning from what we’re implementing.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:35)
Edmund Burke, a great Irish philosopher, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Wise words, the macro questions, bigger than just New York questions, bigger than a governor’s questions. What happened in China? People are talking about it. Where did this virus start in China? How did it start? How did we not know? What should China have told us? Above my pay grade, but important questions. How did the virus get from China to the United States? And we assumed it got on a plane from China and flew to the United States. That was the first thinking when this started. Now it appears that that’s not so.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:22)
As we’re going through this, what could we have done differently? More importantly, what should we do differently if this is a prolonged situation, or if there is a next time? And again, caution, I would assume there’s a next time. Anyone who sits back and says, “Well, this is the only public health threat that we’re going to face” it’s not the case.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:48)
We’re seeing increasing threats all across the board. Environmental threats, Mother Nature, natural threats, threats from emergency weather, that we’ve never seen before. And if you look back as far back as 1918 when they had the flu pandemic that people talk about, it took 10 months. It came in three different waves, and the second wave was worse than the first wave. So even if you put aside all the modern day challenges, when this happened in 1918 it came in three different waves. So let’s be prepared and intelligent.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:32)
Some of the lessons to learn. The CDC did a fascinating report that they put out on May 1, which starts to take a deep look at what happened. And I think there’s a lot of important information in that and it pointed to something that we’ve been looking at here in New York. The report says that when they look at the different strains of the virus in the United States that there are different strains and we were all looking at the West Coast. The West Coast had cases well before the East Coast, remember, maybe six weeks before the East Coast. Those strains came from China. What we saw in the state of Washington, what we saw in California, they came from China. Flights from China land predominantly on the West Coast.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:28)
What we have seen in New York didn’t come from China, but actually is a different strain of the virus that came from Europe. That’s an important fact to know and to study. They then said, in this CDC report, from February you had 139,000 travelers coming from Italy, 1.74 million from other European countries where the outbreak was spreading wildly and rapidly. So everybody’s looking at China, meanwhile, the virus had traveled from China to Europe, was in Europe, spreading from Europe. We had European travelers coming. They come to the East Coast, they land in New York, they go to New Jersey, they go to Connecticut, they’re in the New York area, and we’re all still looking at China.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:31)
We were looking at China, and the travel ban on China may have been helpful, but the horse was already out of the barn in China. The virus had left. The virus was in Europe. And meanwhile, we have European travelers coming here and they’re bringing the virus, which is now a different strain of the virus, to the East Coast.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:57)
This is from that CDC report, the Principal Deputy Director, “Delay in travel bans allowed for the virus to spread throughout the United States and contributed to the initiation and acceleration of domestic COVID cases in March. Extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importation and the rapid spread. The timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier.” That is a very important fact and something we have to learn from.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:31)
A person from the Grossman School of Medicine, “Knowing the number of flights coming into New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion.” Nobody was watching Italy and Europe at the time. Nobody was even thinking about it.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:51)
“Today, we must consider an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere,” A.J. Parkinson. And I think those are words to remember going forward. Outbreak in China, in a number of days it’s going to be in Europe, from Europe it’s going to come to the United States, assuming it didn’t come from the United States immediately from China.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:14)
Another lesson we have to learn is our hospital system. We talk about our hospital system. We don’t really have a public health system. We have a hospital system and we learned the hard way about the capacity, the equipment, and the management of our hospital system. New York City, we have only 12 public hospitals. They are the Health + Hospitals corporation. They’re run by New York City. But there’s only 12 hospitals in that public hospital system.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:45)
44 hospitals are private hospitals. They’re private institutions. They’re regulated by the state, but they are private institutions. They have their own area of expertise. They have their own basic clientele. And they’re doing business as individual entities, like an individual college. We have a system of colleges, but each college is individual. It’s the same thing with hospitals. Each hospital is an individual entity.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:19)
Long Island, we have four public hospitals, we have 19 private hospitals. Westchester, one public hospital, 12 private. Rockland, one public, two private. Hudson Valley, the rest of the state, two public hospitals, 87 private hospitals. So really your healthcare capacity in this state is all in the hands of private hospitals. You have 176 private hospitals in this state. That’s the capacity.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:54)
But that means you have to now rely on those private hospitals, get them all to be part of one system, which day to day, that does not happen. They’re operating themselves. We have, again, state regulations that say this is how you must operate, but they operate as individual entities.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:15)
In the middle of this outbreak, we had to go back and do what we call the surge and flex management system, where we said to all 176 private hospitals, “We have to work together and we have to manage this system as one because hospitals are getting overwhelmed.” Maybe within the public system they can share patients and doctors and staff, because you have, in New York City, H+H has 12 hospitals. Okay, you can share among your 12, but we have to get these 176 hospitals now all to work together, even with the public hospital. And hospitals were getting overwhelmed, so now you need a system to share patient capacity, share equipment, share ventilators, share staff. That had never been done.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:14)
We did this all basically on the fly and we put together a de facto public health system. But it was a lot to do on the fly and we need to institutionalize these lessons.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:31)
Part of what we have to learn is what happened with the equipment. This was just a situation that nobody anticipated. It happened all across the country. You couldn’t get enough gowns. You couldn’t get enough masks. We’re going to put in a state requirement now that every hospital has to have a 90 day supply stockpile, their own stockpile, of all the PPE equipment that they could need for a 90 day supply at the rate of usage that we saw with this COVID virus. So every hospital has to have 90 day supply, period.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:14)
We can’t go through this day to day moving masks all across the state. This mad scramble that we were in, and still are in, in many ways. Also as a nation, we can’t go through this again. There was competition among states, they were competition among private entities, to get this equipment. The federal government was trying to buy it. I’m bidding on behalf of New York. We’re bidding against other states, Texas, California, other states across the country trying to buy the same masks from the same vendor. We literally wound up bidding up the price. I have people in China. I’m trying to contact people in China who can figure out how to buy masks from China. It was totally inefficient and ineffective.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:10)
State of Massachusetts, Governor Baker was good enough to work with Robert Kraft who had a personal airplane that he sent to China to get masks, and Massachusetts was good enough to give us some of the masks that a private airplane picked up. This is not the way to deal with this situation. Plus we just drove up prices by our own competition. There was a limited supply, it was primarily in China, and then you have 50 states and all of these private entities in the federal government trying to buy from China. It made no sense. So, let’s fix that.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:55)
New York State alone buys about $2 billion of medical supplies this year. $2 billion this year. And that’s one state, and that’s us purchasing from China and around the world. We’re going to form a consortium with our seven Northeast partner states, which buy about $5 billion worth of equipment and supplies, that will then increase our market power when we’re buying and we will buy as a consortium, price as a consortium for PPE equipment, ventilators, medical equipment, whatever we need to buy, when you put all those hospitals together, all that public health capacity together, which will make us more competitive in the international marketplace, and I believe it will save taxpayers money. I also believe it will help us actually get the equipment because we have trouble still getting the equipment and just buying the equipment because…
Andrew Cuomo: (16:03)
Getting the equipment and just buying the equipment. Because these vendors on the other side, they’re dealing with countries, they’re dealing with the federal government. Why should they do business with one state, right? When they can do business with an entire country. So this consortium I think will help us get the equipment and get it at a better price. We will come up with a regional identification of all the equipment we need. Basically it’s all standard equipment. A mask is a mask, a gown is a gown. Let’s come up with a total amount that we need.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:40)
Let’s stop doing business with vendors who we found to be irresponsible. And we found out the hard way. I can’t tell you how many orders we placed with vendors who are acting basically as brokers, who just started businesses in the middle of this pandemic because they saw an opportunity. So let’s compare notes among the States to find out who was good to do business, who was not good to do business with. Let’s see if we can’t do the purchasing in this country. And let’s see if we can’t do the purchasing in this region. You know, why are we buying all this material from China? Literally billions of dollars of PPE. And we’ll do it in coordination with the federal government.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:26)
But I want to thank our neighbors, our neighboring States. The word neighbor has a different connotation. You don’t normally think of the surrounding States as neighbors. You think of the person next door as a neighbor, but they are neighbors. And they’ve acted as neighbors. I can’t tell you how supportive Governor Murphy in New Jersey and Governor Lamont in Connecticut, and all the other governors in our coalition have been. Literally where you can pick up a phone and I can say, “I need help with masks. Do you have any extra masks? Do you have any extra gowns? Can I borrow this? Can I borrow that?”
Andrew Cuomo: (18:06)
Really the way you would deal with a neighbor in an extraordinary circumstance, right? You’d knock on the door and say, “Can I borrow this?” That’s how these States responded. And it was really a beautiful, generous way of operating that was an inspiration to me. It wasn’t, “I’ll have my lawyer call your lawyer.” It was, “Whatever I can do, I’ll do.” And in that spirit we want to keep that coalition together and we want to work together.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:42)
We’re doing regional planning now on the reopening because every state is linked to every other state. We do something in New York, it affects New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, et cetera. People are very mobile right now, so it’s a very important relationship for us both productively and from an efficiency point of view. And they have been great and they’re joining us today. We have Governor Phil Murphy with us, Governor Ned Lamont, Governor Tom Wolf and Governor John Carney. And we’ll start with our neighbor from the great state of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. How are you Governor Murphy?
Governor Murphy: (19:18)
I’m well. Happy to be on with you. I will be brief and say I echo literally everything you’ve said, including the comments on the positive in terms of what this has been like with efficiencies, as well as the inspiration which has derived from our neighbors. And notably beginning with you and all the other governors who are on this with us today. It has been truly an inspiration. So, on behalf of the 9 million of us in New Jersey, I say thank you. We are in the same boat, we’re beg borrowing and bartering for equipment, PPE, ventilators, et cetera. We’re all doing it.
Governor Murphy: (20:03)
Someone said to me a couple of days ago that gowns have become the new ventilators. And so we’re still out there and so the notion of coordinating together as a region makes enormous amount of sense. So sign me up and sign New Jersey up. We’ve moved in New Jersey alone 21 million pieces of PPE in the past two months. A lot of which we’ve had to get beforehand. And so this makes so much sense. And really look forward again as you suggest that we coordinate actively as we help our government, all of the regional council we put not just the governors on today but also out in Massachusetts. This is a perfect extension of that relationship. But I echo one of your comments that not only should we not have to be scouring the world for this, but it ought to be made in the USA. And better yet made in our States.
Governor Murphy: (20:58)
And so that’s something that I think we all want to strive forward doing that. In New Jersey we’ve got to figure out a way to make this stuff here. And lastly, and you said this and I’ll repeat, we’ve all got to do within our own four walls. What we do in a regional cooperation matter so much and another great example of that, I think it’s a brilliant extension of our ongoing cooperation. And then lastly, none of this is in lieu of the partnership with government. As you rightly point out, we have to have all of the above. What’s good for our own citizens, with people in the region and work closely with the federal government every step of the way.
Governor Murphy: (21:39)
Thank you for having me on today. Thank you to you Governor Cuomo and to each of our governors in this group. And really looking forward to working with you in the better days ahead. Thank you.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:53)
Thank you very much Governor Murphy. I think the governor’s on this phone, we’ve learned so much about PPE over the past few weeks. I think we can go make gowns ourselves at this point. I think we’ve learned now. Give us some sewing machines. I think we can actually contribute. So, thank you very much Phil. God bless you and stay well. And anything you need we’re here. Thank you.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:18)
We’ll go now to Governor Lamont, great state of Connecticut. Governor Lamont, thank you very much for being with us and thank you for all you’ve done. Not just for the people of Connecticut, but for the entire Northeast. Good to be with you Ned.
Governor Lamont: (22:36)
And back at you, on behalf of Connecticut. New York and Andrew Cuomo have been a very good neighbor for us. And as you know we got into this together. We realized what we had to do when it came to closing down parts of our service economy. We did that together. We’re opening it up together, and that’s the way it works best. And as you point out, when it comes to the purchasing look, we’ve learned something, right? We can wait for the national stockpile. We can wait for that plane to land from China. Let’s see what we can do ourselves. And as you point out, we’re much stronger together. I wouldn’t mind having some of that New York purchasing power. Thanks for sharing that with Connecticut going forward.
Governor Lamont: (23:14)
And just as importantly what we can produce together as well. I mean Phil Murphy, you’ve got that amazing pharmaceutical industry there in New Jersey. Help us out with the reagents. And what we can do in terms of gowns being produced in Rhode Island. But we can all do together to make sure that this next round we control more of our own destiny. And to those that say, “Where you’ve been?” And, “You’re ordering up all the Christmas trees and they’re going to arrive on December 26th.” I say I’m afraid that this is still best beginning as you pointed out, Governor Cuomo. And we’re planning for the next round of this, if there is a next round. Making sure that we control our own destiny going forward. We do it much better together. Thanks for getting us together, Andrew.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:59)
No, my pleasure. Thank you very, very much Governor. And you’re right. Look, we’re spending billions of dollars. Why not buy from our own vendors in our own region? Why are we buying from China, right? I’m sure there are a lot of businesses within our own States that if they knew they had that kind of purchasing, that they were looking at, that they would either adapt their businesses or grow their businesses so we could buy from them.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:27)
Plus, you’re right. We would control our own destiny rather than everyone trying to figure out how to buy from China. So thank you very much, Governor Lamont. God bless you. We’re here. Thank you. Let’s go now to Governor Wolf from Pennsylvania. Good to be with you, Tom. Thank you very much for everything you’ve been doing. Thank you for being a great neighbor to the state of New York and all your surrounding States.
Governor Wolf: (24:55)
Thank you Governor Cuomo. Well thank you very much for organizing this, again. A few weeks ago, we all got together and announced that we were going to work together to fight this pandemic. And we said then that by working together we can do a lot more than we can do if each of us works on our own. And I think today is a specific example of that we can work together to buy the things that we need to allow our healthcare system to have the capacity it needs to fight this fight. We need to help our hospitals. We need to help our healthcare workers. We need to help our longterm care facilities, our first responders, all of those things.
Governor Wolf: (25:37)
And what you’re doing here, and what we’re doing, is actually pulling together to make sure we’re doing all those things. And part of this is testing. It’s not just the equipment. We really need to work together to build the capacity to test it. We’re not going to be able to give our citizens the confidence they need to go back to work. They’re not going to have the confidence we need them to have to go back to school or go back to the store, or to go back to worship. So all those things are really important.
Governor Wolf: (26:07)
And by working together we can pull our financial resources, which are really important and significant. As you pointed out Governor Cuomo, we can actually pull the brain power that exists, the great institutions in our areas and the manufacturers who can make this stuff. All that we can pull together. And if we can do that, with even with something as difficult as testing, I think we’re going to make sure that we get through this in the best possible way. So thank you for pulling this together. This is really important and I’m proud to be with you.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:39)
Thank you. Thank you Governor Wolf. And you’re so right. Look, we’re creating in some ways new industries, right? Whoever heard of the testing industry, or the tracing industry? Or these reagents that all these tests now use? Even the demand on PPE. I mean this is a whole new world for all of us. But there’s also an economic opportunity in it, and we should take advantage of it because we need it and it’s not going away and it’s going to be a major industry going forward. So let’s make sure it happens here.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:12)
But Tom, thank you very much. Thank you for all the help and thank you for everything you’re doing. Really. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Thank you Tom. And we have Governor John Carney with us from Delaware. John, thank you very much for being with us. Thank you for all the help. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for the friendship through all of this, which is also very important. Just the personal support is important as we’re going through this as colleagues. Thanks for being with us today, John.
Governor Carney: (27:45)
Yeah. Thank you Governor Cuomo for including Delaware in this coalition. Thank you for your great leadership there in state of New York, and particularly Metro New York city with your colleague governors on either side of you. You’re an inspiration, frankly to all of us. Our hearts go out to you as we see the numbers. I was really happy to see your numbers on the chart at the beginning of your conference today as they trend downward. That’s really a very good and positive thing. And thanks for including us, a state of, we like to refer to ourselves as a state of neighbors. There’s just shy of a million Delawareans here on the Southern end of this geographic coalition on this side of I-95 and the Amtrak Northeast Carter, which connects all of us.
Governor Carney: (28:34)
The two governors at the bottom of my screen are great partners, Governor Wolf and Governor Murphy on either side of the state of Delaware. Really important our coordination and collaboration. But this particular initiative with respect to purchasing together PPE, and most importantly I think as governor Wolf mentioned, testing equipment and capacity is so incredibly important for a small state like ours. To have the purchasing power of Governor Cuomo of New York and New Jersey and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and Rhode Island is just so incredibly important for us in terms of getting the right pricing. If we’re going head to head with New York, we’re not going to get it. If we’re along shoulder to shoulder with you, with Governor Murphy and Governor Wolf, we’ve got a good chance of getting a better price and getting the product that we need.
Governor Carney: (29:29)
And I think through all this too. The other thing that was really interesting to me in joining the coalition was just all the assets that the other States can bring to the table, in terms of intellectual capacity, your research institutions, your hospitals. Because we know that they’re is going to be breakthroughs, or we hope, in testing and other kinds of technology that help us as we respond to this. So I couldn’t be happier to be part of this coalition, part of your leadership team Governor Cuomo with again my two neighbors here in the Southern end of our coalition.
Governor Carney: (30:05)
And to each of you, thanks for the great work that you’re providing to the citizens of your state. I tell people all the time, “It’s going to be way harder, the decisions we have to make in reopening our economies in phases than it was shutting things down in my view, just because of the balance we need to strike there.” And we’ll do that in working together and with the expertise that this coalition and the purchasing power in particular of this initiative will bring to the state of Delaware. So thanks very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:34)
Thank you John, thank you Governor Carney. And Governor Carney is right. It was easier to shut down then it’s going to be to reopen. Shutting down was you walk into the basement, you take the power switch and you just go from on to off, right? There was an urgent need. It was an emergency. Reopening is more of an art form. And I thank my gubernatorial colleagues for doing this together. We also have Governor Raimondo from the state of Rhode Island and Governor Baker from the state of Massachusetts who were part of the coalition.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:13)
You go through situations in life which are unexpected. Okay, you do your best and then you learn from them and you grow. And that’s what we’re trying to do here today. Because people expect more from government than ever before. I believe this has been transformative for a generation. Think about, when was the last time government was this vital? I don’t know, maybe in a war? World War II when government had to mobilize overnight. But literally for decades you haven’t seen government this essential to human life, literally. And government has to work. And it has to be.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:03)
… literally, and government has to work and it has to work well, and it’s not for the faint of heart now. And people want government to perform, and government is making decisions every day that affect their lives and they deserve the best government, right? They’re paying for it, they deserve it, and they deserve competence and expertise and smarts. And for government to be doing creative things and learning like we’re doing here today. At the same time, government is working. We’re trying our best. We’re working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We’re doing a lot of good work, a lot of creative work. But this is not just about government, it’s too easy to point fingers, “Well, this one has to do that. This one has to do that.” Every person has a part in this. Every person has a part.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:57)
And driving around New York City today, and I was here yesterday, we are all very thankful to our healthcare heroes, our frontline workers, our essential workers. You watch television, there are all these nice commercials. Thank everyone for what they did. And we should. Nurses, doctors, police officers, transit workers, God bless them. But if you really want to say thank you, make their life easier by not getting sick and not making someone else sick. An individual’s role is act responsibly and intelligently for yourself, for your family, and for your community.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:53)
Wear a mask. Wear a mask. I mean, that’s the basic step, right? Socially distance. If you can’t socially distance, you’re in New York City, you’re going to walk up next to a person, wear a mask. Okay, it’s not the most attractive garment ever created. So what? “Well, I don’t like, it feels uncomfortable, unnatural.” So what? You want to honor the healthcare workers and the people who literally gave their lives in some cases for what they did here, act responsibly. Wear a mask. I know the weather’s getting warmer. I know people want to get out of their house. Fine. Wear a mask and socially distance. That is your social responsibility in the middle of this overall pandemic.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:50)
And when we talk about New Yorkers together and the spirit of unity and how people are helping one another and how tough we are and how smart we are and how disciplined we are and how we love one another, show it. You know how you show love? By wearing a mask, please. Questions?
Governor, when you talked about a different strain being here, coming from Europe, an even more deadly strain, do you think? I mean, is there a reason to believe that? Is that why the death toll was so much harder here than in other places?
Andrew Cuomo: (35:22)
I don’t know. Some have said that, it’s not my field, Zack, but they said they’re two totally different strains. I’ve heard from some medical professionals that our strain was actually more virulent than the string that came from China. That whatever the mutation was that happened in Europe made our strain more virulent. Once it comes to New York, and again, nobody was anticipating this European connection, people from Italy, nobody was saying, “Watch out for those people from Italy.” They were just walking through our airports, right? We had the federal officials at all our airports and they were doing that screening that they were doing. They were screening people from China’s still, nobody was screening people from Europe. And the European travel ban, the full ban didn’t go into March or something, like mid-March, we didn’t do a full European travel ban.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:22)
So they were coming. Nobody was screening, nobody was testing, nobody was looking. Nobody even knew to look, wherever they came in New York, nobody was on notice. Nobody said, “Watch for Italian people from Italy. Watch for people from Ireland and the UK.” Nobody. So it was just, we were totally unaware of it. Then apparently it’s a different strain. Then once it gets to New York, now you have that density in New York. Right? And density is the enemy here, and that New York dense housing, dense transportation, dense sidewalks, in that density, it takes off like a fire through dry grass. And then it spreads. It’s in New Jersey, it’s in Connecticut, that whole area. But especially since nobody knew. I mean, nobody knew, right? We were doing this every day. Nobody ever talked about transmission through Europe.
Dave Carlin: (37:24)
Dave Carlin, CBS 2.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:26)
I know that.
Dave Carlin: (37:27)
Well, I have the mask, wasn’t sure.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:28)
I see your eyes though.
Dave Carlin: (37:28)
The question I have for you, you talk about the road to recovery and reopening as being an art form. Your fellow governors feel the same way. How much of this is based on some personal observations in the last couple of days and gut instinct as opposed to the numbers and benchmarks you say are so important?
Andrew Cuomo: (37:48)
Good question. First, follow the data. I believe you can do this as a science. Is it science or is it art? Let’s say it’s a combination, but drive it as a science. Do it by the numbers. You know we’re calculating the spread of the virus, right? That is a mathematical equation on some levels, and the more you open, the higher the rate of infection will spread. That is inarguable. The question is how much does it spread, how fast does it spread, and how fast is it spreading compared to your healthcare capacity? That is a formula. You can plug numbers into that formula, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s the R0, that’s the rate of transmission. We want to keep the rate of transmission below 1.1. We’re now at about 0.7, so we have a margin of error 0.7 to 1.1. Over 1.1, you’re now in epidemic outbreak status.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:55)
So part of it is there’s a mathematical formula, and that’s what we’re trying to educate our local partners about in local government. You want to talk about reopening your region, your city, your county, et cetera. “When will the state reopen my region?” Well, here’s the formula, plug the numbers in, and look at what the formula says. That’s the science of it. And with all this political talk and all of these political opinions, I like to stress the science because it belies the politics and the emotion. Look at the numbers, look at the numbers. The art form is, look, I’ve been in the federal government, I’ve been in state government, I was the attorney general. I did emergencies in the federal government all across the nation, all across the world. So you bring an educated, your word was gut instinct. You bring an educated gut to it. I bring an educated gut to it because I’ve gone through this before, but educated gut plus stick to the science. Stick to the numbers.
Dave Carlin: (40:07)
So what does your gut tell you at the moment?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:10)
My gut says the weather is going to warm. People are bored. People want this over. They see the numbers going down, they can take false comfort. “Oh, it’s going down. That means it’s over.” No, no, we never said it was over. We said the numbers are going down. We said roughly a thousand new people every day walk into the hospitals. “Oh no, it’s basically over.” No. “Well, I hear other states are reopening.” No, we’re not out of the woods, and we are this very dense environment, and you can see that virus pick up dramatically. And it is not going down. It’s not, it is going down. There’s no it. We are bringing it down, right? That number was going like this. The only reason the number’s not going like this is because New Yorkers grabbed that projection curve with two hands and pulled it down, and that’s why it went like this.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:12)
You go back to your old behavior, that number goes right back up. And it’s warm and you want to get out of the house and everybody’s ancy, and, “I haven’t gotten a paycheck and I’m worried about my job.” I know, but big caution sign to me. Let’s watch the numbers. Numbers are going down, but we are a very dense environment. We have had more cases. We almost overwhelmed the whole healthcare system, so caution moving forward. And, look, how people can not wear masks, that to me is even disrespectful. It’s disrespectful. It’s disrespectful to the nurses, the doctors, the people who have been frontline workers, the transit workers. You wear the mask not for yourself, you wear the mask for me. It’s a sign of respect to other people. And you make me sick, that’s disrespectful.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:13)
I have to go into the hospital, I have to call an ambulance. That’s an ambulance driver. I have to go into an emergency room. That’s a nurse. That’s a doctor who has to put on PPE that somebody has to buy and pay for. They have to risk being exposed to the virus because you wouldn’t wear a mask? Because you wouldn’t wear a mask? You put so many people at risk because you didn’t want to wear a mask. I think that’s disrespectful by you. It’s disrespectful of your relationship and obligation to one another. Yes, we’re all individuals. We’re individuals who live in a community in the middle of a global pandemic. Just be responsible and show respect, and I don’t think that’s too much for each of us to ask of one another. That’s a basic common decency in this situation. Zack?
Governor, based on media reports from yesterday, we’ve seen a lot of people going out to Central Park, to beaches and Coney Island, to spaces all over the city. Is there enough enforcement right now of social distancing, and is it actually safe so long as people wear masks and keep a little bit of space for people to linger sometimes all afternoon at parks and other areas across the city?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:38)
Look, ideally, if you’re protecting yourself and your loved ones, or by the way, if you’re a member of a vulnerable population, the ideal is to stay indoors. There’s no doubt. However, you can’t stay indoors forever, and weather is nice, and getting outside, getting some exercise, getting fresh air is good. Staying socially distanced and wearing a mask are basic precautions that should keep you safe, not as good as staying in the house, but should keep you safe. But that assumes people around you are wearing masks, people around you are acting responsibly, so it’s not even a situation that you can control yourself, right? What happens to you is dependent on what I do and how I act. I don’t wear a mask, I sneeze on a park bench. You walk up two minutes later and sit down on the park bench, or by the way, you walk up a half an hour later maybe and sit on the park bench, and you put your hand down and then you wipe your face. Now you have a problem because of me. That’s why the mask wearing.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:56)
And on the local enforcement, I know the New York City, I know Mayor de Blasio has made a real effort. I’ve said to all the local government heads, enforce it, enforce it because it’s not only wrong, a public health risk, it really is such a little thing to ask of people at a time when people are doing so much, so much. I’m with the transit workers yesterday, they’re going train to train, disinfecting, getting on their hands and knees in hazmat, blowing disinfectant under the seats, over the seats, on the ceiling, wiping it all down. People doing unprecedented work, and you can’t even wear a mask? No.
Likewise then, is a few dozen summonses enough? That’s what the NYPD commissioner said yesterday about 46 summonses issued yesterday. Is that commensurate with the level of need to enforce social distancing?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:55)
Well, look, we’ve said this from day one, right? We’re in New York state, and we’re also operating in the state of reality. Will you ever get 19 million people in this state to comply because you give them a summons? No. They will comply because they know the facts and because they choose and deem that it is intelligent and reasonable to comply. And that’s how I’ve started this from day one. Look, I could have done a close-down order, and New Yorkers could have said that… with no words. They could have just not complied with it, right? And then what would I do? Run around giving summonses? It wouldn’t work. Went through all the facts, explained why, and then we closed it down, people complied.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:43)
It’s going to be the same with masks and personal behavior. This is a new level of personal behavior now that we’re asking people to undertake, and I think they will get it. I think it’s not going to happen because of law enforcement, but law enforcement has a role. But I think they have to understand it, and they have to get it. And I think if New Yorkers, the best enforcers of social behavior are other New Yorkers, right? I think if New Yorkers get it, you walk down the street without a mask, I think other New Yorkers are going to let you know. And as long as they do that within the bounds of decorum, I don’t think that is a bad thing.
Governor, you talk about lessons learned, has something to be learned here regarding PPE and equipment being manufactured overseas, and would you say that it is time to maybe, I don’t know, rethink globalization policies and the direction this country’s been going in for the last 30 years?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:49)
I don’t know that you have to go to globalization policies, Zack, you’re not going to change the macro economic forces, but I think there is a lesson to learn and what we’re trying to actually…
Andrew Cuomo: (48:02)
-to learn and what we’re trying to actually deliver on. This is an emergency service, right? In a snow storm, you have to be able to get salt and you have to be able to have snow plots, right? In a hurricane, you have to have pumps. In a public health emergency, you have to have PPE. I mean, and nothing works unless, is step one, is you have to have the PPE. That we have to go to China for the PPE? I mean, think about that. You couldn’t even get it in this nation. We were started, making our own in the state, but that’s a national security issue to me.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:46)
Yeah. You have to be able to get masks and gowns and whatever medical equipment you need, so this nation can run a healthcare system in the middle of an emergency. Yeah. Yeah, and forget the macro economics, just from a national security point of view, I think, yes, you have to be able to do that. You can’t be dependent on China to have the basic equipment to save lives in the United States. That’s what this came down to. I mean, think about that.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:20)
Robert Kraft, God bless him, owns the New York, New England Patriots. New England Patriots haven’t done New Yorkers a lot of favors over the years, but great sports team. But, Robert Kraft has to send a private plane to China to pick up masks for Massachusetts? That’s how we handle a global pandemic? I have to call Mr. Kraft and say, “Can you do me a favor, Governor Baker, as long as the plane is going could you pick up some masks for me?” I mean, that’s how that happened, right. This is two major States in the middle of a pandemic, Robert Kraft is sending a plane. Do you guys want to comment on anything?
Speaker 2: (50:08)
No. Back on your point before when you asked about the higher cases in New York versus the West Coast, the virulent stream, which as the Governor said, there is sort of mixed reviews out there. But it’s important to remember, it’s not just that the travel ban here didn’t happen until, I think it was March 16th after they did the first version where they closed it down to most of Europe and then the 16th was when it went into effect, including the UK. Whereas, they did the Asia travel ban at the end of January, early of February. And so, those flights from Asia go to the West Coast, the flights from Europe come to New York and Newark.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:42)
But, look at that variance. End of January, you do the China travel ban. You don’t do the UK travel ban to the middle of March, end of January to the middle of March. The virus was not hanging out in China waiting for you during that period of time. January, he got on a plane, went to Europe and then spread in Europe. And then from January to mid-March was coming from Europe right here.
Speaker 2: (51:16)
And then I think on top of that there was this false sense of security in that they, the CDC was doing testing, so they were coming back and saying, “There is no cases in New York.” But the people that they were testing, they were testing a very select few that were coming off of planes from their hotspot designated regions. And then they were letting everybody else come right through the front door without doing temperature checks, without checking to see if they were demonstrating any of the symptoms that you would have. And so, I mean, in retrospect, what did everyone think was going to happen?
Reporter #1: (51:45)
Andrew Cuomo: (51:45)
Speaker 2: (51:48)
According to the New York Times report last week, they think there were 10,700 cases here in February.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:52)
One more, sir?
Reporter #2: (51:55)
On the overnight subway closures, are there any benchmarks you’re looking at for when we might see overnight subway service again? And that would also involve obviously less cleaning. So what would overnight subway service in return look like?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:07)
Look, the subway service will return when the pandemic ends. You tell me when the pandemic ends, I’ll tell you when the subway service resumes. But for that, look, we don’t really have a choice, in truth. Most of these issues, we don’t have a choice. You do what you have to do. We didn’t have a choice whether or not we bought PPE from China. We don’t have a choice whether or not we disinfect the trains.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:36)
I am so grateful to the frontline workers who show up every day. You know, think about what we did here. We had to explain to New Yorkers how vicious this virus was, so they would actually honor the close down, which is what we were just talking about. The next sentence out of my mouth is, “Yes, it’s vicious, we need the close down.” Next sentence is, “But, I need the essential workers to come to work tomorrow morning.”
Andrew Cuomo: (53:07)
What? You just said, it was a vicious virus, I should say home, but now the essential workers have to come to work? Yes. Because we need people to run the buses and the trains and we need the nurses and we need the doctors and we need food on the shelves. You want to see things go bad in a hurry? No food on the shelves, right, no electric power. You want to see panic and anarchy? You needed those essential workers, so God blessed them and we still need them.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:40)
But at a minimum, we’re talking about respect, wear a mask, they use public transit. I’m not going to ask them to come to work to get on public transit unless we know the public transit is safe, and safe in this case means clean. And we talk about the density as a spreader. Yeah, that’s true. But also, public transit if it’s not clean can spread. Right.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:09)
One of the surfaces that the virus lives longest on is stainless steel. You look at all those poles in a subway car, you have to clean the cars. And I’m very grateful to the frontline workers for coming out. They need the public transit. We owe it to them that it’s safe and it’s clean. And to do that, you have to close it down to 1:00, from 1:00 to 5:00 AM.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:34)
Now, 1:00 to 5:00 AM, the first time it ever closed down. Yeah, but also, 92% reduction in ridership. So your ridership is down to like 8%. And 1:00 to 5:00 AM is the lowest period of ridership, so people will work literally in the middle of the night to clean the trains, but it’s the least for the essential workers and for anyone.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:56)
You know, we have to be able to say we, our public transit system is safe and it is clean. And especially getting ready, planning to reopen, you cannot do anything without a public transit system that people have confidence in. And knowing that it is clean and they know how to disinfect it and they’ve been disinfecting it, I think that’s vital to confidence in New York, right, which is a big factor that we have to put in the equation here, just confidence and comfort with the situation in New York in the midst of this pandemic. Right?
Reporter #3: (55:40)
With the multi-state consortium plan, are you confident that President Trump is still moving ahead with his offer of swabs and the other things, the regions that you need that promise of 2% of the population testing, or is the multi-state consortium because you don’t still have competence and all [crosstalk 00:55:57]?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:57)
Look, we are working with the federal government, whatever they can do to help is great. But, this is also an ongoing situation. I don’t want to sit here and just say, I’m going to wait for the help, for help from the federal government. Whatever help they give us is great. But, it’s also clear from the federal government that it’s up to governors, up to governors, up to governors. So whatever we can do on our own, so we’re not reliant on anyone, that’s the best. Thanks, guys. Wear a mask, in case you didn’t get the message. Thank you.