May 6, 2020
Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 6
Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on May 6. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt joined the briefing, and Cuomo said it’s “shocking” that most new coronavirus hospitalizations are people who had been staying home.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Good morning. Pleasure to be with all of you. Pleasure to be back on Long Island. Let me introduce the participants we have here today.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:08)
From my far left, Dr. Jim Malatras from Empire State College. To my immediate left, Michael Dowling, who needs no introduction in this facility, but Michael Dowling worked for 12 years with Governor Mario Cuomo, who I believe was the best governor to serve in the history of the state of New York. I may not be objective on that. 12 years with Mario Cuomo was a long 12 years. When you worked with my father, those were dog years when you worked with Mario Cuomo. 12 years and Michael basically ran the healthcare system for the state of New York and developed the healthcare system during that time, then went and now runs a Northwell \Health System, which is the largest hospital system, health system in the state. He’s been extraordinarily helpful here in dealing with this virus and he’s going to be even more helpful as we go forward. It’s a pleasure to be with him. To my right, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To her right, Dr. Howard Zucker, who you all know, who’s our commissioner of health who’s been doing a great job.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:12)
A pleasure to be here today. This is one of the most challenging times that this state has faced in modern history. Challenging time all across the nation. A lot of questions, a lot of anxiety, a lot of opinions out there. Everybody has an opinion. Watch the news, talk to people, everyone has an opinion on what we should be doing. Everyone has thoughts that they want to share. One of the things that makes me frustrating for my team, is I say that “I’m interested in your opinion. I’m interested in your thoughts, but let’s start with facts first, right?” Then once we agree on facts, then we can get to opinions and thoughts and beliefs. But let’s start with facts and that’s what I’ve been doing for the people of the state of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:08)
Let me give you facts. Our total hospitalization rate is down again. You see this curve, we talked about it on the way up, which was a painful journey. We talked about it at the quote unquote “apex,” which turned into more of a plateau, a flattening and now we’re seeing it gradually decline. We would have liked to see a steeper, faster decline, but this is where we are. It’s a painfully slow decline, but it’s better than the numbers going the other way. You see it on total hospitalizations, you see it on intubations and you see it also in the number of new cases per day.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:51)
This is important because while we’re seeing that hospitalization rate go down and you see the number of new cases going down, those number of new cases are still problematic, right? It means 600 new cases yesterday. With everything we’ve done, we still have 600 new cases yesterday, either walking in the door to hospitals or people who are in hospitals who were then diagnosed with COVID. But that number is also going down.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:23)
One of the most stubborn situations and the most distressing are the number of deaths. That is down from where we were, but it’s still 232 yesterday, which is an unimaginable and painful reality that we have to deal with. When people talk about how good things are going and the decline and the progress, that’s all true. It’s also true that 232 people were lost yesterday and that’s 232 families that are suffering today. Also, a caution in the number of deaths. I know the reporters and everyone likes to trace these numbers and document these numbers. I think we’re going to find when all of a sudden done that the numbers are much different than we actually thought they were. The amount of information that is now coming out, that changes what we believed or what we were told happens almost on a daily basis. This was a virus that started in China now last week the CDC says, “Oh, it didn’t come from China. It actually came from Europe to the East Coast.” That’s how it got to New York and that’s how it got to Chicago, et cetera. That by the time we turned off travel from China, the China travel ban, the virus was already gone and it was in Europe and then it came here from Europe and we didn’t know at the time, so February, March flights were landing, people coming from Italy, from the UK, et cetera, they were bringing the virus. We didn’t know then.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:08)
They’re now saying that the virus may not have come just in February, March, the virus may have come late last year. They’re doing testing in Chicago now on people who passed last November and December to see if they passed from the COVID virus. I think this is all going to change over time, so a note of caution. I think it’s going to be worse when the final numbers are tallied. We’re also not fully documenting all the at-home deaths that may be attributable to COVID. I think that the reality is going to be actually worse.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:47)
But there’s no doubt it’s a time of unprecedented anxiety, stress. People want answers. People want answers now. Haven’t had a paycheck. They don’t know where job is. They don’t know if they’re going back to work, where they’re going back to work, when they’re going back to work and they want answers now. I understand that fully. But before we look for answers, let’s make sure we’re all understanding the same question. Right?
Andrew Cuomo: (06:15)
The question here is not do we open or reopen the society? When do we reopen it? We have to reopen the society. It’s like asking when do you start breathing? You have to breathe, right? The economy must function. People need incomes. The economy has to work. The state needs revenues. People have to be able to live their lives. You have to be able to get out of the house. You have to be able to see friends. You have to be able to see family. It’s not a question of do we reopen? It’s a question of how we reopen. That’s really the question that we have to grapple with and that we’re dealing with in New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:58)
Our position in New York is the answer to the question, how do we reopen, is by following facts and data as opposed to emotion and politics. Right? Everyone has emotion. “I want to go back to work today. I want to go see my family today. I want to be able to go to a bar and have a couple of drinks and socialize with my friends today.” I do, by the way. But it’s not about emotion. It’s not about political position on reopening. There’s no democratic position, Republican position. This virus kills Democrats, Republicans. There’s no politics to this. Deal with facts and deal with data and use that to instruct you even more important at a time of high emotion. Understand the emotion, appreciate the emotion, but deal on the facts and the data. And you have it.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:54)
You can calibrate by the number of hospitalizations, the infection rate, the number of deaths, the percentage of hospital capacity, the percentage that you’re finding on antibody tests, the percentage of finding on diagnostic tests, positive, negative. You’re collecting tracing data, make your decisions based on the information and the data. That’s what we’re saying in New York. That actually works. By the way, we know it works.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:24)
When you look, there’s a chart today that was published by the New York Times. You look at what’s happening in New York. Yes, our line is going down. Our number of cases is going down. We have turned the corner and we’re on the decline. You take New York out of the national numbers, the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. They are going up. To me that vindicates what we’re doing here in New York, which says follow the science, follow the data, put the politics aside and the emotion aside. What we’re doing here shows results. The hospitalization rate is down, the number of deaths is down and the number of new cases is down.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:14)
For me, I’ve been focusing on this number of new cases. That’s where our health professionals are focused. Why? Because with everything we’ve done, closed schools, closed businesses, everybody shelter at home, all the precautions about wear a mask, wear gloves, et cetera, you still have 600 new cases that walked in the door yesterday. Week before that, we still saw 1000 new cases every day. Where are those new cases still coming from? Because we’ve done everything we can to close down. How are you still generating 600 new cases every day? Where are they coming from? Again, let’s look at the facts. Let’s look at the data. Let’s understand and see what we can do.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:02)
What we’ve done over the past few days is we asked hospitals, look at just those new cases who are coming in, right? Yesterday, 600 new cases. Where are those people coming from and what can we learn from those people to further target and refine our strategy?
Andrew Cuomo: (10:23)
When you look at where they’re coming from, they are primarily coming from downstate New York, which is not surprising. Basically equally distributed. Long Island is 18%, so that’s a number that jumps out at you. Rockland, Westchester, which is where we did have a problem, that’s down to 11%. When you look at the racial breakdown of who’s getting hospitalized, you see it’s proportionately minorities, disproportionately African American and Latino. Again, in downstate New York. Higher percentage male, 52-48. We don’t know exactly why, but the virus doesn’t discriminate generally. A very high percentage comorbidities, which is what we’ve been talking about and which we understand, which is not a surprise.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:16)
This is a surprise. Overwhelmingly, the people were at home, where there’s been a lot of speculation about this. A lot of people, again, had opinions. A lot of people have been arguing where they come from and where we should be focusing. But if you notice, 18% of the people came from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities, but 66% of the people were at home, which is shocking to us. Disproportionately older, but by the way, older starts at 51 years old. I’m a little sensitive on this point, but if old-
Andrew Cuomo: (12:03)
I’m a little sensitive on this point, but if older starts at 51 years old, then that’s a large number of us old folk in this state and in this country. So that whole vulnerable population being old, well old is now 51 and up. So think about that. 60 to 70, 20%, 70 to 80, 19%, but 51 years old is old. Okay. Then I am very old. Transportation method, we thought maybe they were taking public transportation and we’ve taken special precautions on public transportation. But actually no, because these people were literally at home. 2% of car services, 9% were driving their own vehicle. Only 4% were taking public transportation, 2% walking, 84% were at home. Literally. Were they working? No, they were retired or they were unemployed. Only 17% working. So that says they’re not working, they’re not traveling. They’re predominantly downstate, predominantly minority, predominantly older, predominantly nonessential employees.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:28)
That’s important. We were thinking that maybe we were going to find a higher percentage of essential employees who were getting sick because they were going to work. That these may be nurses, doctors, transit workers. That’s not the case, and they were predominantly at home. So now that’s only three days. That’s just about 100 hospitals, 1,000 people. But it reinforces what we’ve been saying, which is much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself. Everything is closed down, government has done everything it could, society has done everything it could. Now it’s up to you. Are you wearing the mask? Are you doing the hand sanitizer? If you have younger people who are visiting you and may be out there and may be less diligent with the social distancing, are you staying away from older people? Older starting at 51 by the way, but it comes down to personal behavior.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:31)
This is not a group that we can target with this information. It’s really about personal behavior. Another issue that we’re looking at and were trying to understand, what is happening in these hotspot clusters that you see popping up? You see it happening across the country in meat plants, where you have a significant number of people getting infected and there’s now a meat shortage in the nation. Well, we have a hotspot in New York state. We have a hotspot in upstate New York, Madison, Oneida counties, and it’s around an agricultural business, but it’s not a meat processing plant. It’s actually a greenhouse farm, and we have dozens of cases coming from the employees in this situation. So what does that tell you? Well, it’s not really about meat or vegetables, right? There’s nothing about the fact that it was a meat processing plant, because we have a vegetable processing plant.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:34)
It is about worker density and large gatherings. That’s the caution flag here. That’s the message. It’s not about poultry, it’s not about meat, it’s not about vegetables. It’s when you run a facility with a large number of workers in a dense environment. And we learned that already in New York when we had the New Rochelle hotspot, which was the first hotspot in the nation, new Rochelle Westchester. And the lesson was one or two people infected who go to a large gathering or a dense gathering, that virus just takes off on you. And we learned that in New Rochelle, they’re learning it again in meat processing plants and poultry processing plants across the nation. And we just went through it again, and we’re going through it now in Madison and Oneida County. So that’s something that we have to watch and keep in mind. Also at the same time that we’re going through this reopening exercise, I want to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity in the moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:43)
The opportunity in the moment is that we want all through this, let’s learn the lessons and let’s take this moment in history to actually improve from where we are and to build it back better. I want to set the bar high and set the goal of not just replacing what we did. Okay, everybody go back to where we were. I don’t want to say that we spent all this time, all this pain, all this suffering, lost all these deaths, only to go back to where we were. Go back to a better place. How do you take … How do you find the silver lining in this viral storm and actually improve your situation? We’re on Long Island. We went through superstorm Sandy. It was horrendous. Thousands of people displaced, but we learned and we built back better. Long Island is better for having gone through hurricane Sandy.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:43)
Well, how can you say that? Because it’s a fact. We learned, we improved from a horrendous situation. Well, how do we do that here? And that’s part of what we want to do. People talk about making changes in society. Change is very hard to make. Change is hard in your own personal life, right? How many New Year’s resolutions did we make as a society that are still in effect here in May, right? I was supposed to lose five pounds. I was supposed to be running every day. I was supposed to never lose my temper. Forget it. One week, maybe 10 days for the temper. But history does show that people are ready for change at certain moments. And I believe this is one of those moments like in Superstorm Sandy, like in 9/11, like we’ve seen after natural disasters around the country where people say, “I get it and I’m ready to make changes.” And that’s what we want to do.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:44)
That’s what we talk about when we said, “It’s not just about reopening, it’s about rebuilding. It’s literally about re-imagining and moving the state forward at this moment.” And we want to do that. How do we come up with a better transportation system? How do we have more social equity in society, a better safety system, better housing, better economy, better education, better healthcare system? And we need the best minds available to take this moment to put together with the best thinking that we can find to make the best improvement. One of the lessons is in public health and our hospital system. We worked in an impossible situation when this started. We were told that we may need 130,000 hospital beds for COVID. That was the initial projections. We only have 50,000 hospital beds in the state. How do you get 50,000 hospital beds to a 130,000 capacity?
Andrew Cuomo: (19:50)
It was impossible. And by the way, we don’t really have a public health system. We have separate hospitals all across the state, but they don’t really function as one system. They never really work together on a day to day basis. They don’t share patient load, they don’t share PPE. How do you do that? And we scrambled and we made it work, but now how do we institutionalize that, and how are we ready for the next COVID or the next whatever it is? How do we use telemedicine better? How do we better allocate our health resources? How do we harden the healthcare system? But let’s take the lessons we just learned and institutionalize it and we’ve asked Michael Downling to do that. He was a big part of the scramble that we went through to make it work and Northwell was a leader. It’s the largest and in my opinion, the most innovative, but now how do we take that and institutionalize it so we don’t have to go through this again.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:50)
So next time something like this happens, we can just open a book and says, “Here’s what we do, step A, step B, step C.” And we want to thank Michael for his service with that and he’ll be working with Dr. Zucker from the department of health. Another area is education. We went to remote learning overnight. That’s what happens when you close the schools. Okay, all the students go home, we’re going to go to remote learning. What is remote learning? And we weren’t really ready for it. We had all talked about it, thought about it, there was some, but we were not really prepared to do it. We then had to do it, we implemented it and God bless the teachers in this state. They did a phenomenal job and God bless parents who had to figure out quickly how to use computers and technology and Zoom this and Zoom that. But how do we really learn those lessons? And we went to Bill Gates and he’s going to work with us on re-imagining the education system, and I want to thank him very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:50)
How do you create a testing and tracing system. By the way, what is a testing and tracing system, right? We never did this before, but we have to take thousands of COVID test, antibody tests, diagnostic tests, and then we have to trace, have an army of tracers to do this. We’re doing it for the first time ever, but how do we learn and institutionalize it? Yes, we have to do this for COVID, but we’re not going to go through all of this trouble and then just forget it. This will happen again. Some people say this virus comes back in the fall or the winter or there’ll be another health emergency, but Michael Bloomberg has generously said that he would work with us and use his philanthropy to develop that testing and tracing, and then on a larger scale, how do we really use new technology in the economy of tomorrow?
Andrew Cuomo: (22:46)
And that’s the lesson that we’re all learning, right? Work from home, telemedicine, tele-education, it’s all about technology and a better use of technology, and really incorporating the lessons into that. And probably the best mind in this country, if not on the globe to do this, is, I believe a true visionary, especially in the field of technology. And that’s Eric Schmidt, who was a former CEO of Google obviously, and just saw a future that no one else envisioned and then develop the way to get there. And we’ve asked him to come work with us to bring that kind of visionary aspect to government and society. Let’s look at what we just went through. Let’s anticipate a future through that lens and tell us how we can incorporate these lessons. And Mr. Schmidt, who has tremendous demands on his talent and his time, has agreed to help us and had an effort to do this. Eric, thank you so much for doing this and thank you so much for being with us.
Eric Schmidt: (23:59)
Well, thank you. Thank you, governor, you have been doing an incredible job for our state-
Eric Schmidt: (24:03)
Thank you Governor, you have been doing an incredible job for our State and frankly for the nation, and I’m really pleased to help. The first priorities of what we’re trying to do are focused on tele-health, remote learning and broadband. We can take this terrible disaster and accelerate all of those in ways that will make things much, much better. The solutions that we have to come up with have to help the people most in need. People are in different situations throughout the state. We need to consider all of them and not pick one or the other. So the intent is to be very inclusive and make this thing better.
Eric Schmidt: (24:35)
We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated and use technology to make things better. My own view is that these moments are a chance to revisit things that are not getting enough attention, and we have systems that need to be updating and need to be reviewed. My commitment is to make this period, this sort of awful period, to be a period as you described in Long Island where New York State, New York City, everyone comes out stronger. The public private partnerships that are possible with the intelligence of the New Yorkers is extraordinary. It needs to be unleashed.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:09)
Well, great. You are the person to help us do that. We are all ready. We’re all in. We are New Yorkers, so we’re aggressive about it, and we’re ambitious about it. And I think we get it, Eric. We went through this period, and we realized that a change is not only imminent, but it can actually be a friend if done the right way. And I hope that when we look back on this time, we talk about all the pain, all the suffering, but we also say it was a moment in time where we came together. And we brought a creative aspect, and an innovative aspect, and we worked together in ways we never did before. And we made this place a better place. And I can’t thank you enough for doing it. Eric, thank you very much. I look forward to continuing the conversation and working together. Mr. Schmidt, thank you.
Eric Schmidt: (25:56)
Thank you Governor.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:56)
Andrew Cuomo: (26:02)
That is exciting. Last point, today is National Nurse’s day, as you know. Nobody knows better than New Yorkers how our nurses really stepped up with our healthcare professionals. When the pressure is on in our lives, you wind up seeing the best and the worst in people, and heroes rise to the occasion. And that’s what we saw here in the state of New York. Our frontline healthcare workers were just extraordinary, showing up every day, working impossible hours, a virus that nobody understood, fear of infection, but they just kept rising to the occasion. And that’s why New York and the nation just loves all our healthcare workers. But our nurses especially have done a phenomenal job. And we thank them from the bottom of our hearts. And Jet Blue had a beautiful idea of a way to say thank you, which is donating round trip flights to 100,000 medical personnel and nurses to honor their efforts.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:12)
Isn’t that a beautiful thing? 10,000 to New York medical professionals. Michael Dowling is not eligible for that situation, but other than that, because we need him here in New York. But it’s a nice way that Jet Blue is saying thank you. And all of us will find our own way to say thank you. But I’m sure every New Yorker joins me in saying thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our heart. To all the nurses who are here today, God bless you. And thank you for getting us through this. And thank you for being New York tough, which is not just tough, but smart, and disciplined, and unified and loving. God bless you. Questions.
Speaker 1: (27:55)
Yes, about reopening. Along the way you’ve rubber stamp some things that you could say make common sense, like golf courses. You were asked about drive-in theaters. You said, “Hey, that might be a good idea.” So if a business owner right now says, “I have a super creative way to do this,. I can do it immediately and be safe.” You talk about smart New Yorkers, intelligent New Yorkers. Do you trust that? And do you move forward with other things, piecemeal maybe?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:25)
Yeah. We have a very detailed reopening plan with very detailed steps. I touch on it in what we just talked about. We look at different regions in the State, because there are different situations in different regions. New York City is different than Long Island is different than the Adirondacks is different than Buffalo, New York. And the numbers are just dramatically different. The way we talk about in this nation, States are in different places. In this State, regions are in different places. That’s how big this state is, how diverse it is. So there are specific factual data points that each region has to assess. Is your infection rate going up or is it going down? Are your hospitalizations going up or are your hospitalizations going down? Do you have healthcare capacity? If God forbid that infection rate takes off on you, do you have the hospital capacity to deal with that? Do you have the ICU beds to deal with it? Do you have the PPE?
Andrew Cuomo: (29:28)
If yes to those questions, then in that region, working with the local officials, what businesses do we reopen? And the analysis there is, businesses that are most essential and pose the lowest risk should go first. Construction jobs, because construction jobs, especially exterior construction jobs, workers are basically socially distanced by the nature of the work and can wear masks, getting their construction industry up and running again. Manufacturing, in a manufacturing setting where you can do social distancing. The meat plants are a caution flag. The poultry plants are a caution flag. The agriculture farm Upstate is a caution flag. Not manufacturing where you had density and people three feet from each other on a factory line, because that’s a problem, but manufacturing where you can socially distance. And then you can even go business by business. Drive-in theater where an employer says, “This is how I’m going to operate it. Everybody stays in a car, nobody gets out of a car.” You can make those decisions.
Speaker 1: (30:38)
So bookstores, you could say maybe. A laundromat, no. Will we get to that point?
Andrew Cuomo: (30:43)
You will get to that point. And we have this steps where you go through the data. Because first of all, you want to make sure you have the virus on the retreat. You want to make sure you’re not still seeing that virus like fire through dry grass. And we do have the virus on retreat all across the State. Different levels of retreat in different parts of the State, but it is on retreat in all parts of this state., Which is dramatically different than the numbers for the nation, which is worth noting. You have States that are opening, where you still are in the incline. I think that’s a mistake.
Speaker 2: (31:26)
Speaker 3: (31:26)
Regarding the spike in the homeless population here in New York City, do you think by cutting the Advantage Program, you bear some responsibility for New York City’s spike in homeless population?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:38)
No. We’ve increased the funding for homeless all across the board. Local governments then decide what the best programs are for that locality. It’s different in Nassau, different in Suffolk, different in New York City, but we’ve increased funding dramatically, exponentially. So it’s not just the question of funding, it’s how you use that funding. And I’ve worked on the homeless issue since I was in my twenties. First I ran a not-for-profit. I was the largest not-for-profit provider for homeless families in the United States. Then I went to the Federal Government. I worked on homeless programs all across the country. I’ve been in more homeless shelters, homeless programs than probably any other elected official. So it’s not just money, it’s you have to know what you’re doing, and you have to have a program that makes sense.
Speaker 2: (32:34)
Governor. With the Presidential Primary back on for now, I understand there might be an appeal. What are you doing to make sure that the County Boards of Elections are able to handle what will likely be a very large influx of absentee ballots, and protect coworkers who still must be there?
Andrew Cuomo: (32:50)
Look, the best we can do. you still have to run elections. The court said we have to run elections. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have people go standing online to vote. You shouldn’t say to a person, “If you want to exercise your civic duty, you have to endanger your public health and possibly endanger others.” We’ve seen a video of other elections held across the country, where you have people waiting online six feet apart to vote. That made no sense to me. So to the extent we can do absentee ballots, and make that available to everyone, and mail them out to everyone, and make that easy, I think that is the best way. If we have to also have an Election Day where people show up on Election Day, my two cents to people is, please vote by absentee ballot, so you don’t have to show up. But then if they have to show up, they have to socially distance, etc.
Speaker 2: (33:49)
Governor, just because you say everyone can get absentee ballots, doesn’t mean that the County Boards of Elections are prepared. I believe other States have had issues trying to ramp up too quickly, and haven’t been able to handle all of the requests, and sending out ballots, and time and counting ballots. Are you doing anything to make sure that the Boards of Elections around the state are able to handle what you are asking them to?
Andrew Cuomo: (34:09)
Yeah, well we’re working with all the local Boards of Elections. I’ve not heard from any Board of Election, that says they can’t send out the ballots. We told them last week, they have to all send out pre stamped forms, that people can just send right back. And I haven’t heard any issues from any local Boards of Elections. Have you heard any?
Melissa DeRosa: (34:30)
We’re working closely with the local County Board of Elections as well as the heads of the Democratic and Republican party, to make sure everyone has confidence in how the elections are being held. There is a very real possibility that certain elections won’t be called on election night. That is a reality people should prepare for, because as you said, the hope is the majority of the people are going to be mailing in their absentee ballot. And so we want to make sure that the counting process is done right, and it’s thorough, and that people continue to have confidence and faith in democracy. And so that may mean that certain elections are called a couple of days afterwards to make sure the counts are done properly.
Melissa DeRosa: (35:04)
In terms of helping to support the County Boards of Elections, one of the things we’ve discussed internally, if it’s something that they need, is supplementing with the National Guard. And seeing if the National Guard can step in and help, where we know that there may be issues. but it is something that we’re focused on and continuing to talk to the County Boards about on a consistent basis.
Speaker 2: (35:20)
Do you plan to continue this for November, if the executive order is only for June 20th?
Andrew Cuomo: (35:24)
Who knows? Tell me what happens with the pandemic between now and November, and I’ll answer the question.
Speaker 4: (35:32)
You’ve already said that the East Coast strain is different than the West Coast strain. And I’ve read that the East Coast strain is a lot more contagious than the West Coast strain. Do you have any understanding of whether people can be reinfected East Coast to West Coast, or even without in our region? And whether the antibody test is any indication of the person’s immunity?
Andrew Cuomo: (35:57)
Okay. You’re now beyond my pay grade on information. So I’m going to refer the question to Dr. Zucker. But just for what …
Andrew Cuomo: (36:03)
Information. So I’m going to refer the question to Dr Zucker, but just for what I know and what I believe, I said originally we were told the virus came from China, and everything was stopped, the virus from China and China travel ban. CDC comes out last week and says, “Oh no, it didn’t come from China. It went from China to Europe, and then from Europe to New York,” which is a dramatically different situation, because we were sitting here in New York, February, March, watching China. And the federal government came in and they were at all our airports screening everybody from China, nobody screened people coming from Europe. And now it turns out there were like two million people who came from Europe during that time, and they landed at JFK, they landed at Newark airport. Some went to Chicago, that’s where the flights go. And then they just mixed into society. And then you have New York, which is one of the most dense communities in the country, and the virus took off.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:06)
Nobody said it was coming from Europe. People who visited from Europe walked right through the airport. Nobody said to new Yorkers, be careful if you were just with somebody who came from Italy, be careful, they may have the virus. Nobody said that. So it was totally new. I can’t speak to the East coast strain versus the West coast strain. On the antibodies, there was an initial thought that if you had gotten the virus and you had the antibodies that you would be immune to another infection. I think that’s now being questioned. But again, you’re beyond my pay grade. Dr Zucker, would you like to take this?
Dr. Zucker: (37:48)
Thank you governor. So what the CDC is doing and others are looking at is the genetic fingerprinting of this virus to try to figure out the differences between whether those that came from China and from Italy. And unfortunately all the information is not out yet about whether it’s mutated, what’s the difference of these viruses, and the severity of the virus as to whether one would be worse than another. Regarding the antibody issue, as the government said, initially the feeling was that if one has antibodies, they should be protected. But we continue to learn more about this virus every day. And that’s one of the things we’re going to learn more about, is the protection from when you have antibodies and what that means, and also for how long that protection would last if one is protected from it. So it is a great question and it’s hard to give you an answer at this point right now because there’s still more research to do.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:42)
And by the way, as I mentioned before, they’re not talking today, I spoke to someone from Illinois. They think the virus may have come last December or November. So they are looking at autopsy reports to see if it should have been a cause of death last year. Which to me is just a wake up call that we think we know what we know, but nobody knows, nobody knows. I mean look at all the revisions that are now going on about all the facts that we thought we knew January, February, March.
Speaker 5: (39:19)
Governor I wanted to ask-
Speaker 6: (39:22)
On the opening, [inaudible 00:39:22] does not seem close to meeting all the necessary criteria, even lagging behind the city on one key data point. Why is that? And along with that, the contact raising seems to be a big challenge. And yesterday the Nassau County executive said that there’s going to be this software for the contact tracing system isn’t going to be online for four weeks. What role does that play in reopening?
Andrew Cuomo: (39:44)
Yeah, one of the new systems that we have to develop here is, everybody talks about test trace isolate. We have to do thousands of tests. By the way, we’ve already done one million tests in this state. This state has brought testing online faster than any state in the country, and we now do more tests per capita than any country on the globe in New York. So we’ve been very aggressive and successful at bringing testing online, but we have to have testing in every region, Long Island, New York City, upstate, different regions upstate.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:27)
And then an army of tracers, you’re talking about thousands of tracers who take every positive, caught up every positive, who did you go to dinner with, who did you whatever. And then isolate those people. And you have to have facilities to isolate people who can’t be isolated. Some people can’t be isolated at home. So that has to be in place in every region. We are working with regions to get that up and running, but you have to have the virus on the decline, and then you have to have a way to monitor that virus, and that’s testing and tracing. I don’t know about the county’s software system. I don’t know if Jim knows.
Well I spoke to the county executive last night, and that is one issue that we’re working with the county on is the testing and tracing. The other piece that I think you referred to was the gross hospitalizations, new people coming in the door, which is a concern of new infections. The data that the governor mentioned today, where are people coming from, what are their demographic information, who are they, will help isolate and target better for people in regions to say, “Here’s a hot spot zone to get that infection rate down.” So this will help Long Island and other regions target better where the infections are coming from to lower that overall infection rate, which will help in the reopening process as we go forward.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:49)
And that’s what Michael Bloomberg is helping us with, putting together this tracing testing program. Again, it’s never been done before on this scale. We have to do it now, and then we actually want to keep it institutionalized, because I don’t believe this is the last time that we’re going to go through this. I think this is part of the overall new normal. We’re seeing storms we never saw before, we’ve seen changes in the environment, changes in weather patterns. And I think this is going to be, it’s the first real public health emergency that we’ve had on this scale. But I would not believe that this is the last time we go through it. So I think learn the lessons and institutionalize it. Let’s take one more.
Speaker 5: (42:35)
Governor I wanted to ask about social distancing. There’ve been critics in the city that are saying that lower income and minority neighborhoods are having tougher enforcement than upper or more affluent neighborhoods or even in Central Park. What would you comment on that?
Andrew Cuomo: (42:50)
Yeah, social distancing, not in this city because we’re on Long Island here, but let’s call it in The City, The City when you’re on Long Island, The City is New York City. Although there are many cities in the state. The social distancing is important. The enforcement of social distancing and wearing a mask is left up to the local governments and the local governments have discretion on how to enforce it. And obviously it should be enforced in a nondiscriminatory, non-selective way. But I think it is important that people socially distance, it’s not I think, I know it’s important that people socially distance. I know it’s important that people wear a mask. I know masks are now even believed to be more important by healthcare experts than they initially were, that they can be more effective. And it is so easy, relatively in the scope of things to wear the mask.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:55)
I mean, look, we’re at Northwell. Look at what the people here at Northwell just went through for the past two months to save lives, and we’re asking people wear a mask so you don’t spread the infection. Compared to what people have gone through, if you don’t want to wear a mask, no, that’s not who we are that’s not what we are. We’re part of a society. We understand we’re responsible one for another. Wear the mask. I don’t even have a good looking mask, and I wear it. I have this very plain, boring white, ugly mask, but with this face, it doesn’t make a difference. Thank you very much guys. [crosstalk 00:44:38]
Speaker 7: (44:42)
They don’t have enough PPE.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:42)
Call the Department of Health, we have PPE and we can help them get it.
Speaker 8: (44:46)
Governor have you talked to any of your teachers about the re-imagining of education?