May 17, 2020

Andrew Cuomo New York May 17 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript

Andrew Cuomo Press Conference May 17
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsAndrew Cuomo New York May 17 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript

Governor Andrew Cuomo held his daily New York coronavirus press conference on Sunday, May 17. Cuomo took a test for Covid-19 live at his press conference to show how easy it is, and to encourage more New Yorkers to get tested. Read his news briefing speech here.

 

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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Happy Sunday. Glad to see you all here. Sunday crew. Hope you’re getting overtime. Double overtime. Triple overtime. I’m on comp time. I have enough comp time to take off nine years now. I’ve added it up.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:22)
Let’s look at the facts today. Total hospitalization is down. Good news. Net changes down. Intubations is down and new COVID hospitalizations are down. So it’s a good day across the plate. It is interesting And we’ve always been talking about this and we’ve been looking at this. It is interesting to see how the decline has actually been relatively flat. Remember, we always talked about, we knew how steep the incline was. What was the decline going to look like? What was the contour of the mountain going to look like?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:02)
Look how long it takes on the way down compared to on the way up. That’s why those spikes are dangerous. Once you have the spike, coming down from the spike is a prolonged period of time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:16)
Number of deaths are down 139. At a different time and place, if I had that news to deliver, that would be incredibly shocking to people. Only in this environment is it not shocking and relative to where we were, it’s good news.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:41)
Again, we’re right about where we were when we started. You just want to make sure we never go back to where we were. Question is reopening, not reopening or not. Everybody wants to reopen. Nobody wants to reopen more than I do. Question is how. We’ve said the five upstate regions are reopening. We say there’s a dashboard with all the facts and data that are driving these decisions. There’s been a shift in the Capital Region and in Western New York, where on the seven metrics on the metrics, they are now qualified for reopening. There is still a need to increase, tracing the number of people who are prepared to do tracing and that is a pure administrative function and we’ll be working with both Capital Region and Western New York to get that tracing up. But that is a purely administrative function in the Capital District.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:51)
We need 383 tracers. We need an additional 166 identified. Western New York, we need 521. We’d need an additional 352. We’ll be talking to the regional heads today to find those additional personnel and get them trained and get them ready but that’s the only function that has to be performed for those regions to open. And again, that’s something that we anticipated and that’s just administrative and working together with the regions. We can get that done. So, that’s good news.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:32)
Today’s day 78. Day 78. 78 days, a long time or short time. You can argue both. When you shut down everything and you’ve gone through the trauma that we’ve gone through, 78 days is a long time and people are feeling it and they’re feeling it in a number of ways. We’ve talked about it but I don’t know that any of us have really explored the depths of the mental health issues that have been created inadvertently through these 78 days.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:10)
We’ve been so anxious about the day-to-day and operationally oriented. We’ve been talking about hospitalizations, talking about deaths, talking about infection rates, but there’s also a more subtle but very present mental health crisis that has been going on.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:32)
Don’t underestimate the trauma that this has created for people. Out of the blue comes this virus, something we’ve never seen before. You’re living a science fiction movie. It’s been incredibly anxiety producing, traumatic, disturbing, and we’ve felt and seen all along evidence that this is creating a significant mental health challenge for people.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:06)
Look at some of these numbers now that people are reporting. The number of Americans who are reporting serious mental distress, up to 38%. doesn’t even discriminate by age, right; 18 to 44. It’s a multiple of what it’s ever been and this is something that I think deserves more attention than it has gotten because it’s very real.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:36)
“How are you?” Is a simple question that we ask. “How are you, really?” Mental Health Coalition is working on a project. My brother-in-law Kenneth Cole, his daughter, my niece, Katie Cole, who is a tech genius, are working with the Mental Health Coalition and they have a website, How are you, really? And they ask people to answer that question and share their feelings and their thoughts. But not just, “How are you? How are you?” “I’m doing fine. Thank you.” “How are you?” “I’m okay.” “How are you?” “You know, pretty much all right. Getting by.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:17)
Forget that answer. “How are you, really?” means let’s get to a different depth in the question and different depth in the answer. “How are you, really?” You can’t be fine, right? It’s not a trite answer. We’re going through hell. How are you when you’re going through hell? Not good. That’s what happens when you’re going through hell, I’m not good. I’m anxious. I’m stressed. I’m nervous. I’m afraid. I’m afraid. I’m living a science fiction movie. I’m afraid. That’s how I am. We’re not comfortable talking about that, right? That’s not the normal social back and forth. The, “How are you doing?” question is almost a throwaway. “How are you doing?” The expected response is, “Fine.” It’s almost a rhetorical question. “How are you doing?” “Fine. Good.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:14)
“How are you doing, really?” And let’s talk about it and let’s be aware of it and government can do a lot and groups can do a lot. We can also do a lot in our own lives with our own families. I’m trying with my family on the telephone, the ones I have in person, “How you doing, really? Really, let’s talk about this. I want you to understand how I feel and the stress I feel and how are you doing really?” It sounds simple, but I think it can be very constructive individually. I know it’s been helpful for me and this “How are you, really?” can actually provoke a good conversation, so I would suggest people look at it.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:00)
For people who have issues, we have a support hotline where we’ve asked mental health professionals to volunteer their time to connect by FaceTime on the telephone. We’ve had a tremendous response. Use it. This is nothing to be ashamed of ever, in life, but especially now. Of course, there’s going to be mental health issues. And of course, people are going to have stress that they need to work through and anxiety that they need to work through. Nothing to be ashamed of ever, but especially now. Also at headspace.com, that has been very helpful and we thank them for their support.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:43)
On the reopening strategy, we’ve said all along that it’s data driven and a big piece of the data driven strategy is the testing component. We’ve all been talking about this testing, especially diagnostic testing, which has been very important. In the beginning, the challenge was what is diagnostic testing? How do we ramp up diagnostic testing? This is a scale that this nation has never done before. How do we do it? How do we do it quickly? It involved the federal government, involved the state governments, FDA had to approve tests. We then had to get our labs up and running. We set our initial goal, March 13th. Seems like a lifetime ago but actually was just about a month, right? Over a month. 6,000 tests a day we were going to try to do and that sounded like a very ambitious goal.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:35)
We then got the 10,000 tests a day, then got to 15,000 tests per day, 20,000 tests. I then met with the president and we talked about an institutional agreement between states and the federal government with the federal government would help with the supply chain and getting the materials to the national labs. The states would be responsible for organizing their labs. We said we were going to try to double our capacity at that time on April 21 or thereabouts. Everybody said, “Oh, you’re being too aggressive. You can’t do it. You can’t do it.” I said, “What can I tell you? That’s who I am.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:11)
We’re at doubling the goal. We’re now at 40,000 tests per day. So, that’s May 17th. We started with about 6,000 tests. So we now have a really significant number of tests that we can do, so much so that per capita, we are doing more than other countries, significantly more. Diagnostic tests by population, New York is 7.1. Italy is second, 4.9. Canada USA nationally is doing 3.3. We’ve doubled the national average. So thank you to the Department of Health team and everybody who’s been working so hard to do that. When you compare us to other states in the nation, again were double the percentage, not raw numbers because…

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:03)
… [inaudible 00:11:00] the percentage, not raw numbers, because we’re bigger than many states, but by percentage we’re much, much higher, and this is a very big advantage for us, because testing originally was used to control the virus, now testing is really going to be very helpful in monitoring the virus, right? We’re all talking about what is the spread of the virus when you increase economic activity? Well, how do you know what the spread of the virus is? Testing, testing, testing. Not only do we have a large capacity to process the tests, we also have put together a network of testing sites all across the state, and we have a new agreement with CVS, which has a tremendous network across this state, where they are going to be bringing on a testing capacity, so we thank them very much for that, but we have now 700 testing sites, okay? So we can do more tests, and we have 700 testing sites across the state, which means there is a testing site near you. So many sites that it doesn’t fit on a map. That’s how many sites. That’s what a map looks like when you plot all the sites. It’s meaningless, unless you like those blue things all over the state. So it’s 700 testing sites. What’s the new problem. The new problem is we have more sites and more testing capacity than we’re using, okay? That’s a good problem, but that is the next, from hurdle to hurdle, right, stone to stone? Yeah, I see it more like from hurdle to hurdle down the track. Now we have more testing capacity and more sites than we’re actually using. We have drive in sites that can do 15 thousand per day, we’re doing about five thousand per day. The more tests, the better for the state, the better for society, the better for your family, the better for you. Who can get a test today? Any individual who thinks they have a COVID symptom. COVID symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever … What else?

Speaker 2: (13:32)
A fever, you mentioned.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:34)
Sneezing, coughing-

Speaker 2: (13:35)
Chest pain.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:36)
Chest pain.

Speaker 2: (13:36)
Cough.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:36)
Cough. Right?

Speaker 2: (13:38)
[crosstalk 00:13:37].

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:39)
Because COVID symptoms are basically like flu symptoms. If you think you have symptoms, get a test. Get a test. It’s up to you. Any individual who has had contact with a person who you find out had COVID, right? You get that phone call ” Oh, I was with you last night at a party. It turns out I tested positive for COVID.” Okay, you now qualify for a test. You lose your sense of smell, you lose your sense of taste, that’s a symptom of COVID. Any individual who is on quarantine, precautionary or mandatory, any healthcare worker, any nursing home worker, any first responder can go for a test today. Any essential worker who interacts with the public, food delivery personnel, a person working in a retail store, they’re all eligible, and we’re increasing it today, any individual who would return to work in phase one, construction, manufacturing, curbside retail, okay? But again, it’s anyone who thinks they have COVID symptoms, so it’s a tremendously large universe of people who can get tested, and all you have to do is to a website, find the testing site near you and get a test, and it is a fast and easy thing to do.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:23)
Now, we’ve been working on this for a period of time, and first we had to get the tasting capacity up, then we had to get the sites up, then we wanted to make it easy, then we increased eligibility, and we just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested, so I’ve been asking people “Have you been tested?” “No.” “Why not?” “Well …” They can’t say it’s inconvenient, because we have 700 sites, they can’t say they’re not eligible, because if you have any symptoms you’re eligible. There is a general proclivity where, and I don’t mean any disrespect to the medical profession, my sister’s a doctor, but some people just don’t like to go to the doctor and don’t like to get tested. On a personal level, they love doctors, how can you not, but there’s a reluctance to go to a doctor’s office, which I understand. I am not good when it comes to this. I don’t do the scheduled, all the scheduled check ins that I’m supposed to be doing, and it’s sort of like ” Do I really want to know? Do I really want to go and be poked, and prodded, and investigated, and have a test and then worry about what the test says?” Let’s just be honest.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:46)
So, I am not good at this, but this test is not an invasive test, there is no pain to this test, there is nothing about this test that should intimidate people from not taking this test. It is fast, it is easy. It is so fast and so easy that even a governor can take this test. That’s how fast and easy it is, and for you doubting Thomas’s, which is what you all are, gender neutral, because by profession you are doubting Thomas’s, I’m going to show you how fast and easy it is to take a test and demonstrate why there should be no reluctance. This is Dr. Elizabeth Dufort, who is in the appropriate PPE ware. Nice to see you, Doctor.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (17:51)
[inaudible 00:17:53].

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:52)
You make that gown look good.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (17:54)
Head up a little bit.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:55)
Head up.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (17:56)
Close your eyes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:57)
Close my eyes.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (17:58)
Okay.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:58)
Why do I need to close my eyes? You can question the doctor, that’s okay. Why do I need to close my eyes?

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:04)
For comfort.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:05)
Comfort.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:05)
It might make you tear a little bit.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:06)
Okay. If I fall asleep-

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:08)
Then we’ll have you sit down.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:09)
Okay.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:09)
Head up a little bit.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:09)
Okay.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:09)
That’s it?

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:09)
Yeah.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:20)
That’s it.

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:22)
That’s all.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:23)
Nothing else?

Dr. Elizabeth Dufort: (18:24)
That’s all.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:26)
Told you. Thank you very much, Doctor. That is the whole test. I’m not in pain, I’m not in discomfort, closing my eyes was a moment of relaxation. There is no reason why you should not get the test, and you don’t even have to be New York tough to take that test. You do have to be smart to get that test, and you have to be united, and you have to be disciplined for the period of time that you close your eyes, and you have to love yourself and love your family and love New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:12)
Questions?

Press: (19:13)
Governor, is there any update on unemployment? We’re still getting reports from people on a daily basis, even after the new website came out, saying that they haven’t been called after 72 hours or there’s some sort of glitch in the system. Is there any problem? Maybe that’s a Melissa question, not yours?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:29)
When you say maybe that’s a Melissa question, are you saying, what are you trying to say?

Speaker 2: (19:33)
[crosstalk 00:19:34]-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:33)
That I am not competent and knowledgeable to answer that question.

Press: (19:37)
Well, you defer those questions to her usually, so-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:39)
Are you trying to say that you think maybe I don’t have a command of the facts? Is that what you’re implying?

Press: (19:45)
I’m saying that’s her specialty.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:45)
Okay.

Press: (19:45)
It’s a compliment towards Melissa more than an insult to the Governor.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:50)
Okay. All right. Well, that’s a good thing to know, and you happen to be right, I don’t know, so I will defer to Melissa.

Melissa: (19:57)
There has been tremendous progress with the unemployment system. We’ll have another update middle of this week, but we’re getting to a point where the only claims that are longer than three weeks old are either suspected fraud, not certified, or partial information, meaning the person that’s applying has left out their social security number, some form of identification that’s mandated by the federal government, so we actually feel very, very good about the progress that we’ve made, and the new system that we put into place has been incredible. The people, I’ve seen people tweeting that people who have applied last week have already gotten their money this past week, and so we have gotten through the backlog, and the people that are remaining, it’s either certification issues, partial information issues, or suspected fraud, and so for those folks, we’re trying to update the website to tell you what it is specifically that’s holding you back in that pending status, and those updates should come in this week as well, but there’s been tremendous progress in the unemployment system.

Melissa: (20:53)
I’d also note the New York Times reported this morning that there has been suspected fraud attempts on states on their unemployment insurance system, and so that speaks to also the need to make sure that as we’re processing these claims we’re making sure the people that are getting the money are actually the people that they say that they are, and not just jamming the money out the door so quickly that then at the end of this when this is all over you guys come to the Press Office and say “You gave out millions and millions of dollars to people who didn’t believe it. Did you have a proper vetting system in place? Did you do what you need to do?” And so, we are maintaining a very careful balance of making sure that the people who are in need are getting the money that they need, and also being diligent and vetting people properly so that tax payer dollars don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Press: (21:33)
How many are outstanding?

Melissa: (21:35)
We can give you a number middle of this week, but it’s, we’ve got them batched into like pre middle of April, post middle of April, so we can break those down for you. I think we’re going to have Roberta do a call tomorrow to go through all the numbers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:46)
Yeah, but just to reinforce a couple of those points, backlog is a claim that’s more than three weeks old, is how we call backlog. The backlog has been finished. It doesn’t mean everyone has gotten a check, but …

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:02)
Doesn’t mean everyone has gotten a check. But if you don’t get a check, just because you apply, doesn’t mean you necessarily automatically get a check. You have to meet certain criteria, which are in the federal bill for good reason. So, you filled out the application but there are questions, you didn’t fill out the whole application, they’re investigating something about what you said. But the backlog is done. Most of this is at the point is very well taken. And I said this. I said, “The pendulum swings in life, right?” Process the claims. Process the claims. Process the claims. I said, “Yeah, but just remember what’s going to happen when the pendulum swings 30 days from now when somebody says, ‘I have John Smith here who got an unemployment check and he didn’t qualify. It was a fraud. Why didn’t you check it before you authorized payment?'” That is going to happen. And that’s why balances, yes, get the checks out the door as fast as you can. But make sure the person who’s getting the check is actually eligible for the check. Because no one is in the business of shoveling money out of a window. And nobody wants to be taken advantage of. And these are tax dollars, and they have to be exercised diligently.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:28)
So every state has gone through this. If you look at what we’ve done compared to the other states, it’s not even close how many claims we have processed and how fast we have processed them. So the backlog is all gone. But we still have to make sure eligible people receive it. And you’re starting to hear already, well, there was fraud in people who got it. So that’s the ying and the yang. Mirina.

Mirina: (23:56)
So we know how many tests we’re doing on average. But what’s our actual max capacity? And what will the state do to better use our capacity to test inmates and nursing home residents who could be getting tested?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:05)
We’re at 40,000 today.

Mirina: (24:07)
That we’re doing. What’s the max capacity? Because the slide said that some of the drive through tests have a max of 15,000 that are only getting 5,000.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:15)
Well, we’re at 40,000 today, which meets our goal of saying we were going to double our ability to test, right? We were at 20. I met with the President. We said our goal is doubling. We’ve met the goal of doubling. We’re now at 40,000.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:35)
We want to test as many as we can possibly test. And what is the maximum testing capacity? You don’t know yet. It’s how many test kits can we get? How many vials can we get? How many reagents can we get? How many machines can we get? How many more labs can we get? How many more CVS can we get? How many more Rite Aids can we get? How many more doctors offices can we get? How many more hospital employees can we get? You calculate all of that, you’d be at a theoretical maximum.

Melissa DeRosa: (25:10)
And then [crosstalk 00:25:08], if I could just add to that. On the nursing home question, in addition to those 40,000 a day that you saw on this slide, we have reserved above and beyond that, 35,000 tests a day. A couple of days ago, I said it was 30,000. We’re now up to 35,000 tests a day on top of that breakdown today that will just be dedicated to nursing home staff in order for them to meet the DOH mandate, and making sure that their staff is tested directly. [crosstalk 00:25:34].

Mirina: (25:32)
So the state can do as many as 75,000 tests a day?

Melissa DeRosa: (25:35)
That’s through the commercial labs that you ship out of state. [crosstalk 00:25:38]

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:38)
Well, excuse me, one second. Jesse. Let me just make sure, you wanted to add something, doctor?

Robert Mujica: (25:42)
Combined between instate and out of state will be 80 to 90,000 a day.

Jesse: (25:46)
Governor, can we get some clarity on summer camps? There’s been some questions as to whether or not those should open. Will they open? We’re approaching summer vacation, obviously parents are concerned.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:55)
Yeah, Rob. Do you know Melissa?

Robert Mujica: (25:57)
We were looking at summer camps and coming up with guidelines, right? With the new cases that were arising with children, we’re looking at re-looking at those guidelines. Other states around us were also moving to open summer campus. They’ve also slowed down that process. We do have guidelines for childcare. But as far as camps where people were sleeping away, how you do that in the context of the new cases, we’re re-looking at. So we don’t have an answer yet on summer camps, but we’re looking at open them. Their deadline close to when they generally open is in the end of June. So we will get guidance out and make a decision, way in time before that. But right now the public health concern is the first.

Jesse: (26:41)
So within the next couple weeks, we anticipate?

Robert Mujica: (26:41)
Yes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:42)
Yeah, but Jesse, also let’s just stay with this for a second. We’ve been looking at summer camps just because they were always gatherings and they obviously had density and they were posing issues.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:53)
This issue with this Kawasaki like syndrome is I think very important. We have about 120 cases now that we’re investigating in New York. People say, Oh, that’s the only 120 children. I don’t believe it’s only 120 children. I believe this is a syndrome that we are just discovering. And Dr. Zucker has had a couple of conversations with health people across the country. Already like 16 States are saying, “Oh yeah, we see that also.” Five countries are saying, “We see that all.” I think the numbers are going to be much, much higher.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:36)
And we need to know that as a society. We would told children are not affected. And we’ve been operating on that basis. And that’s one conversation with summer camps when you say children are not affected. If you now change your facts again, and you say, “Oh, children may be affected, not with the traditional COVID respiratory illness. But they may have this more serious inflammatory illness that could be a heart disease issue.” That’s a different set of facts, right? So respond to the facts. And it’s especially tricky here because the facts change.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:14)
Do you want to add anything?

Dr. Zucker: (28:15)
The governor has covered the major issues. We need to make sure that we don’t do anything to harm any of these children. And the numbers keep rising. As the governor mentioned, 16 states. But we have over 120 cases here. But if you look across the country, it’s past 200.

Speaker 3: (28:29)
I’m sorry, Howard. Does that influence your thinking about school in the fall? I mean, if this is in fact attacking kids, at what point do you start to consider canceling school?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:38)
You’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. And look, nobody knows. One thing we’ve realized as a society, there’s an assumption that somebody always knows the answer and they’re just not telling us. Sometimes nobody knows.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:55)
I’m telling you, nobody knows about this virus. Nobody knows what the effect may be on children. I think we discovered this Kawasaki like situation. I don’t believe it’s only a hundred kids. I believe it’s only a hundred kids until you look. And I think that number’s going to go up. Good news about schools, the fall is a lifetime away as far as we’re concerned at this rate. Summer camps, it is relevant. So on the summer camps issue, on any of these children related issues, it’s really important for us to get the facts on is this just 120 kids and it’s an anomaly? Or is that just the tip of the iceberg? And that represents thousands of kids who have had this reaction?

Speaker 4: (29:44)
Governor, what would you say to families who have suffered losses inside nursing homes? And they’re looking for accountability. And they’d like to see justice. For example, I’ve recently interviewed a family, three siblings. They’ve had two nursing home losses within a few weeks of one another on two separate floors in the same facility here in Albany. They felt so much solace when you got up and talked about Matilda’s law. They said, “Great, we’re protected. Our loved ones are going to be okay because of Matilda’s law.” And then their loved ones passed away because they couldn’t get the testing. So they’re looking for accountability and they feel that they were failed. What’s the comment to that?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:23)
Yeah. The comment is this. And I have those conversations all day long with people who have lost people, right? We lost 139 people yesterday in hospitals. Who is accountable for those 139 deaths? Well, how do we get justice for those families who had 139 deaths? What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody. Nobody. Mother nature. God. Where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus. That is the truth. Best hospital system on the globe, I believe we have. Best doctors, best nurses who have responded like heroes, every medication, ventilators, the health system wants for nothing. We worked it out so we always had available beds. Nobody was deprived of a bed or medical coverage in any way.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:33)
And still people died. Still, people died. Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive. Despite what everything you do and older people are more vulnerable. And that is a fact. And that is not going to change. And look, to me, the really difficult conversations for me are “My son was 40 years old. It was not a senior citizen, did not have a comorbidity and got this virus because he was an essential worker and doing the right thing and had an aneurysm. I thought young people were fine. And he was doing the right thing as an essential worker.” There’s a randomness to this virus that is inexplicable. Why do people die? That’s beyond this. Who’s accountable? You can have a situation where every-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:03)
You can have a situation where everyone did the right thing and everyone tried their best, and people still die.

Speaker 5: (33:09)
What you’re saying, still, that if the mandates that are currently in place right now, that we’ve all just been talking about in here, were in place from the get go, they feel that their loved ones might still be here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:22)
Look, people rationalize death in different ways. I don’t think there was any logical rationale to say, they would be alive today. I said, from day one, the fear is we overwhelm the hospital system, and then people die, because we couldn’t get them the medical care. That was an accountable avoidable situation. That was Italy, by the way. People died in hallways, on gurneys in hospitals, because the doctors and the nurses were overwhelmed, and because they didn’t have a ventilator, they didn’t have a doctor available, and people died. That is a heartbreak, because then you say, “They didn’t have to die.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:22)
“If the doctor had gotten to my mother, my mother would have been alive.” That’s what we protect against, and we did it successfully. I now get criticized that I had an overcapacity of beds available. “Oh, you didn’t need all those beds, as it turned out.” I’ll take that, I’m guilty. I increased the hospital capacity to an extent that we didn’t even need. But you know what? Nobody died where we didn’t do everything that we could. And that has been true from day one. It’s true today, and it was true from day one. [crosstalk 00:35:06] We always have more capacity.

Speaker 6: (35:07)
Governor, a few days ago, you said that there would need to be broad-based testing, so that officials could then perform testing in the prison system. Now it appears a lot of those capabilities have come online. Can you please describe if there’s a widespread plan to do [crosstalk 00:02:25]-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:23)
We are testing in every congregate facility in the state.

Speaker 6: (35:29)
Is that with prisoners? [Crosstalk 00:02:30]-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:30)
Prisoners, prisons, any congregate care facility in the state, nursing homes, top of the list.

Speaker 6: (35:40)
The only reason I bring that up is, our analysis shows that prisoners are being tested at a rate four times fewer than that of the general public. And there are still facilities that don’t have any testing. Or sometimes somebody does test positive, and there are very few tests in a facility, and then very few tests are then performed there afterwards. Can you please comment on that?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:00)
Who found that?

Speaker 6: (36:01)
A New York law journal.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:03)
Used to survey prisons?

Speaker 6: (36:05)
That’s according to state data, state data [crosstalk 00:36:08]-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:07)
I don’t understand. Do you know?

Speaker 8: (36:08)
We test prisoners at the same criteria that we test people outside of prisons. So the same criteria that’s been applied outside of prison walls, if you’re symptomatic, if you’re known to have come in contact with somebody who is COVID-positive, that same rule applies within prisons. And we, luckily, have not seen outbreaks like we’ve seen in some of these other states, like Ohio, and in some of the other facilities that are non-state facilities. So if there is a reason or a need to expand the testing within the prisons, it’s something that we’re looking at, and we’ll expand accordingly. [crosstalk 00:36:38]-

Speaker 6: (36:40)
[crosstalk 00:00:36:39]?-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:41)
Yeah, But let me tell you something, I’ll tell you why you can’t be right. Because, the test of the correction officers… We tested all the essential workers, the correction officers test well below the general public, in terms of infection rate. The people who work in the prisons test at a much lower infection rate than the general public. We can pull it up for you. But how, if you had a serious… We’re testing nursing home staff, twice a week. Why? Because they’re a canary in the coal mine for that nursing home. If you have a problem with COVID-19 in a nursing home, you’re going to have it with the staff, also. So it’s a way of looking at the problem in the general population. That’s the nursing home staff theory. Also, the prison staff has the same theory. If you have a problem in a prison, you’re going to have correction officers who test positive, because they can’t avoid contact with the prison population. You’re grabbing a cell, you’re putting your hand on the counter. We’ve done extensive testing of all frontline personnel, at a higher percentage, because they’re frontline personnel. The correction officers test way below the general public. So [Carry B. 00:00:38:06]. One more. Mark?

Mark: (38:09)
Governor, I just want to preface my comments with a take-off with Bernadette. With my mom, April 28th my mom passed away from, so that’s why you hadn’t seen me [crosstalk 00:05:23]-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:22)
I’m sorry.

Mark: (38:23)
It’s okay, it’s a statistic now.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:26)
I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter what state.

Mark: (38:30)
Thank you. But this coming Thursday night is [inaudible 00:05:34]. You’ve talked about a mental health, talked about emotion, you talked about desire. There’s a very important Jewish holiday coming up, Orthodox Jews, with 23 synagogues and in 18 localities, upstate from the Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Monticello bordered north. And they’re really feeling the need to go out and observe one of the four major Jewish holidays. And they don’t observe [Zoom 00:06:07]. That’s not part of the Orthodox Jewish Community.

Mark: (39:10)
I know there’s this whole separate problem downstate. But upstate, you get maybe 14, 15 people, you could set chairs apart. Is there any guidelines, any protocols that could be set through the health department, maybe, county health officials, or law enforcement coming to make sure that they’re doing things the way they need to, that could allow this segment of the population at least observe this one holiday? [crosstalk 00:39:41] That is so important, it’s called, [inaudible 00:06:42]. It’s the hand me down left over from Mount Sinai. I just thought I’d-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:47)
Yes.

Mark: (39:47)
… get it out, because it really would relieve a lot of stress and anxiety on this small segment and be safe, at the same time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:55)
Yeah. Two things, Mark, first, we’re talking about the upcoming holiday. We’re also talking about special provisions for Memorial Day celebrations, which are also coming up. And we’re going to have guidance on that tomorrow, or by Tuesday. If we can circumscribe a ceremony, your number was 14, 15 people, social distanced, with safeguards, can we find a way to do a ceremony, a religious ceremony, or a ceremony that honors Memorial Day? I think we can. And that’s what we’re talking through, but we’ll have an answer in the next day or two. And on your mother’s passing, there’s an Italian expression, “The two things in life that will never leave you, the eye of God and the love of a mother.” She’s still here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:57)
[crosstalk 00:40:57] Have a good day, guys. I have to go to work. Come tomorrow, I’m going to get my results. [crosstalk 00:41:03] No, I’ve been tested before. If I’m not here tomorrow, it means I tested positive. Otherwise, I’ll see you here tomorrow.