May 24, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo May 24 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held coronavirus press conference on Sunday, May 24. Cuomo said New York sports teams can hold in-state training camps & open training facilities.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
On the facts first, total number of hospitalizations is down. That’s good news. The rolling average of hospitalizations is down. That’s good news. The intubations are down and the new cases are up a little bit on the rolling average, but all part of the decline, so that’s all good news. Number of deaths ticked up, which is terrible news, but the overall line is still good. And the 109 families that lost a loved one, they are in our thoughts and prayers. What does a governor do on Memorial Day weekend? People ask me all the time. What do you do? So what does a governor do on Memorial Day weekend? You go to the beach. That’s what a governor does, and he brings his friends, and I’m here with my friends today. From far right, Gareth Rhodes. To my immediate right, Melissa Derosa, secretary to the governor. To my left, Robert Mujica, budget director for the great state of New York and Dr. Jim Malatras, who is not a real doctor, but he likes to be called doctor.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:11)
So, we’re at the beach. Beaches in New York State, state beaches are open, Jones Beach, Sunken Meadow Beach, Hither Hills, Robert Moses Beach. Campgrounds, RV parks open tomorrow, and we’re excited about that. We remind all New Yorkers to be smart in what they’re doing. We’re now decidedly in the reopening phase, and we have been following the numbers from day one, not emotions. Following the science, not the politics. This is not a political ideology question. This is a public health question. It’s about a disease, stopping the disease, stopping the spread of the disease, and that’s science. It’s not politics. We have all the numbers posted for all regions in the state. We want people to understand the numbers. We want people to understand what’s going on because it’s their actions that determine our future.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:14)
So, informing the people of the state, that’s what I’ve done from day one, every day, and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Also, we feel that this is a case of first impression. We’ve never been here before. We’ve never been here before in our lifetimes. That’s true, but the country has been through this before and you learn from the past so you don’t make the same mistakes. When we went through this in the 1918 pandemic, you go back and you look at the places that opened in an uncontrolled way, and you see that the virus came back, and came back with a fury. So again, it’s not about what you think, ideology. This is what we know. These are facts. You go back and you look at what happened in the 1918 pandemic in St. Louis. Go look at Denver where they loosened up too quickly and the virus came back.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:15)
Article in the paper today, the Washington Post, 24 States may have an uncontrolled growth of the virus. They’re talking about California and Florida may still see a spike in the number of deaths. Okay? Those are all facts and they reinforce the point that we’ve been making. Follow the numbers, follow the science, and we have done just that. That’s why you see our curve is coming down, where many places in the country, the curve is going up. Remember what happened to us was no fault of our own. Actually, it makes the point because what happened to us was, we did not have the facts when this started.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:01)
Everybody said the facts were the virus was coming from China. Those were not the facts. The virus had left China. The virus went to Europe and nobody told us, and people came from Europe to New York and to New Jersey and to Connecticut, and 3 million European travelers came January, February, March, before we did the European travel ban, and they brought the virus to New York, and that’s why the New York number was so high. We didn’t have the facts. We were not informed, but once we got past that and we were in control, we have been smart and smart has worked. We just have to stay smart. Even though it’s been a long time and people are anxious, we have to stay smart.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:56)
You keep watching those numbers. The Mid-Hudson is still on track on the numbers to open Tuesday. Long Island is on track to meet the numbers on Wednesday. We have to get the number of deaths down on Long Island, and we have to get the number of tracers up. But we’re doing that. We’re preparing for Long Island to open. We’re getting the transportation system ready. The Long Island Railroad is run by the MTA. They’re going to be cleaning and disinfecting all trains and buses every day. First time ever. We never disinfected buses and trains before. We never thought we had to, but we get it now, and they’re doing it every day. They’re going to add more cars to the trains so people can space out and socially distance when Long Island opens.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:47)
I want people to remember that a mask is mandatory on public transportation. I think you’re making a mistake, a grave mistake, if you don’t use a mask in your own personal life, we know that it works. We know that the first responders have a lower infection rate than the general population because they wore the masks. So, I think if you don’t wear the mask in your personal comings and goings, you’re making a mistake. But I do know as governor, if you’re going to subject other people in the public to your behavior, then you have to wear a mask when you can’t socially distance and that’s true on public transportation.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:32)
Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps. I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it. Do it. Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So, we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible, and we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:11)
All veterinarian practices will begin on Tuesday. That’s a service that is necessary and has been necessary for a period of time. That’ll start on Tuesday, and I want people to remember that there are people who have paid a very high price. Everybody’s paid a high price for what we’ve gone through. Some people have paid an extraordinarily high price. You have people who literally don’t have enough to eat. The demand on food banks has skyrocketed. That’s true all across the state. It’s true here on Long Island, and we encourage people who want to make donations, philanthropies that want to make donations, to make them for the purpose of food banks. This is a period where it gets very basic. Do you have housing? And do you have food? And let’s make sure no New Yorker goes hungry.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:10)
Also as we go forward, we’ve been talking about the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re dealing with the today and the here and now, but we also have one eye on the future, and when we finish getting through this, which we are, we have to start talking about building back better. Not just building back, building back better. Same attitude we had here on Long Island after Hurricane Superstorm Sandy, devastated long Island. I said, “I don’t want to just replace what was. We went through too much pain. We learned too much just to replace what was. Let’s build back better, a new power grid, new, more resilient, new, more resilient roads, so when mother nature comes back and she’ll come back with a fury, we’re in a better position because we learned from Superstorm Sandy. Let’s do the same thing here.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:09)
What do we really think? This is the last time we’re going to have a public health emergency. Does anyone really believe this is the last time? Like Superstorm Sandy, well, this is a once in 500 year flood. Yeah, sure, once in 500 years. It happens three times a year now. This can’t be once in 500 years, there are new rules. I believe there’s going to be another public health emergency, different virus, this virus, some other public health emergency. Learn from this build back better. We asked Eric Schmidt, who is the former CEO Executive Chair of Google, who is very good at seeing issues and seeing possibilities, to chair a commission for us to look at the situation and say, how do we learn from this and how do we prepare going forward?
Andrew Cuomo: (10:02)
And we’ve put together a commission that’s going to work with him that represents all aspects of the state, all aspects of the economy, but I want them to get to work. I want them to come up with ideas and let’s make sure that we’re better for what we’ve gone through, and start preparing for a new chapter in this saga. We’re writing history in New York. We’re writing history in America. That’s what we’re doing. We’re writing history for a whole modern day governmental and societal response. Chapter one was, dealing with the emergency. Stabilizing the health crisis, that was chapter one. We have just about completed chapter one.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:56)
We’ve started chapter two, which is reopening after you have stabilized the health crisis. And we’re starting to write chapter two. Chapter three, which we’re going to begin preparing for soon, is rebuilding and recreating the economy. I don’t believe this economy just bounces back. I don’t believe it’s going to be enough just to go back to where the economy was. Too many small businesses have closed. You’ll see many of these corporations are going to use this as an opportunity to layoff workers. I believe that. Many businesses will have gone through this period where workers were at home, they had fewer workers, they used more technology, and they’re going to decide, well, we don’t need as many workers. That’s going to happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:56)
You’ll have people who decide, I don’t want to go back to work. I’d rather stay home and do it from home. So, we’re going to need to stimulate that economy and government has a role to play in that. It always has. How does government stimulate and lead the way to these new economic opportunities? How does that Eric Smith commission come up with new ideas that we can jumpstart to grow the economy? That’s what the next chapter is going to be about. It’s going to be about government working with the private sector, working with businesses, to jumpstart the economy, to stimulate it, to get some big projects going that get the business sector engaged and confident and believing once again, gets people into a position where they’ll invest once again, because they believe in the economy.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:52)
Build new airports, which makes this nation more competitive. That’s what we’re doing at LaGuardia. That’s what we’re doing at JFK. This nation hasn’t built a new airport in 25 years. When are you going to start? Now’s the time to start. How do you improve the mass transit system? How do you rebuild all these roads and bridges that have been failing for so long? Everybody talks about it and nobody’s done a darn thing. How bout new technology for education? How about new telemedicine? We learned not everybody has to show up at the doctor’s office. Well, let’s invest and build that new healthcare system. We talk about a new healthcare system that can do testing and tracing and has surge capacity in hospital beds. Let’s build that new public health system and let government get ahead of it and let government lead the way. New York State has led the way in so many difficult times in history.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:55)
New York was the first. I’m not just saying that as a New Yorker. There they are, those arrogant New Yorkers. Read the history books. Read where FDR came up with his great ideas. He used New York as a laboratory when he was governor, and then he brought them nationwide, but we were the first. We started it first and people look to New York for guidance and for example, and New York was bold and was creative. They talk about the New York energy, the New York mojo. Yes, that is New York. We did things that other people didn’t think could be done, and we did it over and over and over again.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:38)
We’re at Jones beach today. Jones Beach is indescribably beautiful, yes. It’s also something else. It was a tremendous feat of ambition and vision meeting competence. Jones Beach, built by Robert Moses. You know what’s funny about Jones Beach when he started to build Jones beach? There was no beach. There was no beach. People assume you have a beach because mother nature put a beach. There was no beach. This was all built. This was all marsh. This is seven miles of fill. They filled a seven mile stretch, 14 feet high. It took so much fill that they dug the channel, a canal, and used that fill to build a beach. How ambitious. You’re going to build the beach seven miles long, 14 feet of fill. Well, that’s impossible. No, they did it in three years, and it was a marvel because they believed in themselves, because you had smart government. You had competent government. People believed in government, and they do again, because government did work for people here. It saved lives.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:16)
So, let’s get that kind of ambition back. Let’s get that kind of optimism back. We’ve built New York. Mother nature didn’t build this. She gave us a beautiful harbor, but everything else was built, and we did it and we can do it again. And that’s what it means to be New York, tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving. Questions?
Speaker 2: (16:44)
Governor, a bar and grill in Patchogue, the Dublin Deck, reportedly was crowded with a lot of patrons on Friday night, some video showing them without masks. Any thoughts?
Andrew Cuomo: (17:00)
The Dublin Deck in Patchogue was crowded on Friday night. I do not know the Dublin Deck. I’m sure it’s a great establishment. Does anybody know about the Dublin Deck in Patchogue?
Melissa Derosa: (17:11)
Yeah, from what I understand, it was raining on Friday evening and so the bar allowed patrons to come inside to pick up their food. That’s at least the explanation that was conveyed to the Suffolk County Police, and from what I understand, the Suffolk County Police broke it up, but I do want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that crowding of any kind is against what we’re advising and everybody should be wearing masks. From what I understand, the photo showed that people were in this space and they weren’t wearing masks. That’s stupid, stupid for you, it’s stupid for your surrounding patrons, it’s stupid for the bar. And so, I mean, I take them at their word that, that’s what happened, but moving forward, they should be on notice, and again, the enforcement is up to the locals.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:48)
It’s supposed to curbside pickup, right? That doesn’t sound like curbside pickup.
Speaker 4: (17:54)
Here at Jones Beach, we’re limiting the number of parking spaces with orange cones. It looks like half of the spaces are taken up by orange cones. I’m just wondering when the weather this week gets warmer and warmer and we start getting crowds of people with quarantine fatigue looking for some relief coming here, are they going to find that there’s no place to park and that they just took an hour trip for nothing and they got to go back home with their [inaudible 00:18:19]?
Andrew Cuomo: (18:20)
Well, your observation should be technically correct. There should be orange cones in half the number of spots because we said 50% capacity is now a max. That’s to make sure that we have social distancing on the beach. We can do social distancing on the beach because we’re at 50% of max. We have not reached 50% of max. So, no one has been turned away, but as the weather gets warmer, I expect more people will come, and the reopening of the economy is going to be across the board? We start gradually. We start slowly. We make sure we’re all being smart, so the virus infection rate stays down, and then we continue to reopen.
Speaker 5: (19:10)
I think somebody said, as the summer goes on, would it be a possibility to maybe have odd number of license plates or even, on certain days?
Andrew Cuomo: (19:14)
Look, if you get to that point, you could. But if we remain smart, you can increase economic activity without necessarily increasing the viral spread. Okay, this is a perfect scenario. People start to come out. More people are coming out, but they’re all doing it smart. They’re wearing the PPE, they’re staying away from each other, they’re using the hand sanitizer, and the virus infection rate doesn’t go up, or it goes up a little bit. As long as you’re controlling that virus infection rate, then keep continuing opening. And that’s why I keep hammering the smart part of this. If you are wearing a mask and you’re doing the hand sanitizer, you could increase your activity and not infect anyone, and that’s what we have been doing so far, but what does next week look like? Next week is a function of what we do today.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:24)
Oh, that sounds too glib. That is factually true. You tell me how people act today. I will tell you the infection rate three days from today. So, you want to open faster? Be smart, and we’ll just calibrate it to the infection spread. What you’re protecting against is what they’re talking about for those other states. That infection rate goes up, number of deaths goes up, you overwhelm the hospitals again. That’s what we’re protecting against, but if we stay smart, and we have been smart, you look at our numbers compared to other states, there’s a dramatic difference on what’s going on because we’ve been hammering the smart. Stay smart, watch the numbers, and I’ll tell you what happens next week, when we see what people do today, and if those numbers stay down, then just keep increasing the economic activity. Let’s do one more.
Speaker 6: (21:31)
We don’t have one more.
Speaker 7: (21:31)
Oh, I’m sorry.
Speaker 6: (21:35)
Speaker 7: (21:36)
[inaudible 00:21:36] the COVID testing.
Speaker 6: (21:36)
You getting the last question, I’ve noticed.
Speaker 7: (21:38)
I like getting first.
Speaker 6: (21:40)
[inaudible 00:21:40] first. First or last, I think, is good. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.
Speaker 7: (21:43)
Well, the question I have for you is about testing. Some people are reporting that when they go for a test, which you say anybody can get, they get the third degree until they get prioritized. Is that what you want happening or should anyone who wants one, get one easily?
Andrew Cuomo: (21:59)
You get prioritized and you get the third degree. You get prioritized because what we, all of us, want is the most likely people infected the fastest. So, if you’re showing symptoms, go to the front of the line. If you know you were in contact with a COVID positive person, go to the front of the line, because we’re really worried about you, and if you’re infected, I don’t want any delay. I want you to know right now, so you can isolate and we can start the contact tracing. Third degree, yeah. We want to know where you were, what makes you think you were infected, how old you are, because getting that data is very helpful to us. We’re now focusing on where the cases are coming from and where do you live? I live in Nassau. Where in Nassau? What community? Are you an essential worker? Have you been working? Yes or no? Just to give us data. It’s all private, but we want to get the data so we know, where is the infection coming from so we can really like a laser beam focus on those areas.
Speaker 7: (23:21)
What if someone’s being denied? Say, no, not you, not yet.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:25)
That’s not the situation we’re in. We have extra capacity. We have drive-ins. I just passed one. We can do 15,000 tests a day. We’re only doing 5,000 tests a day. So it’s not that we’re at a capacity level. We have more capacity for the public than we are now using, and that’s why I keep encouraging people to come out. But yes, there’s a prioritization. If I think you’re positive and there’s a likelihood you’re positive, I want to get you tested by 1:00 PM. So, you’re isolated at 1:20 and you don’t infect anyone else. It’s all about keeping that infection spread number down. All right. Let’s enjoy Memorial Day.