Apr 13, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 13

Cuomo April 13
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsGovernor Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 13

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York held a press conference on April 13 on COVID-19. Read the full transcript here.

 

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Governor Cuomo: (00:00)
Robert [Mahika 00:00:03]. Let’s give you some facts. Plain truth, facts. Here’s the good news. The curve continues to flatten. We talked all along, “the experts” said that there were two possibilities. You could have a high point, and then an immediate drop-off. Or you could have a plateau. It appears that we have a plateau. It’s flattening. It’s the flattening of the curve. The increases slow down, it flattens out for a period of time. Nobody knows how long, because nobody’s been here before. But if you look at the number of total admissions, 18,000, 18,000, 18,000, 18,000, that’s definitely a flattening. That is good news. Still going up a little bit, by the way. Go back to the second one. Still going up a little bit, but a basic flattening, as opposed to increasing gaps. The total number of hospitalizations, net down, a little bit up, a little bit down, but overall just follow the line. Don’t get caught up in the day to day. As we say, three-day rolling average which is more accurate than any one day is down again. The net change in ICU admissions is down. Again, I discount this ICU admissions, because the old demarcation of an ICU bed in the hospital and a regular bed in the hospital is gone. Almost every bed, is basically an ICU bed. A net change in ICU admissions is also down.

Governor Cuomo: (01:42)
Intubation’s is real. Intubation’s is the worst signal. People who are intubated, wind up on a ventilator most often do not come off the ventilator, somewhere, 70%, 80% depending on who you talk to. So this is a scary number. When that’s down, it’s good. And that is down. The three day rolling average is down. So that’s good news.

Governor Cuomo: (02:06)
We were worried about the spread from New York city to suburbs upstate. And we have been very aggressive. When we get a little cluster spot that’s acting up, we jump on it. This is like watching a fire going through dry grass with a strong wind and it’s blowing the fire and a couple of embers wind up on one side of the field and the embers start to catch fire and that’s a cluster. And you have to run over to those embers and stamp them out right away before they grow. But you see the stabilization there. And that has been good too.

Governor Cuomo: (02:47)
This is a new take on it. We talk about net hospitalizations. This is the number of new COVID hospitalizations to date. This is how many new COVID diagnoses or people walking into the hospital had COVID. So you see still about 2000 people per day, are walking in or being diagnosed with COVID. So you’re still increasing the hospital population initially by 2000 people who are testing positive for COVID. But on the other side of the healthcare system, people are being discharged on the other end. So the net is what we talk about because we’ve always been worried about lack of capacity in the hospital system. Where you pour the water into the glass and the glass overfills. Where the hospital system’s can’t handle the number of people coming in. And that’s why we’ve been studying the net.

Governor Cuomo: (03:57)
But this says, take a deep breath. You still have 2000 people per day, who are coming into the hospital system. And the terrible news is, as terrible as it gets, in the worst news I’ve had to deliver to the people of this state as governor of New York, and the worst news I’ve had to live with on a personal level. Number of deaths is 671. Not as bad as it has been in the past, but basically flat. And basically flat at a horrific level of pain and grief and sorrow. This is 671 people who passed away on Easter Sunday. For me, I’m Catholic. Easter Sunday is the high Holy day in many ways. And one of the high Holy days, and to have this happen over this weekend is really, really especially tragic. And they are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Governor Cuomo: (05:08)
That raises the death total to 10,056. Again for perspective. 10,000. 2,700 lives were lost in 911. And 911 changed every New Yorker who was in a position to appreciate on that day what happened and the number of lives lost was horrific after 911 and the grief was horrific. And we are at 10,000 deaths. New York, 10,000 deaths, New Jersey, 2000 deaths, Massachusetts, 756 and then you have the state of Michigan.

Governor Cuomo: (05:52)
Why New York? Why are we seeing this level of infection? Why cities across the country? It’s very simple. It’s about density. It’s about the number of people in a small geographic location, allowing that virus to spread. And that virus is very good at what it does. It is a killer. It is very good at spreading. It is very contagious and the dense environments are its feeding grounds. We learned that lesson very early on. Remember we had one of the first hot spots in the nation. One of the most intense clusters was New Rochelle, New York. New Rochelle is in Westchester County. It’s not in New York City. Why new Rochelle? And that’s what I was so concerned about early on. We didn’t know what we were looking at. Why New Rochelle? Because in New Rochelle, one person or two people who were infected were in dense gatherings with hundreds of people and it spread like wildfire.

Governor Cuomo: (07:08)
So it’s not just a dense city, or a dense community. It’s any person, in a dense environment. You can be in a very rural county. You know people think New York, “Oh, it’s all New York city.” No, no. We have counties that have more cows than people by population. You can be anywhere, but if you have a person who was infected in a room of 200 people, 300 people, 400 people, now you have a problem. This goes back to the Spanish flu where some cities canceled parades. Other cities didn’t cancel parades. We went through these numbers when we had the decision on St. Patrick’s Day parade. Which Bernadette still has not forgiven me for. But you can have a parade in a relatively small city, but you bring people together and this virus has a feeding frenzy.

Governor Cuomo: (08:04)
Where do we go from here? Question of reopening, which everyone wants to do and everybody wants to do yesterday. And I am at the top of that list. We have to understand on the reopening as much as we have this emotion, we want it to happen and we want it to happen now and we can’t take this anymore. And everyone feels the same. It is a delicate balance. Remember what we have to do on reopening and remember it has never been done before. None of this has been done before. So anyone who says to you, “Oh, I know what we should do. I know.” Yeah, you don’t know, because nobody knows. And that’s the one thing that we have learned over and over again. And this place has never done this before.

Governor Cuomo: (08:53)
Also, you look around the world, you see warning signs from countries who have opened. And my point is to our team, I want to learn from those other countries, frankly. And I want to make sure we know from our studying and assessment of what’s going on in other countries that what worked, what didn’t work. And let’s learn from those lessons. And you can now go back and look at Wuhan Province and look at Italy and look at South Korea and see what they did and see what worked and what didn’t work. So let’s learn. So we’ll listen to the experts. We’ll follow the data. But remember this is a delicate balance.

Governor Cuomo: (09:39)
What are we doing on reopening? We are easing isolation. We want to increase economic activity that will happen essentially through a recalibration of what are essential workers. Remember, we never turned off the economy, right? The economy is still functioning. You can get in your car, you can get gasoline, you can go to the grocery store, you can shop, you can get on a bus. The economy is functioning. We never turned it off. We turned it way, way down. And it’s just the essential services that have been operating. But the essential services have all been operating when you will be doing in essence, on the reopening is recalibrating what is essential, right? You’ll start to open that valve on the economic activity and you’ll turn that valve very slowly, reopening the economy, more essential workers.

Governor Cuomo: (10:45)
Do it carefully, do it slowly, and do it intelligently. More testing and more precautions at the same time that you’re opening that valve. More testing so you have more information about who should be coming in, et cetera. More precautions, because you know that works. As you’re calibrating and opening the valve. And while you’re opening that valve, watch the meter.

Governor Cuomo: (11:15)
What’s the meter? The meters, the infection rate. The meter is those daily hospitalization rates and there is a cause and effect. You have density, you have more people infecting other people, you will see it within a matter of days in that hospitalization rate. So yes, open the valve slowly, advised by experts. Keep your eye on the meter. The meter is the infection rate. And watch that infection rate. And if you see that infection rate start ticking up, which would be undermining everything we have accomplished thus far, then you know you’ve opened the valve too fast.

Governor Cuomo: (12:03)
… Then you know you’ve opened the valve too fast. That is the delicate balance that we have to work through and that is what has never been done before. And nobody can tell you today I know how to do that because it just hasn’t happened. So what do we do? First, we come up with a reopening plan. I’m not interested in political opinions, I’m interested in what the experts say about this, to the best they can tell you. But, you have public health experts. They can study South Korea, they can study China, they can study all the data that we have. You have economic experts that can help you decide what is the next notch of essential workers that can actually start the economy back up and have a consequential change. But that is a real plan and that has to be developed and that has to be smart. The, why did the geographic area for that plan the better? Because this virus doesn’t understand governmental boundaries. Well, I’m Westchester County, so you virus have to stop before entering here and follow my rules. No. The virus follows its own boundaries and its own guidelines and it doesn’t have any. The geographic area that is an economic area, a work force area, a transportation area, that’s the relevant area that we have to be looking at. You have to coordinate all these systems. You can’t start one system without starting the other systems. If you start the economic system without starting the transportation system, and if you can’t run the transportation system, then you can’t reopen the economy. It just doesn’t happen. You have to coordinate the schools with the transportation, with the economic system. These systems work in coordination, the big gears and each gear inter-meshes with the other gear and you can’t start one gear with the other gear stopped, right?

Governor Cuomo: (14:15)
That’s the coordination. You’re going to need federal support and you’re going to need smart legislation passed by the federal government that actually attends to the need as opposed to normal political considerations. Testing is going to be key and that’s a new frontier for us, also. This state is probably the most aggressive state in the nation in actually getting the testing up. We test more than any other state. We test more than other countries. We test more than the other States leading States combined in testing. But, that’s still not enough, and we have to do more. And we know that the precautions, the masks work, the gloves work, the temperature taking works. It’s abnormal, it’s different, but it works and we have to do it. And while we’re doing this, we have to remember to stay the course and not jeopardize what we have achieved. And we have achieved much.

Governor Cuomo: (15:23)
This afternoon, I’ll be joined by other governors. We’ve been talking to other States, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island for the past couple of days about, how do we come up with a reopening plan and can we work together on a reopening plan. And we’ll be having an announcement this afternoon with other governors about just that, the reopening plan. And as I said, the optimum is to have as coordinated a regional plan as you can. I understand intergovernmental coordination can be somewhat of an oxymoron. But to the extent we can work with Connecticut and New Jersey and Rhode Island and Delaware and Pennsylvania, I want to. It is smarter for everyone, for people of their state and for the people of my state. And this is a time for smart, competent, effective government. Nothing else matters.

Governor Cuomo: (16:24)
I want to make sure that we … I can say to the people of this state, we did everything we could to the best of our ability, and the optimum is a geographically coordinated plan. I don’t believe we could ever get to total coordination with the other States because all those States have a little different set of circumstances and facts. I don’t even believe we should have a uniform plan without recognizing the state-by-state distinctions. But, to the extent we can coordinate, we should, and we will. Last point, and this is the personal point, when is it over? I have this conversation a hundred times a day. I had it last night with my daughters. When is it over? And it’s a difficult conversation because people want it to be over so badly. Right? I want to fear to stop. I want the anxiety to stop. I don’t want to have to worry about my brother anymore. I don’t want to have to worry about my daughters. I don’t want to have to worry about my mother. I want it over. I want to get out of the house. I want to get back to normalcy. I’ve been living on this weird, disorienting, frightening place. I’m afraid to touch people. This violates the human behavior and needs.

Governor Cuomo: (17:48)
When is it over? It’s not going to be over like that. It’s not going to be, we flick a switch and everybody comes out of the house and gets in their car and waves and hugs each other and the economy all starts up. I would love to say that’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen that way. It can’t happen that way. Can it happen in some communities across the country where frankly they have very low infection rates and they could come up with a testing regimen where if they find one or two cases, they quickly jump on those one or two and they isolate and they track? Yes. But is that going to happen here? No. Is that going to happen in any community that has a significant issue? No. There is going to be no epiphany. There is going to be no morning where the headline says hallelujah, it’s over. That’s not going to happen.

Governor Cuomo: (18:57)
What will happen is there’ll be points of resolution over time. What does that mean? There’ll be points of resolution. There’ll be points where we can say, we’ve accomplished something. We should feel better. We should feel more calm. We should feel more relaxed and it will be incremental. We are controlling the spread. We are controlling the spread. You look at those numbers, you know what it says? We’re controlling the spread. I was afraid that it was going to infect my family no matter what I did. We’re past that. If you isolate, if you take the precautions, your family won’t get infected. We can control the spread. Feel good about that because by the way, we could’ve gotten to a point where we said, we can’t control this damn thing. We can’t control it. It’s in the air. It gets into your house. It doesn’t matter. You close the door, it comes under the door. You could’ve gotten there. We’re not there. Those numbers say we can control the spread. Feel good about that.

Governor Cuomo: (20:10)
The worst is over. Yeah, if we continue to be smart going forward… Because remember we have the hand on that valve. You turn that valve too fast, you’ll see that number jump right back. But, yes, I think you can say the worst is over because the worst here are people dying. That’s the worst. The worst doesn’t get any bad than this worst and this worst is people die. That’s the worst. And, Winston Churchill, I mentioned the other day, the end of the beginning. Yes, we can control the spread and we can reduce the number of people who die and our healthcare system can do phenomenal work and rise to the occasion and deal with this beast. It is not overwhelmed, the healthcare system. We have controlled the spread and there is confidence to be taken in that and that’s an accomplishment, and it was a heck of an accomplishment. Those healthcare workers for the rest of my life, I will say nothing but thank you to them.

Governor Cuomo: (21:24)
And I was not sure that we could keep the tide from overwhelming our hospital capacity, and they did. Feel good about that. And I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. And I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy and we can have a plan where you start to see some businesses reopening, understanding that delicate balance. I think there’ll become a point where there’s an announcement that we have a medical treatment that you can get sick, but they found an antiviral medication that can help you treat the disease. So take another deep breath when we get to that point because okay, you get infected, but there’s a drug regimen that can help you. And then you’ll get to a point where they announce we have a proven vaccine. That’s when it’s over. That’s really when it’s over. They have a vaccine. It’s been tested. It’s been proven. They can produce it. You’re going to get a vaccine. This is a thing of the past. Don’t worry about it. Close the chapter. Move on.

Governor Cuomo: (22:40)
Okay, when did we get there? 12 months to 18 months. I can’t believe you said 12 months to 18 months, as Cara said to me. It’s 12 months to 18 months. When Dr. Fauchi says how long until the vaccine? He says 12 months to 18 months. When the FDA has asked how long until you get a vaccine? They say 12 months to 18 months. That is the point when you ask me, when can I do a deep breath for the first time in five weeks? When they say we have a vaccine. That’s when it is over.

Governor Cuomo: (23:17)
But there will be points between now and then where you we should feel more confident and we should feel better. Well, I want it to be over tomorrow. I get it. I want it to be over tomorrow. I want it to be over tomorrow more than you want it to be over tomorrow. But that’s not reality so let’s calibrate our expectations. And in the meantime, stay the course because we have accomplished a lot through heroic efforts of healthcare workers, police officers, transportation workers who showed up to drive those trains and buses every day. I mean, people just doing extraordinarily brave, generous, courageous things everyday.

Governor Cuomo: (24:01)
Brave, generous, courageous things every day, literally putting their lives at risk for the public. And we have flattened that curve by people’s actions, which, remember, is why those projection models were all wrong. The projection models were high. They weren’t wrong. That’s a bad word. What they were saying is this is where the infection will go if unabated. What’s the question mark on whether or not you can abate it? Can you put forth a government policy, but more will people listen to the government policy? You have 19 million people in New York. I could stand up here all day long and say, “You must social distance, you must stay home.”

Governor Cuomo: (24:48)
If New Yorkers don’t believe it, if Americans don’t believe it, if they question their government, if I don’t have credibility, why do I stay in here and go through all the facts? I’m not asking any New Yorker to take my word for anything. I’m not asking any American, “Take my word for it.” Here are the facts. I’ll give you the facts, the good facts, the bad facts, the ugly facts. You get all the facts. You tell me, you decide. They decided on the facts that they would comply. And they’ve done things I would’ve never dreamed that they would do. And they’ve actually made significant progress.

Governor Cuomo: (25:24)
Do not reverse the progress that we’ve made in our zeal to reopen and get back to normal. That’s going to be the challenge going forward. But we’ll do it because we are New York tough. And tough is not just tough. We know what tough is, but tough is also smart, and tough as also united. And smart is … Tough is also disciplined. And tough, most importantly, is loving. Well, that sounds counterintuitive. They sound repugnant. No, no, no, no. Toughest people are strong enough to, say, love. The toughest people, and that’s New Yorkers. Questions?

Bernadette: (26:13)
For New York City schools to reopen, what would have to happen first?

Speaker 1: (26:20)
[crosstalk 00:26:20] running out of swabs to do tests. Is that something happening elsewhere in the state? Is there anything that state can help with?

Governor Cuomo: (26:22)
We on a daily basis… You’re talking about medical equipment for hospitals?

Speaker 1: (26:28)
Swabs. Yes. The hospital officials say they [inaudible 00:26:29] out of swabs.

Governor Cuomo: (26:29)
Yeah. I’ll ask the commissioner and Jim to comment specifically. But just so you know how this works, on a daily basis, every hospital does an inventory that they send to us that says what they have and what they need. And any hospital that is short, in urgent need of anything, we provide them with that material on a daily basis. We do not have any hospital that has said to us, ” We have an urgent need for X.” That we have not been able to fulfill.

Governor Cuomo: (27:08)
Two caveats. You can have employees in the hospital who say, “I don’t like this protocol. I don’t like what the hospital is telling me to do.” That’s a different set of issues. Second caveat, you can have a hospital say, “I only have a three day supply, and that makes me very nervous. I normally have a two month supply.” Yes, I know that. Nobody has a two month supply of anything. So operating on that constrained timetable, that’s where we are. But Jim?

Jim: (27:46)
After we received that question yesterday, we reached out to the hospitals in New York City. There was one, the Medicis network that would like some new swabs. We are sending them 200 test kits today, so they’ll have that. But they’re not out, they just wanted some in the future and to the governor’s point, I was on the phone with about a dozen of the hospital systems today and just what he said. People get a little nervous about running out of masks and things like that, but often they have like a 30 day supply or a 25 day supply, and we monitor that on a day to day basis with them. So as they need it, we’ll send it to them.

Speaker 1: (28:20)
[inaudible 00:28:20] front line healthcare workers are saying that they’re being asked to ration PPE. Is that sort of the flaw with the first caveat?

Jim: (28:29)
Yes. I mean, and I think Melissa spoke to that yesterday on the various protocols, and we’re working very closely with the hospitals as well as the frontline workers to get them the needed supplies.

Governor Cuomo: (28:42)
I’m sorry, Bernadette?

Bernadette: (28:42)
As we’re talking about reopening the economy, but also specific to schools. What would have to happen first for schools to open specifically in New York City in regards to this plan?

Governor Cuomo: (28:52)
They have to work together, Bernadette, I don’t believe you have. You can’t open one system. It’s the gears, which is an analogy and a metaphor that doesn’t work for anyone except for me, but that’s okay because it works for me. You have three big gears. Okay. You have transportation, you have economic, you have schools. Let’s take just those three. You want to start turning one gear? They all inter mesh. You have to turn the other two gears. You can’t tell me to go back to work. I live in Nassau County. Let’s say I live in Westchester County, because I did. You can’t tell me to go back to work in New York City if you don’t have the transit system operating. I take the train from Westchester to New York City. I can’t go back to work until … Unless you have a train, unless you want everyone to drive, which will be pandemonium in four minutes.

Governor Cuomo: (29:44)
You want me to go back to work? Who’s going to watch my children if the schools are closed? Right? For many working people in New York, the education system is who watches their children during the day. That was one of the problems with closing the schools in the first place where people were very critical of … Everybody is a critic, but people didn’t want to close the schools because they said, “Then the hospital workers won’t be able to show up because the children will be at home and if hospital workers don’t show up, then you have a real problem.” Because our major fear was the collapse of the hospital system. So all of these things have to be coordinated and they have to be coordinated on a statewide basis. Now, look, when I closed all the schools in the downstate area, there were many school districts that disagreed. We have like 700 school districts in this state. Right now all the school districts basically make their own decisions. I know, but in a situation like this, you can’t allow 700 school districts to make their own decisions.

Governor Cuomo: (30:56)
You can consult, you can try to cooperate, et cetera, but we have to have one plan at the end of the day because then we have to take New York and try to coordinate it with New Jersey and Connecticut and Delaware and Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to the best that we can, and this virus doesn’t understand school district boundaries, and these systems we’re talking about don’t work on any of these boundaries. Schools, transportation, jobs. They don’t work on a county basis. It doesn’t work that way. Suffolk County, that’s a nice delineation for a lot of issues, but none of the issues that we’re talking about. So the entire downstate area is one area, metropolitan area. Then you have upstate, you could argue there should be a differentiation based on numbers or could be a differentiation, and that’s going to be the conversation when we bring Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. We have rural parts of the state which are one situation. We have metropolitan areas. That’s all going to have to be talked through and reconciled.

Speaker 2: (32:04)
[inaudible 00:08:10], it sounds like you’re focused on some [inaudible 00:32:13].

Governor Cuomo: (32:12)
Yeah, we are. We’re talking to a number of states and, again, we want to coordinate as much as possible, but focusing primarily on our tri-state area. They talk about a tri-state area. The more we can, but you also have to balance the complexity and the unwieldiness with coming up with a plan relatively quickly that we can agree on. So that’s what we’re going back and forth on. We’re going to try to work with everyone, but again, you have different states in different situations and you have to prioritize where you really need coordination. We need coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut first and foremost, because that’s where our workforce comes from. You have a total interconnection among those states. People live in Connecticut, they drive to New York City, they live in New York City, they drive to New Jersey. There is a total interconnection among them, and that’s the primary place for coordination.

Speaker 2: (33:15)
[crosstalk 00:33:20].

Governor Cuomo: (33:18)
I’m sorry?

Speaker 2: (33:22)
Are you ready to announce a plan later today, or you just have-

Governor Cuomo: (33:22)
You’ll have to come later today to find out the announcement. If I tell you the announcement today, why would you come here at two o’clock? Except for my rapier wit and sense of humor. Hold on. Nick had a question.

Nick: (33:35)
Governor, should the city of Buffalo and Erie County be considered kind of a hotspot in upstate New York considering that they’ve got the highest number of infections, I think outside of the Metro area?

Governor Cuomo: (33:44)
Well, you can have a hotspot. Depends how you want to define hotspot. Hotspot within one mile hotspot within five miles hotspot within 10 miles hotspot within 100 miles.

Nick: (33:53)
[inaudible 00:09:54].

Governor Cuomo: (33:56)
How big is a hotspot?

Nick: (33:58)
Well, I’m not a public health expert.

Governor Cuomo: (34:00)
Yeah, but it depends how you define hotspot, is it two blocks, four blocks, is people with 25 infection rate, 50 infection rate? We have, I call them clusters. You have clusters that pop up across the state. As soon as you see some smoke and you see a little fire, run there and tamp it out as fast as you can. And in Buffalo we have had clusters that have popped up. Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, right? They’ve all had clusters.

Nick: (34:33)
Governor, when you say you believe the worst is over, are you in effect encouraging the type of behavior that you’re trying to prevent? I mean, this sort of optimism that might bring people out of their homes and other-

Governor Cuomo: (34:45)
That’s why I’ve said the exact opposite 57 times. Stay the course. Stay the course. It’s working. Stay the course. Stay inside. Take precautions, right? That’s why I say that 100 times to and a knowing repetitive level. But facts are facts and I’m not going to lie to the public. Facts are facts. Numbers are numbers. I need the public to believe in the credibility of what we’re doing, right? Credibility comes from two elements in my opinion. Are you giving me all of the information or are you spinning me? Are you deciding that you can’t tell me facts because I may become too optimistic? Are you manipulating me with giving me information? Which is what I think you’re suggesting. No, you get all the facts. I’m not worried that you can’t handle information. You get all the facts. Second, what I am proposing we do is drawn from those facts, right? Here’s all the information I work-

Governor Cuomo: (36:03)
Right? Here’s all the information. I work for you. I give you all the information. No spin, no gloss, no sugar, no glazing. Here are the facts. I’m not worried that you can’t handle the facts, you’re going to get depressed, you’re going to get optimistic, you’re irrational. Here are the facts. Second component, here’s what I propose based on those facts. And I think it’s the intelligent response to those facts. I hope you will agree with me that it is the intelligent response and you follow the proposal, because I need you to follow the proposal because it’s all about you. If you, the public … If the people don’t decide to do social distancing, nothing works. If the people don’t decide to stay home nothing works.

Governor Cuomo: (36:50)
I could never mandate, “19 million people, you must stay in your house.” And if they say, as new Yorkers can say, ” I think you’re being overly dramatic or you’re too political or you don’t know what you’re talking about,” what do I do when 19 million people defy the order? Go out and arrest 19 million people? They have to believe it. So they get all the facts. I’m not going to shape the information they get. Here are all the numbers, and here’s my policy based on the numbers. And here’s what I suggest, and I hope you think it is not only credible but competent and smart, and I hope you accept it. It’s the best I can do. [inaudible 00:37:36]

Speaker 3: (37:36)
[crosstalk 00:37:36] all those numbers that we have, the amount of people hospitalized are at a record high. The amount of people in the ICU are at a record high. We just crossed over into 10,000 deaths in New York. What makes you feel so confident that the worst is over?

Governor Cuomo: (37:51)
I’m not confident that the worst is over. I said if you look at the numbers, 18,000, 18,000, 18,000, 18,000, 18,000, the numbers suggest a plateauing, slight increase, but a plateauing, which is what the experts have talked about. That’s what the numbers say. I also say whatever those numbers say is a direct result of what we do. I’ve said if we do something stupid, you will see those numbers go right back up tomorrow, period. The worst can be over, and it is over unless we do something reckless. And you can turn those numbers on two or three days of reckless behavior. It’s like being on a diet, right? You get on the scale every morning. “I lost five pounds. I lost five pounds. I’ve lost five pounds.” Oh, you’re declaring that you have lost five pounds forever. No, I lose self-discipline today and I go home and I eat like a horse. And I’ll get on that scale, it’s going to give me a different number tomorrow. It is directly a result of what you do today.

Governor Cuomo: (39:17)
The number is down, because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that. And that’s why we lost five pounds, because we went out every day and we exercise and we burned more calories than we ate. That’s how it works. It’s math. And if you don’t continue to do that, you’re going to see that number go back up. And that will be a tragedy if that number goes back up.

Speaker 4: (39:49)
So obviously we’ve gotten to a point where the hospital-

John: (39:52)
[crosstalk 00:39:52] repeatedly declined to provide a list or the number of cases at each nursing home in New York State, citing patient confidentiality. Can you explain how it is a breach of patient … confidentiality, I’m sorry, just to release the total number of cases at each facility?

Governor Cuomo: (40:12)
John, I don’t know the details of the healthcare privacy law, but I know the healthcare privacy law is very expansive and health officials are always very protective of patient health. But I don’t know the law well enough to answer you, but I can get you an answer today. I can have the healthcare [crosstalk 00:40:31]

John: (40:30)
Well, Zucker certainly does. I mean, HIPAA generally prevents the release of personally identifiable information. How is it personally identifiable just to release top line numbers in these facilities?

Governor Cuomo: (40:42)
Okay, but just so we’re clear, Commissioner Zucker is a doctor and I respect doctors. I love doctors. My sister’s a doctor. But he’s not a lawyer. Go ahead. Let me hear your legal opinion, medical doctor.

John: (40:56)
I’m interested.

Governor Cuomo: (40:56)
What do you think? Do you know?

Commissioner Zucker: (40:58)
Well, I think I understand the HIPAA law. I think the issue here, as I had mentioned previously, this is their home. These nursing homes are their home. And we want to make sure we protect their privacy in that sense as well. It’s not just an issue of sort of saying that there’s HIPAA laws. It’s that there’s nowhere they’re going to go and we don’t want to put information out about that.

Governor Cuomo: (41:23)
No, John-

John: (41:24)
It’s not [crosstalk 00:41:25] legal rationale. It’s more of a moral [crosstalk 00:41:28]

Governor Cuomo: (41:27)
No, it’s a law. It’s a law. But we’ll get you the legal … We’ll get you the law on the matter. But the law is also tied to the spirit of the law and ethics. You don’t want to invade people’s privacy. We give you everything I have that doesn’t invade someone’s personal privacy. Otherwise, there’s no secret to number of deaths in nursing homes. To the extent you can release it without invading people’s privacy, release it.

Speaker 4: (42:02)
[crosstalk 00:42:02] plateau for hospitalizations?

Speaker 5: (42:03)
I have two questions for you about upstate New York. You touched on this earlier. Upstate hasn’t … We don’t have the density and you haven’t seen the cases like downstate. Would you consider starting the reopening upstate to see how it goes?

Governor Cuomo: (42:18)
We’re going to talk to the other states. As I said, whatever we do, we’re going to do in combination, to the extent possible, with the other states. And we’ll talk about that at 2:00. Could I see a distinction in places that have different case loads? Yes. You have your hand on the valve. You’re watching the meter. You’re opening the valve a little, little bit, and then you’re watching the meter. The meter’s the infection rates. Will the meter respond differently in a rural county than it will in a dense urban county? Yes. How do you calibrate that into a reopening plan? That’s what we have to think through.

Speaker 5: (43:03)
[crosstalk 00:43:03] we’ve had countless people contact us about unemployment. How is the new platform working and how long is it taking for people to get their checks?

Governor Cuomo: (43:13)
The new platform is working much, much better. Amen. The Department of Labor website basically crashed when it was overwhelmed by the number of callers for unemployment. Unbelievably, we had 1,000 people working on the website, handling the calls. 1,000 people could not handle the input, which is just phenomenal. But we changed the system. We changed the website, and Melissa can speak to that.

Melissa: (43:44)
The new platform got up and running on Friday. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. It’s much more streamlined. I think it went from 150 questions down to 20 questions. And as of about an hour ago before we walked into this briefing, the latest numbers I got from DOL was 200,000 calls were made between Friday morning and last night. They’re on the phones again this morning. I can’t give you an exact answer on when the check’s go out. I can get that to you. I think as soon as the application process is done and you’re accepted, they go. But I want to give you something more specific than that so we can get back to you after this.

Nick: (44:13)
[crosstalk 00:44:13] are you worried that Dr. Fauci’s going to be fired by President Trump?

Speaker 7: (44:17)
[crosstalk 00:44:17] and just calls made?

Melissa: (44:17)
200,000 calls were made. Not everyone answers the phone. And by the way, for the public who’s listening right now, if a call comes up and you’re on that list and it’s private, answer it please, because that is the Department of Labor calling to finish your process. So when I say 200,000 calls were made, 200 attempts were made and, then there’s obviously it’s a percentage of that where they’ve actually connected. The calls where they’ve connected, they do close out the applications. And from what I’ve heard that’s been very successful. I can get you the completed number after this.

Governor Cuomo: (44:44)
[crosstalk 00:44:44] more question. Nick.

Nick: (44:45)
[crosstalk 00:44:45] Governor, are you worried that President Trump is going to fire Dr. Fauci?

Governor Cuomo: (44:49)
Oh, I would be … Look, I think Dr. Fauci is great. I think Americans trust him. He’s been very helpful to me as governor. I’ve called him numerous times. He’s very good at getting back. And again, as you’re walking through these uncharted waters and trying to feel your way and sense what the bottom is like, I think he’s been extraordinary, and I think it would be … I can’t imagine that … As crazy as things get in this world and in crazy Washington, I can’t imagine that that would ever happen. Did I say anything we need to correct, anything that I didn’t say that was right?

Melissa: (45:37)
I would just-

Speaker 9: (45:39)
For Buffalo, Nick, we’ve been following Buffalo very closely. There are 200 positive cases, hospitalizations, right now in Buffalo. That’s up from 225 a couple of days ago, so it’s pretty stable right now. So we’re watching numbers locally, hour to hour almost. So Buffalo is pretty stable right now. But if it pops, we’ll definitely have more people on it.

Governor Cuomo: (46:01)
Melissa, you wanted to say something.

Melissa: (46:01)
It’s okay.

Governor Cuomo: (46:03)
Rob, do you want to say anything? I’m going to be back at 2:00. I’m going to be back at two 2:00. [crosstalk 00:46:13] note it for 2:00. I’m going to be back at 2:00. [crosstalk 00:46:15] 2:00, Jesse. I know you. You won’t be back if I tell you. [crosstalk 00:46:23] I’ll see you at 2:00. Thank you, guys. Thank you.