Mar 28, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 28: Pushes Back NY Primary
Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on COVID-19 updates in New York. Cuomo announced that he will push the New York Primary to June, and said of the reports that Donald Trump might quarantine New York and the surrounding area, “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine… I don’t even know what that means.” Read the full transcript here.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Not a medical doctor, but a head of Empire College. Medical doctor. Howard Zucker, our health commissioner. To my left Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor. To her left, Rob Mujica, budget director. Let’s talk to you about where we are today. This is a situation which none of us have ever seen before, and it manifests itself in many different ways. There’s economic anxiety, people are out of work. What does this mean? Unemployment insurance? Will it cover the bills? There’s isolation. This fear of the unknown, this misinformation. You put it all together, it is very disorienting, to say the least. If you are feeling disoriented, it’s not you, it’s everyone, and it’s everywhere, and it’s with good cause.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00)
Today is Saturday. You know how I know today is Saturday? Because my alarm clock said Saturday when I woke up this morning, but if you drive around, it doesn’t seem like Saturday. Saturday’s the day that people are off work, except people were off work yesterday. Saturday’s the day that the traffic is lighter, but the traffic was lighter yesterday. So it’s literally one day blending into the other, and just as a matter of perspective, a matter of context, it feels like it’s been going on forever, but it really hasn’t.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:41)
New York State had its first case of COVID just 27 days ago. New York schools closed only 10 days ago. The New Rochelle “cluster”, which was the highest cluster in the United States, which, thanks to the good work of our health department, has now come down, that was 18 days ago when we started the school closings in New Rochelle and we started the testing and the drive throughs. The overall shutdown of nonessential workers was only eight days ago. It feels like a lifetime.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:20)
Perspective. Well, how long does this go on? How long do we expect it? China, which was the first test case, first case was 12 weeks ago. That’s when it started in China. South Korea started nine weeks ago. Italy, about eight weeks ago. So keep it all in perspective during this disorienting time, where one day is just blurring into the next. A lot of people ask me, “Why is there so much talk about the ventilators? I never heard about a ventilator before.” You’re not alone. I never really heard about a ventilator before either, but every emergency situation is unique, and every emergency situation winds up focusing on an issue that you would have never thought of before.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:15)
We’ve been through emergency situations, Superstorm Sandy, we needed 1000 portable generators immediately. Whoever heard of needing 1000 portable generators? We had flooding in the northern part of the state, we need 700 miles of sandbags. Whoever heard of needing 700 miles of sandbags? So there’s always a particular circumstance that winds up developing in these situations that really you could never anticipate, and in this situation, it is about a ventilator. Why? Because the majority of these patients, they’re not coming in needing surgery. It’s all the same, it’s a respiratory illness, their lungs are damaged, they’re having trouble breathing, they have a cough and they all need a ventilator, and that is the peculiarity of this situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:25)
Compounding it is usually when we equip a healthcare system, people are usually on a ventilator for three or four days. With COVID patients, they are on for 11 to 21 days. That then compounds the ventilator issue. Not only do you need more, but people are on them longer, so you need even more, and that increases the problem. I think the President was right to use the Defense Production Act. What the Defense Production Act basically says is, I’m not going to ask private companies to help out, and it’s great that we have volunteerism, et cetera, but the Defense Production Act gives the federal government significant leverage to actually say, “I need these produced and I need these produced by X date.” Now the federal government still pays, they pay an increased cost for the accelerated production, but it gives the federal government the ability to do that, and when it comes to ventilators, they are the necessity in this situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:45)
What do I do as governor? Basically I ask people who know, I ask the experts a lot of questions, and just staying on the ventilators, “Well, what if? What if? What if? What if we can’t get the ventilators? What do we do if we don’t have enough ventilators?” Then you use bag valve masks. What is a bag valve mask?
Andrew Cuomo: (06:13)
This is a bag valve mask. This is what you do if you have a person who needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator. The way this works is it’s basically a manual ventilator, and someone squeezes the ventilator, the bag, continuously. This looks easy. I guarantee if you do this for any length of time, you see how difficult it winds up being. This is the alternative if you don’t have the ventilator. We are actually buying these. We’ve bought about 3000. We’ve ordered about an additional 4,000 of these big valve masks. We’re even talking about training National Guard people to learn how to operate this device, which is relatively simple to operate, but you need a lot of people to operate this 24 hours a day for each patient. So those are bag valve masks. They’re the alternative to ventilators. Short answer is no thank you. If we have to turn to this device on any large scale basis, that is not an acceptable situation. So we go back to finding the ventilators, because we need the ventilators. Well, you need 30,000 ventilators. Do you really need 30,000 ventilators? Look, I’m not a medical expert. Even the medical experts can’t tell you what you’re going to need here at the high point. They do numerical projections, and then you plan based on the projection, you plan based on the data, based on the science, based on the numbers. The data says at that high point of need, you could need 140,000 hospital beds and you could need 30,000 ventilators. That’s what the numerical projections say. So we’re planning for that “worst case scenario” which the models predict. Maybe we never get there, maybe we flatten the curve and we slow the infection rate so we never get to that point, and that’s what we’re trying to do, and we’re working on that day and night, but if we can’t flatten the curve, you can’t slow the infection rate, you hit that apex, make sure you’re ready for the apex, and that’s where the 30,000 ventilators come in.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:15)
I have no desire to procure more ventilators than we need. On a very practical basis, the state is buying most of the ventilators. The ventilators cost between $25,000 to $45,000 each, so they’re very expensive, and you’re talking about a state government that frankly is already, from a position of revenues, in a terrible position, because we’re not collecting any revenues, literally. So I don’t want to buy any more ventilators than we need to buy on a very parochial basis, I don’t want to pay for them, and after this is over, we’ll have a great stockpile of ventilators, whatever we do, but the state has no interest in inflating the number of ventilators that we actually need. Something interesting about the price of ventilators. When we started buying them, they were about $25,000. Now they’re about $45,000. Why? Because they’re in such demand and there’s such competition to buy the ventilators, which I’ll touch in a moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:34)
The government has sent us 4,000 ventilators. Those 4,000 ventilators are not currently in use. Why? Because we don’t need them currently. What we’re doing is we’re planning for that apex, we’re planning for the critical need and making sure we have the equipment to staff the beds for that critical need. We’re not at that critical need where projections change, but the models say you’re 14 to 21 days away from that apex, we call it, when that curve hits the highest point, but when that curve hits the highest point, it is too late to try to acquire what you need. Acquire what you need now. That’s the concept of putting together a stockpile, and that’s the process we’re going through now. We only have 14 to 21 days, so it’s not a significant amount of time, but do everything you can to get ready now.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:39)
There’s an old expression, “You go to war with what you have, not with what you need,” which is true. When the bell goes off and you have to go to war, you deal with what you have, because it’s too late to do the preparation. The but on that is until you’re in that situation, do everything you can do to be prepared for it. If they tell you you’re going to go to war in 14 to 21 days, then spend the next 14 to 21 days getting ready everything that you would need when you actually have to go to war. For us, the war would fully engage if and when we hit that apex, and that’s why everything we’re doing now is in anticipation of that. Flatten the curve so the apex never happens. God forbid the apex happens, make sure we have as much of the equipment, staff, et cetera, that we would need for that moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:50)
A few updates. They still forecast the apex to be 14 to 21 days. Again, that changes on the modeling. Every time the case load goes up or down a little bit, that affects the calculation on the apex. What do you need at the apex? 140,000 beds. That’s hospital beds, dormitory beds. We’re working on that every day, and we’re getting closer and closer to that 140,000 number. PPE equipment. Right now we have enough PPE in stock, and all the local health systems say they have enough PPE in stock, short term. Nobody has enough long term, so we’re still buying and was still talking to the federal government about acquiring more PPE.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:39)
There is a concern among healthcare professionals, because the CDC guidelines suggest a different protocol for PPE and masks depending on the condition, and apparently there is a crisis set of guidelines that the CDC puts out for how many gowns, how often you change your gown, how often you change your mask, et cetera, in a crisis, and the CDC has put those crisis guidelines in place, and many healthcare professionals are concerned that those guidelines do not adequately protect the nurses and the doctors and the healthcare staff that are working on this issue. Dr. Zucker is looking at that. If we believe the CDC guidelines don’t protect healthcare professionals, then we will put our own guidelines in place. You have a bed, you have the equipment, you need the staff, and that’s where we’re working on bringing more reserved staff and putting that reserve staffing capacity in place, and that’s going very well, and then back to our favorite ventilator quest.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:02)
Word to the local health systems. We need the local health systems to think more holistically. In other words, you’ll have a regional health system, Western New York, Central New York, New York City, and they’ll have a number of hospitals. You can have a single hospital get overwhelmed within that system. You can have the staff get overwhelmed. You can have one hospital where they run low on supplies. The local health systems have to change their orientation where it’s not hospital by hospital, which is the normal culture. Every hospital is free standing on its own, and is its own entity and buys its own equipment, has its own staff, et cetera. I need the local health systems to change their orientation and operate and plan as if-
Andrew Cuomo: (16:03)
… And operate and plan as if that system is one. If you see a local hospital getting overwhelmed, shift to an adjoining hospital. Both within the public system and the private system, you have public hospitals and then you have private hospitals, voluntary hospitals. We have to stop operating as individual hospitals and they have to operate as a system, and I need the local officials to do that. So patients can and should be moved among those local hospitals as the need requires. Staff can and should be moved among those local hospitals as circumstances require. State Department of Health has not only advised that, but has mandated that. It’s not the normal operating culture, but it is a necessity in this situation, because depending on where a hospital is, you’ll have hospitals getting overwhelmed because they’ll happen to be in an area where there are not a lot of other hospitals or because that’s a hot zone, cluster zone, that hospital gets overwhelmed.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:27)
All right, shift, cooperate, plan as a local health system. May come a point where the state steps in and actually allocates among local health systems. This is when I said the other day, you may have patients from downstate New York being moved to upstate New York. Why? Because if the entire local health system in downstate New York gets overwhelmed, or the local health system on Long Island gets overwhelmed, and the Long Island health system says to me, “look, we’ve allocated, we have eight hospitals. We have allocated everything we can among our eight hospitals. We’re still overwhelmed.” Well then we’ll shift the burden, literally, to a different health system. And I just want them to anticipate that and see that that’s coming.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:27)
We have asked the pharmacies to cooperate above and beyond here, and to do free home delivery. There are long lines at pharmacies right now. That’s not good for anyone. I’m going to be speaking with some of the major pharmacy chains today to ask if they would be cooperative, but this would be a very big benefit. I understand it’s a hardship on the pharmacies to provide home delivery. I’m asking them to do it free of charge, but it will make a very big difference.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:02)
Also, the department of health is monitoring the density and activity. In the New York City parks, specifically on the playgrounds. This has been a problem. We spoke about it last week. The New York City Mayor, de Blasio, and the Speaker, Cory Johnson, have spoken to this. They gave us a plan. We accepted the plan. The plan is premised on the fact that people will reduce the density in playgrounds. No basketball, no contact sports, social distancing. There have been reports that that is not happening and it’s not in compliance. Speaker Johnson has made this point and I believe he’s right. So if the density compliance is not working on a voluntary basis, we could get to a point where we will close those playgrounds.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:58)
So I again ask the people in New York City, especially young people, please take this seriously for yourself and for others, and let’s do it on a voluntary basis. We’re also now administering 1100 tests of the hydroxychloroquine and the zithromax. This is the prescription that the president has been very optimistic about. We hope to be optimistic also, but we’re now using it on a large scale basis, particularly in the New York city hospitals, and we’ll be getting results soon.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:35)
Javits will open Monday. I was there yesterday. It’s a 1000 bed emergency hospital. It is amazing what the Army Corps of Engineers did in a short time. It was about one week, and the progress they made is really extraordinary, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. The Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard, which is our workforce that we call out in all these situations. I’ve worked with many of them and I know them after so many situations together. But they showed up and they’ve really done a great job, and this should open on Monday.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:15)
The USNS Comfort is going to be on its way. As of today, I’m told, the president is going to be seeing it off. It should be here on Monday. That will bring 1000 beds. It also brings medical personnel, which frankly are more important than the beds in this case, and it has operating rooms, et cetera. We’ll use this to backfill and take pressure off a hospital, so a hospital can backfill onto this 1000 bed facility. I hope it gets here Monday and I will greet it with open arms.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:57)
I spoke to the president this morning, actually just before I came in today. I apologize for being a few minutes late. And the president approved four new sites, four emergency medical facilities. One in Brooklyn at the Port Authority cruise ship terminal, it’s called. One in Queens at Aqueduct race track. One on Staten Island, and one in the Bronx at the New York Expo Center. I went and toured these sites yesterday. They are perfect. Well, not perfect. None of this is perfect. They are appropriate and suitable to bring in large scale medical facilities. They’re 100,000 square feet, 120,000 square feet. They’re open, they have electric, they have climate control, et cetera. So this is going to be a big advantage. This is going to will add another 4,000 beds, and there’s one in every borough in New York City, which was important to me. Every borough knows that they have a facility and they’re getting the same treatment that everyone else is getting. I’m a New York City outer borough person. You don’t know that classification unless you’re from New York City. They’re out of borough, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronxville is the outer boroughs. Manhattan is the inner borough, but they never call it an inner borough. Everyone is being treated the same.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:34)
We’re adding to that bed capacity to get to the 140,000 beds. We’ve added 695 additional beds, South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island, which is opening up. We have the Westchester Square Bronx, 200 beds, Health Alliance in Ulster County, 235 beds. So you see again, we’re trying to have facilities all around the geographic location that’s experiencing the increase. We’re also making another shift where we’re going to go to COVID-only hospitals, where people in those hospitals will just have the COVID virus. So the staff that is there is basically working with one type of issue, as opposed to a normal hospital setting where you can have people with heart ailments and other medical issues, and on top of them the COVID patients.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:34)
The health commissioner has given us good advice. It’s smarter to keep the COVID patients separate. You don’t want a person who goes into a hospital with one situation developing COVID because they happen to be exposed. So this is smart and we’re going to isolate 600 beds for just this treatment. South Beach, again, Westchester Square and SUNY Downstate, which is in Brooklyn. This shows you the coverage that we’ll have when all of this is said and done, and you’ll see it’s equally distributed and it’s significant and in truth, many locations have been constructed, adapted, modified, and it’s been done in a very short period of time. Again, all this in contemplation of the apex, if we’re lucky, the apex never happens.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:35)
The New York State Department of Health has gotten approval by the FDA to start a new test, which is an antibody test, where we can test individuals to see if they were in fact infected by the virus, resolve and now have the antibodies so they have an immunity to the virus. This is being done here. It’s managed by our health department. The FDA has given us approval. Department of Health is working with private hospitals to actually enact this now, so this is happening now and this, it could be a big breakthrough if that happens.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:18)
On the theory of risk/reward ,we’re supposed to have a presidential primary election that’s coming up on April 28th. I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote. A lot of people touching one door knob. A lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the new device on the ballots. So we are going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23rd. The June 23rd date is for state legislative races and congressional races. We’ll move the presidential election to that date. Ironically, I had advocated that or beyond that date all along anyway, so there’s only one election and people only needed to come out once. Everybody wants to vote. Everybody wants this, do their civic duty, but don’t make me come out and vote 11 times. Put the elections together so I can go to the ballot once, and this will actually do that.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:23)
We are also extending the tax filing deadline to July 15th. This is good news for individuals, for businesses. You don’t have to file your state tax return. You file it with the federal tax return on July 15th. It’s bad news for the state of New York on our parochial level. That means we receive no revenue coming in until July 15th. This is the increase in the trajectory of the number of cases. You see, it goes up again. The number of people tested, we tested 17,000 people yesterday. Again, we’re testing more than any state in the country and more than China and Korea have tested. Total tested is up to 155,000. Number of new cases, 7,681. You see the state getting more and more covered. Just a handful of counties that have not reported any positive tests. This is the summary. 52,000 people tested. 7,000 currently hospitalized, 1,700 ICU patients, 2,700 patients discharge. That’s up 681. Remember people going to the hospital, people get treated, people leave. Remember, most people never go into the hospital. 80%, they self resolve.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:55)
Most impacted states, state of New York, 52,000. Next is our neighbor in New Jersey, 8,000. Then California, 4,000. But you see the reports nationwide that other states are finding it. Other cities are finding it. I believe you’re going to see more and more of that. But again, in comparison, you take California, 4,000 cases, compare that to the situation we’re in with 52,000 cases. People say I advocate for more help for New York with the federal government and I ask for more things than other states are asking for. Yes, respond to the need. Respond to the need. We have 52,000 cases. California has 4,000 cases. I want California to have all the help they need, but I want to make sure the distribution of need is proportionate to the number of cases.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:56)
If you’re looking for good news today on the numbers, the number watchers, this is good news. I wouldn’t put tremendous stock in it, but it’s good news. We’re watching the trend, right? Because we’re trying to gauge when and if there’s an apex. The number of daily ICU admissions, which are the critical point for us. ICU admissions means people who need ventilators. Ventilators are what’s in short supply. The ICU admissions went down, only 172 compared to 374 the day before. You see the overall line is still up. The 374 was very troubling because that was a gigantic leap. The 172 may be a correction from the 374. I don’t like to look at the data on any one night. We averaged three or four nights to get a more consistent track, but this is good news, on a one day number.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:14)
The number of ICU admissions drop, as did the number of new hospitalizations drop. So there’s a correlation there that also affirms both, right? It affirms the ICU number and it affirms the new hospitalization number, but again, I wouldn’t put too much stock in any one number. You see the overall trend is still up, but you could argue that the trend is slowing. I say don’t argue, follow the numbers, get more numbers, whatever the numbers say. The numbers drive the policy. So we’ll track it every day and we’ll see where we go. The worse news, the news that is most depressing to me-
Andrew Cuomo: (32:03)
The news that is most depressing to me, and I’m sure every New Yorker, number of deaths is up to 728. Of that 728, what’s happening is, people are on ventilators longer. You saw that average length of stay on a ventilator, the longer you are on a ventilator, the less chance you are coming off that ventilator. That has always been true. It’s more dramatic in this situation. Since this has been going on a period of time, you are having more and more people now who are on ventilators for a longer and longer period of time, and those are the people we are losing. They tend to be people who came in with underlying illnesses, underlying respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems. Not all of them, but most of them. But that doesn’t make it feel any better. These are still people who we’ve lost. We lost because of this virus. If they didn’t have this virus, they would be with us today. So I don’t accept the concept of, “Well, these were people who were old, and death is inevitable.” Yes, death is inevitable for all of us. Just not today, right? That’s the point. Again, total perspective, this is not a new situation, it’s not just New York, it’s not just the United States. This started in China, they have all of the data since China, and you have a very broad database to call from. Again on perspective, don’t forget the basics. I know people feel this has been going on for so long. Wash your hands. Washing your hands, by the way, is just as effective, healthcare professionals will tell you, as hand sanitizer. So wash your hands, don’t touch your face. I’m a big face toucher for some reason. My own face, I don’t touch anyone else’s face. Stay six feet away from people. The social distancing is important. And don’t get complacent. These rules are not just important in the beginning. You have to do this every day, so you have to stay disciplined about it.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:35)
General comment as to where we are. Rule one in almost any situation in life, certainly in government, certainly in an emergency situation, is to plan forward. Plan forward, plan the next step. Don’t be reactive, be proactive. Don’t wait to find out what the virus is going to do to you, anticipate what’s going to happen, and plan for the step ahead. We have been behind this virus from day one. We have been in a reactive posture from day one with this virus. We’re waiting to see what the virus does, and then we’re responding. The virus makes another move, and then we respond. No, you don’t win on defense, you win on offense. You have to get ahead of this, anticipate what’s going to happen, and create that reality now. That’s what we’re doing with the apex preparation. We don’t have that crisis today. We could have that crisis in 14 to 21 days. So yes, I’m creating a stockpile today for a possible reality 14 to 21 days from now.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:03)
I’m not going to wait for day 13 to say, “Oh my gosh, we need 30,000 ventilators.” It’s over, so get ahead of it, that’s our apex preparation plan. But beyond just New York, as a nation we have to start to get ahead of this in two areas, specifically. On purchasing, you can’t have a situation where 50 states are competing with each other to buy the same material. That is what is happening now. When I showed you the price of ventilators went from $25,000 to $45,000, why? Because, we bid $25,000, California says, “I’ll give you $30,000,” Illinois says, “I’ll give you $35,000,” Florida says, “I’ll give you $40,000.” We’re literally bidding up the prices ourselves. Now, every state, no one’s doing anything wrong. I’m here to protect New York, that’s what I get paid to do. I have to acquire the ventilators. I have to pay whatever I have to pay to acquire the ventilators.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:14)
I don’t mean to take them from other states. But when you have a system where you say to the states, “Okay, you go out and buy what you need to buy,” we all need to buy the same thing. We all need to buy PPE, we all need to buy N95 masks, we all need to buy ventilators. So we’re all shopping the same distributors, the same group, and it’s not even legally price gouging. I was attorney general, I don’t even think you have a price gouging case. This is just private market competition. My daughter, Cara’s, working on the purchasing team. They change the prices, you can see the prices going up literally, during the course of the day. So if the federal government organized this, if the states organized among themselves… Because you can’t have the states competing against the states. And then, by the way, when the federal government goes out to buy the same equipment for their stockpile, now it’s 50 states competing against the states and the federal government competing against the states.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:28)
So this is not the way to do business. We need a nationwide buying consortium. Either the federal government should say, “I’ll be the purchasing agent for the nation, and I will distribute by need,” or the states, which it’s hard to organize 50 states. I’m vice chairman of the National Governors Association, I’m going to talk to them about this. Maybe the states could come up with a voluntary buying consortium, and then we distribute by need. But this is something that has to be worked out, not just for this but for the future, because this can’t happen again. Also, we have to plan forward on testing. We’ve mobilized, we’ve scrambled, but this is still not where it needs to be. We need many more tests. There are still people who can’t get tests, and we need tests that are faster. There are other countries that are developing faster tests, developing home tests.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:31)
We have a rigorous approval process through the FDA and CDC in this country. It served us well in normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances. I would say to the market, if you have a test, and a home test, and a state wants to take responsibility for monitoring the results of the test, God bless you. Because you can’t have a situation where you have a five day waiting period for a test. That’s five days for the person to be out there and possibly infecting other people. And if the goal is to open up the economy as quickly as you can, you’re going to need a much faster testing process to find out who had the antibodies, which means they had the virus in resolve, and who’s negative, and who’s positive. So you are going to need a much faster testing process. That’s the only way you get the economy up and running in any relatively short period of time.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:39)
I showed you, though, I’ll end where I began. You saw the number of days that this had been going on, only 28 days. School’s closed only 10 days, feels like a lifetime. This is not a sprint, my friends, this is a marathon, you have to gauge yourself. You have to understand that this is going to be a longterm situation. And even though it’s so disruptive, and so abrupt, and so shocking, it’s also longterm. And each of us has to do our own part to adjust to it. It is a new reality, it’s a shocking new reality. There is no easy answer. We’re all working our way through it, and we all have to figure out a way to get through it. My gratuitous two cents, “See if you can’t find a silver lining in all of this.” People say extraordinary things to me that I just pick up, anecdotally.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:48)
I was going for a walk yesterday with one of my daughters and Captain, Captain is my dog, and people come up with all these interesting ideas… Who’s painting their house? Because, they never had time to paint their house before. Who’s working on a project that they never got to? Who’s reading a book that they never got to do? Who’s writing a book? Few people say, “I’m writing my journals. I’m writing my life story.” You know, find a way. You have the advantage of time here, and you have the advantage of time for communication. I’ve had conversations with my daughters, hours long conversations, where it’s just us, just us talking, no place to go, she doesn’t have to go to work, she doesn’t have to run out, and they’re priceless. They are priceless. I’ll never get the opportunity in life to do that again.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:57)
You know, we’re going to get through this, and they’re going to go off, and find a boyfriend, and then do whatever they do. I’ve had conversations with my mother who can’t leave the house. And she’s in the house, so we take turns talking to mom, and talk to my mother for hours, and it’s special. It’s special. So yes, it’s terrible, and I’m not trying to say it’s not a terrible circumstance. But even in a terrible circumstance, if you look hard enough, you can find the little rays, a few rays of light. And people are doing it, and I think we all should. It’s going to be a marathon, but we’re going to get through it, and we will get through it. And we are going to be the better for it when we get through it. We will have learned a lot. We will have changed, and we’ll be different, but I believe that we’ll be different in a positive way. Tell me questions, comments you have.
Speaker 1: (44:07)
[crosstalk 00:44:07] Governor, President Trump is apparently mulling the quarantine for New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. He said so in a White House [inaudible 00:12:15], today. He said also that you had spoken to him about this. Can you comment on that?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:20)
I spoke to the president about the ship coming up and the four sites. I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.
Speaker 1: (44:28)
Has he spoken to you about a quarantine? Have you had any indication that’s a possibility for New York or parts of Connecticut?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:34)
No, I haven’t had those conversations. I don’t even know what that means.
Speaker 2: (44:38)
Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that April 5th is the day that their apex is going to hit the city. What can they do to prepare for that given that, at this point, you only have a couple 1,000 extra hospital beds that are going to be set up?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:54)
April 5th… Look, all of the projections on the apex are just that, are projections. April 5th is earlier than our state projection, so Dr. Zucker will get with the local health commissioner there to have that conversation. But this operates in two levels. First, you have a local health system. So Mayor de Blasio runs a very large public health system. And then you have voluntary hospitals, private hospitals, I’ll just call them. All those hospitals have to be planned and operating as one system. One hospital gets overwhelmed, which we’ve seen in New York City. You have to immediately, from a management point of view, be able to use the surrounding hospitals for support. So one hospital gets stressed, shift to the other hospitals. One staff gets stressed, shift to the other hospitals.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:07)
What I was saying before, “This is not how they think, it’s not how they manage, it’s not how they plan,” and it’s not. Take any analogy, school districts, right? Every school district operates like an isolated entity. There’s no thought that maybe this school district would have to cooperate with a neighboring school district. Yeah, well the hospitals have to. And each local health system has to do that, because you will have hospitals overwhelmed. Now, if within that hospital system, once you maximize all of your potential, you still are over capacity, then the state can help with additional capacity, either by one of two ways. Shift, shift some of those patients to less occupied health systems. Our health systems, Upstate New York, right now are not as occupied as the downstate ones. So either shift among health systems, or start to use the additional capacity that we’ve been creating in that locality.
Speaker 3: (47:23)
Governor, think back on Justin’s question here, the president said he’s looking at some sort of enforceable quarantine for New York, New Jersey, parts of the Tri-state area. Is that a sound policy from your perspective? Or would you advise against that?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:41)
I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. But I can tell you, I don’t even like the sound of it. Not even understanding what it is, I don’t like the sound of it.
Speaker 4: (48:01)
[inaudible 00:48:01] And doctors under oath, same topic as quarantine…
Speaker 5: (48:03)
Governor, on the same topic of quarantine, there are folks in New Rochelle who have been quarantined for 24, 25 days now. There’s some confusion about whether the state is following the CDC guidance that says you have to go X amount of days without being symptomatic or whether you should have to pass a second test to be let out of warranty. What is the state governance on this?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (48:24)
That has been lifted, the quarantine for those individuals. And the CDCs recommendations have been that for those who are positive, after the seven days they don’t have symptoms within a period of 72 hours, then they can be not in quarantine anymore.
Speaker 5: (48:43)
As a few days ago though, the Westchester Board of Health voted against lifting that quarantine for the people who tested positive until they pass a second test. Is that an error?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (48:55)
The guidance as I’ve mentioned is that seven days after positive, seven days, 72 hours without symptoms.
Governor some other- [crosstalk 00:49:02].
Andrew Cuomo: (49:02)
Excuse me, one second Jess. This is why it’s dangerous to answer a question until you actually know what the person said. Mandatory quarantine, if you’re talking about what we did in New Rochelle, that means a person in that area must remain in that home. If there in their home or in mandatory quarantine, if they meet a certain protocol. We never said you can’t travel outside of New Rochelle. We never said there was any geographic boundary to New Rochelle. If you said, “I want to go quarantine in my girlfriend’s house in the Hudson Valley.” All right, but you have to be quarantined. So we never said any geographic constraints. Mandatory quarantine is a scary concept because it sounds like you’re saying to people, you can’t leave this district. We never did that. I’m sorry, Jess.
Okay, just with that, can you give some reaction to what happened in Rhode Island where apparently the democratic governor there is stopping cars with New York plates to stop people from New York coming to our state? Can you give us a reaction to that?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:17)
I have heard that. I don’t know any details about that. I don’t know if anyone does. Does anyone know about Rhode Island?
Melissa DeRosa: (50:25)
It was reported this morning. We’re going to reach out to Gina Raimondo’s office after this.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:29)
But I haven’t heard, other than the news reports, and look you’re getting a lot of sensational news reports now. So everything with a grain of salt, sometimes two grains of salt.
Speaker 6: (50:41)
Governor, have you been on the phone at all this morning with Governors Murphy or Lamont?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:46)
Speaker 6: (50:48)
Can they… come for-
Andrew Cuomo: (50:50)
It doesn’t mean I don’t like them and I wouldn’t like to be on the phone with them. But we’re in constant communication. Governor, for those of you can’t hear the question, Governor Lamont is the Connecticut governor who caught the bigger fish than me in our last fishing outing. Governor Murphy is the New Jersey Governor. We’re in cooperation. We’re coordinating like no States have ever coordinated before, but I haven’t spoken with them this morning.
Speaker 7: (51:18)
[crosstalk 00:51:18] cold throw off a swab test and are you getting any reports of the false positives with tests that had been administered so far in the state?
Andrew Cuomo: (51:29)
Can the common cold throw off the swab tests? Can the common cold throw off the swab test? A direct question.
Dr. Howard Zucker: (51:37)
The common cold is a Coronavirus but each Coronavirus has its own sort of fingerprint, so it won’t throw it off.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:45)
Common cold does not throw off the swab test. I have it on expert-
Speaker 7: (51:50)
[crosstalk 00:51:50] false positives though?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (51:51)
We have not had false positives. We’ve been watching that very closely.
Speaker 8: (51:55)
Governor are you planning to suspend work requirements for people receiving unemployment or at least any in-person activities that might be required under the rules?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:04)
Rob, do you know?
Rob Mujica: (52:06)
We haven’t looked. We’re right now we’re still getting the applications come in. We’ll look at that as the applications come in, but right now we’re not suspending the requirements, but they’re started. The in-person requirements we’re able to do that online or be able to do it by phone.
Speaker 9: (52:21)
Governor, democratic law makers [inaudible 00:52:23] upset by what appear to be cuts to public hospitals at the time of Coronavirus. Can you comment on that?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:30)
Public hospitals or all hospitals?
Speaker 9: (52:32)
Vis-a-vis the Medicaid Redesign Team, there appear to be cuts of somewhere in the ballpark of $400 million.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:37)
The places that are getting the most funding now, because of what the federal government did are the hospitals. The hospitals receive significant funds, “for the Coronavirus,” but the Coronavirus expenses, you can basically equate to anything now in the hospital system. So the hospitals are getting more funding than almost any other area that the state budget covers. How much are the hospitals getting? Do you remember Rob?
Rob Mujica: (53:15)
$100 billion nationally.
Speaker 9: (53:19)
[inaudible 00:53:19] The Medicaid Redesign Team, that indigent care pool.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:24)
Yeah look, we have no money. So life is options. The state has no money, but if you’re getting the federal bill at $100 billion for hospitals, for Coronavirus related expenses, they are doing better than anyone else.
Speaker 10: (53:47)
Governor, are you also going to move the 27th congressional district special election to June?
Andrew Cuomo: (53:51)
Do you know?
Melissa DeRosa: (53:56)
We’re going to move all of the elections to June.
Speaker 10: (53:58)
And just with everything happening, is this [inaudible 00:54:01] position on the [inaudible 00:54:02] Act possibly [inaudible 00:54:06] since we [inaudible 00:54:06].
Andrew Cuomo: (54:06)
Yeah. We haven’t had that conversation.
Speaker 11: (54:07)
The Department of Health said that hospitals are required to have birthing partners in the room with individuals.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:18)
I’m sorry, who said that?
Speaker 11: (54:19)
The Department of Health.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:20)
Howard? [crosstalk 00:54:23]
Melissa DeRosa: (54:23)
So we had issued guidance back on March 21st advising hospitals that they should allow at least one person in the delivery room when people are giving birth. And some of the hospitals were ignoring that yesterday. We updated that guidance to make it a directive so that women do not have to be alone while they’re giving birth. And we’re going to reinforce that in an executive order.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:43)
They should allow one person in the room besides the person giving birth.
Melissa DeRosa: (54:44)
Private and publics.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:48)
So two people in the room.
Speaker 12: (54:51)
Governor, just to be totally clear, do you intend on drawing down any of that $6 billion that was in the second Coronavirus stimulus bill that you say ties your hands with Medicaid. Do you intend on drawing any of that $6 billion?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:04)
We can’t. The way they wrote the law, we can’t.
Speaker 12: (55:07)
So as you’re negotiating the budget now, you’re not spending any of that $6 billion dollars?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:12)
Can’t do what you can’t do. We can’t. That’s the way they wrote the bill. I told them 157 times, metaphorically, but that’s the way they wrote the bill.
Speaker 13: (55:21)
Governor, earlier this week I believe, you said that the state would need 40,000 ventilators. Today it seemed to be 30,000. Is that a change or are you-
Andrew Cuomo: (55:30)
We’ve acquired some.
Speaker 13: (55:31)
It’s because your acquired-
Andrew Cuomo: (55:32)
Speaker 13: (55:32)
The projections aren’t showing less of a need.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:38)
Speaker 13: (55:38)
Okay, thank you.
Speaker 14: (55:38)
About a week ago the list of essential businesses came out and at the very bottom of that list it said something about if you have a dispute or you feel you should be able to list, contact us. Has anyone contacted you? And if so, have they been added to the list?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:51)
Nobody’s contacted me. Anybody contact you?
Melissa DeRosa: (55:53)
Individual businesses contact ESD, the Empire State Development Corporation and they can make appeals and they’re being considered on a case by case basis with an eye towards public health.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:03)
Empire State Development said contact the Empire State Development Corporation. Eric Gertler, who’s the head of that and ESD is making the exceptions. We can go back and check with the ESD and find out if they’ve made any exceptions specifically.
Speaker 15: (56:18)
[crosstalk 00:56:18] 40,000 hospital beds. Is that additionally 40,000 ICU beds?
Andrew Cuomo: (56:27)
No maximum capacity.
Speaker 15: (56:28)
So it’s 140, 000 total beds.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:31)
140,000 beds. Now, what’s interesting here is, which sounds daunting, but in this case you’re not doing an operation per se. You’re not doing open heart surgery. You’re not doing a lot of… These are people who have almost the identical problem which is a respiratory lung issue. And that’s why on one hand, it’s relatively simpler to set up a temporary hospital because you’re dealing with the same symptoms over and over. The compounding problem is they all need those ventilators.
Speaker 16: (57:16)
Governor, [inaudible 00:57:17] said yesterday that it’s going to release about a thousand people, 1100 people, who were being held on parole violations. Do you intend on taking any other steps to grant clemencies to release people who might be nearing the end of their term in prison? Do you intend on taking any other steps?
Andrew Cuomo: (57:35)
We’re looking at that now. We’re looking at exactly that now.
Speaker 16: (57:38)
When do you intend on having any sort of decision on that?
Andrew Cuomo: (57:40)
We’re actively looking at it.
Speaker 17: (57:43)
Governor, this may be wishful thinking but have you put any thought to what sort of benchmarks, what sort of statistics would you have to see on the backside of the apex to start to lift restrictions, to start to ease some of these executive orders that you put out? Has you’re thinking gotten that far yet?
Andrew Cuomo: (58:00)
No. Short answer, no. We’re focused on the apex. We’re coming up the mountain. We’re focused on the point of the mountain because that’s our critical point. Your question Jesse, which is a good one is if you get on the other side of the mountain, what kind of drop are you looking for before you would say we’re open for business? We have not calculated that. I think before you get there, you could get to a broad distribution of a test, a home test, a faster test. So it wouldn’t just be the drop in the number of new cases. I think the real reform, the real innovation here could be get those home tests that other countries are starting to use and let people test themselves.
Speaker 17: (58:51)
And this would be both for CV as well as for antibodies, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (58:55)
Well the CV test is easier than the antibody test. The antibody test, you have to go in and you have to have blood drawn. The CV test, they have CV tests that are at home tests and I think you could get to a point where you say, and some of them are relatively inexpensive, “Do the test. You’re negative, go to work.” Period and divorce it from the trajectory of new cases. If you actually had the testing capacity and that’s what I would be focused on. Also, I said to the FDA, give me the ability, myself, to go out and seek New York state, to go out and seek new tests, home tests. We’ll test them. We have 200 laboratories. We’ll do the clinical trials and let’s see if they’re right because you want to start the economy and I understand the rush to start the economy and everybody gets the concept, but the new tests I think are the fastest way to get there.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:59)
Dr., do you want to comment on that?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (01:00:01)
I think you covered all. The key point is that the antibodies to measure, as the governor said, is a blood test. It’s important to recognize that. That’s different than a test for the Coronavirus.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:11)
Okay, let’s take one more. Anyone who didn’t ask? There was no one who didn’t ask a question. It’s a nice feeling.
Speaker 18: (01:00:18)
Given the [crosstalk 01:00:19] picture, is the tax increase for businesses or wealthy individuals considerably off the table still, in your opinion?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:27)
Look, I don’t know how you raise taxes on people who are out of work and their business is closed because government needs more funding. I don’t know how you do that now.
Governor, one more quick one. The NYPD is reporting its first death, a detective who died of the disease. You have some reaction to that, obviously that’s a first responder right on the tip of the sphere.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:51)
We lost another nurse yesterday. You know Jesse, am I shocked? No, these people put themselves in extraordinary danger. And we’re all talking about isolation and precaution and we’re all wiping every door knob. And then you have people who every morning get up and go out and deal with the unknown. Talk about losing control, totally uncontrollable. These nurses, the first responders, they are just so extraordinary to me as people, forget everything else. And these are not high paid people. It’s not that they are doing it for the money. It’s not that they don’t have families. They are just extraordinary and they prove it time and time again. But I’ve never seen a situation like this where their heroism is so obvious and the risk is so obvious and their public service just rises above. I mean I am in awe of what they do and I find that inspiring. I’ll tell you the truth. Every time I say, “Well, I’m feeling tired. I’m feeling this.” Forget me. I’m not doing a third of what these people are doing. So God bless and thank God for them and I’m sorry for their loss. Okay guys, thanks.
Speaker 20: (01:02:24)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:28)
Same thing. It’s the same strategy and move that strategy with the volume. Thank you guys.