Dec 11, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 11: Shut Down Indoor Dining

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 11: Shut Down Indoor Dining
RevBlogTranscriptsAndrew Cuomo TranscriptsNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 11: Shut Down Indoor Dining

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on December 11 to provide updates on COVID-19. He announced that indoor dining in NYC will be suspended beginning Monday, December 14. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.

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Andrew Cuomo: (07:27)
Good morning. Thank everyone for joining us today. Let me introduce the people who are here today from my far right, Mr. Larry Schwartz, former secretary to me, former secretary to Governor Patterson, and he’s come back and he’s helping us with the hospital Surge & Flex plan and the vaccination plan, both of which are major, major operations, as you know. We then have Chancellor Jim Malatras, Commissioner Howard Zucker. To my left, Melissa de Rosa Secretary to the Governor, to her left Robert Mujica, Budget Director. I’m going to speak quickly today, two reasons. Number one, I’m from New York. We speak quickly. Number two, I have a lot of ground to cover and we have some special guests who are joining us and we want to be on time for them.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:15)
Today is day 286. We’re doing three COVID operations at the same time. Number one, the hospitals managing hospital capacity and Surge & Flex, as we call it. Number two, trying to slow the spread of the virus. And number three, being as aggressive as we can on vaccinations, we want to be the most efficient and most effective state in the United States, in terms of vaccinations. As we said, we would have a New York State panel review the actions and recommendations of the FDA and their advisory committee, to give New Yorkers more confidence in the vaccination process. Dr. Zucker met with the New York State panel yesterday, last night, and the New York State clinical advisory task force has approved unanimously the FDA decision to go forward with a vaccine. So, that’s good news and we notified the FDA of that. Obviously, there was no delay whatsoever in the timing and New Yorkers will have more confidence.

Andrew Cuomo: (09:22)
We’re now talking about a winter plan. And when you’re talking about the winter plan, you have to take the full context into consideration. Where we’ve been, where we’re going. And it has been quite the journey and the journey isn’t over. It’s not really going to be over until the summer and we hit critical mass with the vaccination, and we have to calibrate our way through the journey. You change strategies as the virus changes, the seasonal changes, the growth pattern changes, and where the growth is occurring. The current numbers in New York State, the statewide positivity without what we call micro clusters, 4.5, with the micro clusters, 4.9. In the micro clusters, 6.8. We did 212,000 tests, 87 New Yorkers passed away they’re in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalization 5,300, ICU 1007, intubations 546. Looking across the state, Finger Lakes, highest rate of hospitalization by population. Then Western New York, Central New York, Mohawk Valley. Western New York, which we’ve been focusing on for quite some time, we’ve actually seen a flattening in Western New York, not a reduction, but a flattening in the increase and that’s good news. But, you see the varied picture across the state of New York.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:07)
We have said from day one, for us, this is a constant calibration. We want as much economic activity as possible and respect public health and the cost of the virus, right? So, that’s always the calibration. Yes, economic activity. Yes, as much as we can, social activity, balanced with public health. Some states have had these dramatic opens and closes, full-open, full-close, full-open, full-close, I think that’s highly disruptive and it’s not the best way to go through this. Our approach has been different, where we’ve always been following the data and the metrics, and we have more data than any other state.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:03)
Maybe New Yorkers have a little PTSD, but what we went through in the spring with all these experts giving us advice and the advice turned out to be wrong, all this anecdotal information. We invested very heavily in doing COVID testing and we do more testing than any state in the nation, but that gives us actual facts that we can base our actions upon. And we’ve now done 21 million tests. So, we’ve actually done more tests than we have people in the state of New York now.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:40)
On the facts, what we’re seeing, schools are almost without exception, safer than local communities, in terms of infection rate. This was not what was initially expected. Initially, some of the experts said, “Well, schools are like mass gatherings, and if you get a lot of students together, there’s going to be a spread.” That is not what has happened. That’s not what the facts say. The facts say, that the schools are actually following the rules and following the guidance, the children are following the guidance. The teachers are doing a great job, following the guidance. And the schools, the positivity rate tends to be lower than the positivity rate in the surrounding community. My point is, if it is safer for the children to be in school, then have the children in school. If it’s safer for the teacher to be in school, then have the teacher in school. It’s less disruptive, the children get the education, you don’t have the same issues you have with remote learning.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:51)
Now, this is a decision that has been left to the local school districts. And we’ve had a discussion back and forth. We had this discussion with New York City. My advice, although it’s their decision, is that unless you have data that says the schools are at problematic infection rate, the school should be open. City of Buffalo recently announced they’re going to keep their schools closed. I respect local governments, I respect the prerogative of local governments with education. I understand the balance, but my advice, and if you look across the nation, and you look across the world, most informed experts will say test in the schools, but if the schools are safer, then leave the schools open.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:50)
By the facts, hospitalization rates are increasing dramatically across the world, across them nation and across this state. You see where we are now and you see how quickly the increase has been. And this is the ultimate cause for concern, right? The ultimate cause for concern is an overwhelming of the hospitals. With the hospitals, the situation in the hospitals is better than it has been in the past. The [purse 00:15:26] compared to this spring, we have 30% people, fewer people in ICU, we have 50% fewer people intubated. The length of stay in the hospitals has dropped dramatically. The length of stay, was on average 11 days in the spring, it’s not down to five days. The medical community has made the most progress over the past few months, not only the development of the vaccine, but therapeutics and how they deal with this disease. And that’s what you see in the reduction of the length of stay and that’s what you in the death rate. We had a 23% death rate in the spring, that is now down to 8%.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:10)
This is probably the most informative data. Where are the new cases coming from, right? You want to know what’s generating the new cases, so you know where you can stop them. The troubling information in this, is 74% of the new cases are coming from household gatherings, living room spread. In many ways, you can understand what happened. You close bars, you close restaurants, you close theaters, you close stadiums, you close mass gatherings, where do people go? They go home, come to my house, they’ll go over to Robert’s house. We’ll invite our friends. We’ll invite our family. Compound that by the holiday season, which is a natural come to my house, my family, my friends, I know we’ll be safe. That is what is driving these numbers. You get past the 74%, healthcare delivery, which is incidental to the provision of service, right? These are in hospitals, et cetera. Then higher education, colleges, which we have been battling. This is partially college students going back and forth. This is partially college students, who at that stage in life are superheroes and they don’t believe that they’re going to get infected. And if they get infected, they’re going to be able to deal with it. We’ve been dealing with colleges.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:58)
Education employees, restaurants and bars, 1.4%. But you’re now down to small numbers, basically, right? Travel/vacation, we’ve had quarantines, but people coming in, that is an imperfect system on travel, that’s about 1%. Sports is basically, school sports. Public sector, police, fire, EMS, military. Now, a big part of this is people who just by their job are exposed to the situation. EMS workers, National Guard, people who have been helping police/fire, they’re out there all the time. I’ve said repeatedly, police especially, “They need to wear masks.” It’s the law and it’s smart, it’s both. Transportation, private transportation, people who are in limo cars, calling cars, as well as public transportation, manufacturing, religious activities, construction, retail, professional services, elementary school 0.49, high school 0.46, prisons/correctional 0.4, middle-school 0.19, auto dealers, car rentals, 0.16, but we’re getting to very small numbers here now.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:28)
Auto dealers, car rentals, and then hair and personal care, which was much worse earlier on. Wholesale trade building services, real estate, arts and entertainment, gym. Agriculture, hunting, forestry, childcare, power/utilities, accommodations, media production. But, you’re now in very, very small numbers, right? So, stop the spread where it exists and stop it where it’s being generated, but don’t waste time on areas that are not generators, right?

Andrew Cuomo: (20:10)
Indoor dining, which many people have spoken about, it is a generator. We have made strides on indoor dining, by the restrictions we put in place and the safety protocols we put in place. It is still an issue, but it’s much better than it was. Gyms are one of the lowest-known spreaders now, by the facts. We’ve increased the testing, we’ve reduced the capacity. Gyms are now down to 0.06, hair salons/barbershops, personal care 0.14. And again, small gatherings are the greatest individual issue, and we believe this is going to continue to increase over the holidays. In general also, you see the compliance by people down, COVID fatigue. “It’s the holidays, a vaccine is coming. I’m just tired of dealing with it.” And government enforcement is down.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:19)
One of the more troubling points in the data, is the RT is up 1.3. We haven’t spoken about this in a while, RT is the rate of transmission, 1.3 means one person will infect 1.3 additional people. Once that number is over one, you’re in a problematic state, and this is a problematic situation. So, we want to calibrate to the new material, the new facts, the new data. The criteria, the metrics we use, what is the positivity rate? What is the hospitalization rate? What is the hospital capacity in that area? You don’t want to overwhelm the hospitals? Considering the RT rate, what is the density and what is the crowding? Which is a factor we have not been considering because the RT was below one for some period of time. And then, the risk level of that economic activity, going back to the chart that shows where the cases are coming from. So, you’re calibrating the risk level of the economic activity, the density level the RT rate and the hospitalization rate and the positivity rate.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:44)
A red zone is New York on pause. It is stop all but the central services and business, it’s where we were. We don’t have any red zones in the state. We don’t want to go back to a red zone. Other States have gone back to closure. We don’t want to go here. The only reason you would close the economy, is because you’re going to overwhelm the hospitals. And if you get to 90% of hospital capacity, then you are effectively, at the point, we’re going to overwhelm the capacity. And capacity here includes staffing equipment, et cetera. If we see that we’re on a glide path towards overwhelming the hospitals, you have no choice, but to close down the economy. You can not overwhelm the hospital system.

Andrew Cuomo: (23:40)
Short of that as an orange zone, which is 4% positivity over 10-days, or you’re 85% of hospital capacity, or the rate of growth in the hospitalizations is dramatic and as determined by Department of Health. Yellow zone is 3% positivity. And you are one of the highest percentage growth clusters in the state in terms of hospitalization. We’re calculating the data of this week and this weekend. And by those metrics, any new zones we’ll announce on Monday.

Andrew Cuomo: (24:21)
If you are a yellow zone, or if you are an orange zone, this is all determined on the facts and what it is saying is ” In your community, you have a problem.” It’s not somewhere else. It’s your community. It’s your grocery store, it’s your church, it’s your temple, it’s your mosque, it’s your block. And you can make a difference in your community and it means you have to take it seriously. Yes, I’m tired and I’ve been doing this for a long time. I feel it myself, I-

Andrew Cuomo: (25:03)
… long time. I feel it myself. I get it. But we can’t relax until COVID relaxes and COVID is not relaxing. We have the vaccine, we’re going to beat it, but we have to finish the game and we have to finish the war. And we don’t want to lose people who we don’t need to lose. God will take people. We’re not going to stop death, but we should make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect every life that we can. And that’s the goal of all of us going through this. Staten Island, 26 deaths on Staten Island. Staten Island is 25% of all the deaths in New York City even though they’re only 5% of the population. Staten Island is one of the highest growth hospitalization rates in the state today. And these are deaths, 26 people. We talk about numbers, statistics. Do you have to remember, behind every statistic, every number is a family, is a father, is a mother, is someone who’s to going to go through the holidays with a lost loved one.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:23)
For me, I feel it. I have the conversations. I talk to the families. It’s painful. And we need people to understand that to the extent that is preventable, we really must prevent it. This is not a political issue. There is no politics to the guidance or these rules. It’s the one issue that both the Trump team and the Biden team agrees with. The rules that we follow are basically CDC rules. That’s the Trump administration and the Biden advisers are saying the same thing. So there is no politics to this. I have no politics in this. I represent every person in the State of New York. I don’t care what party you are, what ideology you are, whether you’re short, you’re tall, I don’t care your sexual orientation. It makes no difference to me. These are rules that make sense for everyone and it is basically all common sense.

Andrew Cuomo: (27:37)
This is not high science we’re applying here. These are common sense rules. Where the virus is highest, then you have to take action. We’re also changing rules for the hospitals in the state. We’ve already announced that all hospitals have to do a 25% increase in staff to beds. Hospitals must remain under 85%. They can remain under 85% capacity by either adding an additional up to 25% of beds or reducing elective surgeries or both. They have that flexibility, but we want every hospital to remain under 85% occupancy. Over 85%, that hospital is now in a critical situation. As we said, 90% triggers a red zone and every hospital has to have a 90 day PPE supply. The increasing RT is a problem, rate of transmission. It’s more of a problem in the most dense areas. We learned this lesson in this spring, the hard way. New York Times, “The pandemic is particularly devastating to America’s biggest cities as the virus has found fertile ground in the density that is otherwise prized.” Yes, density, which is the asset of the cities becomes a liability. The crowding is a problem. CDC last week did a caution on indoor dining. In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation. The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it. If the hospital rate didn’t stabilize, we would close indoor dining. It has not. We’re going to close indoor dining in New York City on Monday. Outdoor dining and take out continues. Outside of New York City and in the orange zones we’re going to watch the indoor dining data. The numbers are down in the chart, but we’re going to watch over this weekend and we’ll make any adjustments next week if the data suggests. Federal government must provide relief to these bars and restaurants in this next package. I understand battling COVID. I also understand you’re wiping out businesses. We’ll do what we can in New York.

Andrew Cuomo: (30:14)
We’re going to extend the commercial eviction moratorium. So if a business can’t pay the rent because of this situation they won’t be evicted. And gyms and salons, as you also see, they are not the problem that they were. We have restrictions. The restrictions made a difference. We’re going to allow them to operate in orange zones with reduced capacity and additional testing. They’re to the 33% now. Capacity will go to 25%. They do biweekly testing. It would be weekly testing, but they can operate in an orange zone. The winter plan, I went through with Dr. Fauci. I did it publicly at a briefing. He was very kind to give me a lot of time to talk it through privately. And we’re planning, basically, December, January. Everyone is expecting, Dr. Fauci expects, Dr. Redfield expects, the CDC director, that you’re going to see a bad December, a bad January. We understand that. How bad is the question? We hope that you’ll see a stabilization mid to late January. Why? Because Thanksgiving started. We may be seeing the tail end of the Thanksgiving surge, if you will, but we’re about to walk into the Hanukah surge and the Christmas surge and the Christmas week surge and the Kwanza surge and New Year’s eve and New Year’s day. And by the time that tails off, you’re talking mid to late January. When does it end? It ends when the vaccine hits a critical mass. That could be June, it could be September. But between today and June, that is a long six months. And we can’t get complacent. Well, the vaccine is here. Everything is fine. That’s not the reality. We’ve only been at this for 9, 10 months, we have another 6 months to go. If the facts change, we will adjust to the facts. We’re going to look at the data over this weekend for determinations of zones. We’ll look at it for indoor dining.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:46)
We’ll look at it for all those categories that we were seeing on the chart. The facts change, opinions change. Facts change, we adjust to the facts and we’ll continue to do that. What’s the optimal goal? To remain one of the lowest spreads in the nation. The tide is coming up, the boats are going to go up. You’re not going to stop the tide, but you can do as much as you can. And this state has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States of America. Our highest infection rate in the state is lower than 40 states. Our highest infection rate is lower than 40 states. So God bless the people of New York because this state with its density, with its diversity, is really doing an extraordinary job. And we have to continue to do it because we determine our future, right? We determine the curve. Last point is the vaccine. That is the weapon that ends the war.

Andrew Cuomo: (33:52)
We’re going to need a public education campaign to battle skepticism. We have to hit 75 to 85% of the population for the vaccine to be effective. We have 50% of the population saying they won’t take the vaccine. That’s a problem. We have to outreach to the black, brown, poor communities. That’s basic social justice that has been overlooked. I’ll speak to that in a moment. And we have to have the most aggressive distribution administration program. And we’re starting that right now. Good news is the 170,000 doses from Pfizer that we announced should be here imminently, Sunday or Monday. We also will get 346,000 doses of Moderna on top of the 170,000. And there’ll be here the week of December 21. So the vaccine is coming and we’re ready to administer it. Part of the vaccination has to be the fairness of the vaccination process.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:55)
I believe during COVID many inequities were disclosed, healthcare disparities were disclosed. That’s why the death rate for blacks is twice what it is for whites. It’s why the death rate for Latinos is one and a half times what it is for whites. We have to learn from that and correct it when it comes to the vaccine. I don’t believe this HHS administration has provided for a fair distribution to black communities and brown communities and poor communities and rural communities and native American communities across the state. I think they’re basically leaving it to the private sector. They haven’t given the states any resources to do anything else. We sent a letter to Secretary Azar, who is the political head of HHS. 110 leaders signed on from the state saying that don’t continue the discrimination that we have seen through COVID where black, brown and poor communities were left behind with higher death rates, higher infection rates. COVID doesn’t discriminate, neither should the United States of America.

Andrew Cuomo: (36:17)
And we’re all anxious to do the vaccine. Let’s do the vaccine fairly. Let’s do it justly. And New York State is going to make sure that it makes that point loud and clear because we’re not going to allow this federal administration to proceed with a plan that leaves out certain communities and the communities that actually need the vaccine most will get it least. That would be the cruelest irony and an added injustice. I believe to leave out those communities is illegal, is unconstitutional and is discriminatory by effect, if not intent. And I believe this administration knows that. I believe the incoming administration of President Biden will correct it, but we don’t want this administration program to start discriminating against people. And we’re going to start sending out the vaccine. Let’s make sure we send that out fairly with the first vaccine. That’s our goal.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:25)
And we’re joined by some special guests today. It’s a pleasure to have them with us. We have Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries who needs no introduction in this day. Pleasure to be with Congress member Karen Bass. Good to see you Karen. That’s our West Coast champion. Congress member Grace Meng, pleasure to be with you. Who’s the chair of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. A great New Yorker. Congressman Castro, pleasure to be with you. He’s the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. And we have Congress member Deb Haaland from the great state of New Mexico. I was speaking with your governor yesterday. I was the co-chair of the Native American Caucus. Thank you all so much for being with us today. I know you’re all busy. I know we wish you all success on that package you’re working on. State and local, state and local, state and local. Not that we only have one agenda here, I want you to know. But thank you so much for bringing your attention to this issue and for pushing it forward in Washington, because we want to make sure we correct the injustice. And working together, we can do just that. Let me turn it over to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who’s been spearheading this effort and partnering with us. Congressman Jeffries, thank you so much for being here and thank you for helping assemble today.

Hakeem Jeffries: (38:59)
Well, good afternoon governor. First of all, thank you for your tremendous leadership here in New York State throughout this pandemic and of course in your capacity as the chair of the National Governors Association. All that you’ve done to address these important issues on the public health side and the economic side throughout the nation. It’s great to be joined by an all-star lineup of my colleagues in government and the House, really a congressional dream team. And they have done so much for the caucus, the Congress and the country. Only Andrew Cuomo could assemble such a great team outside of the halls of Congress. And so this is the critical issue for us, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought pain and suffering and death to the American people, disproportionately, communities of color, immigrant communities, low income communities, and throughout Indian country. That is [inaudible 00:40:01] in a country that promises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to everyone, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of region, regardless of zip code.

Hakeem Jeffries: (40:19)
And so we have to continue to press the case together to make sure that as the vaccines become available, that they are disseminated in an equitable, efficient, and effective fashion to everyone. But let the dissemination be driven by the data and the need. And we know that, that in fact is going to be in communities of color and [inaudible 00:40:48] and throughout Indian country. So I look forward to continuing the work with my colleagues to make sure that the resources are provided here in New York State and throughout the country to make sure that this can be done. It’s going to take about $8 billion to do it. The government under this administration has only provided state with about 200 million. That is barely a drop in the bucket, and we’re going to work on this issue together. So thank you to my colleagues and thank you, Governor Cuomo.

Andrew Cuomo: (41:23)
Thank you, Congressman. Thank you so much. Thank you for organizing your colleagues. I know they’re very busy. And you’re right. They are the dream team. I’ve never seen them on one screen together like that, and I’m glad to have them here in New York. Let’s go to Congresswoman Karen Bass who’s the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. And she is just a superstar for all of us and she’s fighting the good fight and she’s winning. So great to be with you. Pleasure. Thank you.

Karen Bass: (41:52)
Thank you so much, governor. And let me just join in and thank you for [inaudible 00:41:57] leadership. I certainly haven’t had a chance to speak to you, but the way you handled New York State and educated the entire nation at the beginning of the pandemic was just stellar leadership and we are all very grateful to you for that. As we all know, the way COVID has impacted communities of color has been devastating. One of the things that’s the most devastating is that we really don’t know all of the impact because this administration has [inaudible 00:42:27] data to disseminate the data. But we do know given the underlying health conditions that our community suffer from that we know we are dying in certain locations [inaudible 00:42:41] and once that is going to [inaudible 00:42:44] in addition, and before the dissemination of the vaccine is really massive public education to get people to understand the virus, because there has been so much [inaudible 00:42:56] people are comfortable taking the vaccine.

Karen Bass: (43:02)
And so I am behind you 100% and all of my colleagues that are here [inaudible 00:43:09] frankly until January 20th, until we actually have national leadership that understands that there needs to be a national centralized strategy, we are going to have to fend for ourselves. And one of the things in that strategy has to be focus concentrated in [inaudible 00:43:30] color. And so we need to do everything we can to make sure we have state and local funding, but to make sure that we have all of the money that is needed for vaccine distribution. And we need to think of our frontline workers as being first and foremost in that line. So thank you very much for [inaudible 00:43:48] ongoing leadership.

Andrew Cuomo: (43:51)
Thank you. Thank you so much, Congress member. Thank you. And keep up the good fight. We’re going to get there together. We have New York’s own Congress member Grace Meng, who is also the chair of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. So good to be with you, Grace. Thank you.

Grace Meng: (44:08)
Thank you, Governor Cuomo. It’s great to be here with you [inaudible 00:44:12] here in New York and across the country. Your efforts have been such a model for other states and I commend and thank you for all your tireless work to help Americans combat this pandemic. I think during this past year of uncertainty and lack of, sometimes, accurate information nationally, I can speak many of my colleagues and their constituents that your updates daily and weekly have provided a very important and reliable source of information and helping us to save lives. Thank you always to my good friend and our caucus chair, Hakeem Jeffries for his tremendous vision and steady leadership that you have provided during this pandemic and that you have brought to our caucus. So it’s always exciting to be here with this dream team. Chairman Karen Bass, one of my favorites in Congress, if I could say that. Chairman Joaquin Castro and our superstar, Deb Haaland. It’s always an honor to be with you and I appreciate all of you.

Grace Meng: (45:28)
As you may know, my congressional [inaudible 00:45:30] district is actually in Queens, New York. And we were, at one point a few months ago, one of the epicenters of this pandemic. Elmhurst hospital, which was one of the hardest hit hospitals in this country is in my district. And the facility was at the heart of his epicenter. [Inaudible 00:45:53] 19 has had on our communities of color and particularly Asian, black and Latino, Native Americans throughout this country has been really troubling. Asian-Americans were impacted early on, not just by the virus of the coronavirus, but by the virus of discrimination and hatred. And I stood with this exact group of leaders, nationally, as they stood shoulder to shoulder with the API community to condemn discrimination against Asian-Americans. The CDC says that Asian-Americans rate of hospitalization and deaths is almost one and a half times more than whites.

Grace Meng: (46:41)
And so we’ve seen that this pandemic exacerbated already existing vulnerabilities, inequities, disparities, particularly in access to healthcare and including language barriers, financial obstacles, et cetera. We must work together, as our governor said, to ensure that immigrant and minority communities have equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. That there is a fair, effective, and equitable distribution, that communities of color know when and how to get this vaccine. And there must be engagement and outreach with local grassroots groups, faith based organizations and nonprofits to assist with getting this information out. One of the things that I was concerned about, and I was proud to share with [inaudible 00:47:38] last week, and he really led the charge in working with the health and human services and the CDC director to ensure that private and personal information that identifies recipients of the vaccine would not be shared unnecessarily with other agencies in the federal government. I’m proud to announce, as you already know actually, that Governor Cuomo was successful at ensuring this resolve here in New York, but we must continue to work with the CDC and the health department to ensure that every other state achieves the same solution and protection. So finally, there must be adequate federal funding to implement this vaccine distribution. States cannot do this alone. The federal government must be there to support the [inaudible 00:48:30] efforts of states. I have continuously urged, with my colleagues, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell to pass much needed [inaudible 00:48:40] money like we in the House done repeatedly. We know that Governor Cuomo and his team are working nonstop to ensure access to the vaccine for every New Yorker or to knock down barriers that have allowed disparities to exist in the past. We commend him, stand with him and continue to be partners with him as we continue to save lives here in New York and throughout the country. Thank you, governor.

Andrew Cuomo: (49:07)
Thank you. Thank you very much Congress member. And thank you for all the help. You’re exactly right on the stopping the HHS policy which would have identified undocumented people before they got a vaccination. And I think would have been a real exclusion, frankly, of the undocumented community. And we raised that issue. And with the help of this dream team, HHS actually changed their position and the state can now do the vaccination over the undocumented community without identifying them. So that’s a big step forward. And I think they’re going to hear us on this issue also. Let me turn it over to Congress member Castro. Pleasure to be with you again, and the chair of the Hispanic Caucus. Thank you very much for joining us and thank you for your good work on all of these issues. Congress member.

Joaquin Castro: (50:01)
Well, governor hello and thank you to Hakeem and-

Joaquin Castro: (50:03)
Well, thank you, Governor Cuomo. Thank you to the team and to all of [inaudible 00:50:07]. My connection is a little choppy. I apologize if I’m breaking up a bit. But I want to say thank you for being here today, Governor. Thank you for effort. As my colleagues have said, particularly during the early days, [inaudible 00:50:20]. Not only to [inaudible 00:50:25] but [inaudible 00:50:31]. As has been said, we need to make sure that [inaudible 00:50:38] we have a full and affective plan for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, [inaudible 00:50:41] especially for the most vulnerable Americans [inaudible 00:00:50].

Joaquin Castro: (50:50)
I think it’s safe to say that every American community has been impacted in some way by COVID-19. In some communities, they have actually been devastated. That includes the Latino community in this state. When this pandemic started, it was clear that Latinos were more likely to not be able to work from home. They comprised a great share of the essential workers. They have been especially hit hard by COVID-19 by a higher rate of infection, higher hospitalization, and higher frequency of death. [inaudible 00:51:31] At the same time, we know that, when it comes to things like [inaudible 00:51:36] policies, getting information out to the communities, [inaudible 00:51:42]. It’s going to be imperative on all of us, the federal government and state government, to make sure we do everything possible and spend the money to get that vaccine to all of our communities. As we think about our [inaudible 00:52:02], making sure we’re getting it, again, not only to frontline healthcare workers, but also the [inaudible 00:52:08] essential workers, like teachers and a grocery store worker, meat packing [inaudible 00:00:52:15]. These folks who literally were endangering [inaudible 00:52:23] and some of them endangering their lives to make sure that our country was [inaudible 00:02:28]. So thanks for bringing us together today and for the [inaudible 00:02:35].

Andrew Cuomo: (52:35)
Thank you. Thank you, Congress member. Thank you for your leadership. Don’t worry about the presentation being a little choppy. I’m always a little choppy. It has nothing to do with the technology. It’s my presentation. Thank you very much. Let’s go to Representative Haaland. it’s a pleasure to be with you, co-chair the Native American Caucus. I was former HUD secretary and as Congressman Castro knows from his family, I spent a lot of time working with the Native American community. Their needs a desperate, and they’d been made more desperate from COVID. Thank you very much for being with us.

Rep. Haaland: (53:17)
Thank you so much, Governor Cuomo. Thank you [inaudible 00:53:22] for your tremendous leadership and for your ally ship. It’s always a pleasure to stand in solidarity with our Chairman, Hakeem Jeffries and with the Tri Caucus leaders, fighting for equity for our communities of color.

Rep. Haaland: (53:38)
Here’s the simple truth: the Federal Government has failed to honor its promises to Native Americans for generations. There are places in Indian country where there isn’t running water. How can we expect folks to follow hand washing guidance without water? There’s not broadband internet to ensure access to telehealth and for kids doing their homework virtually. In some places, there’s no electricity.

Rep. Haaland: (54:07)
Over the course of this pandemic, history repeats itself and the spotlight has been put on the disparities that have existed for far too long. The virus has ravaged our communities and the Trump administration has once again failed to provide the resources needed to protect the health of Indian country.

Rep. Haaland: (54:27)
For example, the Navajo nation had infection rates higher than any state. In New Mexico, Native Americans are 11% of the population, but have been up to over half the state’s COVID-19 cases. Like my colleagues have discussed here today, American Indians and Alaskan Natives suffer disproportionately from health conditions that exacerbate COVID-19.

Rep. Haaland: (54:54)
The Federal response to COVID-19 in Indian country is unacceptable. Far too many people have died and the White House has gone out of its way to fight against providing direct aid to Native nations. Now vaccines are here, but again, a comprehensive plan that will serve all people is missing. We have the opportunity to correct a history [inaudible 00:55:16] the federal government toward Native Americans. Tribes need robust information and educational [inaudible 00:55:21] to increase confidence, resources to make up for gaps that existed for generations and the flexibility to develop their own district plans. Thank you again, Governor, for having me and having us. I’m very proud to be here today.

Andrew Cuomo: (55:39)
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. All of you, and look, I believe that we will get changes to this vaccination program. I think it’s important that we articulate it and we design it. If the Trump administration doesn’t make the changes necessary, I believe that it is illegal. We’ll pursue that course because we don’t want to get off to a bad start. It shouldn’t be that newly elected President Joe Biden is going to have to correct a mistake so early. So we’ll do it right and then we’ll focus on the disparities that we learned through this COVID situation and the healthcare deserts and all the inequities that existed in the first place that manifested through COVID. The agenda will be to make sure not only COVID never happens again, but we answer those inequalities once and for all.

Andrew Cuomo: (56:32)
God bless you. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Congressman Jeffries, thank you so much for organizing today. To all of you on a personal level. I miss you. I can’t wait until we’re together again in person. God bless you for the fight you’re fighting. Keep going.

Andrew Cuomo: (56:55)
Okay. That was a packed presentation. Operator, we’ll take questions.

Operator: (57:04)
Thank you, governor. If you’d like to ask a question, please use the raise hand function at the bottom of your window. We’ll take a moment to compile the Q&A roster.

Andrew Cuomo: (57:26)
Okay? No questions. Let’s go to lunch.

Operator: (57:27)
Governor, you now have Kate Lisa from Johnson Newspapers. Kate, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Cuomo: (57:54)
Operator? Operator?

Operator: (58:03)
We are experiencing technical difficulties. Just stand by one moment.

Andrew Cuomo: (58:14)
The technology was bad on whose side? Yeah, it’s great when it works.

Operator: (58:32)
We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Kate Lisa: (59:14)

Andrew Cuomo: (59:16)

Kate Lisa: (59:18)
Hi Governor. Can you hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (59:22)
I can hear you. We’re having some technical difficulties. But yes, I can hear you.

Kate Lisa: (59:28)
Okay, great. My question, if you can still hear me, is about when you’ve discussed that we’re not in a second or a third wave of the virus, how that would be caused by a mutation. What I would like to know is what are you hearing about a mutation? The possibility of that, and especially as we are looking to the vaccine, which would be, I guess, would be for this version of the disease. How is the state preparing for that worst-case scenario and what would a mutation mean?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:07)
Yeah, it’s a good question. I’m going to ask Dr. Zucker for some backup. But on your first point, you’re exactly right. We early on spoke about a second wave. The second wave at that time referenced a mutated virus that came back after the first wave. That was the 1918 flu pandemic. There was one virus, it then mutated and it came back. That’s what they meant by second wave. The language has gotten a little sloppy here. This is not really a second wave. It’s still the first wave. It’s the first virus. We just haven’t defeated the first virus. We haven’t starved the first virus. It’s a continuing surge of the first virus getting worse with the holiday season. Dr. Fauci would say surge on surge, holiday season plus winter plus COVID fatigue.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:09)
As far as the vaccine, the vaccine is for this specific virus. Your question is what if you vaccinated against this virus and then the virus changes? We take a flu vaccine every year and it’s a different vaccine every year because the virus changes somewhat every year for the seasonal flu. My guess, and I’ll ask Dr. Zucker, if the virus changed, they would develop a new vaccine for the mutation in the virus. But I don’t know the likelihood or what that timing sequence would be. Doctor?

Dr. Zucker: (01:01:47)
Sure. Thank you for the question. We’ve been in touch with the WHO on a regular basis. They are tracking whether virus is mutating anywhere in the world. The virus has always a little bit of a mutation. That’s very common with viruses, but we have not seen that anywhere, whether here in the United States or anywhere globally, for that matter. If the virus were to significantly mutate, then you would have to address that regarding the vaccine. But at this point in time, that’s not what they’re seeing.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:17)
Thank you. Operator, next question?

Operator: (01:02:21)
Governor, you now have Andrew Siff from NBC New York. Andrew, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Siff: (01:02:29)
Good afternoon, Governor. Hope you can hear me.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:31)
I can hear you, Andrew. Good to be with you.

Andrew Siff: (01:02:35)
You too. With regard to your decision to close indoor dining in New York City, we’ve heard from the Hospitality Alliance and from small business owners here that this decision will knock many of them out of business for good. Is there any state bail out or anything you can do to prevent the loss of many of these restaurants?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:59)
Yeah, Andrew. Let’s first on the decision, you have the coincidence of two facts. You have the CDC, which issued warnings on indoor dining last week. Then you have the particular situation of New York City, which is one of the dense locations in this country with crowding. And you have an increase in the RT rate, the rate of transmission, which to me has always been one of the seminal factors in this whole conversation. You can talk about positivity rate. You can talk about hospital capacity, but that RT rate, that is the bottom line. That’s how fast the virus is spreading. The RT rate going up in a dense environment is really a compounding problem.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:56)
Now New York City is already only at 25% of indoor dining. They’re going from 25% indoor dining to zero. We have compensated in many ways, especially in New York City, where outdoor dining is not only allowed, but it’s also been very aggressively expanded. Even though the weather is colder, the restaurants have really adapted and New Yorkers have adapted to doing outside dining. The takeout is an entirely different business line.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:32)
So yes, there’ll be an economic hardship for the 25% to zero. But we have compensated in other ways. This is a situation that has affected every business community, not just restaurants, every business community and every family. We’re all doing what we can. I said I believe the federal government should include subsidies for bars and restaurants in their relief package. Today, we will extend the commercial eviction moratorium, so a landlord can’t evict a commercial enterprise because they haven’t paid the rent.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:18)
We’re asking everyone to hold on. The end is in sight, but we still have to get there. If we are in a situation in this state to provide business relief and we have any funds and resources that would allow us to do that, I would be 100% supportive of it and I’ve advocated for it. We have to find out from the state point of view-

Andrew Siff: (01:05:44)
Good answer.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:44)
What situation we’re in after the Federal government decides the package of statewide relief that they’re doing, state and local.

Operator: (01:06:01)
Governor, you now have Michael Gormley from Newsday. Michael, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Michael Gormley: (01:06:10)
Hello Governor.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:11)
Hey Michael.

Michael Gormley: (01:06:13)
Have you … good, thanks. Are you getting businesses or whole fields of businesses trying to jockey or influence who … to become among the first to get the vaccine? If you are, how are you going to deal with that? Then just a secondary question, have you made a decision on winter sports yet?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:37)
I don’t think … we’re not talking about a distribution that would actually do businesses that I’m aware of. Right? We have nursing home residents, nursing home staff, health care workers in the most urgent capacity, then other healthcare workers, then essential workers, then general public. I don’t know that there’s a category for businesses per se. Larry or Robert would know better.

Robert: (01:07:03)
As you pointed out, it’s based on … it’s by population and by high-risk population, but it’s unrelated to that. Unless there is a high risk activity where the workers happen to be [inaudible 01:07:15] in a high risk activity, like we talked about.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:17)
Okay. Robert, anything new on winter sports, Michael asked?

Robert: (01:07:22)
On the sports? No, there’s nothing new on the sports guidance. I mean, as the numbers continue to increase all across the state, those high risk sports activities remain on hold until we see a change and you see a decline and that’s not happening. So no.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:37)
But Michael, if you look at that chart, you see sports. Can we go back to sports? You see sports way up towards the top on areas of spread. That’s 1.04 is that cluster of sports. Restaurants/bars is 1.4., Sports is 1.04. Sports is higher than religious activities, gyms, any of it. Look at that.

Michael Gormley: (01:08:14)
I’m sorry. We couldn’t quite hear Rob’s answer over the microphone. Can you just say what that decision was on sports?

Robert: (01:08:23)
I mean, as the Governor pointed out, if we look at the clusters, there are increasing clusters related to sports activities, which puts them in the high fifth of categories for infection, actually in the top 10%. That’s where they are. There’s no change right now in allowing the high-risk sports activities to begin. We don’t expect that to happen until you start to see the rates going down. What we’re seeing is actually them going up.

Michael Gormley: (01:08:57)
Thank you.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:59)
Thanks Michael.

Operator: (01:09:03)
Governor, you now have Zach Williams from City and State. Zach, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Zach Williams: (01:09:11)
Hello, Governor. Thank you for taking my question.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:09:13)
Good to be with you, Zach.

Zach Williams: (01:09:16)
You’ve given a lot of details about your thinking of why nursing home residents and staff should go first with this 140,000 doses that are coming this week. I was just talking to an ambulance driver from Rotterdam earlier today. He wanted to know why ambulance workers, specifically, were not included in this first delivery. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:09:38)
Well, we basically followed the federal guidance, which basically recommended the same thing in their advisory panel. But nursing home residents and nursing home workers, I think almost all across the country were designated as the first priority. Right? If you look at where the virus has spread, where the deaths have spread all the arrows point to nursing homes, first and foremost. Then it goes to healthcare workers and essential workers. The ambulance …let me go to Rob.

Robert: (01:10:16)
[inaudible 01:10:16] workers across the state are actually in the very front of who gets the vaccine. You have hospital workers, high risk hospital workers, and then you have EMS workers. They are actually in the first 500,000 of doses, which we already have. We already have between Moderna and Pfizer, approximately 500,000. The EMS workers across the state will all be in that first 500.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:10:48)
Can we just … Zach mentioned the number 140. Let’s get the numbers right. 170,000 from Pfizer and the Moderna shipment from starting December 21st is 360?

Robert: (01:11:03)

Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:05)
346. Okay. That’s it. We’re roughly over 500,000 doses. That’s the distribution you just … how far down the list will the 500,000 doses get us. Do you know?

Speaker 1: (01:11:23)
Yeah. It’s hospital, high risk hospital workers, EMS, as Robert pointed out. Going into long-term nursing home residents, nursing home staff, the federally qualified health centers are on the list. OPWDD residents and their staff, OMH residents, and their staff, medical examiners who are healthcare workers and some Oasis Staff will also flow into the healthcare worker definition.

Robert: (01:12:01)
Governor, if you’re looking at the total, there’s about 1.5 million in the first tranche, which is all healthcare workers, all congregate care settings, all emergency services workers. It’s about 1.5 million, which is the first 1A category. If you look at it, the 500,000, gets us through a third of that entire section. By the time they start, which is on the 21st, when we start receiving the nursing homes, we expect to get more vaccine. Those will start to get … we’ll get through that first 1.5 million.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:12:35)
Great. Operator, next question?

Operator: (01:12:40)
Governor, you now have Terry Weaver from the Syracuse Post Standard. Terry, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:12:50)
Hello, Terry.

Operator: (01:12:56)
Terry, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Terry Weaver : (01:13:03)
Hi Governor. Can you hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:04)
Yes, I can. How are you Terry? Good to hear your voice.

Rep. Haaland: (01:13:07)
I’m well, thank you. Thank you. I was hoping you could explain what’s going to happen on Monday as the State’s Electoral College meets and I guess are required to meet in person. Is there any last minute remedy that you might seek from a court to avoid that? If not, how is that going to proceed?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:29)
You raise a good question. I’ve asked the same question. I didn’t get an answer. We’ll ask Melissa for the answer. Now, the conundrum was this: apparently the law specifically says meet in person at the State Capitol. There’s been so much litigation, Terry, about the election. We don’t want to test the law, if you will. You could say as a matter of common sense, “Well, the law says in person at the Capitol, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic and everything is now virtual. Why don’t we have a virtual meeting?” That would be common sense.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:14:09)
I don’t want to create any issue for litigation where somebody tries to invalidate the New York election because of this specificity about the in-person in the State Capitol. Our plan is to do it in person. We plan to use the assembly chamber. There are about 30 people in the room. The assembly chamber is the much larger chamber, as you know. 30 people in the assembly chamber, there’d be a lot of social distancing space, all the PPE and do it as quickly as possible. But I don’t know that there is a legal way around it. But let me ask Melissa, if she knows anything more up to date.

Grace Meng: (01:14:53)
No, the governor is exactly right. We’ve looked into it and it’s something that we don’t feel comfortable taking a chance on given the stakes and given the high risk of litigation that we’ve seen from President Trump’s team. We don’t want to do anything to under-

Grace Meng: (01:15:03)
… the risk of litigation that we’ve seen from President Trump’s team. We don’t want to do anything to undermine the results. As the Governor said, we’re doing it in the Assembly Chamber, traditionally do it in the Senate Chamber. The Assembly Chamber holds 1,045 people. That’s their occupancy. There are 29 electors, so it’s 29 people for a 1,045 person occupancy room. We’re going to test everybody before they get into the room. People are going to be more than socially distanced, and we’re going to truncate the program to get everybody in and out with the constitutionally mandated responsibilities achieved in under 30 minutes.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:36)

Operator: (01:15:38)
Governor, your next question comes from Dan Clark from New York Now. Dan, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Dan Clark: (01:15:46)
Governor, how are you? Can you hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:48)
Yes, sir. Dan, how are you?

Dan Clark: (01:15:50)
I’m doing well, thanks. I just wanted to get some clarity on the contact tracing data that you presented. So there are 46,000 data points-

Andrew Cuomo: (01:16:00)
[crosstalk 01:16:00].

Dan Clark: (01:16:00)
… but we know that more than 100,000 cases were diagnosed from September through November, so the remaining cases that were part of that sample, have we identified them as more community spread, or I guess, why weren’t they included in this sample that you presented today?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:16:18)
Yeah. I don’t think they identified a source. Some people just don’t identify any source at all. When you ask them, “Where do you think you got it from?” They have no idea. I’m assuming that. Rob, do you know, is that-

Robert: (01:16:35)
Yeah. That’s correct. We look at all of the cases that occurred between September and November 30. There are some that are still in the interview process, or they have not been able to reach for contact tracing purposes, and then there are others where they do not know the source of their infection, or they know the source, but they did not communicate that to the contact tracers. So this information specifically is where we know the contact tracers have identified the source, they know what the source is, and it’s traced back to all of the sectors in that chart that the Governor presented.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:11)
But Dan, you have to remember, 46,000 data points is a large sample of data points, right? So it’s because we test so much, we then do so much contact tracing. It really is a very … I don’t know that any state has that large a data bank that they can turn to. And can I ask you a question, Dan? Are you still there? Dan’s gone. I think it’s a happy-

Dan Clark: (01:17:46)
No, I’m here. They muted me. I’m sorry.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:48)
Dan, why are you working today? I thought they would have given you off for your birthday.

Dan Clark: (01:17:55)
Oh my goodness. Well, I love to work, as you know, so I decided this is what I wanted to do today.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:02)
Happy Birthday. 21 again.

Dan Clark: (01:18:04)
Thank you. Yeah, exactly.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:07)
Happy Birthday, Dan.

Dan Clark: (01:18:09)
Thank you.

Operator: (01:18:12)
Governor, you now have Luis Ferre-Sadurni from The New York Times. Luis, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Luis Ferre-Sadurni: (01:18:21)
Hi, Governor. Can you hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:22)
Hey, Luis. How are you?

Luis Ferre-Sadurni: (01:18:24)
Good. Thank you. So the contact tracing data released today is very interesting. I’m wondering, how can the state be absolutely sure where an infection rate is coming from? If a person went to a gym, a restaurant, and an indoor gathering, it seems difficult to determine the infection came from one setting, but not the other, and I think people are wondering if bars and restaurants account for 1.43% of cases, why shut down indoor dining?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:55)
Well, the 1.4 … Well, I’ll ask Rob about how a person in an interview, if a person identifies multiple sources, you can’t really identify multiple sources in a way that’s helpful. That’s why not every interview winds up in a data form that you can use, right? A person has to be able to say with some certainty, and you’re right, it’s all from them, so it’s only as good as their recollection and belief. But it’s their identification of where they believe they got it from. It can be supplemented with other data that the contact tracers have. In other words, sometimes they find the infected person, right? They get someone from a gym who’s infected. They then go through the list of people who were in that gym, they call you up, and they say, “We heard you were in the Acme Gym. There was infected people at the Acme Gym. We want you to take a test.” You then take a test. Now you know it’s from the Acme Gym.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:20:15)
But on that point, Larry, Howard, Jim, anyone have any additional points?

Robert: (01:20:21)
Yeah. No, the Governor is absolutely right. The data of the 46,000 were cases where the person was asked, “Were you exposed to someone who was COVID positive? Where did that exposure happen?” So we know with the certainty of what that person is saying, based on the interview questions, that that is where the infection occurred. As the Governor also mentioned, there’s also extrapolations that are done as to, “This is where the person works.” Then they do the contact tracing. That part is not included in this data, because they’re still actually going through that. That’s the detective work that the contract tracers are going through. These cases are we know for sure, specifically the person knows they were exposed to somebody, they tell you where that exposure happened, the contact tracers follow up, so we know with more certainty on these 46,000.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:21:13)
And then always on your other point, you do what you can, right? So look at the top of the list. Your first point is right. Focus on the household social gatherings spread. We are, and we’re doing everything we can. It’s limited what we can do. Most states now have a 10-person rule for social gatherings. Some states have an eight-person rule for social gatherings. The CDC’s guidance is even less. It’s only your immediate household. And every time I speak, I speak about that. Healthcare delivery, that is within the healthcare system itself. And that is they are doing everything they can to keep hospitals safe, et cetera, and DOH is working with them. Higher education. I don’t know what else there is to do there. We have Chancellor Malatras who’s with us, who’s taken extraordinary efforts. You have a lot of private colleges that are basically closed now. Education employees, those are people who work primarily in higher education, and then you’re at restaurants and bars.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:22:29)
So restaurant and bars, again, are the CDC recommendation. And restaurant and bars inside, indoors, 25% to zero, is one of the few areas that we think we can actually make a difference. Travel, vacation, we have the quarantine in place. We have the National Guard in airports. Sports, we’re not opening up any additional what we call high risk sports. You’re then to the public sector, police, fire, EMS. I wish I had a dollar for every time I said police should be wearing masks, but this is basically people who are doing their job. EMS workers, we have National Guard, people who are working on the COVID Task Force. You have fire department people. These are essential workers who are out there doing their job. You then get the transit, public, private, we disinfected buses and trains. So it’s like, do everything that you can do to slow the spread.

Luis Ferre-Sadurni: (01:23:46)
And if I could follow up, is there a timeframe for when and how indoor dining will be allowed to resume in New York City?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:23:55)
Yeah. Jim, do you remember the dozen-

Chancellor Jim Malatras: (01:23:58)
We’re going to be looking at cases and hospitalizations over at least a two-week period of time to start to see what the general trends are.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:24:07)
But always remember, it’s 25% of the indoor dining goes to zero. I understand that. And I understand the hardship. Remember the addition of the outdoor dining that did not exist before, and you have all sorts of accommodations now that restaurants have done, and the city has been a willing partner in building these outdoor capacities. There’s a takeout business that didn’t exist before. So I understand the economic hardship, and look, I suffer every lost dollar with these businesses, right? They have a deficit. Yeah. I understand that. And we have a deficit, and we’re living with the economic consequences also.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:24:57)
So it’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate. Literally every dollar a business loses, we lose a percentage of that dollar. So our calibration is as much economic activity as you can in respecting the public health and the risk. And then the reason this guide is so helpful, I think, is then when you’re doing the calibration of economic activity, factor in the risk level of the economic activity, and you look at restaurants and bars, you know that we’re doing everything that we can on every source that is a greater numerical source than restaurant and bars, right? We basically closed higher education. So we’re on the theory of do everything that you can do within reason. And I think 25% to zero in New York City, with that density, with that crowding, with that RT rate, that transmission rate, I think that’s reasonable. And it’s not forever, Luis. You know, we have to get through this period, right? And the faster we get through this period, the faster all businesses can open again.

Grace Meng: (01:26:28)
And I think also, Governor, one of the things that the CDC did on Friday in their revised guidance was they said specifically, “Oeople should be avoiding any situation where you’re indoors and cannot be wearing a mask.” So what they advise is if you’re indoors, you should be wearing a mask unless you’re in your own home. And the thing about indoor dining, or indoor drinking, frankly, is that by definition of what the activity is, you cannot be wearing a mask. You’re sitting at a table for a prolonged period of time with a group of people in a closed air place, along with other patrons, and you, by virtue of what you’re doing, have to take your mask off. And so that was why the CDC raised the alarm specifically as it relates to indoor dining.

Grace Meng: (01:27:08)
And then to the Governor’s point, when you add in the RT factor, plus the crowding and the density of New York City, people talk about San Francisco, they have a population of over 800,000. NYCHA has a population of between 400,000 and 600,000, depending on the year. So when you put that into perspective, when we’re considering all of those factors, that’s why the indoor dining made sense.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:27:28)
Yeah. And Luis, think of this. On the balance, right? CDC is the Trump Administration, which if anything has been very conservative in business restrictions. So even the CDC says no indoor without masks and indoor dining, because by definition, you can’t eat and wear a mask and you can’t drink and wear a mask. Well, by definition, you could probably drink and wear a mask. I shouldn’t say that, but it would be hard. Next question, operator?

Operator: (01:28:08)
Governor, you now have Heather Ly from WGRZ. Heather, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Heather Ly: (01:28:16)
Hi, Governor. Good afternoon. Thanks for taking our question.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:28:20)
Thank you, Heather.

Heather Ly: (01:28:23)
In regards to the COVID vaccine and how quickly it’s going to be coming to New York and also Western New York. Can you provide any details as to a distribution plan? What medical systems might get it here in Western New York? How many doses? Things of that nature.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:28:39)
Yes. The way the vaccine is distributed is we have the priority list of who should receive the vaccine. It’s then allocated by the state. Federal government delivers pursuant to a state plan. The state allocation is by percentage of population in that priority traunch. So healthcare workers, Western New York has … Let’s pick a number. 7% of the healthcare workers in the state. They get 7% of the allocation, whatever that actual percentage is. We did it on a numerical basis. Let me just check that with Rob and Larry and Dr. Zirk. Is that right?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:29:29)
So we know the Western New York … What did we say? Well, we put out the numbers yesterday, I believe, no, Wednesday, for the allocation of Pfizer’s 170,000. We put those numbers out on Wednesday, I believe by region. We now have additional Moderna vaccine, but I believe we did that allocation Wednesday. Was that Wednesday, Western New York, where we did the map?

Speaker 2: (01:30:00)
For the Pfizer?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:30:01)
For the Pfizer vaccine.

Speaker 2: (01:30:04)
Yeah. That was just the Pfizer.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:30:05)
Yeah. There it is. Ask and you shall receive. This was Wednesday on the Pfizer vaccine. 14,500 for Western New York. Let’s take one more, operator.

Operator: (01:30:22)
Your final question comes from Pete Haskell at WCBS. Pete, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Pete Haskell: (01:30:31)
Hey, Governor. Can you hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:30:33)
Not only can I hear you, but I can picture you taking down your mask, Pete, to ask the question.

Pete Haskell: (01:30:39)
Yes, indeed. That’s just what I’ve done. Thank you. Not to belabor the point on indoor dining, but you’ve got a very low percentage. The restaurants argue they have the ability with air purifiers and all these things to keep safe. Do you not drive the number higher when it comes to household spread now? And secondarily, can you say, “Well, they might set up outside,” but it’s winter now and it’s not as if it’s September, October.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:31:13)
No, Pete. I get it 100%. Look, there’s no perfect answer on any of this. And I understand everyone argues everything both ways. So you look at the areas that are generating cases, and you do what you can within reason in those areas that are generating cases. You’re at 25, and you’re in New York City. New York City is different. A high transmission rate in a dense environment is different. And we lived through this in the spring and we saw the virus take off in New York City. Now, it had already been there, and we didn’t know, and really the federal government fell down on its responsibility to monitor the virus. But in mass gatherings, in places of concentration of people, it moves faster.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:32:18)
25%. You can eat and drink and keep your mask up. The CDC put out that guidance, which is clear. Nobody accused the Trump Administration of being overly aggressive on shutdowns, right? If anything, they say the Trump Administration has been too slow on economic restrictions. So you put the CDC guidance, plus the density of New York City, plus the increase in the hospitalization rate in New York City, plus the increase in the RT rate at 1.3, and that says be cautious, and do what you can, and the 25% back to zero, yes, it’s a reduction of 25%, and yes, fewer people want to do outdoor dining. I understand that, but I also understand the restaurants have made remarkable adjustments, and the heat lamps they have, et cetera, are working, and they have partial enclosures that are working. And hopefully it’s for a short period of time.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:33:29)
I understand they’re going to sustain economic damage, and I think the federal government should reimburse them for it. If the state is in a position to reimburse them forward, we will. We’re stopping evictions in the meantime, so they can’t be evicted during this period. But it’s in everyone’s interest, Pete, to get the virus under control. Don’t overwhelm the hospitals. Don’t overwhelm the positivity rate, and let’s get through this without having to get to shut down, right?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:34:04)
Here’s the alternative, right? Life is options. If we don’t slow the spread and we overwhelm the hospital system, we get to a red zone. Which if you look at this line, you can factor this line out to 90% hospital capacity and close down. Then every restaurant goes to zero. Indoor, outdoor, zero. That’s the worst case scenario. And if we don’t do something, we could wind up at that worst case scenario. And if you say to the restaurant, “Well, you want to go from 25% indoor to zero, keep takeout, keep outdoor dining. We’re running the risk of total shutdown.” That balance, we’re not living in a perfect world here. It’s not, “Do nothing and life continues fine.” It’s, “Do nothing and we may be go back to close down.” And that hurts every business.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35:24)
Anything else on that point, guys? Any points that I stated weren’t exactly clear or misleading?

Grace Meng: (01:35:33)
On the 346,000 for the Moderna, that’s people. I saw that there were some questions about that on Twitter. That’s people. It’s not individual shots.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35:41)
That’s 346,000 individual doses.

Grace Meng: (01:35:46)
That we’ll get two times.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35:46)
That we’ll get twice.

Grace Meng: (01:35:48)

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35:49)
So it’s 346,000 people and 170,000 people.

Grace Meng: (01:35:52)

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35:53)
Okay. Thank you all very much.

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