Dec 2, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 2
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on December 2 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Howard Zucker to my left, we have Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, and we have Robert Mujica, budget director. Today is day 277. Believe it or not. Four important questions that are on everyone’s mind, I get asked all the time. Where are we in terms of COVID now? Where are we going in terms of COVID? And when is COVID going to be over? Talk about vaccinations, sounds like the end is eminent. Fourth question is, what do I get my spouse or significant other for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, other holidays? I have no good advice on the fourth question. Gratuitous advice is, get something that is easily returnable, so if it doesn’t work, they return it, no harm done.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04)
A little more gratuitous advice, a birthday coming up. One of my daughters called me this morning, said, “What do you want for your birthday?” I said, “That’s up to you, but not a sweater or a tie.” Which I consider default gifts. They’re default gifts. A person can’t figure out what to get you, what do they get you? A sweater or a tie. No sweaters or ties. Holiday season is 37 days. We talked about Thanksgiving. It’s not about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the commencement of a holiday season. It goes from Thanksgiving, to post-Thanksgiving, to Black Friday, to commencement of holiday parties, to commencement of holiday travel, commencement of holiday celebrations. That is 37 days up to New Year’s Day. I see that as one period of time that is a period of increased social activity. Increased social activity will increase the infection rate. My opinion, personal opinion, is that you’re going to see the increase continue all through the holidays. You’ll see it continue through January second, and then the lag for the testing hospitalization, which takes you to about mid-January. Question is, how fast do the cases increase? Nobody can tell you because it depends on what people do. It is up to us. There is no predetermined fate. It is a pure function of what New Yorkers do. It’s a pure function of social action.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:59)
What can government do during this period? We can warn people, we can educate people, we can enforce restrictions, we can do testing and tracing. What is the biggest fear? The biggest fear is overwhelming the hospitals. Period. That’s where we are, and that is a serious, serious concern.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:22)
We announced the five point plan the other day. I’m sure you all recorded it to memory, but for those of you who were out sick, first was managing the hospital system, managing the load of the hospital system. We know the capacity of hospitals, 54,000 statewide. We know it by region. Manage that load. Increase in balance the testing. There’s a lot of demands on testing. You have to test nursing homes. You have to test essential workers. You have to test business professionals who have licenses, who have to be tested as part of their work. You want to be fair in balancing that testing. Keep schools open, K to eight.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:10)
Positivity rate in schools is amazingly low and shows that the schools are much safer environments in the surrounding communities, both for the teachers and for the students. Small gatherings are now the number one cause for spread, and that’s new and that is different, and the public has to understand that. Fifth, get ready for the vaccine distribution. We hope for flattening of the increase mid-January. We hope that the increase in social activity is through the holidays. After January second, people settle down, the social activity slows down, the travel slows down, and the increase in the rate slows down.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:05)
Then what happens after January second? We then turn to how effective is the vaccination program going to be? Because the vaccination program is really the end game here. Right? And there are big questions on that. How fast is the vaccination program going to affect? How fair is the vaccination program? How inclusive is it? How many people partake in the vaccination, and how much does the Federal Government provide for state to actually do the vaccine, and the percent of participation? You have a very high skepticism rate about this vaccine specifically. You have a high skepticism rate about vaccines in general. Remember what we went through with the measles vaccine, where you had a lot of parents who just did not want their children vaccinated for measles. There’s a whole anti-vax movement of people who are skeptical about vaccines. On top of that, you have added skepticism about this vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:24)
How long is the plateau? How long is the drop on the other side? Depends on the vaccine production and delivery schedule and the effectiveness of it. When do you get back to the normal economy? Experts will say you need 75 to 85% of the population vaccinated. That is a tremendously high percentage on every level, administration of it and acceptance of it. There is a range of when the experts will say you can get to that point. Some say as soon as June, some say not until September. Again, nobody knows because there are too many variables. It may also vary state to state depending on how well that state does and depending on the receptivity of that state’s population.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:37)
On the vaccines, we’ve spoken to the FDA. Dr. Hahn, who’s the commissioner of the FDA. We have a New York Panel. The New York Panel will review the FDA’s approval. Why? Because we know we have existing skepticism about the vaccine. Our panel did not create the skepticism, the skepticism existed. That’s why we created the review panel. Kaiser Poll says 60% of Americans are skeptical about the vaccine approval process. Kaiser is not a political organization. Pew Poll says about 50% of Americans are skeptical about the vaccine. That is very, very troubling, because if people think the vaccine approval process was politicized, they’re going to be less likely to take the vaccine. You saw the numbers we need to participate. You need 75, 80%. If you start with a public where 50% are skeptical about the vaccine, that’s a major problem.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:57)
To combat that problem, about seven states said, “I understand you’re cynical and skeptical about this administration’s approval process. We’ll set up a New York Panel, California Panel, to review the approval to help build confidence and to counter that existing cynicism.” Right? It’s not that the states’ panels created the cynicism. The cynicism created the states’ panels. The FDA and this administration created the cynicism. What happened on hydroxy chloroquine created the cynicism. The overt political influence that this administration has shown repeatedly that has been imposed on public health officials created the cynicism. It is real and it exists, and every poll has said the same thing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:12)
We’ve also spoken to CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield. We communicated to him and I believe he understands, this has to be an inclusive process. The black, brown, and poor community has paid the highest price for COVID. Why? Because it exposed an inherent discrimination in our healthcare system. They live in communities with less access to healthcare. They had a higher level of pre-existing conditions. Blacks died at twice the rate of whites. Browns died at one and a half times the rate of whites. COVID testing was at a lower level in the black, brown, and poor community.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:04)
I’m not going to enhance and aggravate the discrimination that has already been made manifested by now excluding them or discriminating against them in the vaccination process. New York State will not do that. I believe it’s unconstitutional, I believe it’s illegal. I believe the vaccine should be made available to everyone, regardless of race, income, religion, et cetera, and we know that the black, brown, and poor community has already paid a disproportionate price for this COVID virus, and we know the black, brown, and poor community made up a majority of the essential workers who we relied on to do the most important work for us all through this. We also know that if you don’t have the full participation of the black, brown, and poor communities, you’re never going to hit the goal of 75 to 85%. That means the vaccination process will fail for all New Yorkers and all Americans. We also know that you can’t dissuade the undocumented population from participating.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:34)
Federal guidance has states signing something called a data-sharing agreement. Federal Government suggests we identify recipients by using social security number, passport number, or driver’s license ID number. Those are also proxies to determine citizenship. The federal agreement then says they can share that information with other federal agencies. That triggers ICE and Homeland Security. We have lived this fight in New York with the Trusted Traveler Program and the driver’s license program, where we know they were trying to get our list to have ICE use it for enforcement actions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:29)
The third variable is going to be the vaccine funding. I’m working with the National Governors Association. The Federal Government is not providing any funding to speak of for the states to do the vaccinations. Who’s supposed to pay for this? How am I supposed to do the distribution? We have a deficit from COVID. You have local governments who are starving and may lay off essential workers. Those are the essential workers you need to do the vaccine program. This vaccine administration could cost the state a billion dollars. The Federal Government has not provided funding to states anywhere near the amount.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:11)
I’ve also been speaking to congressional leaders across the board, Senate leaders, across the board. If they do a package, there has to be funding to administer the vaccines. It’s not enough to say, “We’ll deliver them to your state.” That’s very nice. FedEx can deliver them to the state. How do we then distribute it? How do we do the outreach? How do we do the public education? How do we convince 85% of the people to take the vaccine? How do we get into public housing? How do we get into black and brown communities? Who’s going to do this and who’s going to pay for it?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:51)
Yesterday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on immunization practices issued formal prioritization recommendations. They recommended frontline healthcare workers and elderly people living in longterm care facilities. That recommendation coincides with the priorities that we had established already, so the CDC’s recommendation reinforces the priorities we established. The first vaccine delivery to New York will be 170,000. The Federal Government distributes the vaccine by percentage of population of that state. So states population divided by available dosages is what the state gets. There’s no discretion in how much the state gets. It’s purely a percent of population, which is what they say at least. We expect, if all safety and efficacy approvals are granted, those doses will arrive on December 15th.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:04)
By the end of December, the administration suggests that there’ll be enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two dosages, which is 40 million dosages. That means six percent of Americans. Gives you an idea of where we’re going to be coming into January. Those six percent will be prioritized as the healthcare workers, seniors in congregate facilities, et cetera. But six percent of Americans having available dosages by the beginning of January, you see how far we have to go. New York State also expects additional allocation of the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, which has also been approved, and we expect them later this month. We’re going to have to undertake two operations simultaneously.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:01)
… to undertake two operations simultaneously. One is the hospital management situation, which is critical. We have to reduce the spread. We have to reduce the number of people going into hospitals, and we have to manage that patient load going into hospitals. We don’t want the hospitals overwhelmed. That is job one. At the same time, you have the vaccine management program. The vaccine management program, we need the federal funding. We need a real aggressive outreach effort. We need social acceptance and confidence to take the vaccine. This is going to be the largest governmental operation, not just through COVID. This will be the largest governmental operation undertaken since World War Two, in my opinion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:02)
To give you an idea of how massive this is, I said this to President-elect Biden at an NGA meeting, this nation has done about 130 COVID tests over the past nine months, 130 million, from day one of COVID. We have to do 330 million vaccines, twice. How long does that take you? This state, more testing than any state in the United States. We have done just about the population of the state, doing everything we could, and that’s taken us nine months to do a COVID test. And a COVID test, very few people refuse a COVID test. It’s not a frightening test. It’s a nasal swab. Now you’re asking a person to take two vaccines, and you’re asking them to take two vaccines, which is a more elaborate medical process, and they’re distrusting about the vaccine going in. So this is going to be an incredibly challenging period to undertake both of these at the same time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:33)
We are going to bring back former Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, who came and helped us out at the heat of the pandemic. You can see by his face that he’s very happy to come back and help once again. And I thank him for the joy that is on his face and his willingness to come back and participate. Larry was former secretary to me, former secretary to Governor Patterson, Deputy County Executive of Westchester, Deputy County Executive of Suffolk. He’s probably one of the most skilled government officials I’ve ever worked with. He ran the surge and flex program, the PPE shortage program the first time around. So he’s going to come back and help. Linda Lacewell is going to come back. Simonida Subotic is going to come back. They helped the first time around. You can see they’re also happy to come back. They’re also very big with hand gestures, both of them, if you notice, which is a good way to communicate, using the hands. I use hand gestures also, but they were very helpful in the first traunch, and I thank them for coming back and helping again.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:46)
This is a period where we need the public to understand the changing dynamics, and how this COVID is now spreading, and how dangerous a period we’re in with hospitalizations. So we’re going to do briefings every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and we’ll start that next week.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:08)
These are the numbers for today. Micro cluster zone 5.8, statewide positivity 4.2, overall positivity with the micro clusters, 4.6. 193,000 tests. 69 New Yorkers passed away. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. 3,900 hospitalizations. That’s up 150. 742 ICU. 373 intubations. You can see we’re looking at this now by region, the regional increase over the last three weeks. And you see the same basic curve on every region of the state. First time around, we had a New York City, downstate, Long Island, Westchester problem. That was actually beneficial in a way, because we could bring resources from upstate to help downstate. We don’t have that option here, because you see that the increase is statewide. These are the charts that we’re going to focus on going forward.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:32)
This is the increase in hospitalizations by percentage, okay? Highest increase in hospitalizations, Western New York, Mohawk Valley, then Finger Lakes, then Long Island, then Central New York, Miqd-Hudson, New York City, Capital Region, North Country, Southern Tier, by percentage. And those are alarming percentages, and we take that into consideration. By number of cases, the prioritization shifts for obvious reasons. By number of cases, it’s New York City first, 600 additional hospitalizations over three weeks. Then Long Island, 366. Western New York, 307. Now, if you adjust for population, you see Long Island City’s very high. Long Island’s very high. Western New York is very high. Mid-Hudson is very high by population, and it’s important to see it both ways, because remember, the hospital capacity city is roughly relative to the population of the region, so New York city’s up 600, yes, but New York City has many more hospital beds. So you have to look at the percentage increase, and you also have to look at the number of cases.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:11)
Bad news. We have another mountain. I know how much you like mountains. I’ve heard many of your comments about the mountains. I may make another mountain to symbolize the mountain, because I know you like it. That’s the bad news. We have another mountain to climb. The good news is the goal line is in sight, and the goal line is a vaccine that we administer, that people accept, that could happen as early as June. Could happen as late as September. Depends on us. Depends on us how many people goes into the hospital. Depends on us how many people get vaccinated, how quickly.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:59)
More good news. New York is starting in a much better place than the other states. We are just starting at a much better place. We have a lower percentage of hospitalizations, lower percentage of hospitalization increase, less burden on our hospitals pro rata, less of a hospital emergency than the other states, because new Yorkers have been smart. They did the best job in the country first time around, going from the highest infection rate to the lowest infection rate. And I have no doubt if we do what we have to do, New Yorkers will handle this surge better than any state in the country.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:52)
I also think New York State is going to be stronger and better for it. I know that you don’t see it now, but this has been a global period of disruption. People say, “Well, when are we going back to normal?” You’re not going back to normal. Life doesn’t go backwards. Life goes forwards. The question is, who finds the opportunity in this period of disruption? You’re going to have new business practices. You’re going to have new housing practices. You’re going to have different development patterns. There is opportunity for the entrepreneurial economy and entrepreneurial government that seizes those changes. And that’s what New York will do, because new Yorkers are tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:49)
Questions? Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Before we do questions, we have a PSA that we want to show you, which is going to try to talk about the new situation with COVID and how it’s changing. You want to run the PSA?
Speaker 1: (27:06)
COVID hospitalizations are climbing nationwide. What can you do to stay safe? Be careful in small gatherings now. It may feel safe because you’re with your family and friends, but over 70% of cases can be traced to your households and small gatherings. Be New York tough. Stop living room spread. It’s up to all of us.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:35)
Living room spread. Living room spread. That’s what we have to explain to people. It’s not mass gatherings. It’s not what it was. It’s literally living room spread, which when you think about it is understandable. People changed their socialization pattern. Where did you socialize? We’re social beings. We like to be with each other. Where did you socialize? “We went to the restaurant and we sat around the restaurant, and we talked and we had fun.” Okay. That doesn’t work anymore. “We went to the bar, and we sat around and we talked to each other and we had fun.” Well, that doesn’t work anymore. “Okay. Come to my home and we’ll socialize in my house. We’ll go to Jesse’s house on Friday night. We’ll watch the game, bring the family, we’ll hang out and we’ll have fun.” When you eliminated those other options, socialization is not going to stop, especially during the holiday season. It went into smaller gatherings in homes. And that’s now over 70%.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:49)
That concept of living room spread is hard to communicate, because the whole orientation is, “I’m in my house with my family and with my friends. This is my safe zone. I’m sitting in my living room. Of course I’m safe. This is my best friend Jesse. He would never get me sick.” It’s not intentional. It’s not that he knows. He was asymptomatic. “I was with my kids. I was with my family.” That’s where it’s happening. That’s where it’s happening. That’s why states, dozens of states went to no more than 10 people in a home. Kentucky went to no more than eight people in a home.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:46)
Trump Administration, CDC, says you should not be in a gathering besides your immediate household with whom you are normally with. That’s the CDC. That’s Trump. That’s why these people who want to play politics with this, whose politics are you playing? It’s Trump’s CDC. Joe Biden’s COVID Advisory Board says the same thing. The one thing Trump and Biden agree on is this concept of spread in small gatherings. Trump’s guidance is more strict than the states’ guidance. It’s no politics. I mean, you can’t dismiss every health official. “Every Republican health official, every Democratic health official, President Trump, President-elect Biden, I know better than all of them.” Okay. Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t. Who had a question? Nick?
Speaker 2: (31:03)
Governor, there’s been a lot of talk in the recent weeks about racial disparities as it relates to COVID, but there seems to be one significant, in the city in which you reside, that seems to have been unaddressed really for the majority of the year, and that is inner city violence. Basically there have been 124 shootings in Albany so far this year. The police chief says 96% of the victims have been Black, which I think means roughly we’re being shot at like 24 times the rate of other groups combined. And for what it’s worth, he also says 96% of the victims or the suspects in arrest have also been Black. So why do you think that is and what can be done about that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:40)
Well, look, we have a public safety crisis on top of the COVID crisis, on top of the housing crisis, on top of the employment crisis. And am I shocked that crime went up when unemployment went up and desperation went up, and it’s harder to find a job, and people aren’t getting any income? No. Am I shocked that crime went up when we have this almost unprecedented tension between police and the community? No. We’ve all seen the demonstrations after Mr. Floyd’s murder. We’ve seen the tension between the community and the police. It is real, and I think it’s having an effect on the public safety across this state, across this country. You see the same thing in New York City. You see the same thing in cities all across the nation. The police departments are under more scrutiny, under more criticism. Community is more sensitive. Situations are causing an increase in crime. Police are more circumspect. Communities are more circumspect about the police, and the relationship isn’t working.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:15)
That’s why I said first state in the country. Let’s be honest. Let’s acknowledge the problem. Let’s not skirt around it. The relationship is broken. The relationship between the police and the community is broken. The relationship was based on trust and respect, and the trust and the respect has been broken, and divorce is not an option. Divorce is not an option. “Well, we won’t have police.” You don’t have that luxury. Poor communities don’t have that luxury. Look, let’s be totally frank. “Do away with the police.” Rich people will have police. They’ll hire-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:03)
Rich people will have police. They’ll hire private security. It’s the poorer communities. It’s the working men and women who can’t afford to hire their own police. We need police. We need public safety. Somebody’s coming through the window at two o’clock in the morning, you want to dial 9-1-1. Somebody has to answer the telephone. That’s why I said in this state, every community has to sit at the table, bring the police, bring the community together. Be honest about the issues and the lack of trust. Make the changes you want. Look, let me just add one point. Name one other relationship, one other service that has been basically stagnant for this period of time. Situations evolve, services evolve. The way we educate our children is evolving, right? The way parents and teachers deal is evolving. Remote teaching. Whoever heard of that? The public safety function has to evolve. Not every call requires an arrest. Not every call requires a police officer with a gun. A lot of calls are social needs or mental health needs or substance abuse needs. The old expression, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” That’s where we are now. Every 9-1-1 call requires a possible arrest and a gun? No.
Speaker 2: (35:46)
How does eliminating police brutality though, address the problem that we’re seeing in Albany and all the cities, but like 16 homicides, over 200 shots fired. Those things are happening among community members, independent of police and police are being reactive at this point. Frankly, they’re open about the fact that they’re reactive because the calls for service are coming from community member to community member, independent of police getting involved in issues.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:12)
Yeah, but that’s always the way, right? There’s always an incident in which the police are not involved that generates the need for the police to respond. The question is the response in the relationship and the trust that has been frayed right now, and it has been fraying for years. It ripped after the Floyd murder. Now, you can argue with the other way. Why did it take so long to rip? I mean, the Mr. Floyd murder, we had [Aragoner 00:36:53] in New York City on video on Staten Island. Same basic situation. Why this moment did it rip nationwide? I think it was a combination of all of the stress. I think it was COVID and the economy and young people unhappy and a captive audience. Everybody’s sitting at home and saw that Mr. Floyd murder on that video, but that’s where we are. Be honest, and then say, we have to fix the relationship because we do need police and we do need public safety, but it’s time we come to the table and we reimagine what public safety is.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:46)
I don’t think every response is a person with a gun. I don’t. I think there are a lot of 9-1-1 calls that require a different set of skills, a different aptitude, and let’s make public safety a more responsive service to the community. Let’s air the grievances. What use of force policy do you want? What openness and transparency of records do you want? What is the process that you think a police officer who is accused of doing something wrong, what should the process be that you will trust? That has to be talked through. That’s going to be different in Albany, than it is in Buffalo, than it is in New York city. That’s why I said do it community by community, but do it.
Speaker 3: (38:44)
[crosstalk 00:38:44] still reporting exposure risks at businesses and restaurants is clustering by address [inaudible 00:38:52] way to deal with this issue when more folks are driving outside zones to fewer places, and how are you ruling out whether something is living room spread or someone catching up at work or the community and then bringing it home? I was also just looking for an update on the CARES Act funding and budget from the budget director.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:12)
On the budget, we, as you know, we had a $14 billion revenue shortfall. We’re still have a $10 billion budget gap, which we’re releasing the last financial plan update. On spending of the CARES Act funds, the federal government gave us approximately $5.1 billion. We’re spending right now, close to $7 billion. We’re allocating those funds throughout the year. The CARES Act funds expire on December 30th. We’ll fully allocate the full 5.1, and then the additional funds we are looking for other federal revenue streams, FEMA reimbursements. If not, they’ll just add to our gap, which currently we’re waiting for the government to provide additional resources to deal with that revenue gap. That’s presently where we are. We still have over a $10 billion revenue gap, hopefully expend all of the CARES Act funds.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:08)
Washington has to pass a stimulus state and local funding, vaccine funding, or you will see states go bankrupt, which is what Senator McConnell said, “Let the states go bankrupt.” When states go bankrupt, the nation goes bankrupt. I talked to governors all day long. They’re all feeling financial pressure. This was a political argument that had nothing to do with reality. The election is over. Businesses need help. Americans need help. We have to administer a vaccine policy. Stop the politics. We use contact tracing data. We have about, we have tens of thousands of reports from people who tested positive, who said where they believe they got it. Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes they’re wrong, but the base is so large, tens of thousands, that it is significant and indicative of imperfect. Jessie.
Speaker 4: (41:25)
[crosstalk 00:41:26]. Governor, on the issue of vaccines …
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:28)
I didn’t mean your house, that we’re coming to your house in general.
Speaker 4: (41:32)
I certainly hope not.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:32)
That’s just down the block and I thought it was convenient.
Speaker 4: (41:34)
It would be convenient. Leaving that aside for a moment, so the 170,000 doses that the state will be receiving by the 15th of December, can you walk us through some of the other batches that you’re anticipating? You said that basically the CDC had echoed your own kind of plans to distribute this. Can we anticipate that those early doses will go to nursing home residents and health care workers?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:00)
Answer to the second part is yes. That those were the priorities we established in the plan. CDC had this ASIP panel, whatever they call it, came up with the same recommendations that our plan made. The 170,000 doses, who knows the numbers? After the 170,000, we may get a Moderna second batch, but we don’t know what the numbers are on Moderna.
Speaker 5: (42:25)
170, just the Pfizer, the first allocation of Pfizer vaccines, we expect additional allocation to Pfizer vaccine in December. Then we expect a Moderna allocation as well. This is just the first tranche of Pfizer to New York. It’s 170,000 doses now, and we get another 170,000 doses in 21 days for those same 170,000 people who get the first round of Pfizer, so it’s two doses.
Speaker 4: (42:53)
Do we know anything about the additional tranches that are coming, so we don’t [crosstalk 00:42:54]-
Speaker 5: (42:54)
We have general ideas, as the governor slide, laid out how many nationwide we expect in December, but this is the, of the first tranche of Pfizer. This is New York’s allocation of that.
Speaker 4: (43:02)
It’ll be 170,000, those people we vaccinated, and then the second batch, they will-
Speaker 5: (43:08)
Second, third, fourth, exactly.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:09)
It’s 170,000, twice. It’s not half of 170,000, in other words. They have 170,000 doses. They have the second 170,000 doses for the second dose for those people, basically in hand. It comes like 21 days afterwards or something.
Speaker 4: (43:33)
I was thinking it was more than 170,000 nursing home residents and/or health care workers, how are we determining who does 170,000 people will be?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:40)
Well, the first tranche will be … Who has the numbers on the healthcare workers together with the … Well, the healthcare workers have tranches. They have delineations of healthcare workers who are in the most imminent, dangerous situations, emergency rooms, et cetera. You then have nursing home residents and nursing home staff, which is at the top of the first tranche. Nursing home residents we say are how many?
Speaker 5: (44:13)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:13)
85, and nursing homes?
Speaker 5: (44:16)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:17)
Staff, 130, so you have 80 residents of nursing homes and 130,000 staff. You’re at 210 just to do nursing homes and staff.
Speaker 4: (44:34)
Right, but that’s more than 170,000, I guess.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:36)
Yes, so you won’t get to that. You won’t complete that in the first 170,000. Now, again, two weeks later, we’re supposed to get a Moderna tranche there. They haven’t given us a number yet, but you’re right. The 170 doesn’t even cover the first tranche, and that’s why Jessie put the number the end of December by their plan distribution. You’re only at 6% of the population nationwide. If you’re 6% of this state, you’re not going to be out of those first tranches of nursing homes, nursing home workers, healthcare workers.
[crosstalk 00:11:21], face today-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:26)
Guys, excuse me, one second, Anne. Just talking over everyone else. Let’s hear you. No one’s going anywhere, we’re answering [crosstalk 00:45:33].
Speaker 6: (45:31)
On the 70% of infections coming from indoor gatherings, where are those statistics coming from?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:40)
Robin, want to do?
The contact tracing data, so we’ve been able to contact trace the data. We had about 140,000 infections between September and November 20th. The data we’ve been able to track about 20% of those to a specific source. That source goes back to households and social gatherings that are not following the rules.
Speaker 6: (46:01)
Does that change your thinking on bars and restaurants, salons, things like that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:05)
Yeah. Well, what’s happening, that’s why we’re looking at the data. The first, the salons and the gyms have new protocols and fewer attendees, frankly, and fewer people can go to a gym. The nail salon workers have to be tested. You are seeing a reduction in the cases in nail salons, gyms, net reduction in restaurants, large gatherings, because the social behavior has changed. This is a case of first impression for everyone, but you think back, you could sort of understand what happened. You go to a restaurant, you have to sit there in a mask. You have to sit distanced. You normally go to a restaurant, not just for the food, right? You go there to socialize and hang out and spend time. It’s not conducive to that anymore. It’s not conducive to do that in a bar. Well, then let’s just go to somebody’s house.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:15)
That’s what people are doing. I don’t want to be in a large group, so let’s be in a small group in the house, 15 people, 20 people, we’ll watch a ball game, and it’s just us. We all know each other. There’s a false sense of security in that. There’s a real false sense of security. I feel it with myself, my daughters are coming over. Yay. My daughters are coming over. Yeah. Your daughter could infect you. Oh, she would never do that to me. One of them might, she would never do that to me. Yeah, except it’s unintentional and yeah, you can be best friends. It can be your daughter. It can be your spouse, but it is people have migrated to small gatherings, and that’s where the spread is. Anne.
Thank you very much. I have two questions on nursing homes. To date, the biggest criticism that you face through this is regarding nursing homes during the pandemic. It’s been more than 100 days since the hearings took place with the state legislature, a bipartisan effort to find out the problems in nursing homes. My question to you is why not reach out to your critics and address nursing homes on a regular basis to get all of the issues that were presented in those hearings addressed to make nursing homes in this state the best in the entire country?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:47)
Anne, I believe that’s exactly what we have done. The criticism, if you remember, I believe was politically motivated. It’s when states were all, that had COVID, were all democratic states and it started by the administration. You don’t hear the administration saying it anymore because now COVID has also hit the red states. Frankly, the red states have a worse nursing home problem than the blue states had. You look at what’s happening in Florida. You look at all these states now. New York is number 46 out of 50 in terms of percentage of deaths in nursing homes, 46 out of 50. We do have state-of-the-art protections. We did a thorough report. What happened in nursing homes, what is still happening in nursing homes? The infection came into a nursing home when staff brought it in with asymptomatic spread, which we were told didn’t exist early on.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:06)
If you remember, I’m not recommending you read my book because that would be a tedious thing to ask someone to do. When this started, we were told there was no such thing as asymptomatic spread. Spread came when a person sneezed or coughed or did something. That’s where spread came from. That’s what people were told. Three months later, they say, “Oh no, no, no. The spread can come from asymptomatic.” Yeah, so now you had all these staff walking into the nursing home. They’re not sneezing, they’re not coughing. You had family members going to visit people, not sneezing, not coughing. That’s where it came from. Did you want to [crosstalk 00:50:50]?
Speaker 7: (50:50)
No, I would just also add, Anne, there have been many, many steps that we’ve taken since the spring, when the pandemic first began and lessons learned that we’ve made to try to make nursing homes even safer, including things that we’ve been criticized for by the same publication …
Speaker 7: (51:03)
Even safer, including things that we’ve been criticized for by the same publications and opponents for doing, because they said they were too strict. Banning visitation, except when a nursing home has been 14 days clear without a single case, requiring twice weekly testing of all staff. We’re now also requiring a test of any visitor that comes in. So we are being most aggressive, I think, than any other state in the country. There are some states, like Massachusetts, who are now moving to say, “No new admissions, period, into nursing home.” The problem you have then is, where do those people go? We are not allowing anyone to be discharged from hospitals into nursing homes unless they have a negative test result.
Speaker 7: (51:39)
Last week in Buffalo, there was an article about 75% of residents in a single nursing home have COVID. There’s only one way that can come in, because that particular nursing home has a restriction on visitation, and that is through staff. So we are continually staying on top of them on PPE. There’s a requirement that every nursing home has to have 60 day supply of PPE. They have to attest to that every single day in our Herd System. We’re also requiring that they wear face shields, and we’re doing everything that we can in terms of visitation and in terms of staff testing. Sorry, Dr. Zucker, did you want to add something?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:09)
[crosstalk 00:01:08]. A report that we did found, on the numbers, because that’s another thing that we’ve been asking Dr. Zucker for. In order to improve, you have to just be honest about what happened. Dr. Zucker says that you were working to come up with the numbers of deaths. Why not just update us on this regularly? And you said it’s made into a political thing. Why not just say, “Who cares about the politics?” Just update us on this on a regular basis and let us know where you’re at with coming out with the numbers and make nursing homes a part of the briefing every time you have one. I mean, there’s so many issues in nursing homes, we could talk about it every time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:51)
Yeah. Well, you can talk about nursing homes. You can talk about schools. You can talk about prisons. You can talk about living room spreads. You can talk about bars. You can talk about restaurants. You can talk about the vaccination program. You can talk about hospital capacity. That’s right. You can talk about all of these things every time. And we try to. On the number, the one number that you can not get past is that New York is number 46 out of 50. Yes, people died in nursing homes. People are continuing to die in nursing homes. As we go forward, people will die in nursing homes. No state is doing more than this state is doing, and you can’t get past the number, I don’t care what your political motivation. 46 out of 50, 46 out of 50 states, you can’t get past that number.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:50)
Go ahead Nick.
On hospitalizations, is there any region in the state at this point that is reaching that critical mass that you talked about a few days ago? And also on vaccines, should there be any consideration as that distribution gets underway for people who may have difficulty with either their job or child care, to make sure that they can still go and get a vaccine, either they don’t get penalized for missing work or for missing hours of work, things like that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:18)
On the vaccines, my goal for this state is to have the fastest, most effective vaccination program in the United States. I believe this state has the capacity to do that. I believe if you look at our apparatus and our ability to mobilize and our ability to work quickly and effectively, I don’t think any state can beat us. I think that’s what we proved during COVID. I think that’s what we prove every day, doing more COVID tests than anyone else. I will do whatever I have to do, to do the vaccines. I will get in the car and drive all around the state, doing the vaccines myself. We have to build confidence in a vaccine. I’ll be the first person to stand up and take the vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:16)
We have, I believe, a top quality team. We’re limited by the amount of federal funding we get. Can I deploy the National Guard? Sure. Could I pay an incentive for people to come in and get a vaccine? Sure. It depends on the funding. And right now, Nick, they’re saying basically nada, [foreign language 00:04:45]. We already have a deficit of 2 billion from the previous COVID treatments. That’s without the reduction in revenues. And this is now potentially a multi-billion dollar operation. We have no way to pay for it. So if we get the federal funding that’s anywhere fair, then yeah, we can be all sorts of creative.
How much do you need?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:23)
We’re doing an estimate for the NGA now, where we’re doing state by state, but the nationwide estimate is about $8 billion. This state, you could estimate to do a real outreach education campaign, a billion dollars, and we just don’t have it. On the capacity in the hospitals. The capacity… Our plan is called surge and flex. The capacity can flex. We have flexed the cap- It’s like an accordion, the hospital system, okay? We just expanded the Western New York Hospital capacity by ending elective surgery. That, in essence, opens beds and expands the capacity of the hospital.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (57:23)
The second expansion on the accordion is you go to a mandate, increase beds by 50% in every hospital. It is traumatic for the hospital. You have a hundred beds, you now have to go to 150 beds, but we’ve done that before. That’s the second expansion. The third expansion is field hospitals, which are virtually… We now have a capacity to build them. The limit there is going to be staff. We can build more than we can staff. The only region where we have increased capacity so far is Western New York with ending elective surgery. If we get close to max in any other region, we will end elective surgery. At this point, we’re not doing that in any other region.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:24)
Let’s take one more. Mr. John?
Mr. John: (58:27)
Governor, your vaccination plan, not only does it prioritize healthcare workers, et cetera, it prioritizes geographic areas that are having a more difficult time with COVID-19. So with this first batch of 170,000, a relatively small amount, you have a lot of areas that are having a hard time with COVID-19 right now. How are you going to choose geographically where these 170,000 doses go?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:52)
Yeah. Does anyone have information on that?
We think that with the 170,000 allocations and the way they allocate it, we’ll be able to cover all of the nursing homes and all of the residents with this first batch, based on the new data that we’re getting from the federal government. So we’ll be able to cover every nursing home in the state and all the residents and all the workers at all the nursing homes, with the same allocation. We’re getting new information right now of how they’re going to be deducting it from allocation. So we think that, so we think we’ll be able to.
Mr. John: (59:25)
Sorry. I thought we went over the numbers earlier and there were 200 and some?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (59:29)
But John’s point is there’s 170, you need 80 and 130, you need to 210, we’re getting 170. So we would need the Moderna, between… In two weeks, we’re supposed to get a Moderna shipment-
Mr. John: (59:42)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (59:43)
Which would be at least the 40,000. So between the 170 and the Moderna, we would cover the entire nursing home and worker population.
Mr. John: (59:56)
Is that only… So not hospital workers? Not healthcare workers?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:01)
No, you don’t-
Mr. John: (01:00:02)
So that first batch is going to be exclusively nursing homes?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:04)
Well, you have nursing home and workers, that if everybody took one, you’d be at 210. What is the fall-off of nursing home employees who say, “I’m not taking it”? I don’t know. I think that could be significant. What’s the falloff of nursing home residents who say, “I’m not taking it”? You can’t force somebody to take this vaccine. Right now, I think you’re going to see a significant fall off, if I had to guess. I don’t believe the Kaiser poll and Pew poll and NBC poll and ABC poll are all wrong. I think this is going to be a process where you have to educate them that it’s safe. But if you take any fall-off, if you take a 20% fall-off, 30% fall-off, it’s a much different story. But you’ll get 170 and then you’ll get a second shipment of Moderna in two weeks. Go ahead.
[inaudible 01:01:07] right?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:09)
Yeah, and then there’s another shipment of Pfizer coming. So it’s on a rolling basis.
Speaker 8: (01:01:13)
Just to build on that. Your own plan says healthcare workers, clinical and nonclinical, patient care settings. And it says ICU, emergency department, and EMS are top priority. So in this first tranche, you’re looking exclusively at nursing homes and workers and residents. And can you talk about why, and sort of as a relation, will the state develop a list? Do you know? Dr. Zucker, he’s doing COVID intubations, he’s top on the list. Dr. Cuomo, he’s just doing foot surgeries. He probably doesn’t need it as soon as Dr. Zucker does.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:44)
Speaker 8: (01:01:44)
Does the state develop that? How do we deal with it?
We have looked at this and this is where the prioritization of different healthcare workers, those in the ER, who are exposed to patients coming in, ICU as well. So we are addressing, this is the prioritization. But as the governor mentioned before, it doesn’t mean that every persons in a nursing home is going to get it because it has to be consent. So we’re looking at all of this. So there may be more vaccine that originally was going to be in nursing homes, now it’s going to go to the essential, to the healthcare workers.
Speaker 8: (01:02:13)
[inaudible 01:02:13] On Friday, I think we have to tell the feds where we want this to go. Are hospitals going to be a main distribution point? What percentage will going to hospitals versus nursing homes?
In that first part was healthcare workers and long-term care facilities. That’s what fell into the first group.
Speaker 8: (01:02:27)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:29)
Tranches flow like this. It goes the nursing homes and nursing home workers. There’s also a tranche of congregate care facilities, which are right under nursing homes. Healthcare workers wind up having priorities. So if you are a emergenc- ICU worker, emergency room worker, you’re at the top of the health care queue because, how many healthcare employees are there?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:05)
600,000 healthcare workers. So when do you get to 600,000 healthcare workers? You have to prioritize the healthcare workers. And it’s going to start with emergency room, ICU, people working with COVID people.
Speaker 8: (01:03:21)
Those workers come after the nursing home staff and residents?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:24)
After the nursing home staff, because the seniors… What CDC says, what we said is, seniors, long-term congregate facilities, and then healthcare workers, within that 600, prioritized by exposure to COVID. Is that right?
That’s correct. That’s right. [crosstalk 01:03:46] The point on the allocations is that they’re going to cross over. So while you’re still doing the first allocations, because there’s double doses, you’re going to be getting the next allocations on top of that. So within those same weeks, you’re going to be multiplying the number of people who you’re vaccinating. So to say, right now, yes, that’s the 170, but then right after that, we’re going to have another dose that’s coming. And that will cross over while you’re still vaccinating that first batch you’re starting to vaccinate others. So those numbers will start building on. We don’t know what those exact numbers are yet, but that’s why you will go from the nursing homes to the healthcare workers in the priority order that the governor discussed.
Mr. John: (01:04:26)
So, within the, that first pickup batch of Pfizer and first batch of Moderna, nursing home patients and, or I’m sorry, nursing home residents and workers are prioritized. Are they also going to be prioritized in areas with high prevalence of COVID first within that 170 batch?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:46)
I think the point was that we think that we’re going to be close to being able to do all, right? So I think we’re very close to be able to do- Right, so the governor’s point is that we’ll be able to do, with that first allocation, we should be able to do all of the nursing homes, all the residents, and all of the workers. So you’re not picking and choosing.
Mr. John: (01:05:03)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:06)
Go ahead Doctor.
I was going to say that you have to remember that we, 24/7, we look at any clustered in nursing home. If someone comes in to a nursing home, a staff member and brings it in, we want to be sure that all of those residents are protected, even if there was no one in that nursing home that had it yet. So we want to protect all the residents there. We want to protect the staff so that they aren’t bringing it in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:22)
What you do know is this John, just [inaudible 01:05:24] what you do know is this, John, between the 170, maybe the 170 itself does all the nursing homes and staff, because you’re going to have a fall-off on the number of people who are going to take it. And again, I’m afraid of that fall-off. Because they’re saying you have to get the 75, 85%. I don’t think you’re going to be anywhere near that in the beginning. So you might be able to do it on just the 170. For sure, you’ll be able to do it with the tranche of Moderna, which is supposed to be right around the corner. And then they say there will be a constant, every seven, ten days, another shipment, another shipment, another shipment. So it’ll be on a rolling basis.
Mr. John: (01:06:07)
What should happen if a nursing home patient or worker declines to take the vaccine?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:11)
You can’t… We talked about this. You can’t mandate that somebody takes the vaccine, or we’re not mandating. And I don’t think it would be successful if you said, I think you’d have months of court battle. You must take the vaccine. We’re trying to do it the other way. Education showed that it’s safe, the New York panel, we are putting together a public relations campaign where people are going to take the vaccine publicly to show people that it’s fine. There’s more skepticism, I think, in the black and brown community, even higher. So we’re going to make special efforts there. You know what you can get me for my birthday?
Mr. John: (01:07:04)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:06)
You take down that grinch poster.