Feb 19, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 19

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 19
RevBlogTranscriptsAndrew Cuomo TranscriptsNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 19

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on February 19, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.

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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Happy Friday. From my far left, Ms. Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor, both titles. Robert Mujica, director of the budget. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To my right, Dr. Howard Zucker. To his right, Dr. James Malatras, chancellor of the State University of New York until his right Garath Rhodes, who has been working with us through COVID. Today is day 356, coming up on day 365, just transposed those numbers. Almost one year. We were anticipating heavy snow in New York. I had my boots ready, my big jacket ready. We’ve had some snow on Long Island, but not anything that has been unmanageable for us. They’re talking about another snow storm towards Monday, and we’re prepared for that. The snow has had an effect on the distribution of vaccines across the country. It’s a nationwide snowstorm, certain parts of our country hurt more than others, but it has slowed down vaccine deliveries made by the federal government. So, if cities, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers see a delay in receiving their vaccines, that is because of the snowstorm and the White House spoke about that.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:35)
The numbers on COVID, good news. Overall statewide positivity, 3.4. Statewide deaths, 116 still. We like to think that we’re past this and we’re getting past this. And we are getting past it, but it is still dangerous my friends. And remember that 116 people, again, passed away. Hospitalizations down 279, ICU down 59, intubations down 29. This is a beautiful chart. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 7.9 down to 3.6. We had that holiday surge, holiday hit, people socialized. Holiday season you get a little careless, lack of discipline, but we’re down to 3.6%. hospitalizations also down not only just day to day, but the overall trend is exactly in the right direction.

Andrew Cuomo: (02:43)
You look across the state for hospitalizations, you see they are down all across the state. One, two, three, four, that’s the range, but they’re down all across the state. Positivity, a wide variety on positivity as you see. 2.09 capital region, 0.78 southern tier, which has done a great job by the way. 4.4, 4.3, but all numbers down. In New York city, the Bronx still highest. Double Manhattan, the Bronx. Higher than Queens, higher than Brooklyn, higher than Staten Island. Staten Island has ticked up, but it’s the Bronx and we have to focus on the Bronx. The Bronx is not as bad as it was. As I said, it’s now 6.2. It was 7.8, but the Bronx is high and they’re down from 7.8 but that’s not good enough. Relatively, they are still high. We have to focus on the Bronx. The Bronx should be the place that gets the most vaccines, the most testing, because that’s where you have the highest positivity. And by the way, that’s where you have the most vulnerable communities. Black, Hispanic, and poor community. So, focus on the Bronx.

Andrew Cuomo: (04:19)
Here’s the slide that I love, nobody loves. Opening the economy is the red valve, the economic valve. You watch the gauges, so you calibrate reopening. Watch the infection rate, watch the hospitalization rate, watch the positivity rate. And depending on those numbers, you open the economic valve or you slow the economic valve. The numbers are all going down, so now is the time to start doing more reopening. If the numbers change, if those dials change, then you close the valve, which we have done a number of times. This has been a constant calibration by data to what the virus is doing. Virus moves left, we move left. Virus moves right, we move right. Reopening New York City restaurants are now at 25%, they’re 50% statewide. They’re 50% in Connecticut. They’re 50% on Long Island. New York City was closed, new York city is now 25%. In one week we’ll go to 35% in New York City restaurants, which is consistent with New Jersey.

Andrew Cuomo: (05:43)
What’s happening now is people in New York City, Staten Island, Manhattan are going to New Jersey, to those restaurants. So, it’s not really accomplishing a purpose. So, New York City restaurants will go to 35% next Friday. That will be consistent with New Jersey. Connecticut is still 50%, Long Island they’re still 50%. We understand that, but we’re responding to the data. Obviously, we’re more sensitive to New York City because of the density and concentration, the history, but we’re headed in the right direction. We’re making progress. The numbers continue to be good, we’ll continue to make progress.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:26)
President Biden I think is exactly right. I’ve said this from day one. I respect local governments and their role in education, but schools must open. Vaccinate the teachers, the teachers want to be safe. Yes, I understand that. I’ve spoken to dozens of teachers. Vaccinate the teachers. They are in the included class, local governments can vaccinate the teachers, but the students deserve in-class teaching. This remote learning is a poor substitute for in-class teaching and this remote learning, when they do the studies, it will show discrimination in education caused by remote learning. This is my bet, it will show poorer families, black families, Hispanic families, those children did not do as well in remote learning. They didn’t have the equipment, they didn’t have the access, they didn’t have people to help them. Every day you’re not in class is a furtherance of discrimination in education. And the great irony is education was the great equalizer. Education said I don’t care how much money you have, where you grow up, you can become the president of the United States. Now, there’s a caveat. If you have a computer, if you have internet access, if you have somebody to help you on the computer. So, in class teaching as soon as possible. Students deserve it, the parents need it. You’re not going to reopen the economy without parents having children in school so parents can go on with their life and work.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:38)
Also, keeping people at home. This has caused a whole set of ancillary issues that we’re not even familiar with. Domestic violence is up, substance abuse is up, mental health issues are up. So, open the schools and the local government should be aggressive on in-class teaching unless there’s a community or school that has an infection spike. That is different. But if the school doesn’t have an infection spike, and if the school is safer than the surrounding community, then why isn’t the school open five days a week? Well, the teachers have concerns, legitimate. Get the teachers a vaccination. Vaccinate teachers, reopen schools.

Andrew Cuomo: (09:42)
100% of nursing home residents have all been offered the vaccine. 100% of nursing home staff has all been offered. The vaccine. 73% of nursing home residents have taken the vaccine, which is probably the highest number we have of any subgroup, if you will. 73% are now vaccinated. The DOH is going to put out guidance, but they recommend reopening visitation for nursing homes. This is going to be a very big deal for nursing home residents and families. The guidance is going to be in accordance with CMS and CDC on visitation of residents in nursing homes, they have very specific guidelines. DOH is going to recommend that visitors take a rapid test before entry and DOH will provide those rapid tests to nursing homes cost-free. Rapid test is very quick, it’s not intrusive, and that’s a DOH recommendation, and they’ll provide the rapid tests to nursing homes. I’ve said that from the beginning I believe reopening is going to be accelerated by testing, and we’ve been moving down that path. Open up the Buffalo Bills stadium with testing, open up catering halls, weddings with testing. If a person is tested and is negative, then you can reopen.

Andrew Cuomo: (11:28)
I went to visit the president of the United States. I took a test and I was negative, and I could see the president of the United States. Why? Because I took a test and I was negative. Well, if you take a test and you’re negative, why can’t I go to a movie theater? Why can’t I see a play? So, I believe the testing is the key to accelerating the reopening of the economy, but you have to have the volume of testing. And we’re opening rapid testing sites as we speak. We’re opening 11 in the New York city area right now. Cost is less than $30. Not to diminish $30, but it’s less than $30. It takes 30 minutes or less. $30 and 30. It’s an FDA approved antigen test. It gives you peace of mind. Everybody wants to know, “Do I have COVID? Am I infectious for other people?” It gives you peace of mind and we can use it as a way to reopen the economy.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:46)
These are the sites in New York City that become effective today. So, we’re going to be reopening more of these, but I think this is going to be a big advantage for the state of New York. And again, those sites open today, and it will accelerate our economic reopening prior to reaching herd immunity, where everybody has a vaccine, which is June, July. February, March, April, May, June, July. Let’s accelerate that period of time, and I think testing is going to be an opportunity to do that. Testing is also an opportunity to reopen colleges and we’re going to be doing that. They have to test at least 25% of the total on campus students, faculty, staff on a weekly basis and are required to go on pause unless the rate exceeds 5%. If it’s under 5%, they can operate. If it’s over 5% on a 14 day average, then they have to go on pause. So, 5% is the line. Colleges that are not testing 25% of the population weekly must go on pause if they have 100 individuals test positive. So, if a college doesn’t want to live with the 100 individual standard, test 25% of your people, and if you’re under 5%, God bless America.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:34)
We talk about reopening. People don’t tend to think of public safety as a reopening measure, but it is. It is a foundation to reopening. There has been much tumult in public safety, climaxing with the George Floyd killing, and it’s been nationwide. We said in New York, we were one of the first to act, “Take this moment to make positive change.” Crisis begets opportunity if you use it correctly. And the George Floyd crisis was the last in a long line of disturbing incidents. Take that crisis, make it an opportunity, put the community at the table, put the police at the table, figure out public safety reforms, restore trust and faith and restore safety. Many localities have been making great progress, and I really applaud them because it’s not an easy topic.

Andrew Cuomo: (15:45)
You put 15 people in a room, you’re going to have a lot of venting of frustration. That’s the way you get past it. If you don’t vent the frustration, if you don’t acknowledge the problem, you never get past it. Crime in New York City is a major problem. NYPD and the community must come to resolution. This city council passed a number of bills and that’s a good first step. The mayor in every city, you need the council and the mayor, and in New York City the mayor’s going to have to act and they’re going to have to have a passed package, public safety reform plan. It is up to them what they do. And by the way, they’re all going to be different. When you see the Buffalo plan, it’s going to be different than the Rochester plan, different than the Albany plan, different than the Nashua plan, different than the New York City plan. Fine. Different communities, different decisions, but it’s 41 days away and 41 days moves very quickly.

Andrew Cuomo: (16:53)
There’s a race for mayor in New York City, and a number of people have been speaking to me about it, and here’s my 2 cents. The New York City mayoral race. Really the primary election is four months away, but in New York City, the winner of the primary is most likely the winner of the November election. Discuss the issues. Forget the personalities, forget the atmospherics. Murders are up 47% from 2019 to 2020. 92% of the shooting victims are black or Hispanic. 70% are unsolved. You have a homeless problem in New York City and you have a homeless problem where people are dangerous and they’re a danger to themselves or others. We’ve seen it on the subways. I had a person from my own office who was attacked by a homeless person who hit her on the head with a brick.

Andrew Cuomo: (18:06)
There is Kendra’s Law. What changes need to be made? You do no one a favor leaving them on the street if they’re a danger to themselves or others. That’s not compassionate. New York City Housing Authority is an ongoing tragedy. It has been for years and years. What’s your plan to do something differently? You now have a federal administration, what are you asking them to do? There are interesting plans on the table for New York City housing. I was the HUD secretary. I managed the public housing. There are new alternative models. NYCHA has to make a significant change. It’s not going to work like this. You can’t throw enough money at NYCHA to fix it the way it is, but that has to be a topic that is discussed in the mayoral race. You have an affordable housing crisis and you have people who are leaving New York City.

Andrew Cuomo: (19:12)
This is what should be discussed in the New York City mayoral race. People ask me, am I going to make an endorsement in the New York City race? I want to know what plans people have in addressing the problems of New York City. And then, my second question is what would lead people to believe you have the credentials to do it? Because we’ve made this mistake before. You now want to manage one of the largest corporations in the world? What have you managed before? What have you accomplished before? This is not about rhetoric, this is not about slogans. You need a real manager with a real vision who can really get things done, and that’s what the mayoral race should be about, and that should be the conversation.

Andrew Cuomo: (20:19)
On vaccines, 3,500,000. 2,300,000 first, 1.1 second doses. 12% of New Yorkers have received the first dose. That’s really good news. Frankly. I was surprised by that. I know it’s hard, I know it’s cumbersome. The federal governments have has a number of programs federal government gives to pharmacies, federal government gives the FQHCs, federal government gives to the state, state gives to locals. Yes, it’s very hard to navigate. This is true all across the nation. This is how the federal government set it up, but 12% have received the first dose. We’re now going to do two sites that I’m excited about it, mass vaccination sites in New York City, in Queens and Brooklyn, that are targeted to what’s called “socially vulnerable” communities, where we know the positivity is high and the vaccination rate is low. And these are large sites, 3000 vaccinations per day. So, they’re going to open up on Wednesday and this is important and it’s going to make a major difference.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:48)
The scheduling for the Queens and Brooklyn sites opens tomorrow, which is Saturday, at 8:00 AM. Scheduling is open for one week just for the residents of the communities who are targeted by these facilities. After one week, schedule will open to all residents of that borough, but for one week we’re targeting a certain communities with low vaccination rates, high positivity rates and that targeting is done by zip code for both the Queens and the Brooklyn site. And these are the zip codes where you can see what the vaccination rate is and why we’re targeting these zip codes. One week, they have a priority. I’m going to be reaching out to the churches and the community groups and the elected officials. Please get out the word, you have one week to make an appointment. You get priority on the appointment, but you have to make an appointment. We’re also opening four new FEMA site-

Andrew Cuomo: (23:03)
We’re also opening for new FEMA sites, March 3rd. Same basic concept, Buffalo Rochester, Albany, Yonkers. Sites, again, located in socially vulnerable communities with lower vaccination rates. Scheduling will open on Wednesday at 8:00 AM. Again, there’s one week for residents of the ZIP codes with a low vaccination rates to make their appointments. Thereafter, the scheduling opens to all county residents, which will be March 3rd. So please be aware of that, please take advantage of that, please get the word out. And these are the ZIP codes in those areas that are the targeted areas that need additional assistance. And I’m not going to go through all the ZIP codes, but you can look it up. Local governments have received significant additional allocations since Joe Biden came into office. Remember the first problem, Trump administration opens eligibility, wide aperture, says, “Don’t worry. I’m going to increase the supply to meet that wide aperture.”

Andrew Cuomo: (24:25)
What happens? He doesn’t increase the supply. So now you have 10 million people in New York state chasing 300,000 doses. Joe Biden becomes president. He finds out the cupboard is bare. They didn’t order enough vaccine. They scramble quite effectively and they start increasing the allocation right away, 16%, one week, an additional five the next week, an additional five the next week. Over four weeks, local governments have gotten 28% more. We then added on top of that an 11% increase because we reallocated from the hospital worker allocation because the hospitals had eight weeks now to do their staff. And we reduced the hospital allocation for their workers and we gave it to the local governments so they could focus on comorbidities. The local governments and the county executives I spoke to the other day, they have to review all the distribution sites in their area, and they’re not in control of all their distribution sites. I understand that.

Andrew Cuomo: (25:40)
I’m not in control of all the distribution sites, I understand that. Some are done directly by the fed, some are done by the state, some are done by the local, some of them by pharmacies, some are by FQHCs. But the local government knows where all these distribution sites are. Look at your county, look at your city and make sure the coverage and the actual vaccinations are fair by geography and by race. How many is the city of Buffalo getting versus Cheektowaga versus the Northern part of the county versus Southern part of the county? How many vaccinations have been given to the white community versus the black community versus the Hispanic community? And we’re going to have to constantly adjust. I am telling you as a fact, you’re going to see lower vaccination rates in the black community. There is a higher hesitancy issue and there is a higher accessibility issue in those communities.

Andrew Cuomo: (26:54)
And we have been addressing it directly. We’re going to public housing, we’re going to churches, we’re going to community centers, we have pop-up centers. These new sites that we opened with FEMA, they’re targeted at exactly this population, but I need the local governments to do this also. We have big sites in Queens, big sites in Brooklyn. The Bronx has the high positivity rate. We have Yankee Stadium, but that’s not enough. How do we get more into the Bronx? Those calculations have to be done by the local officials. Additional good news, FDA has allocated 4,600 doses of the therapeutic bamlanivimab. How do you pronounce that, doctor?

Dr. Howard Z.: (27:39)

Andrew Cuomo: (27:40)
Say it again.

Dr. Howard Z.: (27:42)

Andrew Cuomo: (27:43)
Yeah. Okay. Easy for you to say. Anyway, we have gotten 4,600 doses of this and it’s shown in trials to reduce COVID hospitalization or ER visits within 28 days. So the doctors think there’s promise in this and we’re going to be trying it in the state of New York. I want to set the record straight on nursing homes for a number of reasons, primarily for the families of nursing home people. We created a void by not producing enough public information fast enough. People wanted information, we did not produce public information fast enough. That creates a void. What happens in a void, especially today in this environment, in this toxic political environment, something fills the void and conspiracy theories and politics and rumors fill the void, and you can’t allow inaccurate information to go unanswered. Twitter, bogus reports become a reality at one point.

Andrew Cuomo: (29:07)
Social media, 24 hour news stations, if you don’t correct it, it gets repeated and it gets repeated and it gets repeated, and then people think it’s true. It’s a very difficult environment to operate in. We created the void by not producing enough public information quickly enough. I get that. But then it was exploited with misinformation, people playing politics, Republicans playing politics, personal attacks, personal agendas. And now this continues and people get confused, and people who lost family members in nursing homes start to say, I wonder if this is true. I wonder if my father died because somebody made a mistake. I wonder if my father had to die. Those false statements must be countered. They must be or else people get confused. No one has a right to spread lies or misinformation that causes pain to families. I understand politics is a nasty business in this environment, I understand people lie. I get it, I get it.

Andrew Cuomo: (30:36)
I live it every day, but this is different. This was causing pain to families who lost a loved one. That’s what they did. And they did it because I hear it from the families. Not only did we create a void, we didn’t fight back against the lies and the politics and the distortions aggressively enough. In retrospect, that is true. It is whack-a-mole, it is that Twitter 24 hours a day, it is politicians making up stuff to get their face on TV. I get it. But you have to knock it down and counter it, and counter it aggressively. Otherwise, people will believe it. And here, the people who were listening to it were people who were in pain and looking for answers. I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsity. We were busy. We were doing our job, we were trying to save lives, no excuses. I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsities. I heard them, I saw them, I dismissed it as politics, I dismissed it as personal agendas, I dismissed it as partisan politics, which is at a fever pitch nowadays.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:19)
But I should have been more aggressive in calling it out because it wasn’t hurting me, it hurt the families who had questions about loved ones. And that was a mistake and I make no excuses for that mistake. It is an affront to truth to treat falsehood with compliance. It is an affront to truth to treat falsehood with compliance. Compliance spelled the way Thomas Paine spelled. Who am I to criticize his spelling? Different spelling. I did not aggressively enough, we did not aggressively enough take on the misinformation that caused people pain, and of course, pain for grieving families. And that’s what I regret. I’m not going to make that mistake again. If you’re lying to the people of the state of New York, I’m going to call it out. If you are lying in a report, I’m going to call it out. If you’re lying in a newspaper because you have your own partisan agenda, I’m going to call it out.

Andrew Cuomo: (33:42)
I said to the people in the state of New York when I was first elected, “I’m here to fight for you.” That’s my job. I was elected attorney general. I said, “I will represent you, I will fight for you, and I will fight as hard as I can for you.” Fighting for the people of New York is fighting for the truth for New Yorkers. I’m not going to let New Yorkers be lied to. I’m not going to let you hurt New Yorkers by lying about what happened surrounding the death of a loved one. I see that as my job, and I’m going to do it aggressively because you have no right to lie and you have no right to hurt people. I don’t care if it’s your politics, you can’t lie and cause pain to people who are innocent bystanders to all of this. So I’m going to take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors, especially when they cause pain and damage to New Yorkers. I should have done it before and I should have done it more aggressively.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:55)
There are facts. There are facts, and I’ve gone all through this terrible situation with the facts. And there are facts that I want nursing home families to know specifically, because I think the facts will help resolve questions about how a loved one died. Remember what happened here. Loved one died in a nursing home, you didn’t even get a chance to see them, you didn’t get a chance to talk to them. Having a person in a nursing home is a terrible situation to begin with, that they need a level of care that you can’t provide. And then you can’t visit, you can’t talk, and then you know that there’s COVID in nursing homes and they’re vulnerable and there’s nothing you can do, the powerlessness that you have. And then they died and you don’t even have closure. There was no goodbye, there’s no funeral, there’s no hug, there’s no kiss. I mean, it was a horrendous situation. It is a horrendous situation.

Andrew Cuomo: (36:11)
You want to talk about the spring, 116 people died yesterday. 100 people will die today. This is a horrendous situation, but I want you to have the facts because I don’t want you to have more pain from this noise. All the information that the state put out about all the deaths, hospital deaths and nursing home deaths. From day one, this is how many people died in hospitals, this is how many people died in nursing homes. Total deaths, the same number. Well, how many people died in a nursing home, but were first in the hospital? How many people died in the hospital who were first in a nursing home? How many people do you presume died after they left the hospital? How many people do you presume died after nursing home? I understand many questions, but this information of total deaths was provided always. We get a request from the Department of Justice in August with other Democratic governors only, by the way.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:40)
Nursing home deaths happen nationwide, Democratic states, Republican states. We get a request letter from the Department of Justice. Same day, just Democratic governors. Okay, I guess that was coincidental. I guess that wasn’t political by the Trump Justice Department. We provided the Department of Justice with truthful information in our response. It is a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate. That is a lie. Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals. New York state legislators requested information, yes they did. We said we would pause the state legislature’s request because we gave DOJ precedence, true. We pause the state request and we told them that we paused the state request. They were told and they knew, and we gave DOJ precedence. Yes, because that’s how it works. Federal DOJ gets precedence. Well, some were offended that they weren’t given precedence. I understand they are offended. DOJ takes precedence.

Andrew Cuomo: (39:10)
I’m the former attorney general of a former assistant district attorney, former cabinet secretary. The federal DOJ takes precedence over a state legislator, that’s true. They find it offensive, I’m sorry, but that is true. I’ve spoken to the legislative leaders and we agree that we’re in the midst of dealing with a real pandemic. We have a lot going on and we have to put the politics aside and move forward and have a more constructive dialogue. But I said to them, “I’m not going to allow people to lie to the people of New York without answering them because I’m not going to allow the grief to be aggravated. I’m not going to do that.” Ideal, I have a very thick skin. I don’t know if you can see it. I don’t really care what people say about me. I get politics. I agreed to this nasty business because I believe I can do good things, but I’m not going to let you do nasty and cruel things to New Yorkers. That goes against my oath and that goes against who I am.

Andrew Cuomo: (40:38)
I’m not going to let you lie to them. It’s cruel to lie to a person who’s looking for closure on the death of a loved one. And not only was it cruel to the grieving families, it’s cruel to the public health professionals who dedicated their lives to public health service. I have public health officials here who could be making millions of dollars in the private sector, millions. These are some of the best professionals you can find in this country. They are working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They don’t deserve political attacks and unfounded, unscrupulous attacks. It was untrue, it was unfair. And also you suggested that people of the state of New York, that they’re not getting the best guidance, that’s a lie. And you do it with no information and you do it with no credential and you do it with partisan politics. New York follows the science and the data.

Andrew Cuomo: (41:59)
New York has the best health minds in the country who are doing this. And they talk and advise with the best health minds in the world. Our health commissioner is Dr. Howard Zucker. I’ve worked with a lot people, federal government, state government, private sector. He’s a nationally respected medical professional. He is a doctor and he is a lawyer, which is an extraordinary combination. You don’t see it often. Harvard, UPenn, Johns Hopkins, he’s been in federal HHS, the World Health Organization, the National Institution of Health, and taught at Columbia and Yale. He’s gone through Ebola, Zika, anthrax, bird flu, SARS, and more. You couldn’t find a more qualified man to do this at this time than Dr. Zucker. I would trust him with my mother’s care. I can’t offer a more ringing endorsement than that. And it’s his decisions that people now question with no credential.

Andrew Cuomo: (43:26)
That’s the amazing thing about politics. You can make any accusation, no evidence, no background. But we are lucky to have him and I’m sorry for the abuse that he’s had to subject himself to do good things for the people of the state. But I want you to have an opportunity to hear from him because many of the questions question his judgment. And they were wrong and I want New Yorkers to know who their doctor is on the state level. Dr. Howard Zucker.

Dr. Howard Z.: (44:03)
Thank you, governor, and thank you very much for those kind words. I have thought about this a lot, and we all have, about the March 25th memo and all the decisions that we have made about the pandemic. So let me give you some background and perspective here. As a doctor, it’s in my DNA to always ask myself whether a decision was correct. You play it over and over again in your head. You can ask your doctor, they’re going to tell you the same thing. They’ll say that you think about every decision and you play it back that night and the next day. But you can only review the decision with the facts that you have at the time. And with the facts that we had at that moment in time, it was the correct decision from a public health point of view. So what are the facts? Let’s look at them. It’s very important to do so. Firstly, hospitalizations and ICU. The modeling said that there was going to be 140,000 COVID patients, including 37,000 in the ICU here in New York. The COVID hospital rates were growing at a staggering pace, doubling every three days, every three days. When we looked at those numbers, every three days, they just kept going up and up. We were running out of ICU bed capacity, and these numbers are frightening numbers. And so once you look at this from a practical point of view, so let’s put this in some perspective. New York has 50,000 beds total in all of the state in the hospitals. We have just 30,000 of those downstate, where the problem was primarily concentrated. We had 84,474 New Yorkers who went through the hospital with COVID from March 25th to May 10th. Now this goes back to my-

Dr. Howard Z.: (46:03)
… 5th to May 10th. Now, this goes back to my experience as an ICU Director. As an anesthesiologist, as an ICU physician, as a cardiologist, I literally saw this picture in my head of the National Guard squeezing an Ambu bag attached to a breathing tube for a patient, obviously intubated, working in shifts to keep people alive. This is what happens, and the image of just all of these beds filled with individuals, are lying there with a breathing tube, and someone’s squeezing a bag to keep them alive. That’s what happens when you have 37,000 patients intubated. I’m telling you from experience, it’s frightening. For anyone who thinks that these models were an exaggeration, I suggest you go back and look at the Great Influenza, before we had some of these medical technologies back in 1918, or better still, we could just go and look at Italy on the television every day, back at that time.

Dr. Howard Z.: (46:58)
They have a sophisticated healthcare system. So, the question is, what does one do? You protect the entire healthcare delivery system to save lives and to flatten the curve, and remember what the goal was and still is, to flatten the curve so that you can accommodate the influx of ill patients into hospitals and also to decrease the number of cases as well, and that’s what happens when you flatten the curve. You need to protect the healthcare system by balancing the patient load. People die if you cannot get them into the hospital or staff are overstretched as a result of those numbers. It was also important and as important and still is to protect the nursing home residents. So, how do you do that? Well, if people are in the hospital and they don’t need to be in the hospital, you send them home, right?

Dr. Howard Z.: (47:56)
Everyone knows that you would not want your relative, you would not want them to stay in a hospital, if they were ready to go home. I don’t know how many times people said to me, when I took care of patients, “Can we go home? Can he go home? Can she go home,” right? You want them to go home. You don’t want to risk a hospital infection. You don’t want to risk all the mental health effects of having someone, particularly those who are elderly, stay in the hospital. There are a lot of issues that happen. I remember when my own dad was in the hospital, when he was elderly in the ’90s, and all the effects of having someone that age lying in a hospital bed, with him trying to climb out of the bed and all the confusion and all the issues that happen. There’s an old doctor adage, which is, “The worst place to be when you have recovered is the hospital.”

Dr. Howard Z.: (48:41)
So, where is home? Well, for these residents, it’s the nursing home, right? For others, it’s going home. It’s going back to your family, your relatives, loved ones or friend and some and many people just home alone. Those are the facts of the situation. Go home when you’re better. So, how do you do that? Right? This is the big question. How do you do that? Well, for the nursing homes, there are criteria, and let me quickly just provide you with a few sentences, because these are the criteria from the federal government, right? There’s the CMS guidance. That’s a March 13th guidance, and I’m going to quote from it. “Nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals, where a case of COVID-19 is present. A nursing home can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID from a hospital.” As long as the facility follows the transmission-based precautions.

Dr. Howard Z.: (49:40)
I will add that. It’s very important. The CDC guidance says on March 23rd, and I quote, “The COVID-19 patients from hospitals should go to the facility with the ability to adhere to infection prevention and control recommendations for care of COVID-19 patients. Preferably, patients would be placed at a facility that has already cared for COVID-19 cases.” Now, New York State has mandated cohorting, infection controls, PPE, and many other things to care for the nursing home residents. As always, if they could not accept a patient, they should not admit the patient. It is against the law to take someone that they cannot care for. We simply said, “You cannot deny admission based on COVID status.” We never said, “You must accept.” We said, “You can’t deny it.” So, now a little bit in retrospect, so as we reflect back, what happened? Well, I have repeatedly presented the facts on how COVID got into these nursing homes.

Dr. Howard Z.: (50:49)
The answer is, it came in through the staff. We found 37,000 staff and had been infected. It came in asymptomatically. It came in inadvertently by dedicated staff. No one is criticizing the staff for this. We were back at a time when we didn’t even know about asymptomatic spread. We didn’t even know that you must wear a mask. The facts we had then we’re so few compared to what we know now, and there’s more facts that we will learn as time goes by. So, it came in long before we even knew. That is what brought it in. 98% of the nursing homes that accepted a hospital admission already had COVID in that facility is unfortunate. It’s tragic, but it’s true. It’s the facts. 132 facilities that never took a COVID admission from a hospital still had COVID fatalities. March 25th was not the driver of COVID infections. It was not the driver of COVID fatalities. The facts are the facts.

Dr. Howard Z.: (51:59)
Now, let’s look at the timeline and this is very important to hear. Since May, no resident has been admitted into the facility without a negative test. We still have restricted visitation. The staff, the staff are the only ones coming in, and they’re tested twice a week. Yet, we are still seeing nursing home outbreaks and fatalities, the same rate of nursing home fatalities as we saw before March 25th, after March 25th and in the fall and winter. If you just take New York aside for a second, put it aside, and you look at the rest of the country, the states that did not do this, or have any memo, they still have thousands of nursing home deaths. The fatality rate then and now, is consistent with community spread. I’ve said this all along. What happens in the community happens in the nursing homes. So, what if we hadn’t done March 25th? Hospital beds that ended up saving lives would not have been available because they would have been occupied by someone who could have been discharged.

Dr. Howard Z.: (53:12)
I can see the scenario of people saying, “Well, there was someone who could have left and gone back to their home, a nursing home or back to home, and you left them in a hospital bed, and that bed could have helped another individual who needed that bed, because remember the modeling. 140,000 hospitalizations, 37,000 in the ICU. Those are the models. You make the decisions based on the information that you have at the time. We made the right public health decision at the time and faced with the same facts, we would make the same decisions again. Just as a personal note, I feel for all the families who lost someone. I often think about the sorrow that they’ve experienced because of the loss. I do hope that they find the strength in the memories of their loved ones. I believe in my heart and my head, that’s the only thing that helps get us through. It got me through when my father died, and I hope it gets all of you through during these difficult times as we move forward and fight this pandemic to the end. Thank you, Governor.

Andrew Cuomo: (54:19)
Thank you very much, Doctor. I’m glad New Yorkers had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Zucker. Of course, his credentials are impeccable, but when you hear the facts from him, you hear the reasoning from him, you understand why these decisions were made and you understand the decisions were right. The hospitals were being overwhelmed. People needed acute care in those hospitals. They needed the ventilators. Lord knows, they needed the nurses. They needed the intensive care, and the people who are coming from the nursing homes were only going to nursing homes who said, by law, they could handle them. 98% of those nursing homes had COVID already. What’s most informative, I think, the rate of death in nursing homes before the March 25th memo, which was then superseded in May 2nd, the duration of the memo, the rate of death in nursing homes was the same before as it is after.

Andrew Cuomo: (55:32)
If anyone had the perfect answer to nursing home deaths, and if anyone tells you they do, they’re lying because people are going to die in nursing homes today. So, if you have the perfect answer, then why will people die in nursing homes in this state and every other state in this country? It really is cruel to say to people who lost a loved one, maybe they didn’t have to die. It’s cruel. Another lesson that I learned, the trick is to keep learning in life. People died in hospitals and nursing homes. We must learn the lesson and be better prepared for the next pandemic, because my friends there will be another pandemic. There was SARS, there was MERS, there was Ebola. Ignored it. We didn’t learn from it, and then COVID happened, and the house collapsed. MERS and SARS were also coronaviruses.

Andrew Cuomo: (56:47)
COVID is the third coronavirus, but we didn’t learn after MERS and SARS. We have to learn after this one, and we have to make the changes. You have hospitals that are weaker performing hospitals. We know that, because we just put the hospital system through a stress test, and you saw which hospitals stood up and which hospitals faltered. That is a fact. Try to shore up the weaker hospitals, but in truth, when you look at the list, we’ve been trying to shore them up for a long, long time. More, create a redundant system, so you have a strong hospital system backing up the weak hospital system. So, when that weak hospital collapses on the surge, you have a backup strong hospital system. Second, we have to, have to reform the nursing homes. They were only supposed to take patients if they could, if they could, and that was by law. It’s not a moral obligation. It’s by law, if they were prepared to handle them.

Andrew Cuomo: (58:17)
Nursing homes need more and quicker staff and resident testing. Dr. Zucker said today, which he’s said to me many times before, and therefore I said to you many times before. COVID came in to the nursing homes from the staff. They got it at home. They got it in the grocery store. They went to work and they brought in COVID. COVID came in from the staff, because we didn’t even know there was anything such as asymptomatic. All the federal experts told us the opposite, and we didn’t have any testing, so there was no way to test them. We have to fix that. Staff has to have more protection. They have to have more protective material. We have to have surge staff available because you can’t ask a person in a nursing home to work seven days a week, 14 hours a day under this stress. A nursing home has to have surge staff availability. They have to have a PPE stockpile, because if you try to buy PPE once a pandemic hits, it’s too late.

Andrew Cuomo: (59:25)
We sent planes to China to buy masks. Have the stock pile now. More isolation rooms, so when a person has a disease that might be contagious, you don’t know what it is, you have the ability to isolate. More staff training, more family notification, so families can get through to their loved ones and more regulation on the use of funding. Taxpayers spend a fortune on these nursing homes, and the funding should be going to the facility and the patient care. These are not designed to be businesses and money-making machines, right? This is dealing with the public. We should regulate, of the funding that we give these nursing homes, how much goes to funding for staff, salary caps for management, which I proposed years ago, and they wouldn’t pass because that’s just another way of taking money out of the nursing home, and have a limited profit margin. You can’t say to a nursing home, either you can buy new beds or you make more money.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:48)
Either you can hire more staff and help or you make more money. Either you buy a new TV for facility, for the patients, or you make more money. If they’re in the for-profit business, they’re going to choose make more money. No. Here’s how much money you can make. Everything else has to go into patient care. I’m going to propose that nursing home reform agenda today in my amendments to the New York State budget. I will not sign the budget without this nursing home reform plan, period. I mean that as New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving. I want to say to Dr. Zucker and all the health staff, thank you for a great job. I’m sorry you have to do it in a lousy political environment, but that’s where we are. I’m sorry that you had to deal with COVID. I’m sorry that you had to deal with the pandemic. I’m sorry that you had to miss your family, working seven days a week, and I’m sorry that you have to be abused in the partisan politics of the day.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:04)
We should have provided more public information, sooner. Yes, no. No excuse. We should have been more aggressive in fighting the misinformation. Most people would not say that one of my errors is lack of aggressiveness, but in truth, I was not aggressive enough in fighting back against these crazy political theories and these crazy political opponents. I have developed an immunity to them, right? You have to remember, I went through this with Donald Trump. It started with Donald Trump, started this whole nursing home thing, and it was the Democratic Governors and the Democratic States. I’ve become immune. The local politicians, who’s running for this, who’s trying to get their face on TV, I’m immune to that, but that’s not who paid the price here. It was the nursing home families who were confused, and that’s Thomas Paine complacence. I was complacent because I thought the attacks was just against me. I was wrong to be complacent.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:26)
The attacks were against Dr. Zucker and the healthcare team and the administration. I was wrong to be complacent because then New Yorkers said, “Oh, does the health tech care team really know what they’re doing?” I was wrong to be complacent because then the nursing home family said, “Maybe something happened that we don’t understand,” and that aggravated the grief that they were feeling. So, I take responsibility for all of that because I take responsibility for all of it, period. Whether it’s Dr. Zucker and the Health Department, whether it’s Jim Thomas Payne SUNY, I take responsibility. That’s what I think the people of the State of New York deserve, but I’m not going to be complacent or complacence, even the way Thomas Paine spells it. Let’s take some questions.

Speaker 1: (01:04:29)
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 brief moment to compile the Q&A roster. Governor, your first question comes from Karina Gerry at WUTR-TV. Karina, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:56)

Speaker 1: (01:04:56)
Karina, please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:05)
Hello? Unmute. Unmute.

Speaker 1: (01:05:07)
All right, we’re going to move on to the next question. Governor, your next question comes from Andrew Siff at WMBC-TV. Andrew, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Siff: (01:05:17)
Governor, good afternoon. Hope everyone is doing well. I have two questions. The first question has to do with the nursing home situation. You’ve described this void, but to clarify here, the void doesn’t fully explain what state lawmakers say, which is that they had been asking for that data for months long before your rationale that you couldn’t give it to them because the DOJ took precedence. So, I’m just wondering if you can explain to people why that data couldn’t have been presented to the legislature before August. My second question has to do with vaccinations. Mayor de Blasio, talking about supply problems in the city today, saying it’s not all weather-related, that they’re just not getting enough, and in some cases it’s because the state is holding up the arrival of doses in New York City. I’m wondering if you can clarify what might be happening there.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:20)
Okay, let’s do the mayor first. I think he’s confused, I think, is a fair statement. The federal government sends the allocations directly to the city. That’s how it works. They don’t send, it doesn’t go federal government to the state, and then the state allocates. It goes federal government, FedEx transport directly to the city. So, he’s once again confused. It may be that there are snow delays, but his shipments come directly from the federal government, so he should call the federal government and say, “This shipment is late.” They don’t come through the state. We have nothing to do with physically distributing to the state. In terms of the dates of the state request and the DOJ request, I don’t know. I thought they were roughly at the same time.

Karina Gerry: (01:07:34)
Yes. [inaudible 01:07:37] testimony was delivered August 12, by Dr. Zucker and other officials. As part of a legislative request, they had a very lengthy public hearing and the request was a follow-up to that hearing in August. If there are other requests that predate that, we’re happy to go back and look.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:59)
Yeah, but also Andrew, on the state legislator’s requests, I said, “Yes, we were not timely on responding to state legislators. More importantly, we will not timely enough in providing public information.” I get the state legislators. I’m more interested or just as interested in getting public information out, and people wanted a lot of information. Now, why was there a delay? Frankly, because everybody was working seven days a week, 24 hours a day on actually managing the issue, and all these requests take time. Every time you get another request, you have to go back to the nursing homes. You have to put together information. You have to make sure it’s right. So, there was a delay in providing public information. Once there’s a delay, then people say, “Oh, I wonder why-

Andrew Cuomo: (01:09:03)
Once there’s a delay then people say, “Oh, I wonder why they’re not providing the information,” and they come up with theories. Or just, you create a void and then people can add their own theories. So Donald Trump adds a theory, everybody adds a theory, and it’s a distraction from their issue in politics, right? Anyway, we’ll leave the politics out of it. I said to the state legislator, “Yes, we were slow in responding to you.” And we told them we were slow in responding to them. And just to be a little hyper-technical, we told them and they implicitly agreed to the delay, and I’ll tell you why you know, Andrew. Because your follow-up question would have been to the state legislator, “Well, when you didn’t get a response, did you send a demand letter? Did you say I’m going to subpoena the information, if you didn’t get it?” Right? So it was an agreed to delay. Right?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:10:19)
But I said to the legislative leaders, “Yes, I understand state legislators are offended in not getting the information. I get it.” And we have a lot of work to do, and I want to take the tone down, and we have to do a budget, we have to do vaccinations, we have a lot of important work to do together, and that’s what we should be focused on.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:10:50)
But also Andrew, they had all the numbers. There are only … You know, there are two basic numbers. How many people died in hospitals, and how many died in nursing homes? Well, we want subsets of that. Okay, but they had the basic numbers all along. Next question?

Speaker 1: (01:11:14)
All right Governor, next up we have Peter Haskell from WCBS 880. Peter, your line is now open, please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:26)
Hello Peter.

Peter Haskell: (01:11:28)
Got it. Thank you. Hello. Thank you. It seems one of the questions here is about credibility. There are people, Democrats and Republicans, who wonder did you lie to them, and they say, “Can we trust this guy still?” What do you say to them?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:49)
I say, first of all, look at the results, Peter. Can you trust this state’s response to COVID? Let’s look at the facts. No state was hit as hard as we were. We were ambushed. We went from the highest infection rate to the lowest. We were on the verge of overwhelming the hospitals, like China, like Italy. That never happened. We never wound up in the situation that California is in today. New Yorkers did a phenomenal job. Dr. Zucker did a phenomenal job. That is all a fact.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:12:29)
Well, he didn’t respond to my request. Yeah, well he told you he wasn’t responding to your request. It’s not a credibility question. I said, “No, I’m not answering your request now.” I have a lot going on. We’re managing the pandemic. We’re responding to the Department of Justice. I said no. It’s not a credibility … Now, they didn’t like the answer no. I get that, but that’s not credibility.

Peter Haskell: (01:13:02)
So, [inaudible 01:13:02] that second chance-

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:02)
Do you know what I’m saying?

Speaker 2: (01:13:02)
Is Jack here?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:09)
Peter’s on the phone. Go ahead, Peter.

Peter Haskell: (01:13:13)
Can you still hear me?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:14)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Peter Haskell: (01:13:17)
The fact is, you were out to the nursing homes over and over again during these briefings. Did you not know the information, or did you choose not to share it?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:30)
I knew the information that I gave you. Total number of deaths in hospitals, total number of deaths in nursing homes. And Peter, that’s what I was focused on. Frankly I hadn’t even heard a lot of these concepts. Well, how many did a nursing home presume dead? I never heard of the concept of presuming someone, presume a cause of death. How many were in the hospital but then went to a nursing home? Nursing home and went to a hospital? I was not focused on any of that.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:14:06)
I sat here every day, I give the total number of hospital deaths, total number of nursing home deaths, and those were the relevant numbers as far as I’m concerned. Well, state legislators didn’t get the information. Yes. Peter, I am telling you, they did not get the information. Also I’m telling you, ask them to send … You know, they did not call up or send a demand letter or send a subpoena. I think they were actually right, and I think they were actually fair in saying, “We understand, you’re in the middle of managing a pandemic, and you have to deal with DOJ sending letters to Democratic governors, so we’ll pause on the information.” And they’d come back in the legislative session in January. So I think they were actually reasonable, and I think the leadership was reasonable. I think you have some members who say, “We should have had the information when we wanted it.” Yeah, I understand that those were … Some people feel that way. But to them, Peter, say, “Well then why didn’t you send a demand letter? Why didn’t you send a subpoena?” I mean, if you really wanted it that’s what you would have done, right?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:38)
Gareth, you have anything to add on that?

Gareth Rhodes: (01:15:40)
I thought that was good. Thank you.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:42)
Okay, next question, operator.

Speaker 1: (01:15:46)
Next up we have Jeff Kolakowski from Channel 9 in Syracuse. Jeff, your line is now open, please unmute your microphone.

Jeff Kolakowski: (01:15:53)
Hi Governor, how are you this afternoon?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:55)
Good, how are you?

Jeff Kolakowski: (01:15:56)
I’m okay, thank you. So I’m wondering if you could provide a little clarification about the vaccine delays. Does that have any impact at all on the state-run sites? I’m thinking of, obvious, the state fairgrounds here where we are in Syracuse.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:16:13)
It may. It may. We do not know yet, Jeff. We’re compiling data. But the White House made it clear that the storm affected many of the transport hubs, and that there are delays. We don’t know specifically … Because they’re all individual deliveries. It’s amazing when you think about it, Jeff, but FedEx makes many of these deliveries. We don’t know yet exactly how many sites got their FedEx distribution and how many didn’t.

Jeff Kolakowski: (01:16:58)
So how would you suggest people best track it? They’ll be emailed if they’re impacted, or what should we communicate to people tonight on the air?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:06)
We will contact … No appointments have been impacted thus far. If there is any impact, we’ll let you know right away. There hasn’t been any impact yet, right?

Gareth Rhodes: (01:17:19)
Correct. I mean, a lot of these sites are still using the weeks one through nine allocation, and the weeks 10 allocations are the ones that have been delayed, and those are coming in slowly. Some have come in. Many have not. But for the state sites, we’re still using that weeks one through nine allocation, so those appointments are still ongoing. If there is a delay we’ll notify people immediately, of course. And they’ll just be postponed, not canceled.

Melissa DeRosa: (01:17:42)
And just one last point. There is a CDC call today at 2:00 PM, so if we get any additional information from the CDC at 2:00 we’ll put out a press release immediately following and make sure all the local governments are aware of any change in the situation.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:55)
Next question, operator.

Speaker 1: (01:17:59)
Governor, next up we have Karina Gerry from WUTR TV. Karina, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Karina Gerry: (01:18:06)
Hi. I’m so sorry about that earlier [inaudible 01:18:09].

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:09)
That’s all right. Welcome back. It happens.

Karina Gerry: (01:18:12)
Thank you, thank you. So I’m actually going to veer off from the nursing homes. I’ve actually been contacting your office for a little bit about the New York 22nd congressional race. I’m not sure how familiar you are with it, but there were a lot of issues that came up and actually the Oneida County Board of Election Commissioners had to resign, and only you can actually remove them. So if they hadn’t resigned, you would have had to remove them. We’re really worried about everything we saw, what came up, all of their errors that came up. Is there anything that you can think of in terms of law that going forward where we can fix these type of issues?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:18:58)
You know, it’s a good question and it was very concerning what happened. I think it’s the right thing that those election commissioners resigned, frankly. We have laws and laws and laws and laws, and then they have to be implemented, and at one point it comes down to competence, and diligence, and capacity. I’m not saying that the election commissioners brought any bias to the job, and I don’t have in-depth knowledge. But to me it seems like basic incompetence in the administration of their functions. Many of these boards, they appoint political people who are not competent to do the job. We even do it in elections. We fail to ask the question, “Are you competent to do the job? What’s your experience? What’s your ability? What have you ever accomplished? Are you competent?” I think it was a question of competence.

Karina Gerry: (01:20:14)
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:20:18)
Thank you. Next question, operator.

Speaker 1: (01:20:22)
Next up we have Bill Mahoney from Politico. Bill, your line is now open, please unmute your microphone.

Bill Mahoney: (01:20:29)
Hi, Governor. Thank you for taking my question. Just wanted to follow up on your talks about the void, where I think we all do want to get accurate information out there. Is there any chance you could release to the public whatever you sent to the DOJ as a way for us to help get the story out about what actually happened, and also are there any other transcripts from any other meetings you’ve had on this subject that you might be able to share with the press to help illustrate better how this played out, and get this accurate information to the world?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:20:52)
Look, I would have no problem with it. I would have to have the lawyers talk to DOJ, but I would have no problem with it. You know, I … There were two corresponding mistakes, Bill, and part of it is a function of the time. We’re managing the pandemic. You guys want information. Information takes time, which I think you don’t appreciate, and information takes time from the same people who are managing the pandemic, right? You ask a technical question, they have to go to the people at this table because the situation’s moving so fast. Except the people at this table are day to day involved 100%.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:21:45)
That’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation, but it’s not an excuse. We did not provide enough public information. And by the way, in this situation, I don’t know that you could ever provide enough public information, because one set of questions beget another set of questions. But we did not provide enough information. That’s one phenomenon.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:22:08)
Second phenomenon, okay, now there’s a void. The politics is intense and miserable and personal. Donald Trump himself started this … The, it’s … COVID is a Democratic state problem, and the Democratic governors are killing people in nursing homes. Remember, that was a national Republican strategy. It blew up when the nursing homes deaths happened in Republican states, and it didn’t jive with the facts because New York is number 34. Forget all this other garbage. New York is number 34 in nursing home deaths. How is it so terrible a job if it’s number 34 in nursing home deaths, and we had COVID before anybody else, and we had it worse than anyone else, and we had no notice? Right?

Andrew Cuomo: (01:23:11)
But then in the void, now all the local politicians … This one should call on resignation of Dr. Zucker. Are you kidding me, congressman? You didn’t have a congresswoman who is antisemitic and asks for execution of Democrats. You supported her. Other congressperson, administration should resign. You were part of the insurrection at the Capitol where people died. I mean … But, it’s all this political toxicity, and then you get some people who have a personal agenda. Some people who have had a long-term problem with this office which still goes on, where we believe they … There was unethical if not illegal activity, and that continues. So now you have that in the mix. But that all fills this void.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:24:26)
Now you could say, Bill … Because you’ve covered this a long time. Well, that’s just another day in politics, right? Accusation, cross-accusation, you did this, I did this. That’s just another day in politics, right? That’s mudslinging. That’s why people are disgusted with the whole thing. Yes but, and there’s a big but here, and this is why I made a mistake being complacent, and this is why I’m no longer going to be complacent. It wasn’t the normal political back and forth. You had a different audience. The audience were the grieving families of nursing home victims. That was the audience. And it wasn’t just the normal back and forth with you as a reporter, and tweets, and this garbage and that garbage, which I do dismiss, to tell you the truth. I don’t even read Twitter. I do dismiss it, and I’ve always dismissed it, because it’s so obvious and transparent and disgusting.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:25:42)
But there was a different audience, and now I have people who lost loved ones saying, “I don’t understand. They’re saying my father could have lived. I don’t understand. They’re saying my father only died because somebody came from a nursing home and brought COVID into the nursing home.” And they’re getting pieces of information, and they’re listening to some of these real zealots spin these tales. You look at the partisanship, Bill. But for a couple of exceptions where it’s personal, it’s all partisan. But the audience was different, and I made … My complacence was wrong. I should have tamped down every attack, because the audience hearing it didn’t know that this is the normal political garbage, and it hurt them. That’s what I feel badly about.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:26:58)
I also think it’s terrible that they attack the Health Department and Dr. Zucker, but that’s just the normal ferocity in this political moment, right? But all this said, I am not going to be complacent anymore. I’m not. If there’s a untrue … I understand there are newspapers with partisan agendas. They make it clear. I know, but some people still read those newspapers and think they’re newspapers. I’m not going to allow false information, or people who have a political agenda, to make false statements without rebutting it, because the Department of Health professionals don’t deserve being criticized unfairly. Their credibility is important, so that people know they’re getting credible information. And I’m not going to allow the families of the nursing homes to be confused. I’m not going to be complacent.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:28:19)
Funny, you guys like to say I’m too aggressive. No no no no. I wasn’t aggressive enough. I didn’t come back to you every time you retweeted some congressperson who is my political opponent, some county executive who ran against me. I never went back to you guys and said, “Hey, there’s a political backdrop here.” I should have. I should have, because nursing home families were misled. But they now have all the facts. They have all the facts. They have all the facts.

Bill Mahoney: (01:28:56)
So should we expect-

Andrew Cuomo: (01:28:59)
And we do have to move forward. And what I said to the legislative leaders, which is important, is, “Look, I get all this.” And I get the legislators who are offended that they didn’t get precedence on their report. I get it. But we have to do a budget. We have to do vaccines. And then we face probably the greatest challenge that this state has faced in modern history. We have to rebuild the economy. Right now we have a hemorrhaging situation. We have New York City hemorrhaging people and revenue, and this is going to be a problem for many urban environments.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:29:48)
You know Zoom, Bill, exposed people to a different world. I don’t have to be at a place of work. I can be sitting in my den in my pajamas and I can do work. Well, but if you’re not in an urban environment, if you’re not in a city, you can’t go to a play, you can’t go to a museum. I don’t want to go to a play or a museum now anyway, and I’m going to watch what happens with this virus before I walk into a crowded ballroom. So this is a very precarious time for this state, and we have a lot to do, and that’s my job, and that’s what we’re focused on.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:30:33)
Fight the pandemic, get those vaccines out the door, rebuild New York, and in the midst of it all get that budget done ASAP. And then atmospherically, don’t be complacent in allowing untruths to go forward, because it hurts innocent people. Okay, thank you very much all, thank you for taking the time.

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