May 3, 2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript May 3
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on May 3, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus and vaccine updates for New York here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Good to see you. Pete, pleasure. Juliet, Zack. To my right, Dr. Howard Zucker, our great health commissioner. I want to thank him for his good work. To my left, Mr. Robert Mujica, budget director. If he doesn’t look happy and peppy and bursting with love, don’t take anything from it. He never looks happy and peppy and bursting with love. The man’s face has no expression. Don’t play poker with this man. He has no tells. But today is a milestone for New York State and a significant moment of transition. So let’s get to it.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:42)
We’ve been talking about COVID recovery. COVID recovery has two parts. Managing COVID, precautions, vaccinations, et cetera, and reopening. Two tracks, simultaneously and balancing them. How do you do it? You follow the science and you follow the data. You follow the science and you follow the data. You disregard the politics, which drove the COVID response in this nation last year. It was a political response, not a public health response. And it caused a lot of damage. New York State always went a different way. There are numbers, and there are data. There is data, and that should inform your decision. Look at your positivity rate. Look at your hospitalization rate. Now look at your vaccination rate. And they will inform what you should do.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:43)
Our positivity rate has been going way down dramatically. 50% decline in the last month. Congratulations to New Yorkers. Hospitalization rate, skiing down the mountain. 38% decline over the last month. Vaccination rate, the exact opposite, has been going straight up. We’re now 9 million New Yorkers with at least one dose. 7 million new Yorkers fully vaccinated. Okay.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:22)
Numbers overall, 1.9. 37 people still passed away yesterday and they’re in our thoughts and prayers, but that’s to chase in the exuberance. Well, it’s over. It’s over. Hallelujah. Spring is here. Yeah. 37 people died. So it’s not over.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:50)
Still variants across the state. Why? This is a function of community behavior. Western New York is still the highest. They’re down, but they are still the highest. New York City, Brooklyn is actually higher now, which is a change. We’ve had Staten Island, which has had the highest positivity for quite some time. Not much of a difference. We’re talking about 2.05 to 2.09. I don’t even know that statistically, that’s relevant.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:22)
Vaccinations, 15 million total. 9 million, at least one dose. 7 million fully vaccinated. 35% of the population. Per the CDC, New York State has the highest number of adults fully vaccinated than any other large state. Thank you New Yorkers.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:46)
We still have more to do on the vaccinations. And the vaccinations are key. This is the vaccination rate by week, which is interesting. We started back in March and we started slowly. Doing 1.3 million a week, and then we’ve been promoting it. We’ve been advertising it. I’ve been traveling all over the state, giving everybody I know a vaccine. It’s safe. Our president has been talking about the vaccines. Went up April 5th, went up April 12th. Dropped April 19th, dropped April 26. Why the drop? That’s something we’re studying. Obviously, the New Yorkers who were most eager to get the vaccine went out first. They got it. And now you’re having New Yorkers who are less eager to get it. Remember in the beginning, people were going on the website every 20 seconds and hitting the refresh button to get it. We’re past that population. Anybody who can get a vaccine now can just walk in and get it. There is no barrier to a vaccine, but you’re starting to deal with a population that is just less eager to get it. That’s true. Some people hypothesize, well after the J&J pause, maybe that made people rethink. Nobody has any data on that. I think that J&J pause should have shown people the exact opposite. If they pause the vaccine because one person out of a million had a reaction, that means they’re studying these vaccines very carefully, and you should take comfort in that fact, but we’re seeing the number drop. Slight tick up last week. But you can see we’re much lower than where we were.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:53)
Who were the groups we’re targeting on the vaccination? Youthful and the doubtful. Those are our words. They’re not like scientific words. Younger population and populations that have doubts. And we’re working very hard to get the younger people, incentives for younger people. I’ve asked high schools to organize events where they drive their students to a mass vaccination site. Put them on a bus and bring them to a mass vaccination site, because that is the population that we need to vaccinate. The doubtful, the hesitant population. That’s more education, more information, more education, more information.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:43)
If you look at the percentage of vaccinated, which is interesting, 75 plus, I thought was going to be the highest population. Actually, they’re not. The 65 to 74 are the highest population at 70%. Now, there was a lot of emphasis on older people should get vaccinated, but 65 to 74, the highest you see it goes down by 55, 45, 35, 26. Lowest is 16 to 25. Why? Well, first of all, they were most recently eligible. They weren’t eligible in the beginning.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:29)
Second, they do have, some of them do have the superhero complex. I’m young. I can get it. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. I remember early on, there were young people who were down in Daytona Beach. I don’t know if you remember the news story and they were running around in Daytona Beach, like nothing was going on for spring break. And they were on TV saying, “Ah, it’s fine. If I get it, I get it. It’s nothing.” There’s part of that. They were most recently eligible and there is an attitude that, they’ll be fine, why should they take the backseat? My argument is, yeah, maybe you’ll be fine. And by the way, you don’t know that either. We’ve had a lot of young people who have died. Maybe you will get a long haul syndrome that we’re not really sure what it is yet, but a lingering consequence of COVID. Or maybe you go home and kiss your grandmother and wind up killing your grandmother. So show some civic responsibility, but that’s our target.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:45)
The doubtful, vaccine hesitant anti-vaxxers, are about 20% of the population and that’s going to be a hard population to reach, but we’re working on it all with time. If there’s one thing that the global healthcare community agrees on with COVID, and different people tell you different things every day, but I think if they agreed on one thing, the more vaccinated, the better, and that’s why we’re working very hard. But look, it is irrefutable when you look at the numbers that New Yorkers have made tremendous progress. All the arrows pointed in the right direction, have been for a while, and are dramatically pointing in the right direction. So it’s time to readjust the decision made on the science and on the data.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:40)
So today, we announced a major reopening of New York State on May 19th. The key is a smart reopening. Reopening is not a light switch. We said this from the beginning. It’s not fully close the light switch, fully open the light switch. It’s a smart reopening. It’s a measured reopening. It’s a phased reopening, but we are at a point now where we are going to take a major step forward in reopening.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:10)
When we did the close down, if you remember, we did it on a regionally coordinated basis. We live in a tri-state area. New York shouldn’t be a competitor or an encumbrance to New Jersey or to Connecticut. If we are not coordinated, what you’ll do is you’ll drive people from New Jersey to come to New York. You’ll drive people from Connecticut to come to New York. Or you’ll drive people from New York to Connecticut. If we say the restaurants are open to Connecticut, but not in New York, you’ll have new Yorkers driving to Connecticut. You’ll love New Yorkers driving to New Jersey. The coordination is important because you’re a mobile population. That’s why it’s important that Westchester has the same rules as New York City, as Nassau or Suffolk. Otherwise, you just shop locale. Makes no sense. So we worked with New Jersey, New York, other states on a Northeast coalition. That’s how we closed down.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:19)
And that’s how we’re going to reopen because the same theory is true. If New York has dramatically different rules than New Jersey, than Connecticut, you’ll see people driving back and forth and that helps no one. So we’ve been working with a coordination plan, especially on the tri-state area. And what we’ve agreed on originally coordinated basis, beginning Wednesday, May 19th, most capacity restrictions will end across the tri-state area. That includes retail stores, food services, gyms, fitness centers, amusement, and family entertainment, hair salons, barbershops, offices, et cetera. No capacity restrictions on all of those activities.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:14)
So museums, theaters, Broadway, retail, shops. Now they may make their own economic decision as to when they need to reopen because they can have critical mass. We’re talking to Broadway. Broadway, for example, has a schedule. They have to produce a play before they can sell the play. So there’s a schedule for them, but from a capacity point of view, they can all reopen on May 19th. Offices also.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:52)
New York State, we have slightly different rules than the tri-state coalition. And our variances are, as we’ve said, outdoor food and beverage curfew was lifted on May 17th. What does that mean? Outdoor restaurants, outdoor bars. The curfew was lifted on May 17th. Indoor food and beverage. Indoor restaurant service, curfew was lifted May 31st. So we go right back to the old rules. Indoor catered events, the limit increases to 250, but if they do testing, it goes to 500 on May 19th. Residential gatherings go to 50 on May 19th. Outdoor, large stadiums go to 33% on May 19th. This is the Mets, this is the Yankees. It goes to 33%. We’re still working with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut on a joint protocol.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:03)
… Connecticut on a joint protocol that would allow us to go higher with a testing or vaccinated caveat. So for non-vaccinated people, you have X percent. If you have vaccinated people or people who took a test, you have an additional capacity. We’re working through that now. But for now, the stadiums are at 33%. In New York, we’re going to keep the six foot CDC requirement because we do err on the side of safety. CDC keeps the six foot social distancing requirement, that is still in effect. So our capacity restrictions are subject to the six feet, right? So this room has a capacity restriction and the capacity restriction applies up to the point where you can afford six foot social distancing. If the CDC changes their guidance, then we’ll change our guidance.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:19)
But having said that, for events that can show proof of vaccination or recent negative tests, the six foot limit does not need to apply. Okay? So it’s six feet. But if you say, “Look, I’m only going to allow press in the room who are fully vaccinated. I’m only going to allow people in the restaurant who are fully vaccinated or just took a negative test,” then you can go above the six feet. We started this with the playoff games in Buffalo. If you are vaccinated, you are in a different situation. If you have a recent PCR test, then you are in a different situation. I prefer vaccinated.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:18)
And we’re also starting to talk to other countries about if a person is vaccinated in New York and a person is vaccinated in another country, then those people, life should be returning to normal. You’re vaccinated. And it’s an incentive to be vaccinated. So sixth feet CDC requirement unless it is organized around vaccinations or negative test results. This is a major reopening of economic and social activity, right? And it’s coordinated regionally, which is smart.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:59)
But if you reopen economic and social activity you also have to have transportation available. So we’re going to coordinate the MTA’s resumption of 24-hour service with the reopening and immediately with a curfew lift. A curfew lift will apply to restaurants, bars, et cetera, especially in Manhattan. Workers are going to need to get back and forth. Now you’ll have people working till four o’clock in the morning again. So the MTA will resume their 24-hour service on May 17th to coordinate with the economic and social economic activity increase.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:50)
Importantly to the MTA, we made significant gains with the MTA during this period of time. The MTA subway trains have never been cleaner than they are now. I can’t tell you how many New Yorkers say to me, “It’s amazing. The trains are cleaner than they have ever been.” I can’t tell you how many New Yorkers say to me, “There are fewer homeless who are now on the trains” because when they closed in the evening for a couple of hours at night, they did the cleaning and they referred the homeless to supportive services, which is what they needed in the first place. And that is an indisputable fact that the MTA provided better service. Nobody wants the MTA to now go back to the old days. So I told the MTA for my two cents 24-hour service, yes, but the trains must remain clean and we have to help the homeless. And we can’t go backwards on the quality of service. That must continue.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:19)
I want to thank Governor Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Lamont for their cordiality and professionalism. The governors tend to work together. We have a weekly meeting with the White House where we all coordinate. I chair that as chairman of the National Governors Association, but here locally we’ve really had a special working relationship with Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont. We don’t have identical policies because we’re in slightly different situations, but our policies do compliment one another and I don’t think they encumber one another. So I want to thank them very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:06)
What happens next? What happens next is what the science and the data says happens next. Well, what happens in two months? What happens in three months? What happens in four months? I don’t know. Unless you have a crystal ball, you don’t know either and then you’d have to believe in a crystal ball even if you had a crystal ball, I follow the numbers and the science and the data. I believe in the trajectory that we’re seeing. I believe we’ll continue to get people vaccinated. I believe it is indisputable that the more people vaccinated, the better the situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:45)
We see our hospitalizations down, positivity down, vaccination is up. We just have to keep all of those headed in the right direction. God forbid something happens, then God forbid something happens and then we deal with it at the time. We’re going to continue focused on the vaccinations. Young people have to get vaccinated and I’m going to continue working on that. The doubtful population, there are also facts here and this is not a political argument. “Well, I’m a conservative. I don’t believe in vaccines.” It’s not political. It’s factual. There’s no conservative theory of vaccines or liberal theory of vaccines. There’s a medical theory of vaccines. So I’m going to continue that fight.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:43)
But I also want to say, yay, we’re reopening. Yes, but that’s not the goal of reopening. A lot of damage was done on many levels; economic damage, social damage, psychological damage. A number of divorces worldwide went up something like 300%. What was the effect on children who were left at home for a year and didn’t socialize? What’s the effect on people who have been isolated from loved ones? I mean, there’s tremendous damage that has been done and not just in New York, everywhere. So I don’t think of it in terms of reopening. I think of it more in terms of post-9/11, post-Hurricane Sandy.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:48)
It wasn’t about reopening and rebuilding what we were. No, if the house gets knocked down, we’re going to build a better house than we had before. We’re not going to replace. We’re going to advance. Let’s advance. And let’s be honest, New York wasn’t perfect before this happened. It’s not like we had the perfect home that was destroyed and therefore we’re going to rebuild the identical home because it was perfect. There was a lot of work to do. And part of being New York tough is, “Yeah, you knocked us down. Yes, it hurt. Yes, there was pain, but we’re going to get up.”
Andrew Cuomo: (23:35)
And we’re not just going to get up, we’re going to get up smart and strong and united. And we’re going to make this a moment of opportunity because everybody has to rebuild. New York’s rebuilding. So is California. So is Chicago. So is Canada. So is Europe. We’re going to be the first and the fastest to rebuild. We think there’s a moment of opportunity here and we’re going to build a totally different New York. We’re going to re-imagine it. We’re going to renew it. It’s going to be a New York that never existed before. And we’re going to take this moment of reset internationally and we’re going to use it to our competitive advantage because we’re fast and we’re good, and we’re smart and we’re going to come out of this reset ahead of our other competitors.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:34)
And we’re going to fix a lot of the things that we should have fixed all along. And it can be a moment for a New York renaissance. Our New York has to be cleaner. It has to be safer. It has to be fairer. It has to be more economically competitive. We have to reform public safety. The rate of crime, especially in New York City is unsustainable. We have to repair the relationship between the police and the community. It has to be done. It came to a head at the George Floyd killing. It still hasn’t been fully resolved. That has to be done.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:13)
You know what New York’s economics are tied to? The crime rate. Go back and look at the crime rate and look at the economic activity rate. When crime goes up, the economy goes down. We have to repeal SALT because the taxes on the middle class, property taxes are a killer in this state. Yes, we’re the greatest state in the nation. How much of a premium do we expect people to pay to live here? The federal government did it. It was an attack. It was wrong. It was political. Every federal politician promised to redo it.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:57)
Chuck Schumer said, “I promise.” Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I promise.” Jerry Nadler said, “I promise.” All right, repeal SALT. Because when president Trump did it, they all put out statements saying, “We’re going to repeal it.” It was terrible. Repeal it. That is a major tax cut for New Yorkers. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, our mass transit system, which should have been done years ago. And we’re going to lead the nation in the green economy period because that is the future. And whoever gets there first wins.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:37)
And we’re going to learn from this COVID nightmare that took this country unprepared and we’re going to have the best public health system in the nation. That’s how you seize this moment to have a New York that’s better than ever. And we will have. Questions.
Speaker 1: (26:59)
Governor, Do you have full faith and confidence in the investigation by the attorney general? Because a couple of weeks ago, one of your top advisors put out a statement saying that she has ambitions to run for governor, which seemed to undercut it. How do you reconcile those two things, especially if you’re telling some particularly in the assembly to have the faith in her investigation?
Andrew Cuomo: (27:20)
I’m not telling anyone to have faith in anything. I didn’t tell the assembly to have faith in anything. Everybody makes their own decisions. Let the reviews go on and then I’ll comment at the appropriate time.
Speaker 1: (27:33)
Do you think she’s in some way looking to run for governor, looking to take you out hard with that report?
Andrew Cuomo: (27:39)
You’d have to ask her. I say let the reviews continue and then we’ll take it from there. [crosstalk 00:27:44].
Speaker 2: (27:45)
Why should we wait for your tax returns to reveal the advance you received for your book deal? Why not make it public now in the spirit of transparency?
Andrew Cuomo: (27:53)
Because I have released my tax returns every year when I release my tax returns.
Speaker 2: (28:02)
You know the number now, why not make it public?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:03)
… release my tax returns.
Speaker 3: (28:03)
You know the number now, why not make it public?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:04)
Because I release them when my tax returns are done and I file my tax returns. That’s when I do it.
Speaker 4: (28:11)
Speaker 5: (28:11)
There’s a case in the Bronx yesterday where a judge set the bail on a person who was destroying windows in synagogues across the city for about 11 days straight. And the judge, even though it’s bail reform, made it a non-bail settable offense, however you say that. The judge set bail on it and then hours later overturned on it and the person walked out, no bail. Did you see that story? Do you agree with the first judge’s attempt? Because hate crimes are not addressed in bail reform, do you think they need to be revised to deal with hate crimes?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:55)
I hear the question. It’s a good question. I haven’t heard about that. I haven’t read that story. So let me find out the facts and then I’ll get back to you. Andrew.
Governor, on the MTA. Two questions. First on the MTA, the original reason to stop 24/7 service was to do the deep cleaning because there were concerns about COVID spreading from surfaces. We’ve known for months that that isn’t the way COVID spread. So why did it take until May 17th to restore service? Was it because you and the MTA did not have a homeless plan for what to do with the folks who sleep on the trains in the middle of the night?
Andrew Cuomo: (29:38)
Well, let’s be careful with what we say are facts, Andrew. We were told initially that surface transmission was a major source. Then that started to change over time. When they first said surface transmission was a big deal we went and found all sorts of chemicals. We did deep cleanings, et cetera. They then started to say, well, surfaces aren’t that big a deal, but they’ve never said surface transmission is irrelevant. And you put people on a train, you sneeze into your hand, you grab the rail. I’m behind you and I grabbed the rail, I think Dr. Zucker would say, I’m in danger of catching the COVID from you. So cleaning is still important.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:43)
Not as urgent as they said it was initially, but it’s still important. And you’re trying to build confidence for people to get back on the subways. I want to know the subway is clean. You want me to get back on the subway, you make it sound like, not you, but people think, well, if you change a rule, then people will do it. No. It’s not about government rules anymore. This is about people’s own common sense. People said, “I don’t want to get on the subway. There’s a lot of people, they don’t wear masks. They’re dirty. They’re sneezing all over the place and I’m afraid to get on the subway.” We said, “Don’t worry, we’re going to clean all the subways.” And I think that gave people a lot of confidence to get back on the subways.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:39)
I think we’ve actually brought people back to the subways faster because when they get on the subway and in the platform, they know it’s cleaner and they know it, Andrew. I mean, they say it. You can smell it. It smells cleaner. The cars look cleaner. I think the number of homeless on the trains were also a deterrent for people. I think people saw homeless people on the trains. They didn’t know if they were vaccinated, many weren’t wearing masks, et cetera. And I believe that was a deterrent. And to the extent that you did a deep clean, and you got homeless people off the trains and into services, which is what should have been done any way, right? This is a total social error where we say, we’re proud we let the homeless sleep on the trains. Why are you proud that you let the homeless sleep on the trees? Why are we proud that we let human beings sleep on the… I think they have a right to sleep on the train. But why would you want them to? Why wouldn’t you want to get them the help they need? Well, they’re afraid to go into a shelter because the shelter is dangerous. Sleeping on a subway car is dangerous. The shelters are worse than a subway car, then fix the shelters. We’ve gotten to this point where we accepted, well, the subway system is really a homeless system. They sleep on the benches. They sleep on the cars. No. No. I don’t accept that. So yes, it was also an opportunity to bring in social services, make the connections with the homeless and get the homeless the care they need. Not a bench in a station, not a bench in a car. And that was doing the right thing. I want to make sure they don’t revert to the old days, which were wrong. And what was the differential?
Andrew Cuomo: (34:07)
They said the differential was, well, we closed for a couple of hours and we got the NYPD to cooperate in helping us refer the homeless to social service providers, right? That was new, Andrew. I’m saying that can’t be reversed. The NYPD has to continue to help the MTA because the NYPD is the police force for the subway system. The NYPD has to continue to help refer the homeless to social services. We can’t turn the subway system back into a mobile running homeless system. And they have to maintain the cleanliness which is what’s instilling confidence in people to get back on the subway system and the buses, by the way.
Speaker 6: (35:06)
Can you just clarify, the six feet rule that you talked about, that’s only in place for events, but that doesn’t apply where restaurants can be full capacity? So people in New York City or restaurants are very small. Or is the six feet rule, also an effect in restaurants, museums, and all those things that you listed?
Andrew Cuomo: (35:22)
Six foot rule is a CDC rule. I don’t know if they call it a rule, guidance, whatever they call it. But that is their rule and we are adhering to that six foot rule. So it’s capacity subject to your ability to maintain the six foot rule.
Speaker 6: (35:43)
[inaudible 00:35:43] is not fully open then? I’m just trying to-
Andrew Cuomo: (35:48)
It is fully open subject to six feet. Did I say that correctly?
Robert Mujica: (35:53)
Yeah. That’s right. And we also… for restaurants, if they want to go within six feet or less, right? We’ve always had a rule in place that allows them to put in physical barriers in place. So they can still do that now and many restaurants have those physical barriers in place, which allow them to go less than six feet. That is in New Jersey as well.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:12)
And also by the way, and I’m trying to promote this. If you have an operating plan for vaccinated people, then you can operate at less than six feet. The vaccination numbers are going down. Well, why should I get vaccinated? There are benefits to being vaccinated beyond just you’re safer and you won’t hurt anyone else. You can go to a restaurant that allows vaccinated people. You can go to a theater. If I’m a theater owner, by the way, or I’m a baseball club, I’ll tell you what I do. I propose more seats for vaccinated people. And if you’re vaccinated, I don’t have to live within six feet. So I have more seats for vaccinated people. And then non-vaccinated people I adhere to the six foot rule. Nowadays, if you want to go to a ball game, get vaccinated. You want to go to a movie theater, get vaccinated. You want to go to a restaurant, get vaccinated. I think that’s good. Julia. This is Julia, I’m not going anywhere.
Thank you. You just talked about getting the unvaccinated vaccinated. So the veteran’s nursing home at Stony Brook, most if not all of the residents are vaccinated yet only 64% of the people who work there are vaccinated. That’s just since last week. So is there any way to incentivize people to get vaccinated? Is there something you can offer them or something else you can do with them or for them to get them? People are still having a hard time seeing their loved ones in nursing homes and this is making it difficult.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:07)
That is a good question. We’re trying incentives. And I’m going to ask Dr. Zucker for his opinion. Some people have suggested mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers. That would require a law, and that would be highly controversial. And I believe the union leadership would be opposed to that. We’ve tried all sorts of incentives and we have a rate, I don’t know, Stony Brook in general. But you remember, I think, we did the vaccination of healthcare workers and hospital workers. And I put those numbers up every day and we called hospitals and nursing homes and we said, “You’re low. You have to get the number up.” We sent other hospitals to help vaccinate. Here in the city, we had hospitals that were much, much lower than other hospitals. So we put a lot of time and effort into it and we have incentives. I don’t know what you can do short of mandating it, but I’m telling you that would be highly problematic. But maybe, Rob, you want to mention… You have any ideas and then Dr. Zucker, do you have any ideas?
Robert Mujica: (39:38)
No. We were looking at the hesitancy rates in a lot of different areas, specifically in places like nursing homes, whether or not you can and doctor could speak to that. And then on the younger groups, we’ve just started opening up for vaccinations to them. And we’re looking at different ways, like activities, as the governor mentioned, they can participate in if you’re vaccinated otherwise, right? You can’t participate in those activities. And that will happen more and more and you’ll start to see that and hopefully that’ll get [inaudible 00:40:07]
[inaudible 00:40:06] my question is Ray McGuire, for instance, running for mayor. He’s saying, give people $100 to go get a vaccine. There was a news story in, I think, it was South Carolina. Nursing home residents are being given four hours off or a day off as an incentive, or to get that vaccine on their day off. Anything like that?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:30)
We have done things like that and organizations have done things like that. And we have done people get time off to get a vaccine. We haven’t done the financial incentive, but we have done many incentives like, it’s free and your employer has to give you the time, et cetera. Do you have any…
Dr. Howard Zucker: (40:54)
I think what the governance says is the key point here. That the people who working in those nursing homes also want to get their life back to normal. And all the incentives that we’re putting into place for them to get their life back to normal are separate from their employment. But I hear you and we are working with those long-term care facilities to figure out what else can we do to get individuals vaccinated on this point.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:19)
Do you want to get in on this? Doubtful. You have an anti, what they call, anti-vaxxers. anti-vaccination belief, which is very strong. I know because they demonstrate against me all the time. They just are anti-vaccination, period. Not just anti-vaccination COVID. We went through this with measles. We had a terrible time getting people vaccinated, children vaccinated for measles. And we have parents to this day who will not send their child to school because they won’t-
Andrew Cuomo: (42:03)
… not send their child to school because they won’t let them take the measles vaccine. Because they believe the vaccines create medical conditions longterm. Let’s take two more, sir.
Speaker 7: (42:15)
Governor, can we assume that you won’t be making any definitive decisions about your future after the release of this AG report? Regardless of what’s said in it, and instead you’re going to wait until the impeachment inquiry is done in the state assembly? And my second question is whether or not you would support an AG investigation specifically into the alleged nursing home cover up as families in Foley Square today are protesting.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:41)
Yeah, the nursing home is being looked at by the Eastern district. That was a political investigation, started by Donald Trump who politicized not just COVID, but then politicized nursing homes and policies towards nursing homes and wanted to blame Democratic governors like myself and Michigan and New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was all our fault. And then had his political Department of Justice start an investigation and they were a political Department of Justice. There was no doubt about that. So that’s being done by the Department of Justice. And I’ve already told New Yorkers where I am. I did nothing wrong and period, and I’m not resigning and I’m doing my job every day. Sure?
Speaker 8: (43:40)
Thank you, governor. When are you planning on getting the new $2 billion rent relief program up and running? And assuming it’s anytime soon, do you feel that it’s necessary to extend the moratorium through August as the legislature is proposing? And thank you by the way, for taking our questions in person at this office. In your own words, why has it been so long and how often are we likely to see this happen again going forward?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:07)
Well, I think this is a function of what we’re announcing today. Frankly, we are reopening. We are reopening with capacity and with safety and with guidelines, but we are on the other side of the curve. As I said before, the reopening, it’s a balance. COVID management, COVID safety, watch the rate, variance of interest, a lot of danger, but a lot of damage when you don’t reopen. So it has been a balance and New York got hit harder than anyone else.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:48)
And we did take precautions. I model in my way behavior for people on COVID. So if I’m telling businesses, I think you should close down, then I want to show that I’m taking the same precautions. And I’m saying you should use a barrier. Here’s my barrier. I’m saying you should wear a mask. Here’s my mask. I’m saying avoid in person. Okay. We’ll do Zoom press conferences. Like I was encouraging all sorts of businesses to do Zoom. Now, we’re saying we’re reopening and that’s what you’re seeing here today.
Speaker 8: (45:32)
You’re saying it has nothing to do with the controversies that you’ve been facing in the last few months that we’ve not had the pleasure of-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:40)
No, I’ve done that before. Right? We had stopped the in-person before any of that. That was all COVID related.
Speaker 9: (45:53)
[crosstalk 00:45:53] moratorium. You didn’t answer the question about the moratorium.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:56)
Oh, the moratorium. Do you know when the-
Robert Mujica: (45:58)
So we expect to have the applications ready by the end of this month, by the end of May. So those will then go out and then there’s an accelerated process, a 30 day process and a 60 day process for renters and landlords to participate. So the moratorium extending through August gives a couple of months after the application is due effectively at the end of the applications come out, which is at the end of the month.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:23)
Yeah, because remember these are massive complicated programs, both the tenant relief and the small business relief. And you have to write regulations. You have to make sure there’s no fraud. You have to send out the application, you have to fill it out. It has to come back. It has to be verified. So you want to make sure no harm is done in the meantime. And that’s the moratorium. Last one, last one, last one, really quick.
Speaker 10: (46:49)
Thank you. Speaking of getting people back on the subways, it doesn’t seem to help when MTA officials are bad mouting the safety of the system, which they’ve done. And why do you think they’re doing that?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:07)
Look, you have a conundrum. You want people on the subways. You can’t ignore the reasons why people don’t want to go on the subway. You want more listeners and viewers. Well, then you have to understand why people aren’t listening or viewing and address those concerns. The MTA is hearing from people who say, I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe and I’m not getting on the subway. If I don’t feel safe. They want more people on the subway. So they say what people know. I relate to it because as you know, I am a New Yorker, born and bred. I am smart. I am New York Tough. Don’t lie to me and don’t play me as a fool. Come on the subway. It’s safe. Oh, really? Have you been on this subway? Because I have. And I was scared. Telling your child to ride the subway, ride the subway. It’s safe. Yeah. I’m not telling my child to ride the subway because I’m afraid for my child. So if you ignore the problem, you’re not fooling anyone. You’re not deceiving anyone.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:52)
You can’t say to anyone in New York City today, don’t worry. It’s safe. I mean, all of you guys are reporting every day, increase in crime, increase in gun crimes. You know, people are smart. Tell them the truth. The truth works. Right? And acknowledging the problem. A problem you deny, you will never solve. A problem you deny you will never solve. That’s where I get into trouble in life because I state the problem and people say, oh, nobody wants to hear that problem. I know. But if we’re not honest about the problem, then we’re in denial and then we’re never going to solve it.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:46)
The subways have to be safe. New York City has to be safe. Open the restaurants, go back to the theaters. Safety, I’ve been there. I’ve lived this. You look at the rate of crime. Look at the exitus from the city. And they are correlated. I’m old enough to remember what it was like when the city was scary. And when it was like to ride the subways and get on the train and walk through the train until you found the car that had a policemen in it, and you sat in the car with the policeman and that made you feel safe. Now, you don’t even have a cop on every train.
Speaker 10: (50:40)
[inaudible 00:50:40] getting more people into the system. And is this counterproductive when you talk about don’t come back, not safe?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:48)
No. They don’t say don’t come back. They say it has to be safer. And we want you back. That’s what is the smart message. Now, this is an MTA board member. I’m speaking for the MTA board, which I don’t mean to do. But as an MTA board member, what would you say?
Speaker 11: (51:11)
The MTA is launching a campaign, right? To take the train and to have people riding again. But you, as the governor mentioned, you can’t ignore the fact that we did a survey, survey comes back. The top thing that people are concerned about is safety on the subway. So as part of the take the train campaign is make sure we have police officers on the subway. Make sure there’s a plan that the city is focused on that relates to the homeless. Let’s remember that the subway, as we have been phasing them and they have been opened and they’ve been opening.
Speaker 11: (51:40)
And even today, they’re operating 22 hours a day. They’re only closed for two hours a day, but we have to acknowledge what people are saying, so that when they come back, we’re acknowledging it’s safer. It’s cleaner. And you’re going to get there on time. So that is what the board has been talking about this for weeks. And again, they’re poised with a campaign to get people to take the trains back and it’s tied to the reopening. So as you get more people in the offices, more people come back and they want to come back in a subway system that’s cleaner and safer than it was before.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:15)
Yeah. Let me just saying this. Let me just say this in closing. Re-imagine New York. What is one of the key things we have to do better if we’re going to continue to grow? We have to improve mass transit.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:33)
That’s one of the key things. You can’t have people getting in cars and commuting. You guys have to get out of the mentality that everybody lives in Manhattan. I’m a Queens boy. Not everybody lives in Manhattan. This place is called Queens and Brooklyn and Nassau and Suffolk and Westchester. The mass transit system has to be better and it is better. New Moynihan station. We’re rebuilding Penn station. We’re expanding Penn station, new LaGuardia, air train from LaGuardia, L train tunnel. Performance is better on the trains. Newer trains, more station rehabilitation, cleaner trains, a clean subway. I’ve never seen it in my lifetime, cleaner than I’ve seen in my lifetime.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:26)
What’s left? Safety. And by the way, the safety in the train is connected to the safety on the street. One of the great police commissioners in New York City said the subway system is the canary in the coal mine for public safety and the rate of crime. The subway is the canary in the coal mine. The crime rate starts in the subway system, but it’s the canary because then you see it on the street. We’re seeing it on the street. You talk about it every day. So forget the canary. The canary, we know the result. It’s beyond the canary, it’s on the street. But to improve mass transit and we’re spending billions of dollars to it, safety is now the top concern, say the riders. So what is the MTA supposed to sit there and say to the riders? You’re all wrong. It’s actually safe. No, it’s not safe if I don’t think it’s safe when I ride the subway. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.