Oct 6, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Transcript October 6
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s October 6 press conference. He addressed COVID-19 hotspots and new shutdown measures. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Good afternoon. Am I right? We have the esteemed, Dr. Howard Zucker to my left, the esteemed secretary to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, to her left the esteemed budget director, Robert Mujica. Thank you all for being here, appropriately social distanced. Today’s day 220, believe it or not. The fall is here. What happens in the fall? Leaves come down. Jimmy Vielkin spends a lot of time with the foliage up north. What else happens in the fall? The virus goes up. The leaves come down, the virus goes up. They’ve been talking about this for a long time. They predicted this. And on this prediction, they happen to be right. You see the virus increasing across the country. You see it increasing across the globe. You see countries that had it under control are now struggling again. In New York, statewide, we are doing very well on the numbers. We have, what I call a COVID cluster problem, but a cluster problem is serious, because a cluster problem can grow.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:25)
The virus spreads in mass gatherings. We know this from our own experience, from what we’ve seen and from what every expert tells us. The outbreaks, which is when the virus is spreading out of control, it starts with a mass gathering and then it expands from there, especially indoors. We’ve seen it in colleges, state colleges, private colleges. You have that congregate mass gathering indoors or frequenting a bar in the case of colleges. And it takes off. We’ve seen it in factory settings around the country. We’ve seen it in produce plants, apple plants in New York. We’ve seen it in a single restaurant, can be a mass gathering. We’ve seen it at July 4th parties. We’ve seen it at Labor Day parties. We’ve seen it in the Rose Garden. That was a mass gathering, outdoor by the way. And we’ve seen it. You see that growing list of all the people who were infected from that mass gathering.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:48)
We see it in places of worship. We’ve seen one church infect people. We’ve seen synagogues infect people. We’ve seen mosques infect people. We had the first hotspot cluster in the United States of America, New Rochelle, a super spreader who attended a a temple service and then attended a wedding. And that was it. We were off to the races. So, it’s to be taken very seriously. A mass gathering causes infections, infections cause a cluster, a cluster causes community spread. That is the natural evolution of things unless we intervene and we stop the cycle. If you just let the cycle run, that is what’s going to happen. We see clusters now across the state, colleges upstate. We have a cluster in Binghamton, Orange, Rockland, Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:54)
The cluster is just that, it’s a cluster of cases, a high density of cases. And it seeps, it grows from that cluster almost in concentric circles. You drop a pebble into the pond. Pebble goes in, then there’s one ring, two rings, three rings, and the rings continue across the pond. That’s how the virus spreads. When you see the cluster, you have to stop it at that point. What’s our strategy? Crush the cluster and stop the spread. And we’re announcing a special initiative to do just that, The Cluster Action Initiative, catchy name. Step one: you take the most dramatic action within the cluster itself, where you have the highest density of cases. Understanding that the people in that cluster interface with the surrounding communities. Take additional action in the community surrounding the cluster. And then on a precautionary measure, take action in the communities that are outlying that area.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:09)
So, three steps. First, identify the cluster. You can identify the cluster, because we do so much testing and we have so much data. We can tell you where there is a cluster by the actual number of cases. We have the addresses of people who are COVID positive. So, we have mapping software where you can see exactly where the cluster is. That’s the highest density of cases. That’s where you have to take the most dramatic action. The surrounding area is where that cluster is going well to seep. Why? Because that’s where people interact in the grocery store. That’s where they interact at the bus stop. That’s where they interact in the local recreational areas. So, cluster the area around the cluster, and then as a precautionary measure, the area around that. That’s how you attack a cluster. The most intense action on the cluster itself and then precautionary action as you pull back.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:22)
Clusters, all of these areas, you can look at them exactly by the cases. It’s not by zip code, it’s not by census tract, it’s not by any political metric. It’s only by the number of cases. So, for example, Brooklyn, New York, we have one area. And this is an actual map of Brooklyn. The cluster is the red area. That is the area in, this is basically South Brooklyn, that has the highest number of cases by actual data. The surrounding area, orange, if that’s really orange, it’s more like a brownish, but that is the second ring. That’s the warning area, because the people who are in that cluster, they’re going to the same store, they’re going to the same church, they’re going to the same bus stop as people in that circle the area. There are no walls here.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:36)
The third area is the yellowish area around the perimeter from that straight line down. That we call a precautionary area. Okay. Because they may very well also be coming in contact with the people in the cluster, or the people in the middle of that cluster may have infected somebody in the orange zone who may be in contact with someone on the yellow zone. It goes red is the cluster, orange is surrounding the cluster, yellow is the periphery. So, that’s the actual South Brooklyn map. Queens, there are two areas that will be mapped just the way Brooklyn is mapped, but same concept. There’s a central cluster, there’s a surrounding area, and there’s a precautionary area surrounding that. Two smaller areas in Queens. The Brooklyn area is larger than either of the two Queens areas. Binghamton, We have a cluster. Binghamton, we’re declaring a yellow zone, which is the precautionary zone, which is a less intense action plan than in a red zone.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:03)
Why? Because there’s just fewer number of cases in Binghamton. The density is less, the cluster is less. But it still requires precaution. Orange County, we have an intense cluster and then what we call a precautionary zone around that cluster. Rockland County, same thing. We have an intense cluster. And then we’re establishing a precautionary zone around that cluster. These are relatively small areas, geographically. Maybe a cluster is one mile in diameter. Maybe with the orange warning area, it’s a mile-and-a-half. Maybe with the precaution area, it’s about two miles. So, these are geographically circumscribed, relatively small, but that’s why they’re clusters. And the trick is to keep it small. Keep the infection from spreading. So, small, but intense, targeted efforts in that area. And we have new rules for a red, orange, or yellow community. The red, which is the most impacted area, houses of worship will be 25% capacity, up to 10 people maximum.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:58)
So, if it’s a church, or a mosque, or a temple, there’ll be a maximum of 25% capacity or 10 people, no mass gatherings, only essential businesses open, only take out dining, and schools are closed. In the orange areas, that’s the second ring, houses of worship 33% capacity, 25 people maximum, mass gatherings, 10 people maximum indoor or outdoor. Businesses, we close high risk non-essential businesses. High risk are defined businesses like gyms, personal care, et cetera. Dining, no indoor dining, outdoor dining, only four people per table. Yellow, which is the precautionary zone, 50% capacity in a house of worship. Mass gatherings, 25 people. Businesses are open, dining indoor and outdoor, but four people maximum per table. Also, the schools in the yellow area, public or private, must do mandatory weekly testing. The schools and the students are people who are very likely to interact with people within that community.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:41)
And you saw this in New Rochelle. All the kids go to different schools, I know, but they meet in the playground, or they’re on the little league team, or they’re on the hockey team, or they went to somebody’s birthday party and they interacted. So, the schools are important, because you will very often see the schools be a place of transmission. And if two students interact at a birthday party on a Friday night and then go to school, they then bring it home to their parents. And now, we’re off to the races again. We’re increasing the fines for sponsors of mass gatherings to $15,000. We are going to be providing the local governments with the maps that we did in their areas. We’ll be consulting with them. These were done specifically from the actual case numbers themselves. If there’s some peculiarity, local governments have a comment, we’ll do that today.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:56)
The rules can go into effect as soon as tomorrow, that’s up to the local government, but no later than Friday. If a local government says, “We want time to get adjusted,” fine. Today’s Tuesday, get adjusted, but no later than Friday. Testing for schools in the yellow zone starts next week. And I am more and more concerned about schools, the more experience we have. And the more we get into this, the more important I think it is that schools do random testing. While students are young and they’re resilient, first of all, we don’t really know that. What do we know about this virus? And not only do you have young people in schools, you have teachers. And we all think we’re young, I think I’m young, but you have teachers. And I want to make sure we’re
Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
But you have teachers, and I want to make sure we’re protecting all lives. The schools in those yellow zones must do weekly testing. The Department of Health will set a sample number. We want to make sure it’s statistically representative and they’ll set that sample by Friday. If a school needs additional testing equipment, they should contact us. We can help them. If they want to do pool testing, they should contact us. We can help them. These rules will be in effect for 14 days, and then we’ll see where we are and we’ll see the numbers and we’ll adjust from there. We’ve gone through this evolving situation with some of the best people on the globe who’ve been advising us, and I want to thank them very much for their help. Local governments must enforce the law. I know I’ve said this several times, but we can sit here all day long and come up with laws and rules. They are only as good as their enforcement, and a lack of enforcement has contributed to this problem. There is no one who can say they didn’t see this coming. We’ve had concerts in the Hamptons that should’ve never happened. We’ve had bars that have attracted crowds over and over again. That should have never happened. We’ve had college parties that have often happened offsite. That should have never happened. We have had religious gatherings that have been circulated on social media for weeks, and action was not taken. The there can be no surprise. The rules are only as good as the enforcement.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:14)
Well, we have COVID fatigue. We’re tired of wearing masks. COVID isn’t tired. The virus isn’t tired. The virus, still energetic and strong enough to kill you. It’s no time to be fatigued. We don’t have the luxury of fatigue. I understand these are politically difficult situations. I’ve tried everything with local governments. I’ve said that I would fine local governments if they fail to enforce the law, because these are laws that they’re enforcing. “A law doesn’t work if you’re too incompetent or too politically frightened to enforce it. Period,” said A.J. Parkinson. I also said the local governments blame me. I understand these are all difficult acts to enforce. These are state laws. Blame me. I have no problem with that.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:24)
Moving forward, I’m not going to pass more laws that are not enforced. This is a government that is competent. This is a government that is capable. This is a government that has helped the people of this state through this horrendous situation. We’ll continue to do it. We do it because we’re effective. That’s why. Local governments need to assign people to a state enforcement task force, because I want to make sure that that is happening. New York City must provide 400 personnel to the New York state task force. I want to thank our government partners in this cluster initiative. I’ve spoken to many of them myself today, but we have in Binghamton, Broome, Jason Garner has been very helpful. Steven Neuhaus in Orange, Ed Day in Rockland County, we spoke through some issues today. I’m want to thank him very much for his cooperation. New York City, we’ve been working with. Laura Curran in Nassau, we’ve been working with. Together, we’re going to get this done. It’s not easy, but we know where the cases are and we know what we have to do. Government has to do its job, but individuals have to do their job, also. Organizations have to do their job, also.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:54)
We’re all citizens. It’s not government’s job to catch you. It’s the citizen’s obligation to do the right thing. You don’t speed on the road. Not just because you’re afraid to get a ticket. You don’t speed because you don’t want to kill anyone. You act responsibly with COVID because you want to protect yourself. You want to protect your family. You want to protect other people. Organizations have to do the same thing.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:29)
I am informing all houses of worship today, obviously these rules, the new rules are most impactful on houses of worship, because this virus is not coming from non-essential businesses. That’s not what this is about. It may be spread by non-essential businesses. The virus is not starting in schools. It may be spread by schools. This is about mass gatherings. This is about mass gatherings. One of the prime places of mass gatherings are houses of worship. I understand it’s a sensitive topic, but that is the truth. Period. You want to solve the problem? Acknowledge the problem. Deny the problem? Look at a red herring, and then the problem gets worse. The problem is mass gatherings, and houses of worship, colleges, and some miscellaneous foolish behavior in bars, outdoor venues, et cetera.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:58)
I spoke to members of the Orthodox Jewish community today. I spoke to the leaders myself this morning. We had a very good conversation. These rules will apply to all houses of worship. Many of these communities have a large Orthodox population. I have been very close to the Orthodox community for many years. I understand the imposition this is going to place on them. I said to them, I need their cooperation. I need their partnership. They’re very cohesive communities. I asked for them to work with me to follow these guidelines, and that was positively received. I said to them that I’m doing this for a very simple reason, because I have such respect and love for the Orthodox community. I have been friends with them all my life, and my father before, by the way. We go way back. It’s out of respect and it’s out of love, and it’s because I want to protect them.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:18)
In Jewish teaching, one of the most precious principles is saving a life, to save a life. The Torah speaks about how certain religious obligations can be excused if you are going to save a life. This is about saving a life. That’s what this is. No large gatherings in synagogues to save a life. You look at where the infection rate is. You look at those clusters. People will die in those clusters. This is about protecting people and saving lives. I felt very good about my conversation with the Orthodox community. I thank them for their help and their cooperation.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:15)
Seasons change, circumstances change, and we change with it. That’s what we do. This is not a New York state phenomenon. You look at what’s happening even in our region of the country. New York is about 1.2. Pennsylvania is up at about 8%. New Jersey is about 2.4. Connecticut, which, God bless Governor Ned Lamont, has always had a lower incident rate than we do. But there are still facts in life. One and one equals two. Night follows day. The world is round. These are facts. There’s another fact. If the rules are not complied with and enforcement is not done, then the infection rate will increase. If the infection rate increases, we will be forced to close down. We know that. We’ve been here. This is deja vu. Let’s do what we have to do in these clusters, let’s save lives, and let’s continue the economic advancement that we’re making.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:38)
Today’s specific numbers, top 20 ZIP codes. We’re doing two types of testing now. We’re testing in the hotspots, and then we’re doing the normal testing statewide. In the testing just in the hotspots, the infection rate is about 5.5. Statewide, the testing is about 1.2. If you roll the hotspots into the state numbers, which now over samples the hotspots, you’re at 1.4%. Nine New Yorkers passed away. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. 705 hospitalized. ICU, 158. Intubation, 72. We’re going to do this, we’ve done it all along, because we are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:32)
Last point is I’d like to make a comment about the president, what he’s been saying. We wished him well when we heard about his diagnosis with COVID and we wished the first lady well, and we sent them a great New York special care package. I hope he’s back to 100% as quickly as possible. I think the president has an opportunity that he is missing, and I think he has an opportunity to do a public service, and I think he’s right now doing a public disservice. To say to the people of this country, “Look at me, don’t worry about COVID. Look how well I’m doing,” first of all, this is a funny disease. We hope you’re doing well, but the disease still hasn’t run its course. It’s a little premature to say, “I’m doing great.” You’re not really doing great until you test negative. Then by the way, there are people who test negative and have consequences that continue for weeks, and months, and months.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:44)
This is a frightening virus, but the president is not analogous to the average person in this country. The average person gets COVID, they don’t get flown by helicopter to Walter Reed Hospital and have a team of 20 doctors, millions of dollars of medical talent attend to their needs, receive experimental drugs that haven’t been available to the public and are administered just to the president on the compassionate care. There’s no analogy there.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:24)
From a public service point of view, 210,000 people died. More people die in this country than countries around the world that were doing much worse than we were. From a public service point of view, don’t be afraid of COVID. No. Be afraid of COVID. It can kill you. Don’t be cavalier. This is just more denial. This is where it started. The president, God blessed him, he tells you where he’s going. We know that when COVID started, he knew how bad it was going to be, and he just lied about it. We know that he had the White House memo done by Peter Navarro that said millions of people could get infected, and he just lied about it. Woodward’s book, he actually has him on tape saying, “I know how bad it’s going to be, but I don’t want to tell the American people.” Yeah. That cost this nation and that confusion cost this nation many unnecessary lives, and expense, and pain, and hardship.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:47)
I was saying at that time, take it seriously. The president was saying, when it started, it’s a hoax. It’ll be gone by Easter. It’s going to disappear, like a miracle. Yeah, none of that was true. None of it was true.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
Yeah, none of that was true. None of it was true. He knew it wasn’t true. And it’s not true now to say, don’t be afraid of COVID. Denial doesn’t work. It never does in life. It never does. I don’t have a drinking problem. I don’t have a substance abuse problem. I don’t have a gambling problem. Denial never works. Acknowledge the problem. It’s a frightening virus. Be smart. Be careful. Don’t hide under your bed. We’re reopening, go about your business, but do it smartly. And that’s what the President should be saying. Anyway, questions.
Speaker 1: (30:54)
[crosstalk 00:30:54] a little bit difficult to follow. You had talked about wanting to maybe go to a more granular level than zip codes in the census tracks. So could you be more specific about what’s covered. And also, Mayor de Blasio was talking about this problem and this emerging cluster as early as last week. So were you. Why have we waited so long to take these measures? And particularly, if there is a question of spread within some religious gatherings, why not act before the high holidays for many observant Jewish people?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:24)
I have been saying for weeks… Every instance I put on that screen, I spoke about. The concerts in the Hamptons, I spoke about. Bars and restaurants, I spoke about for weeks. I said everything I could to get the local governments to actually act. They didn’t act. We set up our own state task force to do bars and restaurants. Houses of worship I’ve been talking about for weeks.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:02)
Now, why haven’t the local governments been doing their job? Some have. Some have. Some haven’t. I think it’s a mix of things. First of all, think about this. These are laws they’ve never had to enforce before. Pre-COVID, these laws didn’t exist. B, these are politically unpopular laws. Give a person a ticket for wearing a mask, tell a synagogue that they can’t have that many participants, tell a church they can’t have that many participants, close down a concert, close down weddings in the backyard. It’s politically not popular.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:55)
Another factor, you have a lot of tensions with law enforcement in some of these communities. And some of these communities have much larger law enforcement issues. You take New York City, a number of shootings with victims is going through the roof. You’ve had protests in some of the upstate cities with law enforcement at the same time. So there’s a number of factors for that.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:22)
My conundrum is, my way is, all right, you don’t want to do it? I’ll do it. I did that with bars and restaurants. We don’t have the personnel to do the bars and restaurants taskforce. We took investigators from agencies all across the state. We had DEC investigators working on that bar and restaurant task force, but compliance works. On the bars and restaurants, we have done the compliance for weeks. We’ve been out there, done the enforcement. The numbers are much, much better. Why? Same reason why the state police occasionally will do speed limit enforcement on an intense level. Some people do the right thing because they do the right thing. Some people do the right thing because they don’t want to get the ticket. And bars didn’t want to lose their license, and when they knew we were really checking, the compliance went up.
Speaker 1: (34:29)
[crosstalk 00:34:29] about this Ocean Parkway cluster for more than a week now, and we’ve heard the mayor say one thing, and you basically pin things on the mayor. Recently, we had the mayor proposed a plan of action, and you have the legal authority to approve it, go until this moment, attack it. So why aren’t you and the mayor working more collaboratively on this?
Andrew Cuomo: (34:51)
Let’s take a fact. Okay, let’s stay with facts. The mayor proposed a plan… when did he propose a plan?
Speaker 2: (35:01)
On Sunday at noon.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:03)
On Sunday at noon.
Speaker 2: (35:04)
To go into effect tomorrow.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:06)
Yeah, here’s a plan. All right, legally, the mayor has no authority to do this. County executives have no authority. So he didn’t propose a plan. Let’s say he proposed something because he has no authority to close the school or open the school or close a business or open a business or put these rules in place. No locality has that authority. So he puts forth a plan, let’s do this by zip code. And you’re right. It’s been a problem we’ve been talking about all along. First of all, it’s not that simple. And you have to be smart, and you have to have a plan that’s going to work and not just a plan for the sake of a plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:54)
If the plan I passed into law was actually enforced, we wouldn’t be here because if the enforcement was done, you wouldn’t have had those congregations. They were illegal. They were all illegal. Well, let’s come up with a new rule. Well, if you’re not going to enforce old rules, what makes you think you’re going to enforce these rules? And we’re going to put out more rules that aren’t going to be enforced? No, that doesn’t work. It doesn’t make a change, and then people lose faith in government. And it actually starts a negative cycle.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:41)
But I heard his plan. By the way, I have county executives who have made proposals. I’ve had county supervisors who have made proposals. I have legislators who make proposals, and I heard them. We take them into consideration. We then go to the experts and the scientists and say, “What’s the smartest way to do this?”
Andrew Cuomo: (37:05)
And this is the plan. This is not granular. This is data by case number. It’s not by census track. Some people propose them with census tracks. Some people propose doing zip codes. Some people propose doing counties. No government, by the way, does anything smaller than a county. California will do by counties.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:37)
It’s tricky because you don’t want… If you don’t do this right, you can actually increase the spread because you can get people from one area walking into another area to have dinner, et cetera, and bringing the infection with them. So this is off the actual data with buffer zones. The plan is right. The rules are right. The rules are strict. They primarily affect houses of worship. I had the conversation myself. I said that this had to be the rules that we had to put in place. And I want the locals to give us the personnel so the state does the enforcement because the enforcement hasn’t been done. So now [crosstalk 00:38:30] reduce the number of people who can be in a house of worship, the last numbers in house of worship were violated.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:41)
You just have to make sure you’re not coming up with a new number that’s going to be violated again. And I know that I don’t have a political issue doing the enforcement because I do believe it’s the best thing for the Orthodox community. And I do believe it’s the best thing for the Catholic community and for the Protestant community and for every school and for every child, because we are saving lives. And to the extent government’s job is to protect, this is protection from the highest, on the highest level, because it’s literally life and death. [crosstalk 00:39:24]
Speaker 2: (39:25)
Excuse me, excuse me. If I could just weigh in quickly. This is a last resort. This isn’t something you jump to on day one. And in fact, it’s irresponsible to jump to it at day one, because you have to look at these numbers on a three-day rolling average, on a seven day rolling average, on a 14 day rolling average, so you can understand whether or not it’s an anomaly.
Speaker 2: (39:44)
And as the governor said, we’ve been talking to the local governments. We’ve been talking to the religious community for the last week and a half, and they kept insisting on the fact that they could get this under control. They could get this under control. They would step up enforcement. The mayor said he would send 1000 people. What did it yield? 26 violations with 1000 people, while pictures are appearing on social media of mass gatherings that are thousands and thousands of people big.
Speaker 2: (40:08)
So this was the last resort. I think we’re being more aggressive than any state in the country on how we’re doing this. We consulted with the best minds in the country, on the best strategic approach to do this so that we don’t make a situation worse and send the message that this is the way it’s going to get done. So moving forward, everyone understands that we are as serious as a heart attack, and they take that into consideration with their personal behavior. [crosstalk 00:40:27]
Andrew Cuomo: (40:26)
Let me make another point. It is not about the rules. In New York City, the first rules weren’t enforced. We’ll create a new rule. It’s not about the rule. It’s about the enforcement because you didn’t enforce the first rule. I come up with a second rule. If you don’t enforce it, we’re right back where we started. What’s the difference.? Now we reduce the number of people in the house of worship. House of worship wasn’t supposed to have more than 50 people. They’ve had hundreds and hundreds for weeks. Why? Because it wasn’t enforced. So now we go from 50 to 10.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:23)
Look, unless it’s enforced, you’ll still have hundreds of people. It’s all about the enforcement. The state does not have the resources to do it. I have no problem doing it. I respect the black churches. I respect the Catholic churches. I respect the synagogues. I have no problem politically enforcing it. I know they won’t be happy. I have no problem doing it. My problem is I don’t have the resources. I have 5000 state police. There are 35,000 NYPD. 35,000. We have 5000 troopers for the entire state of New York. Under this plan, yeah, they’re new numbers. But the local governments have to give me the resources to do the enforcement that they didn’t do, which is one of the reasons we’re here. [crosstalk 00:42:30]
Speaker 3: (42:31)
Did you notify Mayor Bill de Blasio about this before you came out? Because 10 minutes before you came out here, he sent out a release that said we will close nonessential businesses in our hotspot zip codes, if the governor, if the state gives us approval. So what changed? Have you guys been talking to the mayor? Does he even know what this map looks like? [crosstalk 00:42:46].
Andrew Cuomo: (42:47)
How is that inconsistent with anything that I’ve said?
Speaker 3: (42:50)
How is this any different than the zip code plan that the mayor proposed on Sunday? So just wondering what changed between your conversations with the mayor between yesterday and today? Because yesterday you were a hard no on closing nonessential businesses.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:05)
No, that’s not true.
Speaker 3: (43:06)
You said it on [crosstalk 00:43:08] yesterday.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:08)
That is not true. That is just not a fact.
Speaker 3: (43:12)
So what is it?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:13)
The Times was 100% wrong on that. Period. And I told them they were wrong, but they still knew better. And if you listened to the radio show, I said the exact opposite. I said, yeah, nonessential businesses can be closed, but it’s not about non-essential businesses. It’s about the mass gatherings. It’s not about the schools. It’s about the mass gatherings. That’s how this happened. That’s the whole point. Yeah. Close the nonessential businesses, close the schools. It’s about the mass gatherings. That is what is starting the problem.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:08)
The mayor, any county executive, has no ability to close any business. I can sit here and say to you, I think New Yorkers get taxed too much by the federal government. And I think they should pay less federal taxes. Yeah, I do. You know my ability to affect that? Zippo. Because it’s a federal law. I spoke to the mayor myself about this. Yes, we will put in new mass gathering laws, which is where the problem is coming from in these communities, primarily houses of worship. But they have to be enforced. They have to be enforced. And I’m not going to use zip codes as census tracks-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
… have to be enforced and I’m not going to use zip codes the census tracks, that makes no sense to me. I’m not mailing a letter, and I’m not taking a survey.
Speaker 4: (45:09)
Andrew Cuomo: (45:10)
Use the health data.
Speaker 4: (45:13)
Do think this will stand up in court in light of the federal ruling that we saw this summer that said you can’t really treat houses of worship differently-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:21)
Speaker 4: (45:21)
… than businesses.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:22)
Speaker 4: (45:22)
And now New York has since then allowed unlimited outdoor [crosstalk 00:45:26]-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:26)
Speaker 4: (45:26)
… gatherings and 50 percent indoors.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:28)
Speaker 4: (45:28)
But why do you think it will stand up?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:30)
Because it’s legal and constitutional.
Speaker 4: (45:32)
[crosstalk 00:45:32] enforcing these rules if they’re not wearing masks and if NYPD has also had issues using batons and protestors and things like that.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:41)
Do I think the NYPD should be wearing masks? Yes, otherwise they’re violating the law. And I don’t know how you stand up and say my job is to enforce the law and then violate the law at the same time. I think it undermines their credibility. I think it adds to the tension that is out there now that suggests police feel that they’re above the law rather than enforcing the law.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:18)
Follow the law, if you want to enforce the law. And the law is wear a mask. And when you don’t wear a mask, it could be interpreted that you’re suggesting to people that I’m above the law, and that would be a mistake for any police officer to do.
Speaker 5: (46:41)
[crosstalk 00:46:41] Governor if this is in fact a last resort, two questions; why give the localities until Friday to get it done? It would seem to be more of an emergency than that, no?
Andrew Cuomo: (46:50)
Well, last resort meaning the first resort was enforce the rules. If we had enforced the rules, we would not be here today.
Speaker 5: (47:03)
Certainly, but again and again-
Andrew Cuomo: (47:03)
The rule is… how on, I’ll get to your second point. The rule was no more than 50. That was the rule.
Speaker 5: (47:11)
Again and again we’ve seen this virus that a day can make a huge amount of difference, two days, so why give them three days to come down with the rules?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:18)
I said if you can do it tomorrow, do it tomorrow.
Speaker 5: (47:21)
And then secondarily, how are you going to let people know where the boundaries of these areas are?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:24)
Well that’s why they may say, “I can’t do it tomorrow because I have to notify businesses of these rules so I want to take a day or two, or three, to notify businesses of the rules.” I will say, I think you should do it as soon as possible. They’ll say what you just said. I have to notify businesses of the rules and that’s going to take me a day, two, or three days and I leave that up to them. So they can do it tomorrow, or Thursday, but they have to get it done on Friday.
Speaker 5: (48:10)
Doesn’t that timing worry you? That’s 72 hours with a virus that is spreading.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:14)
Yes, I would like to see them do it tomorrow, but what they may make your point that you just raised, I have to notify the businesses so they know what the rule is so they can follow the rule, and I have to tell them the rules before I can enforce the rules.
Speaker 5: (48:38)
And how will that notification happen?
Andrew Cuomo: (48:40)
It depends on the local government. Some areas it’s relatively simple. New York City, it’s more complicated. But they have to figure out how to notify the businesses of those three sets of rules in those three zones. Can you put back the bar chart please with the red, yellow, green. They have to notify the businesses. It’s less a people issue. It’s not like you have to notify… because they’re really business rules. And they have ways of communicating with businesses.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:16)
But houses of worship, I basically communicated to the houses of worship myself directly, but houses of worship have to be notified. And then it’s businesses and restaurants have to be notified.
Speaker 6: (49:33)
[crosstalk 00:49:33]- speaking Governor with the police-
Andrew Cuomo: (49:37)
Go ahead [inaudible 00:49:37]-
Speaker 7: (49:39)
The New York court system recently announced that they are forcing off of the bench dozens of older judges due to a $300 million budget cut. Do you think that the court system is acting too soon with those cuts given the question of federal aid is still up in the air?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:54)
I am not familiar enough with what they’re doing to give you a response. So let me take a look. Let’s take one more.
Speaker 8: (50:01)
Governor, I’ve been speaking a lot with the law enforcement here in Albany and they’re overwhelmed with the spike in crime that we’ve seen with the shootings and a lot of violent crime here. The law enforcement officers are telling me they don’t feel support from you, from the Albany mayor with this violence that they’ve seen and now they’re being charged with also enforcing this cluster ordinance. What is your response to the police that say they don’t feel the support? They say that they’re already having a hard enough time with bail reform legislation that passed in January. They feel that rollbacks need to be made for that legislation. They have this huge spike in violence, and then now they’re supposed to enforce these rules. Have you been sitting down with police, and what is your response to their concerns?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:52)
These rules are primarily enforced by Department of Health Officials, beyond the police department. They’re Department of Health officials from the city, from the county, from the state, because these are health orders. That’s whose doing this enforcement and will be doing the enforcement.
Speaker 8: (51:17)
Well can you answer the question on the violence because-
Andrew Cuomo: (51:20)
On Long Island?
Speaker 8: (51:21)
Here in Albany. The D.A., the Albany County Sheriff, the Rensselaer County Sheriff, the Saratoga County Sheriff, they’ve all told me that they don’t feel like they’re getting support from you. They are concerned about the bail reform legislation that passed and was already rolled back. And they are having a hard time with the violence in this area. Have you had meetings with the officers here?
Andrew Cuomo: (51:49)
Okay, now you’re saying something different. That’s all I’m saying. Before you said, how do I expect them to enforce these rules, the police, when they’re doing so many things. The answer to that is Department of Health primarily enforces these rules. They’re not Department of Health, they’re Albany Police right? That’s your answer to that question.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:18)
Second question is the police feel under stress with the spike in violent crime. 100 percent I agree with them. I am very concerned about it. I have spoken to it and this state has taken action more aggressively than any state in the United States of America. It is the combination of the increase in crime and the tension between the community and the police, which is very real. In my lifetime, I have never seen the kind of protests and the antagonism towards the police. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen the vitreal towards the police. It is frightening, it’s disconcerting to the police. I’m sure they find it highly offensive to have themselves questioned.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:18)
I don’t think you should be so quick to dismiss the protestors in this and their concerns who believe you have police officers who have violated their rights. And what happened to Mr. Floyd being killed by police officers was very real and you have had a long line of people who have been killed wrongfully by police. And that is true too. And that has to be addressed. So this is not so simple, the police are right, the protestors are wrong.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:59)
There’s truth on both sides. This state, first state in the nation, said this has to be resolved and reconciled. The every local government, Albany, every local government 500 that has a police department, must have a collaborative where they put all parties at the table and talk these issues through and come up with a new public safety plan that they pass by the council. Your point, the police can come and say, “I’m overwhelmed and I don’t like this law and I don’t like this law and I don’t like what we’re being accused of.” The community “protestors” can come and say, “I think police have abused their authority. I think their use of force is wrong.” And then it has to be resolved. And come up with a new public safety plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:04)
Look, a lot of people say not every 911 call requires a person with a gun. There’s an old expression, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If a person is mentally ill, do you really need a police officer to go? If the issue is substance abuse, do you really need a police officer to respond? Shouldn’t you have a capacity to send a mental health worker, or a substance abuse counselor? You have 5,000 police officers, all there doing “public safety”. Shouldn’t a percentage of those 5,000 slots be for mental health and crisis intervention? That is a bonafide conversation that has to happen community by community. Because the answer in New York City is different than Albany, is different than Buffalo.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:02)
Many local governments have started that conversation. Not only do they have to have the conversation, they have to reinvent their police department, pass a law reinventing it, and they have to do it by April, or they won’t get state funding. That’s how to resolve it.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:26)
They’re two very strong opinions and divorce is not an option in this case, because we need a public safety function.
Speaker 8: (56:38)
[crosstalk 00:56:38] foreign policy [inaudible 00:56:40] spike in crime, because that’s what these law enforcement officers are saying, that that legislation wasn’t-
Andrew Cuomo: (56:44)
But we had that conversation last year, and then we reformed the law. We went all through that. Thank you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.