Sep 24, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Transcript September 24
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s September 24 press conference. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… right, Melissa DeRosa the Secretary to the Governor. To my left, Robert Mujica, Budget Director for the state of New York who had a bad night last night. So please don’t ask him any tough questions. To his left, Dr. Howard Zucker, health commissioner extraordinaire. For Marsha Kramer, anyone who comes in late does not get to ask a question. Those are the rules. They were printed at the door on the way in. I hope you will all respect them. Today is day 208. The numbers for today, 500 hospitalizations, which is up about 10. ICU patients up about four. Intubations up about four. Number of lives lost, two. They are in our thoughts and prayers, but again, God bless the people of the state of New York for what they accomplished here. You remember what those death numbers were, literally in the hundreds for days. And you see what’s going on around the country, right? Numbers are still numbers. Facts are still facts. Even at this crazy time of hyper partisanship and rhetoric.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:17)
What New Yorkers did is extraordinary and they saved thousands of lives. That is inarguable. We just have to keep it that way. The five day results you see, we’re watching Western New York. We’re watching New York city. But there’s been some ticks, but overall we are still okay. A few caution flags that we’re watching. Overall statewide, the number was about 1% yesterday. What happens in New York is a function of two main dynamics. What New Yorkers do is the main factor. Second factor is what happens around us. To an extent, we are a function of what happens in the other states and the other countries. People are flying into our airports. People are driving in. And you’re seeing spikes all across the country and you’re seeing spikes all across the world. Those are numbers, right? We are the anomaly to what’s going on across the country. A great anomaly, but an anomaly. You look at the New York chart. Look at Wisconsin, look at Oklahoma, look at South Dakota, look at Utah, look at the country overall.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (02:49)
It’s going up. It’s going up. Well, we should be hermetically sealed from the rest of the nation. We have a quarantine policy. Yes, but it’s not that simple, right? We are affected and affected can mean infected. People still come to this state from other states. People still come to this state from other countries. And you’re seeing the numbers all across the country and all across the world going up, Spain, Israel. So we have to remain vigilant and there are still challenges ahead. And we won’t be out of this until we are all out of this. It’s just a collective reality. Rugged individualism. We’re all rugged individuals. Tell COVID that. And COVID says rugged individualism is great, but you’re still part of a community and part of a collective. And if the person next door to you gets infected, you may very well get infected. So what’s next? We’re entering the fall and the fall is going to bring a new set of challenges.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (04:12)
And we have to be aware of it and we have to then adapt our management and our priorities to the new realities. Schools are going to reopen. That brings a new set of challenges. Question about a vaccine. When do we get it? Is it safe? What’s the efficacy? How do we administer it? Flu season is coming, what does that mean? First on schools, we have to be very careful about schools. Schools are congregate situations by definition. The virus travels in congregate settings by definition. We are seeing problems in colleges all across this nation and all across the state. Are the colleges the same as K-12? No, but there are certain factors that are the same and the congregate nature poses challenges. Well, school districts have plans to do testing and cohorting. Yeah. Great. If the plans work. If the plans work. Government is great at making plans. Everybody’s great at making plans. Can you implement the plan is really the question. So monitor the school districts very carefully. We have the data, we have the testing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (05:46)
Monitor the testing in schools very carefully. If you see a problem, react quickly. That’s our strategy. How do we do this? We do it the way we started on day one. I don’t do anything. I produce information for the people of the state, the people of the state then act responsibly and intelligently because they have the information. They just need the information. We know they’re going to act responsibly because they have. That’s how we know. Only two people passed away yesterday because New Yorkers act responsibly, but I have to get them the information. So we’re going to have a COVID report card for every school district in the state. It’s going up now. Department of Health is hosting it. We’re going to show you how it works. I encourage every parent, every teacher, you want to know how your school district’s doing? You want to know how your school district is doing compared to other school districts? You want to know how your school is doing?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (06:52)
My kids go to P.S. 35. You want to know how P.S. 35 is doing? You can go to this website and you can find out. And if there’s a cause for concern, be concerned. So I need the people of the state could be part of this. I’ll provide the information, but they’re going to have to look at it and they’re going to have to respond. It’s about transparency and it’s about having the facts. We will show you this website, but the website has the positive cases by date of students and staff, by school district, number of students and staff who are onsite. Number who have tested positive and the daily reporting every 24 hours. So if you’re a nervous parent, like almost every parent I know. And by the way, to be anxious about your kid going back to school is not an unintelligent response. Anxiety can be rational. I think it’s rational to be concerned about what’s happening at school. So people want the information. This will give them the information. I’m going to turn it over to Gareth to walk you through how this website works.
Thank you, governor. So as the governor just mentioned, from day one, facts, transparency, putting out the numbers has been key to giving teachers and parents confidence. And the school report card which the Department of Health manages collects two sets of data every single day. One is from the surveys. These are surveys that every school in the New York state must send back to the Department of Health every day. And the second is the data we collect from labs. Let me just walk you through both of those. The first is on the survey data, every day, schools submit to the Department of Health, the current teaching model for the school. Is it in-person? Is it remote only? Is it hybrid? The number of enrolled students and staff who are onsite, who are offsite. Number of COVID tests and positive results for onsite students, teachers and staff, and the same for offsite.
So that is currently on the website. In addition, starting today, New Yorkers will have a second set of data that is directly collected from the labs. Let me briefly explain. Every lab that is licensed by New York state to test for COVID reports the Department of Health, all the results every day, including the names, the ages, and the addresses of the individuals who are tested. Required by law to do that. We track this daily. for example, of the 93,000 tests results reported yesterday to the state of New York, just about 5,000 of those results were for individuals aged five through 17 years old, school age population. Of those 5,000 results, there are about 90 positive cases. We have now added that data from the labs to our school report card that matches the address of that individual aged five through 17 years old with the school district within which they live. So that is what I’m going to show you here.
I will note that you’ll have that data from the labs and you’ll have that data from the school surveys. It will not always match up perfectly because sometimes when the school district reports and when the lab reports, there might be a slight lag. But the goal here really is to give parents and New Yorkers full transparency. If the school district isn’t reporting all the cases they should, you’ll at least have it from the labs as well. And every day we work to try to collect more and better data. And as we do that we’ll continue adding it to this dashboard. So for example… is it up on the screen here? You go to schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov, and you click on public schools. And let’s say you enter in the upstate district in Onondaga County of Baldwinsville. Baldwinsville Central School District. Click search. Here is the first landing page. You see up at the top, the overall data. In this first columns from the labs. The second one is from what the school district has reported. And you can scroll down to see on a school-by-school level.
Let’s say we click on the school district. Here is the full data. So the top chart you have, this is all the lab reported data at the top. 263 total tests since September 1st. Last 14 days, 225 total tests, 150 for last seven days and three total positives. So that is from the labs. That is the data we collect from the labs. Then you go down to what the school has reported. As you can see, they’ve reported three students have tested positive and zero teachers and staff. And you can go down further, there’ll be some charts. There’s the enrollment and employment data. You can see of the 6,000 total students, teachers and staff, 4,200 are onsite, 1800 are offsite. So you can search us by the school districts, you can search us by your address and it will give now two sets of data for all New Yorkers to be able to see what are the testing results on school district and on a school level.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (12:18)
Thank you. Do you get the differentiation between the school reporting and the lab reporting? Schools don’t do the tests, right? A school organizes the test, but a lab does the tests. So you’re going to have a check and a balance, right? You know what the school will report and the school reports to the Department of Health, and that will be there. School will report we did X tests, here are the positives, et cetera. You also get the data from the labs though. And the labs by definition, these are labs located across the state that are doing all the testing. They’re testing for schools, they’re doing the drive-in testing. They’re doing testing if you walk into a pharmacy. They’re doing all the testing. So the data from the labs has to be correct because they are the ones who are doing the testing. So you’re getting reporting from two different sources; the school, which doesn’t actually do the tests, but organizes them.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (13:31)
And this is going to be a new experience for them in truth and a complicated one and the labs. And the labs, that data has to be correct because they are the ones who actually did the test. And you’ll have both sources. There may be a discrepancy on some days, but the labs are as inarguable as you can get. A lab may make a mistake, but that’s very rare. And the labs are the ones who have the actual results. So parents should feel good about that. They’re getting the right information, but they have to look at it and they have to compare it to other schools. And it can give them a sense of security, or it can give them a reason for concern. Where we want either or, or both, frankly. If there’s concern in the school district, we want to know, and we can take action if the school district doesn’t. But I think with the level of concern that I’m hearing from parents, and I’ve told you before, I get hundreds of calls from teachers and parents who are concerned and they should be concerned.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (14:46)
They’re anxious about whether or not the school district can do this. You have school districts that have had starts and stops, which have not increased confidence in a school district. So here you’ll have the information and we don’t have to speculate. On the issue of the vaccine, like everything else in this country, it’s partisan and it’s questioned, and there’s controversy about it. The way the federal government has handled the vaccine, there are now serious questions about whether or not the vaccine is become politicized. There’s been tremendous reporting on that. And the people of this country don’t trust this federal government with this vaccine process. How can I say that? I didn’t say it. American said it. 54% say they wouldn’t take the vaccine yet president is once again in a dispute with the FDA. FDA says they want to make the approval more rigorous, more transparent. President says, they’re trying to politicize it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (15:57)
Why would FDA be politicizing the approval? Between the president and the FDA, only one entity is engaged in the political process and is headed for election day. It’s not the FDA. I don’t think Dr. Hahn is running for anything. Is Dr. Hahn running for any office? No. So I don’t see what political interest Dr. Hahn, head of the FDA, has. President Trump is engaged in the political process and has an election day. So 54% of New Yorkers said they wouldn’t take it. So the first question, is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion. And I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government’s opinion. Second question is, if it is a safe vaccine, how do you implement it? Implementation is a massive undertaking. On the first question of, is it safe? New York state will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (17:09)
We’re going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health that will advise me. We have the best hospitals and research facilities on the globe in this state. We’re going to put together a group for them to review the vaccine so I can look at the camera and I can say to new Yorkers that it’s safe to take. I want to make sure we know it’s safe to take. If the vaccine is safe, then we have to decide, how do you actually implement it? They’re talking about two shots necessary for a vaccine. You have 19.5 million New Yorkers. You’re talking about 40 million doses being administered. You think what we went through thus far has been massive with the testing and the quarantine, et cetera. Administering-
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (18:02)
… testing, and the quarantine, et cetera. Administering a vaccine to every New Yorker, this is a massive undertaking and the vaccines have to be stored at minus 80 degrees centigrade. You’re going to have issues of public confidence, whether or not the vaccine is safe. We’re not sure what the federal government’s role is going to be. I don’t think the federal government understands what its role is going to be. So it’s going to be a monumental undertaking in any event.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (18:37)
I’m appointing a committee today that is going to come up with a vaccine distribution and implementation plan on how we will do it. The vaccine plan will include prioritization of the vaccine, who gets the vaccine first based on medical standards, not anything else. How do we distribute it? Who can administer it? How do we train those people? How do we train them now?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (19:12)
If people have to get two doses, they have to get two of the same medicine in those dosages. You then have to keep track of everybody who was vaccinated when and what vaccine they actually received and there’s going to have to be a massive public education campaign that talks people through this and how to do it. We’re also going to have to buy it and it’s going to be expensive, and who do we buy it from? And I want to make sure we don’t go through that same mess that we went through on PPE procurement where everyone is trying to buy it at the same period of time and we wind up driving up the price.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (19:53)
What do we want to accomplish in New York? We should have the best vaccination program in the United States of America. I think the way we have handled COVID has been a model for this country. I want New Yorkers to do the same thing with vaccines. We should be the model vaccination program in the country. I also think there’s a tremendous advantage for any state that could be the first COVID free state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (20:26)
How about the state that can say, “Our population is vaccinated. We are the first COVID free state.” What are the advantages to that state in terms of public confidence, in terms of economic development, et cetera? I mean, you feel now the advantages that New York has for having a lower infection rate, right? People want to come here. People feel safer here. What if you were the first state to fully vaccinate your entire population? So those would be the goals, but we’re going to start and we’re going to start now.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (21:05)
When it comes to the flu, the flu is a complicating situation. It’s the same type of symptoms as COVID. The best we can do on flu, everyone should get vaccinated. They should do it now. I’ve already been vaccinated. Everyone should do it and should do it now. For the fall, let’s learn from the summer. We’ve been through hell and back. Let’s learn the lessons and one of the basic lessons, if you don’t wear a mask, at this point, it’s just dumb. It’s just dumb. You’ve heard from every health official. You’ve seen all the data that showed people in emergency rooms, nurses and doctors in emergency rooms have a lower infection rate than the general population. There’s no answer to that, but PPE. None.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:03)
Not to wear a mask is dumb. It’s dumb for yourself and it’s dumb for everyone else. How can you say that? That’s such a harsh word, dumb. It’s just non-gubernatorial … because it’s dumb. I don’t know what else to say. I’ve used every other word. “Please look at the data. I beseech you. I asked you to do it out of community spirit. I ask you to do it as a good citizen. I ask you to do it because Dr. Fauci recommends it and the CDC recommends it and every health official recommends it.” Now I’m saying, at this point, after everything we went through, it’s just dumb not to wear a mask.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:46)
The state’s going to take the lead in all of this because the federal government has shown that they have been incompetent when it comes to COVID. Why don’t the American people trust the Trump administration on COVID? Because they have been proven to be incompetent. This is not a subjective political answer, it’s proven, and the second answer is because they lie. That’s the other reason. Our response, this nation’s response is the worst on the globe.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (23:25)
How can you say that? Just to look at the numbers, how many deaths did China have yesterday in COVID? One. How many did Italy have? Italy was a mess. The healthcare system was overrun. They had 20. Sweden, zero. France, 43. The UK, 37. How many did the United States have? How do you justify that? How do you justify that? All those other countries had it first. They had it worse than we had it. How do you justify it? That’s why the American people don’t trust this federal government on COVID.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (24:10)
Then there’s a serious question, what did president Trump know and when did he know it? They never answered that White House memo from Peter Navarro back in January that predicted all of this. Peter Navarro was a senior White House aide with direct connection to the president. It’d be like saying “Robert Mujica knew 2 million people in the state of New York were going to be infected and forgot to mention it to me.” It’s implausible.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (24:54)
Governor Whitmer and I, today, called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation to the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what he knew and when he knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with little question mark? You’ve been with the president 180 times since that memo, did you ever mention to the president, “By the way, I have a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.” Come on, it doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (25:42)
Last point, Breonna Taylor’s death. Breonna Taylor’s death was murder. People were outraged. Yes, because it’s outrageous. If a person was murdered, then there’s a murderer, right? That’s how it works, and the underlying police action should never have happened in the first place. We at least have to learn from these horrific situations. God forbid, anything like that happened in this state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (26:29)
June 12th, I announced an executive order because we understand this situation now. I announced that every jurisdiction must come up with a plan that reimagines their public safety function, and they must pass it into law by April 1, or they won’t receive funding from the state of New York. There is no greater sanction. None of these jurisdictions can survive without funding from the State of New York. April 1 coincides with our budget date. We’re now October.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (27:11)
Why? Because they have to acknowledge and resolve the tensions that are there. That’s not going to happen. Unless you have a quote, unquote collaborative, which means, put everyone at the table, raise the concerns and resolve them because this is not Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. It’s been going on for decades and decades. You may have reached the point of boiling where people are just saying, “I’m not going to take it anymore,” but it has been going on for decades. It’s not going to go away on its own.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (27:59)
There’s real tension between the community and the police. Everybody knows it. Everybody feels it. What do you think is going to resolve automatically? What do you have the Trump theory on COVID? It’ll magically disappear. It’ll be gone by Easter. The president was in denial about COVID. I believe he was actually lying about COVID. But lying and denial does not work.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (28:33)
These tensions are not going to go away until you resolve them. “Well, the police feel this. Well, the community feels this. Well, the police feel this. The community feels this.” I know, I know. Not resolving them helps no one. They just fester and actually they get worse, the more they fester, the worse it gets and that’s what you’re seeing. Then it explodes every time you’re having an incident.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (29:10)
The goal here is to learn and change, right? Progressive city, progressive state. What does that mean? It means yes, we go through bad things, but we take these situations as an opportunity to change and to progress. That’s what we try to do. Reverend Sharpton, demonstration, organize the public spirit so you can make change with legislation, and then you get to reconciliation. The public outrage is to motivate the body politic so the government makes change.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (29:57)
It’s not demonstration for the sake of demonstration. It’s not demonstration as event, as a catharsis, it’s demonstration to express to government we have to change. I know that it’s the status quo and I know it’s hard, but government, we have to change. That’s the point of the demonstration. Otherwise, it’s a pointless effort that only makes people more upset and more tense. There’s a productive point in protest, which is so that the government gets the message.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (30:34)
Okay. We got the message. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo. We got the message. All right, now make the progressive change. That’s where we’re at. They weren’t doing it. I said, “You have to,” or you don’t get any state money. 146 jurisdictions in this state have already sat down at the table and started the re-imagining process. 146 jurisdictions. They have started. Starting is good because once you start to talk about it, that’s the first step. You’re putting people at the table. You’re talking about it rather than throwing stones, rather than throwing bricks, rather than being destructive, rather than being frustrated. That’s good. That’s good. Do it. Start.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (31:33)
By the way you need a plan done by April anyway, it has to be passed into law, which means you have to go through the legislative body. You have to go through the city council. That’s going to take time. You need it by April 1. You have to start now anyway, and now is the time to do it. If you don’t do it, everybody gets hurt. New York City, shootings with victims up 103%. ” Well, we think it’s because the police are doing this. We think it’s because the police are doing that. We think it’s because the community is doing this.” Who knows, except we all know it’s negative and it’s bad and people are dying, and the overwhelming majority of those victims are black and brown. And everybody has a sense that crime is worse and the city’s not as safe. At the same time that we’re trying to bring New York City back from COVID right? So it only makes things worse. Well, maybe it’s going to get better on its own. It’s getting worse. Trump on COVID, “It’s going to go away like a miracle. It’s going to go away when the weather gets warm. It’s going to go away by Easter.” No, you don’t wish these things away. It’s called government action and leadership.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (33:15)
Hawk Newsome put out a statement this morning, Hawk Newsome, from a Black Lives Matter group saying, “Let’s sit down at the table and figure this out. It’s time to find a path forward.” We’ve had the demonstration chapter. You have the executive order saying you have to come up with a plan, step up and lead. 146 jurisdictions are doing it. Why isn’t New York City doing it? The mayor can lead it. The city council president can lead it. The controller could lead it. A public advocate could lead it. If none of them want to lead it, I will find someone to lead it. Just tell me you don’t want to do it, or you can’t do it. But this is wholly unacceptable.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (34:14)
On behalf of everybody who lives in New York City, it’s wholly unacceptable. It’s not who we are. It’s not what we do. We didn’t run from COVID. We don’t run. We don’t deny. It doesn’t work. We have a problem in New York City when it comes to crime. That is a fact. That is a fact. It is the perception, it’s the reality. It’s not going to get better on its own. “Well, if people are polarized.” Yeah, I know. I know. It’s hard, I know.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (34:47)
Government matters in this environment. This is not a normal environment where you can play your normal politics and politicians dance. It’s time to lead. What government does in the age of COVID is the matter between life and death. What the New York government did is the matter between life and death for thousands of people. What the US government did is the matter of life and death for tens of thousands of people. 1000 people die in the United States, one in China. Why? Because their government did a better job. That’s why.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (35:38)
Only two people died in New York State while the rate is going up all across the country. Why? Because New Yorkers did a better job, that’s why. The crime problem in New York City doesn’t get better on its own. We do better because we’re in New York tough and we’re smart and we’re united and we’re disciplined and we’re loving …
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (36:03)
And we’re smart and we’re united and we’re disciplined and we’re loving.
Speaker 1: (36:05)
Speaker 2: (36:05)
Governor, the mayor is once again, making the case borrow $5 million. It looks like the MTA has authorized their own borrowing up to 2.9 billion. I know the state authorized [inaudible 00:36:18], even if they haven’t done. So would you let the city do that. And if not, does it come down to the fact that you just don’t trust this mayor to spend it wisely? You’re spending?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (36:29)
Two points. This borrowing and this borrowing, there’s short term borrowing. So what the MTA is talking about, what New York state was talking about, where New York state would be paid by paid back by December, this year. City wants to short term borrow, fine. Long-term borrowing is different. City wants long-term borrowing. I’m going to borrow today, but don’t worry, I can pay it off in the coming years. That makes me worry. You can pay it off in the coming years. You see the revenue going up in the coming years.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (37:12)
Okay. Rule one on borrowing. Don’t borrow today, that which you can’t pay for tomorrow. So New York City wants to borrow, by the way, other jurisdictions in the state, we want to borrow. Why? Because we have a shortfall because of COVID and we want to borrow. Borrowing is always the easiest answer, by the way. It’s also the most dangerous answer because you then postpone all the hard decisions to another date. And if the revenues don’t, you actually need the revenues to go up from where you are, because you still have the same fixed costs and you have to pay your debt service. Right?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (37:56)
MTA is talking about short term borrowing, states talking about short term borrowing. I have no problem with the city doing short-term borrowing. Long-term borrowing for New York City or any other jurisdiction is a problem. On that, first of all, if we have to close this deficit without Washington, there’s going to be no good way to do it. There’s going to be no constructive way to do it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (38:21)
The statewide deficit over two years is about $50 billion, 50 billion. Okay. It’s about 30 for New York state. It’s about 12 for the MTA. You then have Nassau, Albany, Buffalo, New York City. It’s by $50 billion. There Is no good way for the state to close $50 billion. You would have to do all of the above, raise taxes, cut expenses, and borrow. It’s an impossible number. And the reason I don’t want to have that conversation is because I don’t want to negotiating us myself.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (39:01)
Before you get to how much did COVID cost us, there’s a question before that. Who is a liable for the cost of COVID? You know who’s liable for the cost of COVID? Washington, DC. It was their gross negligence that brought COVID here in the first place. You’re telling me, you didn’t know that COVID in China in December, was going to get on a plane and go to Europe and go to other countries, and then come here? You knew that COVID was in China in December, and you don’t do anything until mid-March.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (39:44)
And now we know for a fact that the virus came here from Europe in January and February and March. That was your negligence, federal government. You’re liable, not the people of the state of New York and not New York City and not Buffalo. You’re liable. And either it has to pass with this Congress, a state and local package, or the next president of the United States has to pass it, or a democratic Senate has to pass it. Or worst case scenario, if this current president winds up back there and this Republican Senate winds up back there, well, then we’re going to have a state/federal conflict extraordinaire.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (40:39)
I will never capitulate to the cost, the fact that we are somehow liable for this. If we ever got to a worst case scenario, it would be a worst case scenario. It would be tremendously negative, if New York state was forced unjustly to do this. You would be in the most tenuous financial straits you’ve been in. You’d be forced, as I said, to raise taxes and cut services. You cut services at this times, it’s going to make a bad situation, worse with all the issues we’re talking about, crime, cleanliness, homelessness, et cetera.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (41:28)
And increasing taxes can’t be good for the overall business environment. So I’m not there. I’m on my first point, which is we’re not liable and we’re not going to do this. Again, if you did get to the worst case scenario, it would be a financial circumstance not seen, since the 70s with the fiscal crisis. I would never agree to a localities borrowing without a financial control board in place, that I can tell you.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (42:04)
New York City or Buffalo or Nassau or that’s for every jurisdiction, because you would be borrowing in the most uncertain economic environment that you have seen in over 50 years, right? And these financial decisions would have to be very carefully scrutinized. Also, you’d want to ask a jurisdiction. You need to borrow, are you sure there’s nothing you can do with your current situation? Right? New York City has a shortfall. We’re going to have to lay off workers. Well, you’re not giving some workers bonuses, are you? Are you going to give some workers, bonuses and lay off other workers? Right? You’d have to have that whole conversation first. And that’s what a financial control board could do.
Speaker 3: (43:04)
[crosstalk 00:43:04] last week on the ongoing subway shutdown, you have lines of people outside of stations, four o’clock, 4:30 in the morning. Now restaurants are about to be open till midnight. Those workers are concerned about getting home. Trains are running on the exact same timetables and schedules as they were previously, from one to five, which has prevented you from really accelerating construction, just because of the shutdown. And I have all kinds of people at the MTA telling me that you can clean trains during the day and overnight without shutting the system down. So with all that, how do you still [inaudible 00:43:35]?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (43:34)
Let me ask you this. If that was true, what you said, if somebody said that to you, people, then why didn’t you say to them, then why haven’t you done it?
Speaker 3: (43:47)
That’s the question.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (43:49)
Speaker 3: (43:50)
It’s the question for you.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (43:52)
No, no. It’s the question for the people who said to you, they could do it. Obviously, they couldn’t do … No. Obviously they couldn’t do it, otherwise they would have done it before the shutdown.
Speaker 4: (44:06)
So what’s the justification? They hired all these new contractors. They’re cleaning, they pass the-
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (44:10)
While the trains are running, they’re disinfecting?
Speaker 4: (44:11)
They’re disinfecting all day. You know this. You’ve seen it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (44:15)
While they’re running a train, you’re sitting on the train and they’re going to disinfect?
Speaker 4: (44:20)
At the end of the line, they clear people off. They send crews in, they wouldn’t bring in the fog machines during the day.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (44:25)
Yeah. They may do some cleaning during the day, but they never said to you, or it’s incredible if somebody said to you, “Yes, we can clean all the trains during the day. We don’t have to stop them at night,” because …
Speaker 4: (44:42)
They’re running on the same time tables.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (44:43)
Let me just, listen to the premise that you’re positing. There’s no need to stop trains from running. We can clean them all. During the day we disinfect the trains. Then the obvious answer would have been, then why didn’t you do it? All these years, why didn’t you do it, if you could do it? If you can clean the trains while the trains are running, why didn’t you do it for the past 50 years?
Speaker 1: (45:09)
The point is that they figured it out.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (45:11)
Oh, they figured it out now? Yeah, sure they … No.
Speaker 1: (45:14)
They cleared it off and now they have rules where people have to get off at the end of every line, you have cops to enforce that. You can clean train, so what’s the justification? I’m just trying to understand for the riders [crosstalk 00:00:45:23].
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (45:23)
The justification is to clean the trains. That’s the justification, to clean the trains and operate them safely. If the MTA ever says, we can clean all the trains and we can operate them around the clock, God bless. That’d be the best situation for everybody. Right?
Speaker 5: (45:40)
For Dr. Zucker, two questions related to coronavirus. How do you think Long Island schools reopening is going? And second of all, should a student, staff member, community member, et cetera, who is tested positive for coronavirus, be permitted back into the school, absent a negative test?
Dr. Zucker: (45:57)
On the first one, we are tracking that this is part of the reason we have this dashboard to take a look at all the schools. And this is where we’ll get the information and be able to identify if there are any upticks in the community, whether it’s in Long Island or elsewhere and we are watching that.
Dr. Zucker: (46:11)
Regarding the second question about a negative test, we look at these cases on an individual basis. This is why we have an unbelievable contact tracing program. If someone is positive, then we will figure out who they were exposed to, track it down, find out all the other individuals, make sure their tested as well. And the individual who is positive, obviously needs to be quarantined until the period of time has passed.
Speaker 5: (46:35)
Should he or she be permitted to go back if there’s no negative test?
Dr. Zucker: (46:38)
Well, as we’ve always said, that after a 14 day period of quarantine, from the point of when they first had their infection, they are no longer at risk to them or their community.
Speaker 5: (46:49)
So it should be at least 14 days, in your view?
Dr. Zucker: (46:51)
Well, this is what we we’ve always tracked the 14 day issue for, for anyone who’s had a positive coronavirus test.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (46:58)
Excuse me, one second. But remember also, you have a lot of theories out there right now. And a lot of speculation, a lot of anxiety. What I like about this is you’re going to have the facts. You’re going to have the numbers. How many were positive today, how many positive tomorrow? And you’re going to have facts that you can watch your school, versus other schools, versus other school districts. And you’ll know if these plans are being implemented, right?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (47:28)
A lot of schools said we’re going to do X number of tests. We’re going to do X percent of tests. A lot of parents are saying, I don’t believe it. I don’t know if I can trust it. Okay, here are the facts every day. And then we’ll see what’s working, what doesn’t work. Either the school district responds or the state can always come in. Parents always say to me, “Well, what happens if my school district doesn’t do it right?” I’m not going anywhere. Dr. Zucker’s not going anywhere. If the school district is unresponsive, then the state will step in. But I want to give people confidence in the system, right? You can have your own local plan, great. Make your own local decision. But if you’re worried about it, we’re going to give you the facts. You’re going to know what’s happening and then you make a decision.
Speaker 6: (48:18)
How do you think, personally, the Island is doing, if you have an opinion?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (48:23)
I don’t have opinions, absent facts, right? So how are they doing? Here’s their number, here’s their infection rate, here’s their hospitalization, here’s their ICU rate. That’s how they’re doing. Right? Let’s keep this numerical and quantifiable. How were their schools doing? I’ll tell you school by school, on their website. Are they doing enough tests? What’s the positive rate. Let’s keep it, it’s a factually answered question, which is reassuring. Marsha. You’re violating the rule. No, you the first … No way, no way. You came in late. You shouldn’t get one question.
Two questions. The first question is, it has to do was crime. We have done story, after story, after story about the crime rate in New York City going up. Gun violence is all over the place. How is it acceptable that New York City is not on that list of 146 jurisdictions that have not started a plan to fix their police department. And what do you want New York City to do or who in New York city do you want to do it?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (49:42)
It is not acceptable. It is not acceptable. Every New Yorker can tell you that the crime problem has gotten worse, even if they didn’t watch your broadcast. If there’s anybody who didn’t watch your broadcast, which I don’t believe there is. They know that the crime problem has gone up. They know that shootings with victims are going up and they know there’s tension. Everybody knows this tension between the police, this tension between the community. Everybody knows trust is ruptured. Respect is ruptured. And none of this works without a relationship. And everybody knows the relationship is ruptured and everybody knows, divorce is not an option. Right?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (50:28)
Public safety is going to be important. Public safety, the rich will always provide their own public safety, right? They’ll have private security guards. Yeah, but everybody needs public safety. So we have to restore the relationship and everybody knows it’s not going to happen on its own. And everybody knows it’s getting worse in New York City.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (50:52)
So the executive order says, you have to come up with a re-imagined police department, which means air these grievances and resolve them. Hawk Newsome today says, even he understands, we need a path forward. Let’s sit down and start to talk. In the other jurisdictions, the mayors normally do it. The city council president can do it because they have to pass the plan also. Well, they don’t want to do it. The public advocate can do it. He doesn’t want to do it. The controller can do it. I don’t care. Or they can pick somebody to do it, and if they don’t want to do it, all they have to say is I don’t want to do it. I’ll find somebody to do it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (51:42)
I don’t underestimate the task. You have to put these parties at the table. It’s going to be heated. It’s going to be difficult. But you know what? Welcome to New York City, welcome to New York state.
At what point are you going to step in and do it?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (52:00)
Well if they don’t have it by April, they’re not going to receive state funding. If you have all these terrible budget issues, how could you ever, possibly just jeopardize their funding? And by the way, without state funding, New York City’s bankrupt, right? So that’s not really an option. It has to be done by April. When do you think you’re going to start? And why wouldn’t you start now? And if you don’t want to do it, just say that. No, is the second best answer, right? Say, no, I don’t want to do it. And then, I’ll find people in New York to lead the effort. Maybe it’ll be easier if they’re not a political official, I’ll do that too.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (52:50)
But somebody has to start the conversation and the police have to be there and the community has to be there. And let’s talk about a service- based response that understands not every response, not every public safety need is answered with a gun and then arrest. Mental health is mental health. Substance abuse is substance abuse. A social crisis is social crisis. Not everything requires a gun. When all you have is a hammer, everything’s a nail, right?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (53:27)
So you have a $ 10 billion budget for public safety in New York City, you have 35,000 people. How do you want to reinvent and reimagine that? Functions change. Our public health function is changed. By the way, our education function just changed. Who ever heard of remote learning? All right. Redesign public safety. Well, we’ve always done it this way. I know, but for decades we’ve been losing trust and respect.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (54:02)
We’ve been losing trust and respect, and now we’ve hit the tipping point over and over and over. Use it constructively, change, progress, but it takes leadership to make this happen. If none of the above want to do it, no is the second best answer and I’ll find someone to lead it.
Speaker 7: (54:31)
Mr. Governor, I have actually a followup question.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (54:32)
Excuse me one second, there was a second follow-up question.
Speaker 7: (54:37)
Question actually has to do with finances and we talked about the city’s finances. I wonder at what point you think you would appoint a financial control board similar to what happened in the seventies, to take control of the city’s finances to consider whether they need long restorative borrowing. We have the fact that the mayor has until October 1st to get a million dollars worth of savings and he’s got $21 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (55:03)
I believe it would be reckless to approve any long-term borrowing for any jurisdiction, without a financial control board. It would be reckless. Borrowing in this environment is a highly, long-term borrowing, not short-term borrowing. Long-term borrowing is a highly risky venture, right now because what do you think is going to change in a year or two? You’re going to have the same fixed costs, the same overhead, and then you’re going to have to pay that surface on top of it. Look, we only get here if Washington doesn’t provide any aid. For Washington not to provide any aid, it means this Congress didn’t do it. It means Joe Biden didn’t win. It means the Democrats didn’t win the Senate. And it means we have Trump and a Republican Senate, right?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (56:08)
Which means we have a bad four years coming up, the worst four years. And in that environment, you want to do long-term borrowing? Why? Because you think the economy is going to come rushing back to New York under Trump? You know the man has done everything he can to hurt New York; no Hudson River tunnels, no Second Avenue subway, no congestion pricing. Every opportunity to hurt New York, he’s taken it. You now know you’re going to have four more years of Trump, you’re going to sign on to long-term borrowing and think we have a rosy future? No.
Speaker 7: (56:45)
So you’re going to wait until after the election to appoint a financial control board for New York City?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (56:50)
I am not bargaining against myself and I am not giving up the first point of liability. Washington is liable. New York state is not liable. New York City is not liable. Buffalo is not liable. If we were not in this governmental structure, I would sue the federal government for gross negligence for causing the COVID ambush of New York and I would win. First witness CDC, director, Robert Redfield. “Yes, we missed it.” He says in April. ” We were looking at China, but it went to Europe.” We missed it. Second witness, Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Yes, we missed it. We were looking at China and went to Europe.” Of course it got on a plane and it went somewhere. What did you think? Everybody with COVID in China was going to stay in China and wait for you for three months? I mean, how ludicrous this scenario?
Speaker 8: (58:03)
So [inaudible 00:58:04] whether New York is ready for a second wave, what thresholds you are looking at and what the state is considering closing first if the cases start to increase?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (58:09)
You’re getting me all frustrated here today, all these bad possibilities. We just talked about the fall. You have school reopening. You have to be careful and congregate settings. We have the dashboard. You have the flu, which will be complicating. Get vaccines. I’m sorry, get vaccinated for the flu. And then third in the fall, you have vaccines themselves. We have to make sure it’s safe. We’re going to have New York certify that and then we have to have vaccination plan. I’d like to be the first in the United States. And complicating factor around all of it, you’re seeing spikes everywhere, states, countries, et cetera. Welcome to the fall. Better than the summer.
Speaker 8: (58:52)
What are you considering closing, what’s the order of that. Is it the same, less the reopening, but backwards? How did that work?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (58:57)
We watch the numbers, if we get into real trouble, real trouble, then you would have to start considering closing things. But we’re not at that point now.
Governor, in terms of spikes, New York City currently has one. They’re calling it the Ocean Parkway Cluster, it includes Borough Park and Flatbush, several Brooklyn neighborhoods. To what degree is your office working with the city to try and contain that? And do you believe that this cluster in Brooklyn and Queens should imperil a opening of New York City schools next week?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (59:29)
You have two separate issues, Andrew. You have clusters, clusters have to be addressed. The state steps in if the local health department is impotent or incompetent, the “I” twins I & I. There’s a third and then it’s III, but that’s different. We leave the clusters to the local health departments. If they don’t step in, then we step in. When a cluster is affecting the overall infection rate, which would have to have happen to affect the schools, it’s no longer a cluster. A cluster that breaks out is now community spread. If the community spread number went up, then it would affect schools, but we’re not there.
[inaudible 00:06:25]. Some of the folks in Brooklyn go to Rockland County. To what degree do you believe there might be community spread? How risky is this particular cluster right now, based on what you’ve heard from the city?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:39)
I don’t have any knowledge on this particular cluster. Do you have any number on the particular cluster?
Speaker 9: (01:00:44)
We are tracking and we’re keeping an eye on that. I understand what you’re saying, that there are individuals in the community that work between different communities. And that’s why, again is the governance show you the numbers. We keep an eye on this. We are working with the community. I recognize that this is probably a religious community and we have been working with them and I’ve been on the phone with them. We’ve sent flyers out. We put notices in the newspaper. We’ve had webinars with the community and I’ve spoken to them, including this morning, members of the community, to address the fact that this is a holiday season. I recognize the significance of the holiday, obviously. We’re trying to make sure that they follow the good public health practices of washing your hands and social distancing and wearing masks because as the Governor said, just wear your mask and working with them to do that.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:30)
Let’s do the last two and then Zach.
Speaker 10: (01:01:35)
You said it starts with leadership, do you blame the mayor for the increase in crime? [inaudible 01:01:39] be done to address that?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:40)
I don’t blame. I don’t believe in blame. I don’t believe in blame. I don’t blame anyone. Voters wind up making a decision, they wind up bringing their judgment. But other than that, to me, it’s not about blame or not. I address issues. I address problems. Crime in New York City is a problem. It has to be addressed.
Speaker 11: (01:02:08)
Yeah. Thank you. It has been called to my attention and I know that it’s a fact that people are coming to New York City from abroad, arriving in JFK with no control whatsoever. I was wondering how can you reconcile that scenario with the fact that you’re combining the needs with state studies [inaudible 00:08:35], quarantine and some of these passengers are here in New York for less than the 14 quarantine period?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:41)
I can’t reconcile it. They’re irreconcilable. You can’t reconcile people are coming into the airport of JFK and not being checked with the fact that we’re checking people at the airport. So who knows? Do you know the answer?
Speaker 12: (01:02:58)
Yeah. The CDC, the FDA, the federal government has direct oversight of international travel, as I think everybody in this room knows, that’s how we got here to begin with. They did a travel ban coming from China. They neglected to do a travel ban coming from Europe, the European flights come to New York. They also controlled the screening at the airports. They determine the who and the what and the how. Inexplicably, in the last several weeks, the CDC has rolled back any sort of screening that’s taking place at the airport. This is something that we have been discussing internally and the governor is going to sign an executive order where we now say that flights that are coming in from Europe are going to have to also abide by our same contact tracing protocols for states that come in from infected states across the country. We’re going to mandate that you have to fill out the forms so that we’re able to keep track of the people who are coming in from Europe.
Speaker 12: (01:03:49)
But unfortunately, the federal government is directly responsible for any screenings at the airport, it is their jurisdiction. They own the terminals when you come in and the customs and border patrol. Once they exit that, we don’t have any ability to do anything.
Speaker 11: (01:04:03)
There’s no screen whatsoever.
Speaker 12: (01:04:04)
No, the CDC has made the inexplicably decision to roll back screenings at airports. One could say it’s probably because we’re in the middle of a political season and they want to continue to pretend that this doesn’t exist. We are all aware it exists. We’re all very aware of how it got here to begin with so this is a situation that we have been discussing internally and trying to figure out the best way to address, because it’s an area where we do not have direct oversight. Just to go back, Andrew, to your question on the clusters, to the governor’s point, the jurisdictions handle these clusters. We monitor them obviously, on an ongoing basis, contact tracing is something that we’ve been monitoring very, very closely and we’ve got certain mandates around. When a jurisdiction reaches out because they fear they can’t control it themselves, we do step in.
Speaker 12: (01:04:47)
For example, Rockland County reached out. They had a cluster issue. We immediately deployed rapid tests. We’ve had nursing home issues where there have been clusters and we deploy rapid testing, same thing in Buffalo when Buffalo had a spike up. They reached out. And so we do work on an ongoing basis. If that is something that the city is interested in, of course it will be the same situation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:04)
Yeah, also Andrew, look, we all respect religion and people’s right to exercise their religion. These public health concerns are fair across the board. We have population restrictions in a Catholic church, in a mosque, in a temple, and they have to be respected by all religions. I canceled St. Patrick’s Day parade, which many Catholics consider a high Catholic holiday. It’s all across the board. Mr. Zack, with the new fancy haircut.
Governor, I wanted to follow up on this vaccine task force. Looking at the list, it’s a little blurry with my photo from here, but looks like a lot of administration officials, a lot of health care industry leaders. There’s been a lot of concerns about how people of color would be represented in the process to determine how to distribute a vaccine. Given a lot of the white faces I’ve seen on this list, how is this taskforce going to approach that task, incorporate those type of voices, especially with so little time until a vaccine might be announced by the federal government?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:16)
Yeah. It will be addressed as a public health matter. It won’t be addressed as a political matter. The people who are on the task force are public health experts. I don’t think it’s proper to have any political opinion or motivation in administering public health. I don’t think you can-
Speaker 10: (01:06:41)
Mr. Governor, I just mean, there’s been a lot of good public health arguments about how the pandemic has disproportionately hit communities of color, who on this task force is representing such voices?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:53)
Yeah. But then that’s a public health concern and any public health person would start by saying, you have a variance in infection rates. There is a higher infection rate in communities of color and communities that have higher, impoverished, lower income populations. That is a public health fact. And that’s how you would get at that. You would not say, well, I think minorities should be prioritized. Keep it on the health metrics. Now, the health metrics will take you there because it is a fact that the lower incomes, more minority communities, higher percentage minority communities, have an higher infection rate. You have an infection rate of about 50% in some of those zip codes. Corona Queens, the overall infection rate in New York City is 22%. If you do it on the facts, on the merits, it will take you there, but you will get there from a road called on the merits as opposed to playing politics. I am staying off that road playing politics. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 10: (01:08:03)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:03)
Only with the daily news. See you guys.