Mar 10, 2020
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Update Transcript – March 10
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an update on coronavirus in New York State in a news conference today. Read the full transcript of his press conference right here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:07)
Good afternoon. It’s the little things, like morning or afternoon that we have to … I think most of the people know the people here today. From my far right, Linda Lacewell, Superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services and also on the Emergency Management Task Force that is handling this. The good Dr. Zucker, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary of the Governor, Beth Garvey, who is the Special Counsel to me. Let’s give you an update on COVID-19. These are the new numbers. Westchester County’s up 10, New York City is up 17, Nassau two, and Rockland two.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:58)
As we’ve said, keep in mind what we’re doing here. These test cases are not representing a random sample. They are not statistically accurate to the growth of the or the spread of the disease, because this is a selective sampling. We are primarily sampling people who are associated with people who test positive, right? People look at these numbers as almost a statistical representative sample of what’s happening. That’s not what this is. These are positive cases, tested primarily from a universe of people connected with someone who tested positive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:49)
What they do show is a continuing problem in Westchester County, and it’s not Westchester County, it’s New Rochelle. New Rochelle at this point is probably the largest cluster in the United States of these cases, and it is a significant issue for us that we’ll speak about in a moment. You can see even New Rochelle compared to New York City, that 108 in Westchester, you may as well say New Rochelle, so New Rochelle is at 10,8 New York City is at 36. I mean, that is really breathtaking.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:37)
Again, putting things in focus, Washington State is at 179, New York at 173. You see how much higher the deaths are in Washington? That makes the point that we’ve been talking about, who will be most likely affected by this situation. And Washington State, it was in a senior citizen home, and that’s what this is all about. That’s what this is all about. What does it mean? What does it mean? What is the bottom line? Senior citizens, people who are in the vulnerable population, senior citizens, underlying illness, compromised immune system, that’s who we’re trying to protect here. And you see that in the 22 deaths in Washington compared to New York with no deaths, right? Same number of cases. Look how much higher Washington is, because it’s about the senior citizens. And our focus, governmentally, nursing homes, senior citizen congregate living, our focus on an individual level, senior citizens, compromised immune systems.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:57)
Again, what is the net effect of the disease? People talk about it like it’s the Ebola virus, which was really a serious and frightening virus. We have 173 cases. Only 14 people are in the hospital. Well, how can that be? Because people are at home recovering from flu-like symptoms. 14 out of 173. If you look at the 14, most of the 14 are members of that vulnerable community. Again, you want to put this all in perspective, the single best way to put it in perspective is the Johns Hopkins tally, which has tallied all of the cases since China. 114,000 cases. That’s China. That’s South Korea. That’s Italy. That’s the United States. 4,000 deaths, again, in the vulnerable population. 64,000 people recovered. 46,000 cases still pending, people getting treatment, or people at home. That’s the entirety of the universe.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:14)
New Rochelle is a particular problem. It is what they call a cluster. The numbers have been going up. The numbers continue to go up. The numbers are going up unabated, and we do need a special public health strategy for New Rochelle. What we’re going to do is focus on an area, a concentric circle around the situs of the majority of the cases in New Rochelle. Much of the transmission tends to happen on a geographic basis. Kids go to school, kids go to a store, parents go to a store, parents walk down the block, shake hands with someone. Parent is walking the dog, meets somebody, says hello, has a conversation. Remember how this spreads, can spread from … It’s a respiratory illness. Droplets of a sneeze, a cough. It’s on somebody’s hand. You shake hands. Now you have an issue. So containment strategies focus on geographic areas.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:39)
Commissioner Zucker has been working on this. This is the single greatest public health challenge we have in the state right now, and coming up with a special strategy to deal with this has been his focus. He has recommended a plan to me. I have accepted the plan, which will deal with this containment area, and the Commissioner will speak to it in a moment. One of the things we’re doing is we’re putting a satellite testing facility from Northwell into New Rochelle, so they will set up a facility within that containment area that can do testing. Northwell received approval last night for their automated testing capacity, which increases Northwell’s capacity to test. We had been waiting for the CDC to do that. The CDC approved that. Northwell will open up a temporary satellite facility so they can do testing right in that area. Even testing is a problem, right? Somebody gets in a cab to go to the hospital. Now you possibly affect the cab driver. Somebody gets on a bus. Now the person is on a bus, so this is a major advantage.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:04)
We’re also going to use the National Guard in the containment area to deliver food to homes, to help with the cleaning of public spaces. There is a debate about how long the virus can live on hard surfaces, and you have differing opinions now. Some opinions are the virus can live on a hard surface such as stainless steel or plastic for two days or more. If that’s the case, that would be a significant issue as to why it is transmitting the way it does. So cleaning those surfaces is very important, cleaning it with the right material, and the National Guard will be helpful on that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:03)
With that, let me turn it over to Dr. Zucker to talk about the strategy for New Rochelle.
Dr. Howard Zucker: (09:09)
Thank you, Governor. So as we know, this is an evolving situation, and we’re addressing many different points as we move forward on this. We have spoken before about the issues of containment, and we have moved from a containment strategy to more of a mitigation strategy. When you’re dealing with mitigation, you have to deal with the issues of some social distancing, and how people gather together, and to try to minimize that. And one of the places where people gather together particularly is the school systems and schools, and other areas, events, and daily or weekly activities. And we believe that the most important thing from a public health standpoint is to minimize that. We know where the sort of the center of the activity has occurred from the information that public health and the epidemiology investigation from the beginning of the Westchester, New Rochelle outbreak, and we felt that a mile of a-
Dr. Howard Zucker: (10:03)
-it’s just a New Rochelle outbreak. And we felt that a mile, a radius of a mile from that spot would be effective in an effort to try to decrease the spread. I spoke to some of the public health experts the other day and also this morning, all the time I should say, about this issue and we have to remember that we are sitting with the first point on a curve, or first couple of points in a curve and it would be wonderful to be able to go in the future and look back and see how this curve is going to evolve. But we don’t know that. And so the most important thing to do is to take all the precautions we can and balance that from a level of protection with that of what could be somewhat disruptive and we understand some things will be disruptive.
Dr. Howard Zucker: (10:44)
So we’re moving forward with that and happy afterwards to discuss it further.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:49)
Okay. I want to thank Dr. Zucker for that. The doctor’s plan is March. The period would be from-
Speaker 1: (11:00)
March 12th, starting this Thursday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:02)
March 12th from this Thursday, a two week period where facilities within that area, schools within that area would be closed for two weeks. We’ll go in, we’ll clean the schools and assess the situation. This will be a period of disruption for the local community. I understand that. Local shop owners don’t like the disruption. Nobody does. Local politicians don’t like the disruption. I get it. This can’t be a political decision. This is a public health decision. It’s not a decision that I’m making. I’m accepting the recommendation of Dr. Zucker. In a situation like this, whether you’re the president, the mayor, the governor, let the experts decide and let the science drive the decision.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:02)
When you politically interfere in science, that’s when you tend to make a mistake. So again, the period is March 12th through the 25th. One mile is a fairly constrained area. It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country and this is literally a matter of life and death. That’s not an overly rhetorical statement.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:32)
A couple of other facts. I’ve asked the controller of New York, Tom DiNapoli, to give me an opinion as to what consequences he might think this economic shutdown and the entire coronavirus situation will have on the state budget. As you know, we’re ready to do the state budget. The state budget anticipates this year’s revenues and projects next year’s revenues. You have what’s going on in the stock market. You also have what’s going on on the economy overall. Right? Conventions are being stopped, tourism is down, hotel bookings are down, restaurants are down.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:17)
So we just did the budget projection estimates. The world then changed since then. So I asked him for any advice that he might have. As I mentioned earlier, there are different opinions on how long the virus can live on hard surfaces. So much of this is new and evolving. No one really knows for sure. So you tend to get different opinions and the doctor is talking to people all day long. I’m talking to people all day long. There is an emerging school of thought that says the virus can live longer on hard surfaces than originally anticipated.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:04)
Could live two days, maybe even a little bit more. I’m asking all the public transportation authorities in the state to redouble their cleaning efforts. It’s easy enough to clean. It’s a question of bleach or another cleaner that’s approved by the EPA that kills viruses. But if it is two days on a hard surface, a bus, et cetera, just pictures, people are walking around. That is a different situation and I want to make sure that the cleaning protocols are up to date.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:47)
Again, as a point of clarity, the state put out a regulation yesterday. Any school that has a child that tests positive must close immediately for 24 hours. That 24 hour period is only a period to allow assessment of the situation to determine what the remedial course is, right? So it’s not, it must close for a day and then it’s going to open the next day. It must close. Then you do an assessment. Then you determine what to do with in school. And that will be done on a school by school basis because the facts change. And I think that’s it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:38)
One other point of clarification. You cannot joke. Do not joke. Whenever you joke, you get in trouble. Hand sanitizer that we presented yesterday, the state is not making a profit from the sale of hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer is not for sale. It is given to other jurisdictions, state use, prison use, bus use. Certain people have commented that it’s a for profit and tawdry that the state is profiting from the sale. We are not selling the product. Questions?
Speaker 2: (16:24)
[crosstalk 00:16:24]. Just want to talk a little bit about New Rochelle. You know, Scarsdale school, they had somebody test positive, another local school had somebody test positive. So why, how far do you make that quarantine and why specifically New Rochelle? Obviously that’s where it emanated, but how broad do you make this quarantine?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (16:45)
So we looked at the area from the hotspot, if you want to call it that and decided to go out one mile and as a radius into the area, see what the encatchment area of those schools that are in that area and other gathering sites that are in that area. We do recognize that there are other areas outside of that specific one mile that may be schools that have closed already. But this is an evolving process at this point.
Speaker 2: (17:15)
So when you talk about the quarantine days, that could be a rolling situation, right? I mean if you find somebody tomorrow, then it’s 14 days for that person, that’s 14 days for the guy that-
Dr. Howard Zucker: (17:26)
When we’re saying about closing it, you’re mixing things between quarantine and closing. What we’re saying is that we’re going to close those schools, obviously clean the school, obviously try to break the spread of this disease. And if you’re looking at it from a public health standpoint, you’re trying to break one person infecting the next person and then they just keep going and you go to the spot where the hotspot is and that’s what we’re doing.
Speaker 3: (17:48)
[crosstalk 00:17:48]. But is that the only thing that’s going to happen in the containment area?
Speaker 2: (17:51)
But Joe, excuse me one second. But Joe-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:51)
You’re fundamentally right. Look, you have people who say it shouldn’t be one mile. It should be two miles. It should be three miles. Look, and you have the Scarsdale schools, they’re outside of that circle. You should make the circle much larger. You have other people, I call them the deniers. This is not a big deal. It’s all going to be fine. You don’t have to do anything. Don’t close anything, don’t disrupt anything.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:18)
So you have opinions all across the board. That’s why I say go with the science. Go with the science. The political mechanism can’t make these decisions. So Dr. Zucker, who is extraordinary in this field, let me just take a moment to say, I talk to people at the world health organization, NIH, Dr. [Fowchee 00:18:41], who’s one of the international best, they all say to me, “You have the best with Howard Zucker.” They all say it. He’s been in Washington. Everybody knows him, and I’ll tell you the truth, it has given me such comfort because he is nationally reputed as really an expert in this area.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:05)
So we talk to everyone, but then someone has to make a decision. In this case, Dr. Zucker makes a decision and he’s not… He has a balanced approach and I think the one mile circumference demonstrates that.
Speaker 2: (19:23)
What would be in that one mile circumference? I mean is it just the schools are going to close? Are you going to order businesses close? What does that mean?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:29)
We’re going to go through what’s in that circumference. You have schools, I don’t know if we have any… It’s major gathering places. So we have to look at it. I don’t know if there are public buildings. I don’t know if they are large social gatherings.
Speaker 2: (19:42)
[inaudible 00:19:42] everything within that mile shut down?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:45)
No, not everything. Just large facilities that do large gatherings.
Speaker 1: (19:51)
[crosstalk 00:19:51]. Sorry. Excuse me. And we’re working directly with the mayor and the county executive to identify a list that we all agree on. But as the governor said, it’s focused on the major congregate areas, not all businesses.
Speaker 3: (20:01)
So people can go back and forth to their homes and-
Melissa DeRosa: (20:03)
Not all businesses.
Speaker 3: (20:03)
People can go back and forth to their homes and businesses would remain open?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:05)
Yeah. It’s large, congregate facilities or gatherings.
Speaker 4: (20:10)
There’s no travel restrictions of any kind?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:13)
No, you can go in and out. It’s just those facilities that would bring large numbers of people together can’t do it for a period of two weeks.
Speaker 5: (20:24)
Does that include grocery stores or pharmacies?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:27)
Speaker 6: (20:27)
People could walk down the street. You’re not saying-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:30)
Large gathering facilities. Schools. Temple. What else?
Melissa DeRosa: (20:37)
There’s a Boys and Girls Club that was on the list they asked us to consider. So things like that.
Speaker 7: (20:44)
What exactly is the hot spot?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:50)
The point in the middle of that one mile.
Speaker 8: (20:52)
Melissa DeRosa: (20:53)
We’ll get you the exact list after this, but it’s not the entire New Rochelle School District. It’s the schools within that one mile radius.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:00)
Yeah. It is no school system. It’s a geographic concept. So it’s whatever school, public, private, is in that one mile area.
Speaker 9: (21:11)
[inaudible 00:21:11] quarantine within that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:12)
Dr. Howard Zucker: (21:13)
We’re trying to break the spread and people gathered together. Sorry.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:18)
Large public facilities that bring large quantities of people together.
Speaker 10: (21:23)
So where’s the point that you’re starting from again?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (21:26)
Looking where it began. And so that’s why we say this is where there were the most individuals who were infected. And so that’s where we started from. And then we marched that out to a mile radius.
Speaker 10: (21:38)
[inaudible 00:21:38] temple, then?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (21:39)
In that area.
Speaker 11: (21:39)
How will this be enforced and will people be fined if they violate this?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:45)
It’s not really people. It’s facilities.
Speaker 11: (21:47)
Will facilities be fined?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:50)
I don’t think anyone is going to violate it. You’re talking about a school, primarily schools, any large congregate gathering place that would be operating in the next two weeks. I don’t know if they’re planning any concerts, any conventions or whatever.
Does that include like the upper schools of the New Rochelle public system? Because if it’s not the case, then a kid from the containment zone is going to the high school out of the containment zone.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:18)
Yeah. Jimmy, there’s no… You’re not containing people. It’s facilities. Somebody who lives in that containment area could be in this room today. There’s nothing you can do about that.
What schools within the New Rochelle district are affected?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (22:37)
We can get you the list of the actual schools, but the high school [crosstalk 00:22:49]
Melissa DeRosa: (22:49)
There’s a list of schools, we’ll give it to you right after this, that fall within that one mile radius. And then the other schools that we’re talking to is SAR Academy, the Westchester Day School, the Westchester Torah Academy. So the other schools that have already been impacted by this because the population is in that base center.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:06)
Scarsdale closed down. They’re outside of the area. They closed down on their own.
You can’t say what the pinpoint is? You’ve got a one mile circle. What’s the pinpoint?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:14)
It’s the center of the cluster.
An address? A building?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:18)
I don’t know, but it’s whatever’s in the middle of that one mile.
What part of the city is this? East side? West side?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:23)
I don’t know. Look at the map.
Speaker 12: (23:24)
Is it only within New Rochelle?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:27)
Speaker 12: (23:27)
It’s only within New Rochelle?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:27)
Speaker 13: (23:29)
Have any other state officials or members of your staff tested positive?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:32)
Speaker 14: (23:33)
Governor, could you see if this could be used to be replicated in other parts of the state as we see a lot more of these tests positive?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:43)
This is unique in the United States of America. We haven’t seen this anywhere else. Just think about it. New Rochelle has more than double the number of cases of New York City. I mean, it’s a phenomenon.
Speaker 14: (24:01)
Is there a thought that you could use this as a way to contain it in other parts of the state as we start to see [crosstalk 00:24:07]?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:07)
That’s basically what you’re doing across the country, right? We closed schools, right? That’s what everyone’s doing is closing schools. What does it mean when you close the school? You’re closing the large gathering area in that community. That’s what you’re doing. You’re closing colleges. Why? Because that’s the large gathering place. So this is just a different manifestation of that. We’re closing the large gathering places, schools in a geographic area around this cluster, because this is not your normal pattern, right? It’s not a shotgun pattern of disparate cases. This is a true geographic cluster.
Speaker 14: (24:53)
This is clearly a greater step than what you’ve done. So I’m wondering are you looking at this as a possibility of being used elsewhere or even statewide?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:03)
I haven’t heard of anything else like this anywhere.
Speaker 15: (25:06)
Governor, do you have any information on more about Rick Cotton and how he actually contracted coronavirus?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:11)
No. He is doing well. Did you speak with him today?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (25:15)
Last night he was doing well.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:15)
You spoke with him last night, I spoke with him yesterday.
Melissa DeRosa: (25:19)
He’s asymptomatic. He’s home. He’s doing fine.
Speaker 15: (25:21)
We’ve just seen a report that it wasn’t in an airport, that it was a separate person he came into contact with on Friday?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:27)
I don’t know.
Dr. Howard Zucker: (25:29)
It goes back to the issue of community spread and what we’ve been speaking about. And so perhaps he interacted with somebody who was positive.
Speaker 16: (25:36)
Governor, on the subject of nursing homes, has the state been doing any spot checks or auditing of nursing homes to make sure that they’re compliant in cleaning or have required things in place [inaudible 00:25:49]?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:49)
We regulate them normally and we inspect them normally. Our actions to date have been more on giving different guidance on how they should operate. I don’t believe we’ve been expanding the inspection protocols.
Speaker 17: (26:09)
Regeneron’s been working on a vaccine. Are there other local companies that have been also working on a vaccine?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:12)
Can you start that again?
Speaker 17: (26:14)
Regeneron is working on a vaccine right now. are there other local companies in the state working on a vaccine as well?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:19)
I don’t know. Maybe Doctor Zucker knows. Regeneron is a great company that has done a lot of groundbreaking work. We do a lot of them with the state. The Regeneron started with an economic development grant in this state given by a person named Mario Cuomo. Who at the time the way their economic development program worked, they would give a company a grant and they would take a part of the company, a stock interest in the company. So New York state invested in Regeneron, had a number of shares of stock. This stock exploded, went crazy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:10)
New York state sold the stock somewhere along the way, made a lot of money, not as much money as if they had kept the stock because the stock has continued to go up. So Regeneron was born from New York and now it’s a multinational company. But I know they’re working on it. I know other companies are working on it also. You have to develop the vaccine and then you have to go through the testing protocol. So most people will say that it’s about one year before you get through all of that. That’s when the president says, I think we are weeks from finding a vaccine. You can find a vaccine within weeks if you’re very optimistic, but then you have to test it. So it probably comes out to a year. But I don’t know what other companies are doing that.
Governor, coming up this weekend there are some Saint Patrick’s Day parades, I think in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany I think has one too. Should they reconsider all of these parades?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:18)
Nick, you have to look at the specifics here. You look at the map of the state, you have very few cases in some area. And you have larger numbers in other areas. And then you have critical numbers like New Rochelle, so you have to calibrate it to the place. This is such a different situation in different parts of the state. [crosstalk 00:28:42] Let’s take one more.
Speaker 18: (28:43)
[inaudible 00:28:43] childcare. We have thousands of families in New Rochelle. These kids may be out of school. Is the state prepared to help with any of these parents?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:51)
Yeah, we’re going to work with the local officials and whatever we need to do to help, we will.
Speaker 19: (28:55)
Governor, can you explain how in Washington, the nursing home seems to be the epicenter of the deaths, certainly in Washington state. But not in New York state. You still don’t have a case. Right. But how [inaudible 00:29:09] What have you learned from that and what did you learn from Boston?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (29:13)
A couple things. Many of those deaths are in nursing homes, and so we have worked very closely with our longterm care facilities to address that. Yesterday we mentioned that no visitors to certain nursing homes, and we’re also pushing back on the number of people can visit, and being very aggressive on making sure that anyone who’s sick is identified. [crosstalk 00:29:36]