Aug 14, 2020
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Conference Call Transcript August 14
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke on a conference call on August 14 to discuss reopening. He said: “This is the seventh straight day with a positive rate under 1%”. Read the transcript here.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (00:01)
… Gareth Rhodes on the phone, put Gareth on the phone. It’s a sunny, beautiful day. And opening [inaudible 00:00:14] yesterday, which is more than any state in the United States. 727 positive. That’s 0.85. That is fantastic. This is the seventh straight day with a positive rate under 1%. That is fantastic. We are doing a tremendous number of tests. New York state has averaged 87,000 tests a day over the past three days. So 0.8 is a great number and it’s based on a very large sample size. Largest sample sizes that we’ve been taking. So on the numbers, it’s been extraordinary. Congratulations to all New Yorkers because their actions result in these tests. Four New Yorkers passed away. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. 554 were hospitalized. That’s about what it was the day before, down one. 127 COVID patients in ICU, 59 intubated. That’s about where it was.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (01:39)
While the other states are seeing real trouble, we are doing very well. We have to protect the progress. Quarantine from other states and compliance in New York. SLA found 12 violations yesterday. That number is somewhat lower. I hope institutions and establishments are actually getting the message. On the power outage, after the tropical storm, they have made [BSENG 00:02:18], Con Ed have made progress, too little too late as far as I’m concerned, and we’re going to have an investigation. Again, this is why we hire them. We hire them to prevent outages during storms and then to get them up quickly. That’s what they get paid to do. And that’s what they failed to do.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (02:48)
On testing, Ags and Markets is going to work with New York State Department of Health to dispatch multiple testing units to farms in rural counties. We’re seeing several clusters, several outbreaks at farms, basically from the workers and we’re dispatching mobile testing sites.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (03:15)
In terms of education, let me just say what I’ve said. By the infection rate, all states, our schools can open. Can. They have the ability to open. That does not mean the parents and the teachers or the local school district must open. They can open. It doesn’t mean they must open. They can open if they are safe. What is safe? Safe means they have the proper precautions in place and the teachers and the parents agree that they are safe to open. They have the protocols in place, the cohorting in place, contact tracing in place, whatever testing requirements they need in place. And they consult the parents and the teachers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (04:19)
I then said they had to do a number of sessions where the parents get to ask questions. I’m now getting calls that the school districts are doing online calls, but they’re not really allowing the parents to speak or ask questions and they’re not really discussions. I got a call from teachers saying that a district had a call for teachers but that it was a manipulated call. School districts want to manipulate conversations. School districts want to stone wall conversation. It’s going to show up on the first day that school is supposed to open because the parents won’t send the kids and the teachers won’t show up. So full discussion, candid discussion, these are important issues. People are nervous.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (05:27)
Then some updates. Bowling alleys. Given the results that we have and given the progress that we’ve made, we’re going to make some more changes and adjustment. Bowling alleys will be allowed to open on Monday. 50% occupancy. You must have a face covering, every other lane closed, the parties stay with their party at the lane that they’re bowling. The establishment has to have cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place, especially on the shared and the rented equipment. Food service, alcohol service only by wait service at the party’s location. So you’re at a lane. You’re bowling. You can order food. You can order alcohol. They come to you. You don’t go to a bar. You don’t go to a food concession. They come to you. That’s bowling alleys. They open on Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (06:56)
Low-risk indoor cultural activities. Museums, aquariums, other low risk indoor cultural arts can reopen in New York City August 24th. So they can get their protocols in place. 25% maximum occupancy, timed ticketing required with preset, staggered entry. Face coverings enforced and controlled traffic flow. Gymnasiums, we will put out protocols on Monday for gymnasiums to open, which follow the protocol.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (07:51)
We’re also doing a joint pilot program with four cities to analyze wastewater. Believe it or not, you can find the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater. Department of Health here in New York has been working on that. And we’re going to start a pilot project on that basis.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (08:07)
On the federal funds. I don’t know what to tell you. They’re playing politics. They’ve always been playing politics. COVID-19 didn’t bring any responsibility to Washington. They started early on. We’re not going to do any blue state bailouts. McConnell let the States go bankrupt. I’m still waiting for that law to pass by the way. This has been a total disgrace and the current executive orders by the President, the states are under dire financial circumstances. So his suggestion is we now pay part of the unemployment insurance, makes absolutely no sense. COVID-19 and the mishandling of COVID-19. I make a projection for you.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (09:03)
… and the mishandling of COVID-19, I’ll make a projection for you, COVID-19 is going to be the main factor in the November elections and Washington is going to fail the leadership test on COVID-19. You will see it in all elections, Congressional, Senate and Presidential. This is an historic crisis. People are afraid. You name the last time you had a situation controlled by government that had this impact on every American’s life. By the way, you can go back to drafts, affected large number of Americans. The children were drafted, families. You find me a time when you had a government issue that affected every American to these consequences, life and death.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (10:21)
GAO made an interesting finding that Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Wolf and his deputy Cuccinelli were wrongfully appointed. Surprise, surprise. They extorted New York, they’re unethical, and it turns out they didn’t even have any business being in the job. Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (10:54)
Okay, with that, operator, we will take questions.
Thank you. As a reminder, to ask a question, you will need to press star one on your telephone keypad. That’s star one on your telephone keypad. Please stand by as we compile the Q and A roster. First question comes from the line of Nick [inaudible 00:02:39]. Your line is now open.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (11:52)
Nick [inaudible 00:11:57], your line is now open.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (12:04)
Hello, Nick? Speak to me, Nick.
Hello, hello, hello.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (12:13)
There you are, Nick.
You got me? Okay, great.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (12:16)
Governor, I was wondering two things. One, could you give us a preview for your remarks, your speech that you’re going to be giving on Monday to the Democratic National Convention. Also, I was wondering if you could react to what is probably a very early poll for the 2024 Democratic nomination. You were ranked at the top based on the survey that came out yesterday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (12:45)
Okay. Are you busy and you’re not going to be able to watch the Democratic convention Monday, Nick?
Oh, I’ll be watching, but we do like having these preview stories written in advance too. Anything you can tell us that give us a sense of your themes that you want to hit on on Monday?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (13:07)
No. Why would I do that? Then you may not watch on Monday. I will tell you this, I’m going to support Joe Biden for president.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (13:21)
On the poll, the poll was shocking to me, frankly. The other people in the poll all ran for president. I don’t know if you have noticed, but I didn’t run for president. They were all bonafide presidential contenders. They were basically the slate that ran this past time. It was shocking to me.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (13:55)
I think what that is is, well it must be, from the briefings and from what New Yorkers did on COVID, and I applaud New Yorkers. I think it’s a reflective of the actions that New Yorkers took and possibly my rapier wit and just stunning sense of humor, which I’m sure you would attribute it to, Nick. But I think that’s what it is. But it was shocking to me.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (14:42)
One thing when we talk about progress, the CDC, Redfield said the fall is going to be terrible. Terrible was not his word, but that was the basic thrust. Let’s keep that in mind and let’s keep that in mind with schools and everything else and all these activities. New Yorkers are out of the woods. We’re doing great. We’re doing great. Yeah, we’re doing great. But the fall is coming and states all around us are doing terribly and people come here and compliance is an issue and colleges are going to open and kids are going to come from other states back to colleges. But that’s where we are.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (15:35)
I can’t give you a preview cause I’m afraid you won’t watch it, Nick. On the poll, I’m shocked, but I think it’s an endorsement of what New Yorkers have done and my wit and sense of humor, which I know you appreciate 100%.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (15:54)
Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Victor Ocasio from Newsday. Your line is now open.
Victor Ocasio: (16:05)
Good morning, Governor. Thank you for taking questions today.
Victor Ocasio: (16:09)
One of the things I wanted to ask you about is the new memorandum from the president this past weekend on the enhancements to unemployment benefits at the state level. First it was touted as $400, obviously you commented on that earlier in this week, and then on the 12th, they came out with a new guidance that said, ” Well, states don’t have to chip in the 25%. They can just use the, as long as individuals are getting at least $100, that could be counted towards that.” Even with these guidances in places does that change the calculus in terms of costs? I’ve heard there are administrative costs, processing costs that all surround this, not just the actual payments themselves.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (16:54)
A couple of things, Victor. The first, what’s happening is he’s trying to do with an executive order that which requires a law. It’s all political. It’s not legal. He will be sued, and the executive order will fail. He actually has to get the legislation done.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (17:16)
Second, Washington passes a bill on unemployment insurance, the states then have to administer it. You remember nationwide all the delays on administering the unemployment checks last time, that was every state. New York had it, but it was every state, because whenever you change the definition of unemployment or the eligibility or the criteria, you have to redo the entire administration, and that takes weeks and weeks. Some states have actually had months of delay. We had weeks because we were overwhelmed. That would happen again. So you’re trying to get unemployment-
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (18:03)
That would happen again. So, you’re trying to get unemployment insurance into somebody’s pocket. They make any change, nobody’s going to get a check for weeks and weeks. The other thing that’s happening is many states were given more money than they needed in the past CARES Act. And those states wants flexibility on how to spend the money because they have money they can’t spend. Meaning the Republican senate, when they did the past funding under the CARES Act, they gave a lot of money to Republican states that didn’t have COVID problems.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (18:45)
Why? Because they wanted to give money to Republican states. That’s why. Because they played politics and they made it pork barrel. Those states are saying, “We have extra money. Can we use that money? Because we can’t spend it, because we didn’t have the same number of COVID cases.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (19:07)
New York, we’re the exact opposite situation. We don’t need flexibility because we have no money to spend. We spent it. So we just need additional funding. Period. Also, on the president, president tweeted, “People leaving New York because taxes are up and crime is up.” Something like that. Don’t bank on me to be a strict quoter of the president.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (19:41)
You can’t just lie all the time. You know, Secretary Mnuchin, our taxes are up in New York state. Lie. President Trump, “Taxes are up in New York state.” Lie. Then numbers. Their numbers. I lowered the tax rate for every New Yorker. It’s a fact. It’s a well documented fact in this state. State income tax rates are down. That’s a fact.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (20:24)
Trump quotes Murdoch. They’re one and the same, right? Murdoch and The Post and Donald Trump and Fox, he may as well quote family members to make his point. Donald Trump can quote Donald Trump, Jr., or he can quote Rupert Murdoch and The Post. Trump says, “Oh, well The Post says…” Yeah, okay. They are one and the same. They are in league, the Post and Fox and Trump.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (21:07)
So, it’s a lie on the taxes going up. And you can say, “But that’s a harsh word.” It’s not a mistake, because a mistake, I understand mistakes. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Mnuchin said this last week and he was told through various means taxes didn’t go up. The numbers, they didn’t go up. So, they know that it isn’t true, but they want to say it because it’s a political season and they want to say it. That’s why I call it a lie. That’s why I use that harsh word, because they’re being harsh.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (21:59)
Crime up in New York city. Yes, crime is a problem. Crime is a problem. I said it first. Crime is a problem. The looting was a problem. The tension between the police department and the community is a problem. I took the most aggressive action in the United States of America. Every local government that has a police department has to come up with a new collaborative process to work through the relationship between the police and the community, and they have to pass a law embodying that plan, and they have to do it by August or they don’t get any funding from the state of New York. Nobody’s been more aggressive. But yes, crime is an issue in New York city. True.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:45)
Now, the genesis of the crime, you’re can have a great debate about, but the Trump economy, Trump not providing COVID relief, George Floyd murder, Trump’s response to the George Floyd murder, race relations, stress, Trump, “There are good people on both sides,” KU Klux Klan. So, I think Trump has some liability for the increase in the crime. Operator, next question.
Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Jerry [inaudible 00:23:37] Your line is now open.
Hello governor. How you doing?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (23:44)
Good, Jerry. How are you doing?
Good. Good. A couple more convention questions for you here. You’re not going to Milwaukee, correct?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (23:55)
How do you feel about, this obviously has to be a largely virtual event. How does that change things for you and for the party in general?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (24:09)
Conventions can be fun, Jerry. I’ve gone to basically all of them in my adult lifetime. They can be fun. You get to see people. The state delegation goes. You get to socialize. But welcome to the world, right? A lot of the fun congregate settings we’re not doing. From a point of view of just getting the job done, luckily this was not a hotly contested convention. I think it’s fair to say.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (24:45)
If you were doing a virtual convention and the convention was open and it was between a couple of candidates or among a couple of candidates and it was going to come down to a floor fight, I don’t know how you do a virtual floor fight on Zoom, but that’s not the case here. There’s not going to be any surprise here. It’s going to be Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. That’s what it’s going to be. So, I think if there was ever a convention that would lend itself to a virtual process, it was this convention where you just don’t have the same level of controversy or indecision.
Thank you. Our Next question comes from the line as Marcia Kramer from WCBS TV. Your line is now open.
Marcia Kramer: (25:47)
Good morning, governor.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (25:49)
No, not a question from Marcia Kramer. We don’t want a question from Marcia.
Marcia Kramer: (25:54)
Actually, governor, I have two questions. One has to do with the power. There’s a lot of frustrated people, especially in Westchester, because every single time there’s a power outage, you make threats to do something, to take away the licenses of Con Ed. But just yesterday, after a very difficult storm in 2018, the PRC decided to fine Con Edison $10 million, which for a company that gets $12 billion in profits, is sort of like a slap on the wrist. I wonder, given the latest power outage, what you can do to make sure that your demand for change does not turn into a hollow promise and a hollow threat?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (26:44)
Okay. First of all, Ms. Kramer, you’re a person who’s known me for a fairly long period of time. You can say many things about me. A hollow threat are not two words that tend to come to mind.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (27:02)
… words that tend to come to mind. I am one of those frustrated Westchester people. I was at my house two days ago. There was still no power. I have lived it, so I’m one of the frustrated Westchester people. The PSC, I’m also frustrated with the PSC. I don’t think they have been tough enough on Con Ed and other utilities. So I’m frustrated with the PSC also.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (27:53)
We have to get to a point where we fully appreciate what it will take to revoke a franchise. It will be disruptive. We’ve done it before. We did it on Long Island. I am serious like a heart attack about it, but it will be disruptive. I am frustrated with Con Ed. I’ve had the same conversation five times. We are going to be taking dramatic action, both with the PSC and with Con Edison.
Marcia Kramer: (28:42)
Governor, I actually have a second question. It has to do with the voting in November. There’s some concern about where people could vote in November because schools are not anxious to have people come to vote in schools. What should be done about people voting in November? Do we have to find other places than schools for them to vote? Will it be mostly mail ballots? Are you going to be able to sign a bill allowing people to request absentee ballots based on COVID concerns for the November election?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (29:24)
Yes. Short answer is yes. I will sign that bill based on COVID. I think mail-in is the smartest way.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (29:33)
On the dropping off of the ballots in the schools, some states actually have come up with some creative ideas, where they have drop boxes, secure drop boxes, which sounds a little extraordinary. You can either drop a ballot into a mailbox, which is a steel box, and the post office comes and picks up the box, empties the box, and then brings it to the Board of Elections. Why couldn’t you have a box, Marsha, that you can drop your ballot into the box, and the box is a Board of Election box, either at a polling site or in front of a polling site so you don’t have to walk into the school? Why not? We know how to make boxes. Maybe you could even use post office boxes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (30:37)
But it is a valid concern. The schools do not appreciate, some of the schools, there’s 700 school districts. I think there are many more nervous parents and teachers than many of these school districts believe. School districts, some school districts, are accustomed to operating by fiat. “School will open Wednesday. School will close on Friday.” This is a different case. I’m telling you, I’m talking to the parents, I’m talking to the teachers, there is a disconnect between many school districts and the teachers and the parents. I don’t think many of these school districts understand it. I think they’re being overly bureaucratic. I think there’s going to be many more safety concerns.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (31:36)
I think your question about polling and schools fits right into that. It’s going to be the fall. Redfield just said the fall is going to be worse. Everybody’s going to have flu-type symptoms because it’s the fall. Everybody’s going to look symptomatic. Testing is going to be harder because we have to do the COVID tests and we have to do the flu tests? The flu tests are the busy season for the labs, by the way. That’s normally what they do are flu tests. Then we’re going to say, “Oh yeah, and by the way in November, we’re going to have a few hundred people walk into your gymnasium.” No. We’re looking at alternatives for that. And that is no hollow threat, Marsha Kramer.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (32:34)
Thank you, operator. Thank you very much. Have a good day, guys. Thank you. Bye
Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.