Sep 3, 2020

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Conference Call Transcript September 3

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Conference Call Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsNY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Conference Call Transcript September 3

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a briefing via conference call on September 3. He talked about President Trump and announced that he has no current plans to reopen indoor dining at restaurants. Read the transcript here.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:02)
Beth Garvey, Gareth Rhodes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:05)
There’s a number of items that I’m going to go through. We have the Labor Day weekend coming up and hopefully people are going to be able to enjoy the weekend, somewhat, being as we haven’t had a summer thus far. And I’m sure members of the press are going to be also enjoying the weekend. So we want to get out a number of items that have gone to be coming up over these next few days.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:32)
Today is day 187. We did 88,000 tests. 889 were positive, that’s 0.99. Seven new Yorkers passed away. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. 430 were hospitalized. That’s down 15. 117 we’re an ICU. That’s about the same. 61 were intubated, that’s about the same. So the overall numbers are good news.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:02)
Western New York is not good news. 1.9% yesterday. The State’s effort on the rapid testing that we started, we did 6,400 tests this week. It’s a 4% positivity overall, which is high. Again, it’s not a random sample. These are people who think they may have the virus and that’s why they come in. Chautauqua County was 4. 5, Niagara 2.8, Buffalo City, 5.9. Erie without Buffalo, 2.3. Casinos, we said we were reviewing, we’d have an announcement. Casinos can open September 9th on the condition that they have the enhanced air filtration system in place before they opened, they would open at 25% maximum occupancy. Masks, social distancing, six feet, no table games or beverage service on the gaming floor, additional staff to monitor the traffic and ensure compliance. State gaming commission will be monitoring that. Malls in New York City, again, September 9th, they can open 50% capacity as long as they have the air filtration, the MERV-13, et cetera. Masks and social distancing will be required. Additional staff will be required to control.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:38)
And what the results of those tests are. I hope this will give teachers and parents some confidence that the plans are being implemented. And if the plans aren’t being implemented, we want to know that also. Because if there’s a problem, the sooner you find out about the problem, the better.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:02)
On restaurants in New York City, I understand the tension on the issue. Speaker Cory Johnson said yesterday, I believe, or the day before, that he thinks the restaurants in New York City should open. First, that’s not a decision that’s going to be made by New York City. They have no legal authority to make that decision, the state will make that decision. I happen to agree with the Speaker. I’d like to see the restaurants open. However, there’s a but, B-U-T. The but is our rules and guidance on reopening is only as good as the compliance and the enforcement.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:52)
So we can say 50% in casinos, whatever, but it then has to be enforced. There has to be compliance. 50% on malls, 25% on casinos. It has to be enforced. We have major problems in New York City with the compliance on bars. I have besieged New York City to do a better job on compliance and enforcement. We put together a task force to do the enforcement on Long Island and in New York City. We are taking state police resources from many places to put on that taskforce. The state liquor authority has investigators, not just from the state liquor authority, but from all state agencies have deployed investigators to do the compliance on the bars. We now open restaurants, that’s going to complicate by the hundreds, if not thousands, the number of establishments that have to be monitored. How is that going to happen? I don’t have any more state resources to do it.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:14)
So we’re going to contact the Speaker today and say, “Look, if New York City can say this many police, NYPD, can be put on a task force to monitor the compliance, that’s something that we can discuss.” I’m going to say to the Restaurant Association that desperately wants to open, and I understand the economic pressure. Can you tell me how we’re going to enforce it and how we’re going to monitor compliance? Because the facts on what happened on bars are damning. And you’ve all heard me on this phone for the past month saying there’s a lax and an ineffectiveness in the compliance, and that’s why I did the state task force. But the state task force can not take on the issue of restaurants just by personnel. It’s not going to work. So to come up with a plan, akin to schools, we have a great plan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:31)
All restaurants can open, but they have to have this, this and this and this. Yeah, but the plan is only as good as your ability to enforce it. And right now we have no ability to enforce it. And again, we just had a very bad experience when it came to bars. So if the Speaker and I don’t know if you have 34,000 NYPD, there’s a lot of questions about the NYPD and their activities. Put together a taskforce of NYPD, Speaker Johnson, and say, “There are going to be 4,000 police who are going to be doing restaurant compliance.” Not sheriffs, there are only 150 sheriffs. We have to do airport compliance. We have to do bridge and tunnel compliance. We’re now opening malls, mall compliance, casino compliance, all of these, and then school compliance. So that’s a complication for opening the restaurants in New York City. And again, if Speaker Johnson has opinions they should open. My opinion is they should open. The question is how.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:56)
The President says, he’s going to have a vaccine. CDC is talking about a vaccine in early November, how convenient. It’s going to be an election day miracle drug. Some people are concerned that the vaccine may wind up being hydroxychloroquine. So the State Department of Health, before we recommend that New Yorkers take a vaccine, the State Department of Health will be reviewing all the protocol and research by the FDA and whatever federal authorities say it’s safe and effective. So we will, before we recommend New Yorkers take any vaccine, we will have the State Department of Health review it.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:51)
The President has been a tweeting up a storm, as is his way. I believe the President is fundamentally a bully, which I’ve said to you many times and I’ve known him very well for a very long period of time. It doesn’t work in New York because you can’t bully New Yorkers. We just don’t get bullied. We don’t respond well to it. And I want to talk about facts. The President says a lot of things, but facts still matter, even in this political environment.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:35)
When it comes to protests in New York City, and public safety, I’m concerned about public safety in New York city also. We are all. New Yorkers are all concerned about it. City residents are concerned about it. But public safety is not a federal responsibility, not constitutionally in New York city. It’s a state and local issue. The federal responsibility for public safety is national security. And that has been great failure by this President. He said that his protection of Americans against these protests is akin to World War II. No, I’ll tell you what’s akin to World War II. It was the COVID attack. This nation has not been attacked by an enemy who was killed more and ravaged more than COVID since World War II. And the President as a Commander-in-Chief has been in abysmal failure in the war against COVID.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:56)
And that’s on the facts. You look at the number of deaths from COVID, just past couple of days, Spain, 42, France, 25, Germany, eight. Italy, very badly hit, six. You know how many were in the United States? 1074. 1074. Commander Trump, you are losing. You’re losing the World War, the other countries are doing much, much better. And losing far fewer people than the United States is losing.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:44)
Second point, the President said New York did not do a good job in handling COVID. No, it’s not that New York didn’t do a good job. COVID problem in New York was a function of the federal government’s negligence. How do I know that? Because they admitted that they were negligent. They admitted if. The virus came from Europe, not China. President calls it the China virus. It’s not the China virus. It’s the European virus. And it came here because the federal government was negligent in protecting Americans and New Yorkers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:42)
How can I say that? I’m not saying that. the federal government admitted their failure. Dr. Fauci on June 23rd, “Everybody was looking at China and it came from Europe.” That’s Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci on April 9th, “We cut off the travel from China relatively early, but we were seeded with a relatively few number of cases from China, but very quickly, the epicenter switched to Europe, particularly Northern Italy. Given the travel and air traffic from anywhere in Italy, but also particularly in Northern Italy, it’s just not surprising that on unfortunately and inadvertently New York was seeded before we knew what was going on.” Well, that’s Dr. Fauci. President doesn’t like Dr. Fauci. Okay. How about CDC director Robert Redfield, who he appointed, his CDC director. Testimony, sworn testimony, March 10th. “Right now the new China is Europe. And there’s a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe that are now starting to seed these communities.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:05)
CDC report July 17th, “Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation factor, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of COVID had already occurred in New York City.” CDC, CDC principal director, Ann Shout, May 1. “I think in retrospect, taking action earlier could have delayed further amplification or delayed the speed of it. The extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importation and the rapid spread.” CDC, Robert Redfield, July 28th, “The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening. The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:07)
CDC, Dr. Fauci, these are federal agencies who have admitted that the virus came to New York from Europe and they blew it. They missed it. It was their failure. It was their negligence. They have admitted it in their words. This is not a back and forth. It’s not a political discussion, well he says this, they say that. He says the world is flat. I say the world is round. No, the world is round. That is a fact. Well, he says it’s flat. Yeah, I know, but he’s wrong. The situation in New York with COVID came from Europe because the federal government was negligent and they admitted it and it’s their words.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:09)
The President says he’s going to win New York State in the election. President says a lot of things, whatever he would like to wager on his winning New York, I would take him up on it. So if he is serious, old expression, put your money where your mouth is, how much do you want to wager that you’re going to win New York? He’s going to lose New York. Why? Because those who know the President best like him the least and New Yorkers know him. He grew up here. We watched him as tabloid fodder for years. We know him and those who know him know he’s unsuited to be President. Not just New Yorkers, people who know him best.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:11)
You know who knows him best? His family. You know what his sister said? His sister, by the way, is not just his sister. His sister is a former federal judge who is a credible person. His sister said, ” The change of stories, the lack of preparation, the lying, Holy S-H-blank-T. He has no principles. He doesn’t read. Donald is cruel. He was a brat. You can’t trust him. It was all about him.” Who said that? His sister, former federal-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:03)
… at his sister, former Federal Judge. Now look, there’s only two options. Either the sister is mentally not competent, or she’s accurate. I don’t hear anyone trying to overturn her decisions based on a lack of mental competence. So former Federal Judge says that about her brother, “Those who know him best, like him least.” Those are the words quoted from his sister, former Federal Judge. President then says, “My puppet prosecutors already legally prosecuting him.” We don’t have puppet prosecutors in New York. I don’t appoint the prosecutors. The president appoints puppet prosecutors. He appoints William Barr, who, I understand from the president’s point of view, yes, William Barr is his puppet. Yes, William Barr is a prosecutor. That doesn’t happen in New York. That’s a federal situation. Cy Vance, the district attorney in Manhattan, gets elected. He ran in Manhattan. There’s an election, people vote. And he’s the District Attorney. Cy Vance has asked for his taxes. It’s not illegal.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:45)
Judges have sided with Cy Vance. I’m sure Cy Vance who’s an experienced prosecutor has a probable cause to ask for his taxes. The president desperately is trying to secret his taxes. I don’t know why. I release my taxes. I don’t understand why the president has such great fear about releasing his taxes. To go to all of this extent, there must be something he really doesn’t want people to see. Otherwise, it’s totally illogical what he’s doing. But CY Vance is not a puppet of mine, he was elected. He’s not William Barr. And the prosecutors aren’t acting illegally. The prosecutors are seeking to prove illegality, and that’s why they want the taxes. So those are facts, my friends. They’re not, he said, she said. They’re just facts.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:56)
If he wants to refute the facts, ” 1000 didn’t die in the United States. 42 people didn’t die in Spain.” Okay. Refute the facts. “My sister didn’t say that.” Okay. Except she did. “Redfield didn’t say that.” Well, Redfield did say you missed the virus coming from Europe. They didn’t do the European travel ban till mid March. It was too late. They all admitted it. It’s his negligence. It’s his liability that brought it to New York. If this was a actual war, he could be court-martialed for dereliction of duty. He brought it to New York. World war II, COVID was World War II. And you have the worst performance on the globe of any Commander in Chief. If these were missiles rather than a viral transmission, the United States would have been devastated. So these are all facts, which I say in response to the President’s tweets. Okay. Let’s take a couple of questions, and then we’ll start to get ready for the weekend. Operator.

Operator: (22:34)
As a reminder, to ask a question you will need to press star then the number 1 on your telephone. To withdraw your question, press the # key. Please stand by while we compile the Q and A roster.

Operator: (22:49)
Your first question comes from the line of… One moment.

Operator: (22:59)
John Console, from USA Today network. Your line is now open.

John Console: (23:07)
Hi, Governor. How are you?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:08)
Hi. Good. How are you?

John Console: (23:10)
Not too bad. Can you tell us more about the casino plan that’s going to go into place? Are table games going to be allowed? Are the racetrack casinos going to be allowed to open? What other kind of restrictions are going to be in place?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:22)
Robert Mujica, Budget Director Extraordinaire. Also big casino.

Robert Mujica: (23:30)
So table games won’t be allowed, unless they can figure out how to put physical barriers between the players. There are some places where they have those physical barriers. The Gaming Commission would have to approve of the physical barriers between the players. Now they have had them in some places, none of the casinos in New York have them in place. So until the physical barriers are approved by the Gaming Commission, table games would wouldn’t be in place. For all of the slot machines, there would be six feet between machines that are usable, also, unless there’s a physical barrier between the machines. And there would be no dining in a casino in New York City, since there is no indoor dining in New York City permitted 25% capacity, which will be monitored at the door by security. And the Gaming Commission will be the enforcement entity. The State Police also have jurisdiction over all casinos in the State.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:45)
John, because all of these things are basically connected. No indoor dining in New York City. Gaming Commission will monitor the casinos. Whenever we come up with one of these rules, the question is always, “Great plan, how’s it going to be implemented?” It’s always a question of enforcement and compliance. We opened the beaches, that started a whole compliance issue. So indoor dining in New York City. I share Speaker Johnson’s opinion. I want to open the restaurants in New York City. I don’t know how we’re going to do the compliance.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:26)
And by the way, I am open to any suggestions. If the Restaurant Association has a suggestion as to how we could monitor compliance, and do enforcement, if Speaker Johnson wants to say, “We’ll have a dedicated task force of NYPD officers who will do this,” and if the size of that task force matches what we need to monitor, I’m open to that. I’m open to suggestions. I want to open the restaurants in New York City. The economic damage is extraordinary. I don’t want to enter a situation where we say, “We’re opening thousands of restaurant” and we don’t have the capacity to monitor it. And then we have a problem, which we just went through in bars. I’m not anticipating a situation that hasn’t been factually demonstrated. Next question, operator.

Operator: (26:38)
Next question comes from the line of Keith Messi from [inaudible 00:26:42] News. Your line is now open.

Keith Messi: (26:45)
Hi, Governor. In the wake of the rapid testing results that you briefly detailed, just what’s your message to Western New York.?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:56)
Look, I think they have to take this very seriously. I think the local governments have to really step up their enforcement and their compliance. I think the people of Western New York have to realize that if they don’t follow social distancing, the precautions, the virus will increase. That’s what we’re seeing. If the virus increases, then it leads to curtailed economic activity. We’ve seen places across the country where they reopened, they didn’t do the social distancing, they didn’t do the masks, the local governments didn’t do the compliance, the virus went up, and then they had to scale back the economic activity. That is what you are looking at.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:53)
Eat too much cheesecake, the scale is going to say that your weight went up. That is going to happen. There’s no surprise here. There’s no complicated formula. We know what’s going to happen. If you don’t do the proper precautions, and the local governments don’t do the compliance, the virus goes up, the economic activity goes down. And this is not one or two days now. So this is a truly serious situation. And I hope the people of Western New York take it as seriously as they should, and look at those numbers. This is not politics, it’s in the numbers. I don’t care what your ideology is. I don’t care what your politics are.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:44)
The scale doesn’t lie in the morning. You step on that scale, it doesn’t give you one number if you’re a Democrat, one number if you’re a Republican, one number if you’re a Liberal, one number if you’re a Conservative. It gives you a one number. And that’s the way we’ve done this for day one. Yeah, I hope they take it seriously because it is very serious. Gareth, do you want to add anything to the numbers in Western New York? Anything I didn’t say?

Gareth: (29:12)
I think, also, the follow up, the State is going to continue it’s efforts to ensure the testing capacity’s available throughout the entire region. Even though this focus testing effort is now over, we’re going to be lending some of these rapid result machines to the local Health Departments so they can continue to quickly find cases and let the contact tracing begin immediately. So that’s something that will help ensure that the capacity is there. So more testing can keep happening with was results turning around quickly.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:45)
Yeah. And look, if the local governments need help from us on compliance, we’re willing to help. We’re stretched thin on resources, as you hear on these calls. I can’t substitute for local police departments, local health departments. It’s one of the problems that we’re having in New York City. But to the extent we can help with state resources, we will. Operator, let’s take one more.

Operator: (30:24)
Next question comes from the line of James Flippin from NBC News Radio. Your line is now open.

James Flippin: (30:34)
Hi. Good morning, governor. I just wanted to ask a question specifically about the indoor dining restrictions. I remember back when we first entered into the lockdown period, and things ended up better in terms of the hospitalization capacity than we expected, you would said things along the lines of you had to put your trust in new Yorkers, but they would follow along with restrictions. And you were perhaps maybe surprised with the extent to which people kind of followed along with those guidelines. Don’t you think there has to be some level of trust put in New Yorkers again, when it comes to the indoor dining question?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:13)
Here’s the problem. First, let’s take a step back. By and large, New Yorkers have done an extraordinary job. We flattened the curve in a way no expert thought possible. That’s because New Yorkers are smart and they’re united, and they got the information, and they responded. This is less on new Yorkers, this is more about the way facilities operate. How does a casino operate? How does a mall operate? How does a bar operate? How does a restaurant operate? The people are not responsible for putting in the precautions that a casino operator is supposed to put in. They’re not supposed to bring in their own plastic partitions, and know what 25% capacity is. That’s on the casino operator. These institutions are under dire economic circumstances. And we know that compliance has to happen. We know they have to be monitored.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:35)
And in New York City, you know what happened with the bars. You know there was rampant noncompliance. It’s less on New Yorkers. They’re not supposed to follow the rules that the bar owner is supposed to follow. But you know for a fact that the compliance by the bar owners was highly problematic. You’ve been hearing the number of establishments that have violations every day. You heard that I had to get the State Police and the SLA to come down because it was such a problem. And you know that the local government wasn’t doing the enforcement. So those are all facts also. Yes, New Yorkers have done the right thing. I believe in New Yorkers. I also believe these are specific rules applying to institutions and businesses. And those rules on those businesses need to be monitored to make sure that they are being followed. Those are all facts. There’s nothing you have to guess at, there’s no opinion, there’s no hypothesis. If you open thousands of restaurants with specific precautions, will a certain number of those restaurants fail to comply? Yes, is the answer. Do you have the ability to monitor thousands of restaurants? No, is the answer. Could you come up with a monitoring capacity? Yes, is the answer. Does the state have enough personnel to do the monitoring of thousands of restaurants in New York City? No, is the answer. Do you think New York City could provide the resources to put together an effective monitoring organization? Yes, is the answer. But I want to hear what that is. Because again, fool me once. We just went through this on the bars. Are you with me? Okay, operator. Thank you very much. I hope everybody has a great Labor Day weekend. And if anything extraordinary happens, you’ll hear from us. Otherwise, I think that brings us up to date. Thank you very much.

Operator: (35:40)
This concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.