Jul 8, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo July 8 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on July 8. Cuomo went after Trump on school reopenings, saying “It’s not up to the president” and he split with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on partially reopening the largest school district in the U.S. Read the full news briefing speech transcript with all updates here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Pleasure to see all these smiling faces, all these masks. To my right is Ms. Melissa Derosa, Secretary to the Governor. To my left is Dr. James Malatras, intellectual superpower who has been helping us all through this.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:20)
Let’s talk about where we are today. Today is day 130. Feels like just yesterday that we started with COVID. No, it doesn’t. We have good news, bad news, just like every other day of the past 130 days. We will start with the good news, because we are glass half full kind of people, right, Marcia? The good news is, number of hospitalizations is 841. Number of intubations is 97. It’s the first time it’s been under 100, and it is the first time it’s been this low since March 16. Intubations have been a bed indicator. The number of people who once intubated, once they were intubated actually come off the intubator is very low, but 80% of the people who are intubated don’t survive, so the fact that this number is down is very positive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:33)
All the numbers are where they should be, and you can look at them by region. Within a region, you can look at them by county. You see some slight variances among the counties, which we have been seeing, and we’ve been watching, and you get a little uptick, a little downtick, but they’re basically all in good shape. Number of lives lost: 11, and it’s been about that level for the past week or so, and that’s also good news. That you can be at a place where you lose 11 people and you say, “That’s good news,” is, welcome to our new reality. Our thoughts and prayers are with those 11, but relative to where we were, that’s very, very good news. The rolling average, three day average is 10. We did 57,000 tests yesterday. No state tests more than New York tests. I don’t believe this country, that per capita tests more than New York tests. So we get the information, and the information can then lead us. If we have a problem, we see a problem, and then we can attack the problem. 1.2% positive on the 57, 000 tests yesterday. Long Island enters phase four, which is the final phase, today. We’re excited about that, but as I’ve said every day for the past 130 days, we’re making progress because we’re acting smart and we have to continue to act smart, because if we don’t act smart, you’ll see those numbers change quickly.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:24)
Bad news is everything around us, frankly. Tale of Two Cities, our father’s speech. We now have tale of two different kinds of states. 36 states are seeing an increase in the COVID infection rate. That is the bad news. Now, the federal government still insists on perpetuating myths, and the federal government says, “Well, the cases are going up because we are testing more.” That makes no sense whatsoever, and the American people are smart. You’re not going to fool them. You’re not going to calm them. Hospitalizations are going up. That is the indicator. People do not go into a hospital unless they are sick. Nobody goes into a hospital for a vacation. Hospital won’t keep you if you’re well, and you’re just going there for a respite. The hospitalizations are going up because more people are getting sick, and that is undeniable, and you see it in states all across the country. You look at the numbers in Texas, they’re afraid they’re running out of hospital beds. Florida, you’re seeing a tremendous spike there. Some hospitals, they’re out of ICU beds, which is a really frightening situation to be in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:59)
We’ve offered help to all these states, whatever they need. Florida has said that they might need some assistance from us. Whatever they need, we will provide. But you see the same story all across these states. Now, it’s bad news for them. It’s bad news for us as Americans. It’s also bad news because it threatens our situation. We understand this because we’ve lived this already. We had that spike because the virus went from China to Europe, and we now understand that the planet is small, and a virus anywhere has to be considered a virus everywhere. “Well, it’s only in China. It’s only in Italy. It’s only in Spain.” Yes, until it gets on a plane, and then in our backyard, which is exactly what happened. January, February, March, three million people came from Europe and they brought the virus, and that’s why New York had the spike that we had.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:10)
We are expanding the list of states that are quarantined. New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York are acting in unison. We have a formula where if a state is above a certain infection rate, then it is on a quarantine list, and three more states are now over that threshold because the infection numbers in these states are increasing. Total is 19. The airlines have agreed to hand out forms on the flights coming into New York, where on that form it will ask you where you’re coming from, where are you staying, and we need you to quarantine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:53)
New York, New Yorkers know, New York State has proven two things as a fact. We know what works and we know what doesn’t work, right? We have results in New York. We’ve lived this. We were the laboratory, and we know that smart, data driven approach worked. We brought down the curve. New Yorkers did it. We’re now in reopening, different regions in different phases, but you have numbers. You have proof. You don’t have to guess. It’s no longer a question of theory. “I think this. I believe this. Well, maybe this.” Look at the results. Look at the numbers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:44)
This chart, United States is the red line, and that red line is going up. Look at the lines on the bottom. That’s EU, that’s Canada, that’s Australia. They are all down and basically flat, so the infection is not increasing. And then compare that to New York. New York, we were higher than any of them. We had a situation that none of them had, because that virus came from Europe and nobody told us, we had that initial spike. We had to get the spike down. Those other locations just had to make sure the infection rate didn’t increase. We had an added burden. We had to first bring down the infection rate, which we did, and then we had to keep it down, which we are doing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:44)
None of those other countries started where we started. Nowhere near it. The country didn’t start where we started. We were ambushed by the virus. Federal government didn’t track it, didn’t know it, didn’t tell us, but we’ve shown what you can do, and that is proof positive of what works, and we’re continuing to do that. Following the data, following the facts, which informs our reopening.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:23)
All county fairs will be canceled. We canceled the State Fair, which is a really beautiful annual event, but we canceled that last week, and we’re also going to be canceling county fairs. We’ve had a lot of consultation. I’ve done work on air filtration. There are air filtration systems that can take COVID out of the air. There then winds up a series of questions. What filters work on what HVAC systems? But the filters are rated, the HVAC systems are rated by what they call a MERV rating, so what we’re saying is the best filter we would like to see installed is what’s called a MERV 13. It goes to the density of the filter and what it can actually filter out. MERV 13 filters out the COVID virus. Some systems can’t take MERV 13, so it’s either 13, 12, or 11, but one of those three filters, and then we have ventilation protocols. And the mall reopening date is July 10, in phase four.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:39)
On schools, we are, and we have been consulting all stakeholders on guidance, on how a school would reopen in September. We have 700 school districts in this state. They range from rural districts to urban districts, suburban districts. Localities are very involved in their schools and school decisions, so we have been meeting with them. Jim is on a commission that talks to the different districts and their representatives about reopening. We’ll have finalized guidance pursuant to those conversations on July 13. On July 31, local school districts will submit their plans on how they would reopen, what their precautions will be. If they want to have a phased reopening, if they want to have a partial reopening. Those plans would come in on July 31.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:48)
August 1 to 7, the state will announce the decision on whether or not those schools reopen. We want to make that decision with the best available data. The facts change here day to day, week to week. I understand there’s a drop dead date, where you have to make the decision by a certain date, but wait until that date to make a decision, because the facts may change. As we see, a week can be a lifetime with this COVID virus, because everything changes so quickly. The schools say they need a decision made by the end of the first week in August so they can then turn on the switches and get everything ready for September, and we’ll look at the data in that first week, and then we’ll make the decision.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:44)
I heard the President speak yesterday and what he was tweeting about today on schools. And look, this is getting a little old, as far as I’m concerned. And I heard what the President said on schools, but this is been there, done that, right? School reopenings are a state decision, period. That is the law, and that is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the President of the United States. There is something called the Constitution that guides government power, and then there are a series of laws that are based on that Constitution. And the President does not have the authority to open schools. We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:40)
Everybody wants the schools open. Everybody. Nobody wants the schools open more than I do. School reopening also ties to the economic reopening, right? Because you can’t really reopen the economy fully if you have the schools closed. Schools are important, not just education, socialization of young people. We don’t even know what this means, to have kids who are out of school for this period of time. So yes, we all want to open schools, but we want it to be safe, and the tests that I bring to all of these things, day camps, overnight camps, is my child test. I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child, and that’s how I make these decisions. If it’s not safe for my child, it’s not safe for your child. So we’ll get the data and we’ll make that decision in August. But just to be clear, the federal government has no legal authority when it comes to school openings, and this is just a redux of what the President did on the economic reopening.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:03)
…of what the president did on the economic reopening. If you remember, he didn’t want to have anything to do with the closing of the economies. He said, the governors should do that. Governors will decide if an economy closes. But then the president declared, I have the authority to reopen the economies and I’m going to order a reopening of the economies.”” No, not true, Mr. President. It’s not what the constitution says. I made that point and then the president said, “Okay, it’s not up to me. It’s up to the governors.” The same is true on education. He wants the schools reopened. It’s not up to him. It’s not up to him. It’s not his legal authority, just like it wasn’t his legal authority to say he’s going to decide when the economy reopens in this state. And this is a redux because he poses a false choice and he’s posed a false choice that is one of the reasons this nation is now in the situation that it’s in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:10)
On the economy he said, it’s a choice between the economy and public health. And he chose the economy and said to states all across this nation reopen the economy right away. We have to get the economy running and that’s what we have to do. It was never a choice between reopen the economy or take care of public health. It was never a choice between reopen the economy or have more Americans die. That was never the choice. And the states that made that choice are the states that are now suffering. It was of course reopened, but reopen the economy and be smart about the way you’re reopening. It wasn’t binary. It wasn’t just open the flood gates, everybody go out, no precautions, no data, no monitoring. And then you’re shocked when you see the infection rate going through the roof.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:15)
Everybody warned him. Everyone said, if you just reopen, you’re going to drive that infection rate up and then it’s actually going to hurt the economy. And that is what happened. His premise is now the same thing with the schools. Open those schools, open those doors. His own CDC puts out guidance on a semi intelligent way to reopen the schools. He then says, don’t listen to the CDC. I disagree with them. Oh, really. Do you know, Mr. President, better than your health experts how to protect the health of students? Do you really want to disregard children’s safety? Do you really mean that when you say that? And it’s not a choice of open the schools or not open the schools. Of course, open the schools, just like everybody wanted to open the economy, but be smart about it. Look at the health guidance, make sure children are protected, have precautions, do the testing, monitor what happens. This has been the story throughout this COVID crisis. New York has proven what works. There’s no theory here. There’s 19 million people. We had the worst situation on the globe and we took certain steps and we know what works because it has been proven in the laboratory called New York and you cannot deny the results. Testing worked. How did we get into a situation where these other states don’t have testing in place? It’s been seven months, seven months we’ve been talking about this and you have states where people are waiting on line, eight hours lines, miles long to get testing. We talked about overwhelming the hospital capacity. We talked about ventilators. We talked about emergency hospital beds. We talked about that when this first started, and now you have states that are saying their ICU beds are filled. Yes. If the infection rate goes through the roof, you’re going to overwhelm your hospital system. We talked about this months ago.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:49)
We talked about having contact tracing in place and other States saying they don’t have contact tracing in place, they can’t get it together. States are running out of PPE. We talked about PPE six months ago and planes going to China to pick up masks. We talked about having a phased reopening based on data, monitor. And when you see the data says, it’s safe, open up a little bit more, do the calibration. And we talked about masks. New York State, first state in the United States to mandate masks. Look at the numbers. The projection model that the White House uses, the Gates funded IHME model shows extrapolating from this now increased infection rate, an additional 15,000 Americans die by October. An additional 15,000 Americans die than they had projected. Well, what changed? The spike in the infection rate changed so when they extrapolate out based on the infection rate increase another 15,000 Americans die.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:14)
Wear a mask. IHME says 45,000 more people will die if they don’t wear masks. Think about this. If a mask order is not in place, 45,000 more deaths. You’re not going to save everyone’s life, I get it. I struggled with it for 130 days, but how can you lose a life when it was totally preventable? Totally preventable. All you had to do was have a mask policy and you save 45,000 people’s lives. Why on God’s green earth wouldn’t you have a mask policy when they are telling you that it works and that if you don’t do it, 45,000 more people will die? What has happened to basic common sense in our government leaders? Why wouldn’t you? What is it, hubris? That you were against masks and you made them a political symbol. So now you’re going to let 45,000 more people die.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:57)
Look, leadership starts at the top, sign an executive order, wear a mask, follow the science, follow the data, stop dividing people, stop playing politics, inspire the nation to act as one. I wear a mask for you. You wear a mask for me. That’s what you’re supposed to do as president. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a leader. And this is not about politics. It’s not about who gets elected and who doesn’t get elected. This is far more important, this point in history. When they look back at this point in history, the decisions we make will determine how many people live and how many people die. And that is not being overly dramatic. And that’s not being rhetorical.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:49)
These decisions decide how many people live and how many die, period. And that’s why this is more important than any other time that I have been in public service in any other position. Never was it as clear the consequence of government’s actions. Never was it as clear how important government is and public services and the decisions that are made. You’re talking about thousands of people’s lives, tens of thousands of lives. That’s why thank God we’re in a state that is New York or New York tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving. Questions.
Speaker 2: (24:43)
Mr. Governor you said that the different school districts need to submit their plan by July 31st. Today, Mayor de Blasio and his chancellor said they have their plan, which is cohort learning. An example is two days on, three days on, alternating. Do you accept that as their plan or do they need to resubmit by the end of the month? What is your-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:05)
No, they can submit a plan, the plan will be reviewed and then we’ll accept or deny the specific plan or ask for alterations on the specific plan and then make a global decision as to whether or not any school district will reopen. And that will be the first week of August. Your follow up question should be, or if I were you, my follow up question would be, because I’m really just a frustrated journalist. In the next life I’m going to be on the other side of the table and I’m going to be a terror. You think you guys are terrors because I am an educated questioner. The follow up is could you have different decisions in different regions on August 1st or is it just a global yes or no? That’s a great question and I’m going to duck it, but that would be a great question.
Speaker 2: (26:07)
My next follow up question is, based on today’s data, does the New York city plan work?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:13)
You are not deciding today. Ideally you would make the decision the night before, right? If you’re a parent, you probably are going to wait until the night before, and you’re going to get the data the night before. I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the night before. Our institutional systemic drop dead date is the first week in August. So we will make that decision the first week in August. And if you say we’re opening schools first week in August, then how do you open schools? Could there be a variance by region? Yes, because you have different infection rates by region, right? We know that, that’s why we had a phased reopening on the economy. So would you apply that same logic to schools? You could. You could have a differential of infection rates and therefore a differential in how schools reopen.
Speaker 2: (27:17)
But your trajectory has been going down for weeks, health data. Given that, doesn’t the New York city plan at least seem, today as we sit here, to be a credible plan?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:29)
No. Because I’m not going to say, today does not determine credibility. And you’re right, our numbers now are going down. We’re also looking at quarantining 19 states. You see the infection rate going up all across the country. You do see some troubling signs in New York with mass gatherings, Fire Island, Manhattan. So are we comfortable where we are today? Bad question. We’re not comfortable, but are we where we were hoped to be? We’re actually better than we hoped to be, right? You look at those numbers, we’re better than we hoped to be.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:19)
We had expected an increase upon the reopenings just by the simple reason you’re increasing activity, you must be seeing any increase in the infection rate when you’re increasing activity. So I actually expected an increase that we have not seen. That’s good news. Could these other States be bringing in an infection? Yes. Could the mass gatherings be spreading an infection? Yes. Could we see the numbers go up next week? Yes. Could the fact that these regions are now going into phase four, more activity, could that bring up the infection rate? Yes. Could the fact that the traffic is way up in New York city, bridge and tunnels, subway numbers. Yes. Subway ridership is way up, bridge and tunnel traffic is way up. Could that raise the numbers? Yes. So we have to see. What’s the drop dead date? First week in August. And then we’ll make a decision first week in August based on those numbers. And then you make separate decisions on the local plan and the advisability of the local plan individually, besides the global determination.
Speaker 1: (29:51)
Governor to follow up, you have 700 school districts in New York, a thousand plus schools in New York city that are public schools, not including charter schools, religious schools and private schools. How-
Religious schools and private schools. How will your Department of Education or you yourself and your staff be able to decide on thousands of reopening plans to decide whether or not each one of them is going to be okay?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:14)
Yeah. They don’t really. They’re doing it more. There’s more of a cohesive approach to this, [Marcia 00:30:21]. We have a committee that’s been in place, I’ll ask Jim to give you some details, that has been talking about this for weeks and then you have … Basically you only have a couple of models. They’re more on regional variations than anything else. Schools on Long Island will all have about the same plans. Schools in Western New York will all have about the same plan. It’s not an individual school plan. If there’s a variation, it’s a regional variation, but the complicating factor is then you do have a variance in the infection rate all across the state. You have very different situations on the infection rate and how would that affect different schools? If I have a lower infection rate because I am in Upstate New York, is it safe for me to actually have more in-school days than a school that has a higher infection rate? Those are all good questions that we’re working through now.
So also what would you say to school and union leaders who are very concerned about the safety of the buildings for their teachers? They have expressed concerns and say maybe they don’t want to go into schools unless they’re … Especially here in New York City. I’m sure you must have heard from Michael Mulgrew, he’s been very vocal about it. What do you say to him?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:49)
Marsha [inaudible 00:31:49]. I say you’re right. I say you’re right. You’re concerned, I’m just as concerned. If it’s not safe for my child, it’s not safe for anyone’s child. If I wasn’t prepared to be a schoolteacher in that school, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to be a schoolteacher in that school. It’s that simple.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:10)
When we came to the reopening of the economy, I said I’m not going to put someone in a dangerous situation. There’s no money on the planet that can pay for a life as far as I’m concerned. So it’s a balance and the same is with schools.
So I’m just wondering if you’ve seen the president’s tweet where he said that he might cut off federal aid to schools that don’t –
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:32)
Yeah I know, threat. Threaten me. Threaten me. It’s not the first time. Listen, we went through this. We went through this whole threat, right? He was going to order me to reopen the economy. Liberate New York, right? I’m the president, I’ll tell you when the economy. Yeah … No, it doesn’t work that way. It’s not legal, it’s not constitution, and you’re not going to bully New Yorkers. That’s not going to happen, right? Threaten me, threaten me, threaten me. How many times have we been through this, I’m still here, right? Do you think the threat is going to work Marcia? Do you really think the threat is going to work. Love works, love works, not the threat. Jimmy, do you want to just give some color on what the school districts –
The governor’s right. On the districts, there’s 700 districts. There are charter schools and private schools within a district. They’re going to work together because many of the issues are inter-related. Transportation is often provided by the public district. We have had a … The governor convened a commission, Randi Weingarten from the National Teachers Union is on our commission so we’ve been hearing from labor. We’ve been meeting with superintendents all across the state. We have the State Education Department commissioner on our task force and our commission, so we’ve been working with all the districts and there’s going to be variations based on the location but they are basically in many cases the same … Using data and using public health guidance, we’ve had Commissioner Zucker present and work with us as well. To the money point, we spend about $70 billion on education every year, about $3 billion of that comes from the federal government so it’s not as much and the real sad issue is that if that is the threat, that mostly goes to the highest needs students that we have like meal programs so they’d be cutting like funding for meals for students. It’s about $3.5 billion total on $70 billion in spending total for the state. We spend most of the money in New York State on education.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:27)
Excuse me one second. Forget threatening as a tactic, okay? Which it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work in life. It particularly doesn’t work in New York, and it particularly doesn’t work when it’s hollow because you can’t back it up. “Well I won’t give New York funding.” You don’t give us any funding now. What are you going to do? Not build the cross Hudson tunnel? Not fund the Second Avenue subway extension? Not approve the MDA’s congestion pricing? Not approve LaGuardia’s air train? Add an additional tax burden to us through SALT? What else … You can’t threaten when there’s nothing that you have done that is positive in the first place. Everything he has done has been negative to New York, and gratuitous, and illegal and unconstitutional. Yes Luis.
Governor, John Carney from Delaware expressed dismay at Delaware being added to the list of the 14-day quarantine. He said Delaware’s a partner state, that its infection rate is not in the same league as the other states that are going up. We have commuters going between Delaware and the Tri-State Area. Have you spoken to him and is there any consideration to take Delaware off the list or carve out some special exceptions?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:56)
We are looking at that Luis because he does have a good point which is … To make sure it’s analogous, the situation between a higher infection rate in a smaller state versus a larger state. He’s a good governor and he is a partner and we do a lot of good work together. There was nothing personal about it. It’s just a formula and if a state goes over that formula, but I understand his point and we’re looking at it. Did you want to make –
No, I would just add on top of that, as the governor said, there’s nothing personal about this and there are certain states like for example Vermont has a blanket quarantine, anybody who comes into Vermont today has to do a 14-day quarantine when they enter. So this is something that we did in partnership with New Jersey and Connecticut based on metrics that we believe determines and can accurately predict what the infection rate is in these states and so Delaware is a great working partner, we’re on calls with them twice weekly, and we will continue to talk to them but just remember in context there are a lot of states around the country that have done blanket quarantines for anybody coming in and so there’s nothing personal.
Speaker 4: (37:07)
Some states like Maine and even Connecticut actually I believe, they are using a COVID test as a substitute to the quarantine. If you tested negative within the past 72 hours, that could be used as a substitute for having to quarantine for 14 days. Why is that not being considered in New York?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:26)
It is being considered but it’s hard to administer here. What were the numbers on how many people coming in, do you remember?
From other states daily?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:35)
It’s about 12,000 that are coming in from those impacted states daily. The other issue is … Because we did talk through the potential of a test-in, it’s something we’re considering but remember a test is a snapshot in time and there’s a certain amount of time when you could have COVID and you could get a test and it won’t come back positive. So you’re seeing issues crop up. I saw Laura Kern talking about this in Long Island, Dan McCoy talking about this in Albany, you’ve seen Phil Murphy talk about this in New Jersey. There are large pockets right now that are cropping up of infection rates that are being driven primarily by people who are coming in from these high impacted states, and so we have to protect the progress that we’re making here, we have to do it based on the science and the data and the advice that we’re getting from our health professionals. So we’re continuing to evolve our approach as the information evolves. Like everything with this disease, nothing is the same as it was a week ago, but those are the considerations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:29)
Also Luis, whenever you come up with … There are a lot of good ideas, you then have to implement it, and in New York, everything, the scale is so large. 12,000 people a day. All right, but if you had a test in the last 72 hours, then you’re allowed in. All right, now you have to check individually all 12,000 and they’re going to present you a receipt that says I had a test and then somebody has to call. It’s all these cumbersome mechanisms that don’t even exist. There’s a whole new world and who’s going to do that, and do you do that as they get on the plane? Do you got to do it when they come off the plane and do you back up the line? I mean it’s all … Melissa’s point is right. We have seen 12,000 people a day. We have seen what one person can do, one super spreader. We wrote the book, New Rochelle. One person, hundreds of people infected. That’s all it takes. You see those mass gatherings? You see Fire Island or Downtown Manhattan on a Thursday, Friday night? One person walking up and down that block can infect hundreds of people and New Yorkers killed themselves to get where we are today. Killed themselves, and if we see that infection rate go back up again, I mean who wants to go through that again?
Speaker 5: (40:04)
[inaudible 00:40:04] last question on testing. Some testing sites in New York like CityMD have said that it might now take a minimum of seven days to get back a test result because of the surge of cases nationwide. Is that something you’re concerned about happening at a more widespread level at this state and affecting test results coming back and being able to monitor infection rates?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:30)
What is happening is nothing is simple. What’s happening is the other states have such a scramble for testing and don’t have testing in place, so they’re going to the national laboratories, and the federal government is asking the national laboratories to prioritize testing in those states. Those national laboratories are now getting overwhelmed, and where their turnaround time was two or three days, their turnaround time can now be as long as six or seven days. That affects not only the states that are going to them for testing recently, that’s also backing up the sites in New York that those national laboratories do for us. The good news is the national labs are only about 30% of our overall testing capacity. About 70% are labs within the state, so it shouldn’t have that dramatic effect.
Just to punctuate the governor’s point, when we started this crisis back in March, we didn’t rely on the federal government, we didn’t rely on the commercial labs, so we built out our own network of 215 labs that we have across the state and right now we’re able to turn around tests on average in three or fewer days. So I think that the issue here as the governor said is that when people are going to use LabCorp or Quest or BioReference, they have to be prepared for that backlog but if you do the research and you find out which of the locations that you’re going to that are utilizing one of our 215 lab sites instate, you’re going to get a much shorter turnaround time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:14)
Yeah, but also … Look, my point to the president is we didn’t have to be here. We did not have to be here. We had all of these issues on the table Day One. There’s not anything we’re talking about today or anything happening in this nation that we didn’t talk about four months ago and five months ago and six months ago. Testing capacity. I know. We talked about that six months ago. We had to go out, create our own testing capacity, because the federal government wouldn’t help. Tracing capacity. I know. We have put together our own tracing mechanism because the federal government wouldn’t help. ” Oh, hospitals are overwhelmed.” I know, we went through this four months ago, create Javits, create these other campuses for emergency hospital beds. Why are we here, and why is the death rate going up and why is the infection rate going up and the hospitalizations going up and why aren’t we prepared? And why are the other countries going down and we’re going up? We didn’t have to be here, there’s not an issue we’re talking about today that we didn’t talk about and we didn’t solve for in New York. That’s what’s frustrating. We solved for them. No you didn’t. Yes we did. It’s in the numbers. Otherwise, how did we turn around that infection rate? Magic?
Speaker 6: (43:48)
Regarding the uptick in violence, Governor, it appears as though the analysis we did, about 1,500 inmates were released from Rikers and about 13% of them were re-arrested which sounds like a low number unless you’re talking about being re-arrested for a shooting or for murder. Is your sense that that was a contributor, that letting people out early perhaps prematurely for COVID-related reasons may have contributed to this spike in violence?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:10)
It may have contributed, yeah, but your point I think is even stronger than that. You’re saying 15% were re-arrested.
Speaker 6: (44:19)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:20)
13% were re-arrested. Well then those 13% contributed, but I think the point is right that these are contributing circumstances. I think you had a number of contributing circumstances that frankly are conspiring as a negative synergy that is going on. You have the Rikers releases. You have the ongoing relationship between the community and the police. How is that affecting the NYPD? Some of the arrest numbers appear to be down. What does that mean, right? You have the protests going on.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
What does that mean? Right? You have the protests going on. You have district attorneys who sometimes appear not to be charging on the facts of the crime. Right? There’s a difference between a protester and looting. There’s a difference between a protester and a gun charge. And prosecutors have to enforce the law, right, not political opinions. So, I think there are a number of contributing factors. And I think one of the situations we really have to address is the relationship between the community and the police, which is, right now, dysfunctional. It’s just dysfunctional. And there’s no sugarcoating it. And it’s not about making changes on the budget. It’s not about tear gas or rubber bullets. The relationship itself doesn’t work. The trust, and respect, and mutuality doesn’t work. And that can only be restored by putting people at a table and re-imagining, redesigning, restructuring the police force that New York City wants. And that’s the conversation that has to happen. And everything else is just on the edges, as far as I’m concerned. I know. You’ve been very patient. I’m sorry.
Speaker 7: (46:27)
Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. Back to testing for a second, given this increased lag time in the ones that are going to the main laboratories, is there anything the state needs to be doing to increase capacity so that these tests are useful and you’re not getting results eight days later?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:41)
I don’t believe there is any more water that we can ring out of that stone when you are at 57,000 tests yesterday, 60,000 tests. When we started, you know how many tests we could do per day? 400 max, max. I remember sitting in the meeting with all the experts. Well, if we did everything possible, how many could we do a day? Maybe we could get up to 400. I say, great. How many do we need? Oh, about 10,000. I said, great. We have every lab working. And what the national labs say is that this slow down in the processing is temporary and they hope they’re just handling a surge from the other states.
Speaker 8: (47:31)
Speaker 7: (47:33)
I’m just curious, do you plan to work more collaboratively with Mayor Bill de Blasio? And do you have anything to say to parents who are exasperated when, again, they hear something from the mayor and then they hear something that’s contradictory from your office an hour later?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:44)
Yeah. I don’t think they heard… well, it depends on who you… I don’t know what they heard.
Speaker 7: (47:52)
You said the plan was not… you couldn’t evaluate it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:53)
No. I said, no locality has the legal authority to determine if they open or not. That is not… we have 700 school districts. None of those 700 can say I’m opening on August 1st. I’m opening September 4th. They do not have that legal authority. That is state law. The president doesn’t have the authority to say New York City schools are open. It is a state decision.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:35)
I think the mayor would say, I never said legally I can decide to open the schools. I think the mayor would say, I said, I’m putting in the plan to reopen the schools. And that nuance is very important. We have asked all 700 districts, give us your plan for the new normal, if we reopen in September. So, every district could say to you today, we’re planning on reopening and we’re doing a plan to reopen. I am planning to reopen. You might write a story, oh, Cuomo said today he’s planning to reopen. I am planning to reopen. I did say that. Are you reopening? I don’t know. Well, you just said you’re planning to reopen. Yeah. We’re coming up with plans, if we decide to reopen. I think that’s the variance between what the mayor said and what I said. It did cause confusion. But technically, it’s correct. I’m putting in a plan to reopen.
Speaker 8: (49:49)
So, then let me say, how are these-
What about private schools? What about private schools?
Speaker 8: (49:53)
I mean, you’ve said that you’ve had this committee that’s been meeting for weeks about reopening. Over that time, how much contact has the state had with New York City’s public schools [crosstalk 00:05:03]-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:03)
Oh, significant. It’s the biggest of the 700. I think it’s the biggest single-
In the country.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:09)
Speaker 8: (50:10)
So, then how much of this plan that was submitted by the mayor today… I mean, is any of it a surprise to you? And what does it say about going forward since they have at least submitted a plan already ahead of the deadlines that you’ve set up?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:29)
All 700 plans are going to be reviewed through a number of lenses. Marsha’s point was right before. The unions have very strong feelings about the safety of the teachers. The health officials have very strong feelings about the number of children, the number of cohorts in any one situation. The environmental people have questions about cleaning protocols, air filtration systems, et cetera. So, that conversation is ongoing now. But there are many eyes and many perspectives that look at those plans.
Speaker 9: (51:12)
Governor, what about private schools?
Speaker 9: (51:14)
Can you talk about the attorney general’s-
How would private schools fit into this? Would they be more like colleges, except for individual plans? Or-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:20)
They would be part of this process where they would submit a plan, whether you’re a private or a charter school. Like I said before, in many cases, the larger public school district will work with these schools because transportation, for instance, is something that the public district provides the private schools. So, you need to work those sort of issues out. Right? Because the private school might be on a different schedule than the public school, come to September. That’s the plan. So, how do you work those issues out? So, there’s co-location issues between charter schools and the traditional public schools. All those things have to be worked out. So, the districts have to work together with each other.
And what we’re trying to do as a council and what we’re doing with the state Department of Health and the state Education Department is, in those cases where it’s not happening, we want to make those things happen in those districts. Because you have to look at it in its totality. And, to the governor’s public New York City, the plan was just submitted today in broad strokes. We’ve been talking to all of the districts, but you have to see what the details of the plan are. And you have to see maybe some of the facts on the ground change by August, which will necessitate a difference of opinion based on the health and science that we see at the time to necessitate changes among all of the plans. Right? So, I think that’s what the governor is saying. We have to see where we are in August, which may take tweaking all across the board.
And will include like religious school and Catholic school?
Speaker 10: (52:39)
Governor, will you require air filtration systems?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:39)
Let him just finish. One second. Go ahead, Zack?
Say a religious school or a Yeshiva, would they have to submit individual plans? How would they fit into this?
We would want to see the individual plans just to particularly see if they’re following the guidance that the state will be putting out, especially in the safety and health protocol that will be put out by the state Department of Health, social distancing, how are we treating lab space, how are we treating cohorting of students, and all those issues that have been raised in the past. Because we want to maximize the protection of our students, as well as the teachers and other educators in the building.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:08)
Yeah. Let me just make one other point. I see you. I promise. On schools, none of us have ever been here before. For the past 130 days, we’re all trying to figure out the best way to do things in this very complex environment. Schools, well, people want to know if the schools will open in September. I understand that. I understand it. Parents talk to me too. We’re doing everything to be ready in September. We very much want to open up schools in September. We very much want children back in school. If anybody sat here today and told you that they could reopen the school in September, that would be reckless and negligent of that person. It would be negligent. You don’t know what the infection rate is. You don’t know what else is going on. And you decided at a much earlier time when you actually had to decide.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:16)
As I said, if you’re a parent, you decided the night before, and that’s what parents are going to do. They’re going to turn on the news. And, if they see that virus spiking and they see the numbers going up in New York, they’re going to say, I’m not sending my child. So, August one is the deadline. We’re working collaboratively with everyone. Why don’t you make a decision today? Because it’s not intelligent to make a decision today. That’s all. There’s no conspiracy. There’s nothing else going on. There’s no politics. There’s no… everybody wants the same thing. We’re just trying to work through a difficult situation. And you’re talking about the safety of children. God forbid you make that mistake. Right?
Speaker 9: (55:08)
Can you talk about the Attorney General’s probe into clashes between the police and protestors, where it stands now, and what you expect to hear from them?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:16)
I can’t really. I think… do you know when the… Melissa?
Melissa DeRosa: (55:21)
Yeah. So, the Attorney General is going to be releasing a preliminary report, I expect, sometime in the next 24 hours tentatively. And I think that she’s doing a broad overview based on the hearings that she had conducted, what she heard directly from the protestors, the testimony that was given. And we await the report. And I believe there’s going to be the preliminary report, and then a subsequent report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:44)
Okay. Yes, followup.
Speaker 11: (55:45)
My follow up is this, are you going to require these schools to install air filtration systems or HVAC systems to protect the students when they go back to these classrooms?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:52)
That is one of the engineering things that they’re looking at. When we talked about the review of the plans, that’s one of the things they’re looking at. Different schools have different HVAC systems. Different HVAC systems can accept different filters. The best filter to have is a MERV 13 or higher. Some can’t take a MERV 13. Right now, we’re saying, with molds, it has to be a MERV 13, or MERV 12, or MERV 11. Would that work in schools? It depends. Some of the schools, yes. Some of the schools, no.
Speaker 8: (56:28)
Well, if it doesn’t work in the school, will it prevent that school from opening?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:28)
That’s one of the things we’re looking at. Now, there are other ways to move air. You can bring in more outside air rather than recirculated air, but then the air conditioner doesn’t work as effectively. And that’s what we’re looking at. And I have now exhausted my knowledge of HVAC systems.
Speaker 8: (56:48)
Are you giving these schools money to pay for these things?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:50)
And then, it’s what about… we have to decide what we’re going to do and then who has the money. All right. That’s too complicated. [crosstalk 00:00:56:56]. I’m leaving. I will be back. Thank you, guys.
Speaker 8: (56:59)
[crosstalk 00:56:59] state law makes holding [inaudible 00:57:01] on nursing home deaths.