Jun 1, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 1 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held coronavirus press briefing on Monday, June 1. Cuomo talked about coronavirus, reopening, and the nationwide George Floyd protests. Read the full press conference speech here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Another long night in this country. To my left, I’m glad to be joined by Dr. Howard Zucker. To my right, I’m glad to be joined by Secretary Melissa DeRosa. Let’s talk about where we are. Start with the facts that we know. In terms of handling the COVID virus, we’re doing better than we’ve ever done before. The number of hospitalizations is down. It’s continued to drop. The reduction in the number of intubations is down. The three day average of new hospitalizations is down to the lowest level ever, which is really good news. We’re doing a significant amount of testing. As you know, we’re testing more than any state in the United States, with testing more per capita than any country on the globe. And the tests are very relevant because they’re a snapshot in time. They tell you where you are on that day. Yesterday, we did about 50,000 tests, which is a tremendous number of tests, less than 1,000 people tested positive.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:15)
That is the lowest number we have had since this began. And when it began, we were only doing 3,000 or 4,000 tests. We now did 50,000 tests. So the progress is just phenomenal. And that’s the rate of positives from our testing, remembering that the testing has increased exponentially. And we have the lowest number of deaths that we’ve ever had at 54. And there will be a level at which that number can’t drop any lower, right? Because people who are gravely ill and contract the COVID virus, it’s going to be a bad outcome. But that number is dramatically different than what we were looking at for many, many weeks. The question is where do we go from here? No doubt, the initial objective was getting control of this COVID virus. Situations got more complex since then. But on the reopening, five regions upstate have entered phase two. That’s good news. Western New York is expected to move to phase two tomorrow, and we expect that to happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:44)
We have the data that we’ve been tabulating during phase one in Western New York. All the data looks very good. We’re going to have the global experts go through it today. I want to make sure we’re not missing anything. This is new for all of us. It’s not what county executives do. It’s not what governors do. This is very detailed research of statistics. What clusters might pop up, et cetera. So we also have global experts review all the data for us because this question of closing, opening, countries have gone through this before. There is a body of knowledge to know, and where we also go to global experts who we’ve enlisted, who have gone through this with other countries where they closed, they opened, they got into trouble, they had to close again. But they’re looking at it now. We want to make sure they get the latest data.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:51)
We’ll have a final announcement later this afternoon for Western New York, but the conversations I’ve had with them are all good. And we expect Western New York to go to phase two tomorrow. The Capital District region is moving to go into phase two on Wednesday. Again, all the numbers look good there. We’re going to run them by our global team to make sure they’re as good as we think they are. But at this point, the Capital Region is also on track to go into phase two on Wednesday. What we have done with this COVID virus is a really amazing accomplishment, if you take a step back and it was all done by the people of this state. They did it, 19 million people did what they never did before. They responded with a level of determination and discipline that I was amazed with, frankly, and I am a lifelong New Yorker. But what they did was unlike anything I’ve seen.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:06)
Remember where we were, we had 800 people die in one day. We had the worst situation in the United States of America. At one point, we had the worst situation on the globe and we’re now reopening in less than 50 days. Now it was a long, 50 days, I can recount every one of them. But we went from a really internationally terrible situation to where we’re talking about reopening today, even New York City, where we’re planning to reopen June 8th. And that was just 50 days. The whole closure period has been about 93 days. Yes, it was a disruptive 93 days, I know. But look at what we did in 93 days, we went from the worst situation on the globe to actually reopening. That’s where we are. We should be very proud of what we’ve done. Just don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York city. And now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could in fact exacerbate the COVID-19 spread.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:41)
We spent all this time, closed down, locked down, masks, socially distance. And then you turn on the T.V. and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done. We have to take a minute and ask ourselves, what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish? We have protests across the state that continued last night. They continue to cross the nation. Upstate, we worked with the cities very closely, the state police did a great job. We had basically a few scattered arrests, upstate New York, but the local governments did a great job. People did a great job. Law enforcement did a great job. The protesters were responsible and it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either, upstate. And I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous, horrendous. It’s frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:18)
It does, and there’s no excuse for it. And no right-minded American would make an excuse for it. So protest, yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes, of course. And is there a larger problem? Of course. It’s not just Mr. Floyd. It goes back, there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We’ve had them here in New York City. What’s the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo or Abner Louima or Eric Garner, what is the difference? What have we learned, nothing? So yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there’s a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police, but it’s something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called the Tale of Two Cities, people still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there’s two Americas, two sets of rules, two sets of outcomes, two sets of expectations.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:46)
And it’s true. It was true then, it’s true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherent injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there’s not inherent injustice. Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide, more African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionately than white Americans. Of course, there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there’s no doubt that has been going on for a long time and people are frustrated and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there’s no doubt that this nation as great as it is, has had the continuing sin of discrimination from before the nation was formed. And it started with slavery and it has had different faces over the decades, but it is still the same sin. That is true. That is true.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:02)
So let’s use this moment as a moment of change. Yes. When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people, that’s when change comes. Well, the leaders lead. Bologna. The people lead and then the politicians see the people moving and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this state, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ community, they can’t marry? How is that constitutional? How has that legal? You have your own preference, God bless you. But how in the law do you discriminate between two classes of people? We passed marriage equality. After the Sandy Hook massacre, all those years, we tried to pass common sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened and the people said, enough, you’re killing children, young children in schools with an assault weapon in the Sandy Hook massacre? Enough. And in that moment, we passed common sense gun safety in the state of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:49)
Record income inequality, people said enough and passed a real minimum wage in this state that went all across the nation. There’s a moment for change. And is there a moment here? Yes. If we’re constructive and if we’re smart and if we know what we’re asking for. It’s not enough to come out and say I’m angry, I’m frustrated. Okay, and what? Well, I don’t know, but I’m angry and I’m frustrated. And you want what done? You need the answer. Well, I want common sense gun reform. Okay, what does it look like? Here it is, three points. Well I want to address income inequality? Okay, what do you want? Here’s what I want. Minimum wage of $15.00, free college tuition. What do you want? You want to make that moment work? Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, and here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want. That’s what we have to be doing in this moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:59)
And the protestors are making a point and most of them are making a smart, sensible point, but you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for, so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on choke holds, period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local district attorney doing the investigation, I don’t care how good they are, there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that D.A. works with that police department every day. And now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of the police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interest can be real or perceived. How could people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation?
Andrew Cuomo: (15:19)
And it shouldn’t be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put the attorney general in charge of investigations where police killed unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the rule. There is no self policing. There’s an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real. If a police officer is being investigated, how was their disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer’s being investigated-
Andrew Cuomo: (16:02)
Once a police officer’s being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? And by the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That’s relevant, too.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:29)
We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district, $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can’t. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation. Where when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can’t find funding to help children who live in poverty. No, you can find it United States. You just don’t want to. It’s political will.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:36)
When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let’s be honest. The federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will they find the money. Federal government went out of the housing business and never reentered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis, of course you do. You don’t fund affordable housing. I’m the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with section eight and building new public housing and we just stopped and we left it to the market. And now you have an affordable housing plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:20)
That’s what we should be addressing in this moment and we should be saying to our federal officials, there’s an election this year, a few months away. Here’s my agenda. Where do you stand? Say to the Congress, the House and the Senate, “Where’s your bill on this?” I heard some congressional people talking saying, “Well, maybe they’ll do a resolution.” Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say, in theory, I support this. Pass a law. That’s what we want. A law that actually changes the reality. Where something actually happens. That’s government’s job is to actually make change. Make change. You’re in a position to make change, make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make a change and have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it’s just screaming into the wind if you don’t know exactly what changes we need to make.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:37)
And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that’s not protesting. That’s not righteous indignation, that’s criminality. And it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I’ll tell you what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the first thing the president said when this happened. They’re going to say these are looters. Remember when the president put out that incendiary tweet, we start shooting when they start loading or they start loading, we start shooting. That’s an old sixties call.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:47)
The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don’t want progressive change. And you mark my words, they’re going to say today, “Oh, you see they’re criminals. They’re looters. Did you see what they did? Breaking the store windows and going in and stealing.” And they’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all loaders. That’s what they’re going to do. Why? Because they don’t want to talk about Mr. Floyd’s death. They don’t want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting, they say, “Oh yeah, that’s scary. They’re criminals.” No. Look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That’s the video we want people watching.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:50)
No, I don’t even believe it’s the protestors. I believe there are people who are using moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal and here’s a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who were there to quote unquote protest, they’re not from their community. They don’t know where they’re from. Extremist groups. Some people are going to blame the left. Some people will blame the right. It’ll become politicized. But there’s no doubt, there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, is it a coincidence that they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:19)
Can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people [inaudible 00:23:29] who will exploit that moment and I believe that’s happening, but we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue, which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed, people will have lost their jobs, people wiped out their savings. And now, mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity? One week before we’re going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gathers. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks, that’s the nature of the virus. How many super spreaders were in that crowd? Well, they were mostly young people. How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their grandmother or their brother or their sister and spread a virus?
Andrew Cuomo: (25:16)
New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening, from the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united. We were respectful of each other. We were disciplined, wearing the mask. It’s just discipline. It’s just discipline. Remembering to put it on, remembering to pick it up, remembering to put it on when you see someone, it’s just discipline. But it was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That’s what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York, even with the New York toughness, even with the New York accent, even with the New York swagger, we’re loving. And that’s what we’ve done for 93 days in a way we’ve never done it before.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:56)
Never in my lifetime, never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don’t think it ever will, again, in my lifetime. Now, you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s true and I don’t know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again. Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we all had that hand sanitizer. Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything. And it’s true. It’s true for our state. It’s true for our nation. When you come together and you have one agenda, you can do anything.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:09)
You want to change society? You want to end the tale of two cities? You want to make it one America? You can do that. Just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end. People united can do anything. We showed that. We just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart and we have to be smart right now, right now in this state. And we have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda, this is not persuading government officials to change, this is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart. Questions?
Governor, do you think the NYPD tactics have in any way exacerbated tensions here? I think you’d probably agree things hit a new level with the widespread looting you saw last night. Have you lost confidence in the city’s ability to handle this crisis? There’s obviously not a communication that’s effective between the protesters and the NYPD. Do you need to call in the National Guard, impose a curfew? And secondly, do you think the repeal of 58 will go a long way toward healing?
Andrew Cuomo: (29:43)
A few things, Zach. First, I think this has been counter productive for New York City in many ways. We’re battling the coronavirus. We had a lot of people who are New York City people move out during this. We’re one week away from reopening. We’re looking to revitalize New York City, get people back, get businesses back. We’re going forward. What they saw on TV the past couple of nights is not helpful to that. Number one.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:21)
Number two, in terms of how New York City is handling it, you’re right. There was looting. There was criminality. People have seen that. That’s very destructive on a number of levels. As I said, it reduces the credibility of the protests in the first place. It will allow the critics to now say they’re all criminals and try to color the whole protest with the looting to change the image from the real issue, which was Mr. Floyd’s death to now the looting. The critics will do that. They’ll start today, full-throated. We haven’t articulated what the protests are about besides just unhappiness, outrage. We haven’t said, this is what we want done. Government, this is what we want. Here is the agenda. That’s all true. I’m going to be speaking to the mayor today about a curfew. We’ve done it in other cities in New York, it has worked better. Curfew is not a silver bullet by the way, but obviously, last night was not good. What can we do differently? What can we do better? I’m going to speak to the mayor about a curfew. We have the National Guard on standby. I’ve told mayors all across the state…
Andrew Cuomo: (32:03)
… by. I’ve told mayors all across the state that I can call out the National Guard. New York City should have enough personnel with the NYPD. It’s one of the largest police forces in the country. And its taxpayers pay a lot of money for the NYPD. I don’t know that it’s a manpower person power issue, but if it is, we have the National Guard who were also trained to do this. I think some of the actions of the NYPD have exacerbated the anger. There were videos of some NYPD actions that are very disturbing. There are videos of NYPD cars driving into a crowd that are very disturbing, pulling a mask down off a person to pepper spray them, throwing a woman to the ground. It’s on video. It’s on video. The looting is on video. Yeah. So is NYPD activity on video.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:15)
I asked the Attorney General for a report. I want that report done 30 days from when I asked her just two days ago. But I’m going to speak to the mayor about, in the meantime, what is the response to those police actions on video, right? Doesn’t mean you have to send the police officer out there tomorrow after these actions. I understand we have to review them. I understand the law. If I was just Andrew Cuomo from Queens, it would be simple. I would say, “That guy should be fired. Drives the car into a crowd? He should be fired.” That’s what Andrew Cuomo in Queens says. As governor, there’s law, there’s processes, there’s going to be lawsuits. I get it. So the Attorney General review, yes, but doesn’t mean you do nothing in the interim. So I’m going to be speaking to the mayor about that. But there’s no doubt that this situation has done a lot of damage on a lot of levels and has not advanced the cause of the protestors, which I agree with. I believe, look, you’ve watched my administration.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:38)
I am frustrated perpetually by how difficult it is to make changes. I am perpetually frustrated about how hard it is to get that political machine, that governmental machine to turn. It’s like a big freighter coming down the river and you can take the rudder and turn it all the way to one side. But the freighter has such a mass in and of itself that it just continues on its course and slowly starts to turn. I battle that every day. So I look for moments where the people can actually rise up to make changes so the government officials say, “Whoops, we better do something. Whoops.” Because the easiest thing to do is always nothing. It’s the easiest thing to do. The old expression, the legislator who does nothing does nothing wrong, right? Every action on a big problem is controversial. It’s easier to do nothing. Then you don’t get criticized.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:58)
And when they say, “Well, why didn’t you do this?” “Well, I wanted to, but I couldn’t because… ” So I look for moments to overcome the inertia, to overcome the status quo, marriage equality, guns, minimum wage, every one of those things they talked about for decades. But when the people rose up, I was there to use the power of the people. I believe there’s a moment here to use the power of the people to get things done. So I said from day one, “I’m with them. I am with them.” But even that has to be smart. Right?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:47)
You remember how we focused people on passing gun reform and what the bill actually looked like. Right? Because the devil’s in the details. You have to write a bill. What do you mean gun reform? What is gun reform to you? Okay. We’re mad about Mr. Floyd. We should be. And we’re mad about the whole litany. We should be. And here’s what we want, X, Y, Z. We have not been effective targeting the popular energy and we should be. So I’m frustrated at that.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:27)
And then I believe you’re going to have people who don’t want change. So they’re going to look to distract and discredit this moment and the looting and those things will play right into their hands because this will all become about looters now. This will become… They’ll try to make it all about criminality, which I don’t, which I believe was a perversion of the protest. I believe there are outside people who exploited the opportunity of the protest. Because, look, all across the state we had police officers taking a knee in unity with the protesters. By the way, there is no police officer who’s going to defend what happened to Mr. Floyd. They’re not. And there was no police officer who doesn’t want to have a good relationship with the community. And if there is, they shouldn’t be a police officer. It’s that simple.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:43)
But this was just negative. It was not advancing a positive reform agenda. It was bad for the city. It was bad in the efforts to battle COVID. It was bad for our efforts to be ramping up towards the reopening. Right? I said last week, this week was about focusing on the hospitals, focusing on the hotspot, areas in the outer borough and start ramping up the MTA for the reopening. Here we are. We’re coming back, celebrate the accomplishment. What a beautiful accomplishment. We don’t even appreciate how beautiful it is because we’re not really there yet. But when you get on the other side of this, we can start to reopen next week and you look back, we handled the global pandemic in one of the most dense cities that had the highest number of infractions, 100 days. And in retrospect, the 100 days doesn’t even look that long, right? Three months, now going through it, it was hell. Get it. I’ve been in hell. We’ve all been in hell. But in retrospect, global pandemic, 100 days in this city with this diversity, beautiful. Mr. [inaudible 00:40:10].
Question about the risk of a new COVID cases as a result of these gatherings. And maybe we can get Dr. Zucker to weigh in as well. Is it mitigated at all by the fact that these folks are outdoors? And if you don’t see a spike in a couple of weeks after all of these people out there, does that perhaps tell you something that Italian doctors have begun to speculate on that in some small way, COVID has become a tiny bit less lethal?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:37)
I’ll ask the doctor to answer but let me just… The outside is that is a good fact. Younger people is a good fact. The best fact is we have already gotten the infection rate down. See, that’s the best fact. The best fact is we did 50,000 tests yesterday with only 1,000 positives. So a lower percentage of those people out there last night were infected. If that happened 60 days ago, Andrew, forget it because more people would have been infected. When we were going through it this morning, the only good news is with that low infection rate, there were not that many people infected. And in a really cruel irony, many of them were actually wearing masks. But Doctor…
Dr. Zucker: (41:36)
I would echo the Governor’s words that the infection rate is down. But as much as we say that we support peaceful protests, the bottom line is we do want to push the public health message that people should wear masks, as they weren’t wearing masks, that they should try a social distance themselves as much as possible. And as much as the emotions are high, we, as the governor has said, we need to be smart. And being smart means hand sanitizer, keeping a distance and doing the best you can to socially distance.
Do you expect to see a spike based on the images you’ve seen?
Dr. Zucker: (42:09)
I’m concerned about that. And we’re going to track those numbers because when you gather a lot of people together, as we’ve always said, that is a concern. So we’re looking at this and we’re going to keep a very close eye on it everyday.
Speaker 1: (42:19)
Governor, we’ve seen infections go up. It seems like people are done with distancing and masks. You go out and see it. Can you go back? What concerns do you have about that?
Andrew Cuomo: (42:35)
Can you go back? Yes, many places have gone back. That’s why we use this global experts. What they keep saying to me is there are many, many, many examples of opening too fast and not just opening too fast, but the discipline comes down.
Speaker 1: (42:58)
I’m just talking about the [inaudible 00:42:59].
Andrew Cuomo: (42:58)
I understand what you’re saying. There are many examples of that. And if you start to overwhelm the hospitals again, you have to close again. You can’t allow what is the, where were we, that was the real danger point. People dying because they don’t get medical attention, that was the Italy situation. You die on a gurney in a hallway because the doctors and the nurses are too busy. It overwhelmed the hospital system. That’s what we were looking at. We were in danger of overwhelmingly the health system. If that happens, you have to close again. You’d have to.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:48)
Well, people won’t listen. Well, then you’d have a phenomenal death rate and an international crisis. Now again, the only good news is the infection rate was already so low. We wouldn’t be reopening next Monday. We’re one week from reopening. If this had to happen, this was the best time for it to happen since this whole thing has started because the infection rate is down. Second positive factor is they were younger people. There were not a lot of 65 year olds in the crowd the best I could tell. But those are two positive factors. And many people were wearing masks, which was also a positive factor. So those are the positives.
Speaker 2: (44:48)
Would you suggest people not go out and protest?
Andrew Cuomo: (44:54)
No, I think you can protest, but do it smartly and intelligently and many places have. You look at places around the country. There were protests all across the country. Protest. Just be smart about it. With this virus, you can do many things now as long as you’re smart about it, right? You can reopen, you can go into a store and you can do a lot of things, just be smart.
Speaker 3: (45:20)
So what’s the difference between protesting and a business, say, in the city who wants to reopen smartly if it’s not at the phase yet that they’re technically allowed to?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:29)
Well, that’s where we’re at, but it has to be a business where you can be smart. Be smart, meaning socially distant. You don’t conduct business in a way where you have people within six feet. You have to wear the mask. You have to do the hand sanitizer. That’s where we’re going to be.
Speaker 3: (45:46)
So is that okay then for businesses in the city to, if they can do that-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:49)
Well, we’re starting in phase one because remember you have congregate situations that you have to account for. It’s not that people come from a helicopter and go into a business, right? People get on a bus, people get on a subway. People are on a sidewalk. That’s where all these things are difficult. If you could just parachute into a business on Fifth Avenue, it’d be a different story.
Speaker 4: (46:14)
Just a follow up on the Friday briefing. You said that we don’t have a public hospital system. And then you announced the surgeon flex approach. If you’re going to elaborate that since we have a commissioner here. And also a follow up on the Albanian American community is interested in the medical data, most specifically the death number of Albaninans in the state. If you have that, I appreciate it.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:36)
Yes, you did say that Friday. Did we get that number yet?
Speaker 5: (46:40)
So it’s actually not broken out that way. The way the hospitals report, they report Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian, and other. What we’ve asked the health department to do following your question on Friday is if there’s a way to go back and discuss with the specific hospitals and see if there’s a way to break down that number further, and we’re working on that right now.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:00)
The, in terms of the hospitals, people didn’t under… This is one of the lessons, right? Lessons learned from this terrible situation. Our public health system, we all talk about a public health system. Yeah, except there really is no public health system. Where is the public health system? Well, the hospitals. Hospitals are not a public health system. The mayor talks about a public health system because there is a system called H & H, Health and Hospitals, which are 11 hospitals in New York City. Those are 11 public hospitals that the city runs. Though the 11 hospitals that the mayor controls are nowhere near the ability to manage a health problem in the city. There are…
Andrew Cuomo: (48:03)
… health problem in the city. There are 100 hospitals in the New York city area, but they’re private and they’ve never really worked together. NYU Langone is one hospital, Columbia Presbyterian’s another hospital, Northwell is another hospital and they’re separate hospitals. They don’t share patients. They don’t share material. They don’t share resources. They’re separate individual hospitals. What we were forced to do, because when you have a public health crisis that’s in New York city, you can’t just say to those 11 hospitals, “You handle it.” Those 11 hospitals are battling every day just to deal with what they deal with. The first crisis we had was at Elmhurst, which was one of the public hospitals, we need those 100 private hospitals. Now they’re technically regulated by the state, but the state has never said to those private hospitals, “I need you to respond to a public crisis. And I need you to allow us to coordinate operation of your hospital.” That never happened before, we Institute instituted that immediately in the middle of this situation, after we saw some hospitals getting overwhelmed, right? Elmhurst gets overwhelmed as a hospital, all right, Elmhurst. First, there are 10 other public hospitals, how do we distribute patients among those 10 publics? And if the public’s can’t handle it, because there’s only 11, then we have to figure out how to get these 100 privates to actually operate as a system, that’s what we call surge and flex.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:03)
First, I said to all of them, “You all have to increase your capacity 50%.” They said, “What?” I said, “Yes, you have to increase your capacity 50%. You have 100 hospital beds. You have to have 150.” That was the surge. And then we increased the capacity, then we said to them, “And by the way, when one of you gets overwhelmed, or one of you doesn’t have the staff, or one of you doesn’t have the PPE or one of you doesn’t have enough reagents, we’re going to share among and coordinate among all 100 private hospitals. And by the way, those 11 public’s also.” That had never been done before.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:52)
And when you talk about our worst case scenario, worst case scenario is you exceed your hospital capacity. What is your hospital capacity? Your hospital capacity is theoretically, if you maximize all 100 hospitals and shifted the patient burden, so they were all at 100% and every hospital was at 100% capacity, that’s your maximum capacity. That had never been thought of, and that’s what we developed during the coronavirus but we did it very quickly. And we’re now codifying that and refining that because it’s also very disruptive to the private hospitals.
Speaker 6: (51:42)
Governor, you said you’re going to be discussing with the mayor the possibility of curfew, can you clarify whether that’s something you actually are inclined to support [inaudible 00:51:51] forward, and likewise you said the National Guard is somewhat on standby. As you assessed the situation here over the past few nights, the way those tactics have worked or not worked in Minneapolis and elsewhere, can you give us more of a sense of what you need to see and what you plan to activate, when?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:12)
Well, look, I think Governor Walz in Minneapolis did a good job last night. I think they got caught initially, which is understandable, but I think he did a good job. Many cities use a curfew, again, it’s, people will argue both ways. But my basic point is last night was bad, right? The criminality, the looting was the most egregious. The people exploiting the circumstance. There is an anger because I hear about it from people who say, we saw the police officer on tape in Minneapolis. We have police officers in New York city who didn’t do anything like what we’ve seen other police officers do, but it’s seriously questionable behavior. The video of the car driving into the crowd, the video of the pepper spray after removing the mask, the woman getting thrown. That is apparently egregious conduct and nothing has been done.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:27)
Now I feel comfortable saying the attorney general is looking at it and we’ll get a report, and it’s only 30 days, this is not kick the can. And if that report says… Whatever the report says, I will do, right? But in the interim, nothing has been done, I get that too. And I’m going to speak to the mayor about that. The national guard we have on standby, they are trained to do this, but I don’t know that it’s a person/power issue in New York City. In Minneapolis, it was a person/power. They just don’t have a police force large enough to handle it. I don’t know that that is the situation. I don’t know that the NYPD isn’t big enough. I don’t think that’s the problem.
Speaker 6: (54:19)
Sir are you inclined to ask for it or strongly suggest a curfew or-
Andrew Cuomo: (54:24)
Look, I could impose a curfew.
Speaker 6: (54:26)
Andrew Cuomo: (54:27)
Yeah. Legally I can impose a curfew. [crosstalk 00:54:35]. So I’m not at that point, but I know something has to be done because last night was not acceptable. And the night before was not acceptable on any level.
Speaker 6: (54:45)
A quick follow up on 58, and just to clarify your position, whether you support amending it, repealing it all together, the mayor and NYPD said they want to amend it, but sort of maintain some of the 58 restrictions on access to disciplinary records. Reformers say the state essentially can already sufficiently shield officer’s personal information. What’s what’s your position? Amend, appeal, leave alone?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:13)
Look, my position is what I said in a council’s letter to New York city and the other local governments, I don’t believe today, 58 stops them from releasing disciplinary records. Today, I don’t believe the law does it. I said to the mayors across the city, “58 does not stop you from releasing disciplinary records.” I’ve said that to every mayor. I gave them a legal opinion that said the law doesn’t apply. Now, if a mayor wanted to release the records, you know what they would do? Release the records. And say, “I have a governor’s council opinion that says the law doesn’t say I can’t release them.” That’s what any mayor would do, right? Mayors all day long, take positions against my interpretation of the law. Here, I said, “The law doesn’t say that, release the records.”
Andrew Cuomo: (56:12)
They haven’t released the records because politically they don’t want to, because the police don’t want the records released, which I understand their position. But if a person is being investigated, you’re not going to tell me what their past disciplinary results were. And by the way, if they’re not bad, then release them to help the person and exonerate the person. But I don’t believe the law ever stopped the mayor from releasing it, I believe politically they didn’t want to. So now use the moment, either release the records because the law doesn’t stop you, or if that’s not enough, then the legislature should repeal the law.
Speaker 7: (56:57)
[crosstalk 00:57:01]Governor, can you-
Speaker 8: (57:01)
If it’s not [crosstalk 00:57:03]-
Andrew Cuomo: (57:03)
By the way, excuse me one second. Remember, New York City used to release the records, with the same law, the law didn’t change. How did you used to be able to do it with 58, but now all of a sudden you can’t do it because of 58? How does that make any sense? I did it for many years and 58 was in existence, then all of a sudden they decided they can’t do it because of 58. I give them a legal opinion that says, “You can do it, just like you’re used to doing and the law doesn’t stop it.” Come on.
Speaker 7: (57:42)
Governor, if you do-
Speaker 8: (57:43)
If it’s not manpower, what is it then? It sounds like you’re questioning police tactics.
Andrew Cuomo: (57:50)
That’s what I want to talk to the mayor about.
Speaker 8: (57:55)
If you think [inaudible 00:57:56].
Andrew Cuomo: (57:58)
I think what happened last night was not good. I think some of the police activity on videos have inflamed the community. I believe the protesters have been infiltrated by people with their own motives and the protests have been exploited. There’s criminality that some people have use this moment to pursue. So there’s a lot going on, but I understand that, but we have to do something different because this is not acceptable.
Speaker 7: (58:35)
If you do impose a curfew, how exactly is that enforced? And then what is your message to these businesses who they’ve been destroyed the last few nights, to them and to new Yorkers who don’t feel safe? Even police officers who’ve said, “This is like a war zone, I’ve never experienced this.”
Andrew Cuomo: (58:50)
Yeah, that’s why it’s not acceptable. It’s not acceptable for anyone. It’s not acceptable for anyone. There were no sides here, last night was bad for every one. It was bad for business owners, it was bad for the police, it’s bad for the community, it’s bad for everyone. And it accomplishes nothing because we’re losing the moment and we’re not even making the political point that the protesters want to make, which is a good point. “Tale of two cities,” my father said in 1984, this is 2020. Thank you very much, guys.
Speaker 9: (59:34)
[crosstalk 00:59:34] said that the governors should send in military to take down this protest, do you have a reaction to that?
Andrew Cuomo: (59:44)
I don’t know what exactly what he said because I’m here, so let me find out exactly what he said, but I’ve made it clear in this state, any resources that any city needs we will provide. And we have been, state police have done an extraordinary job working with the local police departments, and we have 13,000 National Guard who we can use at any moment. Thank you guys.