Jun 10, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 10 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on June 10. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
LaGuardia airport. This is really breathtaking. I wish you all could get a full view of this really magnificent facility and the artwork. It really is a breathtaking. Let me introduce the people who are here with me today to my right, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor who has been working every day for 101 days. Has done a briefing every day. They calculated. She now has enough overtime to take off for the next four years, believe it or not. So I want to thank her for everything she’s done. To my left, Rick Cotton, who is the executive director of the Port Authority, who has handled so many unprecedented situations, what we’re going through with COVID at the airports and in the meantime, doing more construction and development than anyone in the state of New York has done in over 50 years. He’s really done an extraordinary job. Let’s give him a round of applause, Mr. Rick Cotton
Andrew Cuomo: (01:12)
In this beautiful new arrivals and departure terminal, which to see it actually here and live is just so invigorating. It’s like when you’re having a child and you talk about it and you see little scans of it and you plan for it, but then it’s indescribable when it actually happens, and to see this real and alive and all the drawings and the years of work come to life really is invigorating. And let’s thank Richard Kennedy and Jane Garvey and George Casey and Magnus Erickson and Stuart Steves, the CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners. Laguardia Gateway Partners, congratulations. You did a beautiful piece of work here. You should feel good. Let’s give them a round of applause.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:02)
I want to thank Gary LaBarbera, who represents the building and construction trades unions. And they have been fantastic working with us all through this. Congratulations. Let’s talk about some facts, and then we’ll take a couple of quick questions and then we will cut a ribbon and we will go from there. Today’s day 102 dealing with the COVID crisis. You’ve worked 102 straight days. I’m sorry. I said 101. But who’s counting? And it is day 17 since we’ve been dealing with the situation of civil unrest after Mr. Floyd’s murder, these are two very different situations. They actually intersect and they complicate one another, but they’re two very different crises that we’re managing at the same time. On the murder of Mr. Floyd, which has generated civil unrest, not only through this country, but internationally, literally. And I think that it’s going to turn out for the good.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:10)
I said, when this first started, I understand what the protesters are saying and feeling. And I stand with the protestors. How many years have we heard about these situations? It’s not just the Mr. Floyd. It was Amadou Diallo, it was Rodney King. It goes back 40, 50 years. It goes back to Martin Luther King. And we’ve seen it, we’ve seen it, we’ve seen it, but we haven’t done anything. And now it’s time to act. That’s what people are saying. And they’re right. And we’re going to act in the state of New York and we’re going to act this week. Carpe diem, seize the day. Carpe momentum, seize the moment. There’s a moment for change and we’re going to make change. And we’re going to pass legislation this week that I’m going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50-A, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:10)
And that will be in this state law. Having the attorney general as a special prosecutor if there is a questionable killing by police, where they kill an unarmed person. The most dramatic police reform in the country, and it will happen in New York this week, and we’re proud of it. On dealing with the COVID crisis over the past 101 days, we’re now at a different point. We’re at the point of reopening the economy and moving forward on that. And that’s an entirely different situation than everything we’ve done up until now. Everything we’ve done up until now has been fighting the virus as the virus. How do you contain it? How do you isolate it? How do you quarantine people? How do you do the medical research to find a vaccine or a treatment? Reopening says, how do you now restart the economy and control the virus at the same time?
Andrew Cuomo: (05:06)
And all of this has never been done before. There’s no blueprint. There’s no book written on it. There’s no expert on the globe who can say, “Yes, I know how this should be done.” And I speak to all of them. The situations where you have seen reopenings, countries around the world, they’re very mixed results. So this really is going down a path that no one has traveled successfully, but if any place can travel it successfully, it’s going to be in the state of New York. Every region in the state is now reopening. New York City entered what we call phase one this past Monday. Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley started phase two yesterday, and Long Island entered phase two today, as the number of COVID cases came down. We did the reopening. We measured the reopening to a set of metrics that we established from day one.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:12)
As we now go forward in this new phase, there’s a new focus. And again, the focus is watching the data, watching the metrics, watching the numbers. We’re not doing this by political ideology. We’re not doing this by gut instinct. We’re not doing this by feel. We’re not doing this political pressure. You’re dealing with a virus. The virus does not know from Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. The virus is a virus, and it spreads wherever it can. It’s a pure opportunist. But you can measure this. It’s public health, it’s science. Measure it and follow the numbers. What numbers are important now? The numbers to watch now are the daily testing results. New York tests more than any state in the United States, per capita. It tests more than any country on the globe, per capita. We do about 50,000 tests every day. Think about that. 50,000 tests every day.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:23)
And you know exactly where you’re doing the test, and you know the results fault of those tests. So you have that data. You can monitor what’s happening on a daily basis. Well, do exactly that. Watch those daily numbers. And if you’re going to get into trouble, you’ll see it in the numbers. You’ll see them starting to increase. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And we present them to every local official. We put them on the website. Every citizen should want to know what’s happening in their community and their region.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:01)
And look at the number today. Look at the number yesterday. Look at the number the day before. See if there’s any movement. See if the movement is up. See if the movement is down, and see if we have to worry, if there’s a cautionary tale, or see if the reopening is proceeding without increasing the viral spread. That’s where we are, and that will be the most informed reopening of any state in the country. Just have the discipline to follow the numbers. These numbers, for example. On Long Island today, Nassau has 0.8. Really yesterday. Monday was 0.1, Sunday was 1.1. There’ll be slight deviations up and down. These are not the largest statistical samples when you break them down, but you’ll be able to see movement and you’ll know when there’s-
Andrew Cuomo: (09:03)
You’ll be able to see movement and you’ll know when there’s an issue. All of us have a role to play. What determines the virus spread? We do. We do. Not government, not state government, not city government, not the federal government. This has always been about what society does. It’s been a social issue. Can people change their behavior? Can they learn? Can they learn quickly? Can they actually wear masks? Can they actually socially distance? Can they actually use hand sanitizer? Can they stay away from large gatherings? If they can, the virus spread will be contained. If they can’t, you’ll see an increase in the viral spread.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:50)
My role has been to inform people, to educate people, to motivate people, about what can be done and should be done, and what are the consequences. And it has worked brilliantly up until now. And now in reopening, we have to actually double down on our diligence. Business owners, employers that are reopening, like we see here today, provide the right equipment, have employees socially distance. Store owners have responsibility. Employees, themselves have responsibility. Each one of us as an individual has responsibility. And the local governments have a responsibility to make sure their department of health is out and making sure things are working well.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:39)
Well, we’re reopening, we’re out of the woods, everything is fine. No, reopening is actually much harder than closing. Closing was abrupt and disruptive, but it was simple; everything was closed. Reopening is more delicate and more nuanced. And if you look at the states and the countries that have been reopening, more of them have gotten into trouble than not. And as we sit here today, states are getting into trouble.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:15)
Newspapers will tell you more than a dozen states are now seeing increases. Texas 36% increase since Memorial Day. Reopen, reopen, reopen. Be careful, be careful, be careful. California, the cases are still going up. Florida, the cases are going up. Look at those curves around the nation. Why? Because if you just reopened, if you just increased activity, the virus spread is going to go up compared to the virus spread when you were closed. That is common sense.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:55)
“Well, we want to reopen.” Okay, but you have to reopen smartly, and safely and intelligently, otherwise, you will see the increase. Especially in a place like New York City with that density; people on sidewalks, people on buses, people in subway cars. It has to be done right and we have to stay disciplined. And the evidence is all around us what happens if we’re not.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:27)
Going forward, we need to do two things simultaneously. Number one, monitor the reopening. What we’ve just been talking about, watch the numbers, be smart, be diligent. And second, let’s energize the reopening. Let’s set the bar a little higher. Let’s not just reopen, but let’s have an affirmative strategy that re-energize the opening.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:57)
How do you do that? Stimulate the economy. Now is the time to do large scale development projects. Now is the time you want to see government investing, the private sector investing, in building large scale developments that you know can help drive economic growth. And you actually have an opportunity. “Well, everything is closed down. There’s less activity. There’s less volume.” Great, great on one level. If there’s less activity, then we can actually build more aggressively, because there’s less disruption. It’s what LaGuardia Partners and Port Authority was smart enough to do right here. Well, there’s less traffic at the airport. That’s a problem on one level, obviously. On another level, it’s an advantage. There’s less traffic, there’s fewer cars. Well, now’s the time to advance the roadway construction, because there are fewer cars and there is less traffic.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:07)
Because remember, what this reopening is about for us, many of the other states, they’re just reopening. Our goal is not just to reopen. Our goal is to stimulate this economy, to take this moment of pause as a moment to pivot and stimulate and regrow better than before. After everything we’ve been through, my goal is not just to reopen, it’s not to go back where we were the day before the pandemic. Life is never about going backwards, life is about going forwards. How do we learn? How do we grow? How do we take this moment? We were on pause, we reflected, we dealt with a crisis that we’ve never dealt with before. And now we’re stronger, and now we’re smarter, and now we’re better, and now we’re going to come back more revitalized than ever before. Take these large scale developments, accelerate them.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:06)
On Long Island, we’re transforming Belmont. It’s going to be a new Islander’s Arena; $2.7 billion in economic activity. Now is the time to double down. The MTA, there’s less ridership. Ridership was down at 1.92%. That’s bad for many reasons. It’s also good for many reasons. Now is the time to accelerate the capital construction and the MTA, because you can take trains out of service and you can disrupt fewer riders. So the MTA is accelerating $2 billion in capital construction. Fix the tracks now, fix the tunnels now, fix the platforms now.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:52)
When the MTA, people get back on the subways and the commuter rail, they’re going to be surprised. Those trains are cleaner than they have ever been in my lifetime. Those stations are cleaner than they have ever been in my lifetime. We are now disinfecting subway cars. Look, this is a situation where the MTA couldn’t figure out how to get homeless people out of the subways for decades, let alone get newspapers and coffee cups and garbage out of the cars. The cars are now disinfected. Homeless are getting services they need, and they’re no longer living in a subway system. Yes, we went through hell, but it’s actually going to be better when we reopen.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:43)
Upstate airports, which many of them haven’t been redone in decades, now is the time to do it. And LaGuardia Airport, now is the time to actually double down on our commitment and our effort. LaGuardia Airport is going to be the first new airport in the United States of America in 25 years. Just think about that; 25 years. Last airport was Denver, 1995. This nation hasn’t figured out how to build an airport. Why? It was too big, too complicated, too confusing, so we just didn’t do it. Meanwhile, countries all around the world did it. And you could fly into airports all around the world, and they were brand new, and there were entertainment centers and business centers and they were magnificent. And then you’d fly into our airports here in the United States, which were built in the 50s or the 60s or the 40s. And it was just so apparent how other nations were outpacing us. Who is going to change that? Who is going to lead? New York, and that’s what LaGuardia Airport is all about.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:03)
… lead New York, and that’s what LaGuardia Airport is all about. Don’t tell me we can’t. We can. And by the way we are. We are, and we’re doing it at LaGuardia, which was challenging. This is not just a new airport. This is build a new airport while you’re operating the old airport. Right? This is renovate your home while you’re living in the home. Operate the airport and build a new airport at the same time and by the way, you’re doing it on one of the smallest pieces of land of any airport in the country.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:41)
This parcel is a veritable postage stamp compared to what most airports have. On that postage stamp, operate the airport without undue encumbrances and build a new airport at the same time. You know how many people said it couldn’t be done? Dozens, and dozens, and dozens. You know who said it could be done? LaGuardia partners and Rick Cotton. And they were right. And we’re here today because they were right. Mr. Rick Cotton.
Rick Cotton: (19:15)
Thank you, governor. On the screen is where we are headed, a single, integrated, brand new LaGuardia Airport. From worst airport in the country to the best, from appallingly substandard to 21st century, best-in-class, from the laughingstock on Saturday Night Live skits to bringing into reality the extraordinary vision of Governor Cuomo to have a world-class airport worthy of New York, that is what today is all about. I want to walk you through the highlights of this new arrivals and departures hall, stunning, that will open on Saturday.
Rick Cotton: (19:55)
But first, a few acknowledgements to the key individuals who made this possible, Huntley Lawrence, director of aviation at the Port Authority, Rich Smyth, the LaGuardia project director, and his colleague, Jessica Force, Jim Starace, chief engineer, and his colleagues, Saverio Leone and Carmela Cinicolo, Tony Vero, interim general manager of LaGuardia, and hundreds of their colleagues. To LaGuardia Gateway Partners, my deepest thanks for their enormous efforts, including their investor, JLC Capital. To Skanska-Walsh, who built this building, my deep thanks. Our airline partners, American, United, Southwest, and Air Canada, again, thank you for your help. And to the unions, and the union construction workers, and the skilled tradesmen and women who devoted six days a week, double shifts, they are the ones who built this airport and to whom we are enormously grateful. As well as to elected officials, including in particular, Assemblyman Jeff Aubry and community leaders with whom we worked and consulted.
Rick Cotton: (21:02)
Today, we’re announcing a truly major milestone in the construction. Governor Cuomo announced in 2015 his vision for a totally new, 21st-century integrated LaGuardia, one airport. Since then, the construction of the nation’s first entirely new airport has progressed with great intensity. Four years ago, we broke ground on this terminal. Three years ago, we broke ground on Delta’s eastern half of the airport. In the last 18 months, we’ve opened two of six brand new concourses with 25 new gates. A third of LaGuardia’s passengers now, right now, today, come into a new gate and a new concourse.
Rick Cotton: (21:41)
Today, we celebrate the opening of this new arrivals and departures hall, the most significant milestone to date towards the realization of Governor Cuomo’s vision. This spacious, 840,000 square-foot four-story facility paired with a new network of access roadways will provide travelers with a 21st-century airport experience, a far cry from Joe Biden’s famous condemnation of the old LaGuardia as third-world. It wouldn’t have been possible without Governor Cuomo’s vision, his continued support, and his vigilant, and I might say intense encouragement.
Rick Cotton: (22:21)
The new spacious Terminal B is more than 50% bigger than the subpar legacy terminal it is replacing. The new LaGuardia has state-of-the-art security. The terminal size, enhanced cleaning routines, plentiful hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless entries, and a mandatory face covering requirement are examples of multiple measures we have taken and will take to keep passengers safe and healthy in our post-COVID-19, new normal world. The new neutral Terminal B arrivals and departures hall creates a fundamentally different travel experience. It will feature extensive new concessions, most of them iconic local concessions, more than doubling the offerings available in the old facility.
Rick Cotton: (23:08)
The Public Art Fund, a renowned leader in the civic and public art world, curated an outstanding collection of four permanent public art installations by four leading artists. The Public Art Fund selections bring creativity, energy, buoyancy, and spirit to this new civic space. The ambitious groundbreaking scope and scale of LaGuardia’s $8 billion redevelopment is being delivered through two innovative public-private partnerships that harness private skill to deliver this extraordinary new airport. Two-thirds of this project’s financing comes from private sources.
Rick Cotton: (23:48)
At LaGuardia, we are fully committed to a robust community development program. This project will generate more than 14,000 good-paying jobs, both on and off the airport. Indeed, at various times, there have been more than 1,500 workers on this site at the same time. Thus far, the LaGuardia Redevelopment Program has awarded more than $1.4 billion in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses and more than a half-billion dollars in contracts to Queens-based businesses. To ensure that residents in the community surrounding LaGuardia have access to job recruitment and placement services, we established a LaGuardia Career Center in Corona, Queens partnering with two community-based organizations, as well as the Council on Airport Opportunity. To date, more than half of the new hires for airport jobs have come from the community.
Rick Cotton: (24:44)
Today’s milestone is only, of course, part of the story. The whole new LaGuardia will feature 72 brand new gates across six new concourses, 2.7 million square feet of new terminal space, 9.2 miles of new roadway network, seamless access to ground transportation, and an improved curbside experience with separate levels for arrivals, departures, and buses. Here, on the screen is the footprint of the entire new airport with the new Terminal B arrivals and departures hall, where we are right now, highlighted in the middle of this slide. And here you see the entire new integrated LaGuardia well on its way. Every single legacy passenger building torn down with the exception of the landmark Marine Air Terminal. In their place, a new state-of-the-art airport worthy of New York with a wholly new roadway network.
Rick Cotton: (25:40)
Once complete, as the governor has said, LaGuardia will be the first totally new airport in the country in more than 25 years. Governor Cuomo’s vision and master plan for a whole new airport launched this project. Today, we take a major step forward to delivering on that vision.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:01)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Rick Cotton, not just for this presentation, but for everything you’ve done for the state of New York. Rick worked in the governor’s office and was primarily responsible for getting the new Tappan Zee Bridge built before he went to the Port Authority. But congratulations, congratulations. I want to thank Jane Garvey, and I want to thank George Casey personally. We sat in a conference room for many, many hours trying to figure out how to do this. And many said it was impossible, but they stayed with it. So good for you, and thank you for birthing this beautiful project for New York. I want to thank Governor Murphy and Kevin O’Toole from the Port Authority. Our partners, Port Authority’s a bi-state agency and they’ve been very supportive. I also want to thank Rick for letting me be involved.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:52)
I actually installed the mosaic here personally. I did it on Saturday afternoons and evenings on my personal time. It’s part of the Italian heritage-
Andrew Cuomo: (27:02)
… personal time. It’s part of the Italian heritage. I did mosaic in my bathrooms. I did the backsplash in the kitchen. This was a little larger, but I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity and I’m glad I came through.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:15)
Congratulations to all of you. You know what? We needed this. We needed this today. We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We needed to see possibility. We needed to see New York stand up and shine. We needed to remember how great a place this is and how great a people we are. Yes, we’ve gone through a rough 101 days, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:45)
Questions? We’ll take a couple of quick ones then we’re going to cut a ribbon.
Speaker 1: (27:49)
[crosstalk 00:27:49] the Select Bus over and it took me about 25 minutes, lickity split. It was free because I have an unlimited MetroCard. Why are we building an air train that would take me and a lot of other people a lot longer to get to the airport and it would cost us a lot more? You said we could build anything, such as this airport, but we can’t build a one-seat ride here?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:07)
Do you believe that the commute you had today on a bus with this level or traffic is emblematic to a normal commute into the city?
Speaker 1: (28:18)
If I had a bus lane then it would be a lot faster, but-
Andrew Cuomo: (28:19)
Yeah. If, if, if, if. I’m a Queens boy. I grew up a few miles from this airport. It can take you an hour easily to get into New York City, hence an air train.
Speaker 2: (28:37)
What do you think about de Blasio-
Speaker 3: (28:37)
Can you tell us how much the traffic is down at LaGuardia because of the epidemic?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:40)
How much is the traffic down at LaGuardia?
Speaker 3: (28:42)
[inaudible 00:28:42] assure folks who might doubt. Yeah, this looks great, but when is it really going to be needed?
Speaker 4: (28:50)
The passenger volume at all of our airports has been down more than 95%. At LaGuardia at one point, it was down 97%. It’s recovered a few percentage points, but fundamentally, the traffic has remained down 95%. In term-
Andrew Cuomo: (29:12)
What … Go ahead.
Speaker 4: (29:13)
In terms of the future, there’s no doubt that air travel will recover. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when. We are building these projects for the future. This is a five-year project. We are four years into it. We are looking forward to completing it in a year and a half. Other projects, infrastructure projects look to the future. If you look at private sector partners, we have two of them here, they were are 100% committed. It is their money. 75% of the money in this project is private money. 90%, if we can go forward with Kennedy, is private money. Everyone in the private sector has complete confidence and willing to put their money where their mouth is that air travel will come back.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:03)
Speaker 2: (30:03)
What do you think about-
Andrew Cuomo: (30:04)
If I could just add on to that. When will this be needed? This was needed 30 years ago and 20 years ago. When Joe Biden said if you were blindfolded on a plane and you landed and were in LaGuardia airport and you took off the blindfold, you would think you were in a Third World country. This should’ve been done decades and decades and decades ago. This is long overdue. LaGuardia was an embarrassment.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:36)
And are we going to need airports? Yes, we’re going to need airports. Planes are going to fly. Cars are going to roll. Trains are going to move. Life goes on post-COVID. Mr. [Sif 00:30:53]. One more, and then we’re going to cut a ribbon.
Speaker 2: (30:54)
What do you think about de Blasio [crosstalk 00:30:56]
Andrew Sif: (30:54)
Two quick questions on-
Andrew Cuomo: (30:58)
I said one more. Not two.
Andrew Sif: (30:58)
Two quick questions.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:59)
Andrew Sif: (30:59)
Swimming pools. Suffolk County officials have said it’s up to municipalities if they want to open outdoor pools this summer. Those municipalities are saying they’re looking for guidance from the state. Can outdoor swimming safely reopen this summer?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:13)
Can outdoor swimming pools in Phase 2?
Andrew Sif: (31:17)
In any phase. In your view-
Speaker 5: (31:19)
It’s something that we’re looking at right now. We actually anticipate putting out guidance for the municipalities in the coming days.
Andrew Sif: (31:25)
On schools, the New York City schools’ chancellor has said that he sees for this fall being a combination of online learning and in-person learning. Could you see a scenario where different parts of New York state have different school setups? Maybe in the North Country, all the kids go back every single day, but in New York City they’re only in school buildings two days a week? Would that throw things way out of balance?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:48)
Yeah. First, Andrew, I can’t see the fall because I don’t have a crystal ball, and anyone who can tell you today that they know what is going to happen in the fall with COVID, they do not know what they are talking about. Now, you can guess, you can speculate, “I think,” but nobody knows. Nobody knows. So, what we’re doing now is we’re coming up with plans, we’re coming up with alternatives. They’re being submitted. We’re going to study them, but we have to get a better gauge of where we are with the COVID virus before we make any decisions.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:24)
Can you have different models across the state? You don’t have one model now, right? We’re in different phases in different regions depending on the numbers in that region. So, you could have, theoretically, different models in different regions, which are in different phases, but we have to know where we are with COVID.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:49)
We’re going to cut a ribbon. Congratulations to everyone on this great achievement.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:53)
Okay. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (33:08)
[inaudible 00:33:08] kneel down in the front.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:08)
Speaker 7: (33:42)
Down. [crosstalk 00:33:42]
Andrew Cuomo: (33:45)
[inaudible 00:33:45] I’m going to count to three. On three [inaudible 00:33:58] One, two, three. [crosstalk 00:34:08] Huh?
Andrew Cuomo: (33:45)