Jun 11, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 11 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on June 11. Cuomo said public pools can reopen, and addressed police reform. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
18 in dealing with the civil unrest after the murder of Mr. Floyd and this is as tumultuous a time as we have seen. You have these two major crises going on at the same time. They actually intersect with the protestors being a mass gathering at the time of COVID and then you have an overall dynamic, the overall environment, you have terrible political divides in this hyper-partisan, nasty, political season. There’s racial division after the civil unrest and watching the Mr. Floyd murder on television, but what does New York do when the going gets tough? New York gets going. New York is the progressive capital of the United States. You look back at history, you look at when there was a pivot point in society and more often than not New York was the point of pivot. You have a problem, you have an issue, and New York was the one that stepped up to the plate and resolved it boldly and the nation followed and we’re doing the same on police reform. The disciplinary record release, more transparency, banning chokeholds, the attorney general and special prosecutor, hate crimes. I applaud the New York state legislature for moving as quickly as they did.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:31)
On reopening, we’ve been talking about following the metrics, following the science. We’ve been talking about the hospitalization rate, the intubation rate, the hospital capacity, the ICU capacity, the number of tests, the number of tracers. We’ve had the most science-based, most informed reopening … I think this is fair to say, in the country. It is nothing about intuition, nothing about politics, look at the numbers, follow the numbers, and we have more numbers. We’re doing more testing. We have more reports from the hospitals so we’ve been following the data. Now at this point, there is one number to watch closely, and that is the daily testing number. Why? The others are status of the system or they’re lagging indicators. Hospitalization rate is definitive, but the hospitalization rate is probably two weeks lagging behind the infection rate. If you’re getting your information from the hospitalization rate, you’re closing the barn door after the horse is gone, right? The daily testing, we do about 50,000 tests per day, 50,000 tests per day, just think about that. No other state comes near 50,000 tests per day.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:55)
We report those numbers the next day so every day you have a snapshot of the day before with 50,000 tests all across the state. That’s the number that we have to watch. So daily test results by region. New York City for example. Monday was 1.8, Tuesday was 1.5, yesterday was 1.7. Watch those daily numbers. There’s a certain bounce, little high, little low. You’re not dealing with the largest numbers in some of these locations, but you want to watch, you want to notice any trendline, you want to notice any bounce, and then you want to find out why. So let’s say you see a region going up, you then look at those people who were tested and see if you can find something out from those people who were tested. This is what the local officials should be doing. This is the testing and then this tracing, right? So New York City, they do tests, they find 200 people who are positive that day. The tracers then go back and look at those 200 people.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:15)
What can we learn from those 200 people? Of the 200, 25 all work at this one place. Of the 200, 10 were at the same party. Of the 200, 13 went to this restaurant. So you look at those that test positive, but first watch the daily numbers. You do it by region and then you can look within the region by county. So New York City that just reopened that we’re watching closely, you see the deviation among the counties, but then you watch the trendline. Bronx 2.3, 2.1, 2.4. Brooklyn, 1.9, 1.3, 1.9. Manhattan, 1, 1.2, 1.2. Again, you’ll see plus or minus deviations but you want to look for an increase and then a continued increase. Overall the hospitalizations are still headed down. Overall the number of deaths is close to its lowest point. Also on the number of deaths, when you get this low on the number of deaths, I don’t know what it is really telling us anymore. This can be a question of how doctors happen to certify a cause of death. Many of these people will have comorbidities, so you could have a heart disease, you could have diabetes, you could have hypertension, you could have a respiratory illness and COVID. What is the cause of death between cancer and COVID? But it’s overall great news again, and you see the number of lives lost continuing to go down.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:17)
We have five regions that we have reviewed all the data. We have global experts who then go through the data because sometimes if you look at the data, you look at the underlying numbers, you look at the underlying tests, you can see something but we have the best experts that you can possibly have reviewing this and they have reviewed it and five regions will enter Phase 3 tomorrow, Friday. Phase 3 is clearly indicated on the website, what businesses can open, what businesses can’t open. Also a point of caution, businesses … I know businesses are anxious to open, everybody’s anxious to get the economy going, please follow the guidelines and do what is permissible to do. People are very wary right now of businesses that are violating the opening rules, restaurants, outdoor capacity, that doesn’t mean anyone inside. So people call and we get complaints. The rules are clear. Some businesses say, “Well my mayor said this, my Aunt Tilly said this would be okay, my town councilman said this would be okay.” That doesn’t count. Follow the rules and you can lose your liquor license, you can lose your right to operate, so this is very serious and short-term gain isn’t worth longterm pain.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:59)
As we’re entering the summer, public pools and playgrounds, we’re going to leave to open or keep closed in the discretion of local governments, but they have to use their judgment here. Again, they have the test data, they should be studying the test data, they should be looking at those positives and see where the positives are coming from. If the positives are in a cluster, a neighborhood that has that pool, don’t open the pool, right? Well everybody wants to swim. I understand, but everybody doesn’t want to see a spike in COVID again. So use your judgment. Sometimes yes is not the right answer. It’s the easy answer.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:48)
In this overall situation, I don’t know how to say it, we need caution, we have to beware, we need warnings, you take your pick. The numbers are good, everything we’ve done has been exactly right up until now, but that’s up until now, and you can make a mistake today that wipes out everything we’ve done, so we have to stay smart. This COVID has not gone away. Dr. Fauci spoke to it, the CDC speaks to it. We have done extraordinarily well because the people of this state have responded in a way no one predicted and they’ll actually research and talk about it for years I believe, but COVID is still out there. It’s increasing in 21 states. 14 states, highest number ever of COVID cases, and if you look at what’s going on, it tends to be after the reopening.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:00)
Why? Because the reopening is the point that increases the activity. Just look what happened in these other states. California, they reopened and then look at the increase after the reopening and it’s not one state. It is the pattern, my friends, and it is to be expected because we brought down that number because we closed everything down. You open that valve, you increase the activity, you will see it spread. Look at Florida. May 4, Texas, Arizona, it’s the same story. We want to reopen, we want to reopen, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. No, it’s fine until it’s not fine. Kentucky. Look at South Carolina. Look at North Carolina. Look at Missouri. I mean it is all across the country. Look at Utah, look at Arkansas, look at Nevada. It is all across the country. We are the exception, an outrageous exception. We so far have the exact opposite phenomenon. We reopen, the number continues to go down. We reopen, the number continues to go down. How can that be? Because our reopening is different than their reopening. Our reopening is based on the numbers.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:47)
Our reopening is phased and because New Yorkers have been smart and they have been diligent and you can say reopen, not reopen. They’ve been informed in this state. They have been informed. They know what’s going on. I run into people on the street who know things about my briefing that I forgot. Remember you said this? Remember you had t his number? No, I don’t remember. They remember. They are smart, they’re informed, so they’re protecting themselves and they dismiss the politics, but we are the exception. To date, we’re the exception and that can change and that can change overnight.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:38)
Also beware because we are a more dense state and we have more crowding. You look at some of those other states. They are rural states. They don’t have large congregations. They don’t have apartment buildings where everybody goes into one elevator. We have the density, we have the crowding. You start to see an increase, it’s going to take off and that’s how we got here in the first place. I don’t know many other ways to see it. We also had the largest number of protesters out there and we’re still not sure what the effect of the protesters is, and that won’t show up, I have asked them to get tested, we’ve made testing available for protesters, but that may not show up for a couple of weeks.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:30)
So caution. People have to do their part. Be smart. It is all up to you, it is all up to you. Government did nothing. I did nothing for the past 100 days. All I did was give information to people and then people acted intelligently. That has been our success story and that’s what we have to keep doing, and that’s what I’ve meant by being New York tough. Be smart, be united, be disciplined, be loving. Questions?
Speaker 2: (14:07)
We’ve seen from a lot of reports –
We’ve heard from a lot of families who have loved ones in nursing homes and [inaudible 00:14:15] who are looking at the infection rate going down and they’re asking when will visitation resume in these homes. That’s my question to you today. They’re wanting to know a timeline because this is very difficult to be away from loved ones for this amount of time and they know the risks and all of the people I’ve interviewed have told me that they’re willing to do testing, wear PPE in order to see a 90-year-old woman in a nursing home or to see their autistic son. It’s too much for them.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:49)
Yeah. Your questions have a continuing theme. You’ve heard from people who want to reopen and are being hurt or stymied by the close-down. Whether it’s we want to go to a high school graduation because we’ve been dying to celebrate high school graduation, we want to go out and work because we’ve been home too long, we should be able to visit people in nursing homes. The continuing theme is the close-down is a pain in the neck. Yeah, that’s true. The close-down is a pain in the neck. My continued answer is but it’s better than death. “I love my loved one in the nursing home.” Okay, yes. “I miss them,” yes. I haven’t seen my mother since this started. I’m very close to my mother. I haven’t seen her in over 100 days. Well I want to go see my mother. Yeah, why haven’t I? Because I love my mother and I could get her sick. “Well wear a mask.” I could still get her sick. I’m not seeing my mother because I love her. That’s why I’m not seeing her.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:18)
“Well people want to see their mother.” I want to see my mother, but I don’t want to hurt my mother. When the health professional says it’s safe for me to see my mother, I will see my mother. When the health professional says you can go into a nursing home and you can visit people in a nursing home and the reward outweighs the risk, we will change that rule. I’m not going to let people endanger people because see you could walk into a nursing home to visit your mother and bring in the virus that could affect my mother who is in the next room. So it’s not just your responsibility and your parent or your loved one. It’s all the other people who are in that nursing home also, and your right to endanger their lives, but everybody agrees, as soon as it is safe, we will allow it and the Department of Health is looking at it on a daily basis. Karen?
[inaudible 00:17:29] Are you going to phase it in? Are you going to phase it in or are you –
Andrew Cuomo: (17:33)
As soon as the Department of Health has an answer, you’ll have it.
A couple of state senators have proposed a bill to demilitarize the police and not let them have tear gas or pepper spray or maybe reduce stockpiles and I know a couple days ago you talked about re-imagining the police. Wondering if you’re open to that idea, if you think it’s a good idea or not.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:56)
Yeah, I think we need … Look, you have a lot of these one-off proposals now, Karen. “I think no tear gas, I think we should take this function away from the police, I think this.” I think we have to be smarter about this and more comprehensive about this. I don’t think this is about any one small reform. If we take tear gas away, that’s going to make it better. It’s not about tear gas. It’s not about whether or not the police do safety enforcement in schools. It’s much deeper than that. It’s much broader than that. This is inherent racism. This is decades and decades of injustice. This … I mean even in our lifetimes, righT? In our lifetimes, well I’m older than a lot of you, in my lifetime, it goes back 30, 40, 50 years, as soon as I was in my twenties, I’ve been talking about this and learning about this, and nothing changed. Nothing changed.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:11)
You now have a moment where you can make real change. Don’t waste the moment, right? Crisis is a terrible thing to waste. There’s opportunity in a crisis. This is a moment for reform, but do it right and make it systemic so Mr. Floyd’s name doesn’t just become another name on the list, right? That’s not about stop the tear gas. I understand, politicians, everyone wants to say something now but let’s be deeper, smarter, more analysis. I think the reforms are much more rudimentary and basic than we’re talking about, and that’s what we have to achieve in this moment.
[inaudible 00:20:09] Governor, should cops that aren’t wearing masks during these protests, we’ve seen a lot of photos, seen some reports. Cops that aren’t wearing masks during these protests, should they face discipline?
Andrew Cuomo: (20:21)
Well it’s up to every police department to discipline, decide what is subject to discipline or not. My advice is every cop should be wearing a mask. I mean I’ve said that 800 times, 800 different ways. Some of them say they can’t breathe as well, it blocks their vision, I understand that but my advice, health commissioner’s advice is wear a mask and I think every police department should communicate that to the police.
[inaudible 00:20:51] Quickly as a follow … But as a follow-up really quickly. Governor.
Speaker 4: (20:57)
[inaudible 00:20:57] The rallying cry of these protests has been Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter has been the rallying cry at a lot of these. Is that a saying that you endorse and is that something you’re comfortable saying publicly?
Andrew Cuomo: (21:07)
Black lives matter, yeah. Every life matters. Black lives matter and Black Lives Matter makes the point that you’ve had a string of killing of African-Americans, primarily men, but women also, Breonna Taylor, that goes on and on and on and on and why does the criminal justice system unfairly kill African-Americans? That’s what Black Lives Matter is saying. It’s not just an abstract concept. As an abstract concept, all lives matter, but that’s not what it’s saying. It’s saying why does the system devalue black lives? Why are they all … Rodney King, Abner Louima, Eric Garner, why are they always black lives? Who get violated by the system? Why? And they’re right.
Speaker 5: (22:16)
[inaudible 00:22:16] Governor, is it time for the Christopher Columbus statue to go in New York City and when it comes to reopening, how are you going to be protecting elderly workers who are too afraid to go back to work? People who need childcare as everything reopens and should businesses have liability?
Andrew Cuomo: (22:31)
There’s a lot in there. The local governments, we have a phased reopening plan and then local governments enact the plan on a local level. Christopher Columbus, I understand the dialogue that’s been going on for a number of years. The Christopher Columbus statue represents in some ways the Italian-American legacy in this country, and the Italian-American contribution in this country, I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts which nobody would support, but the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian-American contribution to New York. So for that reason, I support it. Last question, Mark.
[inaudible 00:23:24] Governor, since I was cut off before –
Andrew Cuomo: (23:26)
Mark, go ahead.
Can I get a follow-up?
I have a quick question about people with a developmental disability. Currently the people with developmental disabilities [inaudible 00:23:36] addressing the language skills and social skills because of the lack of proper care, legislators and other advocacy groups have written to you, your administration about this. Could you talk about where the administration is with getting this vulnerable population the in-person education they’re looking for?
Andrew Cuomo: (23:53)
In-person education for which population?
The developmental disabilities people.
Speaker 7: (23:59)
[inaudible 00:23:59]. We put out something earlier this week or at the end of last week that allowed in-person education for that subset of people for whom it very clearly wasn’t working to do distance learning, so we agree, we acknowledged it and we said pending local approval that that should resume in-person.
Could you expand on that little?
Andrew Cuomo: (24:15)
Could you expand on that a little?
Andrew Cuomo: (24:20)
Can you expand on that?
Speaker 7: (24:21)
I don’t know what else there is to say. We agree and so we greenlighted them going forward for summer school in-person because we understand the real challenges of doing distance learning for special needs children and we hope that the localities get together to be able to make it happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:36)
[inaudible 00:24:36] I don’t think we can do anymore … I don’t think we can do any more … I will be here tomorrow. I know you miss me, but I will be here tomorrow. [crosstalk 00:24:50]