Jun 7, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 7 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on June 7. Read the full news briefing speech transcript here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (00:00)
… Just in New York City because New York City reopens tomorrow. Today’s day 99 of the COVID crisis, day 14 of the unrest after the murder of George Floyd. Two separate issues, and we’re working on both, and we’ll talk about both of them. On the reopening tomorrow, we’re going to have a big day with the reopening of New York City. Also this week, we’ll be taking up a reform agenda in the wake of the George Floyd murder. We’ll talk about both. Let me speak about the reform agenda first.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (00:36)
We had continued protests across the state last night for the most part, they were peaceful. The protesters all across the state, all across the nation, are basically saying the same thing. There’s an anger. There’s a frustration. There’s a spirit of activism because people want change, and there should be change. I said from day one that I figuratively stand with the protesters. And this is about making change and action. Remember, “Textbooks say politicians lead and the people follow. No, it is often the people who lead and the politicians who follow,” A.J. Parkinson, more wisdom from A.J. Parkinson. Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” And it’s an opportunity for New York State to lead. And that’s what we do. We did it with marriage equality, with minimum wage, with gun safety, with free college tuition, and passing a reform agenda for criminal justice. 50-a, we’ve talked about. No choke holds, the Attorney General’s special prosecutor, hate crimes for false 911 reports.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (01:54)
My opinion is, the George Floyd reform Agenda and what the protesters are trying to achieve, they should set the bar even higher, and they should be bolder, and they should demand federal reform. You want to change this country? That has to happen on the national level. And we’re in the midst of national elections and they should put forth a federal agenda that gets to the root cause of the issues. Yes, criminal justice reform, and we know how to do that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (02:35)
But the core inequality and injustice issues start with the education system where you have two education systems in this nation, one for the rich and one for the poor. Everybody knows it. In this state, the most progressive state in the United States, a rich school spends $36,000 per student. A poor school spends $13,000 per student. From birth, from day one of school, depending on the zip code you live in, depending on the income of your family, that’s the education you get. It’s wrong. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. That has to happen at a federal level. How do you still have children growing up in poverty in this country, the richest country on the globe? It has to change. It can change. Look at the money the government just found when they had the battle COVID. You can be very creative when you want to. Get creative about children living in poverty.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (03:35)
And you need a real affordable housing agenda. The federal government, historically, constitutionally, by law, provided affordable housing. The 1949 Housing Act said safe, clean, decent housing for every American. That was the 1949 housing Act, paraphrased. Federal government went out of the business. States and locals as supposed to make up. They can’t. You had those whole bevy of federal housing programs, Section 8 programs, voucher programs, building new public housing. That’s… you want to make change in this moment? Go to the core issue that really is driving the injustice and the inequality, and get it done. You have this energy, you have the momentum. Now is the time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (04:24)
In terms of reopening. We’ve been doing it based on the data and the facts. The number of hospitalizations are down. The number of deaths are up slightly, but overall, the trajectory is down. And, again, today’s Sunday. The Sunday numbers tend to be statistically… There’s a variation with the rest of the week. But overall, the numbers are down and the numbers are good. Number of lives lost continues to drop. We are now doing a tremendous number of tests.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (05:01)
As I said, testing is the best mechanism to get a snapshot. Where are we today? You test today and you find out where you are today. What is my weight today? You get on a scale, gives you a number. That’s where you are today. We do more testing than any state in the United States. We do more testing than any country per capita on the globe. So we have the clearest definition of a snapshot. Yesterday 60000 tests performed in the state of New York, Saturday. 781 positive tests, lowest since March 16th, which is before we even closed down. About 1% positive. That’s where we are today. That is very, very good news. And we said the reopening is calibrated to the metrics and the data. If that’s where we are, that’s good news. It means the plan is working. It means we bent the curve, and on those numbers we can advance the reopening.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (06:17)
Hudson Valley is on track for Phase II on Tuesday, long islands is on track for Phase II on Wednesday. We’re going to allow socially-distanced graduations outdoors with up to 150 people total, beginning June 26th. That’s when the schools start to graduate, high schools. And it gives us a couple of weeks between now and then. God forbid the number changes, but schools need to plan. With the progress we’ve made so far, and if we continue this trajectory, we’ll be able to do that. But again, we have a little time to see between now and then.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (07:02)
In terms of New York City, New York City is middle of the metrics. We are going to open New York City tomorrow for Phase I. Period. That will happen. When we begin Phase I in New York City… Remember, New York City had the highest number of cases. New York City has the highest density. New York City has also been the location for the protests with the most number of people. We are concerned that those protests may have increased the spread of the virus. We’re going to do 35000 tests per day, just in New York City. Snapshot, snapshot, snapshot, so we’ll watch it on a daily basis to find out exactly what is happening. Remember there was a lag on the infection rate. So if you were at a protest several days ago, probably wouldn’t show up. But when you get to about seven days, you’ll start to see a pop in the number, if those protests actually increased the spread.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (08:11)
We’re going to increase the number of testing sites in New York. And I’m going to ask again, if you were at a protest, I understand your point. I’m with you. We also have this situation with the coronavirus. Act responsibly, get a test. Get a test. We’re going to open 15 sites that are dedicated just to protesters to get a test so you can get it on an expeditious basis. But please get a test. My opinion, not a fact, I would act as if you were exposed. And I would tell people who I’m interacting with, “Assume I am positive for the virus,” because you could be infecting other people. But please get that test. That is the one variable in this equation that we’re not sure of. We’ve tested everything else. We’ve measured everything else, everything was going fine. Then we had these large number of protests. We don’t know what the effect of those protests are, and we’re concerned about it. All the health experts I’ve spoken to were concerned about it. So while we’re waiting to see if there’s any result, get a test in the meantime.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (09:30)
But New Yorkers have bent the curve by being smart. And there are always voices out there who say, “Everything’s fine. I can’t see the virus.” I’ll tell you a person said to me on the street, “Look around, do you see the virus?” Yeah, no, you’re not going to see the virus. But you have these voices that say, “Just open. Everything is fine. Disobey the rules. Just open.” Look, there are still facts in life. Everybody can have an opinion. And then there are still facts. “I believe my ideology is, government doesn’t have a right to tell me to do this.” I understand your ideology. Let’s look at facts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (10:09)
Look at what is happening around the country. Look at the facts after countries and states reopened. And look at what is happening with their curve. Arizona is seeing an increase in the numbers. South Carolina, a new record with more than 500 in a single day. Hotspots across the South and in California, as Northeast slows. That’s us. California posted the highest number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Florida, 1000 for the fourth day in a row. U.S. 1.8 million spread rises with turmoil. These are facts. This can happen. This can happen. We know it can happen, because it happened here. We’ve made all this progress. Please, please. I know it’s been 90 days. Please stay disciplined, stay smart, because it is working, and we’ve come a long way, and a lot of people have suffered to get here. And a lot of people have died. Let’s not be foolish now.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (11:25)
And again, look at what we did. Flatten the curve? Forget flatten the curve. I’m going to change the state signs. We bent the curve. We bent the curve. We intended to flatten to get to a plateau. We bent it. And look at the rest of the country. We are curved benders, if there is such a thing. New Yorkers should be proud of their accomplishment.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (11:51)
And in light of that, we’re going to light the landmarks across the state in blue and gold in honor of our New Yorkers, our tough New Yorkers. This is going to be in Manhattan, which is very cool. New York tough. The Mario Cuomo bridge, the education building, that’s the Corning Tower in the left. But these will be the landmarks that will be lit blue and gold to celebrate our accomplishment, because it was an extraordinary accomplishment, because we are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving. I am mostly loving, Mark. Don’t you forget that. Questions? I’ll take a couple.
Speaker 2: (12:42)
Governor, when it comes to the systemic changes you propose, there are four of them. Let’s say there is no political division over it and we can get those passed just like that. It takes time for laws to go into effect. Procedural leaders usually delay. And then after they go into effect, there’s usually a cultural delay as well, where things have to be normalized over time. So, for example, when miscegenation, interracial marriage, was legalized, it took time for the culture to sort of catch up to what the law had been. So I’m asking you, what are the things that you need from the general public to facilitate that change? Because, no matter what you do, no matter how quickly it is, it’s not going to be instantaneous, but people will still continue to point to legislators and people in power and say, “Change.” Even if you make certain change. Do you need patience, maybe?
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (13:32)
It’s an interesting question. The legislative change will be virtually immediate. Personnel records would be released. The attorney general would operate as an independent prosecutor for police. The legislative changes would be immediate. You’re right, there’s still a culture shift. But look, more what this is about, is about repairing the relationship between the police and the community, I think. The policing relationship does not work for anyone unless there’s a relationship of trust with the community. And it has to go both ways. You know, relationships, the door swings both ways in life. The community has to trust the police. The police have to trust the community. They have to work together. And that’s what this is really about for me. There’s a community anger, there’s a community distrust. By the way, there’s a police anger and police distrust. 57 officers in Buffalo resigned from that detail. You have tensions on both sides. There’s no doubt about that. We have to heal that. We have to restore that relationship.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (15:00)
I believe the legislative changes will help on the community side. The police are not going to be happy with the legislative side changes and the police are feeling targeted. So, what will take the time is working through the relationship. Even if you agree, “Okay, the reforms are right.” And even if the police said, “I understand the reforms, I can live with them.” You still have a lot of emotion that is going to have to be worked through.
Speaker 2: (15:39)
But is there something from the general public, from the community… The government is now doing what’s been requested in changing the laws, which will eventually change the culture. But is there something that the community can do from their end to, kind of like in any interpersonal relationship, to sort of help things along?
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (15:56)
Yeah. I would say, from the protesters’ point of view, the community point of view, you achieved a significant accomplishment in a very short period of time. This is real reform. It changes fundamental policies about how we police. Feel good about it, and remember this relationship has to work for everyone. So let’s take this moment, take a deep breath, put out our hand, and understand that the police… This is a tough job. And 99.9% of them are there to do the right thing. And every good policeman will say the bad police actions hurt the good policemen as much as they hurt anyone. So a little understanding, bring down the emotion, deep breath.
Speaker 3: (17:02)
Governor, what is your [crosstalk 00:17:03] on the Kawasaki virus, and is that affecting your thinking on summer camps? A lot of people are interested as to whether or not those will open.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (17:11)
Yes. I said specifically that we’re looking to get more information on Kawasaki inflammatory syndrome before we make a decision on sleep-away summer camps. We said day camps were okay. And I’m going to get an update early next week from Dr. Zucker the health commissioner on the Kawasaki virus and then we’ll make a decision. Greg, last one.
Governor, what is your opinion… There have been calls to defund police departments, essentially the argument that there are a lot of police, too many police, and that if police can’t stop killing black Americans, they should-
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (17:45)
You have tension, you have anger, and you have extremes in our society. Our society is about extremes now, extreme left, extreme right, high tension, high frustration. Coronavirus increases the anxiety for everyone, increases frustration for everyone. So, yes, you have extremes on both sides. But look, look at the facts. There’s also still balance in life and reasonableness. “We don’t need police.” Look at the looting that happened in New York City. Look at that looting. It was frightening. It was criminals who were exploiting the situation, who are opportunistic, who just stealing. You have New York City that is still reeling from the COVID virus. And now you have this night of looting that I’m telling you shook people in this city to the core. “You don’t need police. You don’t need police.” That’s what happens when you don’t have effective policing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (19:02)
Now, the looting had nothing to do with protesting. Protesting is different. Some people try to put the two, the protesters are looters. No, no, no, no. You have looting and you have protesting. You have apples, you have oranges. They’re different. “Well, the night of looting was the fault of the police officers.” No, it wasn’t the fault of the protestors and it wasn’t the fault of the police officers. I said it was the management and deployment of the police officers. But no police? You get looting. That’s what you get. Nobody wants that. So.
Speaker 5: (19:47)
Speaker 6: (19:47)
Governor when do you want your [crosstalk 00:19:48] question? [crosstalk 00:19:55]. NYC is reopening tomorrow, so I was talking about child [crosstalk 00:19:57].
Governor Andrew Cuomo : (19:49)
Thank you. I’ll see you tomorrow. I have to go to lunch.