Jun 9, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 9 Press Conference Transcript: Comments on Trump’s Tweet About Martin Gugino
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on June 9. He said Donald Trump should apologize for implying that the injured 75-year-old protester, Martin Gugino, provoked cops in Buffalo in the infamous video of him being pushed & injured by police. Actor Sean Penn also joined the briefing.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:03)
Good morning. Pleasure to be back at New York Medical College. I want to thank Dr. Kaddish and all his colleagues for your hospitality. It is a beautiful day. To my right is Dr. Howard Zucker, who is our great health commissioner, who has been doing an extraordinary job under very difficult circumstances. To my left, we have Melissa De Rosa who’s secretary to the governor. Let’s talk about where we are today. It’s another busy day. Day 101 of dealing with the Coronavirus. Yesterday was day 100. And it’s a time worth pausing to look at all the progress we’ve made, thank all the people who’ve worked so hard. Day 101. That’s 101 days from our first case, and it’s been a long 101 days, but it’s also been extraordinary in many ways. And the progress that has been made, if you had told me 100 days ago that we would be reopening, I would say that would be the best scenario.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:14)
And it only happened in because many people did really great service. Today’s day 16 of the civil unrest after Mr. Floyd’s murder and our thoughts and prayers are with him today. We’re dealing with two separate situations, the COVID virus and the civil unrest after Mr. Floyd’s murder. They are separate. They have to be dealt with separately. There’s obviously also an intersection between the two. The protests also cause a complication on dealing with COVID virus. So it’s a complex situation, but we’re dealing with it on the civic unrest on Mr. Floyd’s death. We go back to Representative John Lewis, who I had the pleasure of working with when I was in Washington, who is a legendary and historic civil rights leader. Talk is fine. Discussion is fine, but we must respond. We must act. And that’s true. And that’s what this moment is all about. It’s time for New York to be the place that leads. That’s New York state at its best.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:24)
That’s New York state’s legacy, right? This is the progressive capital of the nation. You look back in history when there was a time of unrest, when there were issues, when there were problems, what government actually stepped up and acted and provided an example of action? That was New York state time and time again, and New York state is going to do it in this situation. We’re going to pass the most aggressive reforms in the country. The transparency of disciplinary records, banning choke holds, giving the attorney general authority as a special prosecutor, punishing false race-based nine 11 calls. These are issues that we have been talking about for a long time and the time has come for dramatic action and we’re taking it right now. I want to applaud the legislative leaders. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins right here from Westchester County, Speaker Carl Heastie. These are tough issues and we’ve been working through them in a cooperative and expeditious manner.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:31)
And bills are being passed as we speak. As soon as the bills are passed, I will sign them into law hopefully this week. So we’re making progress. We’re making progress quickly, and I want to thank them for the leadership and all my colleagues in the legislature. It is a great step forward because people see progress. People see action. And that’s what they’ve come to expect from the state of New York. And that’s what they get. Results, right? Government is not a passive occupation. Government is supposed to do things. It’s supposed to make changes. Often government moves too slowly, but not in New York. And we’re proud of that. My opinion, not facts, separate facts from opinion, two different things. You can have your own opinion. You can’t have your own facts as I have many cause to remind people lately. My opinion, what we should think about going forward, that this is not just a moment for political process, protest.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:33)
It’s not just a moment to express outrage. It’s a moment to do something about it and to make real reform and real change. That’s the goal of the moment. I understand the emotion. I want people to know how upset I am. Good. Second step. What do we do about it? And let’s get it done here in the state of New York. When we talk about a justice agenda, we want to fight the systemic racism, inequality, and injustice in our society. That’s what the protesters are saying. And I stand with the protesters in saying that because it’s very true. But then in this moment of change, let’s make it real change and let’s get to the root of the issue. You want to talk about injustice and inequality in America. Well, then it has to start with our education system. We do not educate all children the same.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:30)
Opportunity for all. No, opportunity for some. Opportunity for people who grew up in a rich school district and a rich family with high property taxes. And they go to great schools, but not for the children who grow up in poorer communities who go to inferior schools. That is the reality today. That is the truth. I’m saying that as governor of New York, not as a protestor on the street corner. It is the fact even in this state. We spend $36,000 per year per student in a wealthy school district, $13,000 per year in a poorer school district. How do you rationalize that? You can’t and say this is a system that provides equal opportunity for all. How do you still have children living in poverty with all this wealth, with all this abundance? How do you tolerate a situation where some children through no fault of their own, you can’t blame them.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:38)
They were born into one circumstance and they’re living in poverty. You can’t justify it. The number of homeless, the lack of affordable housing, you have a federal government that just went out of the housing business. I was the former housing secretary, worked on housing all my life. Housing was a federal responsibility, not state, not local. 1949 housing act, for this nation, safe, clean, decent housing for all Americans. 1949. It’s 2020. What are we doing? There’s no section eight. No section eight project based. No more public housing. And then we wonder why there’s an affordable housing shortage and yes, criminal justice reform. Why do we lock up more people than any industrialized nation on the globe? That’s a sign of success? Great America. They lock up more people than anyone else. Why do we have the racial disparity in our criminal justice system? How do you rationalize it?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:42)
Unless it goes back to the other systemic injustices and inequality. If a person grows up in poverty, if a person doesn’t have education, if a person doesn’t have access to opportunity, then you see the result in the criminal justice system. This is how you get at injustice and inequality, and you can’t do it piecemeal. Either attack it fully, or you will never defeat it. That’s the justice agenda. And this has to be done on a federal level and it should be done on a federal level because it’s not a New York issue or a California issue or a Florida issue. It is an American issue and you’re in the middle of an election season, stand up and say, “Here’s my election reform agenda. You want my support? You want my vote? Here’s my agenda. You’re running for Congress. You’re running for Senate. You’re running for whatever you’re running for. You want my support? Here’s my agenda.” That’s my opinion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:46)
On the immediate issue of policing, this is my opinion to the local elected officials and the police departments that are grappling with it. Don’t dismiss this as an issue of the moment. ” Well, this is just about Mr. Floyd’s murder.” No, it’s not. This has been brewing for decades and decades and decades. It’s not just about Mr. Floyd’s murder. That was the tipping point. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s when it exploded. But don’t say, “This is when it started.” It started with Rodney King. It started with the murder of Martin Luther King. This has been brewing for decades, if not centuries, in this nation. It is the anger and the repulsion at the systemic injustice and discrimination and racism that exists in this country. That is the truth, painful truth, but that is the truth. Then we have to separate the political hype and partisan rhetoric from the truth and the facts. And this is a difficult time in this country because all the rhetoric, all the hype is so extreme and so partisan and so reckless.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:12)
That’s why I’ve always said facts and opinion, facts and opinion. I can give you my opinion. It’s different than the facts. What happens out there today is they put the two together. People create their own facts to advance their opinion. You want to advance your opinion, advance your opinion. Don’t create facts and say to the American people, “These are facts,” to advance your opinion, because then we can’t even have an intelligent conversation. And it starts at the highest levels. President Trump did a tweet today that surprises me even after all the tweets he has done. You read his tweets. Do you get to a point where you say, “Well, nothing could surprise me. I’ve seen it all.” And then you get surprised again. You get shocked again. You get disgusted again. President of the United States. He’s supposed to be a responsible position and a responsible person.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:15)
He tweeted today that the protester in Buffalo who was hurt by the Buffalo police, was on a video that went viral, Mr. Gugino, 75 year old gentlemen, who was out protesting and is knocked to the ground by police. He’s in the hospital in Buffalo. He was in intensive care. He’s no longer in intensive care, but he’s still hospitalized. I spoke to him the day he was brought into the hospital. The president tweets that this man may have been a member of Antifa and that he fell harder than he was pushed. Could be a setup. It’s all made up. It’s all fabricated. There’s no fact to any of it. He accuses this man of being associated with Antifa. No proof whatsoever. No fact, just an assertion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:28)
He fell harder than he was pushed in the video. You see him pushed and you see a 75 year old man fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement. What does that even mean? Fell harder than he was pushed. What do you think it was? It was staged. You think the blood coming out of his head was staged? Is that what you’re saying? You saw his head hit the pavement. You see blood on the pavement.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:02)
… his head hit the pavement. You see blood on the pavement. Maybe he fell harder than he was pushed. How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude. I mean, if there was ever a reprehensible dumb comment, and from the president of the United States. At this moment of anguish, and anger, what does he do? Pours gasoline on the fire. If there was ever… If he ever feels a moment of decency, he should apologize for that tweet because it is wholly unacceptable. Not a piece of proof, totally personally disparaging, and in a moment where the man is still in the hospital. Show some decency. Show some humanity. Show some fairness. You’re the president of the United States.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:12)
But it’s that partisan rhetoric. We have to separate the rhetoric from the reality, and we have to deal with the facts, and to the elected officials who are dealing with this all across the country, all across this state because we have hundreds of police departments. There is no quick fix to this. There is no press release that you can issue today that will make the issue go away tomorrow. That’s not what this is about.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:41)
There is no political position that a politician can find that can say satiate this conversation. The conversation is too real. It’s not about political pandering or political posturing. It’s about an honest, truthful addressing of the issue. It’s time for a real smart policy discussion and a new model of policing. This issue of policing has been brewing for decades, the militarization of the police. This is not a new issue. It goes back decades. The increase in the number of people who we incarcerate, this has been growing for decades. The racial disparity has been growing for decades. This is just an explosion of emotion about decades of unfairness and injustice and frustrated, the lack of progress.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:52)
There is no press release that is going to deal with this. Be honest. Be responsibility. Say, ” I know the current policing system doesn’t work, and we’re going to reinvent and reimagine policing for a new generation in a new society,” because that’s where we are, and that’s the only answer to this because, say what you will, police and policing does not work without the trust of the community. Period. Period. You can’t even get to right or wrong. It doesn’t work unless the community trust the police. You can’t have a police department that is demonized by the community. It’s a relationship of trust. The police are public servants for that community.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:51)
If that community doesn’t trust and doesn’t respect the police, the police cannot do their job. The police can’t do their job despite the community, and the community is not subject to the police. You can’t have a police force paid for by the community despite the community. I’m going to give you tax dollars. You’re going to hire police who I believe are my enemy and don’t protect me and don’t support me? That’s not going to happen. Police are going to be able to do their job. If the community doesn’t trust them, that’s not going to happen.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:37)
You have to make it work for both sides; otherwise, it works for neither, and that’s where you are. We have to be honest in our analysis. We have to be smart in our analysis. It’s not about the politics of the moment. It’s not about positioning and posturing, and it’s not about all this political rhetoric and heat and drama and emotion. They’re trying to win an election, and they’ll say whatever they have to say to win an election. It’s why people are disgusted with the political process. They will say whatever they have to say, and that’s what you’re seeing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:16)
There is a real discussion to have that has been a long time coming and as long overdue. How do we redesign and reimagine and reinvent a police force for who we are and where we are? That’s the honest answer and the truthful answer about this. We have this hyper partisan hyperbolic moment. Nobody wants to say the truth. Why? Because if you say the truth, they’ll yell at you. I know. I’m too old. They’re going to yell anyway. By the way, I’ve been yelled at by the best of them for a long time. The yelling doesn’t bother me anymore. Do the right thing. Do the right thing. If people yell, they yell. This is the right thing, in my opinion, and that was my opinion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:13)
Back to facts. On the reopening. Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley enter phase II today. Congratulations. Long time coming, but you did it. The numbers are down because you brought the numbers down. This is not government action. It’s not an act of God. It’s an act of the people. They got disciplined. They got smart. They did what they had to do. They brought the numbers down, and the numbers are dramatically down.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:43)
This is a national, if not international, success story, what New York did. We had the worst situation, and we handled it the best. “Oh, you just say that again because you’re a New Yorker.” No, no, no. The numbers say that. The numbers say that all across the board.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:07)
Number of positive tests, 73 tested positive. Look at where we were, close to 2,000 at the peak. God bless what you did. We’re reopening, Metro-North is taking unprecedented steps to be ready and to be safe. People must wear masks when they’re on Metro- North. We’re delivering hand sanitizer. When you get on, people will give you a mask and sanitizer if you don’t have it, but the masks are mandatory for your sake and for everyone else. Social distancing, stay six feet apart. Use hand sanitizer and observe the decal guidance.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:51)
I think when you get on Metro-North, you’re going to realize those cars are cleaner than they have ever been. We always complained about dirty cars. I know because I’ve been complaining for many, many years about dirty cars. The cars are so clean. I was on the New York City Subway system yesterday. It was remarkable. We now disinfect Subway cars, Metro-North cars. Disinfect. Not just clean, disinfect. Imagine that. Who would have ever imagined you could do that? Well, we’re doing it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:24)
Long Island is going to enter phase II tomorrow. We have a global team of experts that are going over all of the data, but they have said all signs are positive, so Long Island will open tomorrow. Their numbers are also down. They’ve made great progress. One death. We were losing over a hundred at one time, and on the confirmed deaths of tests, they also continue to drop 1% positive. The Long Island Rail Road, like Metro-North, like the New York Subway system is up and ready to go and in better shape than ever. New York City entered phase I yesterday. You see the daily test results here. Their numbers are way down. That was also a really dramatic turnaround. Congratulations to them. We still have a problem in New York City in certain zip codes, and this is a phenomenon all across the state, all across the country. The virus did not attack equally. It hit lower-income areas, more minority areas harder. In New York City, that’s probably most demonstrable. New York City, the overall infection rate was about 20%. We have some zip codes where the infection rate is over 50%.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:49)
Gets back to our conversation about injustice and inequality. Why do poor, more minority communities have a higher infection rate? One of the reasons is they’ve had less healthcare service up until now. They have more comorbidities. They have more underlying illnesses, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, but we are attacking these hotspots, and we start with testing and increasing testing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:20)
People have been extraordinarily helpful in this because this is a function that never happened before that all of a sudden we had to do 50, 60,000 tests per day. We had never done it. It was an operational and logistical nightmare, and we put up testing sites overnight. We now have 800 testing sites in the state of New York. This is all new, all created. We’ve had people who have helped us who have done extraordinarily, great public service on a voluntary basis.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:55)
Sean Penn is the co-founder of CORE. He’s chairperson of the board. They have been extraordinarily helpful all across the country, all across the world in responding to pandemics and emergencies. I talked to Mr. Penn about this problem in our hotspot zip codes and asked if they could help get more testing into those areas because we don’t have a lot of infrastructure there, and his group came in, they mobilized, and they did great work, opening up testing sites in a very short period of time that will ramp up the testing in our hotspot clusters.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:37)
I want to thank him very much for his good work. He was really… not just that he chose to do it. That says something about him and his heart and his soul that is positive, that he’s an extraordinary person, but his organization then delivered. That combination of good intent and good results, that doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s special, and it happened with Mr. Penn and COPE, and I want to thank him. I think he may be with us today. How are you, Sean?
Sean Penn: (25:12)
I’m very well, governor. Thank you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:15)
I just wanted to thank you so much, and CORE, for what you did. Those hotspots are really an injustice on a lot of levels. Also, that’s the place where we’ll see the virus spread, so what you’ve done, opening up those testing sites, getting it done as quickly as you did, I can’t thank you enough.
Sean Penn: (25:36)
We’re proud to be in partnership with you. You’ve been a time capsule of reason that we need in this time. It all affects the… With CORE, we’re looking at the fault and say, “Let’s work backwards and say we did the right thing.” In trying to work with governance, your leadership has been so significant and such a guidance, and we are excited to be taking your direction to-
Sean Penn: (26:03)
Excited to be taking your direction to get into those zip codes of the most marginalized communities, communities that have multi generational housing and so on that are difficult to communicate with, to animate there can be a lower digital fluency, et cetera, and all of those things and we’re very excited about the partnerships. So thank you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:24)
Thank you. And we’ll keep going because I’m with you as we discussed when we were together. Everybody’s in the here and now right now, but we also have to think about a second wave to this virus. We have to think about the next virus or the next bacterial infection, because this was not the last rodeo that I think all informed pieces would admit. So we’re learning from this. We’re going to build an infrastructure and the next time we go through this, we’ll be in better shape. We’ll pray that it never happens again, but we’ll plan that it does. Thank you, my friend. Thank you so much and thank your whole team for what they’re doing. Every New Yorker thanks you. We owe you one.
Sean Penn: (27:06)
Well, we thank every New Yorker. The extraordinary commitment that they’ve made in flattening the curve and all of those extraordinarily heroic frontline workers have been a real inspiration to all of us.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:17)
Thank you. Let me know when you come East, I owe you a meal.
Sean Penn: (27:22)
I’ll take it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:22)
Thanks buddy. Thank you, Sean. Thank you, Mr. Penn. So we thank Mr. Penn for what he’s doing and we’re going to keep doing that. Every region of the state is now reopening so we need to look at the facts and the numbers through a different lens now. We’re all reopening, everything is reopening. The question now is, could there be any spike in the rate of transmission upon reopening? That is the relevant question. This is a whole different universe for us now. You’re reopening, people are getting back on Metro North and getting back on trains, could you see a spike in the virus? You have a lot of protests, people in close proximity, could you see a spike in the virus? About 600,000 people are coming back to work in the metropolitan region, can you see a spike in the virus? So now what we want to look at is the day to day testing that we’re doing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:25)
In some ways the number of deaths right now is not important. The number of deaths are so low, that really comes down to how they classify the cause of death for those people. Was the cause of death heart disease, or hypertension or heart attack or was it the COVID virus? But the number of deaths are so low, thank God, that, that number is no longer really that informative. The day to day testing is. What does that mean? We do about 50,000 tests every day, 50,000 tests every day. Watch that daily number. That’s like getting your blood pressure reading every day, your cholesterol count every day. You know exactly how healthy your body is if you get those numbers on a daily basis. You look at that day to day testing number, you will know on a day to day basis what is happening. And that’s what elected officials should start looking at and that’s what citizens should start looking at.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:35)
So we’re going to design a new dashboard. When we started this, we put up a dashboard so that citizens and elected official could go to a website, they look at the dashboard, they’ll know exactly where they are. And when we started this, a big part for me was about informing the people because people were going to do this. Government was never going to do this. I could just provide the information, but then they had to get the information accept the information and be smart about the information. So last time we went through this and we were designing a dashboard, I wanted to be creative because I wanted people actually to look at this and understand it and want to go to a website and take the 30 seconds it takes to pull up the website. So I said to my team, the most attractive dashboard that was ever created is in a 1967 Corvette. That happens to be my opinion.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:31)
But I said, “Now, that’s a really attractive dashboard. You like to look at that dashboard. If we can put up a dashboard and design a dashboard that looks like that, believe me, people will go to the dashboard and check it, right?” You can go to any website, but if this is the website, you say, let me go. And then I said, with miles per hour, you could put day to day infection rate, where the RPM is, you could put the hospitalization rate and just look at it as gauges. And I explained this to them and they all looked at me and they all nodded and this is the dashboard they gave me. So I said, all right, you didn’t really fully capture what I was trying to say, but I said it nicely. So now we need a new dashboard.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:18)
So I went back to the same team, after this miscommunication last time, and I said, look, I want you to think about a 1968 GTO dashboard, which second to in 1967 Corvette is the second nicest dashboard. I said, “Now, that’s a dashboard you’d like to look at.” It’s that fake woodgrain and put the numbers in those gauges. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is the dashboard they gave me. So it’s not the most artistic or creative, but this is the new dashboard and this is what people should look at every day. Hospital administrators, elected officials, citizens. The percentage of positive tests per day by region and then you can look at it by County. This is the number to focus on. How many tests did we do yesterday in the region and what percent is positive of those tests? So Capital Region, we did 1,889 tests just yesterday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:26)
18 people were positive, 1% is roughly what the 18 is. This will tell you on a day to day basis, if you start to see tremors of a spike. And if those numbers start to move, then you want to know right away why and how. You see the numbers start to move, you go to those 18 people who tested positive in the Capital Region and the tracing operation then talks to those 18 to try to find out who those 18 we’re in contact with. Who do you live with? Who do you work with? Where were you? Who did you get infected, possibly? And then you call those people. But tracing can also lead you to a situation that caused the infection. Maybe five of those 18, all work in the same place. Oh, now let’s go look at that employment center. So this is the new dashboard, this is the new focus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:37)
We’re all concerned about the same thing, is there increase in spikes and this is going to do it. You can look at it by region and by County. And these are the numbers by County. Westchester County, 2,500 tests yesterday, just yesterday. Snapshot, 35, 1.4%. Now, the numbers are relatively small. So day to day you’ll see some up and some down, that shouldn’t set off any alarm bells. But if you see it’s ticking up and it’s ticking up for a number of days, then it’s something that people have to pay attention to. So we’re in a new phase, we’re feeling good, we’ve done great, but we have to stay smart because reopening resets the whole game. When you reopen and people start coming out, in some ways you go right back to day one. And we know as a fact that reopening has very often caused problems.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:43)
We know as a fact that reopening other States we’re seeing significant problems. Florida has the highest number of cases yesterday. Wall Street Journal, 12 States that reopened are now seeing spikes. This is a very real possibility. Countries around the globe that reopened are seeing spikes. Just because you reopen does not mean you will have a spike, but if you are not smart, you can have a spike. We need to be as smart and diligent as we were up until today, going forward. And my hesitancy is, well, now people think it’s okay. Oh, we’re reopening. Well, then we’re fine. No, no. We’re not fine. We’ve made great progress, but we have to stay smart, we have to stay disciplined. Last point in today, we pray for the family of George Floyd, not just to lose a loved one, but to lose a loved one the way they did and that video they’ll have to watch for the rest of their lives.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:08)
So we wish them peace as they have their Memorial service today. And we will handle these situations and we will handle these crises and we will be the better for it because we are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving. Thank you for having us.
Speaker 2: (36:26)
Thank you, Dr. [inaudible 00:10:27]. Questions?
Governors, the city council is now taking up a number of police reform bills. I’m curious if you think, if some of them, for example, the chokehold bill is not as comprehensive as the State one because the State’s kind of superseded Council in this case. And what do you make of the inertia of the Councilman? Here we are basically six years after Eric Garner’s death and they’re just now moving to do a bill regarding a choke hold. Your thoughts on that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:51)
Truth. Truth. There’s been inertia nationwide, inertia nationwide. I was in Los Angeles for the Rodney King situation. I was in the federal government. President Clinton sent me to Los Angeles and Secretary Ron Brown, who passed away since then God bless his soul, for Rodney King. What has happened since Rodney King? What has happened since Martin Luther King, Dr. King’s death? But yes, there’s been inertia nationwide. Now, in this moment, Zack, I’m less interested in these knee jerk political responses of the moment. And you see it all across the country. All of a sudden politicians are saying, well, I’ll do this. I’ll do this. I’ll move this bottle of water from here to here. That’s not the answer either. This has got to be a fundamental rethinking. This is 30, 40 years of police tactics and criminal justice policy that hasn’t worked.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:57)
You go back 30, 40 years, you see that number of institutionalized people going right up, militarization of the police going right up, number of police going right up. You can go back to legislation that was passed in the ’90s. You can go back to the post 9/11 where police became not just police but anti-terrorist, an anti-terrorist force, more military equipment, et cetera. This has got to be unpacked. And this has got to be thought through. With the state agenda, I feel good about because we’ve been talking about that for years. I put the attorney general as a special prosecutor five years ago. So our reforms are smart, our reforms will be in place State wide, you’re right. They’re over any local city’s actions. But this has got to be thoughtful and smart and deep. Don’t lose the moment and the opportunity of the moment.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:01)
And the opportunity of the moment, with cursory public relations reforms. I’m not interested in that. Right? You seize the moment. Carpe diem. Seize the moment, carpe momentum, to make real reform. And that’s what I’ve always done. You, unfortunately, had a closer view than most. After the Sandy Hook massacre, where the nation stood up and said, “Enough is enough,” we passed real gun safety reform, not a press release. It was real, smart, thoughtful policy. That’s what has to be done now. You have to reimagine the police department on a fundamental level.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:53)
And you know, how did we get here? The system just evolved. But it doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work … It’s not even a question of who’s right, who’s wrong. They’re both right. Because if it doesn’t work for either, it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work for both, it doesn’t work for either. It’s like a relationship, right? It’s like any interpersonal relationship. If there’s no trust between the two, it doesn’t work. There is no police department that’s going to work without the trust of the community. And the community is not going to pay for a police department it doesn’t trust. So it has to be resolved on a fundamental, smart, intelligent, nonpolitical basis.
Speaker 3: (40:48)
Just to follow up on that quickly. I mean, the answer isn’t necessarily defund the police. It just seems like sometimes we go from one extreme to the other, and we fight one extreme with the other extreme, and that’s not really the balance you’re talking about either.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:55)
Well, that’s heat of the moment, right? That’s heat of the moment. What the protesters are saying is this fundamentally doesn’t work. Right? This fundamentally doesn’t work. The whole relationship doesn’t work. It’s not just about Mr. Floyd or Mr. Garner. The whole relationship doesn’t work. We don’t trust. There’s no trust. And if there’s no trust, there’s nothing. The president, on the other side, dismissing Mr. Gugino as maybe an Antifa. It was set up. He didn’t … The fall was harder than the push. I’m still trying to get my head around that. Disgusting. But that’s heat of the moment. The truth of the moment is you need to rethink and reform this on a very fundamental level.
Speaker 4: (41:59)
Governor, I want to ask you about the dashboard, which I think is pretty spiffy. It’s beside the point. In terms of the testing, what defines a spike? And if you reach a spike, what then can we reasonably, reasonably expect to close down again?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:17)
Huh. On these questions, I wish there was a simple answer. I asked the same questions to the best experts globally. I asked, “What percentage increase defines a spike?” It depends. And I hate that answer, it depends. But that’s the answer they will say. It depends.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:41)
Now, to go back to our example, there was a spike of 18 in Westchester last night. Is that a spike? It depends. It depends on what? It depends on the 18. Let’s look at the 18. Can we trace them to one employer? Which very often happens, by the way, or one gathering. They all happened to be at the same bar mitzvah. They all happened to be at the same protest. They all happened to work at a meat processing plant. Well, then it’s not a spike. It’s a hotspot. It’s a cluster, which is different than a spike.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:18)
A spike is a widespread community increase. So the “it depends” means you have to look at the number and where it comes from. If you cannot find a specific cause for that increase and you see it continuing over time, that would be a spike. They won’t give you a numerical coefficient, but increasing cases that you cannot explain or resolve, then you have an issue. If you can resolve the increase, it’s less of an issue.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:04)
Well, how could you ever resolve an increase? Because you traced it back to a specific source of infection that you can address. Otherwise, they are looking for a continued community-wide increase that you cannot resolve or explain. Did I give a fair … You want to add something to that?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (44:29)
I’ll just say that we also look at the rate of transmission and we follow that every day to see if there are changes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:36)
The RT, right? The rate of transmission. Not RT on a dashboard, which would stand for what if you saw RT on the dashboard? Road and track.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:44)
RT is rate of transmission, which is really the seminal number, because that is, if it goes over one, that’s one person is infecting more than one person, right? An RT over one, which they consider a spreading epidemic.
Speaker 4: (45:05)
The Westchester number’s a 1.4. What if it goes to 3% or 8% or 12%?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:13)
That’s what they, well, that, on those extremes, that’s a spike. On lesser extremes, they would look within the number to see if they could explain it.
Speaker 4: (45:23)
At what point can you say we’ve had a problem, and what do we do then?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:29)
What you would hear, you’d hear it incrementally. We would say, if the number goes up tomorrow, there’s an increase. We have to figure out what it is. If it goes up the next day, then you’d see the eyebrows going up more. And if they could not identify the source of the increase and we couldn’t stop it and we went out and issued additional warnings, admonitions, masks, then you see that go on for three, four, or five days and the numbers are significant and you can’t stop it and you can’t address it, then you have an issue. Then you’d have to start to dial back the valve. Right?
Dr. Howard Zucker: (46:11)
That’s correct. One thing is, remember, as those total numbers drop, as the governor was saying earlier, a couple of cases, that percentage is going to look higher. And it’s, you got to remember that the overall number is very important as well.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:24)
You want to add anything to that? Anything to Mr. [inaudible 00:46:26] question?
Speaker 5: (46:31)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:31)
Speaker 6: (46:33)
All the regions have opened. They’ve moved very incrementally. They’ve gone exactly two weeks. They’ve gotten through one to phase two. As you open things up, is your expectation that it could take longer for these regions, particularly here in mid-Hudson to get to phase three, or do you think it could be two weeks?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:47)
We’re planning on two weeks. Why two weeks? Because two weeks, you will know if you have a problem. Two weeks is, I got infected yesterday. I didn’t feel well for a few days. Well, the virus incubated for a few days, then I didn’t feel well for a few days. Then I stayed home. Then I got really sick. Then I went to the hospital. You know what is the fall back safety net. You know that hospitalization number. You see that go up, but that could be two weeks after you got infected. That’s where the two weeks came from.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:25)
Speaker 7: (47:25)
Yeah, just regarding Washington. It seems like there’s not going to be any federal action regarding any kind of comprehensive stimulus, at least in the month of June. How long are you willing to wait this out before you think some of these cuts have to go into effect? The City of New York has to deal with their budget on June 30.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:39)
I do not believe that even this federal government with all its dysfunction will turn its back on state and local governments across this nation at this time. I am that much of an optimist about this federal government, but I believe there is a level below which they won’t sink, and I think we are at the bottom of the pond.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:04)
Thank you very much, guys. Thank you.