May 27, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo May 27 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday, May 27. Cuomo said to the US Congress: “Stop abusing New York” and other states. He continued, “Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the COVID virus, through no fault of their own.”
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:05)
Good afternoon. Pleasure to be here today. Let me introduce the people who are with us. To my left is Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To my right is Robert Mujica, budget director of the State of New York. We’re at the National Press Club today. It’s a great organization, great part of Washington’s history and legacy, and I want to thank Michael Freedman very much, who is the President of the National Press Club, thank him for his hospitality and courtesy for having us here today. We are in Washington. I spent eight years in Washington during the Clinton administration. I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, came down at the beginning of the Clinton administration, stayed until the end. Lived in Virginia. That’s where I got my Southern accent. Really southern Queens, but … And we had good discussions today, and we’ll be heading back, but we wanted to do a briefing from Washington so it was timely.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:06)
And let’s talk about some facts as to where we are. Number of hospitalizations in New York are dropping. The total change in hospitalizations is down and continuing to drop. The intubations are down, and that’s a very good sign. It’s rare that good things happen after an intubation. And the number of new cases is down, which is very encouraging news. These are the number of new cases that are walking through the door. In terms of number of New Yorkers that we have lost, 74 yesterday, which is just about what it was the day before, which is, the day before was an all-time low at 73. Seventy-four is not as good as 73, but it is all headed in the right direction. Again, only in this time of crisis, would 74 deaths be anything less than truly tragic news, but when you’ve gone through what we have gone through, it’s a sign that we’re headed in the right direction.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:13)
And we are. When you look at the curve in the state of New York, we are down. We’re on the other side of the mountain, as we say. And the decline is continuing. That’s different than what we’re seeing in some other parts of the nation, where you see the curve either going up or just starting to flatten, so we’re pleased with the progress that we’re making in New York, and we’re ready to go to the next phase. Open a new chapter. Memorial Day is often a time when society transitions. Memorial Day, normally we’re getting ready for the summer, and people are starting to think about summer vacations and summer activity. We have that on a moderated basis in New York, but it’s also a time of transition for us. And we’re transitioning to a new chapter on reopening, restarting the economy. This is all a situation that has never happened before, so this is a first case for all of us.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:22)
And we’re trying to learn as we go along and we don’t want to just reopen the economy. We want to have a really smart reopening. We want to watch those numbers as we go forward, and we want to reopen the economy to make it stronger than it ever was before. How do you learn from this? And that’s the beginning of the new chapter that we’re going to write. We started yesterday by reopening the stock exchange in New York, where the stock exchange was actually had people in the building rather than just electronically. We’re doing it on the numbers. Numbers matter. This is not about politics. This is about science. Right? We’re fighting a virus. The virus is not a Democratic virus. It’s not a Republican virus. It’s a virus, and viruses respond to science, and science is about facts and about numbers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:23)
And that’s how we’re doing it. We’re doing it on the metrics. We’re looking at the hospitalization rate. We’re looking at the death rate. How many new people are coming in the door into hospitals? How many hospital beds do we have available? How many ICU beds do we have available? Do we have testing in place, and do we have tracing in place? Just take the politics out of it. Right? Just do it on the facts, and do it on the science. And that’s what we’re doing in New York. And then you wouldn’t reopen everything immediately. You would do it in phases, and you would phase it by the most important businesses, the most essential businesses that pose the lowest risk first. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And we then have several phases for the actual business openings.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:19)
But we’re in Washington, and the parameter is what should states be doing and what should the federal government be doing? I understand that states are responsible for the reopening. That’s been the position of the states, and it’s also been the position of the federal government, so states are doing re-openings. States are responsible for the testing. States are responsible for tracing. States are responsible for their healthcare systems. States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening. But, at the same time, the federal government has a role to play. And the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis. And there cannot be a national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded. That is a fact. Washington is now debating their next bill that would aid in the reopening and the recovery. Prior bills have helped businesses, large businesses, small businesses, hotels, airlines, all sorts of business interests. That’s great.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:36)
But you also have state and local governments and state governments do things like fund schools and fund hospitals. Do you really want to cut schools now? Do you really want to cut hospitals now, after what we’ve just gone through, when we’re talking about a possible second wave, when we’re talking about a fall with possible more cases? Do you really think we should starve state governments and cut hospitals? Would that be smart? Do you really want to cut local governments right now? That’s cutting police. That’s cutting fire. Is now the time to savage essential services? And don’t you realize that if you do this, if you cut state and local governments and you cause chaos on the state and local level, how does that help a nation striving to recover economically? The COVID states, the states that bore the brunt of the COVID crisis, they’re one-third of the national GDP. How can you tell one-third of the country to go to heck, and then thank you’re going to see an economic rebound?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:57)
Also, state government, state economies, local economies, that’s what the national economy is made of. What is the national economy, but for a function of the states? There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town, but it’s the obvious fact. And we’ve made this mistake before. Again, look at history. If you don’t learn from the mistakes, you’re going to repeat the mistakes. It’s that simple. And we have seen in the past what has happened when state and local governments were savaged and how it hurt the national recovery. Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal publication, makes the point that on the economy, cuts to employment and spending likely to weigh on growth for years.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:01)
So even if you believe the rhetoric we’re about reopening, we’re about getting the economy back. Great. Then if that’s what you believe, you would provide funding to the state and local governments. The Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, very smart man, respected on both sides of the aisle, said we have evidence the global financial crisis and the years afterward where state and local government layoffs and lack of hiring weighed on economic growth. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get this national economy better than ever. Fine. Then act accordingly and act appropriately. This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:57)
You have people saying, well, we don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout, is what some have said. Senator McConnell, stopping blue state bailouts. Senator Scott, “We’re supposed to go bail them out? That’s not right.” On Fox TV, Laffer, “You want us to give our money to Cuomo and New York? Hello, not this week.” First of all, this is really an ugly, ugly sentiment. It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America. Those words meant something. United States of America. First of all, Mr. Federal Legislator, you are nothing without the states, and you represent the United States. Not only is it ugly. It is false. It is wholly untrue, what they are saying, 100%.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:20)
And there are facts. If you want to pose the question, which is, I think divisive at this period of time. But if you want to pose the question, what states give money and what states take money. Right? There is a financial equation that is the federal government. And you want, if you want to ask what states give money to other states and what states take money from other states, that’s a question that Senator McConnell and Senator Scott and Mr. Laffer don’t really want to ask.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:05)
Because the truth, the truth is totally the opposite of what they’re saying. You look at the states that give more money to the federal government than they get back. You know the top what they call “donor state” … You know what one state pays in more to the pot than they take out of the federal pot than any other state in the United States? It’s the state of New York. New York pays more every year, $29 billion more than they take back. You know the second state? New Jersey. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California. Every year, they contribute more to the federal pot. You know who takes out more than they put in from that pot?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:03)
… Takes out more than they put in from that pot. You know whose hand goes in deeper and takes out more than they put in? Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida. Those are the facts. Those are the numbers. The great irony is the conservatives want to argue against redistribution of wealth. Why should you take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s exactly what you are doing. That is exactly what you have done every year. So it’s only redistribution unless you wind up getting more money, then it’s fine. Then, it’s not redistribution. Take from the rich, give to the poor, that’s redistribution. Yes, unless you’re the poor, Senator McConnell, Senator Scott, because you were the ones who have your hand out, you were the ones who are taking more than others. Redistribution, you’re against it except when the richer states give you more money every year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:28)
And then the great hypocrisy, they actually made the redistribution worse. When they passed three years ago, a provision ending what’s called State and Local Tax Deductibility. That didn’t level the playing field. What they did was they took the states that were already paying more money into the federal government, the “richer states,” and they increased the money they were taking from the richer states. They took another 23 billion from California, another $14 billion from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut. The hypocrisy is so insulting because when you start to talk about numbers, there are still facts. And people can still add, and people can still subtract, and they know what they put in and they know what they take out. And I know it’s Washington DC but the truth actually still matters. And Americans are smart and they find out the truth, even in the fog and the blather of Washington DC.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:52)
So my point to our friends in the Congress, stop abusing New York, stop abusing New Jersey, stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the COVID virus through no fault of their own. Why did New York have so many cases? It’s nothing about New York. It’s because the virus came from Europe and no one in this nation told us. We were told the virus is coming from China. It’s coming from China. Look to the West. Yeah, well, they missed it. We were looking to the West, it came from the East. The virus left China went to Europe. 3 million Europeans come to New York, land in our airports, January, February, March, and bring the virus. And nobody knew. It was not New York’s job. We don’t do international global health.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:07)
It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe and we bore the brunt of it. And now, you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake. And because we had more people die, we lost more lives. You want to now double the insult and the injury by saying, well, why should we help those states? Those states had more COVID deaths. That’s why you’re supposed to help those states because they did have more COVID deaths. And this is the United States. And when one state has a problem, the other states help.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:58)
I was in the federal government for eight years. When Los Angeles had earthquakes, we helped. When the Midwest had the Red River floods, we helped. When Florida had hurricane Andrew, we helped. When Texas had floods, we helped. When Louisiana had hurricane Katrina, we helped. We didn’t say, well, that’s Louisiana’s fault, they had the hurricane. Well that’s Texas’s fault, they had the floods. It was nobody’s fault. And we were there to help because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:40)
What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality? You know what? There is still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book. And Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called, doing the right thing. There’s still a right thing in life, the right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is a calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country. Not because a law says, do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing. As individuals, as people, we believe doing right by each other, by living your life by a code where you believe you are living it in an honorable way, acting on principle, and you’re doing the right thing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:49)
Why can’t the government? Why can’t the Congress reflect the right thing principle that Americans live their life by. Pass a piece of legislation that is honorable and decent and does the right thing for all Americans. Why is that so hard? And if you want to talk about reopening the economy, then do it in a productive way. People think this economy is just going to bounce back. I don’t think it’s going to bounce back. I think it’s going to bounce back for some. And I think there’s going to be collateral damage of others.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:33)
We already know that tens of thousands of small businesses closed and probably won’t come back. We already know that the large corporations are going to lay off thousands and thousands of workers and they’re going to use this pandemic as an excuse to get lien, to restructure, and they’re going to boost their profits by reducing their payroll. We know it. We’ve been there before. We saw this in the 2008 mortgage crisis where the government bailed them out, the big banks that created the problem, and they use the money to pay themselves bonuses and they laid off their workers. They’re going to do the same thing again.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:16)
That’s why I propose the Americans First Legislation that said a corporation can’t get a dime of government bailout unless they rehire the same number of workers they had pre-pandemic is post. Don’t take a gift from the taxpayer and then lay off Americans who are going to then file for uninsurance paid for by the taxpayers. Don’t do that again. And if you want to be smart, we know that there’s work to do in this nation. We’ve known it for years. You can fill a library with a number of books on the infrastructure and the decay of our infrastructure and how many roads and bridges have to be repaired. How this nation is grossly outpaced by nations across the world in terms of infrastructure and airports and development.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:11)
Now is the time to stimulate the economy by doing that construction and doing that growth. You want to supercharge the reopening, that’s how you do it. And this nation was smart enough to do it before, we did it in the midst of the great depression, we created 8 million jobs, we built an infrastructure that we’re still living on today. We’re still living on the infrastructure built by our grandparents, not even our parents. What are we going to leave our children? And now is the time to do it. We have major infrastructure projects in New York that are ready to go, that are desperately needed, that were desperately needed 30 years ago. Build them now. Supercharge the reopening, grow the economy. That’s what we would do if we were smart.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:08)
You’re not going to have a supercharged economy. You’re not going to see this nation get up and start running again unless we do it together. That’s states working with other states, that’s a federal government that stands up and puts everything else aside. They were elected to provide good government. Nobody elected anyone to engage in partisan politics. There was a time when, as a nation, we were smart enough to say, you want to play politics, that’s what a campaign is for. Run your campaign against your opponent. Say all sorts of crazy things. That’s crazy campaign time. But when government starts, stop the politics, and do what’s right and smart, don’t play your politics at the expense of the citizens you represent.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:13)
There is no good government concept anymore. It’s politics 365 days a year. From the moment they elected to the moment they run again, it’s all politics. And that is poison. We have to get to a point, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, in response to a national crisis where we say it’s not red and blue, it’s red, white, and blue. It’s the United States. And we’re going act that way. In New York we say that by saying New York tough, but it’s America tough, which is smart and United and disciplined and loving, and loving. That’s what makes America, America. Thank you for having me. Any questions?
Speaker 2: (25:16)
Governor [inaudible 00:12:18]. Welcome to Washington. You met with the president, obviously, and I was wondering, you were talking about the stopping the politics. There are obviously a lot of political issues between you and the president, particularly Gateway Project or New Yorker’s Untrusted Traveler, I was wondering if you spoke about that and what his reaction was to what you were originally classified as politically motivated actions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:42)
Yeah. There are political differences between myself and the president. He’ll say it. I will say it. I don’t even need to say it. You can go do a Google search and you can find 400 nasty tweets about political differences between myself and the president. I said to the president, when this started…
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:03)
… from the President. I said to the President when this started, “Forget all that. We’ll have political differences and there will be a time to wear our political differences. Not now. This is about getting things done for the country and getting things done for New York.” And I have stayed 100 miles away from any political anything all through this. Personally, I went to great lengths to say to the people of my state, “I have no political agenda.” Personally, I have no political agenda. I’m not running for anything else. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t want to go to Washington. There’s no personal agenda that you have to worry about and calibrate, “Well, is he doing what’s right? Or is he doing what’s right for him? Does he have a self-interest?” I have no interest. I’m doing nothing. I’m Governor of New York. That’s all I’m doing. Just to take the politics out of it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:51)
I said to the President when this started, “Put the political stuff aside. Let’s just figure out what we have to do, which is a heck of a mandate, since nobody’s ever done it before, and let’s do it.” And that’s what we’ve been doing. At the meeting we just had, it was the same way. It was not about politics. It was not about any of that. It was about, “How do we supercharge the reopening, especially in New York, which has been hardest hit? How do we take some of these big infrastructure projects that have been sitting around for a long time, which if we were all smarter and better, we would have done 30 years ago, and actually get them up and running, because we have to do this work anyway, and because we need the jobs now more than ever?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:45)
The Cross-Harbor tunnels, not to get in the weeds, the Gateway project is a larger project. It’s a $30 billion project, has many different components. The essence of the project are two tunnels that go across the Hudson River, that carry Amtrak trains, by the way. Federal government owns Amtrak. State has nothing to do with Amtrak. And these Amtrak trains come in through New York and serve the entire Northeast, and the trains go through two tunnels. Those two tunnels are old, they’re dilapidated. If there’s a problem in those tunnels, you stop train service to the entire Northeast United States. It would be devastating for the nation, because while in Washington, we have this fragmented view of the country, either the national economy works or none of it works. You cut out the Northeast, you’re cutting your nose to spite your face. So those tunnels have to be replaced. Amtrak, federally owned, has a proposal to build two new tunnels so there’s additional capacity. That’s a project that New York and New Jersey said we’ll pay 50% of, just to be good partners.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:02)
There’s a project called the Second Avenue Subway in New York, which goes up Second Avenue, hence the Second Avenue Subway, and it’s pending federal approval, and we could start building on that immediately. There’s also a project, which is the Air Train, which goes from LaGuardia Airport, where we’re building a new airport, to Manhattan. That would cut down traffic congestion. It would be a great advancement. People have been talking about that for 30 years, and it’s pending an environmental review by the federal DOT. And I ask if that could be accelerated because we’ve already done an environmental review, and nobody’s more environmentally sensitive than our government, but can we get the bureaucracy to move faster so we can get that project done?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:54)
And it was a good conversation. The President is from New York, so he has a context for all the things we’re talking about. I think the President also acknowledges and realizes that New York, we’re very aggressive about getting these projects done and getting them done on time. This is not the typical government project. We actually get these things done. We’re building the first new airport at LaGuardia in 25 years in this country. We built the largest infrastructure project in the United States, which was a bridge that went across the Hudson River, now named the Mario Cuomo Bridge. It was the largest infrastructure project in the United States. We got it done on time, on budget. So if he gives us the green light, this is not going to be years of discussion. I have a shovel in the trunk of my car. We’ll start this afternoon, right?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:47)
So it was a good discussion. He understood what we were talking about, understood what we need, and he’s going to be thinking about it, talk to his team, and he said, “We’ll talk next week.”
Speaker 3: (31:00)
Trusted Traveler Program [inaudible 00:30:59].
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:00)
Trusted Traveler Program did not come up. Trusted Traveler Program, I believe, was arbitrary by the federal government. I believe it was actually retaliatory by Department of Homeland Security. They want access to our driver’s license data to give to ICE for purposes of deportation. We said we wouldn’t give it to them. We would give it to the FBI for law enforcement, but not for deportation. And they then turned around and ended this Trusted Traveler Program, which is exact opposite. These are people who get high level security clearance so you don’t have to stop at the border check when you come in at an airport. You just show your card. It eases the burden at the airport. It’s better for the officials at the airport, and the people who sit with Homeland Security and give all the documentation and get this special clearance. But they ended that, I believe, in retaliation, and that’s nowhere. You want to add something?
Speaker 4: (32:14)
Yeah. One thing I will say with the Trusted Traveler Program is that during this year’s budget, at the end of March, to the extent that there was a bonafide concern with federal access to the DMV database, specifically for those subset of people that the Governor described, who are applying to be a part of the Trusted Traveler Program, who are doing the sit down interview, who are providing all of this documentation, we addressed that in the budget, and now the federal government actually does have access to the database for that specific purpose. So if that was really the reason that they were cutting us out of the Trusted Traveler Program, I don’t believe that that is a bonafide reason anymore, and I know it’s currently in litigation, but it’s something our counsel’s office is discussing with them.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:52)
Speaker 5: (32:54)
Governor Cuomo, on the issue of state and local governments, the House-passed HEROES Act did include some funding to address that issue. Obviously we’re held up in the Republican-controlled Senate. I’m just curious your message on that to Republicans. I know you went over that a little bit, but can you expand on that? And then number two, have you brought this up with President Trump? And what was the meeting like in terms of the aid for state and local governments?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:19)
Yeah. Look, as I said, I was in Washington for eight years. I understand the politics, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve seen it. I get it. You’re right. The House bill has funding for state and local government, and you heard my comments. I know what the Republican Senators are saying, and first of all, it’s a lie. It’s a lie. I know that’s a strong word, “It’s a lie,” but they’re lying. When Senator McConnell says, and Senator Scott says, and Laffer says, “Why should we give New York, California more money?” That’s a lie. They know that they take more money. Senator McConnell has his hand out in the Senate and he receives more money for his state than he puts in.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:25)
He raised this topic, not me. He made it personal, not me. I represent the people of the State of New York. That’s what I get paid to do. When he makes it personal to New York, when they make it personal to New York, and they’re lying, I’m going to point that out. They get more money every year. Why should my state give a handout to Senator McConnell every year? Why should my state give a handout to Senator Scott every year? Why do they have their handout every year? They’re against redistribution of wealth. That’s what they all say. “I’m against redistribution.” Yeah. You’re against redistribution unless you’re taking money. Then it’s fine. It’s not redistribution when you are taking money. Yeah. I know. How convenient that is, right?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:26)
Second of all, they say, “Why should we give states money to deal with COVID?” What? “Why should we give states money to deal with COVID?” Why not? What better national purpose? We’re in the middle of a national pandemic. It’s a global pandemic. You want to get the economy up and running. Take your blinders off, man. It’s not just about your state. What are you, going to get the national economy running without New York, without California, without Illinois, without Connecticut, without Jersey? You’re going to get the national economy running like that? Just your state, Senator? It makes no sense.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:21)
And then in terms of spirit, and principle, and doing the right thing, if there was one time when that Congress actually acted like it represented the country, it was in times of an emergency. That’s the one time you would see them come together and pass a bill, and do it quickly. It was like, “Okay, no politics, because this is an emergency. It’s Hurricane Katrina. No politics. It’s flooding in Texas. No politics. It’s Midwest floods. Pass an emergency bill. No politics. You’re talking about people’s lives here. You’re talking about states anmd neighbors who need real help. They lost their homes. No politics.” Even now, even now, 100,000 people dead in this nation, you’re going to play politics?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:20)
For the House members, they did pass a bill that has state local funding and has this repeal of SALT in it. If I am a congressperson from New York, I do not go home unless I have funding for New York State. I do not pass a bill that does not fund New York State and does not repeal SALT. If I’m a congressperson from California, I do not go to California unless I have funding for California and I repeal SALT. If I’m a congressperson from Massachusetts, I’m not going home and standing up in front of my people who elected me, and I’m running for reelection, by the way, this year, if I’m Congressman Richard Neal from Massachusetts, I’m not standing before my people having passed the bill that didn’t help them.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:27)
If the California House members can’t vote for it, and the Illinois House members can’t vote for it, and the New York members can’t vote for it, and Jersey can’t vote for it, and Massachusetts can’t vote for it, and Connecticut can’t vote for it, they can’t pass a bill. And if Washington doesn’t pass a bill, I would say to all of them, “Don’t bother going home,” because you will not see a reopening that you expect. You will see a fizzle of an economic rebirth, and you will have really done a disservice to the-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:03)
… Really done a disservice to the fundamental premise of your office. Young lady?
Speaker 6: (39:08)
Thank you, Governor. The projects that you mentioned mainly are in New York City, granted they have regional impact, but were there any other statewide projects from other regions, Long Island, Upstate, that you’ve brought to the President’s attention?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:24)
No, I didn’t want to give him too long a list. I didn’t want to seem too aggressive. I didn’t want to seem like a… For the other people in the room that they could dismiss me as a quintessential New Yorker, “Look how much he’s asking for. He’s asking for too much.” So I kept it very limited.
Speaker 6: (39:40)
Was it because he’s a New Yorker that you brought forward this projects? Maybe he’s more familiar with-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:43)
Yeah. These projects are regional in nature. What they call the Cross Hudson Tunnels, that’s not even New York. That’s the whole Northeast. That’s what’s funny about these tunnels. These are not New York trains, they go from New Jersey to New York, they carry Amtrak trains. We don’t have any trains that go through those tunnels. It’s important for the whole Northeast, because that is the main train route. If that goes down, you don’t have any Amtrak service to the whole Northeast corridor. Yes?
Speaker 7: (40:21)
Hi, Governor. New York Post. Last week you blamed the 5,000 nursing home deaths in your… President Trump and the CDC guidelines. I’m wondering if you raise that issue with him today?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:34)
No, but I never did that. I never did that.
Speaker 7: (40:37)
You said that anyone asking about nursing deaths in New York and the State’s policy should ask President Trump.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:42)
No, what I said was this. Yes. I said, “They want to play politics with this, right?” There are Republicans who are trying to make political hay out of this, in my opinion. What I said to the Republicans who were making this accusation, “You have to find an accusation for it to work politically that you can make against the Democrat that is not a boomerang and comes back and affects the Republicans.” On the nursing homes, the issue they raised, our State Department of Health followed the same guideline as the CDC, which is a federal agency issued.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:35)
So it was my way of saying, thwarting the political attack, because you can’t say, “Oh, bad Democrat.” It’s an issue that a Republican administration took the same position, which is guidance from the CDC and our State Department of Health. Both of them said, “You can’t discriminate against a patient based on COVID.” That’s what they both said. But that was just on that specific.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:05)
In general, you look at how New York did, we’re in Washington, you look how New York did on nursing homes vis-a-vis the nation, we did better than 33 States in the nation, per capita on nursing homes. Nursing homes happened to be the place where this virus ravages, despite the fact that we had the greatest number of cases and we were in the eye of the storm. You look at us vis-a-vis the country, where we did better than 33 other states, then those are just facts. But I never blamed him for anything. I was just saying to the Republicans, “That’s not a political attack when the Republican administration had the guidance that did the same thing.” Yes, that factually correct?
Speaker 8: (42:59)
Yes, that’s factually correct. The CDC and CMS put out guidelines on March 13th that DOH drew directly for the March 25th Directive. So it’s directly in line with the Center for Disease Control. And we believe that in the middle of a pandemic, you should be looking to the national experts for advice, because as the Governor said, “No one has ever been here before.” And this has been a national and international tragedy as it relates to group homes with nursing homes. And everyone’s trying to learn from it, now that we’ve got the i testing capacity, New York’s leading the nation, mandating two tests a week for all nursing home staff.
Speaker 8: (43:33)
There’s actually a very strong theory out there that the way that the virus got into these nursing homes is through staff members who are asymptomatic. We now know at least 35% of the public that has coronavirus is asymptomatic. So while we did move to temperature checks very early in March, and a lot of the country did that as well, as it turns out, it may not have made a difference, because there were so many people walking around who had COVID, who didn’t know that they had COVID.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:57)
Yeah. And the context for what I said was I said it to a Post reporter because look, I can say all I want, stay away from politics. We’re in an election year, and politics is in the air. There are columnists who made this point at the Post, who are 100% supportive of Donald Trump, and that’s fine, but then believe, we have to kill all Democrats. So I get it. I understand it. They’re open in their support of the Trump administration. And I guess their attitude is to be pro-Donald Trump you have to be anti-Democrat, which I don’t really understand. Be pro-Donald Trump,
Speaker 7: (44:47)
This reporter is not politically aligned. I just wanted to ask you though, your government didn’t follow CDC guidance on everything. So I’m wondering, as Governor, would it have been in your power not to follow CDC guidelines on putting infected people back into nursing homes? Would that-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
What didn’t we follow CDC guidance on?
Speaker 7: (45:07)
Would it have been in your power-
Speaker 8: (45:08)
There’s nothing that we didn’t follow the CDC guidance on. Every step of the way, in every aspect of this, we looked to the experts at the CDC for how to manage this crisis. I believe that that’s what the States should do. You look to the Center of Disease Control. This is nonpolitical. This is not partisan. This is public health. We defer to our public health experts. They deferred to the national experts. And again, this is a national and international crisis, as it relates to issues in group homes, especially where the elderly are, and everyone is doing their best to learn from what we’ve done so far, understanding there’s likely another wave coming into the fall and guard against it happening again.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (45:43)
Yeah. Now when you said we haven’t followed CDC guidance on other issues, I don’t believe you’re right. That’s why I asked you like what other issues?
Speaker 7: (45:53)
I’m just asking Governor, if it’s in your power to not follow the CDC guidelines on this? If you could have actually stopped putting infected patients back into nursing home, would that have been within your power?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:08)
I’ve always followed CDC guidance and I think it makes sense. And by the way, I think the rule that you can’t discriminate against the COVID patient is right. That doesn’t mean the nursing home has to accept a COVID-positive patient. They conflate those two things. I understand because politically facts don’t matter, just you’re making a political argument. But because you can’t discriminate doesn’t mean you have to accept. Actually, the law is the opposite. You cannot accept a patient at a nursing home, unless you can fully and adequately treat that patient. So you can’t accept a COVID-positive patient, unless you can isolate and quarantine and have the staff, unless you can do all that, you cannot accept that person. The nursing home, the obligation is on the nursing home to say, “I can’t take a COVID-positive person. I’m too crowded. I’m too busy. I don’t have enough PPE.” Whatever the answer is, it doesn’t even matter.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:21)
If they say I can’t take the person, they can’t take the person. So that’s how it works. It doesn’t mean they discriminate against the COVID-positive person. They just say, “I can’t handle the person. I can’t quarantine. I don’t have a big enough facility.” Whatever they want to say. Let’s take one more. Sir?
Speaker 9: (47:43)
Thank you, Governor. [crosstalk 00:47:45] Washington Post. Based on your conversation today with the President, would you say that he is aligned with Senators McAllen and Scott in seeing the idea federal aid to States such as yours as opposed to bail out, or does he take a different view than they do?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:00)
I think the President is focused on the reopening, on stimulating the economy and getting the economy back. I think that’s his focus. I think that’s the correct focus. I think he understands that these are projects that need to be done. Look, when he ran for president, he spoke about a $1 trillion infrastructure program. That’s what he spoke about. He’s a builder, he’s a developer, right? He gets it. He believes in construction and development. It’s been his career. I think that’s why he talked about it in the campaign. It just never happened. It’s not just him, by the way, Joe Biden talks about it. And President Clinton talked about it and President Obama talked about it and President Bush talked about it and none of them have gotten it done.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:56)
So I think he gets it. He understands the projects we were talking about. The nice thing about these projects is it doesn’t require any new legislation, doesn’t require any… They’ve been in the pipeline forever and his administration can just do it and we can get it up and running. To the extent that jump starts a larger conversation about infrastructure, which is something I think we need desperately. Look, here’s my last point, you know you need to do large scale infrastructure. When is there going to be a better moment in history to do it? You’re spending billions, if not, trillions of dollars to handle COVID and bring back the economy, at least build things that we can leave our children, like our grandparents did for us. Thank you for the hospitality, pleasure.
Speaker 10: (49:57)
[crosstalk 00:49:57] act any differently in the past-