Mar 29, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Transcript March 29
Governor Andrew Cuomo held a news briefing today on COVID-19 in New York state. He said “No one is going to attack New York unfairly.” Read the full transcript.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:18)
Happy Sunday. It’s good see all your smiling faces. Some of your not smiling faces. From my far right, Dr. James Malatras, Commissioner Howard Zucker to my left. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To her left, Robert Mojica budget director. Thank you for being here. Let us go through some updates for today so everyone knows where we are and what we’re experiencing. As you can see, the increase on the trajectory of cases continues to climb 7,681. A couple of updates that I would like to make. To the local health providers, we want to anticipate this situation. We talked yesterday about planning forward, getting ahead of it, that we have been behind on this virus from day one and rather than be reactive, be proactive, get ahead of it. Local health providers should be watching what’s going on in different parts of the state and anticipating what’s going to happen. This is going to be a phenomenon of a rolling apex. We keep talking about the apex, the top of the curve, but the top of the curve will occur at different times in different places, right? The curve is a function of the rate of spread, the rate of density and when it started, so you’ll see different curves. You see it all across the country. Started in state of Washington. Now you see New York, you see Chicago, you see New Orleans, you see parts of California, so that rolling apex is happening across the country. That rolling apex is also going to be happening across the state of New York. The current projections all say New York City will face the first high watermark if you will, high tide mark, the height of the curve. But then you’ll see Westchester, you’ll see Long Island on a delay with their curve hitting a new height.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:39)
Model projectors are not sure if it’s Westchester first or Long Island first. Some suggest it’s Westchester because we had that cluster in Westchester if you remember at new Rochelle and then upstate New York. We expect a curve in upstate New York also. May not be as high as New York city, Westchester, Long Island, but there will be a curve. So, if you are not in a highly effected health area now, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a real situation to deal with because these numbers are just going to continue to go up all across the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:21)
So for a local health system, this is a new challenge. Most health systems have public hospitals and then they have private hospitals or volunteer, voluntary hospitals. And they basically exist on a day-to-day basis as two different systems. So you’ll have public hospitals and then you have the private hospital system. And for all intents and purposes, in normal operating procedures, they operate as two systems. There’s very little interaction. There’s also very little interaction among individual hospitals, sometimes even within their own system. So you have public hospitals that are part of a public hospital system, but each hospital basically operates on its own, has its own identity.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:16)
Certainly true on the private side where you have individual hospitals and they operate on their own. We have to change that mentality and we have to change that mentality quickly. No hospital is an island. No hospital in this situation can exist unto themselves. We really have to have a new mentality, a new culture of hospitals working with one another both within the public system as well as the private system and we need to think about the public system working with the private system in a way they never have before. There is a artificial wall almost between those two systems right now. That wall has to come down, that theory has to come down. This is going to be all hands on deck. This is everybody helping everyone else. One hospital gets overwhelmed, the other hospitals have to flex to help that hospital and vice versa.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:26)
We have Elmhurst Hospital for example in New York City that is under stress. The number of cases in the Elmhurst Hospital is high. When the number of cases is high, the stress on the staff is high. I was just speaking with Dr. Zucker about this. You’d do this two, three, four weeks. The level of stress is very intense. Elmhurst Hospital is part of a public health system of about 11 hospitals in New York City. That system has to work together and those hospitals have to work together. The 11 health and hospital in New York City, the public system. And I’m going to ask Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer to take a look at the system and figure out how we can get that system to work better together as a unified system. This is not going to get better soon. So Elmhurst is under stress now. that stress does not a bait for this foreseeable short term future. So how do we make that system work better together and what recommendations that we have to improve H&H. We’ll also be meeting with the private hospitals in New York City that are organized through something called the Greater New York Hospital Association. I’m going to be meeting with them tomorrow to talk about having those hospitals also organized, act as one, get out of their silos, get out of their identities to work together.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:14)
And then overall you have these local health systems. This state’s role, which we’ve never really done before, is getting those health systems to work with one another. So we talked about if New York City gets overwhelmed, we’ll ask the upstate systems to be a relief valve for the downstate health systems, which has never happened before to any scale. And also vice versa, there will be a time where the upstate hospitals will be struggling and when the upstate hospitals will be struggling, then we want the downstate hospitals to be able to take over and relieve those hospitals. That’s actually the advantage of the rolling curve that they’re projecting. If it does happen that way, theoretically, I almost think of it as a high tide mark. High tide comes first in New York City. Then the tide is on the way down and then it’s high tide in upstate New York. So if the tide is dropping downstate, then you have some relief for the upstate hospitals.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:25)
We put in place the New York PAUSE program. Today, I am going to extend it to April 15th the directive that nonessential state workforce continue to work from home. We’re doing it in two week intervals because every day is a new day and we’ll see what happens day-to-day. But I think it’s not even questionable today, but that we’re going to need two more weeks of nonessential workers. Good news, Wadsworth has developed, the New York State Department of Health has developed a less intrusive saliva and short nasal swab test. I’m not exactly sure what a short nasal swab test is, but my guess is it wouldn’t apply to me. It can be administered in the presence of healthcare workers. It requires less PPE. Healthcare workers can self administer it, so kudos to the Department of Health on that. It also helps them limit the exposure for healthcare workers and it should start as soon as next week.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:37)
People ask, when is this over? I think the testing, you tell me when they come up with an inexpensive, a home test or point of care test that can be brought to volume. I think that’s probably when you see a real return to normalcy in the workforce. In other words, we’re all talking about this curve, flatten the curve. At what point on the other side of the curve do you go back to work? Jesse asked this question the other day. There is no answer. I think the answer’s going to be in testing. Dr. Fauci, who I think is, we’re so blessed to have him here at this time. He talks about faster, easier testing. If you can test millions of people, if you could test today, millions of people, you could send them to work tomorrow. So the development of these tests I think are very important and instructive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:41)
Tomorrow, the USNS Comfort is coming. That is about 1,000 bed capacity. It’s staffed by federal officials, federal medical professionals. It is not for COVID patients, but it is to take the backfill from hospitals. Current stockpile, we’re still working to purchase equipment all across the globe. We have a whole team that’s working seven days a week. Unfortunately, we’re competing against every other state in the United States for these same things. So it’s very hard, but we’re making progress in terms of finding staff. That’s going very well. The volunteerism of New Yorkers, God bless them. We’re up to 76, 000 healthcare workers who have volunteered. 76,000 people who volunteered to go into these hospitals at this time. Just think about that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:46)
On the total people tested, we did 16,000 last night, total of 172,000 tested. That’s the highest in the state. Highest in the country, I’m sorry. Positive cases, 7,000 last night, total cases, 59,000. The virus continues its march across the state of New York. Only two counties now that don’t have cases. These are the overall numbers. 59,000 people tested positive, 8,000 permanently hospitalized, 2,000 ICU patients, 3,500 patients discharged. We know nobody really points to these numbers, but this is good news. 846 people came out of hospitals yesterday discharged after being treated for COVID. So yes, people get it. 80% have either self-resolve or have some symptoms at home. 20% go into the hospital. Majority of those get treated and leave. It’s the acutely ill by and large who are the vulnerable population and that’s what we’re seeing more and more. The deaths went from 728 to 965.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:09)
What’s happening now is as I mentioned yesterday, people are on the ventilator longer and longer. The longer you are on the ventilator, the less your chance of ever getting off that ventilator and that’s what we’re seeing. And we will continue to see the number of deaths increase in terms of most impacted states. Again, New York is still number one total new hospitalizations. These are the charts we look at every night. The numbers up 1,175. It was 847 the night before. These bounce nigh to night. Any one night’s data could have a number of variables in it. What, hospitals actually reported when they reported it, how accurate they were. So more you look for a trendline, more than anything else and there are trend lines.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:12)
If you look early on the hospitalization rate was doubling every two days, then it doubled every three days. Then it doubled every four days. Now it’s doubling every six days. So you have almost the dichotomy, the doubling rate is slowing, and that is good news. But the number of cases are still going up. So you’re still going up towards an apex. But the rate of the doubling is slowing which is good news. Change in daily ICU admissions, you see a tick up in the ICU admissions, but again, you look for the trendline among those columns more than the individual columns. Change in daily intubations-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:02)
… dual columns, change in daily intubations. We don’t normally run this chart, but these are the people who are most seriously affected. Again, you see a trend line in that, you see some aberrations. March 26th, the 290. But you see a trend line, and the trend line is what we’re watching.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:23)
You also see a trend line in people being discharged. Okay? This is a dramatic trendline. So people came in, they started to get treated. Only March 18th, right? So we’re only talking about 10 days. They started to get treated. A few of them got out early, a few more, a few more, a few more, a few more. Now, you’re seeing the discharge number trend way up, because that’s what’s going to happen. People go into the hospital, they get treated, they leave. Those that are acutely ill get put on a ventilator, and then it’s the inverse dynamic. The longer they are intubated, the longer they are on the ventilator, the higher the mortality rate.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:22)
Again, perspective, these are the numbers from day one since China started. Also, we should all keep in mind we lost … The first responders who go out there, I was talking about the 76,000 people who volunteered to help medical professionals. Being a first responder today, being a public health official, working in a hospital, working with senior citizens, this is really an act of love and courage. We lost Detective Cedric Dixon, 48 years old, 32nd 23-year veteran. Could have retired. So we wish him and his family peace. We lost a nurse. We’ve lost a couple of other nurses. Kious Kelly, 48 years old who was the assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West. We wish his family the best. These public people, I don’t even have the words to express my admiration for them. FDR always had words. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:49)
To me, that says it all today. Everyone is afraid. Everyone is afraid. You think these police officers are not afraid to leave their house? You think these nurses are not afraid to go into the hospital? They’re afraid. But something is more important than their fear, which is their passion, their commitment for public service and helping others. That’s all it is. It’s just their passion and belief in helping others, and that overcomes their fear. That makes them, in my book, just truly amazing, outstanding human beings, and I wish them and their families all the best. The President and the CDC ordered a travel advisory for people of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This happened last night. This is not a lockdown. It is a travel advisory to be implemented by the states, in essence. It’s nothing that we haven’t been doing, right? Non-essential people should stay at home. So it’s totally consistent with everything we’re doing. And I support what the President did, because it affirms what we’ve been doing. It also affirms what New Jersey and Connecticut have been doing. Rhode Island issued an executive order that New York license plates would be theoretically stopped at the border for a mandatory quarantine of some period. That executive order has been repealed by the State of Rhode Island, and we thank them for their cooperation. That was repealed last night.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:38)
Personal opinion, not fact, gratuitous. This is disorienting, it’s frightening, it’s disturbing. Your whole life is turned upside down overnight. To the best you can, you find a way to create some joy. You try to find a silver lining in all of this. How do you break up the monotony? What do you do? How do you bring a smile to people’s face?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:10)
Give you my idea for today. Sunday, I come from an Italian-American family. Sunday was family day. We had the big family dinner that you’d have in the afternoons, so it was a little confusing, but it was like a lunch, late lunch they called dinner. It was spaghetti and meatballs and sausages. My family would all get together, and it was a beautiful time. I didn’t really appreciate it as a kid. But it was just beautiful, because they all came together and the grandparents were there, and they would start to eat at 2:00. It was like a marathon session.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:51)
The food was really just the attraction to get people together. Everybody talks about how the Italians love the food. That’s true. But really they love bringing the family together, and the food was the way that people came together. Then you sat at the table, and it was just a two, three-hour affair. My mother and father did it also, not to the same extent my grandparents did it, but we had that same Sunday dinner around the table.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:26)
I tried to continue it as a father with my kids. I was divorced, and so I’m not really the best cook to say the least. But we would have on Sundays, I would actually go to the Italian specialty store, and I would buy the meatballs and buy the sausages and buy the sauce. But I would put it in a pot, and I would put it on the stove. Because part of it was that sauce would sit there all day and it would just simmer, and you’d smell it all through the house. Then I’d make them sit down, and we would have spaghetti and meatballs and sausage on Sundays. My daughter Cara’s in the back. They would never eat the sausage and the meatballs, they would pick at the pasta; because see, they knew I didn’t know how to cook. So they knew that meatball and sausage was inherently suspect. I never said that I bought it in the specialty store, because that would have ruined the whole tradition anyway. So they wouldn’t eat it, and we’d go for Chinese food afterwards. But that convening was something special.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:45)
Today, we’re going to have our family dinner. We’re missing one daughter, Mariah. We’re going to get Mariah on Skype, and grandma’s going to be on the telephone. We’re going to sit around the table, and we’re going to have that kind of coming together. Little different, Skype, telephones. But you know what? With everything going on, family, we’re here, we’re together, we’re healthy. That’s 98% of it. So find ways to make a little joy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:20)
Also for New Yorkers, I know we feel under attack. I had a lot of phone calls yesterday when the President first suggested some form of quarantine. What does that mean, quarantine? Am I going to be allowed to leave the house? So my parents who are supposed to be coming back, and this one’s here and this one’s here. I know we feel under attack. The Rhode Island, “You can’t drive into Rhode Island. We’ll pull you over with the police.” Yes, New York is the epicenter, and these are different times, and many people are frightened. Some of the reactions you get from individuals, even from governments, are frightening, suggesting that they’ll take abrupt actions against New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:18)
But look, this is New York, and we are going to make it through this. We have made it through far greater things. We are going to be okay. We specialize in stamina and strength and instability, and that’s just what we’re doing now. We are strong, we have endurance, and we have stability. We know what we’re doing. We have a plan. We’re executing the plan. Anything, any obstacle that we come across, we will manage that obstacle, and we have.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:05)
I can’t sit here and say to anyone, “You’re not going to see people pass away.” You will. That is the nature of what we’re dealing with, and that’s beyond any of our control. But New York is going to have what it needs, and no one is going to attack New York unfairly, and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs. That’s why I’m here. That’s why we have a state full of very talented professional people. So a deep breath on all of that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (25:48)
We are doing exactly what we need to do. There is no state in the nation that is better prepared or better mobilized than what we’re doing. I feel that deeply and having studied everything that every other state has done. Federal officials have even remarked to me that they are surprised how quickly a state as big and complicated as New York has actually mobilized. So feel good about that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:21)
There are two great New York expressions that I use all the time. Anything I build in New York always has two expressions on it. One, excelsior, says it all. Ever upwards, ever upwards. Aspirational. We can be better, we will be better. We’re going to aim higher. We’re going to improve ourselves. Excelsior, state motto. It’s on the seal behind me. Excelsior. And the other, e pluribus unum, out of many one. Unity, unity. You put those two things together, it says it all. Aim high, do better, believe you can do better, be optimistic. And the way you get there is through unity and togetherness and cooperation and through mutuality and community. Those two expressions, I say to my daughters, “If you remember nothing else when I’m gone, if you walk up to the box and have nothing else to remember, excelsior, you can be better. It will be better. We can make it better. E pluribus unum, we make it better together.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:39)
That’s it, and that’s what we’re doing. Questions?
Speaker 2: (27:42)
[inaudible 00:27:42] going to start funneling patients into Javits?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:45)
Speaker 2: (27:46)
When are we going to start funneling patients into Javits, and how is that process going to work?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (27:51)
When are we funneling patients into Javits? Javits will be coming online this week. Also remember, a lot of what we’re doing is we’re building capacity and assembling supplies for the apex. You’ll get these people who say, “Well, you don’t need this today.” Yeah, I know I don’t need it today, because I know where we are on the trajectory today. I have to prepare for the apex, for the curve. That’s where I need the beds, that’s where I need the supplies, etc. That’s when I say get ahead of this thing, right? The virus has been ahead of us. I want to get ahead of the virus. I want to get to that apex before the virus gets to the apex. So the Javits is part of that supply, but it will be coming on online this week. When we actually utilize it is when we need it. Karen?
[inaudible 00:28:43] mentioned family dinners a moment ago. Obviously, the stay at home order through April 15th affects Easter and Passover. So that means that people can’t go to church, can’t have Seders. What advice do you give them?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:58)
It’s hard. It’s hard. But on the flip side I say, look at what happened in New Rochelle. Those gatherings that brought people together were religious gatherings and brought hundreds of people together, which was beautiful, but it made many, many people ill. Density is the enemy here for this particular time. So you worship the way you can, but the gatherings are just not a good idea.
Speaker 3: (29:36)
[inaudible 00:14:36], just to be clear-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:38)
By the way, the patient zero, what we call patient zero in Westchester in New Rochelle who was very sick for a very long time, he has actually gone home. Am I correct in that?
Speaker 4: (29:52)
Went out of the hospital.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:53)
He’s out of the hospital.
Speaker 3: (29:57)
Speaker 5: (29:58)
Have you spoken to the Governor of Rhode Island? And if so, how did you convince her to take back the sort of travel issue?
Speaker 6: (30:03)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:04)
I spoke to the governor of Rhode Island yesterday and we had a conversation. I don’t think the order was called for, I don’t believe it was legal. I don’t believe it was neighborly. I understood the point, but I thought there were different ways to do it. And the governor of Rhode Island was very receptive, and I thank her very much for reconsidering her position.
Governor, 237 deaths in the last 24 hours in the state of New York, 222, it seems, in New York city. What are your projections showing in terms of what this apex might look like in terms of fatalities? Are we talking hundreds of people? Thousands of people? What are you seeing inside?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:47)
Jim, Howard, do you know?
Dr. Zucker: (30:50)
Sure. So there’s many different projections that we’re working at and it does seem that we’ll be … Already at 965 and so we do see in the thousands. But again, these are models and we have to plan for what the model may show, but hopefully it’ll be less?
Just to psychologically prepare New Yorkers, are we talking hundreds of deaths a day? Thousands of deaths a day?
Dr. Zucker: (31:12)
So it goes back to the numbers. We’ve always said that 80% of individuals get better, and we’ve said that of the other 20% some ended up in the hospital and it’s a small percentage that end up, unfortunately, dying. And that percentage, as we’re looking at it, the number is actually hovering around one or even less than 1%. So again, it’s determined by how many people are positive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:35)
Opinion, Jesse, not data-driven. I don’t see how you look at those numbers and conclude anything less than thousands of people will pass away. Because remember who it’s attacking. It’s attacking the vulnerable, underlying illness, et cetera. And I don’t see how you get past that curve without seeing thousands of people pass away. I hope it’s wrong, but-
Speaker 6: (32:05)
As of Friday, like nursing home residents were about a fourth of the coronavirus deaths in New York city. What more can the state do to tackle that issue?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:13)
Nursing homes are about a fourth of the coronavirus deaths. Frankly, we are lucky that it’s only one quarter. Coronavirus and a nursing home is a toxic mix. We’ve said that from day one. We saw that in Washington state. This virus preys on the vulnerable. It preys on seniors, it preys on people with compromised immune systems and underlying illnesses, and coronavirus in a nursing home can be like fire through dry grass. The state has put in different precautions. We’re not even allowing visitors into nursing homes now, which is really harsh, frankly. Unless the person there … Unless we call it, there are exigent circumstances where the person is in a desperate situation and then the family comes in to see them. The staff is being tested before they go in. So we’re doing everything we can, but this is truly a terrible virus to stop, and that combination is lethal. Coronavirus in a nursing home is lethal. The only question is how many people will die. I’m sorry, Jeremy?
Your order … You’re extending the [inaudible 00:33:37] orders, so that’s all non-essential workers and all unnecessary gatherings through April 15th?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:43)
Okay. And then to go back to the point that Dr. Zucker was making, obviously we’re testing in a very large rate and we’re getting a lot more positives maybe compared to other jurisdictions. So what numbers are you actually looking at? You look at the rate of hospitalizations, do you look the rate of ICU intubation? The data seems to be saying different things.
Dr. Zucker: (34:03)
You look at all the numbers. We look at all of this, and we look at the trends. It’s very important to look at the trends. As the governor mentioned, it is a trend that we need to follow, whether it’s intubations, ICU care, and obviously we look at the case fatality rate, which is the number of people have died, which is the number over the larger number of people who’ve tested. New York has tested many people, more than anyone else.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:25)
Yeah. Jim, if I can on that. The question was basically what numbers do you look at to make a projection? As Dr. Zucker said, you look at all of them, but I would not look at the testing numbers. I wouldn’t overweight the testing numbers because the testing numbers are not random. The testing numbers are all self-selected, right? These are people who you’re testing because they’re suspect of being positive, and we don’t do the projections ourselves. We have a Columbia, Wyoming medical center that does projections. The CDC does projections. We have McKinsey company that we hired to do projections. So there are a number of firms that do these projection models and they go back to studying China and South Korea and everything else, and they have models. The models, some of the models are all over the place, right?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:22)
So we do the best we can to pick a reasonable model. Not the highest, not the lowest. A reasonable model, plan for that model, plan for that apex. That’s where we got from day one, 140,000 hospital beds, 40,000 ICU beds. That’s from that model at the apex. At the apex. What? You don’t need 140,000 hospital beds today? Of course not. We need them at the apex, but that’s where we got those original projections. Then you have actuality, right? Which is what you’re pointing to. You can see the day to day how many come in, how many go out, the discharge rate, the death rate, and that’s what we’re plotting. And then they take every day and they put it against their projection. But you still only have a projection. They still can’t tell you … They’re watching for the slowing of the number of cases. And when you see the number of cases, the increase in the number of cases slowing, then you are theoretically reaching the apex, and otherwise you’d just watch it day to day.
[inaudible 00:36:35] about sort of stopping New York plates at the border. What about governor [inaudible 00:36:40] say this in Florida? We’re hearing that that’s happening on I-95
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:42)
I did not hear that. I didn’t.
I know that there are clear restrictions in Florida in place on New Yorkers or people coming from New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:51)
Yeah, Jeremy. I don’t know what Florida did, but I will look into it.
I have a three part question for you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:59)
[inaudible 00:36:59]. You get two parts. Take the first and second part. Put them together in one part.
I will do that. Moving forward. What is your plan for a what might be considered by the experts in mental health crisis pending, and then as people are cooped up together, domestic violence is expected to rise, and then do you get crime reports and the crime rates down?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:28)
Well, good questions, doctor, do you want to comment them, or Jimmy, you want to talk about the mental health program?
The mental health program, we have a volunteer program. We have nearly 12,000 mental health experts and professionals who have signed up to offer services to New Yorkers either via telephone or Skype or other things, so that program’s going quite well of psychologists and psychiatrists and other mental health experts to help with that. We are tracking criminal justice.
Are you expecting to do something that’s more New York state centric as opposed to this national type thing with people with mental health experts from all around the country who offer Skype and other-
Dr. Zucker: (38:11)
Many of the people … Well, people are Skyping because we want to limit distance. We want people to distance from one another. So many of those volunteers that I mentioned are actually New Yorkers who are just giving their time and expertise to help new Yorkers in need right now. It’s a very New York centric.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:29)
Yep, that’s right.
The domestic violence question that I asked.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:35)
Jim or Howard, do you want to take that?
We’ve been tracking some of that data. It’s tough to tell how it’s emerging. We have seen there’s some anecdotal instances of increase of domestic violence issues and Department of Health and other government agencies have been monitoring and trying to provide services where possible, but I would defer to Dr. Zucker on that.
Dr. Zucker: (38:57)
As Jim said, we’re working with all the different agencies across the state on this issue of some mental health and all the other agencies and I’ve also reached out to some of the professionals in the private sector to ask some of the recommendations they may have.
I appreciate it. Could you please speak to … There was ample warning before coronavirus touched on New York shores that there should be large … Mass gathering should be banned. All gathering should be banned. There should be large workplace restrictions. Why didn’t you shut down the state sooner?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:29)
I think we shut it down … I think we were one of the first to shut it down. Shutting it down is not without criticism either, right? You’re trying to balance this. You now have the conversation about when do you bring the economy back, right? When do you open it up? Shutting it down is a very drastic measure, but I think we were one of the first. Also, you want to do it in a way that doesn’t create more fear and more panic. You’re fighting two things. We’re still fighting two things. Last night we were fighting two things. You’re fighting the virus and you’re fighting the fear. I can’t tell you how many people called all night long about the mandatory quarantine comment that the president made as he was getting into a helicopter, which was inconclusive, by the way. Even if you’ve heard his comment, he didn’t … It was not conclusive in his comment, but people are so on edge.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:28)
I mean, it really panicked people, they were going to leave the city last night. It was really … So you need to manage that fear and the panic and you also need to deal with the virus. We were one of the first … I never used the term shelter in place because I believe that was an inflammatory term and incorrect, by the way. They still use it. Nobody has a shelter in place policy. Shelter in place was from the nuclear war threat, go to a room in the middle of your home that has no windows, stay there until they give you the all clear sign. Modern times it was for an active shooter concept or in schools. That’s not what this was. But you say that. Nuclear war, active shooter, so it’s how you do it, but we were one of the first to do it.
… Or five dying. It’s such a quick flip now, do you regret not placing more restrictions sooner? Closing schools?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:36)
I think we were the most dramatic at basically the first point.
Speaker 7: (41:41)
Can you tell me how many, or do you know how many medical professionals in New York or other first … Frontline first responders have the virus, have tested positive? Are you hearing from hospitals and other folks?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:53)
I don’t have … We don’t have a statistic on how many first responders specifically proved positive.
Speaker 6: (42:00)
Senator Schumer’s office says you’re just flatly rejecting 5 billion in coronavirus Medicaid funding for New Yorkers because you’re not willing to delay the Medicaid reforms until the federal funding runs out. [inaudible 00:42:12] just can’t hurt local governments, especially at this time. What’s your response?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:16)
Well, I say to Senator Schumer, it would be nice if he passed a piece of legislation that actually helped the state of New York. The piece of legislation he passed stopped the state from a process that was happening for six months, which was redesigning the Medicaid program to make it more efficient and more effective. It was called the Medicaid redesign team. I announced it back in January. It’s the second time we did it, and it takes waste and fraud and inefficiency out of the system and that was going on since January. The legislation he passed said you can’t redesign Medicaid. For what reason? I have no idea. So it disqualified this state from funding, and he knew that when he passed it, because-
You have a choice. You could either take the additional 6 billion in [inaudible 00:43:22] and pause the MRT, which is worth two and a half billion, or you could … It sounds like you’re not taking the 6 billion and you’re going to push ahead with MRT.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:30)
Yeah, I have no choice because on the … Let me just … I’ll tell you. Two and a half billion per year recurring is worth more than six billion one shot. I’d rather have 2.5, 2.5, 2.5 than six billion today. And I called every congressional representative and told them, “Why would you want to stop a Medicaid redesign that’s been going on since January?” I don’t know what their political calculus was, but that’s all it was, was a political calculus. There’s no good government reason to say why you would want to stop a Medicaid redesign headed by Dennis Rivera, former head of 1199, Michael Downing, top healthcare professional in the state passed by the assembly and the Senate, a state passed Medicaid redesign effort. Why would you ever want to stop that? I don’t know whose politics they’re playing, but they didn’t represent the people of the state.
Speaker 7: (44:48)
Maybe you could just do that next year. Why not take the money they’re offering you now because you need it and just re-design it now?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:54)
You want to answer that?
Dr. Zucker: (44:56)
The numbers here are important. The $6 billion number. We can’t get to the $6 billion numbers no matter how you estimate those numbers. It’s probably closer to about-
Dr. Zucker: (45:03)
It’s probably closer to about four billion dollars, and that assumes that the emergency is in place for a full year. There’s nothing in that bill that says that it will last for a year. In fact, it will end as soon as the president declares the emergency is over. So that can happen at any time. So that $4 billion number also is reduced, if it’s half a year, it’s two. Then a significant portion of that money doesn’t come to the state. It went to local governments. So you’re left with a number that’s under $2 billion potentially, if at most. Which then you’re basically saying, “Take a one shot of these funds, don’t reform the Medicaid system, and spend that money inefficiently on a system that unanimously everyone on there understood was not working properly, we were wasting the money.” So the choice is really waste the money that way or do a bill that actually provides funding to New York state. That bill doesn’t even give us a fraction of the amount of money that is needed.
Obviously this is one of the big sticking points for the budget. Can you offer an update on where it’s-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:05)
That’s not the sticking point for the budget, but just to … So you have a fact. It’s two billion. Take two billion for sure, right? Door A, door B. Take door A, two billion for sure. Or door B for 2.6 billion. I pick the door with 2.6 billion. Not because I like the letter B, but I pick 2.6 billion. The real question is to me, Jimmy, why would you do that to the state of New York? Why would you say, “Stop a Medicaid redesign that saves taxpayers money, that has to be passed by the assembly and has to be passed by the Senate.” Why would a federal government say, “I’m going to trample the state’s right to redesign its Medicaid program that it runs, that saves money.” What is … I don’t even know what the political interest is they’re trying to protect. But 2.2 billion versus 2.6, I pick 2.6.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:21)
Second, the problem with the budget is the numbers. Why? Because the federal government … What we just talked about was in the previous bill, two bills ago. The bill that just passed, we get 1.9% of our state budget, about $5 billion, which is 1.9% of our budget only to use for coronavirus expenses. Okay? $5 billion, 1.9% of our budget, only for coronavirus expenses. First point, you have states that got 10% of their budget, 20% of their budget in coronavirus expenses that don’t even have coronavirus cases. You have some states have four cases. We have more cases than anyone else. We got the lowest level of reimbursement in the bill. What happened to funding need? Second, the federal bill had no funding for the fact that states have lost revenue and Speaker Pelosi, God bless her, was asked today, “How about governor Cuomo’s point that it didn’t do anything to help the states?” And the speaker basically said, “Yeah, we have to come back and pass another bill.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:49)
So we have a $10 billion, $15 billion revenue hole that the federal government did nothing to help on. Now I have to do a state budget. So now I say to the state assembly and state senate, “By the way, we have a 10 or $15 billion hole.” They don’t want to hear it. Right? Nobody wants to hear it. I don’t want to hear it. Unfortunately you have to live with it. But how do you do a budget with that big a hole? And remember the great heartbreak was we were all waiting for this last federal piece of legislation because we all believed it was going to have money to help us with our revenue shortfall and then it didn’t. So that shock was just two or three days ago. Now we have to do the budget next week. The help we were waiting for from Washington never came. Now we have to make drastic cuts to the budget like you have never seen.
On the issue, on the issue of the travel advisory, how do you envision non-essential travel? I mean, business travel for many people is considered essential. You yourself said that the financial sector is important. How do you imagine that and are you asking people not to come to New York to do business?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:16)
No. Same definitions as we have, Jesse non-essential. If you are non-essential worker, you shouldn’t be leaving your home. If you are an essential worker, then you can take a bus, a train, a car or plane.
Specific to the travel advisors at the CDC. So should people be traveling to New York?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:35)
Same rules. If they are essential business travelers, yes.
Speaker 10: (50:40)
[inaudible 00:50:40] that would be allowed under the bill? It looks like you could still find savings without shifting costs to counties. And what would be the impact of the across the board cuts that the [inaudible 00:50:50] is looking at that are possible at a time of a public health crisis?
Well the … We do have funding. The question is how do we fund the healthcare cost? The federal government did provide healthcare funding. I have $5 billion in the bill for coronavirus funding. But every hospital now has coronavirus expenses. So we have $5 billion for healthcare and hospitals. Ironically, our last problem in some ways is the healthcare budget, because we’ve received $5 billion and the hospitals have received a lot of money. The big problem is how do you fund the schools? Because the schools are the second big expense for the state after healthcare, and that’s where we have zero dollars.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:46)
Couldn’t we do short term borrowing?
Dr. Zucker: (51:48)
Yeah, the issue we’re not going to have revenue in the first quarter of this year as a result of the delay in the tax filing date from April to July 15th. So with no revenue coming in because of that federal decision, we’ll have to potentially borrow resources to bridge that gap temporarily and those revenues should come in. That’s different than the revenue actual shortfall, which is a result of having only essential businesses open and that revenue not coming in. But to bridge that gap, we’ll do short term borrowing. We still have a $10 billion revenue shortfall.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:20)
But the essential problem on the budget, just so we’re clear, when you have that big a hole that has to be closed, there’s two things you can do. You can sort of paper over it and come up with expectations. Well, we believe the next federal bill will actually deliver money to the state of New York. Yeah, you could say that. And you could say, “I believe that Santa Claus is real.” But I’m not comfortable doing that. Especially since the federal government just passed the bill, and that’s what we were just hoping for. And the federal government just did the exact opposite and handed us a goose egg. Well, we expect the economy is going to rebound in nine months, and that it’s going to be what they call the V curve. It was a quick down, it’s going to be a quick up, and in nine months old those revenues are going to come flooding back, so we’re going to be fine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:20)
That’s another way of papering over the hole. I don’t want to do that either because I don’t believe it and I don’t believe anyone’s going to believe it and I don’t believe credit agencies are going to believe it, and I believe postponing a problem in government, in life, you just make it worse. You just make it worse. Let’s not deceive ourselves. You’re not going to get saved by the federal government. If they were going to do it, they would’ve done it. They played their own politics. Shocker. This is not going to be a quick down, quick up. You’re looking at weeks or months, and I don’t know how quick the recovery, and the recovery is going to be complicated and everybody says it. So I’m not going to say to the people of this state, “There is a theory of economics that I don’t believe.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:14)
I believe we have to actually deal with the numbers that are presented. By the way, like every family in this state has to deal with the numbers. Everybody’s income is down and they don’t get to make up numbers or make up a rationale. Well, I’m going to go buy a new car because I think I’m going to get rehired and I think I’m going to get rehired at a job that pays more, so I’m going to go buy a new car. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. They can’t do it, I’m not going to do it. It’s going to be honest.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:45)
I know it’s politically hard for the legislature. I know that legislative bodies, they want to make friends by giving out a lot of money. We’ve been successful in being very prudent economically. Our spending rate has gone up less than any administration in modern history. Our budgets have passed and they’ve been right. I’m not going to change that now, so I’m not going to paper over the economic reality. And I know it’s difficult for them, but I’m not going to do it otherwise. I can tell you that right now I’m not going to pass or sign a phony budget.
Speaker 10: (55:27)
[inaudible 00:55:27] budget?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:28)
The same policy issues we’ve been discussing all along, the main policy objections, they object to a policy proposal that I put in which would be a bill that is meant to fight against antisemitism. Antisemitism has been a major problem in this state. Right now we have coronavirus and that sort of eclipses everything. We tend to be myopic. We’ve had dozens and dozens of antisemitic attacks all across the state. I’ve been there with families who have been attacked. I was there the morning after the first night of Hanukkah when a rabbi’s home was attacked. Not to address antisemitism in this state I think is a terrible mistake, and it’s not just antisemitism, it’s what I call domestic terrorism.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:26)
It’s repugnant to the concept of New York and America to attack someone based on their race, color, creed. If you try to kill someone … If you kill someone in an attempt to kill several people based on their race, color or creed, how is that not a terrorist act? You kill someone and you were attempting to kill multiple people based on their race, color, creed. They don’t want to pass that bill and there’s objections to the surrogacy bill, which would allow … Which would help infertile women who can’t have a child, can’t carry a child biologically, from having a surrogate so they can have a child. It would stop LGBTQ couples from having a child, which is wholly ironic to me, as this is the state that first passed marriage equality. Now you say to that couple who you said, “You can get married.” But you can’t have a family because you can’t have a child. It makes no sense to me, but those are the main discussions. Let’s go to work, guys. I have to go. Thank-