Aug 17, 2020

NY Governor Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript August 17

NY Governor Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript August 17
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNY Governor Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript August 17

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on August 17 to share updates on COVID-19. He announced that gyms in New York will be able to reopen at 33% capacity. Read the full transcript here.

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Andrew Cuomo: (00:04)
Good morning. Pleasure to be here today. To my right, everybody knows Melissa DeRosa. To my left, Beth Garvey, special counsel to me. To her left, Dr. James Malatras, insists that I call him doctor as an official title but he is not a real doctor. If someone has a health emergency he can do absolutely nothing. He can do a paper on it. Today’s Day 170. Right now, New York has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. Our infection rate, positivity rate yesterday was .7%. That is the lowest it has been since this began so that is really great news. You can see the curve that we talk about, flattening of the curve, reducing the curve and then flattening of the curve and that is just a beautiful image to me, right? Art is in the eyes of the beholder. To me, that is beauty. Look at that slope.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:20)
Right now, we are averaging 1% or under since June and that is exactly where we want to be. Remember said, we were told, the “experts” that once we started reopening the infection rate would go up, we said well maybe if we’re very careful and we do it right and it’s phased that we can avoid that and we avoided it.

Andrew Cuomo: (01:50)
So that’s great news. The hospitalizations are 534, up a tick but basically flat. ICU patients, 133, basically flat, intubations flat. Number of lives lost six which is the same and again those families are in our thoughts and prayers.

Andrew Cuomo: (02:14)
The three-day average is just about the same also, but look where we were at the peak, 763 deaths. When you look across the regions, they were all basically consistent. When you look at the boroughs, across Manhattan, they’re all basically consistent so on all the numbers it’s good news, and again, congratulations to New Yorkers. They did what people said couldn’t be done. There was no way that we could reduce the rate of the infection and we were going to overburden our hospital system and our hospital system was going to collapse because we wouldn’t be able to handle it but New Yorkers did it. New Yorkers did what they said couldn’t be done because that’s what New Yorkers do.

Andrew Cuomo: (03:17)
Going forward, protect the progress, keep that rate down. One of the areas we’re focused on, bars and restaurants, “younger people.” I wish I could consider myself a younger person. One time I could. The State Liquor Authority and the New York State Police are attempting to supplement what the local police departments are supposed to be doing, that is their job, local police departments are supposed to be enforcing these laws. Frankly they’re not doing it in some places to the extent they should be doing it. State police and the State Liquor Authority are supplementing, they did 66 violations over the weekend. I hope establishments are getting the message because I said that we were serious about it. I said we were going to take enforcement actions and that’s exactly what we’re doing and these are serious enforcement actions. So if the police in the locality aren’t going to enforce compliance to the extent they should, I want the establishments to know that the state is going to do it and the state is doing it and these are serious violations.

Andrew Cuomo: (04:35)
Gyms, the guidance goes out today on gyms. Basically the outline is 33% capacity, there are health requirements that are in the guidelines that have to be maintained to their ventilation requirements. This is a whole new topic where we can actually do a lot of good work and we are in New York with the HVAC systems and the filtration. The gyms can open as soon as August 24. Oh. Trick me. One of the requirements is mandating masks at all times. Gyms can open as soon as August 24 but the locality must open them by September 2. The localities have a role here. They have to inspect the gyms before they open or within two weeks of their opening to make sure they’re meeting all the requirements so that variation is to give localities time if the localities need it. So if the localities can get the inspections done or be ready to inspect, then they can open up August 24. If a locality can’t get ready to do inspections, then they get another week. They can do it September 2.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:04)
Localities can also determine whether or not the gym has classes inside it. Some gyms have classes. Localities can decide whether or not those classes can be undertaken. The local elected will make the decision in a jurisdiction and the local health departments must inspect before or within two weeks to make sure all the guidelines are in place.

Andrew Cuomo: (06:31)
On the issue of schools, we said that by the infection rate, they can reopen. If schools can reopen in any state in the country, they can reopen here, but it only means they can. The question then becomes how and that is the big question. How do they reopen. When do they reopen? Is it hybrid, is it remote, is it with cohorts? That’s up to the local school district and the people who are going to make the decisions are not a bunch of bureaucrats. It is going to be the parents and the teachers and I’m telling you I’ve spoken to hundreds of parents and teachers. There are many questions that they have and these are good questions because if you look around, opening schools has proven problematic by sophisticated governments, it’s been problematic. Israel had an issue, Hong Kong had an issue. In this country we’ve had issues. So the parents are right to be concerned. It’s only natural for the parents and teachers to have questions. They’re not being obstructionist and I want the local school districts to understand that. Local school districts are not doing the parents a favor by talking to them. They’re not doing the teachers a favor by talking to them. If the teachers don’t come back you don’t have a school.

Andrew Cuomo: (08:09)
If the parents don’t send their students, you don’t have a school. So the mentality of some of these school districts, “Well we’re going to announce that the schools are open.” I don’t care what you announce. If a parent is not going to send their child, it doesn’t matter what date you pick or what plan you have. You have to make sure the parents and the teachers are comfortable and confident with it and that’s why when I was getting a lot of calls from parents and teachers saying we don’t understand the plan, they’re not explaining it, it’s up on the web, I can’t understand what they’re saying, I don’t understand how they would find out if a child is positive or not, how many tests are they going to do. They have many good questions. Those consultation processes and sessions have to be real. They can’t be short, submit your question via website and nobody gets through because if they’re not comfortable, it’s not a pro forma consultation, it is a determinative consultation because those have to be the people who feel good about accepting this decision. Otherwise it’s all moot, right? If a school district does open and there is a COVID spread, the state will close the school. So parents who are concerned and they are, well what if something happens? If something happens and there’s a spread, then the state will step in and we will close the school, but we don’t want to get to that point. That’s exactly what we want to avoid and that’s why the how and the plan is so important.

Andrew Cuomo: (10:12)
Tonight I have the honor of addressing the Democratic Convention in a speech, it’s a remote convention, virtual convention, whatever they want to call it, but it’s the opening night and I’d give a speech. I’m going to speak about the national crisis that we are in because I believe this nation is in crisis. COVID in many ways was the symptom and not the illness. The COVID virus showed us how weak we were and how unprepared we were and how divided we were. I say in the speech, it takes a strong body to resist the virus. Because it really is a great metaphor, right? When does the virus wreak havoc? When the body is weak and America’s body politic is weak. We’re divided. Our government was not ready to respond. So I speak about that. To me, this period of time has really reshaped not just our national dialogue, but our impression of government. Ask yourself when was the last time government was as essential as it is today. When? When did government matter the way it matters to you today, to everybody today? Maybe the last time we went to war, maybe the depression, maybe the last time they said they were going to draft your child to go into an army.

Andrew Cuomo: (12:10)
Government affects every person’s life, and not some political theoretical abstraction. What do you politically think, are you politically a progressive, are you politically a conservative? Government is making life and death decisions. I think it’s going to reshape the way people think about government for a long time. Because I don’t care what you thought about government yesterday, pre-COVID. It was a waste of time, I’m not political, government doesn’t matter. It all changed. Government matters today. Democrat, Republican, Upstate, Downstate, government matters. Leadership matters. Leadership matters. Performance matters.

Andrew Cuomo: (13:03)
… matters. Performance matters. Stripped away all the rhetoric. Did you get the job done or not? Performance matters. It was a great crystallizer of truth and fact, what we’ve been going through. Social unity matters. How did New Yorkers bend the curve? How did new Yorkers bend the curve? That’s the great question. Right? That’s what all the experts now ask me. “How did you do it? How did you do it?” I say, “I do anything.” I communicated information to the people of the State, and the people acted intelligently, and they were smart, and they acted as a community. We talk about that word community, we’re a community. Community, from the Latin, communitas of the common. Right? Constitution speaks about common good, common good, common good. Yeah. What the Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate was people not acting in the common good. New Yorkers acted in the common good. I wear a mask for you, you wear a mask for me. I respect you, and you respect me. That’s community.

Andrew Cuomo: (14:31)
New Yorkers forge community. Well, how? We’re so fractious, we’re so divided. No. They overcame the divisions, and found the commonality. It matters. If we were divided, this would never happen. If a significant portion of the population said, “I’m not doing this social distancing, it’s a Democratic idea. I’m not doing masks. I’m not doing that.” If a significant portion of the population that did that, those numbers in that curve would be dramatically different. I also say in this speech, which probably is one of the most important things to me personally, I say thank you to all the Americans who came to help New York. I don’t know that you felt it the way I felt it. But one day I said, “We need help. Our medical staff is getting overwhelmed, and they’re working too hard.” And I asked people across the country who were nurses or doctors, “Could you please help? If you’re not busy in your state, could you please come help?” I just asked the question.

Andrew Cuomo: (15:58)
I didn’t talk about it before, it wasn’t premeditated. It was just common sense, and it was just spontaneous. 30,000 people volunteered. 30,000 nurses and doctors volunteer to come to New York in the middle of the pandemic, at the hotspot, nurses and doctors, to go into an emergency room. 30,000. I was so touched. I was amazed. Sometimes we underestimate the goodness of people, and the courage of people. I had seen snapshots of it after 9/11. There were all sorts of people who just showed up here. After Superstorm Sandy, there were all sorts of people from other parts of the state who just showed up, and people who had plates of cookies, and people who just brought supplies. 30,000 people. “I’ll come and help.” God bless the American people.

Andrew Cuomo: (17:19)
And I’ve tried to say, thank you, on behalf of New Yorkers, a lot of different ways. I’ve said, “Anything you need anywhere in the state, we’ll be there.” Because remember we had Oregon sending us ventilators. We had people from upstate, nursing home, sending ventilators. We had all sorts of people doing beautiful gestures. And I said, “New Yorkers will never forget. New Yorkers will never forget. That’s not who we are. As our value, we’ll never forget. And we will reciprocate. That is our value as New Yorkers.” And we’re sending supplies now to Houston, to Utah, to Savannah, to Florida. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you for being there for us. And we appreciated it. And we feel the same about you, that you felt about us. You showed us love and we show you love.” So I had an opportunity to say that in this speech also.

Andrew Cuomo: (18:33)
We now have to address the other crisis. Right? COVID crisis. What could be worse? Another crisis on top of COVID could be worse. “Oh, that could never happen.” Anything could happen, and it happened. And that was the tensions unleashed after the George Floyd murder, that are still ongoing today. And these are now, let’s call them police community tensions. Right? A significant portion of the population that is unhappy with policing public safety policies. “How do you know that?” Because we’ve had millions of protestors in the middle of a global pandemic. That’s how I know it. And we’ve all seen it. The tensions are real. The tensions are there. That has, in some ways, distorted the public safety function in many communities. New York City, murders are up 29% year to date. Shootings are up 79% year to date. Bronx, 60%. Brooklyn, 102%. Manhattan, 54%. Queens, 75%. Staten Island, 108%. You cannot dismiss these numbers.

Andrew Cuomo: (20:03)
You cannot look at this reality and say it doesn’t exist. Because the reality is so clear. New York City, recent data, over 90% of the victims are black and brown. 90% of the victims are black and brown. You want to talk about social justice? You want to talk about civil rights? You want to talk about social equity? How do you explain that? It’s not just New York City, it’s all across the nation. It’s also Upstate New York. Upstate cities, shooting injuries up 70% year to date. Albany, shootings up 240. Buffalo, 66%. Rochester, 54%. Syracuse, 130%. So it’s not just New York City. I announced an executive order on June 12th, which was ambitious. It was called the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. What it said is, we have an issue and we have to address the issue.

Andrew Cuomo: (21:29)
Very little has been done. Today, I’m sending a letter to 500 jurisdictions in New York State that have a police department. And the letter is explaining that it is imperative that we address this urgent crisis. I understand it’s complicated. I understand it’s difficult. I also understand people are dying. Right? It’s like the COVID crisis. ” Oh, this is complicated. This is hard.” Yeah. I know. It’s also a matter of life and death. And so is this situation. Denial is not a successful life strategy. Not in government, not in your personal life. This state does not run from a crisis. It’s not what we do. It’s not who we are. And we’re not going to deny that this is a crisis. What do we do in a crisis? Leaders lead, and leaders act. This is a time for leadership, and action.

Andrew Cuomo: (22:42)
Acknowledge the tensions, they’re real. Talk to members of the community, they have real issues. Talk to the police department, they have real issues. They will tell you there are policies in place that frustrate their ability to do their job. Talk to members of the community, they’ll say there are policies in place that they found find repugnant. They’re real feelings on both sides. I understand that. Acknowledge them, and then you have to move to resolve them. How? Form a collaborative, put people at the table. We understand the issues. We understand the tensions. We understand the differences of opinion. Let’s design a public safety function, a police department, where the police say they can operate with these policies. And the community says they’re reforms that they require necessary for social justice. That’s the only way out of this.

Andrew Cuomo: (23:55)
There is no other option. Denial doesn’t work. ” Well, let’s ignore it, and maybe it’ll go away.” It’s not going away. It’s not going away. The relationship is frayed. The relationship is based on trust and respect. And the relationship is ruptured. But divorce is not an option here. Divorce is not an option. You can’t say, “We don’t need any police, and the police department.” Oh, really? And then what happens at two o’clock in the morning when someone’s coming through the window and you hear the glass break. So divorce is not an option. You have to resolve the and reconcile it. I understand it’s politically difficult. I understand politicians don’t like to get involved in politically difficult situations.

Andrew Cuomo: (25:03)
I don’t lust for politically difficult situations, but it has to be done. It has to be done quickly. I’m saying in the letter today, if you don’t have a plan, that is a re-imagined police department, by next April, there will be no state funding for that jurisdiction. Okay? What am I trying to do? I’m trying to force attention, and focus, and action on this issue. People are getting shot every day. It’s getting worse, not better. We have to act. And look, change is hard. Change a large system, very hard. But there’s an opportunity in that. If you don’t change, you don’t grow. If you don’t change-

Andrew Cuomo: (26:03)
… change, you don’t grow. If you don’t change, you don’t achieve progress. If you don’t change, you don’t evolve. And change happens when the people stand up and say, “We want change and we have generated enough energy to overcome the status quo.” When did we pass marriage equality, the first state in the nation? When the people rose up and said, “We demand change.” When did we raise the minimum wage? When the people stood up and said, “We demand raising the minimum wage.” When did we pass gun safety? After there was a shooting in Connecticut and people stood up and said, “I’ve had enough.”

Andrew Cuomo: (26:50)
These are moments for positive change. They’re hard. They’re disruptive. But there is no change without disruption. Disruption is the price of change and progress. And this is a moment for disruption. Disruption has happened by the way. Now that we’re in the moment of disruption, let’s make the change, let’s make it positive. And let’s reimagine public safety in a way that works for the overall community. That’s what has to be done even though it’s hard. And that’s what we’re going to do because we are New York tough, which is smart, which is united, which is disciplined, which is loving. Questions?

Zack: (27:42)
Governor, I want to ask about gyms specifically. Would you say this is the most challenging, given that people are vulnerable in there, they’re sweating you have a lot of people cramped in a small kind of room in this instance? And is it more difficult than, say indoor dining? And how did you arrive at 33% capacity as opposed to 25% for some of the other institutions?

Andrew Cuomo: (28:02)
Yeah. Well, first I just wanted to determine if you have a personal bias and an agenda? Do you go to a gym?

Zack: (28:08)
I do. You should really see what I look like-

Andrew Cuomo: (28:11)
Yeah. How often do you go to the gym normally when it’s open?

Zack: (28:14)
Well, now I run in the park, but I mean, I was going five days prior to this.

Andrew Cuomo: (28:17)
Okay. So you are a gym goer? You’re a gym member?

Zack: (28:20)
100%.

Andrew Cuomo: (28:20)
So you have that gym membership? Look, they’re all tough, right? And they’re all a balance. Are gyms any tougher than bowling alleys or restaurants? I don’t really think so. Now gyms are one of the areas where you have to be very careful. And we know that. So research what has happened in gyms all across the country. Research what the best protocol is according to the health officials and implement the best guidelines, which is exactly what we’ve done. And health officials and space officials, physical planned space officials, have helped us develop these guidelines. They came up with the 33%, the ventilation specifications, the cleanliness, how often your equipment has to be cleaned, et cetera. If it’s not done right, it can be a problem. And we’ve seen that. So I wouldn’t say, Zack, it’s the hardest, but it is an area of concern. That’s why we went slow on it and that’s why we focused on it.

Andrew Cuomo: (29:33)
Flip side is look at our overall infection rate. We’re very proud of where it is. And the flip side of the scale is you need to get the economy back up. You need to get life moving forward. So that’s the constant tension you’re trying to walk. And so far, we’ve walked it right, the phased reopening and the guidelines, and then sticked to the guidelines. That’s why we’re giving the localities an extra week. They have to inspect the gyms because how do you know the gyms are following the guidelines? You don’t know. And we just went through this with bars and restaurants by the way. That’s my trepidation. You want to know my honest trepidation. You come up with guidelines, you say to the localities, “You have to do the compliance,” right? That’s their primary function in all of this.

Andrew Cuomo: (30:32)
That was our initial separation of responsibility. The state will make, frankly, the hard decisions. I’ll say the businesses have to close. I’ll say the gyms have to close. I’ll say the bars have to close. Let them blame me. You local governments have to do the compliance and enforcement work. And even then you can blame me, but you have to go to the bar and you have to go to the restaurant and now you have to go to the gym. And if they’re not following the order, you hand them a piece of paper says, “You’re closed because you violated Governor Cuomo’s regulation. You have a problem, call Governor Cuomo.” So the compliance is what I’m concerned about and that’s up to them. You want to make a point on this?

Melissa: (31:26)
No, I would also just say that in gyms, we’re requiring masks at all time, whereas in indoor dining by definition, the patrons aren’t wearing masks. You’re sitting at a table, you’re without a mask. And one of the major issues that we found when the governor stepped in with the SLA becoming much more aggressive is that people were drinking, they were standing, they were co-mingling. People were letting their guard down. And so this is a different situation, but we are mandating masks at all time. There has to be a sign-in form so that you know exactly who’s coming into the gym at all times in case, God forbid, there’s a positive, you can easily contact trace back. We’re recommending that they do screening at the door. So that’s going to be something that’s in the regulation. So that could be temperature checks. And then we’re also requiring, as the governor said, the Merv 13 filter, which has been found to be highly effective.

Melissa: (32:09)
So we think all of those things in combination with the 33% is something that we feel comfortable with. And if for any reason that ends up being a problem, then we will roll back.

Andrew Cuomo: (32:19)
Yeah, but the gyms are going to say these are difficult guidelines. And they are. The mask is so effective and it’s such a sin that this nation still has not mandated masks. But a lot of gyms and a lot of people are going to say, “I don’t want to be on a treadmill with a mask,” but that’s a very effective piece. Melissa’s point you have to sign in and sign out. So if there is a spread, you’re going to have a full list. The contact tracing is basically done for you already. You go right to the list, who was there that day, what time were they there, et cetera. So these are very tight guidelines.

Peter: (33:01)
So Governor, on these schools, at the start of the summer, you said if it was your kids, you wouldn’t send them to sleep away camp based on the data, based on the uncertainty. You’ve said that schools can open, will they open this up to parents and teachers and everyone weighing in. Right now, what’s your opinion with regard to New York City plan? Would you send your kids to a blended program in New York City schools where they’re in-person a couple of days and then at home a couple of days?

Andrew Cuomo: (33:29)
I would want to hear more. I would not make a decision on a school district saying a blended program. I don’t know what that means. I have questions. Maybe you have the answers for my questions, but I’m not saying yes just because you said we have a blended program. When my child goes to school, I want to understand how this works. And I want to understand what the precautions are and what the safeguards are and what happens if a kid gets sick and somebody tests positive. Am I going to know? How do you find out if a child gets sick? We all know there’s asymptomatic spread now. You’re taking temperatures, but how would you know besides taking a temperature? And taking a temperature doesn’t do everything for you. I would have questions.

Andrew Cuomo: (34:29)
And I’m telling you parents have questions because they’re calling you all day long with the questions. And they’re saying they can’t get through to the local school district to have an intelligent conversation. And that’s why I keep saying to the local school districts, “Look, you think you’re going to mandate a plan and they’re going to respond. I’m telling you you’re wrong. And until they’re comfortable, they’re not sending their child back and they’re not comfortable.” And if you’re asking me as a parent, I have questions and I want to have that discussion. And maybe you can resolve the questions for me, but I have questions. I don’t know what that means, blended. What does that mean?

Peter: (35:14)
Governor, in terms of the schools, under what circumstances would you close schools? And you pointed out the problems elsewhere. Is it inevitable that [inaudible 00:35:23] in the state of positive cases?

Andrew Cuomo: (35:25)
Peter, it’s not inevitable. Look, we went through this with the economy, right? We reopened the economy. We had guidelines, et cetera. And we said, “No region can open unless these guidelines are met.” They, the experts, said, “It’s inevitable that the spread is going to go up. You’re increasing activity. As a matter of science, you must increase the infection rate.” That’s what they said. That turned out not to be true. But we were very careful in the way we reopened the economy.

Andrew Cuomo: (36:03)
Gyms, all these precautions. Schools are analogous. Yes. If you bring a large number of people together in a congregate setting, is there an expectation that the infection rate could go up? Yes. The but is determinative. It depends on how you do it. And if you have the precautions in place and if you have mask wearing and if you have contact tracing, yeah, there’s going to be a child who’s positive. Just as a matter of math, there is going to be a child who’s positive. How quickly did you find that positive child? How good are you with the contact tracing? That’s going to make the difference here. What is the actual numeric indicator of us stepping in to close the school? I don’t know. It’s going to depend on the facts and circumstances of that school. You can’t really set a percentage. Some schools are small, some schools are big. But we’re going to be aggressively conservative will be our posture. Aggressively conservative, which are two words I’ve never used together before.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:25)
Jim, is there anything to add to that?

Jim: (37:26)
You have it, Governor.

Peter: (37:27)
Is it just strictly numerical or is there some other factors in play?

Andrew Cuomo: (37:34)
No, it would be about a spread. It would be about a spread.

Zack: (37:38)
Governor-

Speaker 1: (37:38)
Have you made a decision about the package of election, specifically absentee ballot reform laws Albany passed? Are you planning any executive orders? I asked this last week during a hearing. State and city election officials said they really haven’t gotten a lot of guidance on your office on how they should implement things for November.

Andrew Cuomo: (37:54)
We have a package of bills that we’re looking at now, and we’ll have an answer this week.

Speaker 1: (37:59)
What about EOs? Anymore on November.

Andrew Cuomo: (38:02)
We’re looking at that and we’ll have an answer this week.

Zack: (38:04)
Governor, most businesses at this point have reopened to some extent. Gyms now, bowling alleys. What is the rationale for the types of businesses that have still not received any state guidance? I think movie theaters are the most prominent example.

Andrew Cuomo: (38:18)
It’s they’re level of risk, Zack. It’s the level of risk. If you look at our metrics, we started with the most essential businesses that posed the least risk. And then it was a gradation down to the least essential businesses that posed the most risk. A movie theater, [inaudible 00:38:52] everybody finds something essential. And I’m sure there’s a whole group of people who say, “I cannot live without going to the movies. Life is going to the movies.” I get that. But on the-

Andrew Cuomo: (39:03)
Life is going to the movies. I get that. But on a relative scale, a movie theater is less essential and it poses a high risk. It is congregate. It’s one ventilation system. You’re seated there for a long period of time. Air flow engineering of that air system is key. Even if you are 50% capacity where there’s one seat between the two of you, two seats between the two of you, this is a risky situation. And on the index of how essential, movie theaters are not that high on the list of essential. Who has the Bible of essential? Nobody. We make those determinations on a case by case basis, but what’s more essential, a gym or a movie theater. You can’t go to the Bible to figure it out. We have a great group of people who we talk to. But we’re saying today, yes, gyms for more New Yorkers are more essential than movie theaters.

Speaker 2: (40:20)
How do you evaluate the risks of a possible dual pandemic? I understand the numbers are very good now [inaudible 00:40:28] COVID, but COVID is still here and will be a risk. And with the common flu coming. I address this because there’s new numbers or data according to the health experts, they’re talking about the herd community, whereas before they thought there’s 70%. Now they’re thinking it’s lower 45. So New York is possibly at a very good place right now, but how do your health experts and you, how do you evaluate the risk of a possible dual pandemic in the fall? How prepared are we?

Andrew Cuomo: (41:00)
Yeah, it’s a very good question. First, the experts would say we’re nowhere near herd immunity here. We’re at about 20% of an infection rate. Even if you want to say herd immunity is at 45, we’re nowhere near it. Dual pandemic, I don’t want to call the flu season a pandemic, but are we very concerned about COVID meets the flu season? Yes. Yes. It is going to make this situation more difficult in many ways. It’s going to add additional stress on the hospitals. It is going to add additional stress on the testing facilities because we’ve done a very good job in this state of maximizing our laboratory capacity. By saying to each lab, “You have to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and we have to get 90% of your tests.” Those are the same labs that do the flu test. And they’re going to turn around and say to me, “I can’t do 100 COVID tests anymore. I can only do 60 COVID tests because I have to do 40 flu tests.”

Andrew Cuomo: (42:14)
So it’s going to stress our testing capacity. We expect that. It’s also going to stress all these precautionary measures that places like schools are taking. Well, we’re going to do a health screening when the child walks in and if they’re showing any symptoms, then we’re going to have precautions for that child to be tested. You’re in flu season, everybody is sneezing and everybody is coughing. And everybody has a runny nose. Who has the flu and who is possibly COVID positive? Becomes a much more difficult calculus. Even we’re talking about the gyms today. Mandatory screening when the person walks in. We take your temperature, see if are symptomatic, even though you don’t have a need to have symptoms to spread the virus. “Oh, you’re coughing.” “Yes, I have a touch of the flu.” Yeah. It’s either the flu or it’s COVID.

Andrew Cuomo: (43:22)
So it is going to stress our entire situation. Dr. Fauci has talked about this. The CDC has talked about this. Now, I don’t want to consider the flu a pandemic. We have more severe flu seasons, less severe flu seasons. Maybe God is good and he says to us, “This year you’ve been through enough. I’m going to give you a light flu season this year,” which we would deserve, by the way. But it is definitely a stressor on the system. Someone who didn’t ask a question. Yes.

Speaker 3: (44:01)
Do you feel any pressure being tagged to deliver the DNC speech tonight, given your father’s legacy from the 1984 convention?

Andrew Cuomo: (44:07)
Do I feel pressure from my father’s legacy? Only every day. No, because he gave, first, he had a convention speech. This is not a convention the way they had a convention. And he must have done half an hour speech. I was there, but I forgot how long it is. There’s no comparison between a video remarks and a speech in a convention center. Speech in a convention center, you generate an energy. You then feed off the energy. There’s a relationship with the audience. I think I was given one of the longest relative time slots for convention speakers. And I was like five or six minutes is all I get. So what are you going to do in five minutes? What am I going to do in five minutes?

Speaker 4: (45:15)
Will there be a PowerPoint?

Andrew Cuomo: (45:17)
You’re going to have to watch and see. But I did want to have a little fun. Mr. Siff?

Peter: (45:23)
Governor, what is your explanation for why New York’s numbers have stayed low whereas California’s have gone back up? They’re both blue state governors. They are both populations that in theory followed the instructions. So how would you account for that?

Andrew Cuomo: (45:40)
Mr. Siff, in theory followed the instructions. Yes, in theory. But there is no theory to this. This is all practicality, New Yorkers behaved better than any expert thought they would. I think New Yorkers, I think they got the information. We talked early on, they also know you don’t have to brief every day. That’s unnecessary. I said, “No, I want to brief every day because I’m asking people to do something difficult every day.” So just as a source of consistency and motivation, I want to be there every day. They have the information, they connected with each other. I think we all connected in a way. I think I connected with them. I think they connected with me. I think they connected with each other. That formation of community is a beautiful thing when it happens. It’s like a source of energy that goes through people and then resonates.

Andrew Cuomo: (47:07)
We did something smart here early on because I had gone through a lot of emergencies. I was at HUD for eight years. I did all the national emergencies. I knew what they were like. I said in our state legislation, it’s one state. We need one policy. Some of these other states have localities making their own decisions. That does not work. Can you imagine if New York City made one set of decisions, Nassau another, Suffolk another, West Chester another, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, another. How do you manage that situation? One county executive says, “I’m opening bars.” One county executive says, “I’m closing bars.” How do you manage that situation? Many states took that road. It’s apparently easier for the governor. Why? Because then I say, “Don’t blame me. I didn’t make any of these decisions. Go talk to the Nassau County executive. Go talk to the Suffolk County executive, go talk to the mayor of New York City. Go talk to Westchester.” “Well, governor, they’re all making different decisions.” ” That’s the law. The law is they have the right to make the decisions. Don’t blame me. I politically wipe my hands of this.”

Andrew Cuomo: (48:43)
Yeah. That was the wrong decision. I think because you knew what was going to happen or you should have known what was going to happen. It’s a statewide pandemic. It’s a multi-state pandemic. It’s a national pandemic. How are you going to leave it to a local government to make decisions? And then all of that happens as people go from place to place. I remember once there was some storm, Mike Bloomberg was mayor. Mike said, “I want to close the gasoline stations. I don’t even think he asked. I think he just had the power to close the gasoline stations. So we closed gasoline stations. It was a snow storm or whatever it was. All of a sudden, Nassau goes crazy. Westchester goes crazy. They have all these people coming out of New York City to their counties to get gasoline. And they have traffic jams on their highways and they have traffic and they can’t keep up with it. I had to call up New York City. And say, “Look, I understand from your point of view what you were doing. But this has an effect all across the board.”

Andrew Cuomo: (49:58)
Can you imagine this situation with all these decisions? Nassau doesn’t close its gyms, Westchester does. I mean, it would have been… But many states have that model. And then I think, but our secret weapon was New Yorkers. That was our secret weapon. They rallied and they sacrificed and God bless them. They did it. Thank you guys. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (50:32)
[inaudible 00:50:32] signature.

Andrew Cuomo: (50:32)
Who, you want signed poster?

Speaker 5: (50:40)
Yes, sign-