Jul 23, 2020
NY Governor Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript July 23
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on July 23 to share updates on COVID-19. He said: “This is not the time to fight for your right to party”. Read the full transcript here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Ready? My mask matches my tie. Always a good way to start today, even if it is coincidental.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:09)
We have from my far right Commissioner Tony Annucci, who is the commissioner of New York State Department of Corrections. Tony has been with me from day one. He’s done an extraordinary job. It’s one of the hardest positions in state government, I think, running the correction system, and Tony’s done an outstanding job. I want to thank him. It’s a pleasure to be with him today.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:34)
To my immediate right, Melissa DeRosa’s, secretary to the governor. To my immediate left, Gareth Rhodes, deputy superintendent of Department of Financial Services; and Kelly Cummings to Garrett’s left. Kelly, as you know, is director of State Operations, and she has done a remarkable job.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:52)
This has been a stress test for governments all across the country. Government had to perform. It was not about just talking, right? It was not about rhetoric and pontification. It was about performance. That’s what government is supposed to be able to do. We’ve lost sight of that for a long time. We thought pop government became a political exercise, and if you took the right political positions then you did your government duty.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:23)
No, no, no. Government has to work. It has to operate. It has to function. We’ve seen under this COVID stress test, what governments could actually perform and what governments couldn’t perform; all those logistical things, setting up testing sites, coordinating labs, doing the contact tracing. It was hard. Government never had a challenge like that before, not in my lifetime. And I’m very proud of the way the employees of New York state government responded, and I’m proud of Kelly Cummings’ leadership.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:01)
Let’s talk about today where we are. We’re day 145, a bright sunny day. Good news, all good news. 706 hospitalizations, the lowest since March 18th. Number of deaths, 13. We don’t like to lose anyone obviously, and they’re in our thoughts and prayers, but that is also good news relative to where we were. Three-day average of lives lost is down to eight. That is good news. Number of tests yesterday, 69,000 tests; 811 positive. That’s a 1.1% positive rate. That is also good news.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:46)
You look across the regions of the state, you see all good news. You see a little tick in the capital region, see Albany capital region? We had just about 30 positives from one July 4th party. One party, 30 positives, 28 positives. You understand why we say one bad event, one bad group can be a real problem. One party, 30 people. Remember what we went through in New Rochelle, one super spreader. First hotspot in the United States. One person can make a difference. But all the numbers are good.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:35)
You look across New York City, likewise, all the numbers are good. Because it’s good, we then say good news. The data is clear. We congratulate New Yorkers because they climbed the highest and hardest mountain, and we are on the other side. The big caution, the but is, but we don’t want to climb any more mountains. It was not fun. It tested the character of the people of the state, tested the competence of the government, and New Yorkers did it, but we don’t want to do it again. And we’re wary of new threats that are on the horizon.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:20)
And that is the bad news is the concerning trends that we’re seeing around the country primarily. And it’s important that we learn the lesson of what we have gone through. This is not that COVID descended on us yesterday, it’s been six months. In New York, we were ambushed. The virus came from Europe. Nobody knew, nobody told us. We woke up one morning and the spike was already happening. We were ambushed.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:58)
That’s not where we are today. It’s been six months. We know what COVID is about. We’ve been talking about testing and tracing and quarantine. It’s been six months. Let’s at least learn the lesson of the past six months. Let’s learn the facts of the past six months.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:18)
We’re still having this same inane political discussion. “Well, you should reopen. Reopen right away.” No. No. That was never the question, and now we have six months of experience to know what happens when you do that, right? It wasn’t about do we reopen or not? The question was always, yes, you’ll reopen. Of course, you’ll reopen. You’ll reopen as quickly as you can, but you have to be smart in how you reopen. You have to follow the science and the metrics.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:55)
You still have today people who are operating politically, suggesting just reopen, just reopen. Even President Trump, isn’t saying that anymore, and he was the main booster of that theory, right? And we see what happens when you rush a reopening. We have the proof of six months of experiments.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:25)
Some states reopened right away. Some states, New York, said “No, let’s do a phased reopening. Let’s study the metrics and let’s do it intelligently.” And in the long run, that will be better. Because if we just reopened immediately, we run the risk of the virus going up and then we have to close. That is exactly what has happened. It’s not a question of political theory, he said, she said, conservatives say this, this one said… We have the results. We went to the laboratory, we tested it.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:05)
New York began reopening May 15th. I said, at that time, we expect the virus may go up once you start reopening. Why? Because the activity is going to increase. More activity, more spread. We started reopening, you know what happened? The number went down. It didn’t go up. It went down. I was wrong, to the positive. I thought it was going to go up. The number went down because it was a smart reopening, because we’re on top of it was studying the data, et cetera.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:43)
Look at the states that rushed to reopen and look at what is happening. Look at our curve versus their curve. It’s undeniable, so why are we still having the same political argument? We know that rushed reopenings don’t work, and the States that rush to reopen are now re-closing.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:08)
That’s another new COVID word by the way. I don’t think there is any such word as re-closing. I’m sure Zack will point out that I used the word that doesn’t exist, re-closing it’s a new word in the state of New York. I just proclaim it a new word.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:23)
They are re-closing. How did that help the economy? It didn’t. It set the economy back. You look at where this country is versus other countries on the globe, we’re behind the other countries. We got the virus from Europe. Europe now has the virus under control. They’re quarantining us because they did a better job.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:48)
So, learn the lessons and let’s stop this nonproductive political debate that is still going on in this state and in this country. No politics. Follow the facts. That’s what we did from day one.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:07)
We do face a threat from the states that rushed the reopening and were not ready. You turn on the news. You listen all day. There’s still problems in testing. States don’t have tracing operations. States have some counties opening, some counties closing. Some counties have this plan, some counties have that plan. They rushed the reopening, they were not ready for the reopening, or they just were not competent enough to handle the reopening because it was rushed. And we’re seeing that increase. It’s undeniable, and it is a threat to New York. We now have 39 states with an increasing threat.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:55)
We know that this virus travels. We know that. We know we are not an island in the state of New York. We know that we cannot hermetically seal the state of New York in our own little bubble. When you see the virus going up in these other states, it poses a threat to New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:19)
Our quarantine enforcement is serious, and I want people coming into this state to know that. States have never done border control before. We had to scramble. It was another COVID-19 first. But we have police at airports. When you land, there is a police officer there. You have to fill out a form as to where you’re going. It is illegal to leave the airport without filling out the form, and then we can follow up from the form. We have some people coming to New York saying, “Oh, I didn’t know that there was a quarantine.” I don’t know how they did not know there was a quarantine. There is a quarantine and we are serious about it.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:09)
At the same time, we stand ready to help our fellow Americans and the other States. I have said, very clearly, anyone who needs help anytime, anywhere, we will be there. Why? Because first of all, it’s the right thing to do. I sat here and I said to the people across this country who watched the briefings, “We need help.” I said, “Please help us.”
Andrew Cuomo: (11:38)
New York was in the midst of the crisis. I asked for doctors and nurses from across the country to come help us in our emergency rooms. 30,000 people volunteered. I mean, how awesome is that? Think about that. 30,000 nurses and doctors, who knew the threat. If you’re a nurse, you’re a doctor, you know the threat about working in an emergency room, right? It’s not like you’re going in blindly. 30,000 people volunteered. I mean, how beautiful, how generous, how courageous. “I’ll fly to New York and I’ll go into your emergency rooms.”
Andrew Cuomo: (12:19)
I said at that time, “We will never forget what people are doing for us.” And I said at that time, “We will repay your gratitude.” New Yorkers mean what they say and New Yorkers are an honorable people. When we say we will never forget and we’ll be there for you, we mean it. I represent New Yorkers. The words came out of my mouth. I said them on behalf of all New Yorkers. We are going to honor what we said. We will be there for you.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:03)
And we’re working with governments now, Atlanta, Houston, Savannah. We’re working with other governments, whatever they need. We understand they’re struggling. We understand their pain. We were there, and anything we can do. That’s the right thing to do.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:19)
Also, practically, we know that if we don’t control the virus in the other states that we are then in danger of dealing with the second wave. Not the second wave they talked about, which was a mutated virus comes back, it’s a second ricochet of the first wave. Because we’re still in the first wave. But the wave bounced through the West Coast and is now bouncing back like a wave in a bath tub, and that’s our quarantine, et cetera.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:56)
We understand that we have a self-interest in all of this. And the expression I like to use, “A virus anywhere is a virus everywhere.” That’s what we should have understood. That’s what we should have understood when we first saw the virus in China. It was in China, it was a matter of days before it was here. And by the way, it was a matter of days before it was here.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:24)
Also, we’re monitoring a second threat, which is the rising COVID rates among younger people. You look at the age brackets, it’s basically flat or down except for one group, 21 to 30 years old. And it has ticked up four points. That is a significant increase in a short period of time, and we know why. We have been talking about it. You can see it on the news. You can see it in the newspapers. You can see it in social media. It’s not hard to understand what is going on. It’s hard to deal with it, but it’s not hard to understand what’s going on.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:08)
You get groups of young people. It’s warm. They’ve been locked up for a long time. We like to socialize. I get it. You don’t socially distance, you don’t wear masks. The virus spreads, and it is happening to young people. This is not the time to fight for your right to party. I respect your right to party. I fully respect it. I would enshrine it in the state law if you want to know. You have the right to party, but let’s be smart about it, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (15:48)
There is an attitude that young people are immune. You are not. 21 to 30, the virus can kill you. And if it doesn’t kill you, you can bring it home and give it to someone inadvertently and it can kill them. They are laboring under false pretenses. And I’ve had dozens and dozens of conversations, and I’ve heard the most inane responses. They just don’t know the facts. They are dealing with assumptions that are just not true. First, the local governments have to step up and do the enforcement job. I understand it’s not politically popular. I understand it’s hard. Some parts of the state, we have health personnel, local health personnel, who have gone in, who have been accosted. I understand that, but you have to enforce the law. Just because people don’t like the law that you’re enforcing doesn’t mean you don’t enforce the law. Send them with a local policeman.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:02)
… we enforce the law, send them with a local policeman. If you need help, we’ll get you help with the state police, but we have to enforce the law, and the local governments have to do it. New York City, NYPD has to enforce the law. Not just the Sheriff’s Office. When New York City wants to enforce the law, you know who enforces it? The NYPD enforce the law. State liquor authority and the state police are going to step up their efforts dramatically, but they can’t do it without the local police. I’ve said that from day one. Also, we need to get the facts to the young people who are participating, and they need the facts, and we’re going to start a video ad campaign that is targeted to young people to communicate some of the facts and the misimpressions that they have. Can you run the ad, please?
Speaker 1: (18:05)
I work out every day. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 2: (18:08)
I’m 24. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 3: (18:09)
I have antibodies. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 4: (18:12)
It’s been a long week. COVID Won’t kill me.
Speaker 5: (18:14)
I’m 25. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 6: (18:15)
I’m partying outside. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 5: (18:18)
I don’t need to wear a mask around my friends. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 1: (18:20)
I’m 23. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 2: (18:23)
If I haven’t gotten it yet, COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 7: (18:25)
I’m young. COVID won’t kill me.
Speaker 1: (18:27)
Famous last words. Don’t let them be yours. Be New York tough and smart. Socially distance, wear a mask. Mask up, America.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:39)
That’s what you hear when you talk to a lot of young people. There is a total misconception of their vulnerability to this disease, and we hope that that makes a difference. Also, Washington is now discussing a supplemental bill to help with the COVID crisis, this gridlock and dispute as to whether or not they’re going to fund state and local governments to help. It’s very simple. If they want to get this economy back running, you have to fund state and local governments. There is no economic model or research that says the economy is going to bounce back without funding state and local governments. The economic research says the exact opposite. Listen to Chairman Powell. Even The Wall Street Journal says the data shows if you don’t fund state and local governments and they have to do dramatic cuts, that’s going to hurt the economy.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:40)
These Republican senators who say, “Well, they don’t want to make the taxpayer pay to bailout blue states, Democratic states,” initially, Democratic states are the states that had the most COVID cases. Not true anymore. You now have Republican states that are suffering worse than Democratic States, right? And this hyperpolitical Washington attitude, why should a Republican Senate give funds to Democratic states? It’s not even true. It is the epitome of hypocrisy. These Republican states have been taking money from the Democratic states for years, for years. You look at who gives and who takes, if you want to get to that basis, New York gives 29 billion. New Jersey gives 18 billion. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, they all pay more into the federal till then they take out.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:55)
You know who takes out? The Republican senators who are making this argument. Virginia takes out 82 billion, Maryland takes out 42 billion Senator McConnell, Senator Rand, “We want to save taxpayers’ money.” You know how you save taxpayers’ money? Don’t take so much money out of the till. You take out $37 billion more than you put in. You want to help taxpayers? Put some of the money back that you have been taking for years. That’s how you help taxpayers. Question of federal troops in New York City, the President has sent troops to Portland, Oregon. The President just sent troops to Chicago, Illinois. The President is talking about sending troops to other cities. The President suggests that he would send troops to New York City. Troops, federal agents, et cetera. I spoke to the President about it. I don’t believe there’s any justification to send federal troops or federal agents to New York City, and I told him that. There is no federal property that is endangered, that could justify the federal government having to send agents. The constitutional law is clear on this, the nation does not have a federal police force to deploy in their discretion. Policing is left up to the states. The President and I had a good conversation. He said he would not be sending troops into New York City. He did not say period, ad infinitum, but he said that we would talk before he did anything, and New York was not included yesterday in the announcement that he was sending troops into Chicago.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:51)
If the president were to do that, of course we would sue. I believe it’s blatantly unconstitutional, but a lawsuit in this case would also not be highly effective as a short-term measure. There are numerous lawsuits. Portland, Oregon has sued the federal government. Mayors have sued the federal government. The lawsuits take time, and for that lawsuit to work its way through the courts, you’d be talking about a significant amount of time. I think if they sent in federal agents, I think it would be inflammatory, I think it would be pouring gasoline on a fire, and that’s the last thing we need in New York City.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:34)
So the President said he heard me, he said he wouldn’t do it. He said that we would talk if anything changed, and it was a good conversation and I’m going to hold the President to his word, and I have no reason to believe anything other than that. And the President said if there was a change, we would have a conversation first, but I’ll stay on top of this and monitor it, and we’ll see where we go from here. But so far, the president has not said anything different than we had in the conversation.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:17)
In the meantime, New York City must focus on quality of life and essential services. The rationale used in Chicago was crime. We have had a crime increase in New York City. We have to get on that. The homelessness, the graffiti. So we have work to do here in New York, long-term, for New York City. We will need a significant effort to restart the economy, and I’ve said that from day one. Reimagine the economy, rebuild the economy. You have a lot of people who left New York City when COVID was at its height.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:56)
You then have this transformation in the economy where people were home for four or five months working from home, and they were introduced to a new way of doing business, and you’re seeing businesses across the country starting to modify their behavior. “Maybe I don’t need to be in the city. Maybe I don’t need all that commercial space. Maybe I can have half my workforce work from home. Maybe I can stay in my summer house and work from my summer house, and not pay the New York City income tax.” So this is a very delicate moment that we’re in. You put on top of that the crime increase, put on top of that the scenes of looting that we’ve seen, put on top of that issues with the homeless, issues with graffiti, it’s a bad combination that we’re going to have to address.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:51)
Now, one thing at a time, we have to get through the current crisis, which is dealing with COVID, but, and we have to make sure there’s no second wave, et cetera, but we’re going to have work to do, to restart and rejuvenate the economy. There’s no two ways about that. One of the best things we’ve done is the amount of testing that we have done. You look at these other states that are still having trouble on testing, they’re having long turnarounds on testing. Testing is your eyes and ears, in this situation. Everything is anecdotal without testing. You have the number of hospitalizations, but that is a lagging indicator, and it’s too late when the hospitalizations are going up. The testing was the only facts to tell you where you were today, and you need facts. You need guideposts to plan your strategy.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:47)
We test more than any state. We test more than most countries. We do so much testing that we can refine the testing and we can test subgroups. We tested our subgroups of essential workers, because I was always worried we made essential workers continue working, did we put them in harm’s way? Essential workers were below the level of the overall community. New York City, the overall community is 19.9. The Fire Department was 17, transit workers, 14, healthcare workers, 12, NYPD, 10. Why is the fire department high? It’s Fire Department and EMT workers. So the EMT workers are really on the spot, right? They’re the ones who are showing up.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:39)
Look at the health care workers, 12%. How can the health care workers be at 12% when overall in New York City, it was 19? How can people working in an emergency room have a lower infection rate? They’re dealing with positive people all day long. How can that be? Because these work. These work, that’s why, and that’s why New York State was the first state in the United States to have a mask order. But we’ve done more and more testing, and we did testing in DOCCS facility, Department of Correction facilities. Okay?
Andrew Cuomo: (28:23)
I’ve talked enough. Press test. You’re the press. This is the test. We tested incarcerated individuals over 55 and over. How many individuals are there in the state prison system who are 55 and over? See, you like to ask questions, but you’re not so good on the answering questions. Any guess? Come on.
Speaker 8: (28:56)
Andrew Cuomo: (28:57)
Speaker 9: (28:58)
Andrew Cuomo: (29:00)
10,000. 3, 900, 55 and over. Why 55 and over? Because COVID affects older people more. What was the percent positive? How many people [inaudible 00:12:12]? How many people of the 3,900 tested positive?
Speaker 10: (29:16)
Andrew Cuomo: (29:17)
Speaker 10: (29:19)
Andrew Cuomo: (29:19)
3%? Any other bids, offers?
Speaker 11: (29:21)
I’d go lower.
Speaker 12: (29:22)
Andrew Cuomo: (29:23)
How many people? What’s your number?
Speaker 11: (29:26)
I’d go lower than three. I’d say two or one.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:29)
Two or one?
Speaker 11: (29:31)
Andrew Cuomo: (29:34)
77 positives out of 3,900 people tested, which is 1.9. So I just want to applaud Commissioner Annucci, and I want to applaud Kelly Cummings. This is a congregate population, 55 and older. They were all asymptomatic, by the way, because symptomatic people had been tested. These were asymptomatic people, the entire population. So that was a job really well done, because again, these congregate facilities are where we’ve seen a lot of trouble. So very good. Because we are New York: tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving. Questions?
Speaker 13: (30:21)
Governor, regarding the situation, you said that you seemed to speak to the President successfully, and kind of held him off for doing something drastic, like bringing in federal troops or agents to assist with law enforcement, but then you said it is first on the state’s part to act, or purview to act in situation. Are we at a tipping point yet? I mean, do you feel as though we’re at a point where crime, and graffiti, and homelessness, are at a crisis point and something needs to be done to kind of course correct the way the city is handling it?
Andrew Cuomo: (30:47)
I don’t believe it is an emergency that would justify a state emergency declaration, or a federal emergency declaration. For the federal government to come in, there’s only two possible rationales. I don’t believe either are legal, by the way. One is a fear of damage to federal property. That was the early conversation in Portland, Oregon. There were federal statues and they were being destroyed. Destruction of federal property, or a public safety emergency that is endangering lives and is not being adequately addressed by the local government city state, I don’t believe those situations exist. I don’t believe they exist with the federal government, I don’t believe they exist for the state. That would be for the state to declare an emergency and come in, basically in a takeover capacity. I did say during the nights of looting, it was a very serious situation, and had that not stopped, and had the city not deployed more NYPD officers, and if that looting had continued, that, I believed was an emergency situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:11)
So I don’t believe we have an emergency crisis for state takeover. Do I believe graffiti is a growing problem, homelessness is a growing problem, crime is a growing problem? Yes, yes. I’ve said it, we’ve been talking to city officials, elected officials, city government about it. I’ve said it publicly multiple times, but yes, it is a significant and a growing problem, but not one that justifies a state takeover or a federal intervention, right? There’s a spectrum and there’s degrees. Yes, we have a problem, not a problem that requires federal intervention or state takeover.
Speaker 14: (33:03)
Governor Cuomo, just because you mentioned the prison system-
But Governor, here’s the question. Governor, are you saying that the crime-
Andrew Cuomo: (33:07)
[inaudible 00:33:08], I’m not going anywhere.
… are you saying that the crime, that the homelessness and the graffiti are keeping people who may have left for their summer homes, or Connecticut or other states, are preventing them from coming back into the city and helping the city have an economic resurgence or rebirth?
Andrew Cuomo: (33:26)
[Marsha 00:00:33:26], I’m not saying we know a cause and effect now. We know the elements that are in the environment, right? The elements in the environment are people left because of COVID, because at one time we were the COVID hotspot, people left the city. We know people leaving the city for their homes in the Hamptons, the Hudson Valley, young people going back to wherever they grew up, Chicago, et cetera, we have to get them back. We know complicating that is going to be-
Andrew Cuomo: (34:03)
…back. We know complicating that is going to be this economic transformation that is happening, where people are now working from home and they’re reevaluating their basic business modality. They’re doing that all across the country. “Maybe I don’t have to go back. Maybe I can keep half my workforce home.” That’s happening everywhere. We know you also have happening at the same time increasing crime. You had the incidents of looting. For people who are in this city now, they will say, the homeless problem is worse, the graffiti problem is worse. So you have all these elements happening at the same time, and it is not a good combination of elements.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:49)
Which ones are more impactful than other ones? I don’t know. My instinct is, if I had to guess, which I shouldn’t do, but if I had to guess, my guess would be the business transformation is going to have the most potential impact. If businesses just decide, “I don’t need to pay for 25,000 square feet of space. I don’t need it. They worked from home for four months, it was fine.” That could be a problem. And the other factors I think are aggravating factors. Also, sorry, one more aggravating factor. The main attractions for New York City. “Well, why do you pay a high rent? Why do you pay the income tax surcharge?” “Greatest restaurants in the world, greatest cultural institutions in the world. I love Broadway.” “All right, but those things are not operating now.” So that’s an element.
You mentioned the prison system. You failed to mention that the state’s only tested 10% of inmates across the board. And among all inmates, not just 55 and above, the infection rate I believe was about 10% to 15%, that’s according to the data on your website, on July 10th. So I’m curious if there’s any plans to increase testing among inmates, and if that’s something that is ongoing, and if you’ll release any further information? The most recent data is from July 10 on that.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:30)
Yeah, let’s just make sure we’re talking apples and apples. The earlier test we did was an antibody test. The antibody test says, did you have the COVID virus in the past? Was that 10%? Does anybody remember? Well whatever it was, it was about 10%. This test is what’s called the diagnostic test snapshot. Today, this is what the infection rate is. We tested the 55 and over asymptomatic, we test anybody who’s symptomatic, asymptomatic 55 and over, just on the theory of, well, these people are in a vulnerable class, let’s see what is the percentage who are infected now, but are asymptomatic. And those are the numbers we saw today. Is that right, Tony?
Do you have that number for the overall population or no? As of today.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:33)
What number? Go ahead Melissa.
Melissa DeRosa: (37:36)
I just wanted to make clear. So all along, we tested prisoners the same by the same standard as we tested people outside of prisons. So if you had come into contact with someone who was known to have coronavirus, or if you were symptomatic, then you got a coronavirus test. And then you either were hospitalized if that was necessary, or you were quarantined off and you were then monitored as the virus progressed. So prisoners through the entire length of the coronavirus were treated the exact same way as the general population.
Melissa DeRosa: (38:06)
What the governor asked DOCs to do, which they did, was every single prisoner who was 55 and over, regardless of whether or not they had been in contact with someone who had coronavirus, and all of these people were asymptomatic, because if they were symptomatic, they were already being tested. Just blanket test every single person, so we know. So we have a gut check, what’s going on in the prison system. Make sure that what we believe to be the case was actually the case, and that there hadn’t been any outbreaks within the New York State Corrections facilities.
Melissa DeRosa: (38:35)
So we just did a blanket, every single person, 55 and over. The website actually hasn’t been updated with those results, it’s going to be updated immediately following this press conference. And what we found, which was really great news, is that there had been no outbreak, and that the 55 and older population, it was 1.9% for positives, and then those people were appropriately either taken to the hospital if that was necessary, although in this instance, and Tony correct me if I’m wrong, because they were all asymptomatic I don’t think that that was necessary, or they were then quarantined, and they’ve been monitored.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:05)
I’ll tell you why we did it. There have been, if you have trouble sleeping at night and you watch many hours of news programming, which is a double affliction that I have, you have had outbreaks across the country in prisons, that have been quite significant. Think about it, in some ways it’s worse than any other congregate facility, right? Because people are really on top of one another, more than in an OPWDD facility, more than in a nursing home, so you’ve had prisons that have had serious outbreaks. And that’s when we decided to go just test everybody 55 and over, even if you are asymptomatic.
We’ve heard from people who still for months cannot get through. They call from the 8:00 in the morning till the end of the day. They send an email, they get a reply which says call, and they just still cannot get through, since April.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:17)
First of all, I get the overall situation. This is not a New York situation, so all across the country. Remember, what the federal government did is they passed a new unemployment law with new requirements, new regulations, they then gave it to the states and said, “Administer it.” I talk to governors all day long. You look at how New Yorkers handled this versus the other states, we have done a markedly better job than any state, even with a much higher number. You look at the number of people who have not yet gotten their check compared to any other state, we’ve done markedly better. Now at the same time, if you’re the one who is waiting for your check, it’s a problem.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:05)
The people you are hearing from are not generally people who are the run of the mill application. There are a lot of applications that are problematic. Not everybody gets a check. You have to meet certain federal requirements: your income, your situation, your bank account. And we wind up with a lot of people who file, and then there’s an issue.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:38)
And look, you also have a real situation at the same time going on, where you’ve had some massive frauds that have been going on. I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars. Because you put a big pot of cash out there and you say, “Call and get your check.” You’re seeing scams all across the country. So we’re working to accelerate the checks getting out the door, but I have a little voice in my head that says, “Beware when the pendulum comes back, and there’s an audit afterwards that says New York state gave out checks to people who shouldn’t have gotten the money,” which is inevitable. And then I’m going to say, “Well, we were rushing to move the checks very quickly because we wanted to get the money out to people.” And everyone in this room is going to say, “But you should have never given a check to a person who didn’t deserve the check. You should have audited them first.” And you’re going to be right. But Melissa has the numbers, but I just wanted to give you a little context.
Melissa DeRosa: (42:44)
So the way that we calculate this is we look at claims that are three weeks or older, because on a sunny day in July, when the economy is running perfectly, it takes DOL about two to three weeks to process a claim and get money out the door. So as of this morning, there are 1, 259 claims that are three weeks or older. So any claim right now, other than 1,259, are within the three weeks that on a sunny day in July, when the economy is humming, would take to turn over. On the issue of the phones, I actually had thought that the system had greatly improved, and I would like to follow up with you afterwards to hear from your hearing from, and see if there’s something specific we can do to address that.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:24)
How many people have we processed?
Melissa DeRosa: (43:26)
3.2 million people have gotten $34.4 billion since the start of this.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:31)
And Peter, of those 1,200, there are going to be issues with people. It’s not everybody who asks for a check gets a check.
So people who are dialing their phone all day every day can finally get through to somebody and say, “Hey, what’s going on with my client?”
Andrew Cuomo: (43:52)
That is, Carol do you –
The call center, the calls actually have improved a lot. There was a glitch on Sunday night with some of the PUA claims, and it caused many, many, many people just this week to call. That was resolved and people are now getting paid, but that caused a little bit, it was basically a technical error, but it has been resolved. So there was an uptick this week.
[inaudible 00:44:16] not just this week. It’s been two weeks worth of call, after call, after call, nothing.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:24)
To me that doesn’t sound right.
Yeah, especially because the numbers are down so low [crosstalk 00:00:44:30].
Andrew Cuomo: (44:29)
We brought in Google to do a website. We hired 3,000 people, 3,000, to work the phones and the website. It’s the volume was that incredibly high. And you have to check the financial information for every person. If you only have 1,200, how many were processed?
Melissa DeRosa: (44:53)
There’s 1,259 that are older than three weeks.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:57)
1,200 older than three weeks. And how many processed total?
Melissa DeRosa: (45:01)
Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
3.2 million processed. 1,200 over three weeks. And then what percent of those have issues that have to be worked out? Or, by the way, out of 3 million, what percent is the fraud going to be?
Governor, we continue to hear from person after person about testing results taking more than a week. It happened to me, for example. And I know you’ve talked about the difference between the state and city labs and the national labs, but it’s still perplexing for a lot of people to hear that the average turnaround is two to three days when they’re waiting sometimes up to 14 days. I’m wondering if you could elaborate on the discrepancy. Have you seen that the average time gotten worse in the past few weeks since we last talked about that, and if there’s anything else the state can do to speed up test results?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:53)
Yeah, here are the facts. The amount of time to get back a test is going up across the country. Period. Why? Because the national laboratories that do nationwide testing, Quest, Labcore, BioReference, et cetera, they are getting overwhelmed with all these states who are now going to the national labs. Caveat: why aren’t the states developing their own labs in state? We have 200 labs in state. They should be doing that, rather than just going to the national labs. True, but that’s more complicated.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:44)
In New York, about 70% of the tests are done by national labs. There is no delay in that 70% of labs, because we appropriate the tests among those labs, depending on their volume. So if one lab is getting slow, we have 200 labs in the queue we can allocate among the 200. About 30% of our tests are done by national labs. That 30% is getting longer. It is. Because it’s running into the national backlog, not a New York State backlog, but a national backlog. So 70% of the tests, no issue, 30% of the tests that were going to the national labs, they have slowed down, because the national labs have slowed down. And the federal government is working on supply chain issues for the national labs, which is part of it. The states, nationally, have to do a better job of using their local labs to increase capacity, but that is going on, and Gareth can give you some specific numbers.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:12)
Here’s what’s worse: what’s worse is it’s going to get worse, because you’re going to come into flu season. And right now we have basically said to all the labs in this state, “Work seven days a week, 24 hours a day doing COVID tests,” and they are. Come flu season, that’s their busy season, and they’re going to start to say, “We have to run flu tests.” Also, the flu tests, we fear, we’re trying to figure out a way around this, but we don’t have one right now, the flu tests will eat at the capacity for the COVID tests. That’s compounding this fear of a second wave in the fall. But, Gareth?
You look at how testing works in New York, we have about now over 800 testing sites. These are not labs, these are testing sites, where if you want to get tested for COVID, you’d go there, sign up for an appointment, and they would swab your nose. And then each of those sites has to then pick a lab where they would send that specimen. As the governor said, about over 70% of testing, those aren’t going to the labs that have what you’re seeing longer delays with. For example, we had about 69,000 tests yesterday, more than 50,000 of those did not go to the labs that are seeing long delays. And of those over 50,000, the average delay was about 2.6 days. The median is about two days.
So yes, while you are getting those reports, and obviously any lag is not desirable, the majority of testing in New York is happening on a much shorter time frame, which most other states right now can’t say, and that’s because of the work the governor did to develop this huge network of labs here in the state that are doing that kind of testing.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:07)
But Luis, those are your numbers. Let me just make sure I heard them right. We did 69,000 tests. Of the 69,000, 50,000 had a 2.6 day turnaround. 9,000 were longer, whatever that was, but 50 of the [crosstalk 00:50:27] Well, it’s 50 to 69. So the other 19, right?
The other 19,000, you’re seeing between six to 10 day average delay. Now you’ll sometimes have longer than that, sometimes you’ll have shorter than that. The labs also can prioritize what kind of samples are coming in. If it’s someone who is symptomatic, of course there’s testing required before people have elective surgeries, they can prioritize those as well. But again, the ideal form of testing is this rapid result, point of care testing, you get the result very quickly. Until we have that on a mass scale, we’re always going to have to rely –
Until we have that on a mass scale, we’re always going to have to rely on a system where you’re sending to labs. And the key here is that every state needs to do what New York has done and develop this internal network of labs. We have some labs that do ten tests a day. We have some labs that do thousands of test a day, sometimes less than one day turnarounds. And, if you had that on a nationwide scale, it would take off the pressure on these large national labs. And you’d see much better turnaround times across the entire country.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:30)
This is, just to make it a little more complicated for you, this is the tension between the federal government and the states on testing. When they say, the federal government will say, the states have to do a better job. States say we need more help from the federal government. It’s true on both ends.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:46)
Some of the national labs say our problem is a supply chain. And a lot of their supplies come from China. They need the federal government to help them with the supply chain. The federal government says to the states, you can’t all be going to national labs. There are only ten big national labs. You can’t have the entire nation going to the ten labs. States, you have to use the smaller labs in your states also, which is harder for a state to do. Right? Go organize 200 labs. Each lab is small. You’re only getting 400 tests here. 400 tests here. It’s hard to do. It’s a lot easier for a state just to say, I’m going to contract with national lab and that’s it. So, it’s both ends of the equation.
Speaker 15: (52:40)
Governor, will you detail how the state police and the SLA are stepping up enforcement in terms of social distancing in gatherings? And also, a lot of these gatherings are not at bars and restaurants. So, what do we do about that? Also, where is that PSA going to be running where young people are actually going to see it?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:59)
We’re going to run it in New York State. We’re going to go in to make it available to the Ad Council, which runs the ad nationwide.
Speaker 15: (53:07)
But, I mean, like in terms of social media. I mean-
Andrew Cuomo: (53:08)
Are you asking me-
Speaker 15: (53:10)
Kids like where they see it.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:11)
What stations that the-
Speaker 15: (53:11)
Yeah. I mean, because a lot of them-
Andrew Cuomo: (53:13)
What TV, socials for young people?
Speaker 15: (53:14)
Andrew Cuomo: (53:14)
Well, I know.
Speaker 15: (53:15)
Is it going to be more on social media?
Andrew Cuomo: (53:16)
That’s what I watch. I watch the young people, because I’m like a 21-30 in terms of orientation. Do you know?
Melissa DeRosa: (53:24)
Because we are targeting it at 20 and 30 years old, as I’m sure you can imagine, we’re going to be doing a big social media push. So, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a lot of the news sites that we know are heavily trafficked by the 20 and 30 year olds.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:37)
I relate. I relate to the 20, 30 year olds. I do. I’m like… culturally, I’m there.
Speaker 15: (53:42)
Also, problems with the SLA and state police stepping up the enforcement of these gatherings.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:46)
SLA, this is not-
Speaker 15: (53:46)
Especially the ones… I mean, I know SLA can’t be involved in the ones where they are not at bars and restaurants, which has also been a problem.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:54)
Yeah. The main problem… yes. You’re right. There’s a lot of elements to the problem here. House parties, right, July 4th party in Albany, 30 positives. The main problem are bars restaurants, because 21 to 30, you don’t just have a gathering on a street corner and do birdwatching. Alcohol is often involved. The alcohol has to come from a bar or a restaurant. That’s why the overwhelming majority are in connection with a bar or a restaurant. Not to belabor this, in New York state, we have one license for a bar and a restaurant. We don’t have a separate bar license and a restaurant license. Most other states have two licenses, one for a bar, one for a restaurant. When they opened outdoor dining, they opened just the restaurant licenses. None of them, very few, opened the bars. Okay?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:06)
The president now says, young people don’t go into bars. Right? Most states they’re not opened bars. Since we only have one license, we reopened bars and restaurants, but it was for outdoor dining. It was not outdoor drinking. Bars that are now serving outdoor drinking, that was never legal. There was no bar license that allowed you to have a block party in front of the bar. That was never allowed. And this question of, well, food with the alcohol, any bar by our current law, existing law, let’s call it that, any bar had to have food available. There is no bar that only serves alcohol. To be a bar, you had to have food available, soups, sandwiches, et cetera, more than just hors d’oeuvres, chicken wings. You had to have some substantive food. The lowest level of substantive food were sandwiches. Even to be a bar, you had to have food available.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:33)
We opened outdoor dining. Dining is you go with your friends, you sit at a table, you stay at the table, and you only connect with those people at the table. And the other table is socially distanced. What they have done with outdoor drinking, you don’t sit at a table and drink. You mingle. You move. You say hello. You hobnob. That was never what outdoor dining was.
Andrew Cuomo: (57:01)
So, the SLA and the state police will focus on the licensed entity by the State Liquor Authority, the bar or the restaurant holder. And we are going to be aggressive about enforcement. Having said that, State Liquor Authority and the state police cannot police the entire state. I don’t know how many thousands of bars we have. We need the local government to do it. We need the NYPD. We need the Nassau police. We need the Suffolk police in the Hamptons. We need the Erie County police. We need the Albany police to do their job. Yes. Go ahead.
Speaker 16: (57:46)
Governor, regarding the new… thank you, Governor. Regarding the new restrictions put out by your administration yesterday mandating that bars and restaurants may only serve food, a person, for example, can buy a $1 hot dog and not eat it but just but it just so they can hang around and drink. Are these rules actually effective?
Andrew Cuomo: (58:13)
Well, there’s a number of laws here. One of the laws is called the Open Container Law. You can’t drink an alcoholic beverage on the sidewalk. Forget the SLA law. You can’t drink an alcoholic beverage on the sidewalk. Zack violates it all the time, but it is illegal. So, there are laws to enforce besides the SLA food law. But everybody knew what the difference between dining and drinking. Right? It’s a fundamental difference. Who didn’t ask a question?
Governor, regarding the re-elections, the upcoming elections, when do you plan on detailing what the states will do to ensure all absentee ballots are counted and safe?
Andrew Cuomo: (59:05)
We are going to learn lessons from this last election. COVID has forced us to rapidly transition to all these new systems. You close down schools. We had to rapidly transition to remote learning. And frankly, the system wasn’t perfected. And you see all these issues pop up. You couldn’t walk into a hospital. We had to deploy to telemedicine. You saw all these issues pop up. You can’t vote at a voting booth anymore. You can’t be online. Everything by mail and you hyper energize that system to do the transition. And you see a lot of issues pop up. So, we’re going to study those issues, see how we can make it better. And then, there’s a whole electoral time clock by when ballots have to be mailed, et cetera. But I want these booths of elections to first learn some lessons from all the things that went wrong and take some time to correct them before we do it again.
Can I ask a follow up question.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:18)
Governor, I have a follow up question?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:20)
And I don’t even-
I have a follow up, important, really.
Speaker 17: (01:00:26)
Okay. But, governor, can I just ask about… I know what you said about the bars and restaurants for the last week. And I think there’s still some confusion out there. A block down from me on 57th street, there is a bar. They have tables, nice partitions in between. You order a scotch and soda. They come and they bring that scotch and soda to you on your table and they set it down. What you’re saying now is that’s illegal.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:44)
No. That is outdoor. We facilitated outdoor service for bars and restaurants. There was no outdoor bar service really. Right? We expanded that greatly to deal with these issues of people want to socialize and the restaurants were dying. Any bar has… by the current license, they must serve food. You go to the bar, you sit down at a table, you look at the menu, you order your scotch and soda, and you order what they had to have on the menu, soup salad, et cetera. Fine. That’s fine.
Speaker 17: (01:01:30)
Okay. But they don’t have a menu for food. Si, they’re illegal.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:32)
Well, they do. They must, by their license, have food available. They must. Even a bar, bar, the old corner bar that I… Zach used to go to, by a bar license, you have to have food available by a bar license. There is no bar that can just serve alcohol going back. Follow up question for Ms. Kramer because you can’t say no. I can’t say no. You can say no.
You can say no, but…
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:09)
Yeah. But then, you know what happens.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:11)
Yeah, I know.
It’s on graffiti. There’s been a huge increase in graffiti in New York City, not just on public buildings, but everywhere. You go into every neighborhood, there is graffiti everywhere. New York City zeroed out the dollars to clean up the graffiti on private buildings. There are $0 million for it. Plus 311 has decided to stop taking any complaints about graffiti. How is that a good idea? And how is that going to make the city come back?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:39)
Look, I mentioned it in my presentation, right? So, I raised the issue before you raised it with me in your followup question, just from-
It’s a legitimate followup question.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:49)
Yeah. It’s got to be clean. It’s graffiti. We’ve handled these issues before. Graffiti is not COVID. It’s not. It’s spray paint on a building. We’ve had it for many years. We had it on trains. We had it on buildings. We had it on walls. You enforce the law. It’s illegal to do graffiti. Enforce the law. And, when you miss it, clean it up and take it off like we used to do.
But how do you clean it up?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:18)
Well, look, there’s money to do what you need to do. And graffiti sounds like a little thing. It’s another sign of decay. And what we’re trying to do is say to people, New Yorkers on the way back, New York did a great thing in handling COVID. You look at our numbers compared to everywhere else. Nobody did what New Yorkers did. And New York City is coming back better than ever before. We understand the challenges. And people need to see that progress. They certainly don’t need to see deterioration. And graffiti is something we can handle. We’re not talking about curing COVID. Get the graffiti off the building.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:00)
Detergent, power washer, brush, get the graffiti off the building.
So, are you telling me they should spend some money on graffiti?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:08)
I’m telling the mayor the cleaning up the city is important. You have a lot of negativity in the air now. Positive, progress, move forward.
Speaker 18: (01:04:23)
Governor, one followup.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:24)
Thank you, guys. I’ll see you again.
Speaker 18: (01:04:25)
What would you say to-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:26)
I’m not going anywhere.
Speaker 18: (01:04:27)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:29)
Always a pleasure. Always a pleasure.
Speaker 18: (01:04:31)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:31)
That’s a legislative change that has to be made by the legislature.
Speaker 18: (01:04:36)
Would you support them then? [crosstalk 01:04:36].
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:37)
I would support the legislative change.
Speaker 19: (01:04:38)
Talk about Cuomo Chips.
Speaker 18: (01:04:44)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:45)
What’s wrong with-
Speaker 19: (01:04:45)
What’s with Cuomo Chips?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:45)
What’s wrong with Cuomo Chips?
Speaker 19: (01:04:45)
Yeah. What’s wrong with them?
Speaker 20: (01:04:49)
Don’t you like Cuomo Chips?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:50)
First of all, how did I get associated with chips? I don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with Cuomo Chips. I enjoy them. They do not suffice in the existing law as a bar serving food. This is a law going back to the old days. The bar had to have food available, soups, sandwiches. Even Cuomo Chips were not enough. Thank you, guys.