Apr 13, 2020
Transcript: Governors of NY, NJ, CT, RI, PA, and DE Joint Conference on “Re-opening Plan”
Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware held a joint news conference today on a re-opening plan for the northeast. Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy, Ned Lamont, Gina Raimondo, Tom Wolf, and John Carney were in attendance.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… Over to Governor Murphy first and then we’ll hear from the other governors. I think most states. Oh, operator? We’re ready. Started hearing music. Okay. Thank you, Governors. I just said, I thank you all very much for your professionalism and your cooperation and everything you’ve done that has benefited the alliance with the state of New York. And I also want to thank you and congratulate you on what you’ve done for your states. It’s truly been outstanding and it’s my honor to be a colleague to you.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:42)
We’ve been talking today about the fact that New York believes we have reached a plateau in the increase of number of cases. They’re not going down, but they’re not going up at the same rate. And we believe it’s a quote/unquote plateau. And that is relatively good news in a world of bad options. And we should start looking forward to reopening quote/unquote, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan. Because if you do it wrong, it can backfire. And we’ve seen that in other places on the globe.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:21)
So everyone is very anxious to get out of the house, get back to work, get the economy moving. Everyone agrees with that. What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way. Doing that in coordination with the other states that are in the area and doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other and we share information and we share resources and we share intelligence. No one has done this before. No one on this telephone has done it before. No other state has done it before. So it’s one step forward after research and consultation with experts.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:13)
I’m not a public health expert but this has to be informed by experts and by data. You take one step forward, you see how it works, and then you measure the next step. And to the extent we can do that together, that is the best course, there is no doubt about that.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:29)
I don’t believe we wind up with a fully common strategy. You have different states in different positions. Within this state, you have different areas with different circumstances. And the plan has to fit the facts and the circumstances. It’s one situation in New York City, it’s a different situation in rural counties, different situation in suburban counties. So how do you address those different set of facts?
Andrew Cuomo: (02:59)
And I want to make sure all the people we represent, make sure that we are smart in the way we are doing this. Yes, we’ve never been here before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ensure public confidence that you’re doing everything you can to do it in a smart way, an informed way, guided by experts and data and science and not in a political way. And I think working together, we can do that.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:32)
Each state is going to name a public health official for that state, an economic development official for that state. Those officials and the chief of staff of the governor of each state will then form a working group that will start work immediately on designing a reopening plan, taking into consideration the public health concerns and issues and the economic reactivation issues and concerns. Study the data, study the research, study the experience of other countries, and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:23)
Again, we anticipate different facts, different circumstances for different states, different parts of states, but let’s be smart and let’s be cooperative and let’s learn from one another. And that is inarguable. With that, let me turn it over to Governor Phil Murphy. Governor Murphy, thank you so much for being with us.
Phil Murphy: (04:45)
Governor Cuomo, thank you for hosting us so graciously and in the category of you’re known by the company you keep, I’m honored to be with you and Governor Lamont, Governor Wolf, Governor Carney, Governor Raimondo in this discussion and in this initiative. Just as we harmonized as states, New Jersey is the densest state in America, and we’re in that corridor that is so unique. And it was imperative to not just do the things that we needed to do within our four walls as we closed our state down, but to do it in close coordination with New York and Pennsylvania and Delaware, Connecticut especially.
Phil Murphy: (05:25)
And it’s that same spirit that we’re coming together and acknowledging as we… Whenever it is. And by the way, we have not yet plateaued. We’re a couple of beats behind New York. Our positive tests have begun to flatten, but we’re not yet there. But whenever it is that we determine based on the facts, the data, the science, that it is safe for us to responsibly begin the reopening and all the healthcare infrastructure that goes with that, to do in coordination, seems to be an overwhelmingly prudent approach. And we’re honored to be very much a part of this group.
Phil Murphy: (06:06)
We do know this, that an economic recovery only occurs on the back of a complete healthcare recovery and that order is essential. And getting that wrong, transposing those steps, or jumping in too early, or maybe jumping in by ourselves. Governor Cuomo and I have talked about if the protocols on one side of the Hudson for a restaurant or a bar are different than the other or, similarly, across the Delaware, you could have inadvertent, unintended consequences, which could be grave.
Phil Murphy: (06:37)
So getting this right, both the timing, the infrastructure, as well as input, as Governor Cuomo has said, from both healthcare experts as well as economic development experts in addition to our government colleagues seems to me and to us to be an incredibly smart way to go. This is the fight of our lives. Let there be no doubt about it and we’re not out of the woods yet. And reopening ourselves back up will be equally challenging beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Phil Murphy: (07:07)
So I’m honored to be with my fellow governors as I have been every step of the way over the past several months and look forward to that spirit and coordination going forward. Thanks, Governor Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:17)
Thank you. Thank you very much, Governor Murphy. And you’re right, we started this journey together, we’re going to end it together on a positive note. Same with Governor Ned Lamont from the state of Connecticut. Governor Lamont, thank you very much. Thank you for being with us.
Ned Lamont: (07:36)
Andrew, thanks for getting this organized and everybody here. I’ll just pick up where Phil left off. He mentioned the major transportation corridors that interconnect at least New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as part of a tri-state workforce. And we all slowly closed down, methodically, parts of our economy, in a way that we tried to mitigate the effects of the contagion and we’re going to be thoughtful about how we get this opened as well.
Ned Lamont: (08:04)
But, Governor Cuomo as you know, all of our pandemic here in Connecticut is all along that I-95 Metro-North corridor where we have hundreds of thousands of people going back and forth between New York and Connecticut. It’s the commuter corridor for us, but it’s also the COVID corridor, which is why it’s so important that we work together thoughtfully on this, listen to the experts, as you say, and make sure you don’t pull the trigger too early.
Ned Lamont: (08:33)
I’m looking over at Japan and Hong Kong and Singapore and those places are unfortunately seeing a small resurgence, the second half of the V coming back again. And that would be so demoralizing for our economies. That’s why what we do, I want to do on a coordinated basis, have a database that we share, establish the same protocols so we know how we’re working together, and get that information down to Washington so they can coordinate as well.
Ned Lamont: (09:04)
We’re going to be thinking about the mix of PCR antigens and probably the low infection areas in terms of testing and probably the antibody testing in those areas where it’s more prevalent so we can put together a system that allows our people to get back to work. And I couldn’t agree with each and every one of you that working together makes the most sense, listening to the experts, doing this methodically, but doing it now. Back to you, Governor Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:31)
Amen. Thank you very much, Governor Lamont. Thank you. Governor Tom Wolf from Pennsylvania. Tom, good to be with you again.
Tom Wolf: (09:39)
Good to be with you, too, Governor Cuomo. Thank you for doing this and thank you to my fellow governors for making this effort possible. We all know that we can do anything better when we work together in this region. And we have done good things by working together. We’ve shared ideas and plans and we’ve shared in going through this challenge. And this partnership, this council that we’re forming here recognizes that simple fact.
Tom Wolf: (10:08)
And I agree with the sentiments of my partners, that we need to do this right, and that’s what we’re trying to do. But this partnership recognizes something else that I think is really important. It recognizes that we need to come up with a specific and a smart plan for this uncertain future that lies ahead, but it is also that we are creating a plan to let our people, the people that we serve, the citizens of our states, that we indeed do have a future.
Tom Wolf: (10:38)
And this is as important as coming up with the specific elements of this plan. It has to be responsible but it has to show us that we do have a future. As we figure out how we’re going to reopen our schools, how we reopen our businesses, and our homes, we’re also going to recognize that we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to restore the sense of hope that this pandemic has taken away from so many of us.
Tom Wolf: (11:07)
And I’m proud of the people who are going to be working on this for Pennsylvania, the secretary of health, the secretary of the department of community and economic development and my chief of staff. We’re all going to do a great job for the people we serve and I think we’re going to show the people of the United States how you come out of something as devastating as this in a responsible fashion. Governor Cuomo, thank you again for doing this, and back to you.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:34)
Thank you, Governor Wolf. Thank you very much. I couldn’t agree more with what my colleagues are saying and Governor Wolf’s point. We talk about the economic toll, which you can quantify. You can’t quantify the emotional toll this has taken on people. And I think Governor Wolf is exactly right. Knowing that there’s another day, a new day coming, it may be different than past days but it can be a bright day. And that is true and we have to focus on that. Governor Carney, very good to be with you, John. Thank you very much for taking the time and all the help and all the coordination. Governor Carney?
John Carney: (12:19)
Yes. Can you hear me now?
Andrew Cuomo: (12:25)
Yes, I can. Yes we can, John.
John Carney: (12:27)
Hello? Can you hear me now?
Andrew Cuomo: (12:29)
Yes we can.
Ned Lamont: (12:31)
John Carney: (12:32)
Well, sorry for that little glitch. I want to thank my colleagues for this cooperative effort, especially you, Governor Cuomo, for bringing us together. And, frankly, for your leadership on a day-to-day basis under very difficult circumstances there in metro New York City and your state. You’ve been providing great leadership there and across the country and we certainly appreciate that. Certainly thanks for including Delaware. We are on the southern end of this region but we’re connected, importantly, by the I-95 corridor and the Amtrak Northeast region. And so, in a very important way, we’re part of the region if only a small part.
John Carney: (13:17)
We have seen the connections among our states through this as many of the folks who work in our state live in Governor Wolf’s state or across the river in New Jersey, and they’ve obviously had to balance the various provisions and restrictions in each of our states. So this will help us as we think through what it takes to reenter and to get our economies moving again.
John Carney: (13:45)
Frankly, it’ll really just formalize for me what I’ve already been doing along with Governor’s Murphy and Wolf in our Metro Philadelphia areas. We’ve talked on a number of occasions about decisions that we’ve had to make in terms of shutting down businesses, in terms of business and supply chains, that are connected among our states. This will formalize that and really put before us all the decisions that we have coming ahead of us, and I think maybe even more difficult than decisions on the front end of this over the last month and a half, two months, as we get on the other side of the peak, which it seems like the greater New York City area is reaching now.
John Carney: (14:32)
How do we open things in a way that’s safe? I heard Governor Murphy say yesterday that we need to get the patient healthy before we can get the economy healthy, and I think he’s exactly right in that. And so working together, our economies are connected, our states are connected in a real way in terms of transportation and visitation and the rest. And so our working together, sharing our information and intelligence, I think will help-
John Carney: (15:03)
Information and intelligence I think will help each of us make a better decision. So I want to thank all of you for your leadership. This is a time we’re experiencing unchartered waters here and I think ahead of this will be more unchartered waters, but working together we will do a better job for the people that we work for and we’ll make smart decisions in reopening our economy. We’re a little bit different down here, a little bit behind I think those of you in northern New Jersey and New York City. Our message here at home still is be safe, stay at home. When you go out, observe appropriate social distancing, and we will continue with that method. But at the same time think about the timing of reentry and getting life back to normal again if that ever occurs.
John Carney: (15:53)
So again, Governor Cuomo, thank you so much for including the First State here in the southern end of this region. We appreciate your leadership there in the great state of New York and your leadership with this collaborative task force. Thank you very much.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:06)
Thank you. Thank you very much, Governor Carney. And you’re so right, we’re all learning. This is new for all of us and it throws out a lot of the old rules and the old ways of doing business. And the state boundaries mean very little to this virus. And somebody can get on Amtrak or somebody can get in a car and go up the I-95 corridor and it doesn’t matter if they’re from Delaware or New Jersey or Connecticut or New York or what state they’re from, it can have the same consequence. So we’re learning and we’re growing every day. Thank you, John. And Governor Gina Raimondo from the state of Rhode Island. Governor Raimondo, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us. Thank you for working through all these issues with us on behalf of New York. Gina Raimondo.
Gina Raimondo: (16:58)
Good afternoon. Can you hear me?
Andrew Cuomo: (17:00)
Yes, yes we can.
Gina Raimondo: (17:02)
Hi, good afternoon and thank you all, and thank you Andrew for leading us and convening this group. I think it’s a terrific initiative. Like all of you, all the governors who’ve spoken, all of the governors I’ve been speaking with, I am constantly thinking about what it’s going to take to safely reopen our economy. Like you, I don’t want to keep people out of work one day longer than necessary, however we need to do it safely, which means we need a smart targeted approach to slowly reopen the economy in a way that keeps everybody, most especially the elderly, the vulnerable, and those with preexisting conditions, safe.
Gina Raimondo: (17:47)
So like many of you, I have a team here that I’ve assembled to develop a plan for what we are calling the new normal, and we’re looking at everything from how we screen people entering businesses to how we utilize more touchless technologies in our day to day interactions, doing a deep dive industry by industry on new guidelines for this new normal. And I’m looking forward to this initiative. I’m looking forward to being a part of the working group and exchanging ideas. Like you have said, none of us has ever gone through this before, and I am confident that by working together and sharing our best ideas, we will be much, much more likely to get it right for the citizens of our state and this region.
Gina Raimondo: (18:39)
I will say, throughout the crisis, the governors are the ones who’ve been showing great leadership and taking action to keep our residents safe. And so I think it’s only appropriate that we do the same thing now by coming together and showing regional leadership to reopen the economy. And as everyone has said, I think if we take a coordinated approach on a regional level, we’ll be that much more successful.
Gina Raimondo: (19:07)
I know that over the past few weeks I’ve spoken frequently with the governors on this call, with the governor of Massachusetts, governors all around the country, and our ongoing collaboration idea exchange coordination has certainly enabled all of us to keep people safe in our states. The reality is this virus doesn’t care about state borders and our response shouldn’t either. So I am fully in support of this effort and look forward to working with each of you to make sure that we do get to the business of getting folks back to work, and we do it in the smartest, safest way possible.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:48)
Thank you very much Gina. Thank you, Governor Raimondo. And I couldn’t agree more with all of my colleagues and Governor Raimondo’s point. None of us have done this before. Sharing information, learning from each other, pooling resources is only smart, and we have to be smart. You need the best public health plan and you need the best economic reactivation plan. It’s not either/or, it has to be both. No one is willing to sacrifice one at the expense of the other, and you can’t have one at the expense of the other. But how you do it, that’s the art form.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:27)
We’re going to take questions, one question each from each state and then I’ll take questions from New York afterwards. Governor of the state of New Jersey, Governor Murphy is ready for any question from any reporter in the state of New Jersey.
Thank you. As a reminder, to ask a question you will need to press star then the number one on your telephone. Again, that’s *1 on your telephone. Please stand by while we compile the Q&A roster.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:05)
We will not allow the New York reporters to question any other governor. I would not subject my colleagues.
Phil Murphy: (21:15)
This is Phil Murphy, Andrew. I believe it’s in our constitution that that’s not allowed.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:20)
State cooperation only goes so far. There have to be some-
Phil Murphy: (21:21)
It only goes so far.
Phil Murphy: (21:24)
I’m actually going to do our own press conference at 3:00 PM so if there are Jersey folks on and they’re not ready to ask, we’ve very happy to take them in Trenton in a half hour or so.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:36)
We do have a few questions. The first one is from Charles [inaudible 00:21:45] from north Jersey.
Phil Murphy: (21:48)
The line is now open.
Okay. Good afternoon. Governor, you’ve made a point that any economic plan will have to be on the back of a public health plan. And is collectively this a way of saying to the Trump administration that we disagree with your emphasis of putting economy first? That we feel most we earnestly and strongly have to make that point that public health comes first because you’re not hearing that coming out of Washington.
Phil Murphy: (22:32)
Yeah, Charlie, good to hear from you by the way. I’d say it’s less that for me and far more let’s just make the calls as we have tried to make them from day one based on the facts and the data and the science. And everything we’re looking at tells us you only get an economic recovery if it comes on the back of a healthcare recovery. And I think the council that we’re forming today speaks exactly to that. In other words, the house is still on fire. We still have to put the fire out, but we do have to begin putting in place the pieces of the puzzle that we know we’re going to need, both healthcare infrastructure to make sure this doesn’t reignite as well as the steps we’re going to need to take collectively as a region in terms of economic recovery.
Phil Murphy: (23:22)
So I’d put it much more in the category of calling balls and strikes based on the data that we’re looking at. And again, I think if you get that wrong … even with the greatest of intentions, if you transpose those steps or if you jam it too early, you could throw gasoline even inadvertently on the fire and it could reignite. And that’s the last thing that any of us need right now. So as painful as the economic reality is right now, and it’s painful for all of us, it’s not remotely as painful as it would if we get the sequencing wrong and/or the timing wrong. Thank y’all.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:00)
Well said, Governor. Thank you very much for being with us, Governor Murphy.
Phil Murphy: (24:03)
Honored to be with you as always.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:05)
Thank you, my friend. Operator, state of Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont. Do you have any questions from any reporters from Connecticut, Operator?
We do have a question from Connecticut. This line is from Ken Dixon. Your line is now open.
Ken Dixon: (24:26)
Hi Governors, thanks for getting together in a disembodied way like this. Governor Lamont, I guess I’m trying to figure out what kind of voice the business community’s going to have as they’re a part of the panel that you’ve got, and I noticed the DECD is going to be in charge of that. But how are you guys all going to get together on a regional basis? It sounds like a rather crowded bus.
Ned Lamont: (24:54)
Well, what we are going to do, Ken, thanks for the question, is each have three people on this committee. And on behalf of the state of Connecticut, you talk about business representation, I’ve got a great friend who’s host chairperson of our economic committee here for the state, and her name is Indra Nooyi who used to be head of Pepsi. So she’ll be our liaison to the business community here in the state of Connecticut and part of our liaison to all the other governors going forward. And she understands better than anybody how urgent it is that we get our economy going again. But there’s nothing worse than a false start and what that would do to confidence and what that would do to the sense of hope that Tom Wolf was talking about. And that’s why we’ll be announcing our task force today in terms of how we go forward with business and labor and the scientific community in collaboration with our fellow governors so we can open this up prudently as quickly as possible.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:54)
Ken Dixon: (25:54)
Andrew Cuomo: (25:55)
Thank you. Thank you Governor.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:56)
Thank you Ned Lamont very much for being with us today. Operator, anything for the state of Pennsylvania? Thank you, Ned. Governor Wolf?
We do have next for Marc Levy. Your line is now open.
Tom Wolf: (26:12)
Tom Wolf: (26:16)
Marc Levy: (26:19)
Hi, can you hear me, Governor?
Tom Wolf: (26:23)
I can. Hi Mark.
Marc Levy: (26:24)
Hi. So we were wondering that with the president saying that it’s his responsibility to reopen the state and reopen the economies. We were wondering if the governors disagree with that, that this is inherently a responsibility of the governors.
Tom Wolf: (26:43)
Well seeing as how we had the responsibility for closing the state down I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up. And that I think gets to the question that I think Governor Murphy had, and that is between the business and health. And I think that’s a false choice. I think this regional compact is premised on the idea that you’re not going to have a healthy economy if you have an unhealthy population. So we’ve got to do both. We’ve got to get people healthy. The sequence is you’ve got to get people healthy first, and then you can reopen the economy, not until. Or the economy’s not going to work.
Tom Wolf: (27:21)
So I think what we’re trying to do is all of us governors working together have tried to have the hard stop that we need to make sure that we remain safe as we possibly can with this pandemic. And we’re now ready to go into the next step, which is to start moving back to some sense of normal, the new normal, and do it as we have working together here in the region. So I don’t think we’re trying to say anything negative about anybody. We’re simply saying it was our responsibility to steer our way through these uncharted waters, and it’s our responsibility to figure out a way back.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:11)
Exactly right. Thank you very much, Tom. Thank you, Governor Wolf. Operator, do you have any questions for the state of Delaware? Governor John Carney.
For state of Delaware.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:30)
State of Delaware.
We don’t have any questions from state of Delaware at the moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:34)
Lucky [crosstalk 00:28:35] Governor John Carney.
John Carney: (28:38)
Thank you very much, Governor Cuomo. Sounds like we don’t have any questions down here. Must mean things are well in hand in the first state. Again, appreciate very much your leadership, both what you’ve been doing over the last several very difficult weeks with the experience there in New York City and your great state. We pray for you, been thinking about you. Thank you for including the state of Delaware in this council. I look forward to the good work.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:06)
Thank you John. Thank you, my friend, very much. I wish my leadership in the state of New York was as good as yours, and I had no questions whatsoever about my decisions. Maybe you teach me a few lessons. Thanks for being with us, John. Governor Gina Raimondo. Operator, do you have any calls for the state of Rhode Island?
We don’t have any questions for state of Rhode Island. You may please continue.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:32)
Yep. Another governor who shows me up. Good to be with you, Gina. Thank you very much for taking the time.
Gina Raimondo: (29:40)
Thank you, Andrew, for doing this and for all that you’ve been doing. I appreciate the leadership because this region is one of great economic activity, and I know we’re going to have a better shot at getting it right working together. So I’ll have my team on it, somebody from commerce, somebody from health, and my chief of staff, and we’ll lean in to this to make sure we all get it right.
Gina Raimondo: (30:03)
So thank you, and thank you all for being on the call.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:06)
Great, thank you all very much, thank you. I think, first I thank the governors very much. We’ve been working together for a number of days. Obviously we’ve been working all through this with many of the states on a daily basis. Again, nobody’s been here before. Nobody has all the answers. If they say they do, they don’t know the question in my opinion.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:33)
Addressing public health and addressing the economy, which is first? They’re both first. You can’t do one without the other. It’s a false choice. To move the economy forward, you have to address public health. To address public health, you have to be addressing the economic reactivation. You have to do both at once. They’re parallel tracks. That’s why we have the head of economic development, the head of health, and then the governor’s chief of staff from each state. So we have a total counsel of 18.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:01)
We’re still talking to other states. Any states who want to join are welcome to join. And again, it’s a sharing of information. Compare notes, compare experiences, sharing of university resources, scientific resources. And coming up with a plan that is consistent, if not complimentary, one state to the other. And certainly not where one state does something that is counter to another state. Which could happen. And I’ve seen that in the past. Governor Murphy for example from New Jersey’s point that what you do in New York just pushes people across the bridge to another state if it’s not consistent. That is exactly right. His work force is my work force, my work force is his work force. All these decisions affect everyone in the entire region.
Andrew Cuomo: (31:58)
What this virus says is all of your lines and boundaries make no sense. I can get on the Amtrak train and get off anywhere along that line. And if the person is positive, can infect scores of people. So you’re all interconnected. We’ve talked about it for a long time, but this makes the point. Questions?
[crosstalk 00:32:26] Governor, is there any sense-
Andrew Cuomo: (32:29)
Excuse me one second. Jesse?
Any sense of time tables, deadlines for this working group?
Andrew Cuomo: (32:34)
They’re going to start talking literally tomorrow and start to scope that out. We didn’t start with a timetable. We said and will say to the group, we want it ASAP, but we want it smart. This is about being smart first. Not political, smart. Follow the data, learn from the other countries. Other countries have done this. You’re seeing mixed information and mixed data. Learn from the other countries, coordinate set of guidelines ASAP, but smart.
Ideally within weeks do you think?
Andrew Cuomo: (33:13)
Oh, it has to be within weeks. It has to be within weeks.
Governor, president Trump this morning said that he and the federal government would be making these decisions and that it’s not necessarily up to states to come up with these guidelines.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:23)
Well look, I would say let’s see what the federal government’s plan is. Governor Wolfe’s point was right. He left it to the states to close down. And that was a state by state decision. Without any guidance really, he took the position that it was a state’s decision. And then the states were responsible for purchasing supplies, et cetera. So that was the model of management for this disaster emergency that was promulgated thus far. If they want to change the model, they can change the model. He’s the President of the United States, he is the federal government. And it is still civics 101. It’s federal, state, local government. He wants to change a management model, we look at the laws, state governance, federal governance.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:19)
Let him change a model consistent with the constitution, consistent with the law. But then change the model and explain it. What does that mean the federal government is in charge of opening? Are you going to say when each state can open or should open? Are you going to set a formula and that says any jurisdiction of X population that has X infection rate should be open or closed? Any population of X infection rate, these are the activities. This is what can be on public transit, this is what can be on the roads. Any jurisdiction that opens must have the following precautions. You must have a mask, you must have gloves. You can do that, that could be a model, where they set a federal program that the states can follow and should follow. But then you have to be specific.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:20)
Testing, states don’t have the capacity to test. It’s not as simple as saying states should test. They can’t do it without the federal government. There are not enough tests now. And there’s not enough reagents, and there’s not enough medical equipment. Any one of these governors would tell you on the phone. They don’t have the testing capacity and they can’t gather it themselves. So you want to change the management model, you can do that as president. But what is the model? And let’s learn from the past, right? Because this was not smooth sailing up till date, let’s be honest.
[crosstalk 00:35:59] The president or-
Andrew Cuomo: (35:59)
No, I’ve not had this conversation.
… [crosstalk 00:36:02]
Andrew Cuomo: (36:02)
Let’s learn from the past. What does the federal government do and what does the state do? Tell me what are the roles. What’s my responsibility, what’s the federal responsibility? You want to shift the responsibilities in the relationship, fine, I’m open to that. Explain to me what I do, what they do. Who does purchasing, who pays, who does testing? I can’t. Open what, open it when, open it how? How do you differentiate between New York city, Albany, Buffalo, Nassau, Suffolk? Do I do the schools at the same time that I do businesses? Do I do the transportation system at the same time that I do businesses? What happens if I don’t have enough transportation workers? Do I still open the economy even though I don’t have enough transportation workers to run the trains?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:57)
You want to make those decisions? Tell me you want to make those decisions and then make them in a way that states can follow. Or say option B, federal government does this, states, you do this. You decide what the percentage is, I don’t want to. You decide what the appropriate time is to open and what functions, I don’t want to. You can do it any number of ways. But, it has to be clearly defined. You’re talking about states, under the states I then have to tell the cities what to do, I have to tell the counties what to do. I have 500 mayors, I have 50 county executives. I have to say to them this is the plan. Because each one of them wants to come up with their own plan.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:47)
So I can’t have… You want to tell me what to do, fine. But then I have to be able to turn around and tell my local governments what to do. So the clarity here is important. There is no conceptual answer. This is a very specific answer. I have to operate everyday. My life is all about management and operations. That’s what I do right now. I communicate the truth to the people of the state everyday and I have to manage the operation. And that’s everyday. Everyday I have to tell my local governments what to do. Everyday I have to tell the schools what to do. Everyday I have to tell the hospitals this is what’s coming on PPE. Everyday I have to tell the hospitals this is how we’re going to balance the patient load. That’s what I have to do.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:40)
Tell me how I do my job [inaudible 00:38:43] the federal role and responsibility. But yeah, you’re President of the United States. You want to put forth a management model, let’s hear the model.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:50)
Let Jimmy just follow up, I’m sorry.
You said earlier today you wanted the economy to open up [inaudible 00:38:59] little parts at a time. What parts of the economy are shut down now for you are priority to reopen?
Andrew Cuomo: (39:07)
I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t tell you that. You’d have to… That’s part of this study. What business do you open, when, what is the best thing? They all have a conversation, but for example, if you don’t have the fundamental systems aligned, you have nothing. If you want to open business, schools have to be open to any large degree. You want to turn the valve a lot? The schools have to be open. Why? Because you can’t open businesses if people don’t have child care.
So then are schools a priority?
Andrew Cuomo: (39:42)
Well I’m saying, you have to align the systems. You want to open businesses, you have to have the transportation system open. That will be the starting point for the conversation. Or you could say I’m not turning the valve that far. We’re going to ease into it, we’re going to phase into it, and this is how we’re going to do that. That’s what this group has to discuss. And then New York will have a strategy, each state will have a strategy. Hopefully they’re not inconsistent. I would love to do everything in unison as the optimum. If unison isn’t possible because we’re different and we have different needs, fine. But let’s at least know what each other is doing so we’re not counter productive with each other.
Speaker 1: (40:25)
[crosstalk 00:40:25] Is it frustrating to have the president claim kind of over arching powers when you and the other governors seem to be dealing with kind of the nuts and bolts of this?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:37)
Frustrating, nothing’s frustrating, everything’s frustrating. And it’s not about an emotion. I just want clarity. Governor Wolfe’s point is right. The states closed. It is an interesting construct that it wasn’t the federal responsibility to close the economy, but it is the federal government’s responsibility to open the economy. If it’s your authority to open, why wasn’t it your authority to close? That’s an obvious question. When you say open, what does that mean? Does that mean that you’re going to proclaim all businesses open? Isolation over. Come out of your homes, businesses are open. What does it mean?
Andrew Cuomo: (41:35)
Governors need clarity. That’s what they need. You’re the president, there’s a constitution, there may be legal questions. What’s a federal responsibility, what’s a state responsibility? But the president has a lot of lawyers. So if it is a legal construct, your president of the united states. You want to put forth a disaster emergency plan? As president, that’s your right. By the way, this is a federally declared disaster.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:08)
I was in the federal government. The rules of government matter. There is an operating manual. States can declare disasters, and then the state is in charge over the local governments. Federal government declares an emergency, the federal government is now in charge. And they have done a federal emergency declaration here. Then why didn’t the federal government make decisions on closing? I don’t know. Could they now say we’re going to make decisions on opening? Yes. I don’t believe they could have a policy that says everybody opens five days from now. How do you differentiate different parts of the country with different infection rates? Different places on the curve, some are apex, some are at the plateau, some are on their way up the mountain. How do you do that differentiation?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:13)
Are you going to do a formula that says any place with an infection rate less than 2% can open. How do you do it? I don’t know. But he could put forth a model to do that.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:32)
Nick, go ahead.
[crosstalk 00:43:33] against mayor De Blasio who said that he’s exceeding his authority by announcing schools will be closed for the rest of the year and teachers are already-
Andrew Cuomo: (43:39)
What was the first part of that question?
Are you going to be pursuing any sort of action or any-
Andrew Cuomo: (43:43)
No. There are no actions to take. The law on the situation is clear. I understand we have about 700 school districts. I understand we have about 500 mayors. I understand we have about 50 county executives. I understand everyone has a voice and has a role. Here this is a state emergency. The state will follow a uniform plan or a statewide strategy. Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, New York City schools, I closed at the same time. Why? Because you have to close all the schools in the metropolitan region at the same time. There’s too much interconnectivity to do it. It also has to be coordinated with the business plan. That is the only way it can work.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:44)
We had a total hodge podge of decisions with different school districts opening and different school districts closing all across the state. I came in, set a statewide closing policy. That is the law, that is what gov-
Andrew Cuomo: (45:03)
– closing policy. That is the law. That is what governs. Local school districts say, “Well, I normally make the decisions to open or close.” Yes, you normally do. Not in this situation, because this is a state emergency. “Well, you’re disrespecting the state, the County of Suffolk.” I’m not, but we’re one state and we can’t have every local government making independent decisions from every other local government. That would be mayhem. Second, you just heard the basic point, which is the state then has to coordinate with other states. I have to be able to say to New Jersey and Connecticut and Delaware and Rhode Island, “Here’s what I’m doing as a state.” I can’t have seven different policies within my state. Here’s my state policy. How do we conform? Then there’s another question where the President’s going to say, or could say the query, “I don’t care what you say, Governor. I’m going to assert my jurisdiction over the state because this is a federal emergency.”
Andrew Cuomo: (46:27)
And the President could say, which is the query of the question, “The federal government will determine what the states do.” I understand. I have mayors calling me. I have County executives calling me. I have school district officials calling me. They all have an opinion. I value all of their opinion, but we have one state, and the state will operate as one. And their decisions must fit within that plan or they’re not valid. If the federal government comes and says they’re going to substitute a federal plan, well, that would then trump a state plan, pardon the pun, if it fit within the constitution and the law.
Speaker 2: (47:19)
Speaker 3: (47:19)
Andrew Cuomo: (47:22)
Go ahead, Nick. [crosstalk 00:47:24].
Speaker 2: (47:24)
[inaudible 00:47:24] should we be ignoring the messages?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:26)
I’m sorry. Nick had a question. Go ahead.
Speaker 2: (47:28)
But can I have a follow-up?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:29)
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:47:30] Let me do the first round of questions first, okay?
Speaker 2: (47:32)
But other people had a follow-up.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:35)
All right. Let Nick do a question and then we’ll come back.
Speaker 3: (47:38)
Governor, on the ventilator issue, I know you returned some ventilators yesterday to a facility in Niskayuna. Knock on wood, right now it looks like there is less of a need for ventilators. Do you think some will get returned to us in the other upstate institutions?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:55)
If, big I, big F, if we are at a plateau, and on the numbers that we’ve all seen, it looks like we’re reaching a plateau. Slight uptick still, day to day, but a flattening. We’ve done so much work and acquired so many materials and equipment, et cetera, that we are fine, knock formica, if we don’t go up. That’s why we returned the 35 ventilators to the nursing home. Also because the nursing home was so… How beautiful, just how beautiful. They just gratuitously called up and volunteered 35 ventilators. Nobody even called them and asked. From a nursing home, which is the most vulnerable place and vulnerable population, so we returned the 35 ventilators. We are fine, so to speak, from an equipment point of view right now if the number doesn’t go up. And to the extent anyone we borrowed ventilators from upstate New York, we can return them whenever they need them or as soon as practicable. [crosstalk 00:49:14]. But if they need them today, I can get them tomorrow.
Speaker 2: (49:17)
[crosstalk 00:49:17] school officials to close in the first place?
Speaker 4: (49:17)
What are the status of the ventilators that you ordered from China?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:25)
Speaker 2: (49:25)
Shouldn’t teachers and family members of [inaudible 00:49:23]?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:25)
What happened to the ventilators?
Speaker 4: (49:25)
Andrew Cuomo: (49:26)
We ordered 17,000. I think we wound up getting about 3000 that actually came in.
Speaker 4: (49:33)
Are you still waiting for the others?
Andrew Cuomo: (49:35)
I think it would be waiting for a long, long time. I think what happened was there were so many places competing for the orders in China that they kept upping the price and they took a next order. We were bidding against every other state in the country, so they would say the ventilator is $25,000. I would order it at $ 25,000, and then another state would come in and say, “I’ll pay $30,” and our order just basically got bumped. Some of the orders, the factories are saying, “We can get it to you in six months.” I don’t need ventilators in six months. We need them now. We’ve gotten about 3000. I don’t think we have any serious ideas that we’re going to get more. Do you know, guys?
Speaker 4: (50:28)
Are they all from the same vendor?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:31)
No. All different vendors?
Speaker 4: (50:32)
What are the names? What are the vendors?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:34)
These are all Chinese companies. I don’t know their names, but that’s what I said. Let’s learn from what happened. What sense did it make that the FEMA says we don’t do purchasing, which is, by the way, what they used to do, right? I was there. I worked with FEMA. I was the HUD secretary. They used to purchase. That’s what they did. It’s a federal disaster. FEMA came in and was the logistics coordinator. In this case, they said it’s not a federal responsibility. It’s up to the states. Every state had to go out and buy ventilators and PPE and masks.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:11)
Lo and behold, the main manufacturer becomes China. So you have every state calling these Chinese companies, literally through brokers, trying to buy ventilators. Price goes through the roof. Everybody’s competing with everyone. I mean, it was total madness. So it’s why I say, you want to change the rules, that’s your prerogative. But what are the rules and do they make sense? For example, testing. states cannot test. I’m telling you right now, I do not have the capacity to do these tests. I can’t purchase enough diagnostic tests or equipment. So an opening plan that says you must open, by the way, you must test, I can’t do the tests.
Speaker 2: (52:08)
[crosstalk 00:52:08] [inaudible 00:52:08] it’s in Massachusetts or Canada, about the working group or some kind of coordination?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:17)
We are not talking to Canada, I don’t believe. We’re talking to a number of states about who we’re coordinating on certain elements, not other elements, but this is a relatively new situation, today’s coalition. We’ll continue talking. Anybody who wants to join in the Northeast is welcome. The more information you share, the smarter the plan, the better. Can’t be bad.
Speaker 5: (52:42)
Governor, just to clarify, this council will decide both businesses [inaudible 00:52:45]?
Andrew Cuomo: (52:42)
Head of economic development is on the council from each state, head health official from each state, and governor’s chief of staff from each state. Three people from each state, six states, 18 people, and it will be a public health strategy and an economic development strategy that fits like this. You can’t do one without the other. You have to do both, and you have to integrate them in one plan, and I have to represent that I have one statewide plan for my state. My whole state will function that way. You want to divide it into downstate, mid-Hudson, upstate, by number of cases. That could be theoretically a suggestion from the commission council, but yes, those would be the guidelines. And then it has to be smarter, because you’re just sharing talent, you’re sharing resources.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:48)
The best minds from six states are better than best minds from just any one state, by definition, so it’ll be smarter. It will also be cooperative and collaborative where if Jersey and Connecticut put forth a plan that is not coordinated with New York, it hurts our compliance. And remember, we’re asking people to do very tough things. If you say, “Well, you can just go across the river and you have a different set of rules”, then people will get in their car. They’ll go stay with their brother-in-law who lives in New Jersey or their brother-in-law who lives in Connecticut, and they have a different set of rules. His restaurants are open. Our restaurants are closed. You know what happens? Everybody drives to that state to go to dinner. That’s all that happens.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:39)
It was the same point when we were talking about marijuana and the rules on marijuana. If you don’t conform those rules, people will just shop jurisdictions.
Speaker 6: (54:51)
Isn’t that risk complicating the issue, though, with six different states, six different agendas, six different situations on the ground? Doesn’t that make it more complicated in a way?
Andrew Cuomo: (55:00)
You don’t have a choice but to coordinate, because if another state you are subject to [inaudible 00:55:14]-