Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Lowest Number of Hospitalizations and Deaths since Beginning of COVID-19 Pandemic
June 6, 2020
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning. To my right, acting major, I didn't see the acting before, it just said major. I gave you a promotion. Major West. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To her left, Robert Mujica, budget director. Today's day 98 of the COVID crisis. Feels like just yesterday. Today is day 13 of the civil unrest after the murder of Mr. Floyd. Today is Saturday. I can tell it's Saturday, it's a nice day here in Albany, I'm on time and a half, so I'm happy, overtime, comp time, none of which I get.
Today is a day of good news. We have one of the lowest hospitalization rates since this began and really good news, we have the lowest death rate, it's down to 35. I've been asking all the experts who will talk to me, what is the lowest that number can go, and when it gets this low, it's really a question of how what they're attributing as the cause of death. In other words, you have people who are gravely ill who are going to die of something, and if they get the COVID virus, they attribute it to the COVID virus, but there is a number, when it gets down this low it's really a question of what that hospital certifies as the cause of death. So, we'd like to see nobody die in the State of New York, ever. But, this is really, really good news and compared to where we were, this is a big sigh of relief.
We talked about calibrating the control of the reopening based on the metrics that we have seen. We said this from day one. We then did this graphic that people mocked me for, but people mock me for a lot of things and it doesn't bother me because I like it. The reopening of the economy is a valve, and you can open it faster, you can open it slower. We've seen it open very fast, we've seen it opened all at once, we've seen states get into trouble, we've seen countries get into trouble, and then they had to close the valve. We said we were going to open the valve incrementally and then watch the metrics. Sounds boring. Yeah, a little boring, but it's actually very smart. What were the metrics? We're going to start to open the valve, watch the diagnostic testing rate, watch the tracing rate, watch the antibody testing rate, watch the hospitalization rate, watch the infection rate, which is the seminal factor. Rate of transmission. How quickly is the virus spreading? The RT, rate of transmission. If it goes over 1, red lights, alarms, beeping, you have a real problem, if one person is infecting more than one additional person. And you watch the gauges. And if the gauges are staying down low, then you can open the valve more. Why did the valve stay down low? Because people are smart, and when you reopen they don't just come out and act like they did, they understand it's a new normal and they act intelligently. Our metrics are all today very good. We're going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good. If the metrics change, that will change. But right now that is where we are.
We are going to accelerate the opening of temples, mosques, churches. In Phase 2 they can open to 25 percent occupancy of that building. I was speaking to a minister about this. He said 25 percent occupancy, that is good news because it is better than zero. He said but 25 percent occupancy, then I have to have four services to get everyone in. Then he said, well you know, I have to give the same sermon four times. He said hopefully by the fourth time I get it right. Yes. 25 percent occupancy is not as easy as 100 percent occupancy but 100 percent occupancy is mass gathering and you really can't do social distancing. So Phase 2, 25 percent occupancy. That begins immediately.
Be smart. Be smart. It does not mean you go to a temple or a mosque and you sit right next to a person. You have to socially distance. Watch on the entranceway and on the exit way when people tend to congregate going through the entrance or the exit. So we leave it to our faith-based partners to come up with a smart strategy about the way to do this. But this is an acceleration for us because we are doing so well on the metrics. But people still have to stay smart.
With this virus, you learn something new every week. Sometimes what you learn is different than what they told you in the first place. Who is the "they"? The they in this case are the global health experts. The information has changed. Some of the information I imparted when I received it turned out that it is different. Now the state of information is the virus can live in the air for three hours which is actually frightening when you think about it. It means if I am infected and I am speaking and we have air molecules that I am dispersing, they could linger for three hours. You walk in three hours later, you actually breathe in those air molecules. That is a frightening fact.
They now say surfaces are less important. It is not that they are not important. You can still get the virus from a surface, but the virus does not live as easily or as long on surfaces as they originally thought.
Originally children were not affected. Now we are seeing the inflammatory syndrome that is affecting children all across the globe. Not a significant number of children yet, but it is an area that is just being developed.
They originally said if you were infected you cannot be re-infected. That was theoretically a way for the workforce to go back to work. People who were infected were going to go back to work because they could not get re-infected. That's wrong. Infected people may be able to get infected.
A new piece of information that reinforces what we have been saying, the World Health Organization now says that masks are more important than they had originally recommended. They had originally recommended they were important for healthcare workers. They are now saying that they are helpful for the general population. On masks, if you remember, when masks first started, the CDC or the federal agencies were saying yes, they could not hurt but maybe they were not great. That has come a long way. The more people have learned, the more important the masks are.
A way to make sure people can gets masks, we're going to sign a bill saying that we will prosecute price gouging on PPE. To give you an idea of where we were, the N-95 masks which we needed during the middle of the pandemic for the health care professionals. Before the pandemic, we were paying 70 cents for a mask. In the middle of the pandemic, $7 per mask for the same mask. Whatever we can do on a statewide basis is statewide price gouging. Doesn't mean China can't gouge us or another country, but we'll have price gouging in the State of New York.
We had continued protests last night all across the state. The protests were mainly peaceful. I think Barbara Jordan, God rest her soul, who was a great representative in this country said it right with, "What the people want is very simple - they want an America as good as its promise." That's what the protestors are saying. They're saying enough is enough. Mr. Floyd's death, Eric Garner's death, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo's death, Rodney King's death - when does it end? I think they're right. This is a national moment for change. New York is going to lead the way on this change.
We have always done it and will continue to do it. When it comes to change, there's talk and there's action. I told you about my grandfather when a politician used to come on TV and I'd be watching the TV and any politician that would come on, my grandfather would go like this. I didn't know what that meant, he was an Italian immigrant who said a lot of things that I didn't really understand. One day I said, "Grandpa, what is that?" He said, "Oh the politicians, that's all they do is talk. That's all they do is talk." We should do this, we should do this, we should do this. Yeah, do something. What have you done? What have you actually accomplished for people besides this?
New York, we're about doing. We're about action. We're about results. Seize the day. Carpe diem. We have a moment here where we can make change. It's not just about seizing the day, it's about seizing a moment. How do you say seize the moment in Latin? Nobody knows. I took Latin, I should know. Carpe momentum is my Latin translation. I took Latin in high school. I wouldn't vouch for that, but that's the best I could do. Carpe momentum - seize the moment. We have a moment and New York is going to seize the moment.
The legislature is going to come back next week. We have the Say Their Name Agenda. Transparency of prior disciplinary actions for police officers - the 50-a bill. No chokeholds. No chokeholds. How many times do you have to learn the same lesson? No false race-based 911 reports. The Attorney General is an independent prosecutor for police murders, which I did as an executive order 5 years ago. Let's codify it so it's not up to the next Governor to decide whether or not they want to do it. It will be in the law. Pass the bills. Actually make the change. Then other states will look at New York and say well New York did this why can't we do it? That's New York at its best. That's the history of New York. That's Stonewall, that's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - that's New York at its best leading the way. That's what we did when we passed marriage equality and the rest of the country said, oh, let's look at that, and we passed the bill and it went right across the nation. Free college tuition, minimum wage, $15, so people can actually live, and pay rent, and eat, all at the same time. The best gun safety law in the United States after the Sandy Hook massacre, right. Carpe momentum. The most aggressive renewable energy program, and, we'll be the first with the best criminal justice reform. That's the plan for next week.
Next week on Monday, New York City opens, starts Phase 1. That's great news. You look at the numbers on New York City, they have dropped dramatically. They were at a high of positive testing at 57 percent, they're now down to 2 percent. You want to talk about a turnaround. This one, my friends, is going to go in the history books. New York was the hardest hit and in 98 days we have gotten to a much, much different place. There is no state in the United States that has gone from where we were to where we are. No state in the United States that has gone from where we were to where we are. You'd be hard-pressed to find a country that went from where we were to where we are. Hospitalizations went from 12,000 down to 1,500.
Phase 1 guidelines starts Monday. It's construction, it's manufacturing, it's curbside pickup. Pursuant to these rules, curbside pickup, in-store pick up where curbside is not practical, they're prearranged, you're not there to browse and shop, social distancing. Construction and manufacturing, masks must be worn. And again, WHO just pointed out how important they are. Employer must provide masks, no congregate settings. We're sending 1 million masks to the MTA, 25,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, made right here in the State of New York, two-ounce bottles for the MTA reopening. The MTA will reopen with disinfected train cars. Never heard of before, used to complain about how dirty they were, they are now disinfected for the first time. My house doesn't have disinfected bathrooms, but the subway cars are disinfected, the Long Island Rail Road is disinfected, buses, etc.
As office workers go back to work, we're allowing commercial buildings to take the temperature of everyone who enters the building. "I don't want anyone to take my temperature." That's going to be a problem because we're giving commercial buildings the right to take the temperature of everyone who walks into a building. It's not just your health, it's the people you could infect. And remember that when you go back to work, it doesn't mean we're going to go back to the way we were, there's no going back in life, it's about going forward and finding a new normal with new behavior and new patterns in the workplace, right. And we need everyone to cooperate with that as they've cooperated all along.
But, congratulations to the people of New York State because they did this, the people of New York City did this, the people of Albany did this. They heard the information, they reacted, they responded, and they were so smart in what they did, and so disciplined and they went through hell, but they rose to the occasion. We used to talk about flattening the curve. The signs that the State put up, "Do your part - flatten the curve." That's where we started. We didn't just flatten the curve, we bent the curve. Flatten the curve was stop the increase and get to a plateau. That is the flat of the curve - get to a plateau. We went beyond that in New York. We didn't flatten the curve, we bent the curve. And we went from the worst, to one of the best in a very short period of time. This is the New York curve, this is the rest of the nation. And they did not have the problem that we had. New Yorkers did it. Don't get cocky, don't get arrogant. They say New Yorkers are arrogant. I think they're talking about some of the people in this room. New Yorkers are arrogant. Don't get cocky, don't get arrogant, but all the arrows are pointed in the right direction and we're going to stay New York Tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving.
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