Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Western New York Expected to Enter Phase 3 of Reopening June 16 and Capital Region Expected to Enter Phase 3 of Reopening on June 17
June 13, 2020
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning. Pleasure to be here this morning, beautiful New York City. To my right, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To my left, Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner, New York State Department of Health. Let's talk about where we are today. On day 105 of the coronavirus crisis and day 20 of the aftermath of Mr. Floyd's murder. We're dealing with both situations, they're separate, and they're important and critical in and of themselves, and then there's an intersection where the two issues run into each other. I'm pleased to report today that New York State has made great progress on both issues. We'll talk about them individually.
On the civil unrest issue after Mr. Floyd's murder, I said from day one that I stand with the protesters. New York State is the progressive capital of the nation, and we pride ourselves on that, and we work to be that. And being the progressive capital means not just articulating progressive goals, right? If you really want to be the progressive capital, you have to lead with action that is progressive. And all the greats have said that from day one. It's not merely articulation, it's action. That is the art form. Bayard Rustin, the proof that one truly believes is an action. That's how you get measured in life. That's what the history books have all taught us. So New York is leading with real reform.
The New York State Legislature came back last week and passed leading, nation-leading legislation. Transparency of disciplinary records, what we call here in New York 50-a, laws banning chokeholds, institutionalize the attorney general as a special prosecutor, false race-based 911 calls, and the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which I signed an executive order to enact. Now, the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative is a major step forward, and I believe it's a moment to turn the page on this entire issue. We've seen the protests, we've seen the demonstrations. The people of this nation have made their voice heard. They are outraged after Mr. Floyd's murder. The formula that works is demonstration, protest, make your case, then make change, legislation, institutionalize the point that you were making, and then reconciliation. Demonstration, legislation, reconciliation. Reverend Sharpton was here yesterday, and those were his words. He's exactly right.
Protest, demonstrate, show the outrage, show the frustration and then do something about it. That's the legislation. It's not about protesting for the sake of protesting, it's protesting to make change. The change comes in the legislation. And that's what we have to remember. That's what it means to be a progressive state. Yes, articulate, and now act. And that's where we are in New York. Now is the time for every community to put pen to paper and enact systemic reform. Take that anger and frustration that we saw in the demonstration, and now I'm saying to every community, we have 500 police forces in this state alone, 18,000 nationwide, okay, what do you want in terms of reform? What changes do you want? And what do you want policing to look like in the year 2020? Put pen to paper, sit down, redesign the police force for the year 2020. What functions do you want it to undertake, what budget do you want it to have, what is the staffing that you want it to have, what is your use of force penalty, how should they handle crowd management? Concerns about demilitarizing the police, what do you mean by demilitarizing the police? What equipment do you want them to have and not have? That's the function that every community has to go through and that's the function and the process that we outlined in the New York State reform collaborative. Collaborative meaning government sits down with the community and does it together. It's not that government gives us their vision of what the police should look like, because we have government's vision of what the police should look like - it's called the current police.
Bring the community to the table, have the conversation and come up with a redesigned police force for the year 2020. Come up with the reforms you actually want in specifics and remake your police force. That's the stage that we're in in New York and it's for your community. New York City, you tell us what policing looks like in 2020 in New York City. Nassau County, you tell us what a police department looks like in 2020. Suffolk County, you tell us. Buffalo, you tell us. Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Utica - you tell us. County by county, city by city, what police force do you want? We heard you. You're right. We agree with you protestors. Now, tell us what the police force should look like and let's do that over the next 9 months.
Why 9 months? It takes 9 months to give birth and we're going to birth a new vision for a police force. Community by community, because there is no one size fits all. It's what that community wants and New York City may want something different than Suffolk, may want something different than Erie. That's fine, because it's for that community to decide. At the table, activists, stake holders, police, government officials - you design your police force and you do it now.
How do we know they'll do it? If you don't do it, local government, you won't get any state funding. Period. We're not going to tell you what to do, but we'll tell you that you have to go through the process. And you have to pass a law with your redesigned police force. And you have to do it by April 1 or you don't get state funding. If you don't want state funding, then you don't have to do it. I don't believe there's a city or a county in this state that will say they don't want state funding, but that's the incentive to actually go through the process of redesigning the police. April 1 is the drop dead date. Again, I'm not telling them what it should look like, I'm saying the opposite. I'm saying it's up to the community, that government, to pass a law redesigning their police force. Taking into consideration the dialogue we've all been having over the past few weeks.
Look, it has to be done anyway. We don't really have a choice because no police department can function, not in this state, not in this nation, if it doesn't have the trust and respect of the community. It does not work either way. If you don't have the trust or the respect, it's not going to work. You know, the police force is a function of what the community wants. The community pays for the police. The police don't exist despite the community. The police exist because that community wants them. If that community that is funding them with their tax dollars want a different police force, they'll have a different police force. They're not going to pay for a police force that they don't want. If they don't want that police force, it's not going to work anyway, and that's where we are. The relationship is broken in many of these communities. Some of it - Some communities it's fine. But in the communities that want a different relationship, design it, define it, do it over the next nine months and then enact it into law. Take this moment and make change. That's what this is all about, restoring the respect and trust.
On reopening, we're following the data. The data that we should be watching now is the testing data. We talked about hospitalization data and ICU data and tracing. It's the day-to-day tests. We do 50,000 tests per day across the state. You know what the tests were yesterday city by city, county by county. Look at that data. That's what's gauging our reopening, and it's visible, it's on the website and literally day by day. So you take New York City, yesterday it was 1.7%, but you can see it over the week. Monday was 1.8, that's when New York City started to open. 1.5, 1.7, 1.5, 1.7, great. You'll see little deviations, little fluctuations. It'll be up a little bit, it'll be down a little bit. That's fine. What you do want to watch is if you see it start ticking up and continue to tick up, right? We're looking for a direction more than anything else. But you see it by region and then you have a breakdown within that region so you can drill down on the numbers.
In New York City it's by borough. You look at the Bronx, when we opened it was 2.3 then 2.1, 2.4, 1.6, 1.8. Okay, up a little bit, down a little bit, but you see it's basically constant. That's what we want to be watching. That's what's gauging our reopening. All the news is good. All the news is very, very good. Number of hospitalizations, lowest since March 20th. That's when this nightmare began. So, we've done it. We have tamed the beast. We are now 180 degrees on the other side. The best number, lowest number of deaths that we have seen since this started. And that is the number I know turns my stomach and turns everyone's stomach in this state. This is the number that is the most painful. And it is the lowest level since this started. The people of this state, by their actions, have saved thousands of lives. That is not overly dramatic. That is not rhetorical. That is not metaphorical. That is factual. They saved thousands and thousands of lives.
Moving forward, Western New York is expected to move to Phase Three on this Tuesday. Capital Region should move to Phase Three on Wednesday. But as usual, we have to stay smart. Look around the nation and look at what is going on. We're not in a vacuum. This virus spreads. We learned the hard way through cases in California for weeks when this started before they came here. Look at the signs across the country and the signs across the country are frightening. The COVID virus is increasing in just about half the states. Half the states, it's going up. You have 14 states that have seen a 25% increase in the past week. Think about that. This is a frightening time. We thought that we were past it. Well, the beast is rearing its ugly head. Half the states are seeing an increase. Fourteen states, a 25 percent increase this past week. Be careful. Be careful. New York is the anomaly. New York is exactly the opposite. All the other states, virtually all the other states, reopened and saw the number go up, right. They all have the same chart. Reopening and the number goes up. New York, we're coming down. We reopen, the number continues to drop. That is anomalous to the rest of the nation. Our infection rate, which is the key number, how fast the virus is spreading, our rate of transmission, that's the most important factor in all of this. How fast is the virus spreading.
We were spreading at the highest rate in the nation when this started. We are now at the lowest rate in the nation. Think about that. You want to talk about a dramatic turnaround. New York was in the worst situation. Highest number of cases, fastest rate of transmission. 100 days later, either the lowest rate of transmission in the nation or one of the lowest rates of transmission in the nation. From the worst infection rate to the best, that's what New Yorkers has accomplished. The most dramatic turnaround in the country. We're looking for comparisons, it may be one of the most dramatic turn arounds on the globe dealing with this COVID virus. But you can literally rank states by their rate of transmission and this is an independent web site. Has New York literally as the lowest transmission rate in the United States of America, .77, which means it's under one. One is the demarcation line for rate of transmission. Over one, which means one person is infecting more than one other person, that's what they call outbreak. It means you've lost control of the virus. Under one, you're containing the virus. We are .77, lowest rate of transmission in the United States. And that's all a function of what New Yorkers have done, nothing else.
For local governments I had the local governments on the telephone yesterday on what we call Regional Control Groups. The local governments have a vital role here, and they have to do it. The local governments have to enforce compliance. It's not popular, it's not fun. Everybody wants to be out, everybody wants to reopen, everybody wants freedom. I get it. Discipline matters. Local governments have to do their job. They have to enforce compliance. They have to study their local data. When they find those positive cases, they have to trace those cases back. Where are people getting the virus? Are they getting it at work? Are they getting it at a restaurant? Are they getting it on the street corner? Are they getting it at protests? That's the function for the local government. And when you see a cluster in that infection rate, the local governments have to attack it. I know it's tedious, but it's also very important. And I said to the local governments frankly yesterday, this is their job. And if they don't do their job, then they're going to have a really unpopular task, which is explaining to their local community why they have to slow or stop the reopening. You have some states that are now stopping the reopening. That is the last thing anybody wants to do, and that is totally counterproductive. So, I said to the local governments, I say to them again, mayors, county executives, do your job. Because that's what's controlling the spread of the virus and you have to continue doing it.
I say to the citizens of this state who are the ones who accomplished the impossible, they are the ones who reduced that transmission rate, you have to stay smart, keep doing what we're doing, don't let up, don't think, well, now we're reopening, everything is fine, the weather's better, everything is fine, I hear New York is doing well. It is, but only because of what you're doing. That's been the secret from day one. You stop doing what you're doing, you'll see those numbers turn. So we have to stay smart, stay disciplined. To the protesters, I say wear a mask. It is the law. I signed an executive order that says it is the law. If you cannot socially distance, you must wear a mask. i also say, especially to my young friends, this is nothing. This is nothing. I don't know what this is. This is like a form of a chin guard. That's what this is. It may be a fashion statement, it may be cool, but this accomplishes nothing. It's not a mask, it's nothing. Well, I'm just taking a break from my mask. No. this accomplishes nothing, right? It's nose and it's mouth. Nose and mouth. For me, the nose and mouth is a big job, covering the nose and mouth, all right? But this is a mask, this is a chin guard. Nobody told you to wear a chin guard. Wear a mask. So I say that to the protesters. I also say to the police, wear a mask. It is the law, and the law is the law for the police, right? So, wear a mask. It is the state law. It's not an option. And stay New York tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving.
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