0.79 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive
3 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday
New York State Monitoring Increase in Western New York Infection Rate
SLA and State Police Task Force Observes Violations of State Requirements at 4 Establishments
Confirms 566 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 431,340; New Cases in 39 Counties
Governor Cuomo: "New York did 71,000 tests yesterday and it's continued good news for New Yorkers who are continuing to act smart and united and disciplined. .79 percent is the infection rate. That's the 19th straight day that it's under 1 so that's very good."
Cuomo: "Our enforcement efforts are continuing. The infection rate isn't staying down by anything other than the consequence of our actions so we're continuing the enforcement actions. ... New York City needs to use the NYPD. ... I understand the issues they have in New York City but they have to do compliance. Otherwise you're going to see the numbers go up."
Cuomo: "The CDC on Monday changed the guidance to say if you have been in close contact with a person who was infected with COVID, you do not need to get a test. ... I've spoken to health experts from around the globe. None of them will say that this makes any sense from a health point of view. The only plausible rationale is they want fewer people taking tests because, as the President has said, if we don't take tests you won't know that people are COVID-positive and the number of COVID-positive people will come down. ... it totally violates public health standards and rationale and just fosters his failed policy of denial - 'COVID's not a problem'."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State's rate of positive COVID-19 tests has been below 1 percent for 19 straight days. Yesterday, 0.79 percent of test results reported to New York State were positive. New York State is closely monitoring the recent increase in Western New York's infection rate. The governor also updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. Good morning. Andrew Cuomo here. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Dr. Howard Zucker, Gareth Rhodes, Beth Garvey and Robert Mujica.
Today is day 179. New York did 71,000 tests yesterday and it's continued good news for New Yorkers who are continuing to act smart and united and disciplined. .79 percent is the infection rate. That's the 19th straight day that it's under 1 so that's very good. Three New Yorkers passed away from COVID and they're in our thoughts and prayers, 492 hospitalized, 136 in ICU, 54 intubated. The situation was good all across the state.
We still have a caution flag for Western New York which is at 1.4 percent today. It's better than it was but not where it should be so we're focusing on Western New York and we'll continue to do that.
Our enforcement efforts are continuing. The infection rate isn't staying down by anything other than the consequence of our actions so we're continuing the enforcement actions. We did one in Brooklyn, one in Queens, one in Staten Island, one in Suffolk. Those are done by the State Liquor Authority and the State Police. Again, call on local governments - they're supposed to be doing the compliance. They don't make the decisions of what opens and what closes but they do do the compliance and they have to do a better job. New York City needs to use the NYPD. New York City relies on its Sheriff's Department to do compliance. It's not going to be effective. There is only 150 people in the Sherriff's Department. There is 30-something thousand NYPD. I understand the issues they have in New York City but they have to do compliance. Otherwise you're going to see the numbers go up.
A couple of comments on national situations - the President announced that he would be nominating his Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to be the permanent Secretary. This is just a couple of weeks after the US Attorney in the Southern District refused to advance Wolf's lawsuit against New York State, where we sued them on the Trusted Traveler Program. I was former attorney general; I've never seen a U.S. attorney say that they will drop a lawsuit because the allegations made by the department are false. Chad Wolf made false allegations. He said that New York State was the only state that had a green light law that didn't allow disclosure. That was false. That was knowingly false. It had been publicly discussed. Wolf and his department very well are aware of those laws. And the U.S. attorney said that he was making false statements. Trump's response is to nominate him to be confirmed. The House of Representatives said that they were considering an investigation. Any attorney general, Attorney General Barr, if he was a real attorney general and actually serious about this oath of office, he would be investigating how a department for many months was conducting a political vendetta against New York State rather than allowing the president to advance Wolf and Cuccinelli, who are thugs. That's what we would call them in New York. Rather than advance them for nomination, they should be advanced for investigation. And I hope the House of Representatives does do the investigation and if the U.S. Senate confirms these people, it is the ultimate disregard for the rule of law, which is a continuing theme with this administration but would literally take it to a new level.
Talking about the hyperpolitical nature of this administration, the CDC put out new guidance that really strains credulity. The CDC on Monday changed the guidance to say if you have been in close contact with a person who was infected with COVID, you do not need to get a test. Okay? This reversed their previous guidance, which was if you were in close contact with a COVID-positive person, you needed to get a test. They reversed their own guidance: if you are in close contact with a person, you don't need to get a test.
I've spoken to health experts from around the globe. None of them will say that this makes any sense from a health point of view. The only plausible rationale is they want fewer people taking tests because, as the President has said, if we don't take tests you won't know that people are COVID-positive and the number of COVID-positive people will come down. Yes, that is true. That is his policy of "deny the problem." If you don't take your temperature, you won't know that you have a fever. Yes, that is true. But it totally violates public health standards and rationale and just fosters his failed policy of denial - "COVID's not a problem. It's going to be gone when the weather gets warm. It's going to be gone by Easter. There's only a COVID problem because we take tests."
He now has CDC carrying forward his political agenda and it is frightening and it is alarming. And when you can politicize public health, which is actually politicizing national security. Now, he's consistent in his politics over government because he is politicizing national security when he nominates Chad Wolf to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security who was just a political operative. The Department of Homeland Security is what the President uses to build his wall, to put children in cages - that's all done by the Department of Homeland Security. So, he made the Department of Homeland Security a political operation and now he's making the CDC a political operation. It is frightening. It should be frightening. This is the same CDC that was supposed to guard public health. And was supposed to track the virus that was in China last December. It's the same CDC that showed that they either lied to the American people or they're incompetent because they didn't track the virus in China. And they didn't track the virus leaving China and going to Europe in January, February, March. And that's why New York was ambushed. That is a fact. It's not a political statement, it's not hyperbolic, it's not rhetorical - it's a fact. And that's why New York had the number of cases it had. Because the flights from Europe came here. It's not the China virus. It's the European virus because it came here from Europe. And the CDC either totally missed it or they were ordered not to speak about it. And this just evidences once again political control over what is supposed to be a public health organization.
The history books are going to record this. Shame on the people in the CDC. These will be indefensible actions in the light of history. Indefensible. What possible rationale is there to say, "You're in close contact with a COVID positive person and you don't need a test." What plausible rationale? And this from the same CDC that already disgraced itself when they said there's no such thing as asymptomatic spread and then totally reversed themselves. This is the same CDC that said the transmission is when a person who is symptomatic coughs or sneezes. And then did a full 180 and said, "Whoops they can also transfer it if they're asymptomatic." When, by the way, doctors around the world were already saying that. And how do they rationalize their position where you can have asymptomatic spread by now saying you don't even have to have a test? They also did a 180 on the quarantine rule. Where no they say you don't have to quarantine if you're coming in from a country that is a hotspot. On what theory? Why would you reverse yourself on the quarantine order? Because they don't want publicity that there is a COVID problem. Because the president's politics are that COVID isn't a problem, we're passed COVID and it's all about the economy. "The economy is doing great and we're going to focus not he economy." And that's his reelection strategy. So he's using the CDC as a campaign, rhetorical device. This is all his political/public relations.
Also, on the wildfires in California, Americans were very good to New York when we needed help and I will never forget it personally. New Yorkers will never forget it. And we're going to show the same love and mutuality they showed to us and we're going to send forest rangers to California to help fight with the forest fire. With that I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Zucker for some comments and then we'll take questions.
Thank you. Dr. Zucker?
Dr. Howard Zucker: Thank you, Governor. Regarding the CDC situation, this is indefensible from a public health point of view and I have to say it makes absolutely no sense and I've spoken to the scientists at the CDC and they say it's political, so I concur with all you're saying that this is just indefensible.