November 26, 2020
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New Record-High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported to New York State

TOP Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo...

217,721 Test Results Reported to New York State Yesterday 

Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 4.90 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 2.68 Percent

Statewide Positivity Rate is 3.18 Percent

67 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Governor Cuomo: "We know what's going on and the numbers tell the same story because we've seen the movie in New York. We've seen the movie across the country. The positivity goes up, more people get sick, more people go into the hospital, more people go into the ICU, more people get intubated, and the death number goes up. Relative to the rest of the country New York State is still doing phenomenally well and that's thanks to the good actions of New Yorkers... What we're going to be doing through this Thanksgiving weekend and into next week, we're going to be working on our winter plan. All the global experts say the same thing. This virus has phases. As the phase changes your plan should change."

 

Cuomo: "The winter plan is also going to develop a vaccine distribution plan that does it fairly and effectively and prioritizes the vaccines in the most judicious way. Those are the three elements that will be in the winter plan. The zones, micro-clusters, adding of the factors, including the hospitalization, ICU bed availability, et cetera. In that calculus is also elective surgery and whether or not we need additional field hospitals. Second, the schools and the testing of the schools to keep them open at a rate that's sustainable. Third: a vaccine distribution plan. The more data you have, the smarter the decisions you make."

 

Cuomo: "I think that Supreme Court ruling on the religious gatherings is more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else. It's irrelevant from a practical impact because the zone that they were talking about has already been moved. It expired last week. I think this was really just an opportunity for the Court to express its philosophy and politics... I fully respect religion and if there's a time in life when we need it, the time is now, but we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time. That's the balance we're trying to hit, especially through this holiday season."

 

Cuomo: "Last point: Happy Thanksgiving. Celebrate, just do it safely. Let's not create more of an issue. Again, people have to appreciate the dichotomy: 'I'm going to be home; I'm with my family, that is the safe place in life. That's the safe place where I go for refuge with my family in my home or in someone else's home, but with family with friends. That's my place of refuge. I need refuge.' Yes, except that's not necessarily a safe place. The CDC numbers, the spread is going to be from pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people - people who don't even know they have the virus. It's not that they're going to be malicious, it's going to be accidental, it's going to be involuntary. So, what appears safe is no longer safe in this crazy world."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 217,721 COVID-19 test results were reported to New York State yesterday—a new record high. 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Hello, guys. Happy Thanksgiving. I have Melissa DeRosa, Rob Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Beth, Gareth Rhodes on the phone. Happy Thanksgiving, and I gave you all a break today. I will do this on the telephone so you can enjoy the day with your family as long as we're all doing it safely. 

The numbers today, today is day 270. We did 200,000 tests. Positivity with the micro-clusters, 3.1, which is down from 3.6. Positivity without those zones, 2.6, down from 3. The micro-cluster zone, 4.9, down from 5. Death rate is up - 67 New Yorkers died from COVID yesterday, 3,056 hospitalized, that's 74 plus, 628 in ICU, that's up 32, 286 intubated, that's up 9. So the rate is down a notch. 67 passed away and plus 74 hospitalized.

 
The numbers, we know what's going on and the numbers tell the same story because we've seen the movie in New York. We've seen the movie across the country. The positivity goes up, more people get sick, more people go into the hospital, more people go into the ICU, more people get intubated, and the death number goes up. Relative to the rest of the country New York State is still doing phenomenally well and that's thanks to the good actions of New Yorkers. Across the state the highest rate is Western New York, 5.4, and then we have basically Finger Lakes 3.85, Mid-Hudson 3.86, Central New York 3.5, Capital District 2.3, Long Island 3.3, Mohawk Valley 3.2, New York City 2.5, North County 2.1, Southern Tier 1.3. Southern Tier has been a real turnaround. Congratulations to them.

 
I talked at length to the Biden COVID transition team yesterday and that was a welcome relief. It's a much different federal posture. They get it. They understand it. They've been studying it and it's about the facts and it's about the science, but that was a very good conversation. We've been speaking with many of them all throughout this and our New York approach really is the one that incorporates the most science so that was productive and helpful. We do have issues with the current federal administration on the vaccination plan, the immigration data, as well as the lack of outreach for the Black and Brown communities, poor communities, rural communities.

 
What we're going to be doing through this Thanksgiving weekend and into next week, we're going to be working on our winter plan. All the global experts say the same thing. This virus has phases. As the phase changes your plan should change. Phases can be seasonal. Summer plan, fall plan, winter plan, can be triggered by the numbers, when you're flat, when there's a gentle increase, when it's a large increase, you get to the same point. You see an increase with the numbers across the country. It started with the fall. It's going to continue and probably worsen in the winter.

 
What stops it, not the vaccine, because the timing of the vaccine is going to be more attenuated than the publicity about the vaccine. It's great that we have the vaccine but when you get into the details of the production level of the vaccine, the delivery of the vaccine, the administration of the vaccine, then the prioritization, start with nursing homes, healthcare personnel, etcetera, you're talking months and months before you get to the general public or a critical mass where it will make an actual increase in the net infection rate, so we have to now reconfigure for a winter plan and we want to assess the consequence of Thanksgiving.

 
There are a number of theories about how bad the increase will be after Thanksgiving but they all project an increase post-Thanksgiving. We see the air travel is increased, we see the car travel is increased, and we know that the more social activity, the higher the infection rate. We know we have more social interaction, period.

 
On the winter plan, we're going to stay with the micro-cluster approach because that targets the spread, it minimizes economic impact, and it stresses individual and community accountability and responsibility. So that's working very well and all the experts think that is the state-of-the-art. The yellow, orange, red - we want to add factors, most notably, hospitalization rate and availability of hospital beds, ICU beds. That is the worst-case scenario is you run out of hospital beds. We had to do a field hospital in Staten Island. Massachusetts is opening field hospitals; other states are opening field hospitals. We want to add a number of factors to the yellow, orange, red. Criticality has to weigh hospital capacity and infection rate in a place that has a shortage of hospital beds is more serious than an infection rate in a place that has fewer hospital beds. 

 

That's one of the exercises we're going through now and we're working with experts. Also, second factor in the winter plan is going to be keeping the schools open, especially K-8. Junior high, high is a different situation. Keeping the schools open and keeping them open by setting a safe positivity rate, all the data says the schools are safer than the surrounding community. We want to continue testing in the schools, but we need a sustainable testing rate in the schools. 

 

In other words, if you want to keep the schools open, it has to be a level of testing that the local school districts can provide for a prolonged period of time. Winter plan, you have to get through the winter. How many tests can you now dedicate just to the school system? That number varies across the state. How many tests do you need to be monitoring the schools to make sure they stay safe. Then you have to balance the number of tests that you do in schools with the number of tests you do in nursing homes, the number of tests you do for essential workers, et cetera. That's something we're working on in the winter plan. 

 

The winter plan is also going to develop a vaccine distribution plan that does it fairly and effectively and prioritizes the vaccines in the most judicious way. Those are the three elements that will be in the winter plan. The zones, micro-clusters, adding of the factors, including the hospitalization, ICU bed availability, et cetera. In that calculus is also elective surgery, second, and whether or not we need additional field hospitals. Second, the schools and the testing of the schools to keep them open at a rate that's sustainable. Third: a vaccine distribution plan. The more data you have, the smarter the decisions you make. 

 

We want to see what Thanksgiving actually did. If it did it evenly across the state, if it caused a spike in some parts of the state. We can't tell now if there's more social interaction proportionately to Thanksgiving in certain parts of the state. I can't tell you if Buffalo is seeing proportionately more social activity because of Thanksgiving than New York City, than Long Island. There is a lag on the infection rate. Somebody gets COVID today at a Thanksgiving; you won't see that show up for days, possibly. Days, certainly, but how many days. The more data, the better. We're talking to local governments also in developing this winter plan. 

 

One other point, the Supreme Court made a ruling. I think that Supreme Court ruling on the religious gatherings is more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else. It's irrelevant from a practical impact because the zone that they were talking about has already been moved. It expired last week. I think this was really just an opportunity for the Court to express its philosophy and politics. It doesn't have any practical effect. In terms of religious gatherings, look, I'm a former altar boy. Catholic grammar school, Catholic high school. Jesuit college. I fully respect religion and if there's a time in life when we need it, the time is now, but we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time. That's the balance we're trying to hit, especially through this holiday season and the coming Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, et cetera celebrations. 

 

Last point: Happy Thanksgiving. Celebrate, just do it safely. Let's not create more of an issue. Again, people have to appreciate the dichotomy: 'I'm going to be home; I'm with my family, that is the safe place in life. That's the safe place where I go for refuge with my family in my home or in someone else's home, but with family with friends. That's my place of refuge. I need refuge.' Yes, except that's not necessarily a safe place. The CDC numbers, the spread is going to be from pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people - people who don't even know they have the virus. It's not that they're going to be malicious, it's going to be accidental, it's going to be involuntary. So, what appears safe is no longer safe in this crazy world.

 

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