Earlier today, Governor Cuomo announced that 203,721 COVID-19 test results were reported to New York State yesterday — a new record high for the State. The Governor also announced Rockland County's orange warning zone will transition to a yellow precautionary zone. The Governor also announced that an emergency summit will be held this weekend with the governors of Northeastern states to discuss aligning policy in light of rising COVID-19 cases in the region and throughout the country.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good afternoon, guys - "guys" being gender-neutral. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Gareth Rhodes, Dr. Zucker.
Today is day 258. We did 200,000 tests yesterday. It was an all-time high on number of tests. It's amazing when you think that when we started we could only do 500 tests per day and we had to develop that capacity. It's extraordinary.
Overall state with the micro-cluster zones included, 2.6. That's down from 2.9. State without the micro-cluster zones, 2.2. Micro-cluster zones, 4.5. That's down from 4.8.
Twenty-four New Yorkers passed away, they're in our thoughts and prayers; 1,700 hospitalized, that's up 60; 331 in ICU; 137 patients intubated. The only shift we have today is Rockland County was an orange zone in the micro-clusters. They have made good progress, congratulations to Rockland, and they go to a yellow zone, so they have gotten their numbers down and that is good news.
The other good news is New York State's infection rate is one of the lowest in the United States. The bad news is we are in the midst of a sea of COVID rising around us. You look at the international numbers and they are frightening. Countries are closing down, France has a problem, Italy has a problem, UK has a problem worse than ours. Those places are locked down but people are still getting on planes and flying into this state and this country. You look at states around the country and the numbers are all going up quickly, Texas 10 percent, Illinois 12 percent, Arizona 14 percent, California 4 percent, Ohio 10 percent, Florida 7 percent. So that's a problem.
The states immediately surrounding us, our neighbors: Connecticut 4 percent; Jersey 6 percent; Massachusetts 27 percent; Pennsylvania 19 percent; New York is 2.6. So, the COVID numbers internationally are rising. The COVID numbers nationally are rising. The COVID numbers in our surrounding states are rising. You cannot defy reality. And the reality is the virus transmits, and the virus is mobile, and we're in the holiday season. People will travel more - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa holidays. Winter more people are inside. These are all elements that could conspire to increase COVID. That is the fact. The numbers are going up; the numbers will go up. I take that as a fact. There is a vaccine on the horizon, but it is a further horizon than most people think. If it takes six months or nine months to distribute a vaccine. I think we're talking about that range.
You cannot sustain a rising COVID rate until you have a vaccine. If that is an operating assumption, that is wrong. To the extent people say, "Well you know the vaccine is right around the corner, so we can start to relax because the vaccine is here." The vaccine is not here. The vaccine is on the horizon and you cannot take this rate of increase and survive pending the arrival of a vaccine. If you have this level infection rates it's even going to make the vaccine distribution harder, right? Vaccine distribution you have to bring people together, they have to be on lines, they have to be in waiting rooms. So this is all going to complicate it.
We have been working with our surrounding states, and it's even more important than ever, especially since our surrounding states have higher infection rates than we do. We set a policy, but these state policies impact surrounding states. I made this point early on. We make a move with our bars, we close down our bars, but the New Jersey bars are open. So then you go to a New Jersey bar. New Jersey closes their bars, so then people come to New York to go to a bar.
We know the places of spreading are bars, restaurants, gyms, mass gatherings and new problem of indoor house gatherings, house parties. Seemingly innocuous, Halloween party, football-watching party, right. And I'm sure we're going to start to see Christmas parties and Hanukkah parties, et cetera. So that is all a problem. We call it "living room spread". Living room spread. Living room family spread. "but I'm just with my family. My family would never infect me." Your family's not in control of it. Certain members of my family that may infect me, purposefully, but put that aside. Just because they're your family doesn't mean they're safe. It's not that they're doing it intentionally. But your family is no safer than any other group of 10 people. So, that's the situation we're in.
I believe this situation is going to continue to deteriorate over the coming weeks. I think you'll see an increasing rise in the number of cases. I have called my surrounding colleagues, governors, and we're going to have an emergency summit meeting this weekend of the six northeastern states, governors and their staffs. The teams have been working together. We want to make sure that we can align policies as much as possible, or at least be aware of what the other states' policies are. The ideal is alignment. That is not a reality because different states do have different situations and they're in different positions. But we believe we're going to have to be taking additional steps and to the extent we can share information and align action, we'll do that. I spoke with Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont today, and we went over a few issues. But the restaurant policy, bar policy, airport policy, travel quarantine, right, because if you don't like the policy in New York you can fly into Newark, or you can fly into Connecticut.
Gyms, we're trying to - and even house parties, because if you don't like the house party policy in Connecticut you can just go to your friend's house in New York. So, we had a conversation this morning. We'll have an emergency meeting over the weekend where we talk about policies. We all just made changes yesterday and the day before. New York basically aligned with Jersey on bars and restaurants with a closure at 10pm. So, we're not going to make any changes today or over the weekend. We want to see what effect our changes, policy changes we just made if they have any effect over the weekend, and we'll have a joint discussion over the weekend and then we will see where we are on Monday.