November 9, 2020
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Updated COVID-19 Micro-Cluster Focus Zones

TOP Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo...

Based on Progress Controlling COVID Spread, Brooklyn Red Zone will Transition to Orange Warning Zone

 

New Yellow Precautionary Zones in Erie, Monroe and Onondaga Counties

 

Governor Cuomo: "The numbers are undeniable across the globe, across the country, 10 million cases. So the rates will all go up. We expect the rates will continue to go up through the fall and into the winter. The long-term prognosis is get to a vaccine as quickly as possible, administer the vaccine as quickly as possible, administer the vaccine fairly and equitably but in the meantime we're going to see the rate going up The best you can do is manage the increase."

 

Cuomo: "The micro-cluster approach works. The micro-cluster approach is inarguable. Do more testing, more targeting. As soon as you see any increase, be more aggressive. There's nothing more you can do, but, that's everything that you can do. Watch a small increase, attack a small increase. And it works. How do you know it works? Because the numbers show that it works."

 

Cuomo: "We're different than other states because we do more testing and we're more aggressive in both our remediation efforts and were more aggressive in our goal setting. Our goal setting is much more aggressive and rigorous than other states."

 

Cuomo: "This is a virus and it spreads like a virus. It's a question of how disciplined - 'Well we have COVID fatigue; people are tired.' Yeah, I know people are tired. The virus isn't tired and that's all that matters. So, the red zones are our way of saying, and orange and yellow, is our way of saying the virus is making headway and we're going to increase restrictions and we're going to increase enforcement."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, announced updated COVID-19 micro-cluster focus areas in New York State. Based on data metrics including testing results and hospitalization rates, Brooklyn's red zone will transition to an orange warning zone. The Governor also announced new yellow precautionary zone focus areas in Erie, Monroe and Onondaga Counties.

 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here

 

A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below:

 

Good morning, guys - guys being gender neutral. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Gareth Rhodes, Dr. Zucker, Robert Mujica, Kelly Cummings, Beth Garvey and Peter Ajemian.

 

Today is day 254. As I think is clear to all we have definitely entered a new phase with COVID. The fall season has brought the expected increase in COVID as all the scientist predicted. The numbers are undeniable across the globe, across the country, 10 million cases.

 

So the rates will all go up. We expect the rates will all continue to go up through the fall and into the winter. The long-term prognosis is get to a vaccine as quickly as possible, administer the vaccine as quickly as possible, administer the vaccine fairly and equitably which is a whole different conversation, have a governmental apparatus ready to administer the vaccine which is a whole different conversation because this is much more challenging than the COVID testing we have done thus far, but in the meantime we're going to see the rate going up. The only thing you can do, or the best you can do, is manage the increase. But it will be increasing. The fall, much like the flu virus, there are certain conditions about the fall the increase the spread of the virus, more people inside, holidays, fewer outdoor gatherings, etcetera.

 

The rate in New York, now New York we're different than other states because we do more testing and we're more aggressive in both our remediation efforts and were more aggressive in our goal setting. Our goal setting is much more aggressive and rigorous than other states - all by national organizations also. Like the WHO says, you want to stay below 5 percent. We're much more aggressive and from my point of view being more aggressive just allows you a buffer, but ideally you'd want to see no one sick so I think you can't be aggressive enough.

 

In terms of numbers, micro-cluster zones are 4.3 percent positive today. The zones that we now call micro-clusters which I will explain to you in a moment because we have additional micro-cluster zones, the Statewide rate with the micro-cluster zones is 2.8. Without the micro-clusters it's 2.6. The micro-clusters are 4.3.

 

Twenty-six New Yorkers passed away from COVID yesterday. They're in our thoughts and prayers. 1,400 hospitalizations. 282 in ICU. 125 intubated. Overall, New York State is doing much better than any state in the country. Except for rural states, we have the lowest infection rate, Vermont and Maine. So we are doing very, very well, but as I've said, we're very aggressive, and we want no one sick.

 

The micro-cluster approach works. The micro-cluster approach is inarguable. Do more testing, more targeting. As soon as you see any increase, be more aggressive. There's nothing more you can do, but, that's everything that you can do. Watch a small increase, attack a small increase. And it works. How do you know it works? Because the numbers show that it works. Broome County was at 8 percent. Declared it a micro-cluster, additional remediation. What is remediation? Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. Discipline, discipline, discipline. And restrictions. Broome has gone from 8 percent to 3.5. Orange County has gone from 12 percent to 2 percent. Rockland County has gone from 9 percent to 3 percent. Those cases are interesting to me because they are rural, more rural and suburban cases.

 

Brooklyn, which is a truly urban area, as we all know, Brooklyn has made great progress, and we reduced the red zone by 50 percent last week, based on the progress. The progress has continued, and now we're announcing for Brooklyn the red zone will be all eliminated and what is now the Brooklyn red zone will go to an orange zone. Okay? So that is all very good news. Broome, Orange, Rockland and Brooklyn. And Brooklyn, if you remember, there was quite a fuss when we made a red zone. People don't like the restrictions, I understand that. But it works. And as complicated as this is, is as simple as this is, okay?

 

You know I like to torture simple analogies. You have a house, five people live in the house, one person - any virus, the flu, any virus - you tell that person, "stay in your room, don't come into the kitchen." You tell the other people in the house, "don't go into the room, don't share utensils, don't spread the virus. If you want to say hello, open the door, wave hello, talk from the doorway, don't go into the bedroom." It then becomes a question of discipline and enforcement. The person comes out of the bedroom, walks down into the kitchen and makes themselves a cup of coffee, touches the coffeepot, touches cups, sits down at the table, touches the tablecloth, now the virus spreads. This is a virus and it spreads like a virus. It's a question of how disciplined- "Well we have COVID fatigue; people are tired." Yeah, I know people are tired. The virus isn't tired and that's all that matters. So, the red zones are our way of saying, and orange and yellow, is our way of saying the virus is making headway and we're going to increase restrictions and we're going to increase enforcement. 

 

I've had a continuing lament, L-A-M-E-N-T: local governments have to do enforcement, even if they feel it's not politically popular but they happen to be wrong. Because I'll tell you what's not politically popular: people dying, that's not politically popular. It's better you do enforcement than people get sick and people dying. So, the micro-cluster zones have done well. We've made progress. 

 

We are now announcing new micro-cluster zones: parts of Erie; parts of Monroe; parts of Onondaga, will go to yellow zones. No red zones. Yellow zones have certain restrictions. 25 percent maximum for mass gatherings. Four people at a table maximum for dining. Schools get 20 percent testing. Bars and restaurants close at midnight, which was already the rule in New York City when they went to zones. We worked over the weekend our officials with the County Executive Poloncarz and his team and his health officials, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and are all in agreement plus or minus, I think it's fair to say, about the zones and these restrictions. They are yellow zones; they are not red zones and that's basically it. Again it's a virus, we know how the virus spreads and the zones are increased discipline, restrictions and enforcement, but if the person with the virus stays in the room until the virus is resolved and doesn't go into the kitchen, the virus doesn't spread. It is that difficult and it is that simple. We will have an issue with the — we had great news today — Pfizer's saying their drug is 90 percent efficacy and 90 percent would be fantastic. The federal government says that they want to start to ship within a matter of days the Pfizer vaccine so that when it's fully proven, states will be in a position to distribute it. That's great.

 

I have serious questions about the distribution methodology that the federal government anticipates in terms of the volume necessary to do it operationally. I think the federal government has always been wrong throughout COVID and has been incompetent in their operation so we have to get it right this time — and the fairness, the equity. Going to just private market participants, hospitals, clinics, drug stores compounds the injustice that has been done because that infrastructure doesn't exist in poorer communities and black and brown communities and we already have a higher infection rate, so I have questions about the distribution method.

 

I'm working on them and working with other governors and organizations but overall that is very good news. I just want to make sure the vaccine gets to more people, faster and more fairly.

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