December 20, 2020
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Calls on the Federal Government to Take Action in Wake of Highly Contagious Variant of Covid-19 Virus Circulating in the United Kingdom

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Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Calls on the Federal Government to Take Action in Wake of Highly Contagious Variant of Covid-19 Virus Circulating in the United Kingdom
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6,185 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide

1,045 Patients in the ICU; 600 Intubated

Statewide Positivity Rate is 5.05%

123 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Governor Cuomo: "120 countries demand that before you get on a flight in the UK to come to their country, you have to have tested negative. The United States does not require it. As I mentioned before, other countries are just banning people coming from the UK. We have about 6 flights a day coming in from the UK and we have done absolutely nothing. Now, to me this is reprehensible because this is what happened in the Spring."

Cuomo: "Right now, this variant in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK. Right now, today. 120 countries require a test, we don't. Other European countries have done a ban, we haven't, and today that variant is getting on a plane and landing in JFK. How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn? Be one of the 120 countries that requires a test before they get on the plane to come to the United States. This is the mistake we made. Where is HHS? Where is the CDC? Where is the NIH? This is the same mistake and literally 6 flights a day, and all it takes is one person. All it takes is one. The Port Authority has no authority to ban passengers, health monitor passengers, it's federal. Why at a minimum you wouldn't require a test like the 120 other countries, or why you wouldn't consider a ban like the other European countries? But doing nothing is negligent; it's grossly negligent just like the Spring, because doing nothing is doing something. Every day the federal government does nothing on this problem they do something. They allowed another 6 flights to come into New York. Sometimes in life doing nothing is doing something, and this is one of those times and that's what they did in the Spring."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called on the federal government to take action in the wake of a new, highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the United Kingdom. Several European countries have already imposed new restrictions on individuals traveling from the United Kingdom, including banning travelers and mandatory testing measures, yet the United States has taken no action in response. The Governor called on the federal government to consider multiple restrictions in the wake of the new variant of COVID-19, including imposing mandatory testing of individuals traveling from the United Kingdom on flights to the United States, as well as a new travel ban from Europe. The actions being recommended by the Governor today take into account lessons learned from March, when the federal government was late to impose a European travel ban allowing the virus to spread uncontrollably throughout New York State and the country.

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

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

Happy Sunday. Go Bills! Today is date 295. 197,000 tests reported. Interestingly on the number of tests, we saw before Thanksgiving and we're starting to see this week and my guess is we'll see it more through the week, just before the holidays people tend to get tested, which is probably prudent, because they want to make sure if they're positive and negative before they start to socialize with people. In any event, overall state with the micro-clusters 5.05, down from 5.18. 123 New Yorkers passed away yesterday. They are in our thoughts and prayers. 6,185 hospitalized, that's down 23. 1,045 COVID patients in ICU, that's down 43. 600 intubated, that's down 10.

Finger Lakes: 8.34. By the way, Finger Lakes- my Executive Orders, as you know, just for a point of fact, my Executive Orders can be overwritten at any time by a simple majority resolution of the legislature. Legislators have convened several times. Any executive order that they want to overrule and negate, it's just a simple majority resolution. So, this concept of, "Oh Executive Orders trump the legislature," they don't. It's just not true. They are an expediting action, but the legislature can negate it. But, Finger Lakes 8.3. It's the highest number in the state of New York. Mohawk Valley 8.18; Capital Region 6.8; Central New York 6.7; Western New York 6.3. Go bills, go Western New York. We're making progress. Mid-Hudson 6.3; Long Island 6.3; North Country 4.9; New York City 4.2; Southern Tier 2.4. Southern Tier is the turnaround story. New York City is 5.3.

Looking in New York City, 5.3 Staten Island; 4.9 the Bronx; 4.8 Queens; 4.3 Kings; 2.7 Manhattan; 5.3 Staten Island; 4.9 Bronx; 4.8 Queens; 4.3 Kings; 2.7 Manhattan. There is no politicizing the virus. Staten island 5 .3, why does it have the highest percentage in New York City? It's not the most dense. It doesn't have the most transportation. Why? COVID affects Democrats and it affects Republicans. Period. Don't play politics with COVID. You lose.

Hospitalizations by percentage of population - Capital Region 0.03; Central New York 0.05; Fingers Lakes 0.06; Long Island .04; Mid-Hudson 0.03; Mohawk Valley 0.04; New York City 0.02; North Country 0.02; Southern Tier 0.03; Western New York 0.03; statewide 0.03 - 0.03 being the relevant number in that discussion.

Two points I'd like to make - one, we're doing some research which I will report on tomorrow. The virus is an evolving situation and the circumstances change and the virus changes. The overwhelming spread is now coming from holiday spread, socialization spread. When you close bars, restaurants, people are careful at work, density comes down. The main spread overwhelming is living room spread, socialization spread, holiday spread, call it whatever you want. If you look at the places that had the most travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, they had the greatest Thanksgiving spike, so the places with the most travel have the greatest Thanksgiving spike. New York, Connecticut, Jersey had less travel during Thanksgiving and it appears proportionately less of a spike. Now that could be one of two things. It could be you're importing the virus through people coming in which we have the quarantine protection which should help. Or it could just mean increased socialization - more people are flying in so there is more parties, but that is something to keep in mind for Christmas and the Christmas season, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, et cetera, because that is what we're going to be looking at.

Next point, we're joined by Rick Cotton today. Rick Cotton is the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. You remember Rick Cotton - he was on the cover of the New York Post, got COVID very early on from the work at the airports but he answered the front door, anyway, and looked very attractive on the cover of the New York Post and I sent it to him framed. But that's besides the point. We also have Dr. Zucker, Melissa DeRosa, Gareth Rhodes on the phone.

There is a disturbing story coming out of the UK with this new variant of the virus which according to Boris Johnson is 70 percent more transmissible. The World Health Organization is aware of the new variant. They say the death rate isn't higher, but it's 70 percent more transmittable according to Mr. Johnson. A number of countries have banned people from the UK, a number of countries. The Netherlands has banned people from the UK, Belgium and Italy. Ireland, France and Germany are considering a ban of people from the UK. The UK shut itself down again after finding this variant. This is after Boris Johnson said last week, "we're not cancelling Christmas, we would never do that." They find out about this new variant and now they do 180 degrees, and it's so apparently dangerous the UK imposed its own shutdown. What are we doing? You have 120 countries who demand that a test be taken on the UK side before a person gets on the fight to come to their country. 120 countries demand that before you get on a flight in the UK to come to their country, you have to have tested negative. The United States does not require it. As I mentioned before, other countries are just banning people coming from the UK. We have about 6 flights a day coming in from the UK and we have done absolutely nothing.

Now, to me this is reprehensible because this is what happened in the Spring. Coronavirus is in China, it's in China, it's in China. No it wasn't. It went to Europe, and it came from Europe, and we did nothing. The European travel ban was March 16th. The China travel ban was like February 1st. The virus left China, went to the UK, came here from China. Right now, this variant in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK. Right now, today. 120 countries require a test, we don't. Other European countries have done a ban, we haven't, and today that variant is getting on a plane and landing in JFK. How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn? Be one of the 120 countries that requires a test before they get on the plane to come to the United States. This is the mistake we made. Where is HHS? Where is the CDC? Where is the NIH? This is the same mistake and literally 6 flights a day, and all it takes is one person. All it takes is one. The Port Authority has no authority to ban passengers, health monitor passengers, it's federal. Why at a minimum you wouldn't require a test like the 120 other countries, or why you wouldn't consider a ban like the other European countries? But doing nothing is negligent; it's grossly negligent just like the Spring, because doing nothing is doing something. Every day the federal government does nothing on this problem they do something. They allowed another 6 flights to come into New York. Sometimes in life doing nothing is doing something, and this is one of those times and that's what they did in the Spring.

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