Governor Cuomo: "The confirmed case was a health care worker, 39-years-old, who's returning from Iran and was very aware of the situation, obviously. And that turns out to be good news in this case because she took precautions -- she basically was isolated at home, went for a test. The test came back positive and she's isolated in her home again and being treated. I don't think there's any great shocking surprise here. I've been saying for many days it's not if but when. We're New York, this is a global situation, and what the state government is now doing is focusing on mobilizing the public health system to contain the spread."
Governor Cuomo: "I spoke to Vice President Pence about this last week. All the tests have to go through CDC, John, and that was a terrible bottleneck. New York now being able to do the tests are how we found this case and how we can actually now be testing for community spread."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on CNN's New Day to discuss the first Coronavirus case in New York State.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
John Berman: Breaking overnight, the first case of coronavirus here in New York City. Joining us now to discuss this, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Thanks so much for being with us. This is a worker returning from Iran. What can you tell us about the case?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, that's exactly right. Good morning to you, John, and all your viewers. Health care worker, 39-years-old who's returning from Iran and was very aware of the situation, obviously. And that turns out to be good news in this case because she took precautions, she basically was isolated at home, went for a test. The test came back positive and she's isolated in her home again and being treated. I don't think there's any great shocking surprise here. I've been saying for many days it's not if but when. We're New York, this is a global situation, and what the state government is now doing is focusing on mobilizing the public health system to contain the spread. That's what we're doing. We now have the ability to do tests. We're increasing the number of tests in our testing capacity, and it's all about containing the spread.
John Berman: I understand that this was a health care worker, as you said. She did smart things once she got to the United States. But what about on the way here? Contact tracing is a huge part of trying to stop outbreaks. What do you know about the people who were on the plane with her? What do you know about the people who greeted her at the airport when she landed in the United States?
Governor Cuomo: She wasn't symptomatic when she was on the plane and she didn't take public transportation. So, again, she is a health care worker. She's very sophisticated in this area and either coincidently or purposefully she took precautions that actually turned out to be very advantageous.
John Berman: Now, I'm not trying to unduly alarm people, but you know that you can pass this on. The research has shown that you don't need to be symptomatic necessarily to pass on this virus. So has there been tracing of the people even though she wasn't symptomatic that she did come in contact with on the plane and upon arrival?
Governor Cuomo: We're going through that exercise now but at that point we have no reason for concern given where she was, when she came back, and when the test was actually completed. But we're going through that exercise now. But we know again, John, she was not on any public transportation. She has been in her home virtually isolated, and she's isolated once again. So in this case, because of those circumstances, because of her knowledge, she actually acted in a way, a textbook way, if you would.
John Berman: That is good news. I do know there are a couple other cases being monitored right now, wonder if you can tell us about that and also tell us about your concerns about the possibility of community spread here in New York. Have you seen any evidence of that yet?
Governor Cuomo: John, I think we are, if we take a half a step back, the two cases that are still pending, they're still pending, we have no further information. We will be testing for community spread. I fully expect to find community spread. You can't have it in this many places on the globe and in this many places in the country and it not be in New York. So that is going to happen. What I am concerned about, if anything, more than a health issue, is the perception issue and the fear issue. I understand diligence and I understand anxiety and let's do everything we can. But you can't allow the fear to outpace reality, right?
And people have to appreciate the facts here about what we're dealing with. This will, there will be community spread. I believe it's inevitable, we'll be testing for it, find it, and then we'll get to the containment phase. But you'll see this going on. But put this into perspective. This is not the first time we've dealt with this situation. We had H1N1, the swine flu, we had the avian flu, we went through Ebola, we went through SARS we've dealt with this before. The mortality rate with this virus is going to be more on the senior citizens and the immune compromised and that's where we have to focus our efforts but its deep breath time, John.
John Berman: I want to put it in perspective, so to put it in perspective for the people in your state, what do you want them to do this morning?
Governor Cuomo: Be diligent, wash your hands, we'll be taking some additional precautions, and if you feel that you have symptoms, and it's tricky because this is flu season, right, but if you feel that you have symptoms that could suggest this, go to a health care professional and let them to do a diagnosis and then we have the testing capacity, we'll be ramping up our testing capacity. Again, we expect to find people who test positive and then you isolate to reduce the spread the best you can, knowing that you can't really control the spread. But then making sure people understand that this is going to come, it is, we're going to have to go through it, but keep it all in focus.
John Berman: I have to let you go. You do have testing now in New York. This was something that didn't exist before, but this is a change over the last three or four days, correct?
Governor Cuomo: And this is a big deal. I spoke to Vice President Pence about this last week. All the tests have to go through CDC, John, and that was a terrible bottleneck. New York now being able to do the tests are how we found this case and how we can actually now be testing for community spread.
John Berman: That is good news, Governor Andrew Cuomo. Thank you so much for being with us and, as you say, helping put this in perspective so people have the right concerns for all this. Appreciate your time.
Governor Cuomo: Right. Thanks John.
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