March 11, 2020
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo is a Guest on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo is a Guest on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time

Governor Cuomo: "I think this is a governmental situation that we're dealing with, and it is a governmental crisis. And I think the President should in a speech like this say to the American people this is what we're looking at, this is what to expect and this is what government is going to do. Because the truth is those numbers on cases are going to skyrocket."

Cuomo: "Let the American people know that is coming They have to understand that the government is in charge. The government is mobilized. The government is competent. It's capable. And when you see these big changes coming, don't be nervous, because it is part of a plan. And that is what I would have liked to hear from the President tonight. Here is what your government is going to do at this time of crisis. Yes, it is going to be a disruption. Yes, you will feel anxious, but it is going to be okay at the end of the day."

Cuomo: "It was shocking to people and that is my point. This is not about a foreign virus, whatever that means. It's here, it's community spread. It is much more prevalent than we know. The testing does not reflect what it is. These are not random sample tests. It is because we have no testing capacity. That is why the numbers are low. If you actually had testing capacity, you would see how high the numbers are already."

AUDIO is available here.

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

Chris Cuomo: Thank you for joining me tonight. I appreciate you taking it. The President's headline move was 30 days, Andrew, no travel from Europe, including cargo. A little different with U.K., maybe some exceptions. How do you feel about the move?

Governor Cuomo: You know, Chris, I think the President - It is a dramatic move, obviously. It's I think designed to show action. But I don't think this was about a political speech for the President. What was his tone, how did he sound, how did he look? I think this is a governmental situation that we're dealing with, and it is a governmental crisis. And I think the President should in a speech like this say to the American people this is what we're looking at, this is what to expect and this is what government is going to do. Because the truth is those numbers on cases are going to skyrocket. We know that. That is going to be jarring to the American people. We do have a problem with testing. And people are getting more nervous and going to see the numbers go up and they can't get a test. And that's an issue we have to talk to. You're going to see major disruptions. Social distancing, what does that mean? It means we are going we're going to start to have to close schools. We're going to be closing venues. Let the American people know that is coming. Reducing density, what does that mean? They're are going to be major governmental actions that have to be taking place. The American people have to be ready for it. They have to understand that the government is in charge. The government is mobilized. The government is competent. It's capable. And when you see these big changes coming, don't be nervous, because it is part of a plan. And that is what I would have liked to hear from the President tonight. Here is what your government is going to do at this time of crisis. Yes, it is going to be a disruption. Yes, you will feel anxious, but it is going to be okay at the end of the day.

Chris Cuomo: So two things for you. One, how true is it what he said about the rapidly ramping up of testing and that it is getting out there and that just about anybody who wants one could get one. And second, you did something that was a surprise move for people in New York. It turns out the big bucket of cases that you're dealing with right now, I think it is 121 of them, are in Westchester which is not a place where people expected them. So you created this containment thing and that came as a surprise to people and how did that play, that move, in terms of this is what we have to do and in this random place where people wouldn't have expected it? And are you getting more testing and more stuff from the fed, are you catching up?

Governor Cuomo: You're right. First of all, it was shocking to people and that is my point. This is not about a foreign virus, whatever that means. It's here, it's community spread. It is much more prevalent than we know. The testing does not reflect what it is. These are not random sample tests. It is because we have no testing capacity. That is why the numbers are low. If you actually had testing capacity, you would see how high the numbers are already. And as we do ramp up testing, you're going to see those numbers go sky high. And if you don't have the American people ready for it, it's going to be a problem. We are way behind on testing and if you look at the other countries, you look at China, you look at South Korea, you see how they turned that curve, it was with very aggressive testing where they got ahead of it.

You had maybe 200,000 tests per day in China. Fifteen thousand tests per day in South Korea. We haven't done 10,000 tests since they started testing. We just went through a situation with the federal government where I said, look we're going to start contracting with private labs in New York State. Because we can't wait for this federal bottleneck. As soon as those private labs go out and start to test, Chris, the numbers are going to be shocking to people.

Chris Cuomo: But at least people will understand the scale and you'll start to see good outcomes also right, that 80 percent number that Tony Fauci and you talk about. Which is 80 percent are asymptomatic or they get it and they get better. Now Italy is looming large as a model of what not to do. Now they're on lockdown. Do you foresee quarantines like that? Societal temporary shutdowns like that here as unavoidable?

Governor Cuomo: Well look, there's only two ways that countries reduce the numbers. Massive quarantines or massive testing. We are not doing the level of testing we need to do, so you're not identifying the positives so you're not stopping the communication. Quarantine, I don't even think you could get away with in this country what some of these other countries have done. You will see shutdowns and I think that's one of the things the president should have talked about tonight. You're going to see closing down of venues, schools, large gatherings because you don't have an option. You're never going to bring the testing up to capacity in time. We're going to try, we're going to scramble, but it's not going to happen.

Chris Cuomo: Andrew, here's what I want to talk about right now, just so you know. To your own point, you're making a point that's actually playing out in real time. The NBA just announced it's going to suspend the season following tonight's games. Now, that is going to be a life changing situation for people, on an entertainment level, I know. But they're not ready for this. NCAA games not having no audience that was enough. How should they understand a move like this? What does this mean about where they're going? And now look, not to add on the pile of problems, but you have a huge holiday coming up in New York. The St. Patrick's Day parade. It is great for enthusiasm and emotion and community. What are you going to do about it?

Governor Cuomo: Yeah, well, for example, you're right. Now I have the issue of the St. Patrick's Day parade, right? And I recommended to the organizers that we have to postpone it. It's 2 million spectators, 150,000 marchers, you can't do that in this environment. But that is going to play out—

Chris Cuomo: How did they take it?

Governor Cuomo: Well, not well. I can tell you that much. But that's why I get paid the big bucks, right? Well, let's not go near big bucks. But anyway, that situation is going to play out a hundred times, Chris. I did the New Rochelle containment area. Nobody was ready for it. Closing down schools, we thought this was only 10, 15 people, this is all an overreaction. No. The numbers go sky high. There will be disruption. The density has to come down. We have to scramble now to make sure we don't have a health care crisis where we don't have hospitals to handle the capacity. We have no surge hospital capacity here. We may very well, we're looking in New York at secondary structures that we can start to prepare for temporary hospital situations. I mean this is a massive governmental mobilization that you need a real government to handle. This is not political. You're not going to do this on Twitter. This is government, baby. This is what it's about. This is the mobilization, the skill, the expertise to manage a government and then you need the people of this country ready to accept it without getting overly anxious and be part of it. It's not just wash your hands. We're beyond wash your hands, my brother. There is going to have to be major shifts in society short-term. Long-term we'll be okay. But short-term there is going to be major shifts that government is going to have to enact. We all want to be part of it.

Chris Cuomo: Governor Andrew Cuomo, to everybody else, my big brother, I'm proud of you, I love you. Thank you for explaining the hard parts and what has to happen to get to a better place in the future. God bless. I'll talk to you in a second.

Governor Cuomo: Proud of you.

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