Governor Cuomo: "You have this theoretical good news, that flattening of the curve. And the worst news that you could possibly have with the record number of deaths. How do you hold both of those emotions at the same time? It's an emotional time. It's a stressful time for everyone. It's not going to get better any time soon. That's the truth, the plain truth. And it depends on what we do. It is our actions that is flattening the curve. Why were all those projections wrong? Because our actions have been better than the statisticians believed. So we can flatten the curve. We are flattening the curve. We have to maintain it, but the human cost here, the human toll, the suffering is just incredible. It's just incredible."
Earlier tonight, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time to discuss New York's plan to combat the novel coronavirus crisis.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Governor Cuomo: Happy Passover to you, brother. Next year in Jerusalem, right.
Chris Cuomo: That's right. That is the hope. Certainly, it's really going to resound with people differently this year. A lot of people are doing Zoom Seders because they can't be in close contact. What is your message when you and I say our Jewish brothers and sisters, we mean it. We have Jews in our family. We have Jews in our blood, our nieces. What is the message to the faithful this year and what Passover means?
Governor Cuomo: Well I think the message of Passover resonates totally. The first part is to learn the lessons from the past, pass them on to a new generation, to make sure we remember what we learned. The second part of the message is is a message of hope. It can be better, it will be better next year.
I have to tell you, so many people, everyone I talk to - whether they like me, dislike me - they're all concerned about you and they all send their best wishes. They all respect the guts that you've shown here, televising as you're going through this and getting the message out. That's universal. We're all proud of you.
Chris Cuomo: Good. I'm glad. I'm glad that it's helping people. Making them feel that this isn't a boogeyman that they can't beat. And the little tips that I'm learning, if it helps somebody then it was all worth it. There's got to be a purpose to the pain. Let me ask you something about purpose and pain. It is hard for people to get, Andrew, thatseeing a lot of people die can mean something better is coming. How do you sell that message?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, you don't. It's hard for me. It's hard for me to hear it. I said I do these daily press briefings to go through the facts, because I think more than anything, people want information. They don't want political spin, they don't want garbage. They just want the facts. So I do these briefings that give people the facts. I had trouble today. I'll tell you the truth, Chris, because talk about mixed emotions. Good news, bad news. Good news, the curve is flattening if - if - we are still conscientious because we are flattening the curve. That's the good news. We can flatten the curve.
Bad news, record number of deaths: 779. We're up to 6,268 deaths, Chris. 9/11 was 2,700 deaths, just to give you an idea of where we are. So yeah, you have this theoretical good news, that flattening of the curve. And the worst news that you could possibly have with the record number of deaths. How do you hold both of those emotions at the same time? It's an emotional time. It's a stressful time for everyone. It's not going to get better any time soon. That's the truth, the plain truth. And it depends on what we do. It is our actions that is flattening the curve. Why were all those projections wrong? Because our actions have been better than the statisticians believed. So we can flatten the curve. We are flattening the curve. We have to maintain it, but the human cost here, the human toll, the suffering is just incredible. It's just incredible.
Chris Cuomo: And look, people know it's not going to end any time soon, that's why, you know, I tell you I think you're right to play it straight with them. I think it's better to give people the straight information. Now media coverage is going to look and see how we got here. You and the mayor have been cited in New York for catching on slowly here. And that is something that they don't just talk about you guys, but that you are part of the mix of politicians who waited too long. With the benefit of hindsight, do you agree with that criticism?
Governor Cuomo: Look, in these situations, Chris, they're going to criticize you whichever way you go. I've been through too many emergencies, too many disasters. If you take a lot of action and then the storm doesn't come they say you were overcautious, over-preventative. So they'll second-guess any decision. That's what the quote unquote, some of you guys in the media like to do, right? First thing I say to you is, look in a mirror before you open your mouth, right? So before you want to talk about what others did, what did you do and when did you do it? Second, you're not going to be able to find a state in the United States of America that moved faster than New York State.
We had our first case. Fifteen days later I closed the schools. Nobody had called for that. Nineteen days later I closed down the state. When you close down New York you close down one of the economic engines on this globe and no state did that faster than we did it. As a matter of fact, I took a lot of heat for moving as fast as I did. Now they want to say, oh, Governor, maybe you were too prepared, maybe you didn't need to do everything you did. You know, they're going to do that game all day long. But look, I react to numbers and data and science. We are looking at projections and models by experts who analyze this data and I follow the data. This is not about what I think politically or what I think because I think really I'm a doctor. I just follow the data and that's what we did.
Chris Cuomo: Just smiling because in the control room they just said, you have like three minutes left, and I'm like, my brothers takes five minutes to say hello. You think I'm going to be done with this interview in three minutes? Who's got the fever? Just so you know, on the side—
Governor Cuomo: Who controls the shows? You or the control room?
Chris Cuomo: Here's what I'll tell you, in three minutes, we're not going to be done. I'm just telling you that right now. If anybody is sitting back enjoying family right now, kick back, we're not going anywhere. But let me ask you this.
Governor Cuomo: I have a zoom Seder that I have to get to.
Chris Cuomo: I'm sure we all do. Actually, I didn't get invited to any.
Governor Cuomo: No surprise.
Chris Cuomo: I will buy you lunch -
Governor Cuomo: You dressed for it.
Chris Cuomo: - for every time that you can show me one piece that showed you were too prepared for the pandemic, okay? Any piece you can show me that says -
Governor Cuomo: A dime?
Chris Cuomo: Cuomo, you were too prepared for this pandemic. You did too much too soon. I don't think you'll find any piece like that.
Governor Cuomo: What is the wager?
Chris Cuomo: Whatever you want. That you were too prepared, that you did too much too fast.
Governor Cuomo: Oh, really?
Chris Cuomo: Yes.
Governor Cuomo: That compared to the projections that the actuality -
Chris Cuomo: I'll give you any context you want.
Governor Cuomo: - never came to the projections that we were following.
Chris Cuomo: Look, that's a separate question.
Governor Cuomo: Bring it on.
Chris Cuomo: I hope you're right about that. I think you have got to prepare more than the actual numbers. You are right about that, all day. This is the segue point. The President says, here's how you lead well. I'm not going to tell you these bad what ifs. I'm a cheerleader, baby. I'm a leader for this country. Why aren't you more like the President that way? Instead of telling people, it could be this, it could be that, yeah, you could be wrong, just avoid it all. Don't fill their heads with these ugly potentials.
Governor Cuomo: Look, this is not - There's a time and place for everything, right? And there's going to be a discussion about who did what when? Who should have done what when? Where were the whistleblowers? Where were the people that were supposed to be blowing the bugle on this global pandemic - which by the way started in November, December in China, right? There will be a discussion. Why didn't anyone blow a bugle.
Chris Cuomo: Maybe here, too. All the cases that were here -
Governor Cuomo: That's exactly right. State and local governments, we're not in charge of global pandemics, right? That's not in our job description. Where were the world health organizations, et cetera? Where were with the media, all are all those great scientific minds being interviewed? So, anyway, they'll do that. The President as cheerleader - I'm an advocate for my state, I'm a cheerleader for my state also. Maybe not a cheerleader, but I'm a promoter of my state. But in a situation like this, I think it's about - It's about the facts, right? Sometimes it's just about the facts and doing what you have to do for the facts. I don't think there's a positive spin or a negative spin on facts and that's what we followed in this situation.
Chris Cuomo: I don't disagree that following the facts is the right thing, especially the more serious the situation is you got to trust people to do the right thing with the information. I just don't see how it gives real optimism to give hollow hope. Now, you know, I've seen you referred to a little bit recently as the love gov and I'm wondering if that's bleeding into your demeanor at all and making you a little soft on the President. That you don't want to really criticize him because you need him and now's not a time for fighting, but don't you have to balance that with calling him out if he's doing things that you don't think are great for the people of your state to be hearing and experiencing? Love gov?
Governor Cuomo: I've always been a soft guy. I am the love gov. I'm a cool dude in a loose mood, you know that. I just say, let it go, just go with the flow, baby. You know. You can't control anything, so don't even try.
Chris Cuomo: You have never said any of those things.
Governor Cuomo: Water off a duck's back. That's me.
Chris Cuomo: That's the first time you've said any of those.
Governor Cuomo: Really?
Chris Cuomo: Never said any of those.
Governor Cuomo: Look, I have to--
Chris Cuomo: I've known you my whole life.
Governor Cuomo: Alright, well, that's your opinion. yeah. You should listen better. Listening works. Not always talking.
Chris Cuomo: What?
Governor Cuomo: What was the question? Oh, I remember the question.
Chris Cuomo: You're soft on the president. Why?
Governor Cuomo: I am in a situation, yeah, well, that's your characterization, first of all. You don't state it as a question, because you have a characterization in there that is a premise. I am working with the President, cooperatively. It's very important that the federal government and state government work together during this time. I have to do my best job for the people of this state. You cannot say, look, I've been the governor in this country that has been the most critical of the president up until now. And by the way, there's no governor that he's been more critical of than me. So, nobody's going to say I've gone too soft on the President. We're working together to help the state. That's what's important now, no politics, no personality, no ego, no ego. It's not about you. It's not about me. It's about we and getting through this and that's my singular focus. There will be a day and a time for everything. But this is not the time and place. Capeesh?
Chris Cuomo: Yes. Capeesh. Bernie Sanders is out. The word is that this increases the chances, with Senator Sanders out, that you may get in the race for president. Is that true?
Governor Cuomo: Is that the word? Well, then it must be true, if that's the word.
Chris Cuomo: That's the word on the street.
Governor Cuomo: Oh, the word on the street?
Chris Cuomo: I'm sorry, I didn't hear an answer.
Governor Cuomo: I'm just saying, if that's the word, who am I to argue with the word, right?
Chris Cuomo: Right, so, then, the senator leaving the race has changed your thinking? Is that what you're saying, Governor?
Governor Cuomo: Has the senator's leaving the race changed my thinking? In what way?
Chris Cuomo: Are you now giving different consideration to running for president?
Governor Cuomo: No. But it was a good question.
Chris Cuomo: So, you are still not thinking?
Governor Cuomo: But why?
Chris Cuomo: It's definitely a good question.
Governor Cuomo: I'm a thinking being. I'm thinking about a lot of things.
Chris Cuomo: I bet. Are you not thinking about running for president because now there's more political momentum around the idea of you accepting a vice presidential bid from Joe Biden? Is that something that you're considering?
Governor Cuomo: First of all, I'm glad to see you're feeling better, because -
Chris Cuomo: Time is precious.
Governor Cuomo: Your animation - yeah, I know.
Chris Cuomo: Answer whenever you like.
Governor Cuomo: Joe Biden is a personal friend of mine, I've worked with him, he's been a great friend to this state. I support him. I have for years. And he's going to be, I believe, an excellent Democratic candidate and a leader. Second, I have said repeatedly my plans. When I said I wanted to run for governor, I said to the people of my state, I will serve as your governor. People asked me, "Well, will you run for president," I said no. I'm not that guy, Chris. I'm not that politician who says, yeah, I want to - it's all about me and next step on the ladder.
Chris Cuomo: Even if your party's jumping up and down, signs at a digital convention and they call you and say, we need you, love gov?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, they can jump up and down - yeah, love gov says no way. I gave my word and my word is good, I'm not your typical guy. Don't laugh. You're going to pay, Chris. One day, you're going to be better. And then -
Chris Cuomo: I hope.
Governor Cuomo: And then we'll have another discussion.
Chris Cuomo: I just want to ask the question. For right now -
Governor Cuomo: I'm not going to president, I'm not going to be vice president. What does VP stand for?
Chris Cuomo: Vice president.
Governor Cuomo: Principal?
Chris Cuomo: So, neither one, okay, good. There's an important campaign you are pushing for people right now called stay home and who you are staying home for? It's a good idea. It's a good way to connect, the personal commitment of what they're doing. My decision is, and as I posted today, very early before anybody else responded to the call that you put out, I'm staying home for my mother. Because I love her and at her age, she's uniquely vulnerable to the virus and that's why making the move out of the house that Christina and I made was 100 percent our own and we did it early. Who are you staying home for? Because I'm staying home for my mom.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah. The whole campaign is dedicated to my mother. And I said that first thing this morning when I posted my picture.
Chris Cuomo: I didn't hear you say anything.
Governor Cuomo: My mother. My mother. I'm staying home -
Chris Cuomo: You're staying home for your mom, too? Isn't that weird though after I just said it?
Governor Cuomo: No. I went first. I had my picture at my press conference saying I'm doing it for my mother.
Chris Cuomo: Really?
Governor Cuomo: Yes. Because it's a point that I want people to understand.
Chris Cuomo: But there's me with mom right now.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, well I had my picture this morning while you were still sleeping and I showed it at my press conference. And people have to understand, you want to be reckless with your own life, don't endanger others. And that's what the stay at home for campaign is all about.
Chris Cuomo: Beautiful.
Governor Cuomo: Don't endanger health care workers, don't endanger vulnerable people.
Chris Cuomo: I love it, and --
Governor Cuomo: And she was my mother first, by the way.
Chris Cuomo: That is true. That one you win, that point. 100 Percent. You were born first.
Governor Cuomo: Yes. Thank you.
Chris Cuomo: And the healthcare workers are begging us to do this for them, and I love the idea of the campaign. So I'm shifting my answer. You can have it. You can have mom because that's what, you know, the bigger person does. I'm going to stay at home for these two guys. Here's my new choice. I'm staying home for these guys. Put up the picture, that's what I'm queuing right now. Put up the picture. Yes. I'm staying home for these two guys in the front. You know why? Can you see the picture?
Governor Cuomo: Alright. No I can't see it.
Chris Cuomo: You can see it.
Governor Cuomo: No I can't see it.
Chris Cuomo: So I'm staying home for these two guys.
Governor Cuomo: I can't see it.
Chris Cuomo: So there's you and one of your signature --
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, I can't see it. Bye, Chris.
Chris Cuomo: No, no. Don't you do it. Put the microphone back on. Don't be like that. And don't hold it in your hand because the hand swallows up the whole microphone. I can't get any sound out of it.
Governor Cuomo: Take that picture down.
Chris Cuomo: Put it back up.
Governor Cuomo: Take the picture down.
Chris Cuomo: Put it back up. There he is, and here's why I'm doing it for these guys: because this is the guy who helped me shape who I am today. Look at how I was looking at him so lovingly back then. I know it looks like I'm just staring at his diamond crusted belt buckle, but I'm not. I'm actually staring up at the young man who made me so proud as his brother back then, and my Billy the Kids, and now. And just if you want to tell people huckapoo was your signature look back then. You've abandoned it, why?
Governor Cuomo: Huckapoo. There are no words. There are no words. That was not me.
Chris Cuomo: Straight down the middle.
Governor Cuomo: Three minutes is up. Three minutes is up.
Chris Cuomo: Governor, it is good to remind people that they are just coming to love you now as much as I have my whole life, and it's because of your commitment to what you do for other people. It's what matters most to me about you, and I love you very much. Thank you for coming on this show. Thank you for keeping my spirits up, and thank you for what you're doing for this State.
Governor Cuomo: I'd like to say it was my pleasure, but it wasn't.
Chris Cuomo: Why? Come on.
Governor Cuomo: We'll talk later. Have a good show.
Chris Cuomo: I thought this was a fruitful conversation. Governor, thank you. I'll talk to you soon.
Governor Cuomo: Bye. Thank you.