Governor Cuomo: "This can't be personal and it can't be political because literally we are on the cusp of losing thousands of people who did not have to die, Chris. That is what the ventilators are about. They did not have to die. If we do what we have to do."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Chris Hayes: Joining me now by phone, a man currently managing this crisis in what is the epicenter of the pandemic globally. the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Governor, thank you for some making time. I want to start on the ventilator issue. The president seems to think the estimate of needing 30,000 ventilators he feels is too high, that you're over estimating how much you're going to need. What's your response to that?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, well, Chris, listening to your lead-in and thank you for having me. You're exactly right. This comes down to ventilators. And by the way, it did in China, it did in South Korea, it did in Italy and it did as soon as the numbers started to break here. And it is unusual. The number of ventilators we have in our health care system when you add up all the hospitals in the State of New York is about 4,000. We need about 40,000 here. This is a disease that is a respiratory disease. People are on the ventilators and the ventilators are a matter of life and death. And they're on ventilators longer with this disease than most other diseases. The average length of stay on a ventilator is about four to five days. Here it's about 20 days. Which is one of the reasons why you need so many. The president says 30,000 sounds high. You know, I don't know what the basis is. I don't know have a medical degree. So what I do is I just study the numbers and the science and the data and I follow the data. We have McKinsey & Company, we have and Weill-Cornell medical center, I talked to the World Health Organization, look at the models of China, look at the models of South Korea, look at the models of Italy and look at the models of the numbers in my state, you see it takes you to 40,000 ICU beds, with ventilators, and 140,000 hospital beds. That's what the numbers say at apex. So I plan by the numbers. And I don't know how to do it any other way, Chris.
Chris Hayes: Where are you right now? I think I know when this went into it, you said the state had 4,000, I think there was maybe another 7,000, some of which did come from the federal government. How far are you from what the state needs right now to handle that peak if it comes at what the model suggestions?
Governor Cuomo: We're scrambling to buy them all across the globe. One of the things that has happened here is because the states were left on their own to purchase, in a cruel irony, the states are bidding against other states, Chris, for the same materials and they're actually bidding up the price. So I'll get an order for ventilators and I'll have a company say I'll send you 5,000 ventilators in three weeks and then they call me back and they say sorry, I sold them to Illinois or California or Florida. That's the situation we're in. I need about 30,000. we're about halfway there, counting orders that we have. We've gotten 4,000 from the federal government. I had 4,000 in our hospital system. we bought about 7,000 and then we have a scattering of orders which may or may not come in. One other point on something you mentioned. I applaud the president for using the Defense Production Act. I said last week he should have used it. This is not a time to be bargaining with corporations or relying on the volunteerism of corporations. We need these ventilators and we need them now. Not when the corporation decides it's convenient for them to do the design and to put a new line in operation. You're talking about my possible apex is 14 days away. If I don't have the ventilators in 14 days, Chris, people die.
Chris Hayes: You know, that strikes me as part of the difference in which governors, I think, across the spectrum generally and the president have approached this, which is a kind of planning for the worst and hope you're wrong, right? So, if you get too many ventilators, what's the worst thing in the world that happens as opposed to planning for the optimistic case scenario and erring on the other side? What are the stakes if you're wrong in the wrong direction for people in New York, sick people in New York?
Governor Cuomo: No, you're exactly right. The difference is somebody who's been out there and somebody who's been through it and somebody who hasn't, right? I used to be in the federal government as you know, I was HUD secretary and I've done floods, hurricanes, all sorts of disasters. Yeah, maybe send out too much equipment. So what? The real crime and the heartburn is if you have too little. So, and I'm not even taking an aggressive model. I have a reasonable numeric model based on our numbers and again, you have a whole world of data going back to China. And we're just asking for what we need for our reasonable model. I'm not -- because many of these I'm paying with state money. And these ventilators, they're about $25,000 each, Chris. So I'm not eager to buy more ventilators than I have to
Chris Hayes: Right. You had been a critic of the relief bill that has now been passed and signed because of precisely the issue you're articulating here, whether there was sufficient money for the state. Obviously, all these states are scrambling, they're going to be paying out-of-pocket for these things, as they should, this emergency funding, less money will be coming in in taxes. Every state is going to be walloped with a deficit. Do you think what came out of Washington today is sufficient for the kind of hole that New York is going to be looking at?
Governor Cuomo: No, it's not everyone close. Look, the bill, they all applauded themselves. The bill did a lot of good -- the unemployment insurance is good, the small business aid is good, the health care aid is good. But they left out a very important function, which are the state governments and local governments. You know, my economy is shut down like everybody else's. I have no revenue, and all I have are expenses. And none of the aid went to a state government. Now, it's not like it's my money and I'm going to go out and buy something. If you starve the state government, where -- what I fund is education. And I fund health care. So when I have no budget, Chris, it means I have to turn around and cut schools all across my state and cut health care all across my state. It makes no sense. Now, you know, states don't have a voting constituency, right? You can't come and hand me a big check so it's not as politically advantageous when you do a bill in Washington. But I think it was shortsighted and I think they say they're going come back but you know, who knows.
Chris Hayes: There's been, I think the state announced the release of some prisoners in New York State. I know that New York State has a very large elderly prisoner population in the state. There is real concern about incarcerated folks in the state, particularly those elderly folks and the susceptibility to the coronavirus, the prisons as vectors for infection, particularly when you have COs and other people that are going to be coming in and out and going into rural areas that maybe have fewer hospitals. What steps are you taking to deal with that? Are you considering trying to decarcerate some of these places to get out ahead of that?
Governor Cuomo: You know, we have been very aggressive, Chris, number one in bail reform in general. We passed one of the most sweeping bill reform bills in the history of the State of New York so we're incarcerating fewer people than ever before and taking special measures for this virus situation. For example, we're releasing people who are in jails because they violated parole for non-serious reasons. And wherever we can get people out of jails, out of prisons now we are. We also put in additional protections in the prisons to try to protect both the workers and the prisoners.
Chris Hayes: Just one follow-up and then I'll ask a question about the White House and then I will let you get back to work. You just touted bail reform. You're not trying to do that right now? There is reporting that you are.
Governor Cuomo: No, there is a discussion back and forth between the houses. It was a sweeping bill we did on bail reform and many times when you make a change, a basic change in a complex system, you have to go back and do some fine tuning. And that's what we're dealing with between the houses of the legislature but that's usual. You go near a system like education or health care or the criminal justice system and you change the major gear in the system. You then often have to come back and make some other adjustments to make it work.
Chris Hayes: Final question for you and I will let you get back to work. The relationship between this President and governors has been tempestuous in many cases. Today he talked about the Governor of Michigan and called her 'that lady' and told Mike Pence that he advised Mike Pence not to call the Governor of Michigan and not to call the Governor of Washington because they were insufficiently appreciative. How does that hit your ears as you are in up to your neck in this crisis and you hear the governor -- the President essentially saying everybody has to be sufficiently appreciative or they won't get the help they need?
Governor Cuomo: Chris, by the question, I would be doing my state a disservice if I now attack the president, right? Let me just say this, I probably have been the number one critic of President Trump since he got into office and we've had some real battles and his tweets, has tweeted nasty stuff about me and about my family. On this situation, I said to him, look, forget the politics. Let's put it aside. It's very simple. I need help. You're the federal government and this relationship has to work or a lot of people die. You do the right thing by my state and I will be appreciative and vice versa. And that's how it has been working. He has been responsive. He's done a lot of good things. He has the Army Corps of Engineers in our state, FEMA. He waived the 25% state match, which is a big deal. So he has been very helpful and corporative overall and when we have differences I say we have differences. We had a difference on the Defense Production Act, et cetera. I'm not shy when we have a disagreement but when things are working well I say that, also. This can't be personal and it can't be political because literally we are on the cusp of losing thousands of people who did not have to die, Chris. That is what the ventilators are about. They did not have to die. If we do what we have to do.
Chris Hayes: Governor, Andrew Cuomo, I appreciate you taking the time this night.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you. My pleasure, Chris.