Governor Cuomo: "If you listen to what the Secretary said and if you listen to what to the President says, what they said at the White House briefing, they're saying what they said 3 months ago. They're basically in denial about the problem. They don't want to tell the American people the truth and they don't want to have any federal response except supporting the states... In New York we just handled it totally differently, Chuck. We handled it on our own. Communication, clear, as you mentioned, every day. Then, we came up with a plan and did the testing and did the isolation and that makes a difference."
Cuomo: "This is a virus. It doesn't respond to politics. You can't tweet at it; you have to treat it."
Cuomo: "Now, my fear is we had today 5 deaths. We offer thoughts and prayers to every death in our state. But 5 deaths is the lowest number we have had since this started, Chuck. We are on the exact opposite end. We have less than 800 people in hospitals — lowest number basically since we started."
"How does that number go up? Two ways. Lack of compliance - and I'm diligent about staying after New Yorkers and local governments that have to police it. Second, I'm now afraid of the spread coming from other states because we are one country and people travel and I'm afraid the infection rate in the other states will come back to New York and raise that rate again."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.
AUDIO of the Governor's interview is available here.
A rush transcript of the interview is below:
Chuck Todd: Joining me now is the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Governor, I want to start with what I just heard from Secretary Azar. It seems as if he believes this is on the states; that our contact tracing problem in the South is on the states. Was this second surge, in your opinion, preventable?
Governor Cuomo: Good to be with you, Chuck. First, I don't think this is the second surge. We're worried about a second wave, I think we're still in the first wave. This is a continuation of the first wave and it was a failed effort to stop the first wave in this country. As you pointed out, New York is in a totally different place.
If you listen to what the Secretary [Azar] said and if you listen to what to the President says, what they said at the White House briefing, they're saying what they said 3 months ago. They're basically in denial about the problem. They don't want to tell the American people the truth and they don't want to have any federal response except supporting the states, supporting the states. I heard that and I understood where they were. I didn't need to torture the rhetoric. I knew what they were saying. You're on your own. It's not a good feeling, but it's sort of liberating. In New York we just handled it totally differently, Chuck. We handled it on our own. Communication, clear, as you mentioned, every day. Then, we came up with a plan and did the testing and did the isolation and that makes a difference.
Chuck Todd: You followed the set of guidelines, I pointed out. I remember this distinctly. Only one time did we hear the White House ever talk about the infamous gating criteria. I think that phrase disappeared. You used that guidance, you guys created your own. In all honesty, how hard is it going to be to stop another resurgence in your state if the rest of the country is struggling the way it's struggling?
Governor Cuomo: Well that's our problem. The CDC guidelines, first of all, are just guidelines. They were very vague. I don't even know what they meant. The trajectory has to be coming down. We put in place our own metrics. We used science and we wouldn't open any region unless they hit certain metrics. Then we have a phased reopening that we're in the midst of.
You look at the number of hospital beds, you actually have the testing up. We do more testing than any state in the United States, Chuck. We do more testing per capita than any country on the globe. The testing is the key. You do the isolation, you have enough PPE, enough ICU beds. Then from the testing, you have a rate of transmission that you can monitor and you proceed through the phases if you hit that rate of transmission.
This is a virus. It doesn't respond to politics. You can't tweet at it, you have to treat it. And we never did that. Now, my fear is we had today, 5 deaths. We offer thoughts and prayers to every death in our state. But 5 deaths is the lowest number we have had since this started, Chuck. We are on the exact opposite end. We have less than 800 people in hospitals. Lowest number basically since we started.
How does that number go up? Two ways. Lack of compliance - and I'm diligent about staying after New Yorkers and local governments that have to police it. Second, I'm now afraid of the spread coming from other states because we are one country and people travel and I'm afraid the infection rate in the other states will come back to New York and raise that rate again.
Chuck Todd: If Governor DeSantis calls you up this afternoon; Governor Abbott calls you up this afternoon of Texas and Florida and they say, "Alright, let's set the politics aside. I know we mouthed off at you a little bit. What's your recommendation? What should we do here?" What would you tell them?
Governor Cuomo: I'll tell you. I don't wait for them to call. This is New York, we're proactive. My team has called their teams and said, can we help? When we were in trouble, Chuck, we had states all across the nation who came to help us. We had 30,000 volunteers from across the United States who came to help us. I called those states. I said any way we can help. We've gone through it. We have the equipment, we have the staff, we have the testing protocols, we have the testing software, we have the tracing program.
Can we help? Anything you need, ventilators, et cetera and that's the right thing to do from a community point of view and a citizenry point of view. There's also a parochial interest which is if these states keep going up, we are going to have a national crisis like we have never seen. They said this was the way to help the economy by reopening and it's been the exact opposite. Every time the virus goes up, the stock market goes down. If those states continue to increase, you'll see it go all across the nation. You'll see New York on the rise again and you'll see the other states starting to go up even more.
Chuck Todd: You have not released a school opening plan. I know you have some recommendations out. But I'm curious now, because this is my fear, is that this new surge or spike that we're seeing in the south is now going to delay every school district's plans for creating maybe a dual hybrid system of some in person, some remote - universities. Are you now thinking that maybe we might not see, everything goes remote now in the fall, given we're living with this virus until there's a vaccine?
Governor Cuomo: Well, first on your first point, yes, I agree with that. You know, everybody talked about the economic consequence and the President said we should reopen and that's going to help the economy. It turned out to be exactly wrong. But there's also a social consequence. Children have missed schools. Children have missed the interaction with other children and that's part of the socialization process. We are preparing to open schools, we have plans to open schools, but look, Chuck, I'll be honest with you. Its two months away. Anything can happen in two months. You look back two months and you see how many things have changed. I want to see what the infection rate is and what the disease is doing before we pull the trigger and make the decision. We're looking at this Kawasaki-like syndrome that is an inflammatory syndrome who affects children who were previously infected with COVID. I mean this is complicated so let's get the facts and we'll make the decision when we have to. But we're prepared and if this continues across the country, you're right, Chuck, kids are going to be home for a long time.
Chuck Todd: And final question, we talked about this, about nursing homes before, and you've taken some heat on the directive and you said you were following a national directive. But let me ask it again, similarly at this point, do you think these senior centers are safe - period?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, look, there's - I've taken political heat, okay? There are facts and there's politics. There's no doubt in nursing homes across this nation that's where we saw most of the deaths. Not most, but almost 50% of the deaths, senior citizens in congregate settings. And it is becoming more and more clear that the infection in the nursing homes came from the staff that got infected and brought it in. But in New York we're number 46 in the nation in terms of percentage of deaths at nursing homes compared to the total percentage. By the New York Times, we're number 46. So it's been unfortunate in every state and we have to do more. We have to figure it out, but if they want to point fingers, not at New York. We're number 46. You have 45 other states to point fingers at first.
Chuck Todd: I understand that. Are these safe? Are these facilities safe in your mind right now?
Governor Cuomo: They are as safe. They are as safe - well, in this state we're testing every week every nursing home employee, right? So you can argue that they are safer than a senior citizen at home who is receiving care at home. The safest environment, my mother, stay home, don't see anyone. If you are at home and you have an aide coming in that aide is not tested, and in a nursing home the staff is tested once a week and seniors do have to be careful wherever they are.
Chuck Todd: Governor Cuomo, I'd love to keep going but I am out of time. I appreciate you coming on, sharing your perspective with us, and stay safe out there.
Governor Cuomo: Thanks, you too.