August 6, 2020
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers On State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic

Audio & Rush Transcript Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers On State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic

CU Patients Drop to 132 — New Low Since March 16

Less than One Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive

3 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

SLA and State Police Task Force Observes Violations of State Requirements at 26 Establishments

Confirms 703 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 418,928; New Cases in 43 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "We are learning that every day. We're here on the island of New York State. We're watching the spread all around us. We're quarantining other states. We're creating bulwarks against the virus. The only way to handle this was to make sure it's reduced in every state. That is inarguable also at this point."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

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

Good afternoon, this is Governor Andrew Cuomo. I'm on the phone with Melissa DeRosa, Rob Mujica, Jim Malatras, Beth Garvey and Gareth Rhodes. Let me make a couple of points and then we'll take your questions.

Today is day 159. We did 72,000 tests yesterday and the infection rate is .9. That is very good news. Three New Yorkers died of COVID yesterday. They're in our thoughts and prayers, but that is also relatively very, very good news. Five hundred and seventy New Yorkers hospitalized. That's just about where it was the day before. One hundred and thirty-two COVID patients are in the ICU, that's down 2. Sixty-nine patients were intubated, that is right where it was the day before.

Incredibly, all the numbers on New York are very good, even though around us we see the virus spreading. New York State is, in some ways, an island in the United States where our numbers are still holding because we work at it every day. There's no secret to how a virus spreads. This is mathematics, this is science, this is a function of behavior and activity and we're now all about protecting our progress even though we're an island in a sea of spread.

To protect the progress there is two fronts. We're seeing the national surge and we're trying to be protective with our quarantine efforts, et cetera, and enforcing compliance within the state. On the enforcement of the compliance within the state and the enforcement of the quarantine rules within the state, I need the local governments to be of more assistance in compliance and the enforcement of compliance. I've said this for weeks. The state is doing everything it can to do the enforcement compliance, but I need local governments to be more active in enforcement compliance. Not informational efforts - I don't need them to hand out brochures - everyone knows the rules. It's enforcing the compliance, not informing the compliance. I once again ask all local governments to do that.

What we're doing on the state side is we're enforcing. SLA, State Police are doing violations. It's not politically advantageous, but it is politically advantageous when you know that's your way of keeping the spread down. It's illegal for somebody to leave the airports. It's not that we just say to them, here are the rules, it's illegal to leave the airport. It's illegal for a bar or a restaurant to violate the rules. SLA, State Police did 26 more violations yesterday. Eight in Brooklyn, 5 in Manhattan, 6 in Queens, 2 in Staten Island, 2 in Nassau, 3 in Suffolk. I need the local governments to step up.

We had a storm, we have 549,000 people still without electric service. I have the state PSC doing an investigation. I understand from the utilities point of view, there was a storm and trees came down and wires fell. Yes, I know. This is not our first rodeo. That's what happens. We pay the utility companies to be ready to fix the situation or avoid the situation. That's why we pay them. We pay them to provide a service. The service they provide is when it's sunny out, everything works. The service is also anticipating a storm, anticipating the issue and making sure people don't lose power when a storm comes.

If they do lose power, restore the power ASAP. That's what they are charged to do, that's the essence of their business. It's not a sunny day business, it's an everyday business. If it's only for sunny days, then we should pay them less and let's have a caveat that if there's a storm you may not have power, you may not have power for several days. Okay, then reduce my bill and we'll contract for sunny day service, but we don't contract for sunny day service. We contract for every day service so they have to perform it. We have the emergency workers who are out. We have 7,000 emergency workers who are now supplementing the utilities. That's at a cost to the State. I'm not in the business of providing utility service. That's their business so we have to call out State employees to do this, that further aggravates the situation.

I would ask New Yorkers on a neighbor to neighbor basis, check on your neighbor. If you have a person who is homebound or senior citizen who can't get out of the house and they have no power just knock on the door, please. Ask if they need anything, if they need any help. If there's an emergency situation contact the police and let's make sure they're getting that help they need.

The Attorney General took an action today against the NRA on their tax-exempt status. The NRA has a long history of thwarting the rules that govern the not for profits in New York State. I commenced this action when I was Attorney General of New York. A not for profit is an entity that is tax-payer subsidized. We tend to forget that in this state and in truth the State has been I think very generous and somewhat lax in the number of not for profits that we have granted and they forget that they are taxpayer subsidized. They are receiving a public subsidy. For that public subsidy there are rules, somebody gives money to a not for profit, 50 percent roughly of that deduction, of that amount, can be removed from tax dollars. That means the public is subsidizing every dollar that goes to that entity. Yes, but then it has to live with the rules mandated for not for profit. You can't be a political organization. There is transparency that is required. They have to file with the Attorney General. You can't be a not for profit, publicly subsidized, but then be a political organization or refuse to disclose certain financial information and this literally goes back to when I was the Attorney General.

On the issue of schools, I want everybody to remember the broader context. We will have at threshold decision in terms of the viral rate spread region by region across the state. We're not going to open any school unless the viral transmission rate says we have the virus under control. If the viral transmission rate increases significantly then we will close the schools but there is more to this equation than just the viral transmission rate. The situation is very different across the state because regions are in different positions across the state and parents and teachers have different opinions across the state. Just as you see the situation in schools across the country has variation, the situation across the state there are variations.

It is not just a question of the State or the local school district pronouncing that the schools are going to be open. The parents are going to make the ultimate decision on a practical level, right? The State can say it's okay for the schools in Buffalo to open. The Buffalo School District can say, "here's our plan on how the schools re-open." The parents in Buffalo are going to decide whether to send their child. And it's the parents that are the final determination. The parents have to be actively included in this discussion. It's not a discussion just between the state and the Buffalo School District. It's a discussion among the Buffalo School District and the parents of Buffalo and the teachers of Buffalo— because if the teachers say "I'm not coming back" or the parents say "I'm not sending my child," then whatever the school district says is irrelevant. And I field calls from teachers and parents all day long. I'm telling you, they have significant questions.

They're watching what's happening across the country. They're watching what these other school districts are doing. They're watching outbreaks when school is open. They have serious concerns. And they should. I'm not minimizing their concerns. If you look at the facts, you will have questions. We're several weeks— within the next several weeks, the parents have to be included and the parents have to believe the plan makes sense. The teachers have to be included and the teachers have to believe the plans make sense.

So I once again say to our 700 school districts across the state, please be consulting and communicating with the parents and the teachers because they are the vital stakeholders. Not only are they vital stakeholders, they are the ultimate determination. So please, be consulting with them. Talk to them because if they're not comfortable with the plan nothing is actually going to counteract their feelings. If a teacher doesn't show up, you can't open the class. If the parent doesn't send their child, there is no child to educate. And that is inarguable.

I became the Chairman of the National Governors Association yesterday. I've been the Vice Chairman before. I've announced my agenda for this coming year. I called it "America's Recovery and Revival" agenda. The recovery is because we're still recovering from COVID. Once we recover, we have a vaccine, then we have to talk about the American revival. This economy has taken a terrible beating. It's not going to come back spontaneously in my opinion. It's going to take significant work to make it comeback and that's going to require a partnership between the federal and state governments all across this country. On the recovery aspect, we are not going to recover from COVID until we realize that until we stop the spread everywhere, we can't stop the spread anywhere. That is a fundamental truth.

We are learning that every day. We're here on the island of New York State. We're watching the spread all around us. We're quarantining other states. We're creating bulwarks against the virus. The only way to handle this was to make sure it's reduced in every state. That is inarguable also at this point. We then have the question of what do we do about people coming in from outside the country? That we can actually manage better. The mobility among the states is something that we cannot handle and we don't want to handle. We don't want to create walls among the states. The virus will continue to ricochet across this county until we realize that. And I said that to the NGA in my opening comments yesterday. That's what we're seeing. It will be a constant ricocheting of the virus from state to state to state to state. It will bounce to Florida to Texas to Arizona, then to California, then it'll bounce to Oregon, and then it'll bounce to New Jersey, then the bounce to Rhode Island and here we are in New York putting up walls, hoping that we can stop the ricochet from hitting New York. You have to resolve it in every state.

That's one of the downsides of what we've done here which is no national strategy, it's a state-by-state strategy, and now you are seeing states that didn't take it seriously - the number goes up but when that happens you see a ricochet. That's why it's FDR where we started this. When your neighbor's house is on fire, lend them a hose to put out the fire. Why? Why would you lend them your house? Because it's in your best interest to put out the fire on your neighbor's home because if you don't put out the fire on your neighbor's home, then don't be surprised when the fire comes to your home.

On the recovery in the revival, what Washington does on this last piece of legislation is everything. It is everything. If they do not fund state and local governments, you will see an economic recession that has been proven. Chairman Bernanke, Chairman Powell, all economists across the board have said when you don't fund state and local governments and you cause them to do layoffs and cut back, that makes the national economy worse. What I have said to our congressional members and I want to repeat today, they're working on a piece of legislation for the next two years. We need 30 billion dollars for New York State to cover our shortfall: 14 billion this year; 16 billion next year. That's 30 billion over two years. Their legislation is over two years. If we do not receive 30 billion dollars from the federal government, if our congressional representatives do not make sure that New York has 30 billion dollars, we're going to have to take very dramatic action and these dramatic actions, I believe, will be counterproductive.

We will have no choice because I don't have a printing press like the federal government does. But if we don't get 30 billion dollars, we're going to have to take very dramatic actions. If the MTA does not get 12 billion dollars over the next two years, they will have to take dramatic actions. Their dramatic actions are limited to- all they can do is raise tolls and raise fares. If the Port Authority does not get 3 billion dollars, they will have to curtail their capital plan. That means LaGuardia and JFK. The Port Authority it is funded by a percentage of the transportation facility fees. When people don't take airplanes, then the funding to Port Authority dries up and that's just what happened over these past few months. So, it's 30 billion for the state; 12 billion for the MTA; and 3 billion to the Port Authority. Those are the numbers. When they sign a federal bill, when the House members raised their hands and say, "I," when the senators agree to pass the bill, if it does not have 30 billion, 12 million, and 3 billion, they are deciding on the actions of the state budget.

This state budget is not done in Albany. This state budget is done in Washington. Normally, when they pass a bill in Washington it's unclear what the consequences, because it's complicated. There are a lot of numbers and a lot of acronyms. This piece of legislation is unlike any other piece of legislation Washington has passed. They are deciding the state budget. You tell me what they pass in the bill and I'll tell you the consequences in New York. And I want to be clear on that because the next day after the federal piece of legislation passes, when I say we're going to do X, Y and Z, nobody should be surprised. It will be a pure function of the legislation that they pass in Washington.

Okay. I know that's a lot but there's a lot going on.

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