October 19, 2020
Albany, NY

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

TOP Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo...

Statewide Positivity Rate is 1.21 Percent

  

Positive Testing Rate in Hot Spot Areas is 3.31 Percent; New York State Positivity Without Red Zone Focus Areas Included is 1.13 Percent

 

14 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

Expanded Community Testing Continues This Week In Southern Tier, Western New York Counties Along PA Border  

 

Governor Cuomo: "Statewide without the oversample of the red zones, 1.1, which is great. Positivity for the entire state with the red zone oversample, 1.2. ... I think the context is important so people know what 1 percent means or what 2 percent means, which means New York has one of the lowest positivity rates in the nation. ... Why are we doing well? Because we're very aggressive about it and when we see a flare-up or a hotspot we jump all over it, as you know because you are subject to our aggressive action." 

 

Cuomo: "We all hope and pray for a vaccine. The federal administration literally says, HHS Secretary Azar, 'when we have the vaccine that's when it's over'. No. When we have the vaccine, that's only the beginning of the end. ... Once you have the vaccine, step two is convincing the American people it's safe, which I think is easier said than done. Third is administering the vaccine."

 

Cuomo: "It's going to be, do you have the capacity to administer it quickly, fairly, efficiently and safely? This is going to be one of the operational challenges of all time. I believe this is going to be the hardest operational challenge that we've faced since COVID began because the only second runner-up for operational challenges was testing."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here

 

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

 

Thanks, guys, for getting on the phone. Guys is gender neutral. I have Melissa DeRosa, Secretary; Robert Mujica, Budget Director; Beth Garvey, Special Counselor; Howard Zucker, Commissioner of Health; Gareth Rhodes, Deputy Financial, Safety Supervisor, but he's been assigned to be at Chamber during this situation.

 

Today is day 233. We're testing both red zones and statewide. In the red zones the infection rate, positivity rate is 3.3. That's way down from where it was. The red zones are Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, Orange.

 

Statewide without the oversample of the red zones, 1.1, which is great. Positivity for the entire state with the red zone oversample, 1.2. As the red zones come down the differential between the oversample goes down so it's 1.1 without the red zones and 1.2 with the red zones.

 

Fourteen New Yorkers passed away, they're in our thoughts and prayers; 934 were hospitalized. There are two numbers in the 934 hospitalization rate. One is the discharge, how many were discharged, second is how many were admitted. The 934 is a net number between discharge and admissions. The discharges go down over the weekend. They don't do a lot of discharges over the weekend. The good news in the 934 is the admissions were down over the weekend so that is good news. Fewer people went into the hospitals, 198 were in ICU, 106 were intubated.   

 

By red zone, one week, Brooklyn went from 5.8 to 5.2, Queens from 3.3 to 2.3, Rockland 9.7 to 4.5, Orange 12.4 to 4.6.

 

By region, New York City is 1.3, Capital District 1.1, Central New York 1.1, Finger Lakes 1.5, Long Island 1.0, Mid-Hudson 1.4, that's predominantly Orange and Rockland, Mohawk Valley 0.3, North Country 1.3, Southern Tier 1.2, Western New York 0.9. That's a good number for Western New York today. Again, these are weekend numbers which we take with a grain of salt. I get many questions when I say New York is 1.1, etcetera.

 

In a lot of the stories after I report the numbers say "Governor said today the number is 1.1" and the people say to me, is that good, is that bad, is 1 high, is 1 low? There is not context reported for the number. I think the context is important so people know what 1 percent means or what 2 percent means, which means New York has one of the lowest positivity rates in the nation. It depends on the day but we're like the second or the third lowest depending on the day. You know states like Maine or Vermont which tend to be very low. New Hampshire can be low but that's it. You look at the big states and the positivity rate is much higher and some of the states the positivity rate is really much, much higher. So, we're talking about 1 percent in New York State, right? Iowa: 50 percent, Nevada: 37 percent, South Dakota: 36 percent, Idaho: 29 percent, Wisconsin: 24 percent, Wyoming: 20 percent, Nebraska: 18, Kansas: 17, Mississippi: 16, Alabama: 16, Utah: 15, Florida: 11, Indiana: 10, Montana: 10, North Dakota: 10, Pennsylvania: 9, Arkansas: 9, Arizona: 9, Tennessee: 8, Oklahoma: 8, Texas: 7. So, you see, these states are much, much higher. California: 2.5. Even Jersey and Connecticut are higher. So, put the 1 percent in context and I think people will understand that we're doing very. They should because of the number says we're doing well. Why are we doing well? Because we're very aggressive about it and when we see a flare-up or a hotspot we jump all over it, as you know because you are subject to our aggressive action. 

 

The micro-clusters are, I think, are the most sophisticated way in the country to go about this. I did some of the morning shows this morning, they were talking about the Fall, and the viral surge, and the numbers going up across the country and nobody wanting to close down, because of COVID fatigue. People are tired and there's very little tolerance for reduction of economic activity. And see most of these states only have statewide data or region-wide data. So, if they were to do something, they'd have to do it across the state or across the region. The micro-cluster approach, first of all, targets the outbreak sooner and faster and tighter, and the restrictions are only neighborhood-wide. Now, that neighborhood may not like it, but it's only a neighborhood. It's only a piece of Brooklyn. It's only a piece of Orange. It's only a piece of Rockland. It's not the region. It's not even the county. It's not the city. So, there are significant advantages to this micro-cluster approach. 

 

The unemployment rate in the state is something to notice. It was as high as 16 percent during the pandemic. It's now down to 9.7 percent. So, that is also very good news. We have a long way to go but it's moving in the right direction so that is good news. 

 

I wanted to chat about the vaccines for a moment to put this in focus. Let's look ahead. We've been behind on this virus from day one, and you don't win when you're behind. We're looking at the fall and the winter. The fall: you will have increased viral transmission. Everybody has said it. We have been prepared for it, and our micro-cluster strategy is going to be our response. It's the fall, more people come indoors, more schools, more colleges, more flare-ups. More aggressive targeting, quick on restrictions — see an ember, crush the ember. That will be the fall. The flare-ups will be different across the state. They'll come and they'll go. Flare-up: suffocate it, another flare-up somewhere else. That's what we expect for the fall. 

 

Winter will be the season of the vaccine, we hope. We all hope and pray for a vaccine. The federal administration literally says, HHS Secretary Azar, "when we have the vaccine that's when it's over." No. When we have the vaccine, that's only the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end. Once you have the vaccine, step two is convincing the American people it's safe, which I think is easier said than done. Third is administering the vaccine. "Oh, that's just administration. That's an operational task." Hey, my friends, life is an operational task. Testing is an operational task. Social distancing is an operational task. Having enough hospital beds is an operational task. Acquiring PPE from China is an operational task. Government does operations, sets policy. We need a vaccine. Great, we all agree with the policy. Now, develop a program, administration of the vaccine, and the program is always more difficult because it's more complex and more detailed. You can tell the quality of a government by how it produces, right? It's about the results. It's not about the words; it's about the action. It's not about do we have a vaccine that the science community developed because they're going to make a lot of money at it? It's going to be, do you have the capacity to administer it quickly, fairly, efficiently and safely? This is going to be one of the operational challenges of all time. I believe this is going to be the hardest operational challenge that we've faced since COVID began because the only second runner-up for operational challenges was testing. Testing was organizing the labs, putting up testing sites, acquiring the reagents, explaining to the people why they should actually get tested and that it was safe. We had to put up 800 testing sites, we had to coordinate 300 labs, and that was the most challenging operational task. We do more tests pro rata than any state in the nation, and we believe in it fundamentally. Administering a vaccine is going to make testing look simple, and to give you an idea of the level of difficulty we're talking about, I gave you the New York State numbers. 7 months all hands on deck to get testing in place, right? Every local department of health, every hospital, every clinic, every lab; everyone doing everything they could to get ready to take tests. 900 PSAs, get a test. Paul Rudd, get a test. National Guard setting up testing. Everything we had we threw at it. In 7 months how many tests did we do? 13 million. How many vaccines will we have to do? 20 million, and that's if they just require one vaccine. The vaccine's they're talking about require 2 dosages 21 to 28 days apart. So, it would be 20 million people twice, which is 40 million. But even take just 20 million, we only did 13 million tests in 7 months. How long is it going to take us to administer 20 million vaccines? And remember, a test is just a nasal swab. A vaccine is probably a needle. That's true across the board. Ohio did 4 million tests; they have 11 million people. Texas did 7 million tests; they have 29 million people. They'd have to do fourfold. Florida did 8 million tests; they have 21 million people. They'd have to do threefold. Our testing was much higher, so the differential isn't as great for us.

 

But just to make it simple, you don't like a lot of numbers, the United States of America has done 124 million tests. It has 328 million people. That's only about a third of the population in number of tests in 7 months. You tested a third in 7 months. How long does it take you to vaccinate 100 percent, and how does it happen? The federal government made a terrible blunder at the beginning of COVID. They were not ready, they were unprepared, and they didn't even try to get prepared. It was the federal abdication. What the president said was the states have to do it. Oh, how convenient, the states have to do it. When you have a situation that effects all 50 states, by definition that is a national problem. That's the definition of all 50 states - it's a national problem. This federal government says I'm abdicating my responsibility and delegating it to the states. That's how they handled it the first time and it was a terrible mistake. How are they handling the vaccine? The same way. The CDC asked them, what's your plan for distribution? It's basically going to come down to we're going to deliver it to the states and then tell them they need refrigeration equipment to keep it at -80 degrees and you have to do 2 dosages, 21-28, fine. Then why have the states do it? It's testing redux where the states had to scramble, the states had to find reagents. The states had to get to China. It's the same mistake we made last time.

 

What is your estimate in how long it's going to take? Seven months, you did a third of the population in number of tests, how long will it take you to do vaccines? If you want to see the American people lose more trust - as soon as we get a vaccine, we're fine. Then, when the vaccine is ready to be given out, the first vaccine, there will be a White House ceremony, I'm sure. Back to the Rose Garden, super spreader event. The President will stand up and say we did it. Here it is. I'm holding up the vial that is the vaccine. Happy days are here again. Go back to work, open the economy. I told you it was all a hoax and here it is now, I have the vial. Okay, you have the vial. You just need 328 million more and then you have to actually administer the vaccination to the entire population.

 

We are just repeating the same mistakes again. Caveat, the governor's learned this lesson and I think the American people did too. The NGA, National Governor's Association, Democratic governors and Republican governors, sent 35 questions to the President on the distribution of the vaccine and the administration of the vaccine. Why? Because the governor's know because the governors are the ones who got handed the bag. They're the ones who are going to have to administer the vaccine and they learned from the testing. Remember, on the testing, the federal government will say they helped. CDC helped with setting up some sites, et cetera. Even with the federal help, you only did 38 percent of the size of the population in 7 months.

 

Fool me once. We only have several weeks before they say a vaccine is ready. Let's understand now how it's supposed to happen. Let's not deceive the American people again once we have the vaccine it's over. No. Doesn't work that way. That is not the truth. Let's start telling the truth. 

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