Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 3.8 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 1.3 Percent
Statewide Positivity Rate is 1.5 Percent
15 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday
Counties Will Now Be Allowed to Require Mask Mandates at All Times in Schools
Governor Cuomo: "We said with these micro-clusters and the overall state number you will see a day-to-day bouncing. ... You get a micro-cluster that flares up, we attack it, more restrictions, it drops, another micro-cluster pops up and what we're seeing obviously nationwide is a very threatening rate of increase, and so far, knock wood, New York has defied that rate of increase."
Cuomo: "Nationwide, our positivity rate, we are now the second lowest in the United States of America. ... We are 1.3 percent and in the Johns Hopkins nationwide state survey we are number 2 from the bottom, second lowest rate in the nation. ... Congratulations, New Yorkers."
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:
Thank you guys for getting on - guys being gender-neutral. We're joined today by Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor; Rob Mujica, Budget Director; Beth Garvey, Special Counsel; Gareth Rhodes who is Deputy Superintendent at DFS who works with us; Dr. Zucker. I also have members from the Long Island delegation of the Assembly and the Senate for an announcement that I'm going to make and then we'll hear from them.
Today is day 242 for those people who are counting. We did 129,000 tests yesterday. The positivity in the micro-cluster focus zones, right, we're doing two sets of tests, we test the micro-cluster zones and then we test statewide.
In the micro-clusters the rate was 3.8 percent. That's in Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, Orange, and we're also looking at Broome, Steuben and Chemung.
The positivity rate statewide without the inclusion of the micro-cluster zones is 1.3. That's actually down from 1.5. The overall statewide number including the oversample of the micro-clusters is 1.5. That's down from 1.78.
We said with these micro-clusters and the overall state number you will see a day-to-day bouncing. This is, when I said we're playing Whac-A-Mole with the micro-clusters, which was not the most scientifically accurate term, but it's what it feels like from my point of view. You get a micro-cluster that flares up, we attack it, more restrictions, it drops, another micro-cluster pops up and what we're seeing obviously nationwide is a very threatening rate of increase, and so far, knock wood, New York has defied that rate of increase.
Fifteen New Yorkers passed away yesterday and they're in our thoughts and prayers, 1,085 hospitalized which is just about flat, 236 in ICU.
In terms of adjustments of the micro-clusters, Orange County has made very good progress. So have other micro-clusters but in terms of changing the restrictions, in Orange County we're going to change the red zone to an orange zone. In Orange County the red zone was at 12 percent three weeks ago. It's now 2 percent so that's obviously dramatic progress and the hospitalization number is flat, so the red zone will go to orange, the yellow zone will stay yellow.
There has been progress in other areas in micro-clusters but nothing at this point that would cause us to change any classifications this week and we'll watch it over the next week for possible alterations next week.
Nationwide, our positivity rate, we are now the second lowest in the United States of America. We've actually made progress nationwide. We are 1.3 percent and in the Johns Hopkins nationwide state survey we are number 2 from the bottom, second lowest rate in the nation. Only Maine is lower than we are. Maine doesn't test every day. They have more of a periodic testing regimen. But besides Maine, it then goes New York at 1.3; above us is New Hampshire at 1.5; Massachusetts at 1.59; D.C. at 1.6; Hawaii 2.2. At the top of the list: South Dakota 43 percent; Idaho 34 percent; Wyoming 31 percent; Wisconsin 27 percent; Ohio 26; Alabama 25; Nebraska 21; Pennsylvania 12; North Dakota 10. I mean, these numbers are really incredible. Alaska: 7. Georgia: 7. Delaware: 7. North Carolina: 6.9. Michigan: 5. So, New York, second lowest, only to Maine. Congratulations, New Yorkers. God bless New Yorkers.
A couple of specific announcements, talking about the nationwide increase, which by the way was predicted by the scientist. They said it would get worse when it came to the fall. We prepared our full strategy which is a micro cluster strategy. People are asking if we have a travel ban. We do not have a travel ban in the state of New York but we never said people can't travel out of the state or into the state. You could travel wherever you want to travel whenever you want to travel. There's no travel ban. There is a quarantine policy that we have in effect, but you can go travel wherever you want for Thanksgiving or for any holiday that you choose to travel. If you're asking advice, I have said publicly that I think, my personal advice, is you don't have family gatherings. Even for Thanksgiving. My personal advice is the best way to say I love you this Thanksgiving, the best way to say, I'm thankful for you and love you so much, I'm so thankful for you that I don't want to endanger you and I don't want to endanger our family and I don't want to endanger our friends. So, we will celebrate virtually, but that is my personal opinion. Factually and legally, New Yorkers can travel wherever they want. People can come into this state, but you have to live within the quarantine policy. My personal advice is based on the fact that more and more, we're seems spread from small gatherings. The problem, at one time, was large gatherings: bars, restaurants, right? And we had significant enforcement efforts on that. We're now getting it from small gatherings. We have a wedding that was in Genesee-Orleans areas, 18 people. 15 cases from one wedding. A church in Lewis county, which is not a highly dense county, in upstate New York had 57 cases from one gathering. We had a birthday party in Suffolk with 22 positives already from one birthday party. So, it's these small gatherings that are creating issues. A small Thanksgiving gathering, "Well, it was twelve members of my extended family," I know but that could be dangerous, but again that's my personal opinion. You can do it if you want to do it.
Next point, in our school planned we had left it to the local school districts to determine whether or not children needed to wear a mask. I spoke to County Executive George Latimer in Westchester county, who is a very good guy. And he asked, can the county impose a mask mandate on the students in schools in the county? Can they have that authority. And I agreed. I think the County Executive is right. His point is, he's seeing numbers go up. Not as much in Westchester, frankly, as other parts but he wants to have his county Department of Health impose a mandate on schools in the county and the state will allow county governments, city governments to impose a mask mandate on students in those counties, so we will do that and then it will be up to the county government, it will be up to a city government if they want to impose a mask mandate on students in their schools. So, we're going to do that.
Next point is, on the vaccination — we have to get through the fall. What happens after the fall? The winter. What happens in the winter? It's going to be the vaccination, season of the vaccine. Everyone is focused on when the drug companies will come up with a vaccine. Is it November, is it December, is it January? Who knows. How much political pressure is being applied to the vaccine? That is an issue. My point is, once the vaccine is created, that is only the first step. The drug companies will create a vaccine as soon as they can because that's the business they're in and the economic incentives for the first company that has the vaccine, the first few companies, is phenomenal, right? We're talking about billions of dollars for whatever drug company is successful. I have no doubt that they're working 24 hours a day to develop a vaccine. I have no doubt that the President will pressure the FDA to approve a vaccine as expeditiously as possible — if not recklessly. But then, how do you administer the vaccine? That's the real question and let's learn the lesson from the first phase of this pandemic. Where government has struggled is in implementation and execution. We have to do testing, yes, but then the how was the problem. How do we implement vaccinations for 330 million people? The Governors across the country sent questions to the President through the National Governors Association. We sent 35 questions: how do we do this? And thus far, we've gotten no answers from the White House. If you listen to the federal government, the President says he's going to develop the vaccine and then the Generals will be in charge. Yes, but the Generals will be in charge, and the way they've defined the mission is the Generals will deliver the vaccines to the state. Yeah, so the Governors say, once again, you're going to turn everything over to the states and then the federal government wipes its hands. How do the states do this? I've done 12 million COVID tests in seven months — more than anyone else. I then have to do 20 million vaccinations and by the way, I have to do them twice, and by the way, the vaccine has to be kept in a deep freeze? And by the way — I haven't gotten any state or local funding, and by the way, if we don't get state or local funding, we're going to have to lay off essential workers and the essential workers are the ones we need to do the vaccines? So that is the looming debacle for this nation and we need people to focus on that point and it hasn't happened thus far.