September 3, 2020
Albany, NY

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

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Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers On State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic
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Governor Announces Results of Western New York SWAT Team's Focused Testing Effort; Rapid Testing Machines and Kits Will be Deployed to Local Health Departments in Every Western New York County

0.99 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive; 27th Straight Day with COVID-19 Infection Rate Below One Percent

7 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 898 Establishments; Observes 7 Establishments Not in Compliance

Confirms 889 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 437,107; New Cases in 51 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Parents and teachers are obviously concerned about schools reopening. They should be. ... Dr. Zucker, the State Department of Health, will set up a dashboard for teachers and parents. They're sending out a letter today to every school district. As soon as the school district gets their testing report on a daily basis they must send the State that information as well as whoever they send it to, the county, the local board of education, and that information will be posted online as soon as we get it so parents, teachers will know how many tests were conducted and what the results of those tests are."

Cuomo: "On restaurants in New York City, I understand the tension on the issue. ... The State will make that decision. ... Our rules and guidance on reopening is only as good as the compliance and the enforcement. ... There has to be compliance. 50 percent are malls. 25 percent on casinos. It has to be enforced."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today 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 forward.ny.gov.

The Governor also announced the results of the State's testing SWAT Team's focused testing effort in Western New York over the past five days. A total of 6,385 tests were performed at the 8 sites with results delivered in 15 minutes. A total of 266 positive cases were identified, for a positivity rate of 4.1%. Contact tracing efforts in partnership with local health departments are ongoing.

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

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

Good morning, everybody. Thank you very much to the operator. We have on the phone Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Chancellor Malatras, Beth Garvey, Gareth Rhodes.

There is a number of items that I'm going to go through. We have the Labor Day weekend coming up and hopefully people are going to be able to enjoy the weekend somewhat being as we haven't had a summer thus far and I'm sure members of the press are going to be also enjoying the weekend so we want to get out a number of items that are going to be coming up over these next few days.

Today is day 187. We did 88,000 tests - 889 were positive - that's .99. Seven New Yorkers passed away. They're in our thoughts and prayers. 430 were hospitalized - that's down 15. 117 were in ICU - that's about the same. 61 were intubated - that's about the same. So the overall numbers are good news.

Western New York is not good news - 1.9 percent yesterday. The state's effort on the rapid testing that we started - we did 6,400 tests this week. It's a 4 percent positivity overall which is high. Again, it's not a random sample. These are people who think they may have the virus and that's why they come in. Chautauqua County was 4.5, Niagara 2.8, Buffalo City 5.9, Erie without Buffalo 2.3.

Casinos, we said we were reviewing and we'd have an announcement. Casinos can open September 9 on the condition that they have the enhanced air filtration system in place before they open. They would open at 25 percent maximum occupancy, masks, social distancing, six feet, no table games or beverage service on the gaming floor, additional staff to monitor the traffic and ensure compliance. State Gaming Commission will be monitoring that.

Malls in New York City again September 9 they can open, 50 percent capacity, as long as they have the air filtration MERV 13, etcetera, masks and social distancing will be required, additional staff will be required to control traffic, no indoor dining, loitering, or unnecessary congregating.

The SLA did 900 establishments by the Task Force with the State Police. They found seven establishments in violation: 2 in Brooklyn, 1 in Manhattan, 4 in Suffolk. That is an ongoing issue with the State having to supplement what local governments are doing.

On schools reopening, many of the school districts have testing protocols that will be in place as part of their plans. Those plans I said from the beginning are only as good as their implementation. Parents and teachers are obviously concerned about schools reopening. They should be. As I said we've seen a lot of problem situations with colleges. Colleges have complicating factors with the socialization but the congregation will be a constant. Dr. Zucker, the State Department of Health, will set up a dashboard for teachers and parents. They're sending out a letter today to every school district. As soon as the school district gets their testing report on a daily basis they must send the State that information as well as whoever they send it to, the county, the local board of education, and that information will be posted online as soon as we get it so parents, teachers will know how many tests were conducted and what the results of those tests are. I hope this will give teachers and parents some confidence that the plans are being implemented and if the plans aren't being implemented— we want to know that also, right? Because if there's a problem, the sooner you find out about the problem, the better.

On restaurants in New York City, I understand the tension on the issue. Speaker Corey Johnson said yesterday— I believe or the day before— that he thinks the restaurants in New York City should open. First, that's not a decision that's going to be made by New York City. They have no legal authority to make that decision. The state will make that decision. I happen to agree with the Speaker. I'd like to see the restaurants open. However, there's a but. B-U-T. The but is, our rules and guidance on reopening is only as good as the compliance and the enforcement. So, we can say, "50 percent of casinos or whatever," but it then has to be enforced. There has to be compliance. 50 percent are malls. 25 percent on casinos. It has to be enforced. We have major problems in New York City with the compliance on the bars. I had beseeched New York City to do a better job on compliance and enforcement. We have put together a task force to do the enforcement on Long Island and New York City. We are taking State Police resources from many places to put on that task force. The State Liquor Authority has investigators, not just from the State Liquor Authority, but all state agencies have deployed investigators to do the compliance on the bars. We now open restaurants, that's going to complicate by the hundreds if not thousands the number of establishments that have to be monitored. How is that going to happen? I don't have any more state resources to do it, so we're going to contact the Speaker today and say look, if New York City can say "this many police, NYPD, can be put on the task force to monitor the compliance," that's something we can discuss. I'm going to say to the Restaurant Association that desperately wants to open — and I understand the economic pressure — can you tell me how we're going to enforce it and how we're going to monitor compliance? Because the facts with what has happened on bars are damning and you've all heard me on this phone for the past month saying, "there's a lax and an ineffectiveness in the compliance and that's why I did the task force. But the state task force cannot take on the issue of restaurants just by personnel. It's not going to work, so to come up with a plan — akin to schools. We have a great plan. "All restaurants can open, but they have to have this, this, and this and this." Yeah, but the plan is only as good as your ability to enforce it and right now, we have no ability to enforce it. And again we just had a very bad experience when it came to bars.

So, if the Speaker — and look, you have I don't know, 34,000 NYPD — there's a lot of questions about the NYPD and their activities. Put together a task force of NYPD, Speaker Johnson, and say, "there are going to be 4,000 police who are going to be doing restaurant compliance." Not sheriffs. There are only 150 sheriffs. We have to do airport compliance, we have to do bridge and tunnel compliance. We're now opening malls — mall compliance, casino compliance. All of these and then school compliance, so that's a complication of opening the restaurants in New York City and again, if Speaker Johnson, his opinion is they should open; my opinion as they should open. The question is how?

The President says he's going to have a vaccine. CDC is talking about a vaccine in early November. How convenient. It's going to be an Election Day miracle drug. Some people are concerned that the vaccine may wind up being hydroxychloroquine, so the State Department of Health before we recommend that New Yorkers take a vaccine, the State Department of Health will be reviewing all the protocol and research by the FDA and whatever federal authorities say it's safe and effective. So, we will, before we recommend New Yorkers take any vaccine, we will have the state Department of Health review it.

The President has been tweeting up a storm. This is his way. I believe the President is fundamentally a bully which I've said too many times and I've known him very well for a very long period of time. It doesn't work in New York because you can't bully New Yorkers. We just don't get bullied. We don't respond well to it and I want to talk about facts. You know the President says a lot of things but facts still matter even in this political environment, right? When it comes to protests in New York City and public safety, and I'm concerned about public safety in New York City also, New Yorkers are all concerned about it. City residents are concerned about it. But public safety is not a federal responsibility - not constitutionally in New York City. It's a state and local issue. The federal responsibility for public safety is national security and that has been a great failure by this President. He said that his protection of Americans against these protests is akin to World War II. No. World War II - I'll tell you what's akin to World War II: It was the COVID attack. This nation has not been attacked by an enemy who has killed more and ravaged more than COVID since World War II and the President as a commander-in-chief has been an abysmal failure in the war against COVID. That's on the facts. You look at the number of deaths from COVID just the past couple of days: Spain: 42; France: 25 Germany: 8; Italy: very badly hit. 6. You know how many were in the United States? 1,074. 1,074. Commander Trump, you're losing. You're losing the World War. Other countries are doing much better and losing far few people then the United States is losing.

Second point, the President said New York did not do a good job in handling COVID. No. It's not that New York didn't do a good job. COVID problem in New York was a function of the federal government's negligence. How do I know that? Because they admitted that they were negligent. They admitted it. The virus came from Europe, not China. The President calls it the China virus. It's not the China virus. It's the European virus and it came here because the federal government was negligent in protecting Americans and New Yorkers.

How can I say that? I'm not saying that. The federal government admitted their failure. Dr. Fauci on June 23, 'Everybody was looking at China and it came from Europe.' That's Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Fauci on April 9: 'We cut off the travel from China relatively early, but we were seeded with a relatively few number of cases from China but very quickly the epicenter switched to Europe. Particularly Northern Italy. Given the travel and air traffic from anywhere in Italy, but also particularly Northern Italy, it's just not surprising that unfortunately and inadvertently, New York was seeded before we knew what was going on.'

Well that's Dr. Fauci, President doesn't like Dr. Fauci. How about CDC Director Robert Redfield, who he appointed. His CDC Director. Sworn testimony March 10: 'Right now the new China is Europe. And there's a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe that are now starting to seed these communities.'

CDC Report, July 17: 'Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation factor, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of COVID had already occurred in New York City.'

CDC. CDC Principal Director Anne Shout, May 1: 'I think in retrospect, taking action earlier could have delayed the further amplification or delayed the speed of it. The extent of travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importation and the rapid spread.'

CDC Robert Redfield, July 28: 'The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening.'

The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening. CDC, Dr. Fauci - these are federal agencies who have admitted that the virus came to New York from Europe and they blew it. They missed it. It was their failure. It was their negligence. They have admitted it in their words. This is not a back and forth. It's not a political discussion; well he said this, they say that. He says the world is flat, I say the world is round. No. The world is round. That is a fact. Well he says it's flat. I know, but he's wrong. The situation in New York with COVID came from Europe because the federal government was negligent and they admitted it. It's their words.

President says he's going to win New York State in the election. President says a lot of things. Whatever he would like to wager on his winning New York, I would take him up on it. If he is serious, old expression put your money where your mouth is. How much do you want to wager that you're going to win New York? He's going to lose New York. Why? Because those who know the President best like him the least. New Yorkers know him. He grew up here. We watched him as tabloid fodder for years. We know him and those who know him, know he's unsuited to be President.

Not just New Yorkers, people who know him best. You know who knows him best? His family. You know what his sister said? His sister, by the way, is not just his sister. His sister is a former federal judge who's a credible person. His sister said, quote, 'The change of stories, the lack of preparation, the lying - holy s**t. He has no principles. He doesn't read. Donald is cruel. He was a brat. You can't trust him. It was all about him.'

Who said that? His sister. Former federal judge. Now look, there's only two options: Either the sister is mentally not competent or she's accurate. I don't hear anyone trying to overturn her decisions based on a lack of mental competence. So, former federal judge says that about her brother. Those who know him best, like him least. Those are the words, quoted, from his sister a former federal judge.

President then says my puppet prosecutors are illegally prosecuting him. We don't have public prosecutors in New York. I don't appoint the prosecutors. The President appoints public prosecutors, he appoints William Barr. Who, I understand from the President's point of view, yes, William Barr is his puppet. Yes, William Barr is a prosecutor. That doesn't happen in New York. That's a federal situation. Cy Vance, the District Attorney in Manhattan, gets elected. He ran in Manhattan. There's an election, people vote and he's the District Attorney. Cy Vance has asked for his taxes. It's not illegal. Judges have sided with Cy Vance and I'm sure Cy Vance, who's an experienced prosecutor, has a probable cause to ask for his taxes.

The President desperately is trying to secret his taxes. I don't know why. I release my taxes. I don't understand why the President has such great fear about releasing his taxes. To go through all this extent, there must be something he really doesn't want people to see. Otherwise, it's wholly illogical what he's doing. Cy Vance is not a puppet of mine. He was elected. He's not William Barr. The prosecutors aren't acting illegally. The prosecutors are seeking to prove illegality and that's why they want the taxes.

Those are facts, my friends. They're not he said, she said. They're just facts. If he wants to refute the facts, a thousand people didn't die in the United States. Forty-two people didn't die in Spain. Okay, refute the facts. My sister didn't say that. Okay, except she did. Redfield didn't say - well, Redfield did say you missed the virus coming from Europe. They didn't do the European travel ban until mid-March. It was too late. They all admitted it. It's his negligence, it's his liability that brought it to New York.

If this was an actual war he could be court-martialed for dereliction of duty. He brought it to New York. World War II, COVID was World War II and you have the worst performance on the globe of any commander-in-chief. If these were missiles rather than a viral transmission, the United States would have been devastated. These are all facts, which I say in response to the President's tweets.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

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Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640