October 1, 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...

Top 20 Hotspot ZIP Codes Have 6.5 Percent Positivity Rate

 

Statewide Positivity Excluding Hotspot ZIP Codes is 0.98 Percent; 1.27 Percent with Hotspot ZIP Codes Included

 

11 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 1,065 Establishments; Observes 7 Establishments Not in Compliance

 

Confirms 1,382 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 460,031; New Cases in 45 Counties

 

Governor Cuomo: "The 20 hotspots are 26 percent of all cases in New York State and remember, 20 ZIP codes — that's out of 1,740 ZIP codes. The 20 ZIP codes are only 6 percent of the state populationIf you take out the hotspot ZIP codes, the rest of the state without the ZIP codes is where it's supposed to be - better than where it's supposed to be; it's 0.98. So, it's under 1 percent. And again remember, 1 percent is the lowest infection rate in the United States of America."

 

Cuomo: "These 20 hotspot ZIP codes require full attention, and effectiveness, and action. As I've said before, a cluster today can become community spread tomorrow. These ZIP codes are not hermetically sealed I've said to the local governments we need an all-out compliance effort. It has to be enforcement; it's no longer about public education. If they're not wearing masks, there should be fines. Enforcement works."

WYSIWYG

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 forward.ny.gov.

 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

 

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

 

Good morning to everyone. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Gareth Rhodes, Beth Garvey and a special guest appearance, reappearance, from Lawrence Schwartz, who has been helping us out as a volunteer during this COVID situation. As you know, he's former Secretary to the Governor - former Secretary to two Governors, actually. 

 

Today is day 215. 109,000 tests results were done yesterday. Stay with me, because the numbers are important today, and we have to keep apples to apples, oranges to oranges. We are now testing, basically, the overall state the way we've been testing the overall state, and then we are oversampling the hotspot ZIP codes, the clusters that we're seeing in Rockland, Orange, Brooklyn, mainly. The 20 hotspot ZIP codes, the positivity is 6.5; that's up from 5.5. Within those hotspot ZIP codes, there are increases primarily in Brooklyn, where we've seen ZIP codes 11223 went from 4 percent to 8 percent. 11210 from 3.8 to 7.4. 11235 from 1.9 to 4. Also, we've seen an increase in Rockland, most notably 10901 from 4 to 12. And 10950 from 3 to16 percent. The Rockland numbers are small samples, so I would take them with a grain of salt. But the overall hotspots have gone from 5.5 to 6.5; that's up a point and we've seen growth in Brooklyn and a little bit in Rockland. 

 

These 20 hotspot ZIP codes require full attention, and effectiveness, and action. As I've said before, a cluster today can become community spread tomorrow. These ZIP codes are not hermetically sealed, right? People from these ZIP codes go to the surrounding community. They shop in the surrounding communities, they take buses, et cetera. And that's how you have community spread. I've said to the local governments we need an all-out compliance effort. It has to be enforcement; it's no longer about public education. The public has been educated about masks. I don't think there's been a topic in my lifetime that has been more exhaustively communicated to the public, in terms of public health, than mask wearing. If they're not wearing masks, there should be fines, there should be enforcement. Enforcement works. If you speed in your car, you get it a ticket. That's how it works. If you don't pay a toll when you go over a bridge, you get a ticket. That's how it works. Compliance works, enforcement works. We're in this situation partially because the local governments haven't been doing the compliance, and we need them to do it. Or, if they don't want to do it, assign personnel to the state and I will do it the same way we did the SLA task force in the bars and the restaurants, which is a very analogous situation to this. But we need enforcement and compliance.

 

If you take out the hotspot ZIP codes, the rest of the state without the ZIP codes is where it's supposed to be -- better than where it's supposed to be; it's 0.98. So, it's under 1 percent. And again remember, 1 percent is the lowest infection rate in the United States of America. So, it's a very high standard. It's the highest, it's the gold standard in the country. If you included the oversample of the hotspot ZIP codes in the state number, it's 1.2, but including the oversample, really is not statistically relevant. The 20 hotspots are 26 percent of all cases in New York State and remember, 20 ZIP codes — that's out of 1,740 ZIP codes. The 20 ZIP codes are only 6 percent of the state population. 

 

Eleven New Yorkers passed away, 612 were hospitalized, 141 were in ICU, 63 were intubated. When you look across the state: Capital District, .5, great. Central New York, 1, great. Finger Lakes, .7, great. Long Island, 1, great. Mid-Hudson, 2.8, not good. That's Orange and Rockland. Mohawk Valley, .8, great. North Country, .1, super great. Southern Tier, 1, Western New York, 1.7, caution flag. New York City 1.3, and New York City proportionately is the largest region by far, so that's driving the number and within New York City, it's Brooklyn, a little bit of Queens. Those are the numbers.  

 

The SLA Enforcement Task Force has been continuing. They have done a great job and they turned around the bar and restaurant situation, which would have been the most problematic situation. The bar and restaurant lack of compliance was throughout New York City and throughout Long Island. If we hadn't gotten a hold on that, it would have really increased community spread right away, but compliance is way up. We had 99 percent compliance yesterday. The bars and the restaurants have gotten the message: we're doing enforcement, you will be ticketed, you can lose your license. And it works. Bars and restaurants are not happy if they're getting tickets. I understand that. But I also understand that it worked, and that's what I need the local governments to understand. They wouldn't do the compliance in the bars and restaurants; we did. They're not doing the compliance in these hotspot ZIP codes and that's why we have the problems. 

 

Enforcements actions by the SLA yesterday: two in the Bronx, one in Manhattan, four in Suffolk. On the education dashboard, the education dashboard is up. It will provide facts to parents, anxious parents, and teachers across the state. There's been a lot of controversy about opening schools. Principals in New York City think it's a mistake. Teachers Union Mike Mulgrew thinks they can do it. Parents have gotten mixed messages and they're unsure. I said we'll provide the data and we'll make a decision on the data. I understand everybody's theory, but let's get the actual numbers. The dashboard is up; the dashboard will show you that there are 1,206 positives reported both on-site and off-site from teachers, staff and students. A total of 1,206 positives on the school system statewide, and then they will tell you where those 1,206 positives are. So, you can look up your school, your school district, you can see how many teachers are positive, how many tests were done, how many students are positive and that data then can inform an opinion. Dr. Zucker, do you want to give any more information on the dashboard? How that 1,206 breaks down? 

 

Dr. Zucker: We're working on that right now, Governor, what the percentages are. Don't have it right this second, Governor, but we'll get it to you in a few minutes here.  

 

Governor Cuomo: Okay, well then people can go look at the 1,206 and see by their particular school district what they're most interested in. I've spoken to the Orthodox community with the hotspot zip codes. We had a good conversation. They're going to take action on their own- community action and I appreciate that. We're going to have public education. I appreciate that. We're going to be handing out flyers and mailing and that's a good step, but the community also says government is in charge of enforcement. And I told them it's going to be stepped up and they understand that.  

 

We have a very exciting announcement that has taken a lot of work and it's really creative and smart and I think it can make a big difference. This is a technology-based contact tracing app. Larry Schwartz has been working on putting together the contact tracing operation for the state. As you know, testing is only as good as your contact tracing, right? Testing is to identify a person but so you can isolate and quarantine that person and then find the connections from that person. This contact tracing, we have about 15,000 people statewide who do contact tracing. They call them disease detectives. But we've been looking for a technology-based solution and Larry has been working with Bloomberg Philanthropies on this. They brought in Google, they brought in Apple and some other technology companies: NearForm, Tech: NYC, and the Linux Foundation. Today we are announcing an app that you can download for free from the app store called COVID Alert. What this app will do is, it will tell you if you were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive and if you were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive for 10 minutes. So, it will tell you if you're "in contact" with a COVID positive person. How does it work? It works from your cell phone data. The app knows where your cell phone is; the app will know where a person who tested positive was through their cell phone, and the app can tell you if you were within 6 feet of that person. The way it will work is when a person tests positive, the Department of Health contacts that person and asks that person if they have an iPhone and then gives that person a password. That person types in their password for their phone and then any other phone that comes within 6 feet of that phone is on the app. It doesn't give names. It doesn't give any private information. it's voluntary. You have to download the app but it's a great tool to alert you if you happen to be within 6 feet of a person who tests positive. It's called COVID Alert. Not only will it be for New York residents, but it will be New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut will be coming online soon. So, even if you're traveling in the Metropolitan area it will tell you if you were in contact with a person- it's using technology, really, on a level it's never been used before. Google has been very helpful on this. Apple has been extraordinarily helpful on it. And I think it's going to not only bring contact tracing to a new level but it's going to give people comfort. Larry, do you want to correct any misstatements I made or give some more information on how it works?

 

Larry Schwartz: I will add to some of the things Governor that you had mentioned. So as the Governor stated the COVID Alert NY app is live today. It works on both Apple iPhones as well as any Android phone so you can either go to the Apple store, the Google Play store and download that app. The notification tool is an enhancement to the traditional contact tracing that the State is currently using, so this is an additional tool. We've been adding tools since May 15, as the Governor has alluded to, to minimize community spread, which is the ultimate goal of contact tracing and we did two pilot tests. We did one with SUNY, with Albany, Plattsburgh and Oswego with 1,000 students. We also did a pilot test with Columbia Engineering. This is an open source app so anyone can go in there and take a look at the app and the actual program. It's completely confidential. We don't collect any data. We don't track people so if there's any concern it's a completely voluntary program, it's for 18 and above, it's ADA-compliant, we've had security experts review the app, it's also in the top six languages spoken in New York State and what will happen is, as the Governor mentioned, if you have the app, if Governor Cuomo and Larry Schwartz both had the COVID Alert NY app on their iPhones and I tested positive and I was with him six feet for at least 10 minutes with Governor Cuomo, which would be my pleasure, I would get a notification and the notification would tell me to quarantine, to stay at home, and to call my physician or call the New York State or the New York City hotline about either getting tested or getting additional information. So again, it's an easy technology, it's an additional tool to our traditional contact tracing program to prevent community spread throughout the state.

 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Larry. We believe this is the first in the nation usage of this. It really is an advancement, an advancement that was done very quickly. Again, it's going to be for the states that we work in concert with because people do travel throughout the region and all the states in the region will be on this. I want to thank Larry Schwartz very much. I've known Larry for more years than I care to say. He's been a total government professional and I called him up and I asked him for a personal favor to come help here once again to do public service and he's done an extraordinary job and I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg who took on this contact tracing task and Bloomberg Philanthropies. We were overloaded when this first started. We had to put together a surgeon Flex system, we had to put together a testing system and then we had to put together contact tracing so Larry Schwartz and Mayor Bloomberg really took this task on and as I said we will make it available to any other state in the country that wants to use it and it's a great, great tool. It will not only help us do contact tracing but can also get people a sense of security and confidence. You know anxiety is very high, everybody is wondering, I was next to this person, I was next to this person, but this can actually give you some data and facts can help reduce anxiety and that is a good thing. Sometimes facts can increase anxiety but that's more in my position in life.

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