Governor Cuomo: "Anything we can do for you, for the city, we stand ready. We remember how good the people across this country were to us. When we were in the midst of it, I asked for volunteers from across the United States: nurses, doctors to come help in our hospitals...The concept of paying it forward - whatever we can do on any level. We have people who have been through this and actually know and we stand ready. You're right, keep going, stay strong. The facts will bear out. It's about saving lives and you're doing exactly the right thing."
Cuomo: "We'll put people who've done the testing for us and the contact tracing. We actually worked with Mike Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City. And because nobody knew what a contact tracing program was, and we worked with the former mayor who stepped up and brought Johns Hopkins to the table and we came up with a training program and a whole software program. So I'll send a team down to Atlanta and they can work with your people and whatever we know and whatever we can share we will do."
During a press briefing with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will deploy testing and contact tracing teams to Atlanta as the city continues to experience an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Governor Cuomo: Good morning, everyone. It's our pleasure to be here this morning in New York City. To my left, we have Dr. James Malatras. He's been working on, among other things, the school reopening plan. He's here to talk to us about that today. To my right, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To her right, Rick Cotton, who is the head of the Port Authority. He's been doing an extraordinary job overall building LaGuardia Airport, first new airport in the United States in 25 years. Re-doing John F. Kennedy Airport. Then if that wasn't enough, he had to deal with something called COVID, which obviously, impacted the airports. We are so lucky to have him and I want to thank him very much for everything he's been doing.
This morning, we're going to be joined by Mayor Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, she's going to join us this morning.
Good morning, how are you, Mayor? I don't know if we can hear her.
Mayor Bottoms, we've been watching you. We're your neighbors to the North. We've been watching you and what you've been going through. First, I hope you're feeling well and I hope your family is feeling well. On top of everything, you have to be dealing with the COVID virus yourself, then you have your hands more than full there. Not only with the COVID virus but the virus of racism and division and what was going on with Mr. Brooks. We just want to tell you, on behalf of New Yorkers, after what we've gone through that you are exactly right, Mayor; what you are saying and what you are advocating.
It is no longer a question of theory or a question of politics, we have facts. We have data. We went through it here in New York. We went through it in a worst case scenario. It is about following the data and following the science and taking the precautions and doing what's right. It is about masks. Masks work. We can tell you that here in New York.
We had the worst spike per capita on the globe and we brought it down. Now you see these other states are going higher than New York. Those masks work. We were the first state to start mandatory masks April 15. All the science now says for sure masks make a big difference. One of the models last week, the IHME model, the Gates funded model that the White House uses, actually projected 40,000 more Americans will die if we don't have a national mask policy. It's clear.
We just wanted to tell you that we feel for you. We are all one. We are one community. I applaud your leadership. You really get to see what an elected official is made of when the pressure is on and you have more than risen to the occasion. You've been inspiring. They refer to you as a rising star and they are all correct. We are with you.
Anything we can do for you, for the city, we stand ready. We remember how good the people across this country were to us. When we were in the midst of it, I asked for volunteers from across the United States: nurses, doctors to come help in our hospitals. Thirty thousand people volunteered to come to New York in the midst of it and work in our hospitals. It was such an act of generosity and love that was really touching.
We are here for you. The concept of paying it forward - whatever we can do on any level. We have people who have been through this and actually know and we stand ready. You're right, keep going, stay strong. The facts will bear out. It's about saving lives and you're doing exactly the right thing. The numbers are going to show that.
Thank you for taking some time to be with us today. Mayor?
Mayor Bottoms: At the beginning of this pandemic, my charge to my team was simple: God bless the child who's got his own. I had no idea that we would have to go it alone in so many ways. I thought that it was more geared toward the lack of leadership we have at the federal level, but it has been equally challenging at the statewide level.
My family is an example of what's happening across this country. We had an asymptomatic child in our home for eight days before we knew that that child was asymptomatic and by that time, my husband and I had contracted COVID. Unnecessarily I would imagine, because we would have taken precautions to protect ourselves.
Thankfully, by the grace of God, we don't have underlying health conditions and we are all on the mend. My husband is feeling a lot better, but for so many people across this country that is not their story and their outcome is so very different.
In Atlanta, when we saw that we were in a very different place than the Governor's leadership was taking us, we convened an advisory committee in our city compromised of health experts, small business owners, Fortune 500 representatives, college and universities - it's just really a representation of our community. They made some very clear recommendations of where we needed to go with reopening with a phased approach.
We had made it into the second phase, but given where we are, I see that capacity is maxed out in some hospitals by the day we're getting closer to maxing out. The numbers are ticking up. I look at the numbers daily. I have seen numbers that I have not seen since April. As of yesterday afternoon, we were up almost 23 percent over a week period of time. We're headed in the wrong direction. So the city, we've recommended we go back to phase one, which is essentially a stay at home order. Also, we've instituted a mask mandate. The benefit of that is one - us taking a very clear position as a city that we recognize that wearing masks helps save lives, but also even in the world's busiest airport - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport - one of our largest job centers, we can also mandate masks there as well. And it's very simple, unless we have a coordinated approach across this country we are going to continue to unnecessarily watch people die. And what makes it even more frustrating and even more disappointing, we didn't have to look to Italy, we could look to New York, and you told us very clearly that if we didn't do things differently in our cities and states we will find ourselves in the same situation that New York was facing, and unfortunately you were correct because throughout the south especially we are getting there in rapid order.
And so I thank you for your leadership. I know that as a city, in the same way New York was able to get to the other side, I know that we will get to the other side but it is going to take us taking responsibility for ourselves and taking actions that look at data and science and not just our opinions.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much, Mayor. And you're right, the unfortunate and really frustrating point here is why did other states have to go through this? I mean, we knew what we were dealing with, New York went down the path before, we lived exactly this. Just learn from what New York did, learn from the numbers, learn from the data. And we knew that if you reopen recklessly the virus was going to take off again. If you're not doing precautions the virus was going to take off. Now New York's problem is we have the infection coming from other states back to New York. We're worried about our infection rate going up because of people coming from other states where the infection rate is higher.
We have a cluster of cases in an upstate county called Rensselaer - people came up from Georgia, they had the virus and they infected New York and then it took off. So, you are on exactly the right track. Anything we can do to help, we're at a stable period now, we have the virus way down low. We went from the worst infection rate in the country to the best infection rate, the lowest. So, we have a little breathing space here, anything we can do for you that you need, any help on the testing, setting up the testing and the tracing, that is so, so important. And we've been through that, so you have an open offer, whatever you need, but we're also 100 percent behind you. And we wish you Godspeed in your health recovering and we hope that Atlanta under your guidance comes back quickly and anything we can do we stand ready
Mayor Bottoms: Thank you Governor, and that's exactly what we need assistance with. Testing that gets people results very quickly, and also the contact tracing because we know that's extremely important for us to help slow the spread. So I appreciate your offer to help and we certainly would be appreciative of that assistance.
Governor Cuomo: Well we can do that. We have, I'll arrange it with your with your team, but we'll put people who've done the testing for us and the contact tracing. We actually worked with Mike Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City. And because nobody knew what a contact tracing program was, and we worked with the former mayor who stepped up and brought Johns Hopkins to the table and we came up with a training program and a whole software program. So I'll send a team down to Atlanta and they can work with your people and whatever we know and whatever we can share we will do.
In the meantime, send my regards to the former mayor there who I worked with, send my regards to all the people at the Centennial Park. When I was HUD secretary I did a lot of work in Atlanta, a lot of good work, I have a lot of fond memories. So send my regards to everyone. I'll get that team together and they'll come down to Atlanta as soon as it works for you. Thank you for being with us, Mayor.
Mayor Bottoms: Thank you so much Governor. I appreciate it.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you. My pleasure, thanks. Okay. Godspeed to the Mayor.