April 11, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Partnership With NYS Court System to Provide Pro Bono Legal Assistance to New Yorkers

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Partnership With NYS Court System to Provide Pro Bono Legal Assistance to New Yorkers

Governor Sends Letter Calling on the U.S. Treasury to Ensure New Yorkers Do Not Have Their Stimulus Payments Frozen by Banks or Seized by Creditors as Soon as They Arrive

Confirms 9,946 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 180,458; New Cases in 49 Counties

Cuomo: "Reopening is both a public health question and an economic question and I'm unwilling to divorce the two. There is no economic answer that that does not attend to public health. ... you can't ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained. ... I understand the need to bring back the economy as quickly as possible. I understand people need to work. I also know we need to save lives and we have. One cannot be at the expense of the other."

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier today announced a new partnership with the New York State Court System to create a pro bono network of volunteer lawyers to provide New Yorkers with free legal assistance. Volunteers will begin to receive training and start offering assistance next week. Lawyers interested in volunteering can sign up at www.nysba.org/covidvolunteer.

Governor Cuomo also issued a letter calling on the U.S. Treasury to ensure New Yorkers do not have their stimulus payments frozen by banks or seized by creditors as soon as they arrive.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here, with ASL interpretation available on YouTube here and in TV quality format here.

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

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

Good morning. Happy Saturday. Good enjoying Holy Week. Happy Passover. Holy Saturday. Easter is tomorrow. Big day.

Let's go through where we are right now. The good news is the curve of the increase is continuing to flatten. The number of hospitalizations appears to have hit an apex and the apex appears to be a plateau which is what many of the models predicted, that it wasn't going to be straight up and straight down. It was going to be straight up, you time the top number and then you plateau for a period of time and that looks like what we are doing.

The hospitalization rate is down and that's important. We have more people getting infected still. We have more people going to the hospitals but we have a lower number. That is all this is saying. Fewer people are going into the hospitals, still net positive. The three-day average which is what we look at, because day-to-day can be somewhat deceiving, especially when you get towards the weekend, because the weekend reporting gets a little different, but all of the numbers are on the downward slope. Still, people getting infected, still people going to the hospital, but a lower rate of increase.

The number of ICU admissions is down. The three-day average on ICU admissions is down. This is a little deceptive because at one time hospitals had discrete ICU wards for ICU beds. Effectively now in a hospital, all of the beds are ICU beds. It is like the entire hospital has turned into an ICU facility. This distinction is actually, I don't know how enlightening this is. This, however, is still a discrete category. The increase in the number of intubations. As we discussed, the intubations are a bad sign from a health diagnostic perspective. When we talk about the number of deaths, those tend to be people who have been intubated for the longest period of time. While ICU beds may not mean anything anymore in the hospital system, intubations are still intubations. This is a very good sign that intubations are down.

We were worried about the spread from New York City to Long Island and upstate. If you look at the bar chart you can see almost a wave where it did start to move. We have been working very hard in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, which are the surrounding suburbs to New York City and so far we've had hotspots but we've attacked them aggressively and we believe that we have stabilized the situation upstate and in the suburbs which is what you see in that chart.

Terrible news is the number of lives lost - 783 yesterday. That is not an all-time high and you can see that the number is somewhat stabilizing. But it is stabilizing at a horrific rate. 783 people, 777, 779, these are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain, especially this week especially this week, all 783 individuals and their families are in our thoughts and in our prayers. The total number of lives lost, 8,627, that's up from 7,844.

People ask, well, when is it over, when is it over, when is it over? My children ask that every day. I'm sure everyone's living with the same question. Every time you wake up, you say, when does this nightmare end? And everybody wants to hear that it ends in two weeks or three weeks or four weeks, or, here's the date that I can tell you that it's over, just give me some certainty, some closure, some control of my life back. But I also said from day one, and when I raise my hand to take the oath originally, I would never tell you anything but the truth, even if the truth is inconvenient or painful. Winston Churchill is a hero of mine. His granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, sent me a portrait, a tribute to Winston Churchill, and I thank her for that. But, Winston Churchill said now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. It's just a great Churchill quote, you know, it's precise in how he uses language. I think that's a fair statement of where we are now. This is the beginning that we are in. This was a beginning phase. We're all trying to figure it out. We're all trying to adjust. But it's the end of that beginning phase.

What we do now? We stay the course. What we're experiencing as a product of our actions, period. We do something different, we will see a different reaction in those numbers. Everyone wants to turn to the question of, when do we reopen? I get it. I think the first caution for me is as we enter this new phase of reopen, when do we do it, how do we do it, this person's opinion is here, this person's opinion is here, the best thing we have done to date is we have kept politics out of the discussion. Even though this is a hyper-partisan time, even though we're in the middle of a presidential election, even though it's one of the ugliest political periods I can recall, we've kept politics out of this crisis. I've worked very hard to do that, I've worked very hard to keep myself out of the politics. I have no personal politics, not running for anything. I'm governor of New York, thank you, and that's where I'm going to stay.

I've worked very hard with the president of the United States. We've have had our political differences in the past, no doubt. But there's also no doubt that I've worked hand in glove with the president here, and he has been responsive to New York and responsive to New York's needs, and he's done it quickly and he's done it efficiently. I've literally had conversations with him in the morning where he turned around a decision by that afternoon. I've been in the federal government, I know what it's like to make a decision. And he has really responded to New York's needs.

So, keep politics out of it. Focus on government and focus on policy and keep politics out of it. It's very hard, especially at this time. And you start to hear there's dialogue on reopening and you start to hear people with political theories on whether we should reopen faster, whether we should reopen sooner, why are people against reopening, why are people in favor of reopening? That is corrosive and destructive and if we don't stop it, it will feed on itself. There are no political conspiracies here.

All of the projection models have basically said the same thing. Everyone has basically said the same thing. Everyone has basically said the same thing, which is, first of all, no one has been here before. Second of all, everyone, all of the experts, I didn't have an opinion, because I'm not an expert, all of the experts had higher projection numbers than we actually experienced, and they all said, caveat, government action could flatten the curve, but we don't know what governments will do and we don't know if people will even listen to what governments will do.

But, almost all the experts, when you go back and look at it, had the same basic, heightened, fears. From the New York State projection point of view, Columbia University, highly credible organization, 136,000 New York City only. McKinsey, great organization, 110,000 statewide, 55,000 on a moderate level. Gates, 73,000. Gates-funded IHME, 73,000 statewide. The Gates-funded model I think is the one that the White House most relies on now, currently. All of those models were projections. they all said, depending on what people do. Not even government. What people wind up doing. But it wasn't just these academic, private organizations.

The White House task force was talking about 1.5 to 2.2 million deaths, without mitigation. With mitigation, they were projecting 100 to 240,000 deaths as the best-case scenario. This is the White House task force. The actual estimate has now been adjusted down, but they're still at 60,000 deaths, that they're projecting. The Peter Navarro White House memo was talking about loss-of-life, one to two million souls. One to two million souls, infecting as many as 100 million Americans. CDC was talking about 160 million to 214 million people infected. The whole population is only 328 million. So the CDC was projecting that more than half the population would be infected. They were talking about 2.4 million to 21 million people being hospitalized. We only have 925,000 beds in the United States of America. How would you hospitalize 2.4 million to 21 million people? And that was the CDC.

So, there was no political conspiracy theory. There is no political conspiracy theory. It's uncharted waters for all of us. So let's focus on the facts, let's focus on the data, and let's make decisions that way. And also, if someone says, "Well, CDC was wrong and the White House task force is wrong and Peter Navarro is wrong and the Columbia is wrong and Cornell is wrong and McKinsey is wrong and the Gates funded IHME..." They were all wrong. If I'm representing them, I say it's too soon to tell. It's too soon for Monday quarterbacking because the game isn't even over yet. What do you think we're in? Sixth inning for baseball. You think we're at halftime if it's a football game. You don't know yet what the actual issue is going to be. And you don't know yet how this turns out because many decisions have to be made. You have to reopen, you have to decide how to reopen. You have to decide when to reopen. That is going to be impactful. We don't know if there's going to be a second wave or not. All of these things are yet to come so anyone who wants to say, "Well, here's the score at halftime and I'm going to now claim and try to collect my bet because it's halftime," it doesn't work that way. The game has to be over and this game isn't over.

What do we do now? Well, we need to do more testing and more advanced testing and we have to do it faster. That's both the diagnostic testing, that's the anti-body testing. We have to get better at both and we have to be able to create a higher volume faster. We have to be more prepared. We should never go through what we went through on this preparation drill. The federal stimulus bill is going to be key.

That legislation, in my opinion, has to be better than the past legislation. It has to be less political, less pork barrel and more targeted to the actual purpose. You want to help the places that were impacted, I'll tell you what the federal legislation should do. It should repeal SALT. You want to help New York, which is the most heavily impacted? By the way, you think you're going to reopen the economy without the engine of the New York metropolitan area? You're kidding yourself. You want to help New York, you want to help the places that are effected? Then repeal the SALT provision which was a gratuitous, offensive, illegal - in my opinion - action to begin with, but which literally targeted New York and some of these places, Michigan, Detroit, California. Repeal that if you really want to help places that are affected. To my delegation, they know this issue very well, as does the California delegation, as does the Michigan delegation. That's what you can do if you want to stop with the politics and help people.

In the meantime, here you're going to have many people who are struggling, businesses who are struggling. We have government programs, but trying to access a government program is like trying to break into a bank sometimes. It's not that easy. The New York State court system and our chief judge is going to organize some lawyers statewide to do pro bono legal assistance to help people with issues that they may have: housing issues, access to government program issues, et cetera. Many legal issues are going to stem from this in many places where people need help. Lawyers who have time on their hands who are not working, they're looking for volunteers.

Most of all, we have to think before we act. These are all big decisions. Reopening. Reopening is both a public health question and an economic question and I'm unwilling to divorce the two. There is no economic answer that that does not attend to public health. In my opinion, you can't ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained. No one is going to make that quid pro quo. I understand the need to bring back the economy as quickly as possible. I understand people need to work. I also know we need to save lives and we have. One cannot be at the expense of the other.

As we look forward, I'm still troubled by what we just went through. If no one sounded the alarm in January and February, how do we know that it's safe to proceed now? There are stories and there is information that says some of these places that reopened too quickly are now seeing a growth in the number of cases. They're seeing a growth in the infection rate again or they're seeing a second wave. So there's troubling signs on the horizon. I want to make sure that we know this time that we've learned from the other experiences. We're going to be putting together, in New York, a team of the best minds that look at what happened in Wuhan, look at what happened in Italy on the reopening and make sure that what we're doing is based on all the science available internationally. What is the probability, what is the possibility of a second wave happening? What is the possibility of people re-experiencing the virus? There's some reports from South Korea. Let's understand because fool me once, it's one thing to make a mistake once, but this nation should not go through it again. Before we make these decisions, let them be informed by the experiences we're seeing all across the globe.

There's no doubt that what we're doing now is as impactful and as important as anything that has been done. This is a time where our actions will literally determine life and death. I've been in government most of my adult life on many levels through many circumstances. This is no doubt the most important period for government in my lifetime. There is no doubt about that. The decisions that we make now. Also the potential for the decisions that we make now. These are big questions and we should think about them both in the short term and the long term. How do we reopen? What do we rebuild when we open? How do we do it? Did we learn the lessons from the past? Did we learn the lessons from what we just went through and are we the better for it? Do we take this moment and make it a moment of positive growth? It's transformational, yes, but are we fully experiencing the reality of what we went through, learning from it, and actually going to be the better for it? Are we doing that as a society and are we doing that as individuals? I know the pain, I know the pressure, I know everybody wants to get out of the house. They want to get out of the house tomorrow. They want me to say, we are going to be reopening the economy in two weeks and we beat the beast. The worst thing that can happen is, we make a misstep and we let our emotions get ahead of our logic and fact, and we go through this again in any manner, shape, or form. So, that is what we have to do.

To all of my friends, enjoy this holy week. I know it is different. I am a former altar boy. This was the hectic, busy week when you were an altar boy. Good Friday, Holy Saturday, tomorrow is Easter. For Christians, Catholics it is a very high time of the holy year. Passover week to our Jewish brothers and sisters. To say different, everything has been different. Not going to church, not celebrating - Palm Sunday was last Sunday, not celebrating Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday is different and hard. But, it is the same message, right? Whether you do it from home, whether you do it over a television, or through a computer screen. It's the same message. If anything, that message is more profound during this situation than it normally is. New York Pause. We paused. We slowed down. The activity level slowed down. You reflect more, you think more. I think that is important during this holy week. In the meantime, we stay New York tough, which is smart, which is united, which is disciplined, which is loving. And we are going to get through this.

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