May 3, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Joint Multi-State Agreement to Develop Regional Supply Chain

TOP Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript:...

States Will Aggregate Demand for PPE, Medical Equipment and Testing on a Regional Basis

 

Regional Supply Chains Will Help Realize Better Pricing, Delivery and Reliability of PPE and Medical Equipment for States

 

Governor Cuomo: "The word neighbor has a different connotation. You don't normally think of surrounding states as neighbors. You think of the person next door as your neighbor but they are neighbors. They've acted as neighbors. I cannot tell you how supportive Governor Murphy in New Jersey and Governor Lamont in Connecticut and the other governors in our coalition have been. Literally where you can pick up a phone and I can say, I need help with masks. Do you have any extra masks? Do you have any extra gowns? That's how these states responded. It was a beautiful and generous way of operating that was an inspiration to me."

 

Governor Cuomo: "We're going to form a consortium with our seven Northeast partner states which buy about $5 billion worth of equipment and supplies. That will then increase our market power when we are buying and we will buy as a consortium, price as a consortium, for PPE equipment, ventilators, medical equipment, whatever we need to buy. When you put all those hospitals together, all that public health capacity together -- which will make us more competitive in the international marketplace -- I believe it will save taxpayers money. I also believe it will help us actually get the equipment because we have trouble still getting the equipment and just buying the equipment because these vendors on the other side they're are dealing with countries, they're dealing with the federal government - why should they do business with one state when they can do business with an entire country? So this consortium I think will help us to get the equipment and get it at a better price."

WYSIWYG

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Delaware Governor John Carney, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced a joint multi-state agreement to develop a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment, other medical equipment and testing.

 

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 are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

   

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

 

Good afternoon. Nice to see you all here today properly social distanced. For those of you who don't know, to my right is Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To my left is Robert Mujica, Director of the Budget. Always happy, always smiling. Today is Sunday, beautiful day in New York City. Sunday for me is a day of reflection. We'll do a little reflecting. Today is day 64 since we closed down New York. Only 64 days, feels like a lifetime, but only 64 days.

 

Today's numbers: The total hospitalization rate is down and that is good news for all concerned, 9,786, below 10,000 which is a big deal for us. You have to go back to March 18, 19 to get near that number. The total of hospitalizations again is down. The number of intubations is down and that's really good news because intubation is generally bad news. The number of new cases is 789, that's good news. We were hovering at about 900, 1,000. That may be just a reporting anomaly because this is over the weekend and the weekend reporting tends to be a little different. Remember, this reporting system we just put in place. This never happened before where hospitals were reporting on a daily basis and had a lot going on so I wouldn't bet the farm on any of these specific one-day numbers, but the overall trend is good.

 

The number that is the most important number that we look at, which is still tremendously distressing is the number of deaths, 280. You can see that that number has not moved dramatically in a relatively long period of time. The overall direction is good, even though it's very painful.

 

I think it's important that we take a moment and learn the lessons of what we've been going through. This has been unprecedented what we've been doing for the past 64 days. This was all an urgent situation, this was all hurry up, we had to quickly figure out a plan, quickly enact a plan. Now we're a couple of months into it and I think simultaneously we should be learning the lessons of what we just went through.

 

People talk about this like it's going to come and go, it's a once in a lifetime. I don't know that it's a once in a lifetime and I don't know that it's going to come and go. There are people now talking about a second wave, they're talking about a possible mutation of the virus. Caution would suggest that as we go through this, we learn at the same time to make sure, if we have to go through this again or if this is a prolonged situation, that we are learning from what we're implementing.

 

Edmund Burke, great Irish philosopher, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." Wise words.

 

The macro questions are bigger than just New York questions, bigger than governor's questions, what happened in China? People are talking about it. Where did this virus start in China? How did it start? How did we not know? Should China have told us? Above my pay grade, but important questions. How did the virus get from China to the United States? We assumed it got a plane from China and flew to the United States. That was the first thinking when this started, now it appears that it's not so.

 

As we're going through this, what could we have done differently. More importantly, what should we do differently if this is a prolonged situation or if there is a next time. Again, caution. I would assume there's a next time. Anyone who sits back and says, "Well this is the only public health threat that we're going to face," that's not the case. We're seeing increasing threats all across the board. Environmental threats, Mother Nature, natural threats, threats from emergency weather that we've never seen before.

 

If you look back as far as 1918, when they had the flu pandemic that people talk about, it took 10 months. It came in three different waves and the second wave was worse than the first wave. Even if you put aside all the modern day challenges, when this happened in 1918 it came in 3 different waves. So let's be prepared and intelligent. Some of the lessons to learn, the CDC did a fascinating report that they put out on May 1, which starts to take a deep look at what happened. I think there's a lot of important information in that.

 

It pointed to something that we've been looking at here in New York. The report says that when they look at the different strains of the virus in the United States that there are different strains. We were all looking at the West Coast. The West Coast had cases well before the East Coast, remember. Maybe 6 weeks before the East Coast. Those strains came from China. What we saw in the State of Washington, what we saw in California, they came from China. Flights from China land predominately on the West Coast. What we have seen in New York didn't come from China, but actually is a different strain of the virus that came from Europe. That's an important fact to know and to study,

 

They then said in the CDC report, from February you had 139,000 travelers coming from Italy, 1.74 million from other European countries where the outbreak was spreading wildly and rapidly. So, everybody's looking at China and meanwhile the virus had traveled from China to Europe, was in Europe and spreading from Europe. We had European travelers coming. They come to the East Coast. They land in New York and they go to New Jersey and go to Connecticut. They are in the New York area. And we are all still looking at China. We were looking at China, and the travel ban on China may have been helpful, but the horse was already out of the barn in China. The virus had left. The virus was in Europe.

 

Meanwhile, we have European travelers coming here, and they're bringing the virus which is now a different strain of the virus to the East Coast. This is from that CDC report - the deputy director, the principal deputy director, "Delaying travel bans allowed for the virus to spread throughout the United States and contributed to the initiation and acceleration of domestic COVID cases in March. Extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks really accelerated our importation and the rapid spread. The timing of our travel alert should have been earlier." That is an important fact and something we have to learn from.

 

A person from the Grossman School of Medicine, "Knowing the number of flights coming into New York from Italy was like watching a train wreck in slow motion." This, nobody was watching Italy and Europe at this at the time. Nobody was even thinking about it. "Today we must consider an outbreak anywhere is an outbred outbreak everywhere." A.J. Parkinson. I think those are words to remember going forward. An outbreak in China in a number of days is going to be in Europe. From Europe, it comes to the United States, assuming it did not come from the United States immediately from China.

 

Another lesson we have to learn is our hospital system. We talk about the hospital system and you know we don't really have a public health care system. We have a hospital system. We learned the hard way about the capacity, the equipment and management of the hospital system. New York City, we have only 12 public hospitals. They are the Health and Hospitals Corporation; they're run by New York City. But there's only 12 hospitals in that public hospital system. 44 hospitals are private hospitals. They're private institutions. They are regulated by the State, but they are private institutions. They have their own area of expertise. They have their own basic clientele and they're doing business as individual entities, like an individual college. We have a system of colleges, but each college is individual. It's the same with hospitals. Each hospital is an individual entity.

 

Long Island we have four public hospitals but we have 19 private hospitals. Westchester one public hospital, 12 private. Rockland one public and two private. Hudson Valley and the rest of the state with two public hospitals and 87 private hospitals. So really, your healthcare capacity in the state is all in the hands of private hospitals, right? You have 176 private hospitals in this state. That's the capacity. But that means you now have to rely on private hospitals, get them all to be part of one system, which day to day, that does not happen. They're operating themselves, we have again State regulations that say, "This is how much you must operate." But they operate as individual entities. In the middle of this outbreak, we had to go back and do what we call the surge and flex management system where we said to all 176 private hospitals, "We have to work together and we have to manage this system as one because hospitals are getting overwhelmed."

 

Maybe within the public system, they can share patients and doctors and staff because you have in New York City, H+H has 12 public hospitals. Okay, you can share among your 12, but we have to get these 176 hospitals now to all work together even with the public hospital. And hospitals were getting overwhelmed, so now you need a system to share patient capacity and share equipment, share ventilators, share staff. That had never been done. We did this all basically on-the-fly. We put together a de facto public health system. But, it was a lot to do on-the-fly and we need to institutionalize these lessons.

 

Part of what we have to learn is what happens with the equipment. I mean, this was a situation that nobody anticipated. It happened all across the country. You couldn't get enough gowns, you couldn't get enough masks. We are going to put in a State requirement now that every hospital has to have a 90-day supply, their own stockpile of all of the PPE equipment they could need for a 90-day supply at the rate of usage that we saw with the COVID virus. So, every hospital has to have 90-day supply, period. We can't go through this day to day moving masks all across the state, right? This mad scramble we were in and still are in, in many ways. Also, as a nation, we can't go through this again. There was competition among states and there was competition among private entities to get this equipment. The federal government was trying to buy it. I am bidding on behalf of New York; we're bidding against other states. Texas, California and other states across the country are trying to buy the same masks from the same vendor. We literally wound up bidding up the price. I had people in China, I'm trying to contact people in China who can figure out how to buy masks from China.

 

It was totally inefficient and ineffective. The state of Massachusetts, Governor Baker was good enough to work with Robert Kraft who had a personal airplane that he sent to China to get masks and Massachusetts was good enough to give us some of the masks that a private airplane picked up. I mean this is not the way to deal with this situation. Right? Plus we just drove up prices by our own competition. There was a limited supply that was primarily in China and then you have 50 states and all these private entities and the federal government trying to buy from China. It made no sense so let's fix that. New York State alone buys about $2 billion of medical supplies this year. $2 billion this year and that's one state and that's us purchasing from China and around the world.

 

We're going to form a consortium with our seven Northeast partner states which buy about $5 billion worth of equipment and supplies. That will then increase our market power when we are buying and we will buy as a consortium, price as a consortium, for PPE equipment, ventilators, medical equipment, whatever we need to buy. When you put all those hospitals together, all that public health capacity together, which will make us more competitive in the international marketplace. I believe it will save taxpayers money. I also believe it will help us actually get the equipment because we have trouble still getting the equipment and just buying the equipment because these vendors on the other side they're are dealing with countries, they're dealing with the federal government - why should they do business with one state when they can do business with an entire country? So this consortium I think will help us to get the equipment and get it at a better price.

 

We will come up with a regional identification of all the equipment we need. Basically it's all standard equipment. A mask is a mask and a gown is a gown. Let's come up with the total amount that we need. Let's stop doing business with vendors who we found to be irresponsible - and we found out the hard way. I can't tell you how many orders we placed with vendors who are acting basically as brokers who just started businesses in the middle of this pandemic because they saw an opportunity. So let's compare notes among the states to find out who is good to do business and who is not good to do business with. Let's see if we can do the purchasing in this country and let's see if we can do the purchasing in this region. Why are we buying all of this material from china? Literally billions of dollars of PPE. And we'll do it in coordination with the federal government.

 

But I want to thank our neighbors, our neighboring states. The word neighbor has a different connotation. You don't normally think of surrounding states as neighbors. You think of the person next door as your neighbor but they are neighbors. They've acted as neighbors. I cannot tell you how supportive Governor Murphy in New Jersey and Governor Lamont in Connecticut and the other governors in our coalition have been, literally where you can pick up a phone and I can say, I need help with masks. Do you have any extra masks? Do you have any extra gowns? Can I borrow this? Can I borrow that? Really the way you would deal with a neighbor in an extraordinary circumstance. Right? You would knock on the store door and say, can I borrow this? That's how these states responded. It was a beautiful and generous way of operating that was an inspiration to me. You know, it wasn't I will have my lawyer call your lawyer. It was whatever I can do, I will do. In that spirit we want to keep that coalition together and we want to work together.

 

We're doing regional planning now on the reopening because every state is linked to every other state. If we do something in New York it affects New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, et cetera. People are very mobile right now so it's a very important relationship for us both productively and from an efficiency point of view and they have been great and they are joining us today.

 

We have Governor Phil Murphy with us and Governor Ned Lamont, Governor Tom Wolf and Governor John Carney and we'll start with our neighbor from the great state of New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy, how are you?

 

Governor Murphy: I'm happy to be on with you. I will be brief and say that I echo literally everything you say including the [inaudible] in terms of what this has been like, the deficiencies as well as the inspiration which we derived from our neighbors notably beginning with you and all the other governors who are on with us today. It has been truly an inspiration.

 

On behalf of the 9 million of us in New Jersey, I would like to say thank you. We [inaudible] and bartering for equipment, PPE, ventilators, et cetera, and we are still doing it. Someone said to me a couple days ago that gowns have become the new ventilators and so we are still there. So the notion of coordinating together as a region makes enormous amount of sense so sign New Jersey up. We've moved in New Jersey alone 21 million pieces of PPE in the past two months. Our line of goods [inaudible] beforehand. This makes so much sense. I really look forward. Again, if you suggest that we coordinated actively as we [inaudible] and now have a regional council where we put not just the governors on today, but also Rhode Island and Massachusetts, this is a perfect extension of that relationship.

 

I echo one of your comments that not only should we not have to be scouring the world for this, but how do we make it in the USA and better yet made in our states and so that's something I think we all want to strive for. We're doing that in New Jersey, we want to figure out a way to make the stuff here. And lastly, and you said this, but to repeat, we've all got to do within our own four walls what we do with the regional cooperation matters so much, and it's a great example of that. It's a brilliant extension of our ongoing cooperation. And then lastly, none of this is in lieu of the partnership of the federal government, as you rightfully point out. We have all of the above, what's good for our own citizens, what's good for the region, and we work with the federal government every step of the way. Thank you for having me on today. Thank you to you Governor Cuomo and to each of my fellow governors in this room. I'm really looking forward to working with you in the better days ahead.

 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you very much, Governor Murphy. I think the governors on this phone, we've learned so much about PPE over the past few weeks. I think we could go make gowns ourselves at this point. I think we've learned now. Give us some sewing machines, I think we can actually contribute. So thank you very much, Phil, God bless you, and stay well and anything you need, we're here. Thank you. We'll go now to Governor Lamont, great state of Connecticut. Governor Lamont, thank you very much for being with us and thank you for all you've done, not just for the people of Connecticut, but for the entire northeast. Good to be with you, Ned.

 

Governor Lamont: And back at you, Andrew. On behalf of Connecticut, New York and Andrew Cuomo have been a very good neighbor for us. And as you know, we got into this together. We realized what we had to do when it came to closing down parts of our service economy. We did that together, we're opening it up together. And that's the way it works best. And as you point out, when it comes to the partners thing, look, we've learned something, right? We can wait for the national stockpile; we can wait for that plane to land from China. Let's see what we can do ourselves, and as you point out, we're much stronger together. I wouldn't mind having some of that New York purchasing power. Thanks for sharing that with Connecticut going forward. And just as importantly, what we can produce together as well. I mean, Phil Murphy, you've got that amazing pharmaceutical industry in New Jersey. Help us out with the reagents. And what we can do in terms of gowns from being produced in Rhode Island. What we can all do together to make sure that this next round, we control more of our own destiny. And to those that say, you know, where have you been, and you're ordering up all of the Christmas trees and they're going to arrive on December 26, I say, I'm afraid this is still just beginning, as you pointed out, Governor Cuomo. And we're planning for the next round of this, if there is a next round, making sure that we control our own destiny going forward, we do it much better together. Thanks for getting us together, Andrew.

 

Governor Cuomo: My pleasure. Thank you very much, Governor, and yo're right, look, we're spending billions of dollars. Why not buy from our own vendors and our own region? Why are we buying from China, right? I'm sure there are a lot of businesses within our own states that if they knew they had they had that kind of purchasing that they were looking at, that they would either adapt their businesses or grow their businesses so we could buy from them. Plus, you're right, we would control our own destiny rather than everyone trying to figure out how to buy from China. So thank you very much, Governor Lamont, God bless you, we're here. Let's go now to Governor Wolf from Pennsylvania, good to be with you Tom. Thank you very much for everything you've been doing. Thank you for being a great neighbor to the State of New York and all your surrounding states.

 

Governor Wolf: Thank you Governor Cuomo, and thank you very much for organizing this. Again, a few weeks ago we all got together and announced that we were going to work together to fight this pandemic. And we said then that by working together we can do a lot more than we can do if each of us works on our own. And I think today is a specific example of that. We can work together to buy things that we need to allow our healthcare system to have the capacity it needs to fight this fight. We need to help our hospitals, we need to help our healthcare workers, we need to help our long-term care facilities, our first responders, all those things. And what you're doing here and what we're doing is actually pooling together to make sure we're doing all those things. And part of this is testing. It's not just the equipment. We really need to work together to build the capacity to test or we're not going to be able to give our citizens the confidence they need to go back to work. They're not going to have the confidence we need them to have to go back to school or go back to the store, or to go back to worship. So all of those things are really important, and by working together we can pool our financial resources, which are really important and significant, as you pointed out, Governor Cuomo. We can actually pool the brainpower that exists, the great institutions in our areas, and the manufacturers who make this stuff. All of that we can pool together, and if we can do that even with something as difficult as testing, I think we're going ot make sure that we get through this in the best possible way. So thank you for pulling this together, this is really important, and I'm proud to be with you.

 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you, Governor Wolf, and you're so right. Look, we're creating in some ways new industries, right. Who ever heard of the testing industry or the tracing industry? Or these reagents that all these tests now use? Even the demand on PPE, I mean this is a whole new world for all of us. But there's also an economic opportunity in it, and we should take advantage of it. Because we need it and it's not going away, and it's going to be a major industry going forward, so let's make sure it happens here. But Tom, thank you very much. Thank you for all the help, and thank you for everything you're doing, really. You're an inspiration for all of us. Thank you, Tom.

 

Governor Cuomo: And we have Governor John Carney with us from Delaware. John, thank you very much for being with us. Thank you for all the help. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for the friendship through all of this, which is also very important, just the personal support is important as we're going through this as colleagues. Thanks for being with us today, John.

 

Governor Carney: Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for including Delaware in this coalition. Thank you for your great leadership there in the State of New York, and particularly metro New York City, with your colleague governors on either side of you. You're an inspiration, frankly, to all of us. Our hearts go out to you as we see the numbers. I was happy to see your numbers on the chart at the beginning of your conference as they trend downward. That is a very good and positive thing. And thanks for including us, a state of - we like to refer to ourselves as a state of neighbors - there is just shy of 1 million Delawareans on the southern end of this geographic coalition on this side of I-95 and the Amtrak northeast corridor which connects all of us.

 

The two governors at the bottom of my screen are great partners, Governor Wolf and Governor Murphy, on either side of the state of Delaware, really important coordination and collaboration. But this particular initiative, with respect to purchasing together PPE and most importantly, as Governor Wolf mentioned, testing equipment and capacity is so incredibly important for a small state like ours. To have the purchasing power, Governor Cuomo of New York and New Jersey and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and Rhode Island is just so incredibly important for us in terms of getting the right pricing. If we are going head-to-head with New York, were not going to get it.

 

If we along are shoulder to shoulder with you and with Governor Murphy and Governor Wolf, we have a chance of getting a better price and getting the product that we need. Through all this too, the other thing that was interesting to me and joining the coalition was all of the assets that the other states can bring to the table in terms of intellectual capacity in your research institutions and your hospitals. Because we know there are going to be breakthroughs, or we hope, in testing and other kinds of technology that will help us as we respond to this.

 

So, I couldn't be happier to be a part of this coalition and a part of your leadership team, Governor Cuomo, with again with my two neighbors here in the southern end of the coalition. And to each of you, thanks for the great work that you are providing to the citizens of your state. I tell people all the time that it is going to be way harder, the decisions we have to make reopening our economies in phases than it was in shutting things down, at least in my view, because of the balance we need to strike there. And we will do that working together, with the expertise and the purchasing power, in particular, that this initiative will bring to the State of Delaware. So, thank you very much.

 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you Governor Carney. Governor Carney is right. It was easier to shut down then it will be to reopen. Shutting down was you walk into the basement, you take the power switch and go from on to off, right? There was an urgent need. It was an emergency. Reopening is more of an art form and I thank my gubernatorial colleagues for doing this together.

 

We also have Governor Raimondo from the State of Rhode Island and Governor Baker from the State of Massachusetts who are part of the coalition. You know, you go through situations in life which are unexpected. Okay, you do your best and then you learn from those and then you grow. That is what we are trying to do here today because people expect more from government than ever before. I believe this has been transformative for our generation.

 

Think about when was the last time government was this vital? Maybe in a war like World War II when government had to mobilize overnight. But, literally for decades, you have not seen government this essential to human life, literally. Government has to work and it has to work well. It is not for the faint of heart now. And people want government to perform and government is making decisions every day that impact their lives. They deserve the best government. They are paying for it. They deserve it. They deserve competence, expertise and smarts and for government to be doing creative things and learning like we're doing here today. At the same time, government is working. We are trying our best, we're working seven days a week, 24 hours per day. We are doing a lot of good work. A lot creative work.

 

But this is not just about government. It is too easy to point fingers. Well, this one wants to do that. This one has to do that. Every person has a part in this. Every person has a part. Driving around New York City today, and I was here yesterday, you know, we are all very thankful to our health care heroes, our front-line workers, our essential workers. You watch television, there are all these nice commercials thanking everyone for what they did, and we should, nurses, doctors, police officers, transit workers, God bless them. But if you really want to say thank you, make their life easier by not getting sick and not making someone else sick.

 

An individual's role is to act responsibly and intelligently for yourself and for your family and for your community. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. I mean, that is the basic step, right? Socially distance. If you can't socially distance, you're in New York City, you're going to walk up next to a person, wear a mask. Okay, it's not the most attractive garment ever created, so what? Well, I don't like it, it feels uncomfortable, unnatural. So what? You want to honor the healthcare workers and the people who literally gave their lives, in some cases, for what they did here.

 

Act responsibly. Wear a mask. I know the weather is getting warmer. I know people want to get out of the house. Fine, wear a mask and socially distance. That is your social responsibility in the middle of this overall pandemic. And when we talk about New Yorkers together and this spirit of unity and how people are helping one another, and how tough we are and how smart we are and how disciplined we are, and how we love one another - show it. You know how you show love? By wearing a mask - please.

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