May 5, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Collaboration with Gates Foundation to Develop a Blueprint to Reimagine Education in the New Normal

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Collaboration with Gates Foundation to Develop a Blueprint to Reimagine Education in the New Normal

NYS and Gates Foundation Will Convene Experts to Answer Key Questions AboutWhat Education Should Look Like in the Future

Announces New Contest Asking New Yorkers to Create and Share a Video Explaining Why People Should Wear a Mask in Public; Interested New Yorkers Can Learn More at WearAMask.NY.Gov

Confirms 2,239 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 321,192; New Cases in 41 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "There's also no doubt we're also going through a devastating and costly moment in history. It's costly on every level, number of lives lost, the economic impact, personal impact, substance abuse has gone up. Domestic violence has gone up. Mental health issues have gone up. So, we have paid a very high price for what we're going through, but the hope is that we learn from it and that we are the better for it. We endured the pain. Let's make sure we benefit from the gain."

Cuomo: "Let's take this experience and really learn how we can do differently and better with our education system in terms of technology and virtual education, et cetera. That's something we're actively working on through this process. It's not about just reopening schools. When we reopen schools, let's open a better school and let's open a smarter education system."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a blueprint to reimagine education in the new normal. As New York begins to develop plans to reopen K-12 schools and colleges, the state and the Gates Foundation will consider what education should look like in the future, including:

  • How can we use technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are;
  • How can we provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology;
  • How can technology reduce educational inequality, including English as a new language students;
  • How can we use technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities;
  • How can we provide educators more tools to use technology;
  • How can technology break down barriers to K-12 and Colleges and Universities to provide greater access to high quality education no matter where the student lives; and
  • Given ongoing socially distancing rules, how can we deploy classroom technology, like immersive cloud virtual classrooms learning, to recreate larger class or lecture hall environments in different locations?

The state will bring together a group of leaders to answer these questions in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, who will support New York State by helping bring together national and international experts, as well as provide expert advice as needed.

Governor Cuomo also announced a new contest asking New Yorkers to create and share a video explaining why people should wear a mask in public. The winning video will be used as a Public Service Announcement. Videos should be less than 30 seconds long, should show a mask properly worn over the mouth and nose and must be submitted by May 30th. Interested New Yorkers can learn more at

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:

Masks up. Good morning. It's a beautiful day in New York City, pleasure to be here. Let me introduce the people who are here. From my far left, Dr. Jim Malatras, who's been working with us for many years on the state side, now head of Empire State College. My daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, one of three, no favorites. Her participation today will be clear in a couple of minutes. To my right, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor.

Let's give you some facts about where we are today. The number of total hospitalizations is 9,600. That is a lower number than yesterday, barely. It's basically flat. As I mentioned yesterday, the weekend reporting numbers tend to be a little erratic sometimes. We're not quite sure why this whole reporting mechanism has just been in place a couple months. The first time ever every hospital has reported every day to the state. But, it's better than going up. You see the overall total hospitalizations is down. Change in intubations is down, that's good news. And the number of new hospitalizations is also down. This is an important number. This is how many people came in yesterday, with a diagnosis of COVID, into hospitals, or people who were technically in a hospital who were then diagnosed with COVID. But again, Sunday is a different day operationally for hospitals. But again, the number's down. So it is good news.

This is always the worst number when we're going through the facts of the day, and it is not good news. Number of lives lost, 230, technically up from yesterday, even allowing for the Sunday reporting. But, it is painful, painful news for all New Yorkers, and we'll remember those families in our thoughts and prayers. There's no doubt that we're coming down the mountain. Only question is what trail we take, what path we take, coming down the mountain, how fast does that decline continue? Does the decline continue? And that is purely a function of what we do. None of this is preordained. None of this is decided by any factor other than our own behavior. You tell me how well New Yorkers socially comply with distancing, et cetera, and I'll tell you what that infection rate is doing. It's that simple. And everything we have done thus far has worked, and that's why the number is coming down, but you tell me what we do today and tomorrow, and I'll tell you the infection rate in the next few days.

What we've said from the beginning is the key is testing and tracing and isolating. It's very hard to do, it's easy to say. No one has ever done this before. We've never put this kind of testing regimen in place industrywide. We've never had a tracing operation that's anywhere near this magnitude. We've never done isolation, quarantine. That's never happened before. But, we do what we have to do and this is what we have to do to monitor the infection rate and to control it. And that's what we're doing. We laid out a very specific reopening plan yesterday. We studied all the state's plans, we've studied reopening plans of countries around the world, we incorporated all the best practices. I think we probably have the most specific plan for metrics and measuring to make these decisions. And it's basically a mathematical formula, if you look at that reopening plan. And I think that's the way we should do it and proceed. This is about following the data, learning the lessons, listening to the experts, following the science, and it's about being smart. Everybody's emotional, we're getting more emotional, there's more stress, there's more anxiety, there's more pressure on all of us. We want to get on with life, we want a paycheck, we want to make sure our job is there. But, still a time to be smart, right, we don't act emotionally, we act based on logic and fact and science, that's how we make policy. But we have to remind ourselves every day because the pressure is to just respond to the emotion.

And there's also no doubt we're also going through a devastating and costly moment in history. It's costly on every level, number of lives lost, the economic impact, personal impact, substance abuse has gone up. Domestic violence has gone up. Mental health issues have gone up. So, we have paid a very high price for what we're going through, but the hope is that we learn from it and that we are the better for it. We endured the pain. Let's make sure we benefit from the gain. This is also true, and people can understand this as a life lesson. You get as old as I am, you go through some tough periods in life. That's a fact. That is going to happen. You live life long enough, you will go through a difficult period. I've gone through more than my share. But you take those periods and you try to learn from them and you try to grow, right? That's the best you can do with it. What can you learn so when you move forward, you're the better for it. We do that as a society, also. That's the concept of build back better. We don't want to go through all of this and replace what was there before. Replacing what was there before is a starting point. We want to replace, but we want to improve. And we want to be better for this experience and we want to build back better.

We were smart enough to do that as a country, as a state after 9/11. We went through pain. We came back stronger. You could argue more united as a country, more united as a state, more aware of our vulnerabilities. And, yes, greatest country on the planet, great state in the nation, it's our opinion. But we were vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Okay, so we learned from it. We got stronger, we got better and we incorporated security into our life in a way that was unimaginable before 9/11. Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm Sandy, devastated thousands of lives, billions of dollars in damage. We built back, and we built back better than we were before. We didn't replace what was. We improved almost everything that we learned during that time. Our housing construction is different, our power grid is different, our infrastructure is different.

So, you go through these situations and you learn, and that's what we have to do here. We have to have a better public health system. We should never go through this again, what we went through with the hospitals, what we went through with PPE, staff shortages, that can never happen again. How we use telemedicine, we have to learn and we have to grow. It was vital to what we did here. We have to make sure we're better at it. Our public transportation system, we're learning. Tonight, we're going to shut down the subways for the first time in history. Why? Because they have to be disinfected. Whoever heard of disinfecting a subway car? Well, now you learn you have to disinfect subway cars, figure out how to do it so you can say to people who use the subways, "Don't worry, it's safe." That's a starting point for public transportation.

One of the areas we can really learn from is education. We've all been talking about tele-education, virtual education, remote education. And there's a lot that can be done. The old model of everybody goes and sits in the classroom and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms. Why, with all the technology you have? We've been exploring different alternatives with technology, right. We have classrooms in this state that have technology where they're talking to students on Long Island with a teacher from Staten Island with students from around the world participating with technology, hearing that one teacher. If you look at the technology, it looks like all these different students are in one classroom. All right. Well, let's learn from that and let's learn from our experience.

We did a lot of remote learning. Frankly, we weren't prepared to do it. We didn't have advanced warning, but we did what we had to do and the teachers and the education system did a great job. But there's more we can do. We're still working on providing some students with the technology, with the tablets, et cetera. Some teachers needed training and they weren't ready for it. Let's take this experience and really learn how we can do differently and better with our education system in terms of technology and virtual education, et cetera. That's something we're actively working on through this process. It's not about just reopening schools. When we reopen schools, let's open a better school and let's open a smarter education system. I want to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We'll be working with them on this project. Bill Gates in a visionary in many ways and his ideas and thoughts on technology and education, he's spoken about it for years, but I think we now have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas.

When does change come to a society? Because we all talk about change and advancement, but really we like control and we like the status quo. It's hard to change the status quo. You get moments in history where people say, "Okay, I'm ready. I'm ready for change." I get it. I think this is one of those moments. I think education, as well as other topics, is a topic where people will say, look I've been reflecting, I've been thinking, I learned a lot. We all learned a lot about how vulnerable we are and how much we have to do. Let's start talking about really revolutionizing education and it's about time.

One point I want to make about reopening, not just in this state, but all across this nation. There's a conversation that is going on about reopening that we are not necessarily explicit about, but which is very important. There's a question that is being debated right under the surface and the decisions we make on reopening are really profound decisions. The fundamental question which we're not articulating is how much is a human life worth? How much do we think a human life is worth? There's a cost of staying closed, no doubt. Economic cost, personal cost. There's also a cost of reopening quickly. Either option has a cost.

You stay closed, there's a cost. You reopen quickly and there's a cost. The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost; but the higher the human cost because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making. What is that balance? What is that trade off? Because it is very real. If you look at the projection models of how many lives will be lost, you'll notice they changed recently. Why did they change? And they went up dramatically. Why? Because now they're factoring in the reopening plans and the reopening schedules that states are announcing. The federal government's estimate, federal government's estimate, FEMA, has increased from 25,000 to 200,000 the number of daily cases by June.

Think about that increase. The IHME, which is a foundation model supported by Gates, which is the preferred model by the White House. When they were projecting deaths by August 4, they projected in early April, 60,000 deaths. They projected, mid-April, 60,300 deaths, actually a little lower. The new projections are 134,000 deaths. How did it go from 60,000 deaths to 134,000 deaths? This is the model which the White House relies on. When the director of the institute was asked why those revisions happened, the director said rising mobility in most US states as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11th, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus. That's a very nice way of saying when you accelerate the reopening, you will have more people coming in contact with other people - you're relaxing social distancing. The more people in contact with other people, the higher the infection rate of the spread of the virus. The more people who get infected, the more people die. We know that. That's why the projection models are going up.

There's a cost of staying closed. There's also a cost of reopening quickly. That is the hard truth that we are all dealing with. Let's be honest about, let's be open about it. Let's not camouflage the actual terms of the discussion that we're having. The question comes back to how much is a human life worth? Do you see that projection model go from 25 to 200,000 cases from FEMA. You see the number of deaths go from 60,000 to 134,000. How much is a human life worth? That's the real discussion that no one is admitting openly or freely, but we should.

To me, I say cost of a human - a human life is priceless, period. Our reopening plan doesn't have a tradeoff. Our reopening plan says you monitor the data, you monitor the transmission rate, you monitor the hospitalization rate, you monitor the death rate. If it goes up, you have a "circuit breaker," you stop. You close the valve on reopening. But it is a conversation that we should have openly. Hard conversation, painful conversation, controversial conversation, yes, all of the above. But, it's also the right conversation because those are the decisions we're making.

Also, as we're going through this, it's important that our leadership be factual and productive and united because this is a time when government has to work. Government on all levels has to work. The federal government has to work and it has to work now better than it has worked in the past. You know, all the craziness that we've watched in Washington, all the politics that we've seen in Washington, all the dysfunction that we've seen in Washington. Now it is unacceptable because what government does today will literally determine how many people and how many die.

That's not hyperbolic, that's not overly dramatic, that is just a fact. That federal government has to be able to pass legislation. To pass legislation, it has to be on a bipartisan basis. You have the Congress, the House is controlled by Democrats. The Senate is controlled by Republicans. Unless you get a bipartisan agreement, you're not going to pass legislation. If you don't pass legislation, the federal government doesn't work. If the federal government doesn't work it makes it virtually impossible for state governments to work. If I can't work, then local governments can't work.

This is not something that a state can control - well the governors are in charge, the governors are in charge. I can only be in charge to the extent I have the resources and the means. That comes from the federal government. Not just for New York, but for every state in this country. So that federal government has to work and the legislation that they pass is important. They have to pass legislation. That only happens on a bipartisan basis. There is no choice. Well just the Democrats can do it, well just the Republicans can do it - they cannot.

It takes two to tango. It takes two Houses to pass a bill, and one is Democratic, and one is Republican. So the facts are important. The President gave an interview as reported in the New York Post. "Blue state coronavirus bailouts are unfair to republicans". Bailouts, this is the topic of whether or not the federal government should provide aid to state governments, and it's been a discussion for weeks. Federal government has passed legislation in the past that helped airlines, helped small businesses, helped hotels. Great. They haven't provided any aid to state and local governments. "Why is that important?" It's the state and local governments that fund police, fire, education, teachers, healthcareworkers. If you starve the states, how do you expect the states to be able to fund this entire reopening plan? "Well, the governors are in charge." But the states are in dire financial circumstances because our economy suffered when all of the businesses shut down.

So the debate is now is, "well, it's the blue states that have the coronavirus." New York they call a blue state. California they call a blue state. And the Republicans are saying we don't want to give money to the blue states. First of all, this is not a blue state issue. Every state has coronavirus cases, and it's not just Democratic states that have an economic shortfall. Republican states have an economic shortfall. "Well, its mismanagement of blue states for decades that they now want us to bail out." That is just not a fact. It's not a fact. First of all, no blue state was asking for a bailout before this coronavirus. I wasn't asking for anything from the government before the coronavirus. By the way, the government wasn't giving New York anything for years. Everything they were doing was negative to New York. Then comes the coronavirus, our economy stops because we shut it down. Now we have a $13 billion deficit because we stopped the economy. So, what we're asking, every state is asking, because of the coronavirus we need financial help to restart the economy, and that's what we're asking for from the federal government. How do you call that a bailout? Which is such a loaded word, such a rhetorical, hyperbolic word. "It's a bailout." There's no bailout. Because of the coronavirus this nation has been impacted, and states have been impacted, because the states make up the nation. And we need financial help because of the coronavirus situation. And this is not any mismanagement by the states.

If anything, the mismanagement has been on behalf of the federal government. And that's where the mismanagement has gone back decades. Senator Moynihan, God rest his soul, New York senator, a great man, said decades ago, that "New York has been continually short-changed by the federal government." Why? Because we have always given them more money than they gave us back, right? How does the federal government work? The federal government collects taxes and puts it all in a pot, and then takes money from that federal pot and gives it back to the states. Every year, New York State has put more money into that federal pot than the federal government has given back - every year for decades. And that is just a fact.

Also, you want to try to divide, divide, divide. The facts are if the Democratic states, which happen to have now high coronavirus content, which actually have put in more money than the Republican states who are now saying, why should we bail out the Democratic states? The democratic states have been supporting them for years. New York every year, $29 billion more paid in than it gets out. New Jersey, also a high coronavirus state. $18 billion more every year than it gives out. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and then you look at the Republicans who now say, well, we don't want to help the Democratic states. They're actually the states that have been taking more every year. Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky. Senator Mitch McConnell is Kentucky, $37 billion more every year. Alabama, Florida. Everything is about Florida. Why? Because it's a swing state and we're in an election year. I get it. Florida gets $30 billion more every year than it puts in. What are you talking about, fairness, equity, bailout?

You look at where we've been over the past five years - we paid in $116 billion more than we gave back. You want to be fair, just give New York back the money you took and it would be $116 billion. Who gives and who takes? We know those facts and we know the numbers. But, look, this whole discussion that Senator McConnell is raising, that some senators are raising, this is counterproductive and it will lead to defeat for all of us. You need a bipartisan bill to pass. You go down this path of partisanship and politics, you will never pass a bill. If you never pass legislation you will never get this economy back on its feet. So you go down this path of division, you will defeat all of us because we're all in the same boat. There is no separating us - still the United States of America. And this partisanship, we have to turn the page. I know it's how Washington operates. I know it'show Washington has been operating for many years. But we have to stop and we have to change and you do need a totally different mindset.

It can't be it's you versus me. It has to be we, right? We the people. If you don't get back to we and you think about a collective interest, you're going to defeat us all because it can't happen. And you have to get out of this Democrat or Republican, red or blue. It's not red or blue. It's red, white and blue. This coronavirus doesn't pick Democrats or Republicans. It doesn't kill Democrats or Republicans. It kills Americans. The virus is less scrutinizing and more of an equalizer than the lens we're viewing the virus through. And if we can't get past this now when can we ever get past it?

You have a national crisis. You have a national outbreak, a national epidemic killing thousands of people. You can't put your politics aside even now? Even today? Families have fights. Yes, families have fights. Somebody is going to die and the family is still going to carry forward these silly fights from years ago? Nobody even remembers how they started. If there's ever a time to come together, it's at a moment of crisis and this is a moment of crisis. And we always understood, and the great ones always told us that it won't work this way. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Do you want to be a leader? You want to go down in the history books as someone who stood up and did the right thing? Well then, remember what made us great in the first place, and that's what a great leader would do.

Also, last point, each of us must do our part. Talking about government, government, government. Yeah, government has a lot to do. I understand that fully. Citizens also have a role to play. You know who's going to keep yourself safe? You're going to keep yourself safe. You know who's going keep your family safe? You're going to keep your family safe. And you know who's going to keep each other safe? Each one of us keeps the other safe. Every person has a responsibility here, social responsibility and that's what wearing a mask is all about. Just wear a mask. It's the smart thing to do, it's also the right thing to do, right thing to do. In all of this complexity, there's still a right thing. You still know what's the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. Maybe right thing is a New York expression, I don't think so. You know what the right thing to do is. Nobody has to tell what you the right thing to do is. The right thing to do is to wear a mask. Because it's not about you. It's about my health. You wear a mask to protect me. I wear a mask to protect you. And wearing a mask is not the greatest intrusion.

I do not understand why people think it's such a burden to wear a mask and look, 99 percent of the people do it. It's the one percent of the people who don't do it, right, that's who we're talking about. We were talking about this last night and I was expressing my frustration why some people just don't get it. What this has been about from day one, this whole exercise, and where I started this on day one. All of these things we've done, nobody is doing these things because government told them do it, right. I'm the first governor in the history of the state of New York to say we're closing businesses, to say you must be quarantined. No governor has ever said that. How do I enforce that? I can't, I can't. How do you enforce making 19 million people stay at home? I can't. I said from day one, I can give the facts to New Yorkers, but then New Yorkers have to decide and agree that it makes sense given the facts and agree to do it, and New Yorkers have agreed to do it. All of these things, closing schools, closing businesses, staying home, socially distancing. So now wear a mask.

I was saying last night, I don't understand why this wear a mask is so hard. Mariah suggested it may be the way I'm communicating it. I'm just not effectively communicating. Don't laugh. Well first of all, this is a common refrain in my house from my daughters, thatit's me and my lack of ability to communicate effectively. That's a fair statement. And I am guilty, I have no doubt I am guilty. I am a bad communicator and that I haven't been communicating the rationale for wearing a mask effectively. So, I'm open minded, I understand my weaknesses and my flaws. I'm a work in progress. We're all a work in progress. I'm trying to get better.

So, Mariah's suggestion is look, why don't we ask New Yorkers to produce an ad that the state could run on explaining to New Yorkers why they should wear a mask. And the context and the rational and the health reasons and the social responsibility and it's not that big a deal. Maybe there's a better way to communicate it than I have been communicating it. Again, 99 percent of the people are doing it, and that's great. We're talking about that one percent. So, maybe I just haven't been persuasive or effective enough in my communication skills. So, I said to Mariah, great idea, we'll ask New Yorkers, produce an ad, 30-second ad, they submit it. Mariah's going to be an unofficial adviser with the Department of Health. Pick the five best, put them online, let New Yorkers pick the best ad, state will run that ad. It will say on the bottom, produced by whoever won the competition. They'll get a lot of acclaim. They'll go on to be big creative experts, and maybe we'll have an ad that communicates this better than I have been able to communicate it to date. So I'm excited about that, and Mariah is going to help on that and take it on as a project, and I'm excited about that, at no cost to the people of the State of New York, she will be a volunteer. The boyfriend can try to put in, he can submit a possible ad for consideration. The boyfriend will lose, but he could submit an ad, because I'm still governor, and that's what we're going to do. Mariah, do you want to add anything, or did I explain it clearly in my flawed communication modality?

Mariah Kennedy Cuomo: I think you covered it. We'll be providing more information in the next few days, but if you are interested you can go to WearAMask.NY.Gov.

Governor Cuomo: Melissa, anything else?

Melissa DeRosa: No, that's perfect.

Governor Cuomo: See, sometimes I communicate. Sometimes I communicate effectively. But you're not alone in criticizing my communication skills. Many of the people in this room would agree with you. And we are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving.

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