May 8, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces State Will Extend Window for Victims to File Cases under the Child Victims Act until January 14th

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces State Will Extend Window for Victims to File Cases under the Child Victims Act until January 14th

Drive-Through Events Scheduled in Communities Across the State as Part of Nourish New York Initiative Will Help to Put Food on the Table for 20,000 Households Impacted by COVID-19 Over the Next Week

Confirms 2,938 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 330,407; New Cases in 49 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "We passed a law in New York called the Child Victims Act, which was long overdue. It allowed survivors or sexual abuse as children to file a claim. We then had a window of time that they could actually file the claim. Because of the reduction in court services, we want to extend that window and we'll extend it for an additional five months until January 14th because people need access to the courts to make their claim. Justice too long delayed is justice denied, Martin Luther King Jr. So we will extend that window for people to bring their case."

Cuomo: "We turned that curve. No one else. And we are going to determine what that rate of infection is going forward. You tell me how we behave today, I will tell you the rate of infection three days from now. You tell me how we behave today, I'll tell you the number of people who walk into a hospital in seven days or 10 days. It is that clear, cause and effect. It is that clear. That's also liberating. Finally, our destiny, our future, is in our hands."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state will extend the window for victims to file otherwise time-barred cases under the Child Victims Act for an additional five months until January 14, 2021. Last year, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act to ensure survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice, including the ability to file a case which had already been time-barred or expired, but only for one year, that window to file an expired or time-barred case was set to close August 14, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a reduction in court services that has limited survivors' ability to file claims and effectively prepare their cases with an attorney.

The Governor also announced that dozens of events are taking place across New York State over the next week to kick off the Nourish New York Initiative. The initiative, launched last week by the Governor, is providing $25 million to food banks for the purchase of surplus agricultural products from New York State farms to distribute to populations who need them most. The first event took place today on Long Island, where the Island Harvest Food Bank held a drive-through food distribution event to provide New York grown and produced products to 3,000 families impacted by the coronavirus. The State's other food banks are each holding similar events over the next week, which are expected to help put food on the table for 20,000 households that have been impacted by COVID-19.

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 morning. Good afternoon, depending on how accurate your watch is. Let me introduce the people who are with me today. From my right, Dr. Howard Zucker, our health commissioner, he's been doing great work. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, who is secretary to the governor, which is the top position in state government. To her left, Gareth Rhodes, who is deputy superintendent and special counsel to the New York State Department of Financial Services, but who has been working with the chamber on this station and has been doing an excellent job. We're at Marist College today, it's a pleasure to be here. Dr. Dennis Murray, pleasure, thank you very much for having us. Marist, go Red Foxes. We're in Poughkeepsie, which is right down from Albany, New York. Right down the Hudson river. Beautiful ride today, going down the Hudson River. Many people fishing, little fishing envy. Striped bass season in New York. No fishing for me, but that's okay, there's always next year.

Albert Einstein, I do not like to state an opinion on a matter unless I know the precise facts. Good advice. Wouldn't it be nice if all of those talking heads on TV took that advice? No opinion unless you know the fact. Let's talk about some facts. Total hospitalizations, down to 8,196, good news. Change in hospitalizations you see has been going down. Change in intubations is also down, and that's really good news. The percentage of people once intubated that actually successfully come off a ventilator is very low, so that is very good news. And the number of new COVID hospitalizations per day is just about flat, has been flat for a few days. These are the number of new cases that are coming in the door every day, or people who were in the hospital who then test positive for COVID. And these charts, I look at the line more than anything, and what the curve is actually saying more than the specific number. We would have hoped to see a steady, sharp decline in those numbers, right. We went up very quickly, as you see on the left of the screen. We would have hoped that we would have come down very quickly, hit the top, and then come down. That's not what was happening, it's more flattening out. Question when we look at these charts now, will it flatten out or will it continue to drop? When you look at the actual projection model, the IHME, this is one of the more accurate projection models, they show it going down but you even have several hundred cases in mid-June. So, these models have been instructive but not necessarily determinative in the past. But that's what we're watching now going forward. Same thing on the number of lives lost.

This is probably the most important statistic and the most painful. 216 New Yorkers passed away yesterday, that's 216 families. You see that it's been persistently constant in the 200 range for the past few days. We're also looking at that, what does that curve do? What does that line do? Does it slowly decline? We would have liked to have see, again, up and then a fast decline. Possibility that it flattens out at one point. But, again, we don't know. We don't know. So, we go day to day and we see and we react given the facts we're presented with.

The lack of facts can hurt you. We've seen that, I believe, during this global pandemic. How did it happen? Why weren't we ahead of it? Not just for retrospective but also prospectively. If you don't understand how it happened last time and you don't learn the lessons of what happened last time, then you will repeat them, right? And there's a chance this virus comes back. They talk about a second wave. They talk about a mutation. And if it's not this virus, another public health issue. And I think we have to learn from this. Unfortunately, we learn from it as we're going through it because we may not have the luxury of time. If they're right about the speculation of the second wave in the fall or winter - we have to start getting ready now.

And it is shocking to me that so many months, so many weeks we talked about the virus was coming from China, from China, from China. Now it turns out the virus didn't come to the East Coast from China, it came from Europe. And all of those talking heads, that is a relatively new fact. When you then look back at the timeline of what was going on, and I think it's informative. We talk about the virus in China last year, end of last year, November and December. We had the first case in the state of Washington, January 21. We then had the China travel ban by the president on February 2nd, which was a right move in retrospect. Six weeks later, you have the travel ban from Europe, and then we still have John F. Kennedy Airport open in New York as what's called the quote, unquote funnel airports. There were about four airports in the nation that were left open, for flights coming from China and Europe. John F. Kennedy Airport, our main international airport, was one of them.

When you look back November to April is a long period of time. And what happened apparently is the virus got on a plane from China, someone who was infected got on a plane and went to Europe and then from Europe, the virus mutated in Europe and then flew to New York City, Newark Airport, flew to places on the East Coast, flew to Chicago. And you can see why, right? The virus wasn't going to stay in China and wait for us to deal with it in China. Everybody talks about how mobile people are and global interconnections, et cetera. And that's what happened. But nobody was saying, "Beware of people coming from Europe." We weren't testing people coming from Europe. We weren't telling anyone at the time if you have a European visitor or European guest, make sure they get tested. They walked right through the airport.

Well, I understand what happened in retrospect. But we have to make sure it doesn't happen again. From December to March, 3 million Europeans came through our airports. You wonder why we have such a high infection rate. You put 3 million Europeans coming into this market undetected. You don't tell anyone. There's no precautions. There's no testing and then you let people circulate in this dense environment. You're going to have the virus spread and that's exactly what happened and many of those people didn't stay in New York. They just landed at JFK, connected to another flight, and flew to a city in the United States. That's what happened. Flights from China proportionately go to the West Coast of the United States. But the European flights, they come to the East Coast. Three million Europeans is a lot of people and, again, it was months of people coming and people circulating before we were really put on notice.

So learning what happened is important so we don't make the same mistake again twice, right? And we're prepared in the future and I think a word of caution would be today we must consider an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. You hear about an outbreak in China, you hear about an outbreak in Korea, just assume that it gets on the plane the next day, somebody who's infected gets on plain, and can go anywhere on the globe literally.

One fact we do know about COVID is we know there's still a lot that we don't know about this virus. Some things that we thought were facts are now being revisited. We were told if you had the virus you then had antibodies. You would then be immune from getting it a second time. Now there's some questions about whether or not you're immune, how immune you would be even if you have the antibodies.

We were led to believe that the good news about this virus was it didn't affect children which was taken as great news, right? Now we have a new issue that we're looking at which is something we're just investigating now. But while rare, we're seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels. This past Thursday a five-year-old passed away from COVID-related complications and the state Department of Health is investigating several other cases that present similar circumstances.

This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter because I can't tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected. We thought children might be vehicles of transmission, a child could get infected and come home and infect a family, but we didn't think children would suffer from it. If this is true, some of these children are very, very old. So caution to all people who, again, may have believed that their child couldn't be affected by COVID. This information suggests we may want to revisit that quote/unquote fact, that assumption. If you see any of the symptoms that are on the chart that your child is evidencing, caution should be taken because this is something that we're looking at. Again, there has been at least one fatality because of this and there may be others that are now under investigation. So, this is every parent's nightmare, right? That your child may actually be affected by this virus. But it's something we have to consider seriously now.

Another fact we do know about this and a common thread with the virus is that it effects minority communities more dramatically. Nothing biological about the minority community, but demographically, socially, the infection rate is higher. New York State does not have the same disparities we see in other states around the county, thankfully, but we do have a disparity. It's, again, relatively modest, but something that we won't tolerate. You see it in the Hispanic community, you see it in the African-American community where they are disproportionately affected.

We asked the hospitals to look at the new cases that are walking in the door to see what we can learn about where we are now because we've taken so many actions, so many dramatic actions. We've closed down schools, closed down businesses. We're testing. We still have new cases. We're getting additional information on these news cases now. When you look at the new cases and where they're coming from in the state, it's clear that a majority of the new cases and a disproportionate number are coming from minority communities. 21 zip codes with the highest rate of hospitalization - 20 have greater than average black and/or Latino populations. So, this is something that we're focused on and we're going to address and we will address immediately. We will have more information on this in the next couple of days.

We must also adjust to the changing circumstances. Given the shutdown, many aspects of society have been closed down and are less operational, the court system is among them. It's done a lot of work thanks to what the court system has been able to manage by remote telecommunication, et cetera. But we passed a law in New York called the Child Victim Act, which was long overdue. It allowed survivors or sexual abuse as children to file a claim. We then had a window of time that they could actually file the claim. Because of the reduction in court services, we want to extend that window and we'll extend it for an additional five months until January 14th because people need access to the courts to make their claim. Justice too long delayed is justice denied, Martin Luther King Jr. So we will extend that window for people to bring their case.

The good news on the overall is we're finally ahead of this virus, right? For so long we were playing catch up. We talked about the facts and circumstances that we found out about it. It was in China, it had moved, and we were playing catch up. We were behind it. Now, I feel for the first time, we're actually ahead of it. We have showed that we can control the beast. You look at those numbers coming down. Remember, our numbers are coming down in New York. Most states in this country, you still see the numbers going up. You take New York out of the national numbers, and you see the cases are on the incline. We have it on the decline. So we have the beast on the run, there's no doubt about that. We haven't killed the beast, but we're ahead of it. And the hospitalization rate's coming down and the death rate is coming down, so that's all good news. And I feel that we are, for the first time in this engagement, we're actually ahead of the virus.

We have to stay there, and we have to figure out what the next move is that the virus is going to make and we have to stay ahead of it. But, we are ahead of it. And we are in control of our own destiny. You know, why is that virus on decline? Why are those cases going down? Because we're making the number of cases go down. We are reducing the number of infections. If we didn't do anything, you would have seen that infection number keep going straight up. We reopen irresponsibly, you will see that infection number go straight up. We are reducing the rate of infection by our actions, wearing the masks, the closedowns, the precautions. And it's not subject to the whims of the virus. We are in control of the spread of the virus. And that is good news to me. We just have to stay there. And we will because we are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving and the great State of New York is showing the way forward once again.

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