March 26, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces State is Scouting New Sites for Temporary Hospitals Downstate

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

Goal of Having a 1,000-Plus Patient Overflow Facility in Each NYC Borough and Downstate Counties

  

An Additional 12,000 Health Professionals Have Signed up to Volunteer as Part of the State's Surge Healthcare Force Since Yesterday - Bringing Total Number of Volunteers to More than 52,000

 

More Than 8,600 Mental Health Professionals Have Now Signed Up to Provide Free Online Mental Health Services

 

Confirms 6,448 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 37,258; New Cases in 39 Counties

 

Governor Cuomo: "Our goal is to have a 1,000-plus overflow facility in each of the boroughs downstate in the counties, Queens, Brooklyn, the New York City boroughs, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and Rockland, so every county has a 1000-plus-bed overflow facility and that's what we're working on at the same time, as well as increasing the capacity of the existing hospital system."

 

Cuomo: "During this difficult time let's listen to the voices of our better angels as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a society. We're going to get through this. The only question is how we get through it and when we get through it. But let's make sure at the end of the day that we can say we are the better for it and our children are the better for it - and I believe they will be."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state is scouting additional new sites for temporary hospitals, with a goal of having a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility in each NYC borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. These new additions, together with the temporary hospitals that are being built at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center, are aimed at building thousands of new beds to bolster existing hospital capacity, with the goal of being open to patients in early- to mid-April. The state is also preparing college dormitories and hotels for emergency beds.

 

The Governor also announced that an additional 12,000 healthcare workers, including retirees and students, have signed up to volunteer to work as part of the state's surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of volunteers to more than 52,000. Additionally, more than 8,600 mental health professionals, including individuals from other states, have now signed up to provide free online mental health services. New Yorkers can call the state's hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment.

 

Finally, the Governor confirmed 6,448 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 37,258 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 37,258 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

171

19

Allegany

2

0

Broome

16

5

Cayuga

2

0

Chautauqua

1

0

Chemung

7

6

Chenango

3

0

Clinton

11

1

Columbia

13

1

Cortland

2

0

Delaware

7

2

Dutchess

190

37

Erie

134

12

Essex

4

0

Franklin

1

0

Fulton

1

0

Genesee

4

2

Greene

5

1

Hamilton

2

0

Herkimer

7

2

Jefferson

3

1

Livingston

3

0

Madison

9

2

Monroe

139

21

Montgomery

5

1

Nassau

3914

629

Niagara

14

2

NYC

21393

3537

Oneida

13

4

Onondaga

83

18

Ontario

11

2

Orange

751

113

Orleans

2

0

Oswego

4

2

Otsego

3

1

Putnam

94

11

Rensselaer

32

1

Rockland

1197

229

Saratoga

73

9

Schenectady

62

7

Schoharie

2

0

St. Lawrence

2

1

Steuben

11

3

Suffolk

2735

475

Sullivan

53

14

Tioga

2

1

Tompkins

22

6

Ulster

78

13

Warren

2

0

Washington

4

0

Wayne

8

1

Westchester

5944

1253

Wyoming

7

3

 

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) 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. Top of the morning to you. The people with us today, to my right is James Malatras, President of the SUNY Empire College, to my left Melissa DeRosa, to her left, Robert Mujica, Budget Director, back of the room, my daughter Cara who is doing a great job.

 

Let's talk about what's going on today. First, what I try to communicate in these briefings are the facts of the situation. Facts can be uplifting, they can be depressing at times, they can be confusing at times, but I think facts are empowering. You know, in a situation like this, not knowing the facts is worse because that's when feel out of control or when you feel that you're getting selective facts, or you're being deceived by the information you're getting. That is actually the worst situation. So what I say to my people in every situation, just give me the facts first and then let me understand what the situation and the reality is and then we'll go from there, so that's what I try to do.

 

The facts on this situation are increasingly important on two levels: public health but also the economic facts. We've been focusing on the public health facts and the response of the public health system to the virus. More and more we now have to deal on two fronts. We have to deal with the public health situation but we also have to deal with the economic situation and I'll get to that in a moment.

 

Public health, we've had a two-prong agenda which we've been pursuing aggressively. We still are flatten the curve so you reduce the flow into the hospital system. At the same time increase the hospital capacity. What we're looking for is not a reduction in in the number of cases. We're looking for a reduction in the rate of the increase in the number of cases. That's what comes first when you're starting to make progress. The rate of increase should reduce, as opposed to the number of absolute cases. So that's what we're looking for.

 

The optimum is when they talk about the apex of the curve is not to have an apex and that's what the flattening is, not to have that spike because the spike is where you would overwhelm the hospital systems that try to get down that rate of increase so you can actually handle it in the hospital system and that's what they talk about by the flattening of the curve.

 

Just as an aside, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been so kind and helpful to me. I speak to healthcare professionals all across the globe literally but Dr. Fauci I think is just brilliant at this and he has been so personally kind. I called him late at night. I called him in the middle of the night. I called him in the morning and he's been really a friend to me personally and the State of New York.

 

So this is all about getting that curve down and not overwhelming the hospital system. Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current health care system so little reality - keep the curve down as low as you can but you cannot get fit curve down low enough so that you don't overwhelm the hospital capacity. So any of these scenarios we have to increase the hospital capacity and that's why we're literally adding to the hospital capacity everywhere we can. That's what the Javits hospital is about, that's what the Stony Brook hospital is about, that's what Westchester Convention Center, that's what the Old Westbury additional site is.

 

We're also scouting new sites now all across, primarily the downstate area of this state, for possible sites. Our goal is to have a 1,000-plus overflow facility in each of the boroughs downstate in the counties, Queens, Brooklyn, the New York City boroughs, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and Rockland, so every county has a 1000-plus-bed overflow facility and that's what we're working on at the same time, as well as increasing the capacity of the existing hospital system.

 

As we've said the hospitals have a 53,000-bed capacity. We're trying get to 140,000-bed capacity between the hospitals and the overflow facilities. We've mandated that the hospitals increased their capacity by 50 percent. We've asked them to try to increase it 100 percent but they have to increase it 50 percent. We're also scouting dorms, scouting hotels for emergency beds and that's going well.

 

Equipment and PPE is an ongoing issue. Right now we do have enough PPE for the immediate future. The New York City hospital system confirm that so we have enough in stock now for the immediate need. Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. I didn't know what they were a few weeks ago besides the cursory knowledge. I know too much about ventilators now. We're still shopping for ventilators all across the country. We need more. We have approved the technology that allows one ventilator to serve two patients - what they call splitting. Which is when you add a second set of tubes to a ventilator to do two patients. It's not ideal, but we believe it's workable. We're also converting anesthesia machines to ventilators. We have a couple of thousand anesthesia machines in our hospitals and we're converting them to work as ventilators.

 

Why is there such a demand on ventilators? And where did this come from? It's a respiratory illness for a large number of people. So, they all need ventilators. Also, non-COVID patients are normally on ventilators for 3 to 4 days. COVID patients are on ventilators for 11 to 21 days. Think about that. So you don't have the same turnaround in the number of ventilators. If somebody is on ventilators for 3 or 4 days that's one level of ventilators you need. If somebody is on for 11 to 21 days, that's a totally different equation and that's what we're dealing with. The high number of COVID patients and the long period of time that they actually need a ventilator.

 

We're also working on equalizing and distributing the load of patients. Right now, the number of cases is highest in downstate New York. So we're working on a collaboration where we distribute the load between downstate hospitals and upstate hospitals. And we're also working on increasing the capacity for upstate hospitals.

 

Shifting now to a totally different field: the economic consequences of what's going on which have just really gelled after what the federal government has done and we were waiting for the federal action to determine where we were from a point of revenues and economics. What's happening to a state government - any state. It's happening to a city government, is a double whammy. You have increased expenses because of the COVID virus and you have a tremendous loss of revenue because all those businesses are closed and all those people are out of work. People are out of work, they're not earning income, they're not paying income tax. Businesses are closed, they're not making money, they're not paying business revenue.

 

So we're spending more to take care of the COVID virus and we're receiving less. In the middle of all this, we have to balance a budget. So how do you do a budget when you have expenses going out and a loss of revenue. We estimate the loss of revenue somewhere between $10-15 billion. Which all these number are hard to give a context. That is a ton of money for the State of New York's budget. We were waiting to see what the federal government did before we determined what we had to do because water flows downstream. If the federal government had taken an action that helped state government, city government, et cetera that would have put us in one situation. We now know what they've done. They passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill. They say maybe they'll come back and there will be another bill, but maybe maybe maybe. But we know what they did do with the stimulus bill.

 

The stimulus bill helped unemployment insurance and that is a good thing. It helped small businesses and that is a good thing. It did not help local governments or state governments and it did not address the governmental loss. And the federal officials, the ones who are being honest, will admit that. New York State receives $5 billion from the stimulus, New York State government. And it's earmarked only for COVID virus expenses. Which means it does absolutely nothing for us in terms of lost revenue to the state. The only thing it's doing is helping us on the COVID virus expenses, which is nice, but the bigger problem is on the lost revenues.

 

The congressional action, in my opinion, simply failed to address the governmental need. I spoke to all the officials involved. I spoke to our House delegation. I spoke to our Senators. And I believe what they did failed to meet the governmental need. I'm disappointed. I said I was disappointed. I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless. Emotion is a luxury and we don't have the luxury at this time of being emotional about what they did.

 

When this is over, I promise you, I'm going to give them a piece of my mind, but I would say to them today, this is an extraordinary time in this nation and it's an extraordinary time for government. This was the time to put politics aside in partisanship aside. This is the time for governmental leaders to stop making excuses and just do your job. Do your job. We are one nation. You know the places in this nation that have the most intense problems. Address the places that need the help, and this is not a time to fingers. This is not a time to make excuses. This is not a time to blame everyone else. We've lived with that in Washington for years. Now is the time to actually step up, do the right thing and do your job and they haven't as far as I'm concerned especially when it comes to the governmental need.

 

In any event, we have to do a budget and the budget is due April 1, so the only responsible course for us is number 1 we have to address this revenue loss. We know the revenues are down. We don't know how much we don't know when the economy comes back. We don't know the rate at which the economy comes back. And we don't know what Washington may do to address the situation in the future, if anything. So, you don't know, you don't know, you don't know and you don't know. But you have to do a budget with all those unknowns. Address them realistically. And how do you address them realistically? First, we're going to adjust down our revenue projections for the initial budget and then what we're going to do, which is something we've never done before, is we're going to adjust the budget through the years to reflect the actual revenue, meaning will say on day one, "Okay we intended to give you $100 we don't have $100 so we're going to give you $95. But I can only give you $95 if I get $95 and I let you know quarterly, whatever the period of time is how much money I'm getting and how much I can give you of the 95 and therefore you can plan accordingly." And that's frankly the only way that you can do this budget. When you have so many unknowns. So adjust the initial number down and then have periods through the course of the year where you say to school districts local governments et cetera, "This is how much we actually received. This is what the federal government did. This is what the federal government didn't do. The economy is coming back faster. The economy's coming back slower. But these are the actual numbers so you can adjust your budget accordingly."

 

On the public health numbers are testing numbers up again. We did 18,650 tests. This was just a massive mobilization, operational undertaking. We've never done it before you now have to set up all these drive-throughs, you have to set up all of these testing facilities and we're testing more than any state in the country. We're testing more per capita than South Korea. More per capita than China. It really is amazing what we're doing. And the testing is important. The testing is still helping you identify the positives and isolate the positives. The testing is not telling you how many people have the virus and. I think a lot of people conflate the two and that's a mistake. It's not even telling you the increase in the rate of infection. All it's telling you is your increasing the number of tests, and more test you do the more positives you will find and we're working very hard to increase the number of tests because we want to find the positives.

 

This is the really bad news. The number of deaths is increasing. It's bad news because people are dying. And that's the worst news you can have. It is not bad news in terms of it being unexpected. What's happening is people who were infected. Who came into the health care system have been on ventilators. The longer you are on a ventilator, the more probability of a bad outcome. We now have people who have been on a ventilator for 20 days, 30 days. The longer you are on a ventilator. The more likely you're not going to come off the ventilator and that is what is happening, because we do have people who have been on for quite a period of time. And those are the people who we are losing. That has always been the way the longer stays without recovery lead to a higher death rate, right? And that's not just COVID. That's any medical situation that you've dealt with. That is the natural consequence. When you have older sicker patients, who are staying on ventilators longer. They usually have a worse outcome, right? And I think people get that from their usual experience. What we're seeing now is that is happening. We've had people on a very long time, and they haven't gotten better, and they are passing away. So the number of deaths is at 385, it's up from 285, and since we still have a large number of people on ventilators for a long period of time, the experts expect that number to continue to increase, right, and we've said this from day one. You get the infection, 80 percent self-resolve, they don't go into the hospital. Some percentage going to the hospital, get treated, and go home. Some percentage go into the hospital, need a ventilator, they're on the ventilator, and they never come off the ventilator. And that is a situation where people just deteriorate over time. And that's what we're seeing. That is that vulnerable population, that very small percentage, two or three percent of the population who we've always worried about. But that's what we're seeing. And again, we expect it to increase because as time goes on, by definition we have more and more people on ventilators for a longer period of time.

 

Total number of people tested, 18,000. That's the break down. Number of positive cases, total 37,000, new cases, 6,400. The curve continues to go up. The spread across the state continues, which is also what we expected, just the way it spread all across the country. We now just have several counties that don't have a single case. The overall number, 37,000 tested positive, 5,000 people current hospital, 5,000. So this is the point, right. 37,000 tested positive. 5,000 currently hospitalized.

 

1,200 ICU patients, which is what we watch most carefully because those people need ventilators. 1,500 patients who were discharged after being hospitalized, okay. So not to be redundant but, people get sick. 80 percent of the people don't go into the hospital. They stay home. Some don't even stay home, they just self-resolve. Some people get sick and stay home. Some people check into the hospital. Now you're talking about 15 to 20 percent. Of that, a percentage get treated and leave. Of that, the smallest percentage get put on a ventilator. That's the 1,290 ICU patients. Some of those people on a ventilator get better and come off the ventilator. Some people don't get better, stay on the ventilator and when you're on the ventilator for a prolonged period of time the outcome is not positive. But, the percentage of people who wind up in that situation, it starts with the 1,290 ICU patients. Those are the people who are basically put on a ventilator. And that's of the 37,000 that tested positive, right. So we're talking about a very small population, they're put on a ventilator. Some recover, and some don't.

 

The most impacted states, New York is still number one. Louisiana is a quote unquote hot spot. It has a cluster that is growing and the people in Louisiana and in New Orleans are in our thoughts and prayers. We know what they're going through and we feel for them, and we pray for them, and we know the difficulty they're under, because of with dealing with the same type of situation. So our best to them. Any way we can help them, we stand ready. Again, total perspective is the Johns Hopkins count that has gone from day one. 487,000, 21,000 deaths worldwide.

 

My personal opinion, not facts, we give you the facts. My gratuitous two cents, which is probably worth a penny and a half.

 

This is a life moment. It's a moment in the life of this country. It's a moment in the life of the world. It's a moment in our family lives. It's a moment for each of us. Each of us is dealing with it in our own way, and my observation has been that when the pressure is on, is when you really see what people are made of, in a personal relationship in a business relationship.

 

You know, people can be great when everything is great. The question is what does a person do when things aren't great and what does a person do when the pressure is on them? And that's when you can see a little crack in the foundation of a person. But when the pressure is on that little crack, that little crack can explode and that foundation can crumble. Or, you can see the exact opposite. You can see them get stronger. But you get to see what they're really made of and you get to see the best. You get to see the worst. You get to see the beauty in people. And you get to see the opposite.

 

The outpouring of support for the people of New York has been so inspiring. Not just from New Yorkers. I'm telling you from across the country, from across the world. You would be amazed at how many phone calls we get. How many offers of support. How many creative ideas from everyone.

 

We've asked medical staff to volunteer. Retired medical staff who are no longer practicing. 40,000 had volunteered. We now have 12,000 people in one day volunteering to helping on the medical staff. We asked mental health professionals to come forward to volunteer. To offer free mental health services for people who are dealing with the stress and trauma of this situation. We had 6,000 people. We now have 8,600 people. We're getting mental health professionals from other states calling up and saying they'll provide mental health services electronically, through Skype or over the telephone.

 

It gives me such strength and such inspiration. But I don't want to sugarcoat the situation. The situation is not easy, but easy times don't forge character. It's the tough times that forge character, and that's what we're looking at right now. People say to me, people are getting tired of this situation. They've been home, its going on a couple of weeks. They're getting tired. Well, the truth is this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. We always said, this is not going to be over quickly. I understand people are tired, but I also understand that people in this situation are really stepping up to the plate and are doing phenomenal work.

 

So the next time you feel tired and believe me I feel tired, but when I feel tired I think of the first responders who are out there every day showing up.  I think of the police officers, of the fire fighters who are up there every day, the grocery store workers who are working double shifts just to keep food on the shelves because people are buying so much food because they're nervous; the pharmacists who have lines going out the door and they're showing up every day, day after day; the transportation workers who don't have the luxury of feeling tired because they have to get up and they have to drive the bus so the nurses in the health care professionals can get to work; and those health care professionals who are dealing with a virus that they didn't even understand - they still don't understand. They're there working, many of them seven days a week.

 

So yes we're tired but look at what others among us have to do in the challenge they're under and how they are stepping up. And who am I to complain about being tired when so many people are doing such heroic efforts?

 

I also think this is going to be transformative and formative for society. You think about our children. I have my daughters here with me. This is the first time they faced a real national adversity. You have a whole new generation who have never lived through anything like this. They never went to war. They were never drafted. They never went through a national crisis and this is going to shape them and I can tell you just from having my daughters with me. Yeah, they're hurt, they're scared, but they are also learning through this and at the end of the day they're going to be better people for it and they're going be better citizens for it. I believe that because they're rising to the occasion. As we go through this let's make sure that we're teaching them the right lessons and the right response and those lesson and that response are the lessons that we get from our better angels.

 

During this difficult time let's listen to the voices of our better angels as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a society. We're going to get through this. The only question is how we get through it and when we get through it. But let's make sure at the end of the day that we can say we are the better for it and our children are the better for it - and I believe they will be.

 

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