May 21, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Summer School Will Be Conducted Through Distance Learning This Year

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Summer School Will Be Conducted Through Distance Learning This Year

Extends Sales Tax Filing Deadline to June 22, 2020

State is Investigating 157 Reported Cases & 3 Deaths Related to COVID Illness in Children with Symptoms Similar to an Atypical Kawasaki Disease and Toxic Shock-Like Syndrome

Rockland County is Now Eligible to Resume Elective Surgeries and Ambulatory Care

New Yorkers Should Call the Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 if They Believe Their Employer is Not Following PPE, Hygiene or Social Distancing Guidelines

Reminds New Yorkers to Look Out for Calls from "NYS Contact Tracing"

Confirms 2,088 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 356,458; New Cases in 44 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "We will issue guidelines in the beginning of June on what schools would need to do to come up with a plan to prepare to open. ... we don't want to make that decision until we have more facts. As the facts keep changing, prudence dictates that you don't make a decision until it's timely so you have the most recent facts to make a decision."

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier today announced summer school will be conducted through distance learning this year to help reduce the risk of spread. Meal programs and child care services for essential employees will continue. School districts must also develop a plan for students with disabilities who participate in extended summer school year programs over the summer to ensure they receive instruction. The state will make a determination on the fall semester and issue guidelines in June so schools and colleges can start to plan for a number of scenarios. K-12 schools and colleges will submit plans for approval to the state in July.

Governor Cuomo also announced the state is extending sales tax interest and penalty relief through June 22, 2020. The state previously provided relief through May 19th for returns due March 20th. This extension could provide interest and penalty relief for up to 89,000 vendors who had returns due in March. These small businesses file their taxes quarterly and annually, and have taxable receipts of less than $300,000 in the previous quarter.

The Governor also announced the state is currently investigating 157 reported cases in New York where children - predominantly school-aged - are experiencing symptoms similar to an atypical Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome possibly due to COVID-19. The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers, including a 5-year old in New York City, a 7-year old in Westchester County and a teenager in Suffolk County. To date, 13 countries and 25 other states have reported cases of this COVID-related illness in children.

Governor Cuomo also announced that Rockland County is now eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care. The Governor previously announced that the state will allow elective outpatient treatments to resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term, and a total of 51 counties can now resume elective surgeries (4 counties do not have hospitals).

The Governor also encouraged New Yorkers to call the Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 if they believe their employer is not following PPE, hygiene or social distancing guidelines as more businesses begin to reopen.

The Governor also reminded New Yorkers to look out for calls from "NYS Contact Tracing" and to answer those calls as the state begins to implement its contact tracing program.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks with ASL interpretation 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. Pleasure to see all your smiling faces. Beautiful day here. Beautiful city of New York. Let's talk about some facts as to where we are today. Everybody knows who is with us today, from my left, Dr. Jim Malatras; Robert Mujica, Budget Director; Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, Gareth Rhodes, young genius.

Total hospitalizations down, great news, 5,187. The net change is down. That's good news. Intubations are down. That's very good news. New Covid cases are down to 186, which is actually lower than we were when this first started so we're back to a point earlier than we were when this Covid strike hit us and we started that spike so that's really good news.

The number of deaths, 105. That's terrible news. Relatively it's better than it has been. Still 105 families who are grieving today and they are in our thoughts and prayers. But you see the overall trajectory of the situation. March 20 to May 20, a period of time that will go down in history, a lot of pain, unique period but we got through it. We got through it. We got over the mountain literally and figuratively.

We're now talking about reopening across the state. We're doing it region by region. Rockland County today is eligible for elective surgery and ambulatory care. When we open up for elective surgery in the hospital system it means we have the hospital bed capacity. One of the mad scrambles, if you remember earlier on, was to make sure we had enough hospital capacity because the projections were we would need double our hospital capacity in this state so we stopped elective surgeries. Opening up elective surgeries means we have hospital capacity.

When we reopen a region, we start to reopen a region, there will be increased activity. More people are coming out. That does not necessarily equate to an increase in the number of cases. It does not have to be that increased activity means more cases. It tends to be true but it doesn't have to be true. You can have more activity and if people take the right precautions you don't necessarily need to see a rise in the number of cases and none of this is preordained. As you increase activity what will happen is a function of what we do and that's not just rhetorical. If you tell me how New Yorkers react with increased activity I will tell you what will happen to the infection rate. It literally depends on what we do and everyone has a role to play as we go forward. You reopen shops for curbside retail. How do the shopkeepers, the retail owners, how do they perform? How do the employees perform? How do the employers who have people coming back perform? And probably most importantly, as individuals, how are we acting and how are we performing? Are we maintaining social distancing, et cetera?

Of all the bizarre things we've gone through, this fact is probably one of the most important facts to me. Logic would have suggested that first responders would have had the highest infection rate, right? Just common sense. The nurses, the doctors, the EMS workers who are first responding to Covid-positive people, working with Covid-positive people all day long, they had to have the highest infection rate, right? Just logic. Think about those emergency rooms. People working 12, 14, 16, 18 hours a day with Covid-positive people, they must have had the highest infection rate. NYPD, first responders, Fire Department, they must have had a higher infection rate. The first responders, the front line workers, wind up having a lower infection rate than the general population in that area. How can that possibly be? Because the PPE works. Those masks work. We've literally tested all the front line workers. Transit workers, they're driving the buses, they're encountering hundreds of people a day. They're driving the trains, subway system, on stations, in cars. Health care workers, nurses, doctors, hospital staff, NYPD, Fire Department, correction officers in state prisons with a congregate population, they all have a lower percentage than the general population. That's good news for the front line workers and we were all worried about what they were doing.

But there is a message for all of us which is that the PPE actually works. The mask is not just a social symbol. This is not do it because we're asking you to do it. The surgical mask, this mask, is the same thing that is given to the front line workers. They're not using anything different. If it reduced the infection rate for them, it will reduce the infection rate for you. But you have to wear it.

Now we say that employers must provide this to employees when they go back to work. If they do not get one employees should call this number and report an employer who is not operating with the right precautions.

Also we're starting our tracing operation and this is totally new. A person who tests positive, the tracers will then contact that person and ask who they may have exposed and you could get a phone call following up on this tracing information, saying you were with John Smith last night, John smith is now positive, you may want to be tested. On your telephone, if you have one of the new fancy phones, which I do not, it will come up NYS contact tracing. You should answer that call. It's not a hoax, it's not a scam, it's not a fraud. That is an official message saying New York State contact tracing is calling so if you get that message, take that phone call. It's for your health. It's for your family's health.

Small businesses are struggling. The numbers of small businesses that they're projecting may not come back are really staggering. We're trying to do everything we can on a State level. I hope the federal government passes an additional small business relief program but we are extending the sales tax filing. We've extended it from March 20 to May 19. We're now going to extend it to June 22. We understand they have financial issues obviously so the State is doing everything that they can.

On schools we adopted a statewide policy for our schools. May 1 we announced K-12 and college would be closed for the rest of the academic year. Schools obviously pose risks. They're places of gathering. They're on buses, they're in classrooms, how do you reduce density in a classroom, how do you reduce density in a cafeteria, on a school bus, et cetera? How do you get children to wear masks?

And we have another development that we're tracking which is the Covid-related child illness. Miss Russo has done great work on this. I believe, and I've said this from the start, this did not present as a Covid situation because it's not respiratory and we were told early on that children are not affected by Covid and that was one of the pieces of news that actually reduced anxiety early on. We're now starting to see that children who test positive for Covid or test positive for Covid antibodies are developing these inflammatory symptoms. Inflammation of the blood vessels, inflammation of the heart and it's quite serious. We've lost a number of children. New York State Department of Health was the first to really investigate this. The more they investigated, the more cases they found. Last Thursday, there was 7 countries that also investigated and found cases. There was 17 states that found cases - this was last Thursday. Today, there are 13 countries and 25 states. This is one those situations where the more they look, I believe, the more they're going to find.

When we're talking about schools, again, the facts have changed from the quote, unquote experts. There are no experts on this COVID virus. I've learned that the hard way. Children are not affected, well now maybe children are effected. When you're talking about schools and you're talking about children and you're talking about density, exploring the situation and making sure that this is not a widespread situation effecting children. They're not even sure the duration after the COVID exposure that this might occur, because this is all a case of first impression. This is a related issue that does effect children and obviously, it's something we're very concerned about.

The question on summer school. Would summer school open? Summer school is not going to open statewide for in-class teaching. It will be through distance learning and meal programs and child care services for essential employees will continue. In terms of opening up school for the fall, it's still too early to make that determination. We want to get more information on this inflammatory syndrome. We also want to see how the development for treatment or vaccine proceeds. We will issue guidelines in the beginning of June on what schools would need to do to come up with a plan to prepare to open. The schools will do those plans and provide them to the state in July. The state will approve those plans or not approve those plans in July all in preparation for an opening in September. Again we don't want to make that decision until we have more facts. As the facts keep changing, prudence dictates that you don't make a decision until it's timely so you have the most recent facts to make a decision.

We're coming up to Memorial Day weekend. State, downstate beaches that are open tomorrow, Jones Beach, Sunken Meadows, Hither Hills, Robert Moses, they're on Long Island. Those beaches open at 6:00 a.m., they close at 9:00 p.m. Swimming is allowed at 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. And there's Lake Welch Beach in Harriman State Park. Just a note on these beaches. There are certain rules on beaches that are operating. Primarily 50% capacity and then social distancing on the beach. No contact activities, obviously, social distancing will be enforced, masks are required to be worn when social distancing is impossible. But there is such a demand in the New York City area to get to a beach, to get some respite. It's Memorial Day weekend, people want to get out of the homes. 50% capacity. Those beaches may reach capacity at 10:00, 11:00 o'clock in the morning. So, that's something to take into consideration. I'm a Queens boy. It's a ride to these beaches. And you don't want to take that ride and get all the way out there and find out the beach is already closed. Again, this is a first time for all of us. But 50% capacity with this pent-up demand, those parking lots will reach capacity very quickly. So, take that into consideration when you're making your plans.

This week is national EMS week and it's a time to thank the EMS workers who just were on the front lines and did a magnificent job. Some of them actually gave their lives to this and we are all very, very grateful to them. The EMS workers, as well as all of the front-line workers. But to those who we lost in this battle, and it was a battle, it is a battle. We want to say a special condolences to their families. Really, everybody knew, they knew what inferno they were running into and they ran into the fire for us. Everybody knew Covid-19 was dangerous. But they didn't stay home. They didn't call in sick. Some people volunteered to come from across the country to help us here in New York and they lost their lives. We should remember that. When we're in the midst of this now, when we get a chance to reflect on what has been done here, what we've gone through and how people reacted, Winston Churchill, "Never was so much owed by so many to so few." "Covid-19, it could kill you, everyone stay home, except the front-line workers and essential workers, we need to you go to work." "Well, I thought you just said Covid-19 could kill me?" Yes, but you have to go to work anyway. And they did. And they did. Hospital works, NYPD, fire department, EMS, grocery store workers, delivery boys, delivery women, they showed up, God bless them. God bless them and we thank them.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640