After Meeting Contact Tracing Metric, Mid-Hudson Valley Will Join Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, Which Have Met the Seven Metrics Required to Begin Reopening
If Number of Deaths Continues to Decrease and Tracing is Online, Long Island Could Reopen Wednesday, May 27th
State is Partnering with Advantage Care Physicians to Establish 15 New Testing Sites at Medical Centers Downstate
New York State Now Has More Than 760 Testing Sites
Reminds New Yorkers to Vote in the Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest by Monday, May 25th
Confirms 1,772 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 359,926; New Cases in 50 Counties
Governor Cuomo: "I spoke this morning to the representatives of the Mid-Hudson, the county executives, and I said, "Look, we have a choice. If we can get them trained over Memorial Day weekend, we can reopen on Tuesday." You can do these trainings online. Many of them are government employees and we agreed and I thank the county executives and supervisors. We agreed to ask people to be trained Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And we'll open in the Mid-Hudson on Tuesday."
Cuomo: "In all these admonitions, all these pleas, the good news is remember it is working. What we are doing is working. You look at the New York curve, you look at how low it is, you look at the number of deaths., look at the decline. Compare with the rest of the nation where you still see the rest of the nation's curve going up. So it is working. And what are we doing? It is the social acceptance and culture of being New York tough which is smart, smart. Smart is get the test. Smart is protect yourself. Smart is risk, reward. Don't put yourself in a situation where it's not worth it."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to meet all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan starting Tuesday, May 26th, joining the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions. The Mid-Hudson Valley has now identified enough contact tracers to meet the state's guidelines, and the tracers are being trained in preparation for the Mid-Hudson Valley entering phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. On Long Island, the number of deaths is continuing to drop and contract tracing is coming online, and if this trend continues Long Island could be ready to open by Wednesday, May 27th. Business guidance for phase one of the state's reopening plan is available here. A guide to the state's "NY Forward Reopening" Plan is available here. The state's regional monitoring dashboard is available here.
Governor Cuomo also announced the state is partnering with Advantage Care Physicians to establish 15 new testing sites at medical centers downstate, including testing centers in low-income and minority communities. New York State now has more than 760 testing sites across the state. The Governor also encouraged eligible New Yorkers to visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov to find a nearby testing site and get tested.
The Governor also reminded New Yorkers to vote in the state's Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest, which was launched by the Governor on May 5th and is being overseen by his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo. New Yorkers can vote for the winning ad until Monday May 25th at WearAMask.ny.gov. The winning ad will be announced on Tuesday, May 26th, and that ad will be used as a public service announcement.
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 be here with you today. It is a beautiful morning. Today is Saturday. Everybody knows to my left, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To my right, Robert Mujica, budget director for the State of New York. I know today is Saturday because Mr. Met tweeted at me this morning that today is Saturday. He is the Mets mascot, so it must be Saturday. Also today is Saturday because I'm not wearing a tie. That is a cue to me to understand that today is Saturday.
Today is Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, it is day 84. Yesterday, a number of my young superstars said to me, you know, this is Memorial Day weekend coming up, and we've been working for 83 straight days, Maybe we do something different, maybe we take a day off, is what they were trying to suggest. I said, okay, tomorrow I'll stay home. So, I am at home today. I never said I wasn't going to work, but I said tomorrow I'll stay home. And, I am at home today, but we are working, 84 straight days. When the COVID virus takes a day off, we will take a day off, it's very simple.
We're in the New York State Executive Mansion. It's not really my home, it's the people's home. It is the residence for governors in New York. It's a great old house, was built in 1856, the state acquired it in 1877. They were building the state capital, which was going to finish in 1899, which was and is really a beautiful architectural masterpiece, and the governor's residence is just a stone's throw from the state capital. And the two work together, the capital was the place for business and the governor's residence was the place for social events and for gatherings and to entertain legislators. It's been home to 32 governors. You had three governors who served as president of the United States from New York, you had Grover Cleveland, you had Teddy Roosevelt and you had FDR. Between FDR and Teddy Roosevelt, they were the two really historic governors who went on. You had Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, also lived in this home.
But it's very much a museum, and it is beautiful. I don't know if you can fully appreciate it today, but we have great artifacts in this home. We have the wheelchair from FDR that he used when he was in this house. It's the wheelchair he also would go into a pool, which is in the back of the house, which was a pool that he exercised in. It was very important for FDR, obviously, to keep his upper body very strong, he was holding himself up, and swimming was his exercise and that's his wheelchair. We have a great portrait from FDR that hangs in the drawing room. We have a great bust of Teddy Roosevelt which was done by Baker, who was an extraordinarily gifted artist, and that's here. We have great art all through this home. The New York State Museum provides art, but we have pieces by Durand here, by Frederic Church, and it's just, you can't appreciate the scope of the home, but the whole first floor is just magnificent. It can hold several hundred people and we do a lot of good work here. My mother did a restoration of the mansion back to the historical, accurate portrayal when she was here. And it's still basically very much the same way. So it is beautiful. It's open to the public. We have a website that people can go to and it's really worth seeing.
On the numbers today, the news is good news. It has been good news. Every day is a new day and it's good to see it continuing. The number of hospitalizations are down. The change in hospitalizations is down. The intubations is down. The number of new cases, new COVID cases walking in the door, which is a very important number, that's down. And the number of lives lost is down to 84. 84 is still a tragedy no doubt. But the fact that it's down as low as it is really overall good news.
I had a conversation with a health care professional and I said what number should I be looking for to get down as a bottom number on the deaths? The doctor said, it wasn't our health commissioner, he said, "If I were you, I would look for 100. You want to be below 100." I said why 100? He said "Well, people will pass away when they're ill and often its pneumonia or it's something else. But if you can get under 100, I think you can breathe a sigh of relief." When he said this to me, we were in the hundreds and hundreds and getting below 100 was almost impossible. But I made a little note. You need something in life to shoot for. You need something to aim for. It's not official. I don't even know if it was 100% accurate. But in my head I was always looking to get under 100. And under 100 doesn't do any good for those 84 families that are feeling the pain. But for me it's just a sign that we're making real progress and I feel good about that.
We've been talking about reopening and how we proceed with reopening. It's been different in different regions all across the state. We have criteria all across the state that applies to every region. There is no variance in the criteria region from region. There's no political difference. There's no local differences. What's safe in Buffalo is safe in Albany is safe in New York City. And I want people to know where we are with these criteria. And that's they're on the website and I encourage people to go look at them every day. They're controlling what's happening. This is all a function of what people do. This has nothing to do with government, nothing to do with anything else. This is what people do. New Yorkers have been great in understanding the situation and responding.
In the Mid-Hudson area, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster, we have met the criteria for the decline in number of deaths. That is the issue that we were having with the Mid-Hudson region. The only open issue is we have to train tracers. No region opens before it's ready to open. To be ready to open, you need the tracing and testing system in place. Mid-Hudson region, we have identified the right number of tracers. They now need to be trained. It's an online course. I spoke this morning to the representatives of the Mid-Hudson, the county executives, and I said, "Look, we have a choice. If we can get them trained over Memorial Day weekend, we can reopen on Tuesday." You can do these trainings online. Many of them are government employees and we agreed and I thank the county executives and supervisors. We agreed to ask people to be trained Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And we'll open in the Mid-Hudson on Tuesday. So that is good news.
Long Island, the number of deaths are dropping. If that continues, we also have to get the tracing online, but at this rate we could open by Wednesday if the number of deaths continues to decline and we get that tracing up. That is also very good news.
Memorial Day weekend is here. We opened the state beaches. We asked people to socially distance. This is Jones Beach yesterday. People were great. People were great. They're doing what they're supposed to do, and I thank them very much. In terms of testing, we stress this and we should, just because you are not showing symptoms does not mean you do not have the COVID virus. About a third of people who have the virus never have symptoms. So they never know they have the virus, but you can still spread it if you have it - even if you don't know you have it. So, that's one of the insidious elements to this virus. So get a test. We're trying to make it as easy as possible. We're opening more and more testing sites. We're working with advantage care physicians. We're bringing more testing to lower income communities. But we now have 760 testing sites across the state. Please go to the website and get a test. It protects you, protects your family, protects everyone. We've made it as easy as possible, but we do have many sites that have more capacity than they are now doing tests.
If you have any symptoms, get a test. If you're exposed to a person who turned out to be positive, get a test. If you're a frontline worker, get a test. If you're a healthcare worker, get a test. If you're working in a grocery store, you're delivering products, you're public facing, get a test. If you're a region that's opening up, get a test. We've made it as easy as possible. But this is something where we need people to continue to step up, right? By the way, just because you got a test one month ago doesn't mean you shouldn't go get another test. You can get a test and you can walk out of the testing site and pick up the virus in ten minutes. So it's not I got one test, I'm done. It doesn't work that way. Again, that's up to people. In all these admonitions, all these pleas, the good news is remember it is working. What we are doing is working. You look at the New York curve, you look at how low it is, you look at the number of deaths., look at the decline. Compare with the rest of the nation where you still see the rest of the nation's curve going up. So it is working. And what are we doing? It is the social acceptance and culture of being New York tough which is smart, smart. Smart is get the test. Smart is protect yourself. Smart is risk, reward. Don't put yourself in a situation where it's not worth it. If you can stay home, stay home. If you don't have to go into a certain store, don't go into a store. We're united. We're disciplined. This is all about discipline now. This is doing the same thing we did the day before, even though it's day 84. It's showing respect and love for your family, and for society, and operating that way.
Again, it's working here in New York, because what you're seeing across the rest of the country in many other states, you're seeing the numbers go up. They're talking about a possible second wave in the South which may have reopened too fast and too aggressively. They're talking about a higher number of deaths in California. How these counties reopen, how states reopen, they can make all the difference. 24 states suggest that you may still have uncontrolled spread, right. So, don't underestimate this virus. We know that it can rear its ugly head at any moment. But, what do we need to do? It's not rocket science. Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, use hand sanitizer, but most of all wear a mask.
I am telling you those masks can save your life. Those masks can save another person's life. And the most astonishing fact to me all through this, that the emergency room health professionals have a lower infection rate than the general population. That's the bus drivers, transit workers, police officers, have a lower rate of infection because the masks work, and we gave them the masks and they wore the masks. So, wear a mask.
We have an ongoing competition on the wear a mask ad, the most convincing ad. Mariah, my daughter is running this because she was unmoved by my powers of communication and persuasion, but that competition is now open. We have people voting on the five finalists. And the winner will be announced Tuesday and will become a public service announcement for the state. We're asking people to go to the website, look at the five finalists and vote, and then we will announce a winner. I'm excited about this. We are going to be stressing wearing a mask over this weekend. Going to this website and this competition is part of it.
We have Rachel Maddow who has a show on MSNBC at night that I have been on. She was talking about this competition last night in her way. She made some remarks that I would like to show you, if we can.
Rachel Maddow: New York asked people to submit their own public service announcements about why you should wear a mask. And what they circulated this week I believe are the finalists, like the best ones according to the state and they're really good. They're also really, really, really New York.
Governor Cuomo: Now, that really, really, really New York comment. Rachel is by birth a Californian, I believe. Really, really, really New York. Here is what she meant by really, really, really New York, so I want her to do New York a favor and go look at the five, pick which ad she likes best and I'm asking all New Yorkers to go and vote on which ad they like best. But I'm really, really curious what Rachel thinks is the best of the five ads so I'm publicly asking her to go look and vote and let us know what she likes best of the five.
We are also posting some honorable mentions because we've had over 600 submissions. I'm telling you they're phenomenal. I've been watching them. They are just phenomenal. But we have an honorable mention category. We want to show you five more videos now that are in the honorable mention category.
Okay. Last point, in this house staying here and as I said really feels like a museum in many ways but you can't ignore just the number of greats who lived in this home, historic greats. What FDR did, what Teddy Roosevelt did. I read a lot of history. New York tough. Yes, yes, this is a tough situation. Yes, New Yorkers are tough and we've shown how tough we are here. Tough means many things, as I've said, loving and disciplined, et cetera. But even tough is tough. Yeah, tough is about courage. Teddy Roosevelt, "Courage is not having the strength to go on. It is going on when you don't have the strength." Day 84, "I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore." We have to do it more. We have to continue to do it. There's no normal. We're going to have to do it for a long time. Talking about the fall, they're talking about a possible second wave. We have to get back to activity. But we have to do it in a different way, a smarter way, maybe a better way when all is said and done. That's courage.
And Teddy Roosevelt was a tough and leaned in to being tough. He liked being tough, Teddy Roosevelt. He liked being physically tough. Teddy Roosevelt had a boxing ring built on the third floor of this house, a boxing ring. And he would challenge the legislators the day to come box with him in the boxing ring on the third floor at night. Can you imagine that? Governor says to a legislator, "Come, we'll go to the boxing ring." I think that's how they got the budget done at the end of budget session. Any discordant voices, "Come to mansion and we'll go to the boxing ring." But he was tough in that sense, rough rider tough, physically tough, pushed himself. My father was Governor of New York, lived in this house for 12 years as governor served as governor. He had a different version of tough. He was more of the loving definition of tough, he was more of the inclusive definition of strong, that strength was in unity and strength was in community and strength was in giving and selflessness and strength was finding the commonality among people and connecting among people. That's his sense and his definition of toughness. This nation at its best only when we see ourselves, all of us as one family. He brought it back to the metaphor of the family - what is society, what is community? You're a family. Treat each others as you would treat your own family members. Sharing benefits and burdens. That was his version of tough. You never know the number of iterations of the same concept. But the concept is right. That concept is New York.