April 3, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Executive Order Allowing State to Redistribute Ventilators & Personal Protective Equipment to Hospitals with Highest Need

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Executive Order Allowing State to Redistribute Ventilators & Personal Protective Equipment to Hospitals with Highest Need
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The Equipment Will Be Returned to the Hospital or the Hospital Will Be Reimbursed for the Equipment in the Future

Temporary Hospital Facility at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Will Be Used for Only COVID-19 Patients

Launches New Website to Provide New York's Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Data to the Public

New Drive-Through Mobile Testing Facility Will Open in Albany Next Week - State Has Opened 7 Mobile Facilities to Date

Confirms 10,482 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 102,863; New Cases in 49 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "I'm not going to get into a situation where we're running out of ventilators and people are dying because there are no ventilators but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they're not using. I'm just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible. I'm going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them. Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator."

Earlier today, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will issue an Executive Order allowing the state to redistribute ventilators and personal protective equipment, or PPE, from institutions that don't currently need them and redeploy the equipment to other hospitals with the highest need. The National Guard will be used to transport the ventilators and PPE across the state. The equipment will be returned to the hospital or the hospital will be reimbursed for the equipment in the future.

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 will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning. Good to see most of you. No, good to see all of you. New state seal. That's right. This is the seal of the State of New York. The Legislature passed my modification to the seal. You see in the middle of the seal two words, Excelsior - State motto. Ever upwards. Aspirational. We can be better. We can lift ourselves. Excelsior. An we added e pluribus unum, which is actually more appropriate today than when we started this process. E pluribus unum - out of many one. It was our Founding Father's fundamental belief for this nation. Adams spoke to it. Madison spoke to it. Jefferson spoke to it. Although they had a lot of different opinions while they were doing the Constitution, the one thing they agreed was e pluribus unum. Out of many one. And it was good then and it's even better advice today.

The curve continues to go up. The number of tests has reached a new high. We did over 21,000 tests. Thank you to our great health department. We have over 10,000 new cases; 102,000 total tested positive, 14,000 hospitalized, 3,700 ICU patients, 8,800 patients discharged, that's good news. Number of deaths: Highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started, 2,300 to 2,900 deaths.

You see the totality for New York State, 102,000. New Jersey, California. Remember when this started, New York had airports that were designated entry zones. This is an international destination, international hub. You have people coming from across the world. Sooner and at a higher rate than anyone else. Total hospitalization, 1,400. It's also a new high. Daily ICU admissions is down a little bit, but you had more deaths, you have more people coming in to hospitals than any other night. Also more people going out which is obviously the ebb and flow that's coming in and out of the hospital system.

The hot spots we now track on a nightly basis. How many people go into what facility, so we can track the increase in what's happening? You see an increase in New York City as we knew. Certainly communities, frankly more in New York City than other communities. But you also see an increase on Long Island which is something we're concerned about. Long Island does not have as elaborate a health care system as New York City. We don't have the same amount of resources on Long Island and we see an increase in the number of cases on Long Island and that has us very concerned.

Supplies, PPE are in short supply as they are across the country. We need companies to make the materials. It is unbelievable to me that in New York State, in the United States of America, we can't make these materials and that we are all shopping China to try to get these materials and we're all competing against each other. These are not complex materials and will work with New York manufacturers. We'll finance the transition necessary to make these materials. We talk about them as if they're very complicated. This is an N-95 mask. This is it. It was 70 cents before this started. It's now as high as 7 dollars. But this is all that an N-95 mask is. It's fabric, it's material. The FDA has the specifications, then it's two pieces of elastic cord. It can't be that we can't make these. This is a gown. We call them gowns. This is a gown. There is nothing sophisticated about the manufacturing of this garment. There is nothing sophisticated about the material. It can't be that companies in this country, and in this state, can't transition to make those supplies quickly. Again, I understand if there's a financial burden. We will address that and we will work with you. So please, contact us.

Javits is going to be converted to a COVID facility. The original plan was to use Javits - Javits is a State convention center. It was retrofitted by the Army Corps of Engineers to hold 2,500 people. The original plan was that it would not take COVID-positive patients. It would take non-COVID patients and it would be an overflow for hospitals. As it turned out, we don't have non-COVID people to any great extent in the hospitals. Hospitals have turned into effectively ICU hospitals for COVID patients. We wanted to convert Javits from non-COVID to COVID. It is federally run. Frankly, the federal agencies were not eager to do that. FEMA was not eager to do that. I called the President. I spoke to him about it yesterday morning. That afternoon, yesterday afternoon, the president called me back and said he spoke to the task force. They would grant the request to transition the Javits center to COVID only. That adds 2,500 beds. That is a big deal. I thanked the President for doing it. He did it despite the fact that the federal agencies were not eager to do it, and he did it quickly. I thank him for that. It is a big deal for us.

We are still challenging the issue of ventilators. We don't have enough period. This situation is very simple now. People come in and they are almost all COVID people. Ironically, the number of non-COVID cases has dropped, because so many things are shut down that you don't have the same number of automobile accidents, people getting hit by cars. You don't have the same crime rate, so you don't have the same number of trauma cases coming into the hospital. They are COVID cases. Many of them go right to the ICU. In the ICU, you need a ventilator. And if you don't have a ventilator, the process stops and we don't have enough ventilators. We are doing everything possible, splitting the ventilators, using BiPAP machines by this new protocol, using the anesthesia ventilators. We're the government is being as helpful as they can from the federal stockpile. But in truth, I don't believe the federal stockpile has enough to help all of the states because you can't buy the material at this point.

We are still trying to buy from China. We are working with Alibaba, which has been very helpful to us. I spoke to Jack Ma and Mike Evans, who is the president. And they have been personally gracious and very, very helpful in trying to get us to source material from China. But we are going to have to redeploy ventilators from across the system. In other words, there are hospitals that have ventilators. There are hospitals that have PPE equipment. There are private-sector companies that have PPE equipment that they are not using that we are going to need to redeploy to the places in the hospitals where we need them. I had a conversation with the hospital administrator yesterday. I understand they don't want to give up their ventilators. Ventilators are expensive pieces of equipment. I understand that, even if they're not using them, they are reluctant to see them go out the door. The theory is if the government gets them, they will never get them back. I understand that. But I don't have an option.

I'm not going to get into a situation where we're running out of ventilators and people are dying because there are no ventilators but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they're not using. I'm just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible. I'm going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them. Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator. I can't do anything more than that. But I'm not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else. I apologize for the hardship for those institutions. Ultimately there is no hardship. If you don't get the ventilator back, I will give you my personal word, I'll pay you for the ventilator. I'm not going to let people die because we didn't redistribute ventilators. The National Guard are going to be deployed to pick up these ventilators which are all across the state and deploy them to places where we need them.

State budget passed last night, 3:00 a.m., as you know. The state budget was extraordinary. First, it passed a lot of major policy initiatives that we should all be very proud of: the nation's first domestic terrorism law. It improved bail reform. It addressed this child vaping scourge going across the nation. We banned fentanyl, a ban against repeat subway sex offenders, campaign finance reform, paid sick leave, middle class tax cut, very aggressive airport construction program and accessible renewable energy sightings.

I understand we're all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that's why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. These issues are still important and child vaping, etcetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. And they passed last night and congratulations.

The budget was difficult because the State has no money and how do you do a budget when you can't really forecast revenues and we came up with a somewhat novel budget that actually is calibrated to future revenues or losses. So we really start with an assumption and then what we're saying is when we see how much revenue the state makes, how fast the economy comes back, what the expenses are, we'll calibrate accordingly.

We are heavily reliant on the federal aid legislation that gets passed. The federal government has passed a couple of pieces of legislation. They're planning to pass another piece of legislation. It's very important that whatever legislation they pass helps state and local governments. When you deprive a state government all you are actually achieving is that that state government has to turn around and not fund the programs that were dependent on that state government. We fund education, health care. I spoke to Speaker Pelosi today. She's working on the program for the next piece of legislation. She understands fully the need of state government. She understands fully the need of local governments. She understands my position on how New York was shortchanged in the past bill and she said she's going to do everything she can do to help New York. I've worked with the Speaker many times. I've known her for 30 years and I believe her and her credibility and her competence is unparalleled, in my opinion. So I'll be working with the Speaker and the rest of the Congressional delegation going forward. But we need federal assistance. Depending on how much federal assistance we get, we'll be that calibration of the budget going forward.

Coronavirus response in general. There is a lot of conversations about how we should respond to this, governmentally, or from an intergovernmental perspective. People want to say this is a states' rights question versus federal interference. Who should decide what is done on a state level? There is no governor who is arguing that their state's rights are being trampled, right? It is not a states' rights issue. No one is standing up saying the federal government is trampling my rights. I have said that on other occasions. No governor, Democrat or Republican, is saying that here. Every state is saying the same thing. I need help, I need assistance. I don't consider this situation with federal government as interfering with a state's rights. This is a situation that is, by definition, a national disaster emergency situation, where the states need and welcome the federal assistance.

I was in the federal government, as you know. I worked on scores of federal emergencies. The only operational model that I see that could potentially work here at this stage, where we are today with the realities we are facing, where no state can get the supplies they need, no state can get the PPE they need. No state can get the ventilators they need. The market has literally collapsed. The only operational model that I see is you have curves - we have been talking about our curve - you have curves in different parts of the country. Those curves occur at different times. It depends on when the outbreak started in that region - how quickly it spread. So, you have different curves in different parts of the country, occurring at different times. I think the only practical solution at this point is focus on the emergency that is in front of you. Focus on the emergency that is at the place and time that is in front of you. And then, redeploy to the next situation.

New York is the tip of the spear, so to speak. We have the high numbers. We have the first major encounter. Deploy resources to New York. We will hit that curve. We will be at the top of the curve. Seventeen days, 21 days, we are on the others of the curve and we are coming down. And then I don't need the ventilators that we have amassed and split and the BiPAP machines. We can redeploy what we have, personnel equipment, to whatever locality is next. Now, it is not a perfect sequential timing. But, if you look at the projected curves, when it is going to hit Michigan, when it is going to hit Illinois, when it is going to hit Florida, you will see that there is a timing sequence to it. Why not, or what is the alternative, to now saying let's help each other? Let's focus on each situation as it develops, and let's move our resources and personnel as it develops.

What is the alternative to the crisis that we see looming nationwide? You can't. You do not have enough. The federal government does not have enough material to sit there and say whatever you need I can get you. Don't worry, California. Don't worry, Michigan, don't worry, New York, don't worry, Florida - they can't. They have essentially said I don't have enough in my stockpile to handle all of this. I will get into a blame game. Should it have been in the federal stockpile, should states have been stockpiled? Forget that. The reality is how do you handle this operation, unless you go from place to place and say each state has to help every other state as we go along? There is a simple analogy to this that we live all the time. When we have minor emergencies with disasters, when we have a minor hurricane that's regional in nature, or minor flood, power goes out. What do we do? All the power and utility companies from all across the country descend on that region that needs help. Right? After a hurricane, power lines are down. You look at the highways you see all those trucks coming in from different states, right? Arizona trucks, Colorado trucks. When Florida has a hurricane what do we do? We get in the trucks, everybody drives down to Florida, personnel, etcetera. When Puerto Rico got into trouble, what did we do? Con Edison, New York, Rochester Gas, they all went down to Puerto Rico. Why? Because help the place that has the crisis. This is that on a macro scale. New York is in crisis. Help New York and then pick up, decamp, and then go to the next place as this rolls across the country.

There's not a perfect timing. There will be two parts of the country that hit an apex at the same time. There will be three parts of the country that hit an apex at the same time. I do not see any operational practical alternative to dealing with this going forward. By the way, this is all operational. There is no concept. There's no abstraction. There's no philosophy to this. This is a person walks in the door. Do you have a bed? Do you have a staff person? Are they wearing PPE and do you have a ventilator? Are they all present at that moment when that person walks in that door? That's all this is. That's all this is. Forget testing, vaccines, that's a separate project. That's not where people are going to die in the near term. People are going to die in the near term because they walk into a hospital and there's no bed with a ventilator. Because there's either no bed, or no staff, or no PPE, or no ventilator. That is what is going to happen. I think this is the only way to avoid it.

Look, I believe the American people are there. How many times have seen a disaster across this country and how many American just show up to help. I mean, it's in the American DNA to say were here to help one another. It is E Pluribus Unum. I didn't have to put that on the seal. That's just a reminder, out of many one. We're community. We're Americans. We're family. We're brothers and sisters. There's a commonality. Well, I am New Yorker. You're from California. I know those are lines on piece of paper. We are the same. We're the same. We know that here in New York.

I asked for people to come help New York, health officials, health professionals. 20,000 people volunteered in a matter of days to come help New York in the middle of a pandemic. 20,000 people. Think about that. 20,000 health professionals said I'll leave my home and come to your state. Systematize that volunteerism. Systematize that genericity, that charity, and that expertise. That's how we beat this damn virus as it marches across the country.

We just deploy in front of the virus as it works its way across the country. In any event, when our curve is over that's what we're going to do. New Yorkers are going to take what we've amassed. We're going to take our equipment, we're going to take our personnel, we're going to take our knowledge and we will go to any community that needs help.

We're learning things that fortunately no other community had to learn because we're first and because of the intensity of the situation here. When our urgent need is over we will help any community in this nation that needs it, because that outpouring has been there for us. You know I remember post 9-11 and I remember post 9-11 without asking anyone for anything, the people who showed up in New York just to help. Tradesmen bringing tools, people bringing food, people trays of cookies, whatever. They just showed up. Nobody asked. They just showed up and said, "I'm here to help," and stood on the corner helping people. That's America at its best and at this time when we're dealing with our worst, let's deploy America at its best. And we know what that is and that can help us.

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