April 9, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Five New COVID-19 Testing Facilities in Minority Communities Downstate

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Five New COVID-19 Testing Facilities in Minority Communities Downstate

Announces "New York Loves" Effort to Coordinate All Foundations, Philanthropies, Not-for-Profits, Charities and Other Entities that Want to Help or Donate to the State

Asks New Yorkers Who Have Recovered from Virus to Donate Blood

Governor Will Issue Executive Order to Bring in Additional Funeral Directors to Help with High Number of Deaths

Confirms 10,621 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 159,937; New Cases in 55 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "There are always two questions: can you enact these policies, and then can you enact the policies in a way that people will follow? You know, we can enact a policy, and people thumb their nose to it and continue doing what they're doing. So there has to be a social acceptance, an adherence, to the policy. And New Yorkers are doing that. They're acting responsibility, and diligently, and we are saving lives by what people are doing today. Our expression has been New York Tough, because every day is tough on many, many levels. I get it. But, every day that we are New York Tough, we are actually saving lives."

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier today announced five new testing facilities downstate, primarily in minority communities. A drive-through mobile testing facility will open at the Sears Parking Lot at 2307 Beverly Road in Brooklyn tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., and a drive-through mobile testing facility opened at the Club House at Aqueduct Race Track Parking Lot, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, in Queens on Monday April 6th. In addition, the state is opening three walk-in facilities at health care centers in the South Bronx; Jamaica, Queens; and in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The walk-in facilities will open next week and will be by appointment only.

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. Today is Thursday, April 9 if you were wondering about where we are today. Seems like one day blends into the other. You have weekdays and you have weekends. But do you really have weekdays and weekends if you're not working? Today I think it's important to take an overall look at where we are. The context, the perspective because we're starting to see a shift and I want to make sure that people actually keep the shift in perspective and understand where we are in the scope of our journey in this situation.

It's been 18 days since we closed down New York. I know it feels like a lifetime. I tell my daughters every day, "It's only 18 days since everything days." It's 39 days since the first COVID case in New York. It feels like a lifetime. It's 80 days since we had the first COVID case in the United States. Eighty days. Been an intense, life-changing 80 days, but that's what it has been.

When we started this situation that we are still in the midst of, before people get complacent. The end of the March, the White House task force, coronavirus task force, was still talking about 1.5-2.2 million deaths. The best case scenario with quote, unquote mitigation efforts, was 100,000-240,000 deaths in the United States, which is breathtaking. For New York, there were a number of models that were put out that we are following. The most frightening was Columbia University that said we could have 136,000 people in New York City only who would be hospitalized. Not infected. We had the McKinsey model which suggested 110,000 people could be hospitalized statewide. We had a second scenario from McKinsey which is 55,000 people hospitalized. Then the Gates Foundation, thank you very much, funded the IHNE study which said a highpoint of 73,000 statewide.

Any of these scenarios are devastating for New York. Because remember we only have a 53,000 bed capacity system statewide; 36,000 beds in New York City. Any of these scenarios are problematic. Luckily, the current trend, if it continues - and if we continue the flattening of the curve - we're at about 18,000 people hospitalized right now. We have increased the capacity of the system dramatically. We have moved pieces around the state like never before. Our health care system has done a phenomenal job of doing an insurmountable task. Our federal partners, the Army Corps of Engineers, they have just really all done a great, great job. Our theory, and I believe my job as Governor, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Now, we're at about 90,000 bed capacity in our overall system today with everything we've done. Even the 90,000 beds, as you see, doesn't compare with the most problematic scenarios. Ninety thousand beds, we can handle the McKinsey moderate scenario. We don't make the McKinsey severe scenario at 110,000. I believe that 90,000 we have a plan to get to 110,000, converting dormitories, et cetera, et cetera. But it would be a massive undertaking and a massive scramble. We do make the Gates funded projection model. The Columbia University model we can never, that would just be a nightmare. That's the one that keeps me up at night because you couldn't get anywhere near that projection.

All of the statisticians also said, "Look, we don't know how effective you can be at closing things down and social distancing," because we've never done it before. But they all said that's the chance to so-called flatten the curve if you actually got people to comply with all these measures, and we have never seen it done before in this country and we don't know if you can do it. So that is the big if in the equation. And that remains the big if in the equation. You can flatten the curve, we are flattening the curve, by what we're doing, and we're flattening the curve so far. We should all be concerned, especially New Yorkers, well, we're flattening the curve, that's good news. It is good news. Well now I can relax.

No, you can't relax. The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. This is all a direct consequence to our actions. If we stop acting the way we're acting, you will see those numbers go up. And I showed the projection models because we can't handle the worst-case scenarios. We can't even handle the moderate case scenarios with all we've done. So it is essential that we keep that curve flattened because we don't have an option of handling the curve if it goes higher.

The additional good news is the hospitalization rate does suggest that it's coming down and we are flattening the curve. We had 200 net increase in hospitalizations, which you can see is the lowest number we've had since this nightmare started, actually. Change in ICU admissions is the lowest number we've had since March 19 or so. All of this data suggests that we are flattening the curve so far, and the numbers are coming down so far. Number of intubations is down, three-day average on intubations is down. So far our efforts are working. They're working better than anyone projected they would work. That's because people are complying with them.

You know there are always two questions: can you enact these policies, and then can you enact the policies in a way that people will follow? You know, we can enact a policy, and people thumb their nose to it and continue doing what they're doing. So there has to be a social acceptance, an adherence, to the policy. And New Yorkers are doing that. They're acting responsibility, and diligently, and we are saving lives by what people are doing today. Our expression has been New York Tough, because every day is tough on many, many levels. I get it. But, every day that we are New York Tough, we are actually saving lives.

And don't underestimate this virus. I think that is a mistake we made from day one. We is the collective we, we is the global community. This virus is very, very good at what it does. We lost more lives yesterday than we have to date. We understand, and all the experts have said, Dr. Fauci said from day one to me, you will see the deaths increasing after the hospitalizations because the deaths increase the longer a person is in the hospital, the longer a person is on the ventilator. I understand the scientific concept. I understand the data. But you're talking about 799 lives. The highest number ever. It's gotten to the point, frankly, that we're going to bring in additional funeral directors to deal with the number of people who have passed. If you ever told me that as governor I would have to take these actions, I couldn't even contemplate where we are now.

And to put all of this in perspective, I lived through 9/11. 9/11 was supposed to be the darkest day in New York for a generation. We've done everything we can since 9/11 to make sure 9/11 didn't happen again. We lose 2,753 lives on 9/11. We've lost over 7,000 lives to this crisis. That is so shocking, and painful and breathtaking I don't even have the words for it. 9/11 was so devastating, so tragic, and then in many ways we lose so many more New Yorkers to this silent killer. There was no explosion but it was a silent explosion that just ripples through society with this same randomness, the same evil that we saw on 9/11.

What we do we do? We move forward and we do the work that we need to do. We're going to start an effort called New York Loves which is going to be a coordination of all the charities and not-for-profits and foundations and people who want to help. There's been a tremendous outpouring of support from organized not-for-profits, et cetera, but also people just wanting to donate, people just wanting to help. The best effort is if we can coordinate all those resources to make sure there's not duplication and we're actually addressing the right need. So the Department of State, Rossana Rosado, Secretary of State, and Fran Barrett who coordinates not-for-profits - we will coordinate all the people who want to donate and help and will work with the local governments that need help.

Also let's learn the lessons of what we're going through now because we haven't finished going through it. Let's learn how and why this virus kills especially why we have higher fatality rates among African Americans and Latinos and what we do about it. Let's understand it but let's also address it. We're going to be doing more testing in African-American and Latino communities. With more data we're going to open new testing sites primarily in African American and Latino communities. With SUNY Albany, Department of Health, Northwell - collect the test results but also collect the information that we need to come up with policies to fix this. Where do people live? Where do people work? What's the socioeconomic status? Where do they socialize? What are the previous health conditions? Why do we have these higher rates and what do we do about it in? Let's do that.

Rapid testing and testing is going to be the bridge to the new economy and getting to work and restarting. We're not going to go to go from red to green. We're going to go from red to yellow. Yellow is let the people who can go back to work start going back to work. How do you know who can go back to work? Test them. You have rapid testing capacity. We have to bring it to scale. We have to bring it to scale quickly and that's something that the State is working on as well as the federal government.

Let's also find the treatment for this disease - a convalescent plasma which is plasma from people who were infected that can be then used to treat people who get infected. We need that plasma from people who were infected. We're starting up lot blood drive and asking those who have recovered from the virus to contact us and to donate blood so we can develop the convalescent plasma treatment and there's a website on the screen that they can go to to help.

We also have to be prepared and stay prepared. We have to have the supplies. We have to have the right laws. We have to have the right procedures because remember the 1918 Spanish flu came in three waves. We're on the first weight. Everybody is assuming well once we get through this we're done. I wouldn't be so quick to assume that. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. We've underestimated the enemy and that is always dangerous my friends and we should not do that again. There is an article in the LA Times that says the communities that have dealt with this before like Wuhan and Singapore are now seeing a second wave of infection. There is a theory that this virus can mutate and change and come back. We're in a battle but this is about a war and we're only on one battle here. Even once we get through this battle, we have to stay prepared for what could come down the road. And we also have to start to repair the immense damage.

Before you start talking about restarting the economy you're going to have to address the damage that is done to society today which is intense. The economic damage. People who are now living in poverty. I mean, people have been without a check, without a job, for weeks. Most people in this state live paycheck to paycheck and all of a sudden the paychecks stop. We're doing everything we can on the unemployment benefits and increasing the unemployment benefits. But, you have families that are in true economic hardship and are impoverished because of this situation.

What we do with the housing market, the healthcare system we have pushed to the max. We have pushed people to the max, we have pushed facilities to the max. We have beds in lobbies, in conference rooms, in hallways. I mean, we did what we had to do to be ready, but we have done a lot of damage in the midst that has to be undone. So, that's something that we're working on immediately.

We need the federal government to be responsible. We need the federal government to pass legislation that helps. We have to stabilize state and local governments across this country. New York State has had the highest number of cases by far and away. Our costs have been the highest in the country. They passed legislation that was enacted. We were told it would bring 6 billion dollars to healthcare. When we did our state budget a couple of weeks ago, we believed what they said and we believed we were looking at 6 billion dollars in healthcare funding. Turns out, when we actually read the language, it was about 1.3 billion dollars to the state of New York, which is much different than 5 or 6 billion dollars. The funding disqualified one third of New York's Medicaid recipients, which nobody said. To our federal representatives, I spoke to Senator Schumer, I spoke to Senator Gillibrand, this is no time for politics. This is a time to enact the legislation that actually addresses the need. I was in Washington for eight years, I get how the political process works in Washington. Not here and not now, my friends.

We also have a significant mental health issue that comes with what we've done. The isolation, the disorientation. It's a growing problem. We have a growing problem with the number of domestic violence cases. If you need help during this highly stressful period, and I suspect more people need help than acknowledge that they need help, we have a support hotline. We have thousands of people who have volunteered to help. People should reach out and ask for it.

We have to stay ahead of this virus. We're watching Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk. The numbers have come down in New York City. But you look at the concentric circles around New York City, the natural spread, the natural concentric circles, are toward the suburban communities - Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk. Westchester we've had problems already. One of the first hotspots in the nation was New Rochelle in Westchester. Now we're seeing numbers creep up in Rockland. Nassau and Suffolk, the numbers are creeping up so we're watching those areas next. We sent additional equipment last night.

The overall point is, look, you stay at home and you save a life. Period. Stay at home, you save a life. I know New Yorkers, I'm born and bred, the instinct is well this is good news, now I can relax because, by the way, I've been dying to relax and get out of the house and end this Groundhog Day reality. Yeah, you're not out of the woods. Now is not the time to misunderstand what's happening. We have done great things and we have saved lives because we have followed these policies. The moment you stop following the policies, you will go right back and see that number shoot through the roof. We are not prepared to handle the highest numbers in those projection models. Whatever we do, you can't take a 50,000 bed system and get it to 136,000 beds. It's an impossibility.

I'm a person who never says no and believes New York can do anything if we try. I'm telling you, we have to keep that curve flat. Today we can say we have lost many of our brothers and sisters, but we haven't lost anyone because they didn't get the right and best health care that they could. The way I sleep at night is I believe that we didn't lose anyone that we could have saved. And that is the only solace when I look at these numbers and look at this pain that has been created. That has to be true. That has to continue. That is a function of what each and every one of us does.

New York tough, Yes. We're tough, but tough means we're smart, we're disciplined, we're unified, and we're loving. If you don't want to stay home for yourself, stay home for someone you love. That's what the stay at home campaign is all about. You want to have reckless disregard for your life? It's not about your life. It's about the health care worker who will have to treat you in the emergency room. It's about the vulnerable person who you infect, who you could kill by your actions. Sometimes it's not about you, Right? It's not about me. It's about we. That's where we are.

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