April 8, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Directs Flags to be Flown at Half-Mast in Honor of Those We Have Lost to COVID-19

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Directs Flags to be Flown at Half-Mast in Honor of Those We Have Lost to COVID-19

Flags Will Remain Lowered While New York is on PAUSE

Kosciuszko Bridge, Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Spire of One World Trade Center and LaGuardia Airport Parking Garages Will Be Lit Blue on Thursday, April 9th as Part of the #LightItBlue Campaign

Announces SUNY Albany President Havidan Rodriguez Will Work with State Department of Health and Northwell Health to Conduct More COVID-19 Data Research and Increase Testing in Minority Communities

Directs State Department of Labor to Make $600 in Additional Weekly Unemployment Benefits Available to All New Yorkers -- Extends Period Covered by Unemployment Benefits for Another 13 Weeks, for Total of 39 Weeks

Governor Will Issue Executive Order to Ensure New Yorkers Can Vote Absentee in the June 23rd Primary Elections

2,400 Brand New BiPAP Machines Donated to the State by Mercury Medical, Flown to New York from Florida for Free by JetBlue and Transported on the Ground by Southern Glazer's

Announces Delta, JetBlue and United are Offering Free Travel to New York for COVID-19 Medical Workers

State Has Distributed Over One Million Free Bottles of NYS Clean Hand Sanitizer Across All 62 Counties

Confirms 10,453 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 149,316; New Cases in 52 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "It's not a time to get complacent. It's not a time to do anything different than we've been doing. Remember what happened in Italy when the entire health care system became overrun. So we have to remain diligent, we have to remain disciplined going forward. There's no doubt that we are now bending the curve and there's no doubt that we can't stop doing what we're doing."

Earlier today, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of those we have lost to COVID-19. The flags will remain lowered while New York is on pause.

Governor Cuomo also announced that on Thursday, April 9th, the Kosciuszko Bridge, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the spire of One World Trade Center and LaGuardia Airport parking garages will be lit blue as part of the #LightItBlue campaign. The initiative simultaneously lights up buildings, landmarks and LED screens across the US to show support and gratitude to those health care professionals and essential workers on the frontlines and create a universal symbol of solidarity and hope.

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 afternoon to everyone. These are stressful, emotional times as we know. Today is a day in the State of New York with very mixed emotions based on two very different pieces of information we have. I'm trying to work through the mixed emotions for myself, so I'll just present the facts and then we'll go from there.

There is good news in what we're seeing that what we have done and what we are doing is actually working and it's making a difference. We took dramatic actions in this state. We did the New York PAUSE program to close down schools, businesses, social distancing and it's working. It is flattening the curve and we see that again today so far. Meaning what? Meaning that curve is flattening because we are flattening the curve by what we are doing. If we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change. That curve is purely a function of what we do day-in and day-out.

Right now it's flattening. The number of patients hospitalized is down. Again, we don't just look at day-to-day data, you look at the three-day trend but that number is down. The three-day average trend is also down. Anecdotally there are individual hospitals, the larger systems are reporting that some of them are actually releasing more people than are coming in. They're net down. So we see the quote, unquote flattening of the curve.

We have more capacity in the hospital system than ever before. We've had more capacity in that system to absorb more people. The sharing of equipment, which has been really one of the beautiful cooperative, generous acts among different partners in the health care system has worked. If the hospitalization rate keeps the decreasing the way it is now, then the system should stabilize over these next couple of weeks, which will minimize the need for overflow on the system that we have built in at Javits and at the USNS Comfort.

That is all good news. There's a big caution sign, that's if we continue doing what we're doing. If we continue doing what we're doing. We are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about social distancing, et cetera. So if we continue doing what we're doing then we believe the curve will continue to flatten. But, it's not a time to get complacent. It's not a time to do anything different than we've been doing. Remember what happened in Italy when the entire health care system became overrun. So we have to remain diligent, we have to remain disciplined going forward. There's no doubt that we are now bending the curve and there's no doubt that we can't stop doing what we're doing.

That's the good news. The bad news isn't just bad, the bad news is actually terrible. Highest single day death toll yet, 779 people. When you look at the numbers on the death toll, it has been going steadily up. It reached new height yesterday. The number of deaths, as a matter of fact, the number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely you will come off the ventilator. Dr. Fauci spoke to me about this and he was 100 percent right. The quote unquote lagging indicator between hospitalizations and deaths. The hospitalizations can start to drop, but the deaths actually increase because the people who have been in the hospital for 11 days, 14 days, 17 days pass away. That's what we're seeing. Hospitalizations drop and the death toll rises. I understand the science of it. I understand the facts and the logic of it. But it is still incredibly difficult to deal with. Every number is a face, right. And that's been painfully obvious to me every day.

But we have lost people, many of them front line workers, many of them health care workers, many of them people who were doing the essential functions that we all needed for society to go on, and they were putting themselves at risk. And they knew they were. Many of them vulnerable people who this vicious predator of a virus targeted from day one. This virus attacked the vulnerable and attacked the weak. And it's our job as a society to protect those vulnerable. And that's what this has always been about from day one, and it still is about.

Be responsible, not just for yourself, but to protect the vulnerable. Be responsible because the life you risk may not be your own. Those people who walk into an emergency room every day and put themselves at peril, don't make their situation worse. Don't infect yourself or infect someone else or their situation becomes more dangerous. Just to put a perspective on this, 9/11, which so many of us lived through in this state and in this nation, 2,753 lives lost. This crisis we've lost 6,268 New Yorkers. I'm going to direct all flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of those who we have lost to this virus.

Big question from everyone, from my daughters, I'm sure around most people's dinner table, when will things go back to the way they were? I don't think it's about going back. I don't think it's ever about going back. I think the question is always about going forward, and that's what we have to deal with here. It's about learning from what we've experienced and it's about growing and it's about moving forward. Well, when will we return to normal? I don't think we return to normal. I don't think we return to yesterday, where we were. I think if we're smart, we achieve a new normal. The way we are understanding a new normal when it comes to the economy and a new normal when it comes to the environment. Now we understand a new normal in terms of health and public health and we have to learn just the way we've been learning about the new normal in other aspects of society.

We have to learn what it means - global pandemic, how small the world has actually gotten. Someone sneezes in Asia today, you catch a cold tomorrow. Whatever happens in any country on this globe can get on an airplane and be here literally overnight and understanding this phenomenon and having a new appreciation for it, how our public health system has to be prepared and the scale to which we need a public health system. Look at the way we're scrambling right now to make this work. We have to learn from that.

I think we've also learned positive lessons. We found ways to use technology that we never explored before. You have a New York State court system that - thank you, Chief Judge - is basically developing a virtual online court system which has all sorts of positive benefits going forward. Using technology for health care, using technology to work from home, using technology for education. These are all positives that we can learn.

Testing capacity which we still have to develop - that is going to be the bridge from where we are today to the new economy in my opinion. It's going to be a testing informed transition to the new economy where people who have the antibodies, people who are negative, people who have been exposed and now are better, those are the people who can go to work and you know who they are because you can do testing. But that we've all developed a sense of scale over the past few weeks in dealing with this.

There's also lessons to be learned - why are more African-Americans and Latinos affected? We're seeing this around the country. Now the numbers in New York are not as bad as the disparities we see in other places across the country but there still are apparently disparities. Why? Comorbidity - I understand that. But I think there's something more to it. It always seems that the poorest people pay the highest price. Why is that? Why is that? Whatever the situation is, natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the people standing on those rooftops were not rich White people. Why? Why is it that the poorest people always pay the highest price? But let's figure it out. Let's do the work. Let's do the research. Let's learn from this moment and let's learn these lessons and let's do it now.

We're going to do more testing in minority communities but not just testing for the virus. Let's actually get research and data that can inform us as to why are we having more people in minority communities, more people in certain neighborhoods, why do they have higher rates of infection? I get the comorbidity. I get the underlying illness issue, but what else is at play? Are more public workers Latino and African-American who don't have a choice, frankly, but to go out there everyday and drive the bus and drive the train and show up for work and wind up subjecting themselves to, in this case, the virus whereas many other people who had the option just absented themselves. They live in more dense communities, more urban environments. But what is it? And let's learn from that and let's do it now.

I'm going to ask our SUNY Albany chief Dr. Havidán Rodriguez to head an effort to do it right now. We'll do more testing in minority communities now with more data research done now. So let's learn now. The Department of Health will be doing it along with Northwell. But let's learn these lessons now.

We're also going to make an additional $600 payment to all unemployed New Yorkers. The federal government says they will reimburse us for it, but people need money now in their pocket. New York will be doing that immediately. We're also extending the period coverage of unemployment benefits for an additional thirteen weeks. Goes from 26 weeks to 39 weeks. That should be a relief.

On voting, I've seen lines of people on television voting in other states. This is totally nonsensical. God bless them for having such diligence for their civic duty that they would go stand on a line to vote. People shouldn't have to make that choice and, by executive order, all New Yorkers can vote absentee on the June 23 primaries coming up.

I want to say thank you to all the places and people who are working with the State of New York. Mercury Medical dedicated 2,400 BiPAP machines. BiPAP machines are technically not ventilators, but they can be modified to effectively ventilate even though they are not ventilators and we are using them. They were brought up from Florida, thank you very much JetBlue for doing that. I also want to thank Oregon and Washington State and California for freeing up ventilators. I want to thank the direct care workers who are doing a fantastic job and they're doing it every day. I want to thank the state workers who are showing up and doing a great job every day. Every first responder. This has been a long battle and it's going to go on, but I want them to know how thankful we all are of them for what they're doing. I want people to remember that we're flattening that curve and if anything, we double down now on our diligence.

We're going to start a social media campaign. Who are you staying home for? It's not about staying home for yourself, stay home for others. Stay home for the vulnerable people who, if they get this virus, are in a really bad place in life. Stay home for the health care worker who's in the emergency room because you don't want to infect anybody else who then puts another greater load on our health care system. So who are you staying home for? I'm staying home for my mother. It's not about just you. It is about all of us. Who are you staying home for? We'll start a social media campaign that does that.

Thank you to all the New Yorkers for all they have done and we still have more to do. We are by no means out of the woods. Do not miss read what you have seen in that data and on those charts. That is a pure product of our actions and behavior. If we behave differently, you will see those numbers change. I just doubled the fine on disobeying the social distancing rules. Why? Because, if anything we have to get more diligent, not less diligent, and we have more to do. And that's New York tough, but tough is more than just tough. Tough is smart and disciplined and unified and tough loving. The toughest guys are tough enough to love, right?

Last point, our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community celebrate Passover tonight. We wish them all a happy Passover. The Jewish community has had a long and difficult year, besides any of this. The number of incidents of anti-Semitism across this country, the violence that they have seen even in this state of New York that has such a large Jewish population. So, we wish them all well on Passover. The message of Passover I know helps me today, and I offer to others to consider. Passover says we remember the past. We learn from the past. We remember the lessons of the past. We teach a new generation those lessons. But, there is also a message of hope in Passover. Next year in Jerusalem. Next year the promised land. Next year will be better. And yes, this has been a difficult month. We'll learn a lot and we'll move forward, and we'll be better for it.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

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