May 28, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order Authorizing Businesses to Deny Entry to Individuals Not Wearing Masks or Face-coverings

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order Authorizing Businesses to Deny Entry to Individuals Not Wearing Masks or Face-coverings

Partners with Rosie Perez and Chris Rock to Foster Communication and Education on the Importance of Wearing a Mask, Testing and Social Distancing

Announces State Will Distribute 1 Million Masks to New York City's Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods Today

Announces MTA Will Pilot the Use of UV Light Technology to Kill COVID-19 in Subway Cars and Crew Facilities

Confirms 1,768 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 366,733; New Cases in 38 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Today, I'm signing an Executive Order that authorizes private businesses to deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering. I have been working to communicate this message about masks and how effective they are. They are deceptively effective. They are amazingly effective. We've made them mandatory in public settings, public transportation, et cetera. When we're talking about reopening stores and places of business, we're giving the store owners the right to say if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in."

Cuomo: "I want to thank very much two great New Yorkers, two great performers, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez who are going to join us and I want to thank them very much. They're going to help communicate this, they're going to do advertisements for the State and they're going to help communicate this message that it's important for an individual's health, for a family's health and it's important for all our health. We're one family in New York. One family in Brooklyn. One family in Queens. One family New York City. And do it for the good of the family."

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings. The Executive Order builds on the state's ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers and slow the spread.

Governor Cuomo also announced a partnership with Rosie Perez and Chris Rock, who will help New York State build communication and education on the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing and the availability of testing and healthcare in the state.

The Governor also announced that New York State will distribute 1 million masks to New York City's hardest-hit neighborhoods today. The state has already distributed more than 8 million masks across New York City, including to NYCHA developments, food banks, churches and homeless shelters. New York State maintains a comprehensive testing network throughout the state, including more than 225 sites in New York City. New York's extensive testing—the state currently conducts tens of thousands of tests per day—now allows the government to pinpoint the state's hardest-hit neighborhoods for additional supplies and other aid.

The Governor also announced that the MTA will pilot the use of proven UV light technology to kill COVID-19 in subway cars and crew facilities. The MTA currently cleans and disinfects trains every day.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks 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 be here today. I am wearing a very cool mask today, let the record show, New York Tough, New York Mets colors. It is a pleasure to be in Brooklyn, New York. Let me thank Stanley King, who is the Director of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club. I am here with Melissa DeRosa to my right and Gareth Rhodes to my left. It is a pleasure to be back in Brooklyn. Spent a lot of time here. My grandparents were here. I am from a mixed marriage in New York City. My mother was from Brooklyn. My father was from Queens. So I spent a lot of time here and it is a pleasure to be back. And you will understand why we are in Brooklyn in a moment.

Let's talk about where we are today. Fact by fact across the morass, we are all trying to find our way through this. Andfollowing the facts are the way we have chosen to do it in the great state of New York. Facts today are good. The total number of hospitalizations are down. The rolling total is down. The change in intubations, people who are put on ventilators is down. So, that is very good news. And the number of new COVID cases per day is also down, 163,which is the lowest that it has been. So, that is all very, very good news from our point of view. The relatively positive news is the number of deaths continues to decline, 74. This is always painful and we are going to be watching this number to see how far down it actually goes. We have a large state and the COVID virus tends to attack those who are seniors and those who have underlying illnesses and will remain a cause of death for the foreseeable future, I'mafraid to say. But we want to get this number down as low as possible and we are doing everything that we can do to do that. We have the best hospitals, the best doctors, the best nurses. They are all working day and night. So, we can take a little solace in the fact that we know we have done everything we can to help save those 74 lives. We can't always be successful, but you can always do the most that you can do and that is what we are doing. And you see, again, the number of lives lost and how that number is coming down. That is all good news.

Yesterday, I was in Washington D.C., spoke to a lot of people, I met with the President, spoke to congressional members, spoke to senate members to try to find out what was going on. This is my opinion, so it is worth what you pay for it, and since you are not paying anything. Iunderstand what states must do to work their way through this pandemic. The states are taking the lead in the responsibility. I understand that. I understand what governors must do. I am the Vice Chairman of what is called the National Governors Association. So, I work with governors all across the nation and we talk about our responsibilities, and I feel good about what the states and what the governors are doing. My question is what is Washington going to do? The federal government, because they have a role also in this. Yes, the states are in charge and yes the states are implanting their plans. But we need support from the federal government. And that is the role of the federal government.

Washington has passed numerous pieces of legislation and they have successfully bailed out big corporations. Theyhave passed pieces of legislation that have a lot of benefits for the rich and the powerful. Now the question is what is Washington going to do in terms of passing legislation that helps working Americans, right? Police officers, firefighters, school teachers, hospitals, unemployed people, businesses that are struggling, how do we help them? How do we bring them up? And that is what states do and local governments do, and that is state and local government funding, andthey have to provide that. Also, my opinion is Washingtonshould, just for this once, and their proclivity to make every piece of legislation pork-barrel legislation. I understand they have to get senators to vote for it, and they have to get House members to vote for it, but that doesn't mean they have to make it a gravy train of pork just to pass it. Maybeyou can just pass a bill on the merits of a bill, how about that? Novel, but possible.

This is supposed to be a specifically targeted piece of legislation to help restore the economy and repair the damage of the COVID virus. Well, then make the legislation about funding to repair the COVID virus. And you know where the covid virus has been in this country, you know where it is wreaking havoc, you can count the number of deaths and where they are. You can count the number of positive cases and where they are. You look at the passed legislation that came out of Washington and how they dispersed money, and you look at how they wound up making it a gravy train. And every state got a lot of money,local governments got a lot of money, and in many cases t's disconnected from the COVID virus and the COVIDsituation. If you take the total funding and you actually look at how much states got per positive COVID case, it is not even close. Some states got millions of dollars per COVIDcase. New York state, we got about $23,000 per case. NewJersey, we got about $27,000 per case. I understand they have to quote unquote buy votes on a piece of legislation. Ialso understand it is taxpayers' money, and theoretically a legislator is there to do what is right, not because that legislator was seduced with large amounts of taxpayer dollars, even though that state wasn't affected.

I also think Washington has an opportunity to actually step up and to be smart for a change. They should be talking about revitalizing the economy, not just reopening the economy. I don't believe you just reopen the economy and it bounces back for everyone. I think it bounces back for the big corporations. I think it bounces back for the rich. I think it bounces back for the powerful. That is what happened after the 2008 financial crisis, the mortgage fraud crisis. The big banks that caused the crisis, they were fine just months afterwards. They took the federal bailout money and gave themselves bonuses. I remember. I was the Attorney General of New York. I chased those corporations to put the bonuses back. But how about the small businesses that closed? How about the corporations that are going to lay off workers now? What's going to happen to them? How about all those blue collar jobs that are not going to come back right away? How about those little retail stores that are not going to come back right away? So, it'snot just about revitalizing. It's not just about reopening, it's about revitalizing and it's about having a plan and a vision for the future.

Okay, we went through this. What is the plan going forward? We went through the depression but there was a plan afterwards. We went through World War II but there was a plan to restore the economy. Where is the plan? Where is the vision? Where is the plan to say, "Yes, we went through hell but heaven is on the other side, and we are going to rally and we are going to be better for this." B.B.B., build it back better. We are not just going to return to where we were. We are going to be better than ever before. And to make sure that any of those corporations that took taxpayer money rehire the same number of workers. You hear these corporations now talking about "Well, we are going to take this opportunity to restructure. We are going to get lean." You know what that means? That means they are going to lay off workers. They are going to boost their profits and their stock price by laying off workers and not rehiring people after the pandemic. Now, that is a corporations right, but you don't have to subsidize that with government money, right? You shouldn't be giving them government cash and then they lay off workers, and then the taxpayer has to pay unemployment for the workers they laid off. That would be a scandal, right? Well, if they don't stop it, it is going to happen here.

And if they were smart, they would finally rebuild the infrastructure in this nation, which they have been talking about for 30 to 40 years and they have never done. Youwant to put people to work? Build airports, build bridges, put technology in education, put technology in healthcare. Do the things you have talked about for 40 years but the government was never competent enough to do. And also, to Washington, after my conversations, so much of it is "Well, here is our politics. Here is our politics." Forget your politics. Just put it all aside. There is a greater interest than your politics. That's doing the right thing for this country and your constituents and stop the hyper-partisan attitude and the gridlock. Forget the red and blue, we are red, white and blue. We're all Americans. That's my opinion. Back to the facts.

We're going to focus on the opening of New York City. We have reopened the other regions of the state. We divided the state into different regions because the state has dramatically different facts across the state. We're in New York City, one the densest urban areas on the globe. We have parts of upstate New York which are rural areas, which look more like the Midwest and have facts more like the Midwest. We divided the state into regions and addressing the facts in each region. The other regions have all started reopening.

New York City, where we had a much higher number of cases than anywhere else in the state, anywhere else in the country than many countries on the globe. New York City is a more difficult situation. We were attacked in New York City by the coronavirus from Europe. I like to say that, because say, "What do you mean the coronavirus from Europe? I thought the coronavirus was from China." Yeah, so did I. So did everyone. That's what we were told. The coronavirus was coming from China. What we weren't told was the coronavirus left China, went to Europe, January, February. Then came here from Europe. Nobody told us. I know nobody told us. They say nobody knew. I don't know how nobody knew but the cases came from Europe. January, February, March 3 million people traveled from Europe to JFK and Newark Airport.

Why did New York City have so many cases? Because 3 million Europeans came January, February, March and brought the virus and nobody knew and nobody told us. No fault of our own. There's nothing endemic to New York City. Yeah, we have density, but we're all watching China. We're looking to the West and the virus came from the East. It came from Europe and that's been documented now. We were the hardest hit, but we're going to reopen as the smartest. If you look at the curve in New York right now you see how our numbers are going down. You see the curve in many other states, many other parts of the country still have the curve going up.

We did get hit the hardest, but we learned. The state has a set of rules and metrics to reopen that apply to New York City just like they apply to every other region. Why? Because what is safe to reopen in Buffalo is the same standard that is safe to reopen in Albany or Long Island or New York City. I'm not going to open any region that I don't believe is safe. We have different standards across the nation, different states have taken different standards. You can argue about whether or not we should have different standards of safety in this nation, but that's above my pay grade. I can tell you in this state there are no different standards of safety. What is safe to reopen is safe and if it's safe for your family, it's safe for my family. I wouldn't reopen an area that I didn't consider was safe for my family. That's my personal gage.

It's the same all across the board with the same rules. Phase one reopening is construction, manufacturing, curbside retail by specific guidelines. The other regions have all hit phase one. New York City has yet to hit phase one, but that's what we are pointing toward. Once you hit phase one, you continue to monitor the metrics. If all is good, you move to phase two accordingly. It is about the metrics. It is about rate of hospitalization, number of hospital beds, number of ICU beds, what's happening on the testing, what's happening on the symptoms that people are reporting and you monitor those metrics, those facts and you proceed accordingly.

New York City we have to make more progress on some of the metrics. We have to make more progress on what's called contact tracing, which is very important. After you test, whoever winds up positive, you trace back those contacts and you isolate. New York City you also have the added situation of public transportation. For New York City to reopen, you have working New Yorkers who commute on mass transit. We have to be able to have a mass transit system that is safe, that is clean and is not overcrowded.

The MTA has really taken the bull by the horns on this one. We never heard of disinfecting a train. We heard of cleaning trains and you can debate whether or not the trains were that clean, but to get them to a point where they're disinfected was a higher level, a higher standard than anyone ever dreamed of. They're now disinfecting every train and every bus on a daily basis. They're piloting the use of UV light technology to kill viruses in subway cars. They're using the best science to get ready for this.

In the meantime, we want to focus on New York City hotspots. If you look at New York City there are very different stories within the city. We now do enough testing - we do tens of thousands of tests per day - we are doing more testing in New York State than any state in the country. We're doing more testing in New York State, per capita, than any country on the globe. We're the testing capitol. When you do that many tests, you can target exactly where people are getting sick and where those new cases are coming from.

You can look at that by neighborhood, by zip code and what you see is more of the cases are coming from outer borough communities. More minority communities, lower income communities. New hospitalizations coming from people who are not currently working. They're not essential workers. They're communities where essential workers live, but they're not the essential workers. It's more from what we call community spread. It's in communities that have an underlying health care disparity, which is a problem across this country. Populations that have higher incidents of underlying illnesses and lack of masks, social distancing, particularly with younger people.

If you look at the testing results for example, you have communities that have double the infection rate of the city in general. The city in general is about 20 percent infection rate. You have communities that are literally more than double: 43 percent infection rate. Brownsville, Brooklyn 41 percent infection rate. East Bronx, 38 percent infection rate. Soundview, Bruckner section of the Bronx, 38 percent infection rate. Hollis, Queens - my old neighborhood - 35 percent infection rate. Flatbush, Brooklyn 45 percent infection rate. That's why we're here today.

You know these communities have a higher infection rate. You know the new cases that are being generated tend to come from these communities, well then target those communities. That's part of being smart. Get them help and get them help faster and address the health care inequality that is underlying all of this. Bring in more diagnostic testing, more antibody testing, more PPE, more health care services for the underlying illnesses. That's where the co-morbidities come from. Bring in more supplies and bring in more communication. We're doing all of the above. We're taking on the issue of inequality when it comes to health care and we're going to take on the challenge of the most impacted communities in terms of Covid.

We're working with Northwell Health Systems. Northwell is the largest health system in the state. It's a great organization and they're going to bring more health care services to the impacted communities in New York City that we're talking about. We're up to 225 testing sites. I just passed one on the way here today. Many of these testing sites are underused. We have testing sites, drive through sites that can do 15,000 tests a day. They're only doing 5 tests a day. There is no cost to the test. It does not hurt. It is pain free. I did the test on live TV, didn't flinch. It's just a nasal swab, there's no needle. You can go to the website: and find a site near you. Get tested. Get tested. If you have a symptom, get tested. If you're exposed to a person who was positive, get tested. It's no cost, it doesn't hurt and there are sites literally everywhere throughout the city.

We've delivered more than 8 million masks across New York City to public housing and food banks, churches and homeless shelters. The masks work. They work. We have to culturalize the masks. We have to customize the masks for New York to get New Yorkers to wear them. We're bringing one million additional masks today.

Today I'm signing an Executive Order that authorizes private businesses to deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering. I have been working to communicate this message about masks and how effective they are. They are deceptively effective. They are amazingly effective. We've made them mandatory in public settings, public transportation, et cetera. When we're talking about reopening stores and places of business, we're giving the store owners the right to say if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in. That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store. You don't want to wear a mask, fine, but you don't have a right to then go into that store if that store owner doesn't want you to. I will sign that Executive Order.

In general, more communication, more education about the availability and importance of testing, diagnostic testing, antibody testing. Wearing the PPE, why social distancing makes sense and communicating this to people. My main job all through this has been communications. This was not a task government could ever accomplish. I knew that from day one. I know what government can do, I know what government can't do. Tell 19 million people in the State of New York that they have to stay home. Government can't do that. I can say it, but we'd have no way to enforce it. It's up to what people do and people, especially New Yorkers, they're going to do what they want to do. They're going to do what's smart if you give them the information, if they believe you, if the information convinces them. They're going to do what they're going to do.

My job from day one has been communicating the facts to people so people can make a smart judgement from themselves. So people had the information to protect themselves. To protect their family. To decide what was smart. That's my job as Governor, that's what I've been doing. That's what I continue to do. I'm still trying to communicate to people how important it is to take tests and wear masks, et cetera. I have, at times, been frustrated that not everybody seems to get it.

I have my three girls at home, as you know, family keeps us grounded. Family always has a way of bringing you back to reality. My girls have been very good at telling me that when I raise the frustration of communication. They say, "Well, it's you, Dad. You're the one who's not communicating." I've had many helpful hints as to why I haven't been able to communicate effectively or to the level I would like to. That I'm not cool enough. I think I'm cool. I'm wearing a cool mask. I don't have enough edge - one of them said I don't have enough edge to communicate effectively.

So I'm trying different ways. They didn't like the state advertising, we're now doing different state advertising. But I understand that I need reinforcements and I need help in communication. Especially, when I'm in Brooklyn, even though I'm half from Brooklyn, that doesn't matter when you're from Brooklyn. They want a full-fledged Brooklyn voice if they're going to listen to a Brooklyn voice of authority. So I'm going to bring in reinforcements to help us communicate that message and I'm pleased to have them with us today and I want to thank very much two great New Yorkers, two great performers, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez who are going to join us and I want to thank them very much. They're going to help communicate this, they're going to do advertisements for the state and they're going to help communicate this message that it's important for an individual's health, for a family's health and it's important for all our health. We're one family in New York. One family in Brooklyn. One family in Queens. One family New York City. And do it for the good of the family. Rosie, it's great to be with you again. Chris, I'm so glad that you're here. I cannot thank you guys enough and we'd love to hear from you. Whichever one wants to start.

Chris Rock: Ladies?

Rosie Perez: Thank you, Chris. You're such a gentleman.

Governor Cuomo: What a gentleman.

Rosie Perez: It's an honor and it's really good to be here with my friend, my fellow Brooklynite, Chris Rock, and of course fantastic Governor Cuomo, who has been such an amazing leader during this crisis. You know, and I'm proud to be partnering with the governor to make sure that my hometown, my borough, my beloved borough of Brooklyn and all of New York most impacted communities have their resources. They need to stop the spread of this virus and to help spread the word about what we all have to do to beat this virus. In a Brooklyn there's a saying, spread love the Brooklyn way. And I want to extend that to not just the outer boroughs, to the tri-state area, but to all of America, and to all the world. Spreading love the Brooklyn way means respecting your neighbors, respecting your communities, and the way you can do that is by getting tested, wearing a mask. That says, I love you and you love me. I respect you and you respect me back. I don't care who you voted for. I don't care who you're going to vote for.

All I care is that we get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. Over a hundred thousand deaths is just incredibly heartbreaking and we can lower these numbers. We're already doing it. And I wish the media would show how effective the governor has been in spreading this message of wearing a mask and keeping social distancing. And for those who are not adhering to the guidelines, just know that you're not just disrespecting yourself. You're disrespecting your loved ones, your communities, your neighbors, everyone. So please spread love the Brooklyn way. Get tested. Wear a mask, and let's help fight this virus. We could do it. We could do it. We will rise up. We will stand up. Brooklyn stand up. New York stand up. America, please stand up and be safe. Thank you so much. And I just want to say that our governor is a rock star and he makes me proud to be from New York.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. You guys are the rock stars. I'm just a fan. Thank you so much. Rosie, thank you so much. Chris?

Chris Rock: Yes, thank you. I watch you every single day and you bring me calm, you know? You bring me joy. Didn't Anita Baker sing that? You bring me joy every single day, because I don't know what's going on. I thought I loved lived in the United States. I thought I lived in a country and now I realize we have 50 countries, essentially. Right now we're in the country of New York. I want to say, I got the test today. I just got tested to come out here. I got a 65. So just past. Just past. Actually, you know, we haven't been able to perform or do any shows or anything. I'm looking at this microphone like, wow. Can I just say hi, microphone, I really missed you. I know it's been hard, but we're going to get back together at some point. It's going to be even better than the last time, microphone. I will never take you for granted.

People need to get tested. People need to make it a festive occasion. They need to posse up and get tested. Like all the crew is getting tested. And the family should get tested. You know, if you love your grandmother, if you love your elderly mother, your elderly anybody, you should get tested. And it's not just, you know, it's wherever there are poor people, really. It's wherever people are congested. So, yes it's in East New York. Yes, it's in Brownsville. But, you know, it's also in Garrison Beach. It's also in Marine Park. It's also, you know? So, everybody that can get tested should get tested as soon as possible. And I'm just so, you know, the governor called me up and I'm here to do whatever is required, you know. I hope to God that when this is over, you're still a part of the government. I hope this isn't the last like oh, it is over, no. I hope this keeps going on.

Governor Cuomo: I hope so too. I wouldn't be bad.

Chris Rock: It wouldn't be bad.

Rosie Perez: Excuse me, governor, I also would like to say that -- wear a mask, please. The numbers in our communities are staggering. This is not a joke. This is not a hoax. This is real. This is real deal Holyfield. So please, love each other, love yourselves. Get tested, wear a mask.

Chris Rock: Get tested, wear a mask. It's like when the doctor prescribes antibiotics. He says take the whole prescription and if you stop, whatever you came in there for is going to come back worse. So social distancing is what was the prescription and we need to take the whole dose. Or else it is going to get worse.

Governor Cuomo: So true, so well said. Look, it is a new thing, right? This wear a mask thing. It's just a couple of months when you think about it. Nobody heard about it before that. You'd watch TV every once in a while, you would see people in China wearing masks, but nobody did it here, right. So, it is introducing a whole new concept to people. And it's not only making it okay, it's making it not okay to not wear a mask. Not wearing a mask is not okay and that has to be the culture. And that has to be the attitude. It's not okay if you don't wear a mask. It's not okay for you to jeopardize my health. I don't think its right for you to jeopardize your health, but that's your health. And by the way, you jeopardize your health, you also jeopardize the health of your family when you go home and whoever else you are interacting with. But you don't have a right to jeopardize my health.

So, it is as Rosie said, its respect. It's civic duty. It's humanity. It is New York. You know, New York is, New York is 19 million people who start with the premise that we can all live together. In a very close area, right. Part of that acknowledgment is, we're going to respect one another. And we're going to respect each other's space and add we're going to respect each other's air to respecting each other's space, right. We're going to respect each other's air. Wear a mask. Thank you, Rosie. Thank you, Chris.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

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