March 17, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: During Coronavirus Briefing, Governor Cuomo Calls for National Unity in Face of Historic Coronavirus Pandemic

TOP Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript:...

Governor Cuomo: "This is an extraordinary time in this nation's history. It will go down in the history books as one of those moments of true crisis and confusion and chaos. I lived through 9/11. I remember the fear and the panic that existed on 9/11 where a single moment your whole concept of life and society can be shaken, where you need to see government perform at its best, you need to see people perform at their best. Everybody is afraid. Everybody is nervous. How you respond, how you act, this is a character test for all of us individually. It is a character test for us collectively as a society. What did you do at that moment when all around you lost their head?... That is this moment. What does government do in this moment? It steps up, it performs, it does what it's supposed to do. It does it better than it's ever done it before." "

 

Cuomo: "We're not Democrats and we're not Republicans. We are Americans at the end of the day. That's who we are and that's who we are when we are at our best so this hyper-sensitivity about politics and reading every comment and wanting to pit one against the other - there is no time for this."

 

Cuomo: "Be a little bit more sensitive, understand the stress, understand the fear, be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative... we are going to get through it and we are going to get thought it together. But understand the pressures that everyone is feeling and let's be considerate of those feelings that are now collective and societal."

 

Cuomo: "Last point is this, keep it all in focus. There's a gentleman who used to be here who used to come through that back door, wheel himself through this room, get behind a desk, dealt with every hardship, raised himself up from a wheelchair every time he had to speak. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said most things better than anyone has said them since. He said, paraphrased, things are going to get worse and worse before they get better and better and the American people deserve to hear it straight from the shoulder. Tell the people the truth, tell them the facts. The facts are comforting. That's my job and what I've been trying to do. These are the facts, this is the truth. I tell you the truth when it's pretty and when it's not pretty, but knowing the truth, I think, is reassuring. As I know the truth, I tell the people of the State the truth. That's the first step, then we do what we have to do, and we will. Thank you, God bless you."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today during a coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a call for national unity in the face of the historic coronavirus pandemic. The Governor urged President Trump to partner with New York and to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers and the full strength of the federal government to help stop the spread of the virus.

 

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

 

VIDEO of the Governor speaking on FDR's leadership is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

 

AUDIO of the Governor speaking on FDR's leadership is available here.

 

PHOTOS of today's remarks will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

 

A rush transcript is available below:

 

This is an extraordinary time in this nation's history. It will go down in the history books as one of those moments of true crisis and confusion and chaos. I lived through 9/11. I remember the fear and the panic that existed on 9/11 where a single moment your whole concept of life and society can be shaken, where you need to see government perform at its best, you need to see people perform at their best. Everybody is afraid. Everybody is nervous. How you respond, how you act, this is a character test for all of us individually. It is a character test for us collectively as a society. What did you do at that moment when all around you lost their head?

 

That is this moment. What does government do in this moment? It steps up, it performs, it does what it's supposed to do. It does it better than it's ever done it before. What does government not do? It does not engage in politics, or partisanship. Even if you are in the midst of an election season. Even if you are in the moment in time in history when you have hyper-partisanship, which we now have. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, it is essential that the federal government works with the State and that this state works with the federal government.

 

We cannot do this on our own. I built airports, I built bridges, we have made this government do things that it's never done before. This government has done summersaults, it's performed better than ever before. I am telling you, this government cannot meet this crisis without the resources and capacity of the federal government. I spoke to the President this morning again. He is ready, willing, and able to help. I've been speaking with members of his staff late last night, early this morning. We need their help, especially on the hospital capacity issue.

 

We need FEMA. FEMA has tremendous resources. When I was at HUD I worked with FEMA I know what they can do. I know what the Army Corps of Engineers can do. They have a capacity that we simply do not have. I said to the President, who is a New Yorker, who I've known for many, many years. I put my hand out in partnership. I want to work together 100 percent. I need your help. I want your help and New Yorkers will do everything they can to be good partners with the federal government. I think the President was 100 percent sincere in saying that wanted to work together. In partnership, in the spirit of cooperation I can tell you the actions he has taken evidence that. His team has been on it. I know a team when they're on it. I know a team when they're not on it. His team is on it. They've been responsive. Late at night, early in the morning, and they've thus far been doing everything that they can do and I want to say thank you and I want to say that I appreciate it and they will have nothing but cooperation and partnership from the State of New York.

 

We're not Democrats and we're not Republicans. We are Americans at the end of the day. That's who we are and that's who we are when we are at our best so this hyper-sensitivity about politics and reading every comment and wanting to pit one against the other - there is no time for this.

 

The President is doing the right thing in offering to step up with New York and I appreciate it and New York will do the right thing in return.

 

Also on a personal level, this is, we use the word disruption, such a clinical, antiseptic word, it's a period of disruption. Life has turned upside down, it's just turned upside down. Remember those snow globes when you were a kid and you shook the globe and the snow went all over and the whole picture changed as soon as you picked up and shook that snow globe? Somebody picked up our country and just shook it and turned it upside down. And it's all chaotic and things are flying all over. And there's new information and there's misinformation. And people don't know what to do and businesses are closing and the rules change every minute. And can I go out, can I not go out, how do I get the virus, how do I not get the virus. And now I'm at home and I'm stuck at home and the kids are at home. And then there's a whole component to this, don't touch anyone. Don't hug, don't kiss. We're human being - that interaction is so important to us, that emotional affirmation is so important to us. And now you have all those weighty decisions - should I go out, should I not go out? Is this safe for my kids? Is this not safe for my kids? I'm stuck in my house.

 

I've used my experience just as a metaphor to communicate and relate. Having the kids in the house sounds great, having the kids in the house, yay the kids are in the house. I remember when my kids were young, I was divorced, my kids were three girls, they were six and seven and eight years old. Six and seven and eight years old in a small apartment in Manhattan, that's a lot of fun and then that gets old very fast. Right? The claustrophobia just sets in, it sets in for the kids and it set in for me. What I would do then is I would go to my mother and father's apartment in times of fear, in times of stress, to feel connected to someone, to feel comforted by someone. I mentioned my daughter. I have not seen my daughter in over two weeks. It breaks my heart. And then this concept of maybe I can't get next to her because of this virus, there is a distance between me and my daughter because of this virus, its saddens me to the core and it frightens me to the core. And I had her on the phone this morning and I said it to her. I just said it to her. I said I can't tell you how hard this is for me not to be able to be with you, not to be able to hold you in my arms, not to be able to kiss you all over your face - which she hates anyway. And that plays out a thousand different ways, you put all of this together - it is a hard time. It is a hard time on every level. It is a frightening time on every level.

 

At the same, it is this much time. Is it 3 months, is it 6 months, is it 9 months? I don't know but it is this much time. We will get through this much time. Understand what we are dealing with, understand the pressures that we are feeling, but we will get through this much time. Be a little bit more sensitive, understand the stress, understand the fear, be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative. And we will get through this time.

 

We will lose people, yes, like we lose people every year with the flu. We are going be challenged and tested. There are going to be periods of chaos, yes. We have been through that before also. But this is all we are talking about and we will learn from it and we will be better prepared the next time because this is not the last time my friends. This has been a growing rate of this emergencies and health situations and storms. But we are going to get through it and we are going to get thought it together. But understand the pressures that everyone is feeling and let's be considerate of those feelings that are now collective and societal.

 

 

Last point is this, keep it all in focus. There's a gentleman who used to be here who used to come through that back door, wheel himself through this room, get behind a desk, dealt with every hardship, raised himself up from a wheelchair every time he had to speak. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said most things better than anyone has said them since. He said, paraphrased, things are going to get worse and worse before they get better and better and the American people deserve to hear it straight from the shoulder. Tell the people the truth, tell them the facts. The facts are comforting. That's my job and what I've been trying to do. These are the facts, this is the truth. I tell you the truth when it's pretty and when it's not pretty, but knowing the truth, I think, is reassuring. As I know the truth, I tell the people of the State the truth. That's the first step, then we do what we have to do, and we will. Thank you, God bless you.

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