June 9, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Mid-Hudson Valley Enters Phase Two of Reopening Today

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

Long Island Will Enter Phase Two Tomorrow


Unveils Daily Metric Dashboard to Track COVID-19 Current Test Results by Region


State, in Partnership with Sean Penn and CORE, Has Established 11 Testing Sites in Communities Particularly Impacted by COVID-19


New York State Now Has More Than 800 COVID-19 Testing Sites


State is Deploying 500,000 Cloth Masks & 10,000 Gallons and 100,000 2-oz. Bottles of Hand Sanitizer to Metro North


Four Million Bottles of NYS Clean Hand Sanitizer Have Been Distributed Statewide to Date


Confirms 683 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 379,482; New Cases in 40 Counties


Governor Cuomo: "It's time for New York to be the place that leads. That's New York State at its best, that's New York State's legacy, right. This is the progressive capital of the nation. You look back in history, when there was a time of unrest, when there were issues, when there were problems, what government actually stepped up and acted and provided an example of action? That was New York State, time and time again. And New York State is going to do it in this situation. We're going to pass the most aggressive reforms in the country, the transparency of disciplinary records, banning chokeholds, giving the attorney general authority as a special prosecutor, punishing false race-based 911 calls. These are issues that we have been talking about for a long time and the time has come for dramatic action, and we're taking it right now."


Cuomo: "Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley, enter Phase 2 today. Congratulations, long time coming but you did it, the numbers are down, because you brought the numbers down. This is not government action. It's not an act of God. It's an act of the people. They got disciplined, they got smart, they did what they had to do, they brought the numbers down. And the numbers are dramatically down. And this is a national, if not international, success story."


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Mid-Hudson Valley is entering phase two of reopening today. Long Island will enter phase two of reopening tomorrow, June 10th. New York Forward guidance for phase two reopening can be found here.


Governor Cuomo also unveiled a daily testing results dashboard to complement the early warning dashboard for New Yorkers and local governments to easily track the COVID-19 daily test results by region and county as all regions in the state are now reopening.


The Governor also announced the state, in partnership with Sean Penn and CORE, has established 11 testing sites in communities particularly impacted by COVID-19. CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and strengthening communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis. The state is continuing to focus efforts on reducing the infection rate of COVID-19 in these New York City hotspot neighborhoods that have been impacted the most by the virus. There are now more than 800 COVID-19 testing sites across the state. More information on where and how to get tested for COVID-19 is available at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov.


The Governor also announced the state is delivering 500,000 cloth masks, as well as 10,000 gallons and 100,000 2-oz. bottles of hand sanitizer to Metro North. The Governor also reminded New Yorkers that masks are mandatory when riding public transportation systems and that New Yorkers should follow all guidelines and protocols when riding, including maintaining social distancing to the extent possible, using hand sanitizer and observing decal guidance.


The Governor also announced that the state has distributed over four million free bottles of NYS Clean hand sanitizer statewide to date.


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 are available on the Governor's Flickr page.


A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below:


Good morning. Pleasure to be back at New York Medical College. I want to thank Dr. Kadish and all his colleagues for your hospitality. It is a beautiful day. To my right is Dr. Howard Zucker, who is our great health commissioner, who has been doing an extraordinary job under very difficult circumstances. To my left, we have Melissa DeRosa, who's secretary to the governor. Let's talk about where we are today, it's another busy day.


Day 101 of dealing with the coronavirus, yesterday was day 100. And it's a time worth pausing to look at all the progress we've made, thank all the people who've worked so hard. Day 101, that's 101 days from our first case, and it's been a long 101 days, but it has also been extraordinary in many ways and the progress that has been made, if you had told me 100 days ago that we would be reopening, I would say, that would be the best scenario. And it only happened because many people did really great service.


Today is day 16 of the civil unrest after Mr. Floyd's murder, and our thoughts and prayers are with him today. We're dealing with two separate situations, the COVID virus and the civil unrest, after Mr. Floyd's murder. They are separate, they have to be dealt with separately, there's obviously also an intersection between the two, the protests also cause a complication on dealing with the COVID virus so, it's a complex situation but we're dealing with it. On the civic unrest, on Mr. Floyd's death, we go back to Representative John Lewis, who I had the pleasure of working with when I was in Washington, who is a legendary and historic civil rights leader, "talk is fine, discussion is fine but we must respond, we must act." And that's true, and that's what this moment is all about. It's time for New York to be the place that leads.


That's New York State at its best, that's New York State's legacy, right. This is the progressive capital of the nation. You look back in history, when there was a time of unrest, when there were issues, when there were problems, what government actually stepped up and acted and provided an example of action? That was New York State, time and time again. And New York State is going to do it in this situation.


We're going to pass the most aggressive reforms in the country, the transparency of disciplinary records, banning chokeholds, giving the attorney general authority as a special prosecutor, punishing false race-based 911 calls. These are issues that we have been talking about for a long time and the time has come for dramatic action, and we're taking it right now. I want to applaud the legislative leaders, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, right here from Westchester County, Speaker Carl Heastie, these are tough issues and we've been working through them in a cooperative and expeditious manner, and bills are being passed as we speak. As soon as the bills are passed, I will sign them into law, hopefully this week. So we're making progress, we're making progress quickly, and I want to thank them for the leadership, and all my colleagues in the legislature.


It is a great step forward because people see progress, people see action, and that's what they have come to expect from the State of New York, and that's what they get. Results, right. Government is not a passive occupation. Government is supposed to do things, it's supposed to make changes. Often government moves too slowly. But not in New York, and we're proud of that.


My opinion, not facts, separate facts from opinion, two different things. You can have your opinion, you can't have your own facts, as I have many cause to remind people lately. My opinion, what we should think about going forward, that this is not just a moment for political protest. It's not just a moment to express outrage. It's a moment to do something about it, and to make real reform and real change. That's the goal of the moment. I understand the emotion. I want people to know how upset I am. Good. Second step, what do we do about it? And let's get it done here in the State of New York.


When we talk about a Justice Agenda, we want to fight the systemic racism, inequality and injustice in our society. That is what the protesters are saying and I stand with the protesters in saying that because it's very true. But in this moment of change, let's make it real change and let's get to the root of the issue. You want to talk about injustice and inequality in America. Well then it has to start with our education system. We do not educate all children the same. "Opportunity for all." No, opportunity for some, opportunity for people who grow up in a rich school district and a rich family with high property taxes and they go to great schools, but not for the children who grow up in poorer communities, who go to inferior schools. That is the reality today. That is the truth. I'm saying that as Governor of New York not as a protester on a street corner. It is a fact. Even in this state, we spent $36,000 per year, per student, in a wealthy school district, $13,000 per year in a poorer school district. How do you rationalize that? You can't and say this is a system that provides equal opportunity for all.


How do you still have children living in poverty? With all this wealth, with all this abundance, how do you tolerate a situation where some children to no fault of their own, you can't blame them, they were born into one circumstance and they are living in poverty? You can't justify it. The number of homeless, lack of affordable housing, you have a federal government that just went out of the housing business. I was the former housing secretary, worked in housing all my life. Housing was a federal responsibility, not state, not local. 1949 Housing Act, "for this nation, safe, clean, decent housing for all Americans." 1949, it's 2020, what are we doing? There's no section eight, no section eight project base, no more public housing, and then we wonder why there is an affordable housing shortage.


And yes, criminal justice reform, why do we lock up more people than any industrialized nation on the globe? That is a sign of success? "Great America, they lock up more people than anyone else." Why do we have racial disparity in the criminal justice system? How do you rationalize it? Unless it goes back to the other systemic injustices and inequality, if a person grows up in poverty, if a person doesn't have education, if a person doesn't have access to opportunity, then you see the result in the criminal justice system. This is how you get at injustice and inequality, and you can't do it piecemeal, either attack it fully or you will never defeat it. That is the justice agenda. And this has to be done on the federal level and it should be done on the federal level because this is not a New York or California or Florida issue. It is an American issue. And you are in the middle of election season, stand up and say, "Here is my election reform agenda. You want my support and my vote? Here is my agenda. You are running for Congress, you're running for Senate, or whatever you're running for, you want my support? Here is my agenda." That is my opinion.


On the immediate issue of policing, this is my opinion to the local elected officials and the police departments that are grappling with it, don't dismiss this as an issue of the moment. "Well, this is just about Mr. Floyd's murder." No, it's not. This has been brewing for decades and decades and decades. It's not just about Mr. Floyd's murder. That was the tipping point. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, That is when it exploded, but don't say this is when it started. It started with Rodney King. It started with the murder of Martin Luther King. This has been brewing for decades if not centuries in this nation. It is the anger and the repulsion at the systemic injustice and discrimination and racism that exists in this country. That is the truth, painful truth, but that is the truth.


Then we have to separate the political hype and partisan rhetoric from the truth and the facts. And this is a difficult time in this country, because all the rhetoric, all the hype is so extreme and so partisan and so reckless. That is why I have always said facts and opinion, facts and opinion. I can give you my opinion. It's different than the facts. What happens out there today is they put the two together. People create their own facts to advance their opinion. You want to advance your opinion, advance your opinion. Don't create facts and say to the American people these are facts to advance your opinion because then we can't even have an intelligent conversation and it starts at the highest levels.


President Trump did a tweet today that surprises me, even after all the tweets he has done. You read his tweets, you get to a point where you say, well, nothing could surprise me. I've seen it all. And then, you get surprised again. You get shocked again. You get disgusted again. President of the United States, supposed to be a responsible position and a responsible person.


He tweeted today that the protester in Buffalo, who was hurt by the Buffalo police, was on a video that went viral, Mr. Gugino, 75-year-old gentleman who was out protesting and is knocked to the ground by police. He's in the hospital in Buffalo, he was in intensive care, he's no longer in intensive care but he is still hospitalized. I spoke to him the day he was brought into the hospital. The president tweets that this man may have been a member of antifa, and he fell harder than he was pushed. Could be a set up. It's all made up, it's all fabricated, there's no fact to any of it. He accuses this man of being associated with antifa, no proof whatsoever. No fact, just an assertion. He fell harder than he was pushed. In the video, you see him pushed, and you see a 75-year-old man fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement.


What does that even mean, fell harder than he was pushed. What do you think, it was staged? You think the blood coming out of his head was staged? Is that what you're saying? You saw his head hit the pavement, you see blood on the pavement. Maybe he fell harder than he was pushed. How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude. I mean, if there was ever a reprehensible, dumb comment, and from the president of the United States. At this moment of anguish and anger, what does he do? Pours gasoline on the fire. If there was ever, if he ever feels a moment of decency, he should apologize for that tweet, because it is wholly unacceptable. Not a piece of proof, totally, personally disparaging, and in a moment when the man is still in the hospital, show some decency, show some humanity, show some fairness. You're the president of the United States.


But it's that partisan rhetoric. We have to separate the rhetoric from the reality and we have to deal with the facts and to the elected officials who are dealing with this all across the country, all across the state, because we have hundreds of police departments - there is no quick fix to this. There is no press release that you can issue today that will make the issue go away tomorrow. That is not what this is about. There is no political position that a politician can find that can satiate this conversation. The conversation is too real. It's not about political pandering or political posturing. It's about an honest, truthful addressing of the issue.


It's time for a real smart policy discussion and a new model of policing. This issue of policing has been brewing for decades. The militarization of the police, this is not a new issue, it goes back decades. The increase in the number of people who we incarcerate, this has been growing for decades. The racial disparity has been growing for decades. This is just an explosion of emotion about decades of unfairness and injustice, and frustrated at the lack of progress. There is no press release that is going to deal with this. Be honest. Be responsible. Say, I know the current policing system doesn't work. And we are going to reinvent and reimagine policing for a new generation and a new society, because that's where we are. And that's the only answer to this. Because, say what you will, police and policing does not work without the trust of the community. Period. Period. You can't even get to right or wrong, it doesn't even work unless the community trust the police.


You can't have a police department that is demonized by the community. It's a relationship of trust. The police are public servants for that community. If that community doesn't trust and doesn't respect the police, the police cannot do their job. The police can't do their job despite the community. And the community is not subject to the police. You can't have a police force paid for by the community, despite the community. I'm going to give you tax dollars, you're going to hire the police who I believe are my enemy? And don't protect me and support me? That's not going to happen. Police are going to be able to do their job if the community doesn't trust them? That's not going to happen. So, you have to make it work for both sides. Otherwise, it works for neither and that's where you are.


So, we have to be honest in our analysis. We have to be smart in our analysis. It's not about the politics at the moment. It's not about positioning and posturing. And it's not about all of this political rhetoric, and heat, and drama, and emotion. They're trying to win an election and they'll say whatever they have to say to win an election, that's why people are disgusted with the political process. They will say whatever they have to say and that is what you're seeing.


There is a real discussion to have that has been a long time coming and is long overdue. How do we redesign and reimagine and reinvent a police force for who we are and where we are? That's the honest answer and the truthful answer about this. This hyper- partisan, hyperbolic moment, nobody wants to say the truth. Why? Because if you say the truth, they'll yell at you. I know. I'm too old, they're going to yell anyway. And by the way, I have been yelled at by the best of them for a long time. The yelling doesn't bother me anymore. Do the right thing. Do the right thing. And if people yell, they yell. This is the right thing in my opinion and that was my opinion.


Back to facts. On the reopening, Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley, enter Phase 2 today. Congratulations, long time coming but you did it, the numbers are down, because you brought the numbers down. This is not government action. It's not an act of God. It's an act of the people. They got disciplined, they got smart, they did what they had to do, they brought the numbers down. And the numbers are dramatically down. And this is a national, if not international, success story.


What New York did, we had the worst situation and we handled it the best. Oh, you just say that because you are a New Yorker. No, no, no. The numbers say that. The numbers say that all across the board. Number of positive tests: 73 tested positive. Look at where we were— close to 2,000 at the peak. God bless what you did. We're reopening— Metro-North is taking unprecedented steps to be ready and to be safe. People must wear masks when they're on Metro-North. We're delivering hand sanitizer. When you get on, people will give you a mask and sanitizer if you don't have it, but the masks are mandatory for your sake and everyone else. Social distancing— stay six-feet apart, use hand sanitizer and observe the decal guidance. I think when you get on Metro-North, you will notice those cars are cleaner than they have ever been. We always complained about dirty cars. I know, because I've been complaining for many, many years about dirty cars. The cars are so clean! I was on the New York City subway system yesterday. It was remarkable. We now disinfect subway cars, Metro-North cars. Disinfect! Not just clean. Disinfect. Imagine that? Who would have ever imagined you could do that? Well, we are doing that.


Long Island is going to enter Phase 2 tomorrow. We have a global team of experts that is going over all the data, but they have said all signs are positive so Long Island will open tomorrow. Their numbers are also down. They've have made great progress. One death. We were losing over 100 at one time. And on the confirmed tests, they also continued to drop to 1 percent positive. The Long Island Railroad, like Metro-North, like the New York City subway system, is up and ready to go and is in better shape than ever. New York City entered Phase 1 yesterday. You see the daily test results here. Their numbers are way down. And that was also a really dramatic turnaround. Congratulations to them.


We still have a problem in New York City in certain zip codes and this is a phenomenon across the state and across the country. The virus did not attack equally. It hit lower income areas, more minority areas harder and in New York City, that's probably most demonstrable. New York City— the overall infection rate was about 20 percent. We had some zip codes where the infection rate was over 50 percent. That gets back to our conversation about injustice and inequality. Why do more poor, more minority communities have a higher infection rate? One of the reasons is, they've had less healthcare service up until now, they have more comorbidities, hypertension, high diabetes, heart disease. But we are attacking these hotspots and we start with testing and increasing testing. People who have been extraordinary in this because this was a function that never happened before. All of a sudden, we had to do 50,000, 60,000 tests per day. We had never done that. It was an operational and logistical nightmare and we put up testing sites overnight. We now have 800 testing sites in the state of New York.


This is all new, all created and we have people who have helped us, who have done extraordinary, great public service on a voluntary basis. Sean Penn is the co-founder of CORE, the chairperson of the board. They have been extraordinarily helpful all across the board, all across the world in responding to pandemics and emergencies. And I talked to Mr. Penn about this problem in our hotspot zip codes and asked that they help get more testing into those areas because we don't have a lot of infrastructure there and his group came in, they mobilized and they did great work opening up testing sites in a very short period of time that will ramp up the testing in our hotspot clusters and i want to thank him very much for his good work. He was really, not just that he chose to do it, that just says something about him and his heart and his soul that is positive, that he's is an extraordinary person. But his organization delivered. And that combination of good intent and good results— that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's special and it happened with Mr. Penn and CORE. And I want to thank him. I think he may be with us today. How are you, Sean?


Sean Penn: I'm very well, Governor. Thank you.


Governor Cuomo: I just wanted to thank you so much and Core for what you did. Those hot spots are really an injustice on a lot of levels also that's the place where we'll see the virus spread so what you've done, opening up those testing sites getting it done as quickly as you did, I can't thank you enough.


Sean Penn: We're proud to be in partnership with you. You've been a time capsule of reason that we need in this time and with Core we're looking at the Fall and saying, 'let's work backward and say we did the right thing.' And in trying to work with governments, your leadership has been so significant and such a guidance and we are excited to be taking your direction to get into those zip codes at the most marginalized communities. Communities that have multigenerational housing and so on that are difficult to communicate with to animate- there can be a lower digital fluency, etc., and all of those things so we're very excited about the partnership. So thank you.


Governor Cuomo: Thank you. And we'll keep going because I'm with you. As we discussed when we were together you know, everybody's in the here and now right now but we also have to think about a second wave to this virus; We have to think about the next virus, so the next bacterial infection because this was not the last rodeo that I think all informed pieces would admit. So we're learning from this we're going to build an infrastructure and the next time we go through this we'll be in better shape. We'll pray that it never happens again but we'll plan that it does.


Thank you, my friend. Thank you so much and thank your whole team for what they're doing. Every New Yorker thanks you. we owe you one.


Sean Penn: We thank every New Yorker. The extraordinary commitment to that they've made in flatting the curve and all of those extraordinary, heroic frontline workers have been a real inspiration to all of us.


Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Let me know when you come East. I owe you a meal.


Sean Penn: I'll take it.


Governor Cuomo: Thanks, buddy. Thank you, Sean.


So we thank you Mr. Penn for what he's doing. We're going to keep doing that. Every region of the state is now reopening so we need to look at the facts and the numbers through a different lens now. We're all reopening. Everything is reopening, the question now is could there be any spike in the rate of transmission upon reopening? That is the relevant question. This is a whole different universe for us now. You re opening. People are getting back on Metro-North and getting back on trains, could you see a spike in the virus? You have a lot of protests, people in close proximity, could you see a spike in the virus? About 600,000 people are coming back to work in the Metropolitan region, can you see a spike in the virus? So now what we want to look at is the day-to-day testing that we're doing, okay? In some ways, the number of deaths right now is not important. The number of deaths are so low that really comes down to how they classify the cause of death for those people. Was the cause of death heart disease or hypertension or heart attack or was it the COVID virus? But the number of deaths are so low, thank God, that that that number is no longer really that informative. The day-to-day testing is. What does that mean? We do about 50,000 tests every day. Watch that daily number. That's like getting your blood pressure reading every day, your cholesterol count every day. You know exactly how healthy your body is if you get those numbers on a daily basis. You look at that day-to-day testing number you will know on a day to day basis what is happening and that's what elected officials should start looking at and that's what citizens should start looking at.


So we're going to design a new dashboard. When we started this we put up a dashboard so that citizens and elected officials could go to a website. They look at the dashboard, they'll know exactly where they. And when we started this, a big part for me was about informing the people because people were going to do this. Government was never going to do this. I could just provide the information but then they had to get the information, accept the information and be smart about the information. So, last time we went through this and we were designing a dashboard, I wanted to be creative so because I wanted people actually to look at this and understand it and want to go to a website and take the 30 seconds it takes to pull up the website. So, I said to my team, the most attractive dashboard that was ever created is in a 1967 Corvette - that happens to be my opinion. But I said now that's a really attractive dashboard you know, you like to look at that dashboard. If we can put up a dashboard and design a dashboard that looks like that, believe me, people will go to the dashboard and check it. Right, you can go to any website. But if this is the website, you say, "Let me go." And then I said with miles per hour, you could put day-to-day infection rate, where the RPM is, you could put the hospitalization rate and just look at it as gauges and I explained this to them and they all looked at me and they all nodded and this is the dashboard they gave me. So, you know, I said alright, you didn't really fully capture what I was trying to say, but I said it nicely. So, now we need a new dashboard. So, I went back to the same team after this miscommunication last time and I said look, I want you to think about a 1968 GTO dashboard which second end to a 1967 Corvette is the second nicest dashboard. I said, now that's a dashboard you like to look at - that fake woodgrain, and put the numbers in those gages. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." This is the dashboard where they gave me.


Okay, so it's not the most artistic or creative but this is the new dashboard. And this is what people should look at every day - hospital administrators, elected officials, citizens. The percentage of positive tests per day by region and then you can look at it by county. This is the number to focus on. How many tests did we do yesterday in the region and what percent is positive of those tests? So, Capital Region we did 1,889 tests, just yesterday. 18 people were positive - one percent is roughly what the 18 is. This will tell you on a day-to-day basis if you start to see tremors of a spike, and if those numbers start to move then you want to know right away why and how.


You see the numbers start to move, you go to those 18 people who tested positive in the Capital Region and the tracing operation then talks to those 18 to try to find out who those 18 were in contact with. Who do you live with? Who do you work with? Where were you? Who did you get infected possibly? And then you call those people. But tracing can also lead you to a situation that caused the infection. Maybe five of those 18 or work in the same place. Oh, now let's go look at that employment center. So, this is the new dashboard. This is the new focus. We're all concerned about the same thing, is there increasing spikes, and this is going to do it.


You can look by region and by county. And these are the numbers by county. Westchester County, 2,500 tests yesterday - just yesterday. Snapshot 35, 1.4 percent. Now the numbers are relatively small so day-to-day you'll see some up and some down. That shouldn't set off any alarm bells. But if you see it's ticking up and it's ticking up for a number of days, then it's something that people have to pay attention to. So, we're in a new phase. We're feeling good. We've done great. But we have to stay smart because reopening resets the whole game.


When you reopen and people start coming out in some ways, you go right back to day one and we know as a fact that reopening has very often caused problems. We know as a fact that reopening other states, we're seeing significant problems. Florida has the highest number of cases yesterday. Wall Street Journal, 12 states that reopened and are now seeing spikes. This is a very real possibility. Countries around the globe that reopened are seeing spikes. Just because you reopen does not mean you will have a spike, but if you are not smart, you can have a spike. We need to be as smart and diligent as we were up until today, going forward. And my hesitancy is, well now people think it's okay. Oh, we're reopening, well then we're fine. No. No, we're not fine. We've made great progress, but we have to stay smart, we have to stay disciplined.


Last point, today we pray for the family of George Floyd, not just to lose a loved one but to lose a loved one the way they did. And that video they'll have to watch for the rest of their lives, so we wish them peace as they have their memorial service today. And we will handle these situations, and we will handle these crises, and we will be the better for it, because we are New York tough, smart, united disciplined and loving. Thank you for having us. Thank you Dr. Kadish.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office