May 29, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New York City to Enter Phase 1 of Reopening on June 8 and Five Regions Enter Phase 2 of Reopening Today

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New York City to Enter Phase 1 of Reopening on June 8 and Five Regions Enter Phase 2 of Reopening Today

Announces Additional Industries Following Strict Safety and Social Distancing Guidelines Can Reopen in Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier as Part of Phase 2 Today

Implements New Early Warning System Dashboard to Aggregate and Organize New York State's COVID-19 Data in Partnership with County, Regional, State and Global Experts

Confirms 1,551 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 368,284; New Cases in 48 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Phase one should bring about 400,000 employees back to work in New York City. Remember that reopening does not mean we're going back to the way things were. Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. It's going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, it's a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distanced. It doesn't mean they don't like you, it's not a personal reflection, it's just a new way of interacting which is what we have to do."

Cuomo: "Wear a mask, get tested, and socially distance. It is that simple, but that hard. It is that simple, but that hard. Those simple devices - wearing a mask, hand sanitizer - they make all the difference. You talk to all the experts - what advice, what should we do? Wear a mask. How can it be that simple? Because sometimes it's that simple."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York City will enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8 and that five other regions—Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier—can enter Phase 2 of reopening today. Phase 2 allows office-based workers, real estate services, in-store retail shopping and some barbershop services to resume. Each industry is subject to specific state guidelines to maximize safety and social distancing. Business guidance for phase two of the state's reopening plan is available here.

Governor Cuomo also announced the implementation of a new early warning dashboard that aggregates the state's expansive data collection efforts for New Yorkers, government officials and experts to monitor and review how the virus is being contained on an ongoing basis. It tracks new infections and their severity, hospital capacity by region, and other metrics. The early warning system dashboard was developed in consultation with internationally-known experts who have been advising New York State. The early warning dashboard can be found here.

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 afternoon, thank you all for being here. For those of you who don't know the people joining me today, to my left is Robert Mujica, Budget Director of the State of New York. To my immediate right, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To her right, Gareth Rhodes, who has been working with us from day one.

Thank you again. Thank you to Iona College President Carey for having us here today. It's a busy day and a distressful day on many levels, but let's proceed. Today is day 90 of the coronavirus pandemic crisis. "Follow the facts, they will show you the way" - A.J. Parkinson. That's what we've been doing in New York, following the facts. The facts today in terms of the coronavirus are good. Number of hospitalizations are down. Net change in total hospitalizations is down. Intubations are down and the new cases are down to 152 which is a dramatic, dramatic drop for us. At one point, you know, we'll never get to zero. What is the bottom of the curve? I don't know but we're close. And the number of deaths, thank the good lord continues to decline. It's at its lowest level ever of 67 deaths. We hope and we pray that that continues to be the case.

The question is on reopening, and as everyone knows, we've been looking at the numbers, looking at the metrics in terms of different regions across the state. The overall state was hit the hardest by this virus and we're coming back as the smartest. We were forced to learn more and learn faster and respond quicker because we were hit by the invisible enemy, the European virus, the virus from Europe. When everyone said watch China, well, they were wrong. The virus came to New York from Europe.

We have metrics posted. We want all the people know what we're doing because they're the ones who decide what happens. So, communicating this information has been key from day one. We have now done even more testing. We test more than any state in the United States per capita. We test more than any country on the globe per capita, and that is helpful in a number of ways. It also gives us more and more information to make decisions. So, we can now look at the number of tests we're doing by a specific area in the state, and see on a day-to-day basis what is happening with the spread of the virus by the number of tests in that area. And you can actually see a trend line from day to day, right? This is all about opening smart, which means what? Which means you're tracking the virus. And we can now track it on a day-to-day basis to help us, inform us, about our decisions and how we should react. And we have a new dashboard that actually tracks that information. And you can see remarkably, clearly what is happening in terms of the spread of the virus, the severity of the new infections, new infections in the region, so everyone will know exactly what's happening and why we're doing it and what we're planning to do.

The reason we are so rigorous about is this because many states and countries have reopened and they made mistakes. Yes, everybody wants to open tomorrow. I wanted to open before we ever closed. But you have to be smart and we have seen what has happened, painfully, when cities and states and countries reopen too quickly. They wound up closing again which is the worst situation, so be smart. We have the data. We have more data than almost any other place on the globe because of our testing and we have had it reviewed at every level. All the local officials sign off, the regional officials sign off, the best state experts, and then we go to global experts who have done this in countries around the world, who frankly have more experience than we do because they've been through this, the crisis and the closing and the opening and the closing again. And we review all the data with them, and I want to thank them very much for taking the time to go through the data. But these are literally the best minds you can find on the globe when it comes to this and they have gone through all the data. So I feel confident that where we can rely on this data, and the five regions that have been in phase one can now move to phase two, because their data has been reviewed and the experts say to us it's safe to move forward, because people have been smart and you haven't seen the spike, so they go to phase two.

Phase two is all office-based jobs, real estate services, retail reopening, barber shops, hair salons reopening. That's all part of phase two. There's specific guidance on how to reopen in phase two. It's not just, open the doors and everybody has a party. It's 50 percent occupancy in office buildings, signage on markers, et cetera, no meetings without social distancing, don't share food or beverages. I mean, I see people all the time, sharing food and beverages. You really don't want to do that now. But again, the specific guidance for every area. Retail stores, 50 percent occupancy, wear the face covering. A store owner can tell you they don't want you to come in if you're not wearing a face covering. Why? Because you don't have the right to infect the store owner, you don't have a right to infect other customers in the store and you don't have the right to walk into the store and all the other customers run out because you don't have a face mask. Malls are closed except stores that open to external entrances, curbside, but again, very detailed guidelines. Barber shops, hair salons, are open, by appointment only. The professionals in those operations have to get a test every two weeks. We recommend that the professionals get a test before they reopen, that's not a mandate - that's a recommendation. And we recommend to customers to ask the barber or professional in the hair salon if they had a test before you used their services. That's a recommendation. But they have to get a test every two weeks. And if I were walking into a barber shop, I would say - I would ask the barber, "Did you get a test before you reopened, when was the last time you got a test," and if they got a test, they'll have a certification, they'll have an evidence of that test. And people will wear face coverings.

But the basic rule is still -- it's all about how we act. It comes down to that. How the employer acts, how the store owner acts, how the employee acts, how the individual acts, how the local government acts. Reopening in New York City is more complicated, as we know, but we are on track to meet all the metrics. Hospital capacity of 70 percent, we want 30 percent hospital capacity, so God forbid something goes wrong, we have the hospital beds. We want to make sure we have the stockpile of PPE. We're not going through what we went through last time, searching the globe for ventilators and masks and gowns. We learned that lesson the hard way, this entire country did, but it would be madness to go through that again. We have to have the testing in place, which we do. The contact tracing is being brought up to speed. We believe all of these things can be done next week. The MTA preparations for reopening, but we think all of this can be done by next week, and we would be on track to open the week afterwards.

One of the things we want to do and we have been doing, is I want to focus on the hot spots. Again, follow the facts, we have the data. We can tell you by zip code where the new cases are coming from. They are in New York City, they're outer borough. They're more Brooklyn, more the Bronx. They are lower-income areas. They're more minority areas. And we know where they are by zip code. Some of these zip codes you have double the infection rate in those zip codes that you have citywide. Citywide the infection rate is about 19 percent, 20 percent. In some zip codes, it's over 40 percent, the infection rate. We know where these zip codes are. Next week let's do a full court press on these zip codes. We've been talking to our colleagues in the city, speaking to the mayor about this, next week hospitals, PPE, get that contact tracing up, MTA will finish their final preparations, but then hot spots, hot spots, hot spots.

We're in New Rochelle today where we had the first hot spot in the nation. There was no such thing as a "hot spot" before New Rochelle had a hot spot. Congratulations, New Rochelle, created a new term now used by every America, hot spot, in this regard.

But, we know where the hot spots are in the city. We want to focus on them next week, be ready to open. We are on track to open on June 8th, which is one week from Monday, and next week, as I mentioned, we'll be following up on these issues.

Phase one should bring about 4000,000 employees back to work in New York City. Remember that reopening does not mean we're going back to the way things were. Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. It's going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, it's a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distanced. It doesn't mean they don't like you, it's not a personal reflection, it's just a new way of interacting, which is what we have to do.

Wear a mask, get tested, and socially distance. It is that simple, but that hard. It is that simple, but that hard. Those simple devices - wearing a mask, hand sanitizer - they make all the difference. You talk to all the experts - what advice, what should we do? Wear a mask. How can it be that simple? Because sometimes it's that simple. The doing is what's hard, not the advice. Getting 19 million people to do it that's what's hard.

What happens is up to us. People say, "Governor tell me what's going to happen next week, the week after." I can't tell you. Only you know. It's the person in the mirror. You tell me how the people of New York City respond, I'll tell you what happens in New York City. You tell me how the people in Westchester, I'll tell you what happens in Westchester. The New Rochelle hot spot, that was all done by New Rochelle. It was no act of God, it was no external force. It happened because of what people in New Rochelle did. We know how we got here, we know how we can get from here. If we act smart, these stores open and they're smart, the customers are smart, people are smart, people on public transit are smart, then we won't see those numbers go up.

As we haven't in the upstate regions that have reopened and Long Island that has reopened. The numbers have not gone up. Why? Because people have been smart and we have to continue to be smart.

We're going to be doing this in New York City with our partners. I want to thank the mayor very much and his team very much. Everybody in government has been working overtime and none of us have been here before, but we are figuring it out. I'm proud of the way New York is figuring it out. We wish we were never here, but once we were here, we have made the best of it. We should be proud.

The mayor is looking fit and healthy and rested. I don't know why, but he's looking extraordinarily good. It's good to be him in this new way of everyone is virtual. Everyone is Zoom. But it's not the virtual mayor, it is the real mayor of the city of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Good to be with you, Mayor.

Mayor de Blasio: Thank you so much, Governor. Governor, I'm worried that the coronavirus is affecting your eyesight because I think the last 90 days for all of us - a lot of long days. I know you and your team work extraordinary hard and I think we all look a little less than ideal lately.

Thank you, I want to say first of all. Thank you, Governor, thank you to your whole team for the extraordinary work over these past months and as you said, our teams talk all day long with a lot of common purpose and we've done really important work with the same strategic view, the same approach. I want to thank you for that.

We are excited to get to the point of a restart for New York City and when I talked to the people of this city this morning I told them that the indicators were moving absolutely in the right direction but the key to getting to a point of definition for that Phase 1 came from the collaboration between you and me and the state and the city to all get on the same page and make sure that we were confident that it was the right time to do it.

You and I have talked and I think we are absolutely on the same page. The fact is, Governor, you've talked about the condition of the state and how incredibly different it is than even a month or two ago. I just want you to hear this good news about the city, our own Health Department indicators, we have set a threshold that we want to be under 200 new hospital admissions each day to know we're in a safe zone. Today, Governor, only 61 new patients for Covid-19 or similar diseases. That's breathtaking how far we've come on that.

We also have said we want to be below 15 percent of all new tests testing positive result for the people taking those tests and, Governor, as you know, with your help, we've all been doing more and more testing every day, literally exponential growth. Today's number will bring a smile to your face. Only 5 percent of those tested tested positive in the city. These are great indicators.

The third one we still have a little work to do but I'm very confident and I know you are, too and that's the number of people in our hospital ICUs. This morning we announced that threshold, that 375 threshold - we were damn close at 391 patients. But as you and I have discussed we have got about 40 patients that actually can be cared for outside of ICUs in a different setting that gives them the long-term care they need. We're going to work with your team and the state to figure out the right way to do that. Those folks will appropriately come off the number. That's going to put us under that threshold.

Now when you add all that together, as you and I have discussed, we are on now the gateway to the next big step. Governor, as I affirm to you, we're going to spend this coming week going out to the businesses of New York City that would be part of Phase 1. We're going to be providing them with free face coverings.

We're going to be providing them with a hotline where any employer can call to figure out how to address those practical questions. I've given a lot of credit to you and your team for the guidance you've put out around Phase 1. I think it's very clear, very helpful. We're going to have human beings follow up, real people from the City government going out, talking to businesses about how to make it real and how to put it in practice, answering their questions, if we see something that's not right, helping them correct it, but we're going to do the same for working people. We're going to have a hotline for workers to make sure they're safe and they're getting the support they need.

As you and I discussed this next week we will be able to implement all of that, a lot of hands-on, direct work with small businesses and working people and labor unions to make sure everyone is ready and then I share your confidence that in the week of June 8 we'll be ready to go.

Obviously if the indicators keep working in the right direction we want to keep seeing that evidence. As you said many times and I agree with you, data, data, data, but everything you and I have seen in recent days points to that week of June 8 as being that moment of restart and we're going to work with you every step of the way to get there and we're feeling very good about it and I look forward to celebrating with you as New York City begins to reopen.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much, Mayor. Thank you. Good to be with you.

Okay, and for New York City we have experience, right? We've done Phase 1 in five other regions. We've done Phase 1 in Long Island so we've done this. The phasing works. The phasing has worked. The other regions that all went into Phase 1 it's going very well. We're not seeing a spike. That's why today some regions are moving on to Phase 2 so the system works and it will work in New York City.

Next week as I mentioned we have to continue to watch the metrics. I do want to focus on those hotspot zip codes, the MTA preparation, the hospital numbers. There are about 100 hospitals in New York City. 11 are the hospitals the Mayor was referring to the New York City hospitals. But then there are about ninety other hospitals. They have to have the beds available. They have to have PPE available and we'll be working with them. But we'll get there for June 8th. And June 8th we have to be smart. Again, this is not happy days here again, it's over. We have to be smart and we're going to remind New Yorkers of that.

I want to make one point about the larger context of what's going on in Minneapolis today, which I'm sure is very distressing to all of us. And I want to begin by offering our personal thoughts and prayers to the family of George Floyd on behalf of all New Yorkers who have seen that incredible video. We can imagine your pain and you are in our thoughts and prayers. I would also suggest that when we think about this situation and we start to analyze the situation and the reaction. Let's not make the same mistake that we continually make which is we tend to see incidents. This is an incident, an isolated incident. People focus on an isolated incident. It's not an isolated incident. It is a continuum of cases and situations that have been going on for decades, and decades, and decades. These are just chapters in a book. And the title of the book is continuing injustice and inequality in America, and these are just chapters. The chapters started modern day Rodney King in Los Angeles, 1991. Abner Louima in New York, 1997. Amadou Diallo in New York, 1999. Sean Bell in New York, 2006. Oscar Grant, Oakland, California, 2009. Eric Garner, New York City, 2014. Michael Brown, Missouri, 2014. Laquan McDonald, Chicago, 2014. Freddie Gray, Baltimore, 2015. Antwon Rose, Pittsburgh, 2018. Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, 2020. Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, 2020. George Floyd in Minneapolis, 2020.

That's, that's why the outrage. That's why the frustration and the anger. It is not about one situation. It's about the same situation happening again, and again, and again, and again. And seeing the same thing and not learning the lesson. And then is that happening in a broader context and a broader circumstance which is what's going on with the coronavirus. Which affects and kills more minorities than anyone else. You look around this country and you look at the people who are dying of the coronavirus. It is disproportionate African-American people and it's just a continuing injustice and that's the frustration and that's the protests.

Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery, and the burglaries. But the protesters, and the anger, and the fear, and the frustration? Yes. Yes. And the demand is for justice. And when the prosecutor came out and said well there's other evidence, but I can't tell you anything more than that. That only incited the frustration. Injustice in the justice system. How repugnant to the concept of America. And over, and over, and over again. I stand figuratively with the protestors. I stand against the arson, and the burglary, and the criminality. I stand with the protesters and I think all well-meaning Americans stand with the protesters. Enough is enough. How many times do you have to see the same lesson replayed before you do something? This country is better than this. It has been better than this and it shouldn't take this long to end basic discrimination and basic injustice.

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