November 18, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Updated COVID-19 Micro-Cluster Focus Zones

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

Brooklyn, Orange and Broome Zones Improve

 

Part of Erie County Yellow Zone Changes to Orange Zone, Yellow Zone Expanded in Erie; New Yellow Zone in Niagara County

 

New Yellow Zone in the Bronx; Expanded Yellow Zone in Queens

 

Changes to Zones Go into Effect Friday for Businesses, Monday for Schools

 

Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 4.73 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 3.10 Percent     

 

Statewide Positivity Rate is 3.43 Percent

 

35 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

Governor Cuomo: "Western New York never lived the full pain of COVID's wrath. Western New York read about New York City, they read about Long Island, they watched it on the TV news, but the numbers were never as bad in Western New York and you want people to change dramatically their behavior. For me to make these dramatic changes in behavior I have to believe this is real, and it wasn't real because it wasn't real to me. You know when it becomes real? When it's real to me. I get it was real in New York City, but I'm in Buffalo. Buffalo is much different than New York City and it wasn't real to me, like South Dakota. I believe that. I believe they didn't have the same level of fear and what caused so many people in New York to change their behavior? It was the fear. Why do you guys wear the masks now? "Oh, because you said we have to. There is a law that says it." No, you wear the masks because you're afraid of COVID and because you're concerned about other people, but because you think it's real because it is real for you. Western New York never felt that same level of reality."
 

Cuomo: "Look at the states that are now surging, South Dakota, Wyoming, these are the states that did not get hit hard in the Spring. When New York was going through it, when some cities, New Jersey was going through it, that was eight months ago, they did not have anywhere near the problem. It was a problem that effected somewhere else. It effected someone else."

 

Cuomo: "That's the story of this nation and COVID. Remember we were at 46, but remember we were ambushed. It was coming from Europe, nobody told us. It exploded, it was like sending a bomb over in a tanker. Eight months later, South Dakota is at 56. Iowa is at 51." 

WYSIWYG

 

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced updated COVID-19 micro-cluster focus zones in New York State. Based on data metrics, the existing yellow zones in Broome and Orange Counties will be removed, and Brooklyn's orange zone will transition to a yellow zone. Part of Erie County's yellow zone will transition to an orange warning zone, and part of Niagara County adjacent to Erie will become a yellow zone. Changes to zones go into effect Friday for business restrictions and Monday for school closures.

 


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 socially distanced people. Today is day 263, if you're counting. I know some of you are counting because it has not been pure joy every day. Day 263 is different. We're in a different phase, as I've said before, but I think this is also a dangerous phase that we're in right now. And danger normally happens, and situations normally get complicated, when you have a number of factors that compound each other and that's where we are now. We have a number of factors that are compounding each other in, what I call a negative synergy. I think there is no such term, but I think I made it up. A negative synergy. We normally talk about synergy with the implication that it's positive. There's also a negative synergy. COVID fatigue; we're tired; we've been dealing with this for eight months. It's cold; you can't be outside; everybody goes inside. Holidays are a major factor, and another factor is that some places haven't yet experienced the full pain of COVID. They've read about it, but it's been happening somewhere else. It hasn't been happening here and people are parochial. If it isn't happening here, it's not as real as when it is happening somewhere else. I'll come back to that in a moment.

 

The numbers today: positivity in the micro-clusters is 4.7; statewide without micro-clusters 3.1; statewide with micro-clusters 3.4. Statewide deaths 35 - they are in our thoughts and prayers. Statewide hospitalizations 2,200; Statewide ICU 423; statewide intubations 192. New York State yesterday 3.4. Seven-day rolling average - which balances it out and is more accurate because one day you get a blip here or a blip there - 2.9 percent. New York City yesterday 2.9; their seven-day rolling average 2.5.

 

We talk about these numbers all the time. What you don't talk about is what they mean or the context. You write a story- "Today New York City is at 2.5. New York State is at 2.5. Buffalo is at 2.5." Yeah, what does that mean? You have no state in the nation now that is below 2 percent. Isn't that shocking? Remember just a few weeks ago we were at 1 percent in New York? No state in the nation is below 2 percent. Lowest states: Vermont, 2; Hawaii 2; Maine, 2.1; New York 2.8. Lowest in the United States. Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, New York - how does New York wind up fourth? Vermont, Hawaii - low density. Maine - low density, rural - and then New York. That's because New York has done a phenomenal job and New Yorkers deserve credit because they have done a phenomenal job. I know you guys don't like to write context, that's where we are, 2.8. Which, is great news relative to everyone else. 

 

Look at the highest percentages. South Dakota, 56; Iowa, 51; Kansas, 43. Look at those numbers. Here's a test: What was our positivity rate at the high point? That's why you get the big bucks, the New York Times. Forty-six percent. We're at 2.8. By the way, where were? 46. But now look at South Dakota and Iowa. You're at 56? You're at 51? You're higher than New York was when it was ambushed 8 months ago? How can that possibly be? 

 

That's the story of this nation and COVID. Remember we were at 46, but remember we were ambushed. It was coming from Europe, nobody told us. It exploded, it was like sending a bomb over in a tanker. Eight months later, South Dakota is at 56. Iowa is at 51. That, my friends, is the story of what's going on in this country. 

 

A couple of specifics: 2.5 percent you go into a yellow zone. Parts of the Bronx go into a yellow zone. You know the details of what a yellow zone is. Dan memorized them and can tell anyone who has any questions. Queens yellow zone has expanded northward to cover - West, really - basically to cover the Astoria area, so the Queens zone gets a little bit bigger. 

 

What comes after a yellow zone? An orange zone. Yellow is 2.5, orange is at 3. New York City could go to an orange zone if it hits 3 percent. You're at 2.5, what comes after 2.5? 2.6 - I know, if you're a wise guy. 3 is the next demarcation to become an orange zone. What happens at 3 percent? Houses of worship, mass gatherings, business restrictions, dining restrictions, schools close. We've done a number of orange zones already. Brooklyn was an orange zone, Queens was an orange zone, Brooklyn was a red zone, Queens was a red zone, Rockland was an orange zone. Those are the rules of the orange zone.

 

Western New York, worst situation in the State of New York. Worst situation. 5.1 percent. Those are the regions. And after Western New York, Finger Lakes. Look at that and think of this. What is the parallel between what happened in the country and what's happening in this state? I'm going to give you my theory in a second. But that's where we are. Western New York and then Finger Lakes. And then Central New York. New York City, only 2.5 percent. In Western New York, these are the highest rates. 9.7, 9.4, 7.5, 7.3, 6.8. Dramatically higher than anywhere else. Parts of Western New York are going from yellow zone to an orange zone. The chart on my left, your left. Niagara County, part of Niagara goes to yellow, that's Erie above Niagara which is orange, on the right is the part of Erie that goes to orange, that's Buffalo and surrounding areas. But again it's those areas which are astronomical compared to the rest of the state. What happens at a three percent orange zone? Houses of worship, mass gatherings, business, dining and schools.

 

Remember with schools, there's what we call a test-out option: Schools close in an orange zone but the schools reopen if they stay closed for four days, they clean and then they test people who come back in, as well as faculty, staff. So the schools can reopen in an orange zone. Okay? And then there's ongoing weekly surveillance. If New York City hits three percent, makes it an orange zone, and if New York City wanted to reopen the schools, we'd have to design a different formula for New York City because by volume we couldn't test every student in New York City. The volume is just so much higher in New York City. We just, the volume is so much higher in the New York City school district. If they hit 3 percent, if they went into an orange zone, and if there had to be a reopening plan.

 

What's the good news? The good news is, micro-clusters work. Following the rules work. Broome County was a yellow, and an orange. Broome County was a yellow zone. It's now under control and is back to normal. Orange County was a yellow zone. Little confusing. It is now back to normal. Brooklyn was an orange zone. It's being dropped to a yellow zone. So, the restrictions work. And just to make it very simple, if you socially distance and you wore a mask and you were smart, none of this would be a problem. It's all self-imposed. It's all self-imposed. If you didn't eat the cheesecake, you wouldn't have a weight problem. It's all self-imposed.

 

Here's my personal opinion and my personal theory, because I know I'd disappoint you if I didn't have my own theory. You look at the states that are now surging, South Dakota, Wyoming, these are the states that did not get hit hard in the Spring. When New York was going through it, when some cities, New Jersey was going through it, that was eight months ago, they did not have anywhere near the problem. It was a problem that effected somewhere else. It effected someone else. "Yeah, well that was New York. That was New Jersey. That's the eastern seaboard. That's not happening here in our state. Yeah, I saw it on the news, but it's not happening to us. It's happening to them, over there."

 

There can be a sense of denial that we're immune from this. It's not going to happen here like it happened in New York or New Jersey. Yes, it is, and it can, and it's happening. Even in places like South Dakota, and in Wisconsin, and in Iowa. Why? Because they didn't think it was real or a real probability eight months ago. And they didn't take the precautions, and they didn't adopt the behavior, and now it's real. That's my theory, that's why it says "personal opinion." Personal opinion: Western New York never lived the full pain of COVID's wrath. Western New York read about New York City, they read about Long Island, they watched it on the TV news, but the numbers were never as bad in Western New York and you want people to change dramatically their behavior. For me to make these dramatic changes in behavior I have to believe this is real, and it wasn't real because it wasn't real to me. You know when it becomes real? When it's real to me. I get it was real in New York City, but I'm in Buffalo. Buffalo is much different than New York City and it wasn't real to me, like South Dakota. I believe that. I believe they didn't have the same level of fear and what caused so many people in New York to change their behavior? It was the fear. Why do you guys wear the masks now? "Oh, because you said we have to. There is a law that says it." No, you wear the masks because you're afraid of COVID and because you're concerned about other people, but because you think it's real because it is real for you. Western New York never felt that same level of reality.

 

Thanksgiving is coming up. Here's my next personal opinion and theory: you will see a tremendous spike after Thanksgiving. A tremendous spike after Thanksgiving. No scientific data, no health commissioner said that - that's my personal theory. Why? Because Thanksgiving is a holiday and people come together and if you don't have a real fear about COVID you're going to come together, and you see people saying, "nobody's going to stop me from coming together. That's my family, you can't tell me don't socialize with my family." It's going to happen. It is going to happen, and it's going to happen because it's human behavior. I had a conversation with my mother, several conversations about Thanksgiving. "We have to get together for Thanksgiving." Mom, we can't get together for Thanksgiving. "Oh no, no, I know. It has to be a small group. Just us, just your sisters, and your brother, and your family. Just us." No mom, we can't do that. I can't be with my sisters. "They're your sisters. Just us, just us. Just the family. Your sisters, they miss you, they haven't seen you, they're crazy about you, they love you, stop."

It's counterintuitive. What I thought was the safest place and the safest situation, in my home at my table, with my family, it can't be any safer than that - that's a dangerous situation.

 

Canada, after Thanksgiving, number went right up. I've said this 150 times. It's going to happen because it's human behavior. I hear it with my own family. Be smart. I get it. I understand it. It's wrong. It's wrong.

 

My advice on Thanksgiving - don't be a turkey. You don't want to be the turkey on Thanksgiving.

 

You know what love is on Thanksgiving? I love you so much and I'm so thankful for you that I'm not going to see you. That's how you show me you love me. I'm not going to see you. That's how much I love you.  

 

 

 

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