March 20, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Signs The 'New York State on Pause' Executive Order

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Signs The 'New York State on Pause' Executive Order

10-Point Policy that Assures Uniform Safety for Everyone

100% Closure of Non-Essential Businesses Statewide, Effective 8pm Sunday — Exceptions Made For Essential Services Such as Groceries and Healthcare

"Matilda's Law" Will Provide New Protections for Most Vulnerable Populations - New Yorkers Age 70 and Older, People with Compromised Immune Systems and Those With Underlying Illnesses

Directs 90-Day Moratorium on Any Residential or Commercial Evictions

Asks PPE Product Providers to Sell Non-Essential Products to the State and Encourages Companies to Begin Manufacturing PPE Products

Confirms 2,950 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 7,102; New Cases in 23 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "We need everyone to be safe. Otherwise no one can be safe."

Cuomo: "These provisions will be enforced. These are not helpful hints. This is not if you really want to be a great citizen. These are legal provisions. They will be enforced."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced he is signing the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.

Governor Cuomo also announced "Matilda's Law" - named for the Governor's mother - to protect New York's most vulnerable populations, including individuals age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses. The measure requires this group of New Yorkers to stay home and limit home visitation to immediate family members or close friends in need of emergency assistance. If it is necessary to visit such individuals, the visitor should get prescreened by taking temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms. Both individuals should wear a mask for the duration of the visits

The Governor also announced a 90-day moratorium on any residential or commercial evictions.

Additionally, amid a shortage of personal protective equipment — or PPE — products in the state, including gloves, masks and gowns, the Governor is asking all PPE product providers to sell to the state any products that are not essential or not currently being used. Businesses interested in selling products to the state should contact Simonida Subotic at 646-522-8477 or [email protected].

The Governor is also encouraging any company with the proper equipment or personnel to begin to manufacture PPE products if possible. The state is willing to provide funding to any company to obtain the proper equipment and personnel. Businesses interested in receiving state funding to manufacture PPE products should contact Eric Gertler at 212-803-3100 or [email protected].

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:

Happy Friday, it is almost time for the weekend. Is there a weekend if you did not work during the week? Let me introduce who we have here today starting at the far left, James Malatras who everybody knows, Budget Director Rob Mujica, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, Dr. Howard Zucker from the Health Department and General Patrick Murphy. We call him General Patrick Murphy.

General Patrick Murphy was in charge of our National Guard for many years and did an outstanding job. I have been with him in many emergency situations over the years. He is a man who leads from the front, so he is my type of leader. He had so much fun that he retired and then he came and joined us as Commissioner of Homeland Security.

This team and the team that is working on this, New Yorkers should have total confidence because they have done it before. They have been in this situation, not this exact situation, but they have handled emergencies and they have handled them all pretty well, so they are proven.

Let's go through this for an update on where we are today. Overview of the system, everybody knows what we are dealing with. It is preventing an overload of the healthcare system. So the number of acute cases that are coming into the health care system, the growth in the number of acute cases must match the capacity of the healthcare system and that is what we have been working on. We watched the rate of hospitalizations. We watched the rate of ICU hospitalizations, even more closely. The difference between how many beds you need versus how many ICU beds. And the real focal point, the rate of ventilated patients because that goes to the number of ventilators as we have been discussing. So, those are the three most critical points.

We need more beds. We have been saying that. We know that. We have been working on it. There was a discussion with all the hospitals across the State of New York today. There is about a 50,000 bed capacity that has to be increased. It has to be increased in the existing hospitals. We are planning to cancel all non-critical elective surgeries. By definition elective surgeries can be done at a different time and now is the time not to do that. We have informed the hospitals of that. We are going to set a date probably next week for that. That will free up between 25-35% of the existing hospital beds. We have also instructed all of the hospitals to maximize capacity. We want to know from each hospital how many beds can you get in your hospital? We are waiving the Department of Health and DFS regulations about space, etc. This would be for a term emergency basis. But we want a plan from every hospital. If you use every available space, how many beds can you get in the hospital? And we started that a few weeks ago and that is now coming to a critical point.

With the more beds you need more staff, so we are going to nursing schools, medical schools, asking retired doctors and nurses to come back into surface. Supplies are a major issue - PPE, gloves, gowns, masks, suppliers. I am now asking all product providers, all companies who are in this business, we will pay a premium for these products. If you are a business that does not manufacture these exact items, but you have equipment and personnel and you believe you could manufacture these items, they are not complicated, a mask is not a complicated item to make. A PPE gown is not a complicated item to make. Gloves, are not a complicated item. If you can make them, we will give you funding to do it and we will give you funding to get the right equipment, to get the right personnel, etc.

I am asking businesses to be creative. I am even looking on the State side. As you know, we went into the hand sanitizer business which we are now increasing by the way. We have opened additional hand sanitizer manufacturing areas. But I have also spoken to the State facilities that make uniforms. If you can make a uniform, why can't you make a mask? And we are researching that.

But it is that kind of creativity that we need from businesses. I can't mandate that businesses make something, but I can offer financial incentives and that is what we are doing. Any business that is interested should contact Empire State Development. They will get on it right away. Eric Gertler is the head of that. Any company that wants to sell product should contact my office, the Chamber, Simonida Subotic at that number. There are also a number of companies that have masks. Goldman Sachs donate 100,000 masks to the State of New York and I want to thank them. But if you have masks, offices that are non-essential right now. There are dentist's offices that are closed. There are clinics that are closed. We need those masks, those gowns, gloves and we need them now.

In terms of building more beds, as I have said we had the Army Corps of Engineers here and we are working with them. There is Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, who is really top professional. Ironically, I worked with him when I was at HUD building housing on Native American reservations at the Pine Ridge Reservation. So, he has been at the Corps a long time. He is top shelf.

We're looking at a possible number of locations for large, temporary facilities - Javits Center, number of CUNY sites, number of SUNY sites, St. Johns University wants to be helpful, Fordham University, so we're looking at all these sites and they're all under analysis, where do we have the space, where can we get up a temporary facility, how quickly?

It's ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. That is the greatest need. We're notifying any health department in the state, if you have a ventilator and you are not using it at this time or it's non-essential for your use, we want it. If you are a regulated health facility we are asking you by order of the Department of Health to make that ventilator available. We will purchase it from you. You could lend it to us but we need ventilators and anyone who has them now please call the New York State Department of health at that number. Again, there are a lot of medical offices that have ventilators that are not operational now and they're just in the corner of the office.

We need those ventilators. The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II? Right? Rosie the Riveter? We need ventilators. That is a key piece of equipment. We can get the beds. We'll get the supplies. But a ventilator is a specific piece of equipment. These are people with a respiratory illness. We need the ventilators.

The number one opportunity to make a difference here is to flatten the curve, flatten the increase in the number of cases like we've talked about, flatten the increase of the number of cases coming into the hospital system. The best way to do that is by reducing density - density control, density control valve, right? That's what we have been doing all along. We're going to take it to the ultimate step which is we're going to close the valve. All right? Because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system.

So we're going to put out an Executive Order today. New York State on pause. Policies that assure uniform safety for everyone. Uniform safety for everyone. Why? Because what I do will affect you and what you do will affect me. Talk about community and interconnection and interdependence. This is the very realistic embodiment of that.

We need everyone to be safe. Otherwise no one can be safe.

We've studied all the other countries. We've talked to people all across the globe about what they did, what they've done, what worked, what doesn't work, and that has all informed this policy.

Two basic rules: only essential businesses will be functioning. People who can work at home, God bless you. But only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job.

Second rule: remain indoors to the greatest extent to protect physical and mental health. On the businesses, on the valve, we reduced it to 50 percent of the workforce. We then reduced it to 75 percent of the workforce must stay home and today we're bringing it to 100 percent of the workforce must stay home.

These are non-essential services. Essential services have to continue to function. Grocery stores need food, pharmacies need drugs, your Internet has to continue to work, the water has to run on when you turn the faucet. So there are essential services that will continue to function but 100 percent of the workforce. When I talk about the most drastic we can take this is the most drastic action we can take.

We also have specific rules for people's conduct. First is for what we call the quote on quote vulnerable population, and remember many people will get this disease. Different countries estimate 70, 80 percent of the population. People will get it, people will recover, that's what's going to happen for the vast majority. That's what's happening in this state for the vast majority. Who are we worried about? Seniors, compromised immune system, people with underlying illnesses. Where are the places we're really worried about? Nursing homes, senior congregate facilities.

We need real diligence with vulnerable populations and there's been a lot of confusion and a lot of different theories and a lot of mixed information. I've gone through it myself with my own family. As I said we have my mother who lives alone. Everybody wants to help and we've gone back and forth. Who should go visit mom? Should mom go to my sister's house? Should mom go to this house? Nobody knows for sure. I asked Commissioner Zucker speak to every health official, get the best rules to protect our senior citizens and people with vulnerable populations and that's what these rules are.

Remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise. Pre-screen all visitors and aides. Don't visit households with multiple people. Don't go to your daughters house. Mom doesn't want to be alone - I understand, but you bring her into your house and you have 10 people there and they're coming in and out and your daughters have friends. That is a mistake. That is a mistake. Well we're going to go visit mom, I'm going to bring the whole family to see mom. Not now. A vulnerable person should wear a mask when in the company of others. To the greatest extent, everyone in the presence of a vulnerable person should wear a mask. They shouldn't be on public transportation unless it is urgent and absolutely necessary.

Well what does that mean? It means urgent and absolutely necessary. It means what the word says. I call it Matilda's Law. My mother's name is Matilda. Everybody's mother, father, sister, friend in a vulnerable population - this is about protecting them. Protecting them. What you do, what you do highly, highly effects their health and well being. The instinct to love - I want to be with them. I want my kids. Mom wants to see the kids. Be smart. My mother and your mother.

For non-vulnerable populations, these are the rules. No non-essential gatherings. Any concentration of individuals is because you're an essential business and an essential workforce. When in public, social distancing at least 6 feet. Outdoor recreation is a solitary recreational exercise. It's running, it's hiking. It's not playing basketball with 5 other people. That's not what it is. It's not laying in a park with 10 other people and sharing a beer. That's not what this is. There are people and places in New York City where it looks like life as usual. No. This is not life as usual and accept it and realize it and deal with it.

Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care, et cetera. Young people need to practice social distancing. Avoid contact with vulnerable populations. Precautionary alcohol wipes. We talk a lot about hand sanitizer. Since I went in to the hand sanitizer business I'm a semi-expert on hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is alcohol. That's what it is. If you can't get hand sanitizer, get a bottle of alcohol, pour it on wipes, paper towels, that's an alcohol wipe. Hand sanitizer now, according to the CDC, has to be over 60 percent alcohol to be effective.

These provisions will be enforced. These are not helpful hints. This is not if you really want to be a great citizen. These are legal provisions. They will be enforced. There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance. Again, your actions can effect my health. That's where we are. So there is a social compact that we have. Government makes sure society is safe for everyone. What you do can effect my health. There's some bad information, especially among young people, if you look at some of these videos that are going around on some of these newscasts on what young people are saying. "I can't get it" Yeah, that's wrong. That is wrong. Well, young people can't get it - that is wrong. That is not a factual statement.

Twenty percent of coronavirus cases, according to CDC, ages 20-44, okay. France, more than 50 percent of patients in ICU under 60-years-old. You can get it. Well I can't transmit it if I'm not symptomatic. No, you can transmit it if you're not symptomatic. And even if you're young and strong and everybody is superman, superwoman, I can deal with it. Oh yeah? You can give it to your grandparent, you can give it to your parent and you can put somebody else's life in danger. So, just factually a lot of these premises are wrong.

This is nothing that people don't know. It's nothing we haven't been talking about. But we have to do it. And we have to be serious and again, it is a government responsibility. Everyone has personal freedom, everyone has personal liberty and I'll always respect that and I'll always protect that, but everyone also has a responsibility to everyone else. And this is a specific case of that.

I believe in regional actions, none of these policies work unless the geographic area is an area that works. I have spoken to the Governor of New Jersey, Governor of Connecticut about the actions that we're taking today. I'm going to speak with them later this afternoon. We have been coordinating to the greatest extent possible. And they're going to be considering these policies, which again, are very dramatic and I said I would like to do it coordination. I understand we have somewhat of a different circumstance in New York, but they are considering it. We have added Pennsylvania and Delaware to the states we're working with. And again, you can have businesses in New Jersey, if they don't close then their workers are driving into New York. Businesses in Connecticut stay open, you need New Yorkers to drive up to those businesses. So, regional action is the best. We're talking. I'll speak with them later today.

The number of cases and you can see why we've taken these dramatic actions. Total positive up to 7,000; 2,900 new positive cases. Now I've told you in the past that the number of cases is relative to the number of tests. I've also said that New York has been very aggressive about increasing our number of tests. We went to the federal government, we asked for the authority to allow the state to run the tests as opposed to waiting for the federal government. The President granted us that ability. I ramped up all the labs in our state. We opened drive-thru all across the state. We have the testing so high in New York right now that we are testing per-capita more than China or South Korea, okay? And China and South Korea obviously had a much longer time to ramp up. So, we have done a great job at ramping up the number of tests, but when you ramp up the number of tests you are going to get more positive cases.

"Well, now we are more worried." No, because it was the reality. The test are just demonstrating what was. And again, if we could do more tests, you would find more positives, and finding positives is a good thing because we can isolate and we can track back. The number of counties continues to increase and it will until that entire state is blue. Blue is not a political statement by the way, it's just blue versus yellow. New York now has 7,000 cases - that compares to State of Washington that has 1,000, California that has 1,000 and change. So you can see that New York is in a dramatically different position, and you can see why we're taking these actions. Now, again, New York may very well be testing at a multiple of the other states. So does New York necessarily have 7 times more people who are infected than California? You don't know. You know that we are doing more tests per capita, but you don't know what the actual infection rate is. In total, we have tested 32,000 people - we did 10,000 tests last night. I had said last week that we had hoped to get to 6,000 tests - we've gotten to 10,000 tests which again I'm very proud of the operation but again that's why you see the number going up. The rate of hospitalization, watch this number, it's 18 percent, 1,200 out of 7,100. Again, overall perspective, look at the Johns Hopkins numbers - people will get sick, people will resolve. You look at our cases, the first case we had, first healthcare worker, that case she was never hospitalized, she stayed home and she now tests negative. That's what's going to happen with 80 percent of the people.

So why is New York taking these dramatic actions? We know from past history that what a locality does matters. The 1918 Spanish flu which also reminds us that this has happened before in society, right? This tendency to think, oh this is something new, it's a science fiction movie. Yeah, well in 1918 they had a flu epidemic, but St. Louis took one course of action, Philadelphia took another course of action, and it made a dramatic difference in the number of people that died. What government did at that moment made a dramatic difference. And not nationally. Locally.

Yes, New York has the tightest controls in the country. You look at those numbers and you understand why. Look at the increase in the number of cases. Sixteen days ago we were at zero. Today we are at 2,900. Those numbers are why we are taking these actions. Just increase that curve and you will see it more than doubles our healthcare system capacity. It more than triples the number of ICU beds with ventilators that we could possibly arrange. That's why we're taking these actions.

These actions will cause disruption. They will cause businesses to close. They'll cause employees to stay at home. I understand that. They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that also. I've spoken to my colleagues around the state, the elected officials. I've spoken to business leaders. There's a spectrum of opinion. Some people say that we don't need to do this, it's going to hurt the economy. I understand that. Some people want to make it clear that they are disassociated from these actions. I understand that. And just so we're all clear, this is a statewide order. It's not what your county executive is doing, it's not what your mayor is doing, it's not what anyone else but me is doing. And I accept full responsibility. If someone is unhappy, somebody wants to blame someone, people complain about someone, blame me. There is no one else who is responsible for this decision.

I've been in public service for many years on every level of public service. I've managed dozens of emergencies. The philosophy that's always worked for me is prepare for the worst, hope for the best. That's what we're doing here. When we look back at this situation ten years from now, I want to be able to say to the people of New York I did everything we could do. I did everything we could do. This is about saving lives and if everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy.

Last point I'd also like people to think about, and I don't have an answer for this and it's not what I do, but the isolation that people are feeling and the mental health consequences of what we are doing. When we quarantined people, we quarantined about 10,000 people, 14 days you have to stay at home, and I spoke to many of them and what they would say is physically, operationally it was difficult. But most of all they would all talk about the sense of isolation and the feeling of isolation and not having human contact and how difficult that was. I, as you know, had my daughter who was in isolation and I was very aware of what she was dealing and what she was feeling. And I'll tell you the truth, I had some of the best conversations with her that I have ever had. She was alone for two weeks with her own thoughts, not talking to anyone else, no noise, no activity, and we talked about things in depth that we didn't have time to talk about in the past or that we didn't have the courage or the strength to talk about in the past. Feelings that I had about mistakes that I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret I talked through with her. People are in a small apartment, they're in a house, they're worried, they're anxious. Just be mindful of that. Those three word sentences can make all the difference. I miss you, I love you, I'm thinking of you, I wish I was there with you, I'm sorry you're going through this, I'm sorry we're going through this. That's going to be a situation that's going to develop because we're all in quarantine now. I mean, think about it, we're all in various levels of quarantine. It's hard. It's hard economically, it's hard everywhere, but it's going to be hard here. It takes each of us to try to help with that.

Last announcement. With all that's going on I want to protect the people of the state of New York as much as I can. I'm going to stop any evictions of any residential or commercial tenants for 90 days. There'll be a moratorium on evictions, residential or commercial, for 90 days. I understand that may affect businesses negatively and I've spoken to a number of them. I don't know who you think you're going to rent an apartment to now anyway if you kick someone out. By my mandate, you couldn't even have your real estate agent out showing the apartment. Same with the commercial tenants. But I know that we're going to put people out of work with what I did. I want to make sure I don't put them out of their house.

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