August 3, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic

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

Hospitalizations Drop to 536—New Low Since March 17 

Intubations Drop to 62—New Low Since Mid-March

1.05 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive 

3 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday; No Deaths Reported in NYC for Second Straight Day 

SLA and State Police Task Force Observes Violations of State Requirements at 29 Establishments

Confirms 545 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 416,843; New Cases in 39 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "The progress is even better than we expected. Remember when we started reopening, all the experts said, expect the infection rate to increase when the activity rate increases. That's what you've seen all across the country, that's what you've seen in other countries, and that's what we expected here. We then were talking about calibrating the increase and making sure it didn't go that high, but it was supposed to go up. After two and a half months of reopening, the numbers have actually gone down; which nobody suggested. That is really to compliment New Yorkers."

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitalizations and intubations hit new lows since mid-March, and no deaths were reported in New York City for the second day in a row. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov

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 here.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good to see you all here today. I'm joined by Mr. Rick Cotton today, extraordinary Executive Director of the New York State and New Jersey Port Authority. He's been doing an extraordinary job at the Port Authority. Does, among other things, the administration of the airports, building the new John F. Kennedy, rebuilding JFK, so he's been doing double duty and we have a great announcement today that we've joined in this morning, which I'm going to chat about in a moment. 

Today is day 156, for those who are counting. If you're not counting, it's still day 156. Number of hospitalizations, 536. What does that number mean? It is a new low since we were in the midst of the battle. So that is great news. Number of COVID patients in ICU, 136. Also a new low since the height of the crisis. Number of intubations, 62. Also a new low, so that's great news. Number of lives lost, a new low on the 3-day average, 3 people passed away yesterday. This is really all great, great news and I congratulate New Yorkers because this is purely a result of the actions they've been taking.  

The progress is even better than we expected. Remember when we started reopening, all the experts said, expect the infection rate to increase when the activity rate increases. That's what you've seen all across the country, that's what you've seen in other countries, and that's what we expected here. We then were talking about calibrating the increase and making sure it didn't go that high, but it was supposed to go up. After two and a half months of reopening, the numbers have actually gone down; which nobody suggested. That is really to compliment New Yorkers. 

We started reopening May 15, that's where it was on the curve - we call it a curve, I call it a descent of the mountain. We get to the same place we just have different metaphorical images. That's where the reopening started. Since the reopening, the numbers continued to go down. No expert predicted that. New Yorkers are doing better than anyone else, even expected. Cautious still, but why shouldn't we be celebrating? Because look around, that's why. 

 

Look at what's going on across the country. Look at those increases. Look at what we're dealing with in terms of now 39 states on the quarantine list and look at incidents of lack of compliance. The numbers are a result of the actions and we have been disciplined and we have to stay disciplined. In terms of enforcement, local governments have to do a better job. I don't know how else to say it. We're doing everything we can on the state side. The SLA and the State Police are working double duty. We have a problem with young people and lack of compliance. We have a problem, especially at bars and restaurants. 

 

Last night, they did another 29 violations. They checked 874 establishments. Over the weekend, they checked 3,000 establishments and did 106 violations. All this to say that the bars and restaurants follow the rules because if you don't follow the rules, chances are, likelihood is, someone's going to be there to watch and to check. That's the way it should be. If you're following the rules, fine. If you're not following the rules, if I were you, I would be worried. That's the way it should be. 

 

We're seeing continued situations that are just not intelligent and local governments have to crack down on these, whether they're in New York City or Long Island or they're in upstate New York. How a charter boat could put together a crowd on deck and leave - it's just disrespectful, it's illegal. It not only violates public health it violates common decency. Look at all the people you endangered. What if one of those people on that cruise gets sick and dies? What if one of the people on that cruises gets sick, goes home and gives it to a parent who dies? It is just really reckless, rude, irresponsible and illegal. Under the Kosciuszko Bridge apparently dozens of people partied. We need better enforcement all across the state. 

 

On the issue of schools, I want to be clear: We have 700 school districts in this state. The districts are putting in plans for how they will handle the reopening. I'll make a determination later this week on the infection rate whether or not we're going to reopen schools. But, just because a district puts out a plan, doesn't mean that if we reopen the school, parents are going to come or teachers are going to come. It's not, "Well the government said the schools are open - now everybody must go." It's not going to happen that way. I'm talking to parents - I am telling you it is not going to happen that way. They are not going to trust the school district. This is an issue of public health.

 

Just because the school district says, "You shouldn't worry about your child's public health," that's not going to be enough. Not in this environment. Not when you're dealing with situations that everybody knows that nobody has the facts. Parents are going to want to understand the information for themselves. I'll tell you what they're asking me, I'll tell you what they're going to ask every school district. "How are you going to test? How many tests are you going to take? Are you sure you have them lined up? Are you sure those are enough tests? Is it a representative sample? How long is it going to take to turn around the tests - is it two days, four days, seven days?" They're informed, parents. They're the most informed people on this issue probably in the country. They've lived through it. They're going to have questions. This is not going to be the school district puts out a plan and then by fiat, by dictatorship, that is the plan.

 

You need the parents to be comfortable. You need the teachers to be comfortable. You need the children to show up at school and there's going to have to be a discussion. You look at some of these plans - they're indecipherable. Even if you can understand the plan, they raise questions and parents are going to need to talk it through. I encourage every school district: Set up a discussion room now, start explaining to the parents now, have those conversations now, you can't call people into a conference room but you can invite them on to a video chat or onto a chat room, but they have questions and they need answers and time is short. That should start now because the parents are going to make the decision.

 

"Nobody is going to tell me whether or not I should send my child to school I'm going to make that determination. And I'm going to want to make sure send informed determination. And I'm not going to trust just what's on some school district's plan. I'm not going to do that." And parents have to be comfortable and they should be comfortable because they're the ultimate decision makers. Just because I say the infection rate is low, that's not going to cause a parent to send the child back to school. Just because the school district says we have a safe plan, I'm telling you it's not going to work. They have to feel comfortable which means they have to be part of the process we have to have a dialogue.

 

I want to congratulate the Port Authority, Rick Cotton who runs it, Chairman Kevin O'Toole. The Saint Nicholas Greek Church has been a long saga for New York. It was destroyed in 9/11, it was supposed to be rebuilt, there were fits and starts, bureaucracy was slow, this was slow, but I was just with His Eminence the Archbishop and it is now being rebuilt. It is magnificent. It really is a beautiful structure - it is the only church on 9/11. Part of it is going to be a bereavement center - it's not just a Greek church it's a universal center for reconciliation. It is a spiritual place and we've been trying to get it done for a long time - sometimes God works in funny ways that it is now being rebuilt at this moment all these years after 9/11. Why this moment, maybe because God says he needs or wants a symbol of renewal and rebirth at this moment. Maybe it was God's way of saying to New Yorkers, yes, this is a tough time. Yes, we've been dealt a hard blow. But we can rise up. We can build back. And we can build back better. St. Nicholas is better than the church that was there before. We didn't just rebuild St. Nicholas. This is a vastly improved physical structure from what it was. This is going to be a national landmark— St. Nicholas— when it's done. And I think is a symbolism there for all New Yorkers. We're going to have to build back. There's no doubt about it. We don't even understand the extent of the economic damage that has been done. And it's going to be hard. I'm telling you that, but we've done it before and will do it again. And that's what St. Nicholas said to me today when I was there.  

 

In terms of the national situation— and I want to speak plain truth on this. We said we have two threats: we have the lack of compliance and we have the national situation. The national situation is getting worse.  It's not getting better. That is a fact, as I like to say. It's an inarguable fact. You look at the numbers— look at what's happening in Florida, look at California, look at Texas. Look at the numbers. Look at what's happening all across the Midwest where you're seeing a dramatic rise. Look at what the White House is now saying where you entered "a new phase of COVID." What's the new phase? Extensive spread. Oh, that's a new phase?  What was the old phase? If the new phase is extensive spread, what was the old phase? That was limited spread, what we went through? I mean, it's absurd. It's not a new phase. It was entirely predictable. It was the progression of a virus. It's exponential increase, which is what a virus does.

 

One person affects two people, two people infect four. It is the exponential pyramid of viral spread. It's not a new phase. It was a mathematical equation that you just had to factor out. You have medical experts who are now saying we should hit the reset button. That the nation should shut down and start over. That that's the only way to stop the virus. That's what medical experts are saying: hit the reset button, shut down everything and start all over again. That's a damning commentary on where we are: hit the reset button. Just close all the states and start over. Look, you want to start over, you want to hit the reset button. I'll tell you how we hit the reset button in this country. We start this time with the truth. We do something different than was done in this country six months ago when this started.

 

Start with the truth. Tell the American people the truth. And it starts with a reset with the President of the United States telling the truth, which he did not do six months ago. And if you want to hit the reset button, and you need to hit the reset button, and I believe we need to hit the reset button— then hit the reset button. But do it honestly. And it has to start with the President telling the American people the truth. The truth is: it was a mistake to deny COVID. It was a mistake to downplay COVID. It was a mistake to say it's just the flu. It was a mistake to say it's gone by Easter. It was a mistake to say it's going to magically disappear when it gets warm. It was a mistake to say I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a mistake to say yes, we're going to do testing, but I don't think we need it. Those were all mistakes. Those were all untruths. And they sent the wrong message to the American people because some people heard the President and believed him. And if you believed him, you wouldn't take COVID seriously. And if you didn't take COVID seriously, then you wouldn't take the precautions that people were saying you should take. But that's what the President of the United States was saying six months ago.

 

The President of the United States said five months ago, "reopen the economy! Liberate the states. Liberate the economy. These governors are slow-walking reopening. They're just playing politics. That's what they're doing. There's no reason not to reopen the economy. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up." 

 

Florida jumps. Texas jumps. Arizona jumps. Yes, we're just going to reopen the economy. That was a mistake. It was an untruth. It denied the science. It denied what they're saying now. The virus will spread if you do that. Tell the truth. The truth is, it was a mistake that when you saw what was going on in New York five months ago you didn't heed the warning. It was a mistake when you saw the spike in New York you thought somehow those people were different and your people were immune - your people aren't immune. New Yorkers had no different immune system that made them more contagious to the virus it was a mistake to deny the reality that happened in New York, that was broadcast across the country.

 

That was a mistake. It was a mistake to see what we had to do here in New York: the testing; the hospital system; the contact tracing; the closed down; the phased reopening and pay no attention to it. No attention to it. Six months later, the states still don't have testing and contact tracing. How can it be? You had six months. Here in New York, we had two weeks. We were ambushed because the virus came from Europe and nobody told us. These are the states had six months. How did you not set up a testing operation? How did you not expand the capacity of your hospital system? How did you not locate additional staff? How did you not locate additional PPE? You had six months. The reason they didn't? Because they were listening to the president. "There is no issue. There is no problem." It was a mistake.

 

Tell them the truth. The truth is COVID is serious, it is deadly serious. And it's deadly serious for all of us. It's not deadly serious for Democrats. It's not deadly serious for blue states only. COVID kills Republicans and COVID affects red states. It is deadly serious. This was not a political issue and it shouldn't have been politicized. This is public health that's what this was and it should have never been turned into a political symbol which is what this president did. Start with the truth and the truth is an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. That's what we should have learned in China. What we should have learned from MERS and SARS and Ebola and swine flu and H1N1 - an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. It's still true. And the truth is none of us are safe until all of us are safe. That is the truth. If we don't tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end and it will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and forth and you see how it's bouncing now? It's ricochet. It's Florida, it's Texas, it's the Midwest, it's California - oh it's back to New Jersey is on the rise, oh it's back to Massachusetts is on the rise. It will continue this ricocheting across the country because that's what viruses do. It will never end. This was a colossal blunder how COVID was handled by this federal government. Colossal blunder. Shame on all of you.

 

Six months, lives loss, hit the reset button, yes. But the way the medical experts are talking about it won't work it. It won't work unless you hit the reset button and you start with the truth because if the American people are continued lying to, the confusion in the chaos and the denial will continue. Hit the reset button. It's called the truth. It's called the plain truth. The American people are smart. If the president actually tells them the truth and says I made a mistake, he's not going to be telling them anything they don't know. Every American knows he made a mistake. Every American knows this was the worst government blunder in modern history.

 

Not since the Vietnam War have Americans sat in their living room to see the numbers on the TV screen every night saying what a mistake it was. During the Vietnam War, every night you saw the death toll, you saw the injury toll on TV. Every night they've seen this virus increasing all across the country in the death toll going up. You don't think they know it was a mistake, then you don't know the American people. They're smarter than you think. Trust the American people and if you don't trust them and you don't trust their intelligence and you don't trust their ability to handle the information, then you shouldn't ask to be their leader.

 

I trust the people of New York. I told them the truth, I told them the facts, I never sugarcoated, I never shield it - I told him the truth, so they knew what to do and they did it. That's what we call being New York Tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving. They should try it in Washington. 

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