September 24, 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:...

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2 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 955 Establishments; Observes 5 Establishments Not in Compliance

 

Confirms 955 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 452,847; New Cases in 52 Counties

 

Governor Cuomo: "We're going to have a COVID report card for every school district in the state. It's going up now, Department of Health is hosting it. We're going to show you how it works. I encourage every parent, every teacher, you want to know how your school district's doing? You want to know how your school district is doing compared to other school districts? You want to know how your school is doing? My kids go to P.S. 35; you want to know how P.S. 35 is doing? You can go to this website and you can find out, and if there's a cause for concern, be concerned. So, I need the people of the state to be a part of this. I'll provide the information, but they're going to have to look at it, and they're going to have to respond. It's about transparency, and it's about having the facts."

 

Cuomo: "The first question is, is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I wouldn't recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion. Second question is, if it is a safe vaccine, how do you implement it? Implementation is a massive undertaking. On the first question of is it safe, New York State will have its own review. When the federal government is finished with their review and says it's safe. We're going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health that will advise me - we have the best hospitals and research facilities on the globe in this State. We're going to put together a group for them to review the vaccine so I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it's safe to take. I want to make sure that we know it's safe to take."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 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 are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

 

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

 

Good to be with all of you. Pretty day in New York City. Let me introduce the people who are here, if there's a person left in the state who doesn't know who the people at this table are. From my far right, Mr. Gareth Rhodes. To my immediate right, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. to my left, Robert Mujica, budget director for the State of New York, who had a bad night last night, so please don't ask him any tough questions. To his left, Dr. Howard Zucker, health commissioner extraordinaire. For Marcia Kramer, anyone who comes in late does not get to ask a question. Those were the rules, they were printed at the door on the way in, I hope you will all respect them.

 

Today is day 208. The numbers for today, 500 hospitalizations, which is up about 10, ICU patients up about four, intubations up about four, number of lives lost, two. They are in our thoughts and prayers. But again, God bless the people of the State of New York for what they accomplished here. You remember what those death numbers were. Literally in the hundreds for days. And you see what's going on around the country, right. numbers are still numbers. Facts are still facts, even at this crazy time of hyper partisanship and rhetoric. What New Yorkers did is extraordinary, and they saved thousands of lives, that is inarguable. We just have to keep it that way.

 

The five-day results, you see we're watching Western New York, we're watching New York City, but there's been some ticks, but overall, we are still okay. A few caution flags that we're watching, overall statewide the number was about 1 percent yesterday.

 

What happens in New York is a function of two main dynamics. What New Yorkers do, main factor. Second factor is what happens around us. To an extent, we are a function of what happens in the other states and the other countries. People are flying into our airports, people are driving in, and you're seeing spikes all across the country, and you're seeing spikes all across the world. Those are numbers, right. We are the anomaly to what's going on across the country. A great anomaly, but an anomaly. You look at the New York chart, look at Wisconsin, look at Oklahoma, look at South Dakota, look at Utah, look at the country overall. It's going up. It's going up. "Well, we should be hermetically sealed from the rest of the nation, we have a quarantine policy." Yes, but it's not that simple, right. We are affected and affected can mean infected. People still come to the state from other states. People still come to this state from other countries. And you're seeing the numbers all across the country and all across the world going up. Spain, Israel.

 

So, we have to remain vigilant and there are still challenges ahead, and we won't be out of this until we are all out of this. There's just a collective reality. "Rugged individualism, we're all rugged individuals." Yeah, tell COVID that. And COVID says rugged individualism is great, but you're still part of a community and part of a collective, and if the person next door to you gets infected, you may very well get infected.

 

So what's next? We're entering the fall, and the fall is going to bring a new set of challenges. And we have to be aware of it, and we have to then adapt our management and our priorities to the new realities. Schools are going to reopen. That brings a new set of challenges. Question about a vaccine, when do we get it? Is it safe? What's the efficacy? How do we administer it? Flu season is coming, what does that mean?

 

First on schools, we have to be very careful about schools. Schools are congregate situations by definition. The virus travels in congregate settings, by definition. We are seeing problems in colleges all across this nation and all across this state. Are the colleges the same as K to 12? No. but, there are certain factors that are the same, and the congregate nature poses challenges. "Well, school districts have plans to do testing and cohorting." Yeah, great, if the plans work. If the plans work. Government is great at making plans. Everybody's great at making plans. Can you implement the plan is really the question. So, monitor the school districts very carefully. We have the data. We have the testing. Monitor the testing in schools very carefully. If you see a problem, react quickly. That's our strategy.

 

How do we do this? We do it the way we started on day one. I don't do anything. I produce information for the people of the state. The people of the state then act responsibly and intelligently because they have the information. They just need the information. We know they're going to act responsibly because they have. That's how we know. Only two people passed away yesterday because New Yorkers act responsibly. But I have to get them the information.

 

So we're going to have a COVID report card for every school district in the state. It's going up now, Department of Health is hosting it. We're going to show you how it works. I encourage every parent, every teacher, you want to know how your school district's doing? You want to know how your school district is doing compared to other school districts? You want to know how your school is doing? My kids go to P.S. 35; you want to know how P.S. 35 is doing? You can go to this website and you can find out, and if there's a cause for concern, be concerned. So, I need the people of the state to be a part of this. I'll provide the information, but they're going to have to look at it, and they're going to have to respond. It's about transparency, and it's about having the facts. We will show you this website. But the website has the positive cases by date of students and staff by school district. Number of students and staff who are on-site. Number who have tested positive. And the daily reporting, every 24 hours. So if you're a nervous parent like almost every parent I know, and by the way to be anxious about your kid going back to school is not an unintelligent response. Anxiety can be rational. I think it's rational to be concerned about what's happening at a school. So, people want the information, this will give them the information. I'm going to turn it over to Gareth to walk you through how this website works.

 

Gareth Rhodes: Thank you, Governor. So as the Governor just mentioned, from day, facts, transparency, putting out the numbers has been key to giving teachers and parents confidence. In the school report card, which the Department of Health manages, collects two sets of data every single day. One is from the surveys; these are surveys that every school in New York State must send back to the Department of Health every day. And the second is the data we collect from labs. let me just walk you through both of those. The first is, on the survey data, every day schools submit to the Department of Health the current teaching model for the school. Is it in person? Is it remote only? Is it hybrid? The number of enrolled students, teachers and staff that are on-site, who are off-site. The number of COVID tests and positive results for on-site students, teachers, and staff, and the same for off-site. So, that is currently on the website.

 

In addition, starting today New Yorkers will have a second set of data that is directly collected from the labs. Let me briefly explain. Every lab that is licensed by New York State tests for COVID reports to the Department of Health all the results every day, including the names, the ages, and the addresses of the individuals who are tested -- they are required by law to do that. We track this daily. For example, of the 93,000 test results reported yesterday to the State of New York, just about 5,000 of those results were for individuals aged 5-17 years old, the school age population. Of those 5,000 results, there are about 90 positive cases. We have now added that data from the labs to our school report card that matches the address of that individual aged 5-17 years old with the school district within which they live. So, that is what I am going to show you here. I will note that you now will have that data from the labs and you will have that data from the school surveys. It will not always match up perfectly, because sometimes when the school district reports and when the lab reports there might be a slight lag, but the goal here really is to give parents and New Yorkers full transparency. If the school district isn't reporting all the cases they should, you'll at least have it from the labs as well. And every day we work to try to collect more and better data, and as we do that we will continue adding it to this dashboard.

 

So for example, it's up on the screen here, you go to schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov and you click on public schools. And let's say you enter in the upstate district in Onondaga County of Baldwinsville -- Baldwinsville Central School District. Click search. Here is the first landing page, you see at the top the overall data. This is in this first column, from the labs. The second one is from what the school district has reported, and you can scroll down to see on a school by school level. Let's say we click on the school district. Here is the full data. So the top chart you have, this is all the lab reported data at the top. 263 total tests since September 1st. In the last 14 days, 225 total tests. 154 in the last 7 days. And 3 total positives. So, that is from the labs, that is the data we collect from the labs. Then you go down to what the school has reported, and as you can see they've reported 3 students have tested positive and zero teachers and staff. And you can go down further, there will be some charts. There's the enrollment and employment data. You can see of the 6,000 total students, teachers and staff, 4,200 are on-site, 1,800 are off-site.

 

So, you can do search just by the school district, you can search just by your address and it will now give two sets of data for all New Yorkers to be able to see what are the testing results on the school district and on the school level.

 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Do you get the differentiation between the school reporting and the lab reporting? Schools don't do the tests, right? A school organizes the test, but a lab does the tests. So, you're going to have a check and a balance, right? You know what the school will report, and the school reports to the Department of Health and that will be there. The school will report we did X tests, here are the positives, et cetera. You also get the data from the labs though, and the labs by definition - these are labs located across the state that are doing all the testing. They're testing for schools, they're doing the drive-in testing, they're doing testing if you walk into a pharmacy - they're doing all the testing. So, the data from the labs has to be correct, because they are the ones who are doing the testing. So, you're getting reporting from two different sources: the school, which doesn't actually do the tests but organizes them, and this is going to be a new experience for them, in truth, and a complicated one; and the labs, and the labs that data has to be correct because they are the ones who actually did the test and you'll have both sources. There may be a discrepancy on some days, but the labs are as inarguable as you can get. A lab may make a mistake, but that's very rare. The labs are the ones that have the actual results.

 

Parents should feel good about that. They're getting the right information, but they have to look at it. They have to compare it to other schools and it can give them a sense of security or it can give them a reason for concern. We want either or or both frankly. If there's concern in the school district, we want to know and we can take action if the school district doesn't. I think with the level of concern that I'm hearing from parents and I've told you before, I get hundreds of calls from teachers and parents who are concerned and they should be concerned, they're anxious about whether or not the school district can do this. You have school districts that have had starts and stops, which have not increased confidence in a school district. Here you'll have the information and we don't have to speculate.

 

On the issue of the vaccine, like everything else in this country, it's partisan and it's questioned and there's controversy about it. The way the federal government has handled the vaccine, there are now serious questions about whether or not the vaccine is become politicized. There's been tremendous reporting on that and the people of this country don't trust this federal government with this vaccine process. How can I say that? I didn't say that, Americans said it. Fifty-four percent say they wouldn't take the vaccine yet.

 

The President is once again in a dispute with the FDA. FDA says they want to make the approval more rigorous, more transparent. President says they're trying to politicize it. Why would FDA be politicizing the approval? Between the President and the FDA, only one entity has engaged in the political process and is heading for Election Day. It's not the FDA. I don't think Dr. Hahn is running for anything. Is Dr. Hahn running for any office? No. So, I don't see what political interest Dr. Hahn, head of the FDA, has. President Trump is engaged in the political process and has an Election Day.

 

Fifty-four percent of New Yorkers say they wouldn't take it. The first question is, is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I wouldn't recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government's opinion. Second question is, if it is a safe vaccine, how do you implement it? Implementation is a massive undertaking. On the first question of is it safe, New York State will have its own review. When the federal government is finished with their review and says it's safe.

 

We're going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health that will advise me - we have the best hospitals and research facilities on the globe in this State. We're going to put together a group for them to review the vaccine so I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it's safe to take. I want to make sure that we know it's safe to take.

 

If the vaccine is safe, then we have to decide how do you actually implement it. They're talking about 2 shots necessary for a vaccine. We have 19.5 million New Yorkers. You're talking about 40 million doses being administered. You think what we went through thus far has been massive with the testing and the quarantine, et cetera. Administering a vaccine to every New Yorker? This is a massive undertaking and vaccines have to be stored at minus 80 degrees centigrade. You're going to have issues of public confidence, whether or not the vaccine is safe. We're not sure what the federal government's role is going to be. I don't think the federal government understands what its role is going to be. It's going to be a monumental undertaking in any event.

 

I'm appointing a committee today that is going to come up with a vaccine distribution and implementation plan on how we will do it. The vaccine plan will include prioritization of the vaccine. Who gets the vaccine first based on medical standards, not anything else. How do we distribute it, who can administer it, how can we train those people, how do we train them now. People have to get 2 doses, they have to get 2 of the same medicine in those dosages. You then have to keep track of everyone who is vaccinated, when and what vaccine they actually received. And there's going to have to be a massive public education campaign that talks people through this and how to do it. We're also going to have to buy it and it's going to be expensive. Who do we buy it from? I want to make sure we don't go through that same mess that we went through on PPE procurement where everyone is trying buy it at the same period of time and we wind up driving up the price.

 

What do we want to accomplish in New York? We should have the best vaccination program in the United States of America. I think the way we have handled COVID has been a model for this country. I want New Yorkers to do the same thing with vaccines. We should be the model vaccination program in the country. I also think there's a tremendous advantage for any state that could be the first COVID-free state. How about the State that can say, our population is vaccinated. We are the first COVID-free state. What are the advantages to that statement in terms of public confidence, in terms of economic development, et cetera. I mean you feel now the advantages that New York has for having a lower infection rate, people want to come here, people feel safer here. What if we were the first state to fully vaccinate your entire population, so those would be the goals. We're going to start, we're going to start now.

 

When it comes to the flu, the flu is a complicating situation, it's the same type of symptoms as COVID. The best thing to do on flu is everyone should get vaccinated now. I've already been vaccinated, everyone should do it, you should do it now. For the fall, let's learn from the summer. We've been through hell and back. Let's learn the lessons, and one of the basic lessons, if you don't wear a mask at this point it's just dumb - it's just dumb. You've heard from every health official, you've seen the data that showed people in emergency rooms - nurses and doctors in emergency rooms have a lower infection rate than the general population. There's no answer to that but PPE. None. Not to wear a mask is dumb. It's dumb for yourself and it's dumb for everyone else. "How can you say that it's such a harsh word? 'Dumb,' it's not gubernatorial.'" Because it's dumb. I don't know what else to say. I've used every other word. "Please, look at the data, I beseech you, I ask you to do it out of community spirit, I ask you to do it as a good citizen, I ask you to do it because Dr. Fauci recommends it and the CDC recommends it and every health official recommends it." Now I'm saying at this point, after everything we went through, it's just dumb not to wear a mask.

 

The State's going to take the lead in all of this because the federal government has shown they have been incompetent when it comes to COVID. Why don't the American people trust the Trump administration on COVID? Because they have been proven to be incompetent. This is not a subjective political answer. It's proven. The second answer is because they lie. Our response, this nation's response, is the worst on the globe. How can you say that? Just look at the numbers. How many deaths did China have yesterday in COVID? One. How many did Italy have? Italy was a mess; the healthcare system is overrun. They had 20. Sweden, 0. France, 43. UK, 37. How many did the United States have? How do you justify that? How do you justify that? All those other countries had it first, they had it worse than we had it. How do you justify it? That's why the American people don't trust this federal government on COVID. And then, this is a serious question, what did President Trump know and when did he know it? You know they never answered that White House memo from Peter Navarro back in January that predicted all of this and Peter Navarro was a Senior White House aide with direct connection to the President. That'd be like saying, "Robert Mujica knew that 2 million people in the State of New York were going to be infected and forgot to mention it to me." It's just implausible.

 

Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration's response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo - did you ever mention to the President, "By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected." It just doesn't pass the smell test. It can't be true.

 

Last point, Breonna Taylor's death. Breonna Taylor's death was murder. People were outraged. Yes, because it's outrageous. If a person was murdered, then there's a murderer, right? That's how it works. And, the underlying police action should never have happened in the first place. We at least have to learn from these horrific situations, and God forbid anything like that happened in this state.

 

June 12th, I announced an executive order because we understand this situation now. And I announced that every jurisdiction must come up with a plan that reimagines their public safety function. And they must pass it into law by April 1 or they won't receive funding from the State of New York. There is no greater sanction. None of these jurisdictions can survive without funding from the State of New York. April 1 coincides with our budget date. We're now October. Why? Because they have to acknowledge and resolve the tensions that are there. And that's not going to happen unless you have a quote unquote collaborative, which means put everyone at the table, raise the concerns, and resolve them.

 

Because this is not Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. It has been going on for decades and decades. You may have reached the point of boiling where people are just saying I'm not going to take it anymore. But it has been going on for decades. It's not going to go away on its own. And there's real tension between the community and the police. Everybody knows it, everybody feels it. What do you think? It's going to resolve automatically? What are you, the Trump theory on COVID? It'll magically disappear. It'll be gone by Easter. The president was in denial about COVID. I believe he was actually lying about COVID. But, lying, denial does not work. These tensions are not going to go away until you resolve them.

 

"Well, the police feel this. Well, the community feels this. Well, the police feel this, the community feels this." I know. I know. Not resolving them helps no one. They just fester, and actually they get worse. The more they fester, the worse it gets. And that's what you're seeing. And then it explodes every time you have an instant. The goal here is to learn and change, right. Progressive city, progressive state, what does that mean? It means yes, we go through bad things, but we take these situations as an opportunity to change and to progress. That's what we try to do.

 

Reverend Sharpton, demonstration, organize the public spirit so you can make change with legislation, and then you get to reconciliation. The public outrage is to motivate the body politic so the government makes change. It's not demonstration for the sake of demonstration. It's not demonstration as event, as a catharsis. It's demonstration to express to government, we have to change. And I know it's the status quo, and I know it's hard, but government, we have to change. That's the point of the demonstration. Otherwise it's a pointless effort that only makes people more upset and more tense. There's a productive point in protest, which is so that government gets the message. Okay, we got the message. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, we got the message. Alright.

 

Now make the progressive change. That's where we're at. They weren't doing it. I said you have to or you don't get any state money. 146 jurisdictions in this state have already sat down at the table and started the reimagining process. 146 jurisdictions. They have started. Starting is good because once you start to talk about it, that's the first step. You're putting people at the table, you're talking about it rather than throwing stones, rather than throwing bricks, rather than being destructive, rather than being frustrated, that's good. That's good. Do it, start. By the way, you need a plan by April anyway. It has to be passed into law, which means you have to go through the legislative body, you have to go through the city council. That's going to take time. You need it by April 1, you have to start now anyway. And now is the time to do it. If you don't do it, everybody gets hurt.

 

New York City, shooting with victims up 103 percent. Well, we think it's because the police are doing this, we think it's because the police are doing that, we think it's because the community is doing this, who knows - except we all know it's negative and it's bad and people are dying and the overwhelming majority of those victims are Black and Brown and everybody has a sense that crime is worse and the city is not as safe at the same time that we're trying to bring New York City back from COVID. Right? So it only makes things worse. Well, maybe it's going to get better on its own. It's getting worse. Trump on COVID: it's going to go away like a miracle. It's going to go away when the weather gets warm. It's going to go away by Easter. No. You don't wish these things away. It's called government action and leadership.

 

Hawk Newsome put out a statement this morning from a Black Lives Matter group saying let's sit down at the table and figure this out. It's time to find a path forward. We've had the demonstration chapter. You have the Executive Order saying you have to come up with a plan. Step up and lead. 146 jurisdictions are doing it. Why isn't New York City doing it? The Mayor can lead it, City Council President can lead it, Comptroller can lead it, Public Advocate could lead it. If none of them want to lead it I will find someone to lead it. Just tell me you don't want to do it or you can't do it but this is wholly unacceptable. On behalf of everybody who lives in New York City it's wholly unacceptable and it's not who we are and it's not what we do.

 

We don't run from COVID. We don't run. We don't deny it. It doesn't work. We have a problem in New York City when it comes to crime. That is a fact. That is a fact. It is the perceptions, the reality. It's not going to get better on its own. The people are polarized. Yeah, I know. I know. It's hard. I know. Government matters in this environment. It's not a normal environment where you can play your normal politics and politicians dance. It's time to lead.

 

What government does in the age of COVID is a matter between life and death. What the New York government did is a matter between life and death for thousands of people. What the U.S. government did is a matter of life and death for tens of thousands of people. 1,000 people die in the United States. One in China. Why? Because their government did a better job. That's why. Only two people died in New York State while the rate is going up all across the country. Why? Because New Yorkers did a better job. That's why.

 

The crime problem in New York City doesn't get better on its own. We do better because we're New York tough and we're smart and we're united and we're disciplined and we're loving.

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