October 26, 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:...

Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 3.25 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 1.18 Percent      


Statewide Positivity Rate is 1.45 Percent 


12 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday 


Governor Cuomo and Mariah Kennedy Cuomo Announce New York State to Partner With The Realreal to Launch "Mask Up" Campaign to Benefit COVID-19 Relief Efforts and Build Awareness of Need to Wear Masks 


Limited-Edition "New York Tough" Mask Designed By Public School Will Raise Funds for New Yorkers in Need 


Mask Profits to be Donated to COVID-19 Relief Charities Feeding America, Nurse Heroes and the New York COVID Relief Fund to Help Food Insecurity and Support Nurses 


Governor Cuomo: "Flattening the curve is controlling the virus. By definition it is controlling the virus. That's what the White House thinks you can't do, except we did. By the virus spread, 110,000 to 140,000 people were going to be hospitalized. We only had 18,000 people hospitalized. Why? Because we controlled the spread."


Cuomo: "The RealReal is working with top designers. The designers are going to design masks; the RealReal is going to make them available through their website, and the profits from the mask sales will go to charities so this is a win-win, across the board."


Mariah Kennedy Cuomo: "We're so thrilled to be launching this campaign with the RealReal and incredible designers who are deeply connected to New York. In doing so, we hope to harness the power of the fashion community to convey this critical, but simple message of the importance of masking up to stop the spread and save lives."


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


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 the Governor's remarks is available below:


Good morning. Let me introduce people who are with me on the dais. My far left, Robert Mujica, budget director. My immediate left, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. Far right, Beth Garvey, special counsel. Gareth Rhodes, deputy superintendent, DFS, and he's been working with us in the chamber. My immediate right, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, my daughter. She has been volunteering to help since COVID started with my other two daughters, Cara and Michaela. Mariah's been working on the mask effort, Mask Up effort, and she's made more progress we're going to speak about today. She's doing it as a volunteer. Of course, she gets certain benefits. Room and board at the Governor's house, no charge. Credible amount of time with me, which is questionable worth.


Today is day 240, but, I had a revelation over the weekend. The great federal COVID mystery resolved for me over the weekend. I couldn't understand why the federal government had been taking the approach that they had taken on COVID from the very beginning, right? Why, when they knew in January, and they got the Peter Navarro memo, that 100 million people could be infected, why did they do nothing back in January? Why do they keep denying COIVD? Why did the federal government basically abdicate responsibility and leave it to the states? Why was the federal approach devoid of following the science? I couldn't understand it, until I heard the chief of staff on television this weekend and sometimes people actually will tell you what they mean. And the chief of staff said "we are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigation areas." That, my friends, is their theory.


"We're not going to control the pandemic, all we can do is develop a vaccine and a therapeutic." That's what they believe. That's what they believed from day one. They can't control the virus. And, that was, in my opinion, factually a wrong premise back in January. And it was the wrong conclusion. It is a threshold issue, because if you believe you can't control it, then you don't even try. And the federal government has never tried to control the virus. And their focus has always been, "we need to get a vaccine quickly." It was, in effect, preemptive capitulation. The virus attacks in January, they say "we can't control it", they put their hands up. That was preemptive capitulation. The federal government, think back in January, the federal government sees the projections. This is how many people are going to get sick, this is how many people are going to die. They're watching what happened in China and Italy at the time, and you saw that number going straight up, right. And they believed there were only two options. Option A is closedown the economy. Option B was let the virus spread. That's what they saw and that's what they believed. Either we have to close down the economy, or we have to let the virus spread, and they were not going to close down the economy, because as the president has said 100 times, for him it's all about the economy. And he was not going to close the economy. So, let the virus spread.


There was a third option that they didn't consider, that you can control the spread of the virus by having a phased economic reopening. That was the right answer back in January, February, March, and it is the right answer today. It was never binary. It was never "let's keep the economy open" versus "let's attend to public health. It was always both. And not just in the retrospective, it's what they're doing today that's the problem. They're following the same approach today. It has always been both. Remember when we talked about opening the economy. They see the valve as all on or all off. Either it's on, or it's off. We said no. You phase the economic reopening, turn the valve a little bit, let the economy start, and then watch the viral spread on the gauges. If the viral spread starts to go up, then you back off on the valve for the economy. This is not a political debate. It's not a theoretical debate. These are facts, right. We now have numbers and we have facts. New York State controlled the virus, and we're controlling it now. Chief of staff says you can't control the pandemic. New York says you're wrong, because we did. Fact: January, February, March, COVID came to New York, we call it an ambush because the federal government didn't know that it was on its way. Fact: every projection model said between 110 and 140,000 people were going to be hospitalized. That was a fact. Every model said that. You let the virus take its course, you're going to have 110, 140,000 people hospitalized. That's Columbia, that's Gates, that's McKinsey, that's all of them. What did we do? We flattened the curve. Rather than the virus going up, we flattened the curve.


Flattening the curve is controlling the virus. By definition it is controlling the virus. That's what the White House thinks you can't do, except we did. By the virus spread, 110,000 to 140,000 people were going to be hospitalized. We only had 18,000 people hospitalized. Why? Because we controlled the spread. God didn't intervene and change the numbers.


We controlled the spread, so ask yourself, how did New York reduce the infection rate if you can't control the virus? If they were right and you can't control the virus, then we would've had 110,000 to 140,000 people hospitalized. But they're wrong. You can control the virus because we did control the virus. You can't eliminate it but you can control it and that's important today because we have to control the virus through the vaccine period.


And my friends, the vaccine period is not when they announce the vaccine. That's not the vaccine period. That at best is the beginning of the end. They announce the vaccine, the President stands up, "I have the vial that is the cure." Yeah, good. Now make 330 million doses and figure out how to administer it to the American people.


You have to continue to control the virus spread and you have to do that now and that's why it's important that we have this threshold discussion on whether or not you can control it. You have to control it. Otherwise too many people are going to die. And you can control it. When you see it spreading, when you see small spreads, you have to stop them from becoming larger spreads. That's what we call the micro-cluster strategy. So you see a little spread starting in one part of the state, you run and you attack it and you put it out, and then there's another spread starting in another part of the state and you run and you attack that and you put it out, and then there's another neighborhood with another spread and you put that out, and then there's another neighborhood and another spread and you are the firefighter that sees these small spreads starting and then you run an you attack those small spreads.


With the micro-cluster strategy you will have little peaks and then you put out that fire and it comes down and then there's another little fire and then you put down that fire and it comes down. Over time you can have an incline, an increase in the number of cases with the micro-cluster strategy.


But without the micro-cluster strategy you're going to see that number go straight up. It is the same conversation we had back in March. The projection models are mathematics and they go back to the "are not." Remember the "are not" conversation, one person infects more than one person? It's then math, and if you don't do anything and just let math take its course, that arrow goes straight up.


What is the micro-cluster? You see a spread, you run, you attack it, you keep putting out these flames. It is COVID Whack-A-Mole. Okay? One pops up, bang, one pops up, bang, one pops up, bang. You have to be quick, government has to be competent, government has to be effective, but it is a way of controlling the spread and slowing the spread to get you through the vaccination period and save lives.


How do you do it? More testing, more targeting, more focused attack, but it starts with more testing because you need the facts. But when you have more testing. Then your actions are localized and not statewide.


See statewide actions are hard. There is not a politician out there now who is willing to close down their state. They are afraid of the political backlash. All right. So then take more localized actions. You don't want to take statewide actions? You don't want to take regional actions? Then take localized actions on the neighborhood level. You still get political blowback, Brooklyn, Queens, etcetera, but it's localized to a neighborhood level and what you're really doing is you're stopping the spread before the spread gets too large and if you have to do restrictions better you do restrictions on a neighborhood than an entire borough or a city or a state.


The federal approach allows the virus to spread uncontrolled. They don't believe they can control it so they don't try. They're actually reducing testing which is the key to getting the information you actually need to control it. Why do you reduce testing? See no COVID, hear no COVID, speak no COVID. Reduce the number of tests, that will reduce the number of cases, and then the problem goes away. Here's the analogy: Police, don't arrest anybody and then we can say the crime rate is very low because there were no arrests. We have no arrests, so we have zero crime rate. Don't take the tests, then you won't have the positives and then it will look and feel like there's nothing going on. Are you kidding me? How do you deny a virus? How do you deny a shooting? It's a crime that occurred. 


The State of Florida, President's home state, were doing 65,000 tests. Now they're doing half that number. Half. Remember, testing ability is iterative and increases. When we started testing, remember how many tests we could do a day? 500 tests a day. Now we're up to about 120,000 tests a day. Florida, is going down. Georgia, going down. Arizona, going down in the number of tests. Why? So they can say we have fewer cases. Yeah, you have fewer cases because you have fewer tests. It's more preemptive capitulation on the theory we can't control the virus. We just can't. 


It's giving up. It's giving up before you fired a shot, by the way. It was giving up before you knew whether or not you could make a difference. Well, we have to get to a vaccine. Too many people are going to die by the time you operationalize the vaccine. This could be one year. Easily, one year. You're talking about vaccinating 330 million people. You're talking about vaccinating double the number of COVID tests that you have done nationwide in 7 months. It is a massive undertaking and the federal government is approaching it the same way they did testing and PPE and the hospital surge. 


The President says I have generals, the generals are going to do it. I'm going to give it to the generals. What does that mean? You know what they're saying? The general is going to deliver it to New York State and California and Florida and say, "Here you go, governor." Here's a million doses. Then what do the state's do? Remember this is a federal government that has taken no responsibility from day one. You have another 160,000 people who are going to die by February. 160,000 die by February if you don't control the spread of the virus. 


Another 160,000 if you assume you can't control it. Also, why did America give up? Why did America give up and say they can't control it? Other countries, they can control the virus. How did America, the greatest country on the planet, how did America give up and lose this war? Average daily new cases per million residents, last 7 days: Japan, 4. Canada, 68. Mexico, 44. Mexico. Mexico, you know Mexico. You know what the President says about Mexico. They're doing a better job than the United States of America, 208, because they didn't give up. They didn't give up. They didn't start with this premise that you can't control the virus. 


The federal government was just wrong. Look, this is a highly charged political atmosphere and it's a polarized society and people are almost falling in to this modality of polarization. I'm on this team, I'm against that team. You feel it. People are polarized. You're dealing with a virus, keep the politics over here. You're dealing with a virus and you're dealing with life or death. It's not a question of who's a good guy and who's a bad guy. Well, pick sides. Black and white, you have to pick a side. It's not a question of who's good, who's bad. It's not a question of Republican versus Democrat. It's not a question of red versus blue. If you wear a mask then you're a Democrat. If you don't wear a mask, then you're a Republican. It's not that. It has nothing to do with federal versus state or me versus the President. There's none of that. It's what's the right approach on the facts versus the wrong approach because we're talking about 160,000 lives and we have evidence and we have facts and we know that people will do it. 


I kept thinking, why would they assume you can't control the virus? There's only one answer: Because we don't think people will do what they need to do to control the virus. You underestimate the American people. We know that people will join the effort. We know they will follow. We know that they will do the right thing because we're doing it here in New York. New Yorkers are the example. First state to mandate masks in the United State of America. The country still hasn't done it. 98, 99 percent mask compliance. Why? Because I run around giving people tickets for masks? No. I can't enforce a mask order. Then why are 99 percent of people doing it? Because they're smart and they heard the facts, and they care about on another, and they care about themselves. That's why. Don't underestimate the 99 percent. Do underestimate the American people. Don't underestimate their goodness, their intelligence, their smarts. Get the political garbage out of the way and lead a way forward. 


On the numbers: positivity in the red zones are 3.2; statewide without the red zones 1.1; with 1.4. 82,000 tests, which is a relatively low number of tests. It was a Sunday. Twelve people passed away. They're in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalizations were 1,059; ICU 337; intubations 118. Here are the micro-clusters. You see that the compliance, the enforcement, works. Compliance and enforcement work. If people comply, the infection rate is going to be lower. 5 to 4; 9 to 4; 12 to 2; 6 to 3; on all red zone positivity. We know that micro-clusters work. This is where New York is compared to the other states, which is just incredible. You can't control the virus. Well then, New York has to be above Mississippi- New York has to be 1, 2 or 3, if you can't control the virus. End of discussion.


You can't control the virus? Well New York State had the highest infection rate in the country, if not on the globe. Why is it not number one if you can't control the virus? Mr. federal government, why isn't New York number one if you can't control the virus? Oh, because New York did control the virus. "But I thought you said you can't control the virus?" Come on people. Facts, right? The easiest way to control with the maximum amount of effort is the mask. This is going to be really one of the great, great governmental derelictions of duty and responsibility. Even if you believe, "you can't control the virus," blah blah blah, why not tell people to wear masks? Why not? Your own CDC says it; Dr. Fauci says it; Dr. Birx says it; the White House Coronavirus Taskforce says it; every scientist says it; every person with a brain in their head says it; 98 percent of New Yorkers say it. Why not? 130,000 lives just by saying, "wear a mask", why not?  


As I was saying before, New York was first in the nation to call for a mask mandate. I'm proud of it; I wish I'd done it even sooner. Mariah has been working on publicizing masks. The approach, the benefit, etc., and there's an effort today that is exciting. The RealReal is working with top designers. The designers are going to design masks; the RealReal is going to make them available through their website, and the profits from the mask sales will go to charities. So this is a win-win, across the board. The campaign goes for five weeks. They'll unveil a new designer mask. You can buy it on the RealReal and the top designers are going to donate their designs and God bless them.


They want to help and everybody can use their talent to help in the way they can best. The RealReal will sell them and the profits will go to COVID relief organizations. Public Schools, which is a very cool designer, is going to release their New York Tough mask. It's going to be released today. So thank them very much. I already have one. Julie Wainwright who the CEO of the RealReal has put this all together. She's done a great, great job so I want to thank her and again I want to thank all the designers who really stepped up to do this. To keep masks in the spotlight we're kicking off the Mask Up challenge today on. All are invited to join. Post a selfie and challenge five friends to do the same with five friends challenge. Stay New York tough, smart, united, discipline, and loving. Anything you want to add on Mask Up.  


Mariah Kennedy-Cuomo: I think you covered it but just to reiterate, we're so thrilled to be launching this campaign with the RealReal and incredible designers who are deeply connected to New York. In doing so, we hope to harness the power of the fashion community to convey this critical, but simple message of the importance of masking up to stop the spread and save lives. 


Governor Cuomo: Well done. Well done. Thank you. 

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office