Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 6.22 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 4.02 Percent
Statewide Positivity Rate is 4.57 Percent
54 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday
Governor Cuomo: "It's a new phase in the war against COVID. The war against COVID because I think of this as a war. It's a war of attrition. It's a war in terms of preparation and mobilization. It's a war in terms of mindset. COVID is an enemy that we're dealing with. it's attacking people. it's killing people. So, I talk about it and think about it in terms of a war. And the war has changed."
Cuomo: "So in the new battlefield, hospital capacity is the top concern, period. It's about hospital beds, it's about the ICU and it's about having enough staff and enough equipment. That's the effect and that's what we're going to have to deal with. We have five strategies that we're announcing today that we're putting in place. First, we're going to shift the focus to the number of hospitalizations and hospital capacity, we're going to add to our zone designations, the yellow, orange, red, the hospitalization rate. We know by address where people are coming from that are going into the hospital, the death rate, the case rate, the available hospital beds in that community, the available ICU beds, and the available staff."
Cuomo: "The holiday season is going to have a profound effect - it already has. When people start to travel for the holiday season, when students start to go home, when people start to shop, when they start to move around: increased mobility, increased social activity, increased viral infection rate."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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. I'm sure you know everyone who's here. In case some of you are forgetful, to my far right Robert Mujica, Director of Budget, to immediate right Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, to my immediate left Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the Department of Health, to his left Jim Malatras. If you ask him a question and expect a response, you have to refer to him as Chancellor Malatras, otherwise he does not respond. To his left, Gareth Rhodes who is the Deputy Director of the Department of Financial Services but has been working with us on COVID.
This is a little different today. We will be joined by a number of participants on Zoom and we'll hear from a couple of them after the presentation. This is a different phase that we're entering now and we've been working on it over the weekend. I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend and a safe one. I hope you were not a turkey. We've been spending a lot of time talking to hospital administrators and local officials all across the state this weekend to design strategy going into this new phase because we're all seeing new facts. Today is day 275 and it's a new phase in the war against COVID. The war against COVID because I think of this as a war. It's a war of attrition. It's a war in terms of preparation and mobilization. It's a war in terms of mindset. COVID is an enemy that we're dealing with. it's attacking people. it's killing people. So, I talk about it and think about it in terms of a war. And the war has changed. Sun Tzu, "Just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there were no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent thereby succeeds in winning." When the facts change, when the attack changes, change your situation and your defense or offense. COVID is shifting the battlefield dramatically and we have entered a new phase. It came with the colder weather. All the experts talked about what was going to happen when we reached the Fall, right? Cold weather, more people indoors, more people traveling. There has been a change in behavior among people. They've been informed; they've been educated. They've learned. They've changed their behavior. We have government policies on what businesses operate and how they operate, and that has had an effect. So, the chess board has really changed. And then we are coming into the holiday season and the holiday season is going to have a profound effect - it already has. When people start to travel for the holiday season, when students start to go home, when people start to shop, when they start to move around: increased mobility, increased social activity, increased viral infection rate.It is directly proportionate, and we talked about this before Thanksgiving. You are not just going into the Thanksgiving weekend. You're starting a 37 day holiday period. That's my Dr. Fauci, over the weekend, was talking about how there is now going to be on a "surge on the surge." So, we had a Fall surge - my words - we now have a holiday surge on top of the Fall surge. That's Dr. Fauci's surge on top of the surge, and it's not going to be a one or two day affair. It's going to be the entire holiday season which is 37 days.
Now, the mindset for the holiday season is, "Alright, we're now all happy and cheery and we're going to come together. We're doing gift buying and we're going to do holiday celebrations. We're going to start to have meals together. The family is coming back together for the holiday season. Students are all coming home. Religious celebrations during the holiday season" COVID is the Grinch. Think of it that way. The COVID Grinch is an opportunist and the COVID Grinch sees this as the season of viral transmission. All those things that the holiday season brings, they all increase social activity, they all increase mobility, and they will all increase viral transmission. So, this is the season of the COVID Grinch also. When you hear that holiday music COVID Grinch and be on alert because that is part of this holiday season.
We've also seen behavioral shifts by the policies that we put in place and by the data that we have received. The bars and restaurants protocols, we've seen a reduction in the level of spreads from bars and restaurants. We've seen a reduction in the level of spread from personal services, hair salons, et cetera. Gyms, we have seen somewhat of a reduced spread, not as dramatic as bars and restaurants or personal services. Mask wearing - great. New York was the first state in the nation to have a mask mandate. Our mass compliance is up near 98 percent. Great. All social action, the school protocols and the school testing are great. It's highly effective. Astonishing how low the levels of infection are in schools especially K to 8. The really bad news: family gatherings and smaller social gatherings have exploded as places where the virus is spreading. So, we understand the cause, we understand the effect, and we understand the effect is dramatic. This is the bottom line on all of this: COVID rates go up, as COVID rates go up, what happens? The hospitalization rate goes up. And the hospitalization rate is increasing dramatically. End of June, we're about 900 - we're now at 3,500 since the end of June, and that is before feeling the effect of the holiday season. So, this, my friends, is the problem. And we are seeing the rise in hospitalizations all across the state. And it's not a situation where it's only happening in one part of the state and we can then shift resources from one part of the state to the other. Remember, the first go-around, it was primarily New York City, downstate, we had upstate resources we could share with downstate. That is not the case this time. It is statewide.
So, we will have a limited ability to bring resources from upstate to downstate like we did in the spring or from downstate to upstate because literally every region is dealing with a hospital issue now. And you look at those curves, they're all going up at an alarming rate. So in the new battlefield, hospital capacity is the top concern, period. It's about hospital beds, it's about the ICU and it's about having enough staff and enough equipment. That's the effect and that's what we're going to have to deal with.
We have five strategies that we're announcing today that we're putting in place. First, we're going to shift the focus to the number of hospitalizations and hospital capacity, we're going to add to our zone designations, the yellow, orange, red, the hospitalization rate. We know by address where people are coming from that are going into the hospital, the death rate, the case rate, the available hospital beds in that community, the available ICU beds, and the available staff.
We are now worried about overwhelming the hospital system. And if those numbers continue to increase, which we expect they will, you will see serious stress on the hospital system. So, we're adding those factors into the equation. Also, the patient load management of that community, how effectively they're dealing with the patient load. Also, PPE and equipment availability. Everybody remembers the nightmare we went through with PPE and equipment. We are going to set some specific metrics for each one of those factors. I want to wait and see what the numbers are post-Thanksgiving. We don't know what the Thanksgiving effect has been yet - you sat at the table with your in-laws, they said, "Don't worry. I've been very careful, I've been quarantined." Yeah, doesn't have to be your in-laws, in-laws can be nice people. They're not the only people who can infect you. Thanksgiving, you'll see three, four, five, seven days, until you see people who were infected during Thanksgiving travel. So there will be a week to ten-day lag before we see that number come to effect.
We're also talking to hospital administrators across the state. We want to know where they are today with their capacity, with their PPE, et cetera. We learned this lesson the hard way. We have about 54,000 hospital beds in this state, we were told we would need about 120,000. We lived this nightmare. We learned from this nightmare, and we're going to correct for the lessons we learned during this nightmare. It was the first time ever the hospital system, which is essentially a private hospital system, needed to be managed governmentally. And that was a very difficult transition, but we learned from it. We're going to add on top of yellow, orange, red, an emergency stop provision, where we hit a real hospitalization crisis, we could potentially do a New York Pause. California Pause, which is essentially a stop or move one zone to another if we have a critical hospital situation.
Today, the New York State Department of Health is going to initiate emergency hospital measures. Number one, every hospital has to identify retired doctors and nurses now. We're already experiencing staff shortages. Staff just gets exhausted after a while. They've had a horrendous year. To now go through this again with emergency rooms and a high number of patients coming in. They start tired, they start sick. Start identifying retired doctors and nurses now. We did this last time, it works very well. We're going to stop elective surgery in Erie County as of this Friday. Erie County has the most critical hospital situation in the state, so Erie County must stop elective surgery. Catholic hospital system in Erie County voluntarily stopped elective surgery just to be responsible. I thank them. It's now mandatory. They must all stop elective surgery as of Friday. Let's start to free up those hospital beds. If the situation continues to get worse, we'll stop elective surgery in other parts of the state also. Elective surgeries are those surgeries that don't have to be done at that time, and we want available beds for COVID people, so stopping elective surgery does that. The individual hospital network load balancing is mandated as of today. Let me explain to you what this is, talk about learning this the hard way. There are hospital systems in this state that have a number of hospitals in their system, and they can be private or they can be public. Northwell has a number of hospitals in their system. Montefiore, ECMC, Erie County, URMC, Rochester, Kaleida, New York City H+H. They are systems unto themselves, and they can have seven, eight, 10, 11, 30 hospitals in their system. It is mandatory as of today that they balance the load within their system. They balance patient load. So you distribute the patients among your hospitals in your system. The nightmare we went through last time was that a hospital would be overwhelmed, but that system had other hospitals that had capacity. Well, then, why didn't you shift patients from the overwhelmed hospital to the hospitals that had capacity in your own system? "Well, that's not how we operate." Yeah, I get it. I learned that lesson. Forget how you operate. This is a mandate from the state Department of Health. You must distribute patients across your system so one hospital does not get overwhelmed. "Well, the patients don't want to go to other hospitals." Then let's just end elective surgeries now, and we'll make it simpler. But, no patient wants to be in an overwhelmed hospital, because you're getting less care, the staff is stretched thin, it's in the patient's best interest, distribute the patient load over the system. We're not going to live through the nightmare of overwhelmed hospitals again. So those individual systems, they must do that now. If a hospital gets overwhelmed, there will be a state investigation. And if the result of that investigation is they did not distribute the patients, that will be malpractice on their part. This was a serious issue last time. It was a case of first impression last time. This time it's not a case of first impression. I don't mean to be difficult, but difficult is when people die because they didn't get the right healthcare. That's really difficult. So preparing for that is important. That goes into effect immediately.
We also have to prepare emergency field hospital plans regionwide. Plan now for adding 50 percent capacity to your hospital. If you have 100 beds, you go to 150 beds. We did this last time, it was highly effective. We bought a system from 50,000 to a system of 75,000. Prepare to implement statewide surge and flex. Statewide surge and flex moves patients among systems, right. What I was just talking about was movement within the system. Moving Kaleida patients within Kaleida facilities. Statewide surge and flex moves patients among different systems. So theoretically a patient could go from NYU Langone to Mount Sinai. You move them among different systems. That's a different level of coordination with a different level of emergency.
And prepare to staff the emergency field hospitals. Also, confirm the PPE stockpiles. Department of Health did regulations as to how many PPE you needed. 90-day stockpile of PPE. Confirm that you have those PPE stockpiles in place because we don't want to run through that again. We'll be announcing a hospital capacity emergency tracking system that's going to track these metrics statewide, and that's the first initiative.
Second is on testing. We do more testing than any state in the nation. We have the highest amount pro rata, I'm very proud of that. You can't do enough testing. The more testing you do, the more you know, and the more you know, the better you do. It is just that simple. Local governments, the state, hospitals, have to work to increase the gross amount of testing. And we have to have a balanced distribution. We're trying to serve a lot of needs and a lot of populations. We have to test healthcare workers, we have to test nursing homes, we have to test schools, we have to test essential workers, we have to test business professionals where we put in a protocol that they have to be tested. We have to test the personal service protocols. And you have a general population of students who come home, they want to make sure they're not infected, people just went to thanksgiving, they get a cough, they want to know if they're infected. The localities have to distribute the testing equally or fairly among these groups. Essential workers, they're out there every day. The police, the fire. They have to be tested. There's not enough tests to go around, I get it. But we have to be fair in the distribution, and local governments have to work on coordinating that.
Third, keep schools open. All the testing says schools are safer than the surrounding community. We focus on special ed, K to 8, doing testing in schools on a sustainable basis for long-term operation. If they're in an orange or a red zone, the state mandate is 20 percent over a month. Red zone, 30 percent over a month on a rolling basis. They're doing weekly testing. They can pool test. Again, we're very aware of the need to balance the tests, because a lot of people need tests. The local district can exceed the minimum state testing level, but, they have to make sure that they are meeting their other needs also. It's not enough to test all students, and not test essential workers. Test all students, but not test all nursing homes. Test nursing homes, but not test schools. You have to fairly distribute the tests. We've talked to all sorts of experts all across the country. No state has the testing school protocol that we have in place. No state and no city, so we feel good about that. We have a mandatory close level for school districts. School districts can close lower than the State threshold, we've gone through that in various parts of the State. Our advice is you don't. We believe in keeping, especially K-8, open. The schools are safer than the surrounding community and children get an education and parents can work, et cetera. We understand local school district prerogative. They can close below our level.
The small gathering spread is now the number one spreader. That is 65 percent of all cases. This is a dramatic shift. Part of it is the holidays. It's what happens during holidays. Part of it is reduced social options. I can't go to the bar and hang out. I can't go to a restaurant and hang out. I can't go to the movie theater and hang out. Come over to my house and we'll hang out. It's just an adaptation of social behavior to the circumstance. We have a rule in effect, no more than 10 at an event. There are other states that have rules of no more than 10.
People say oh I can't believe the New York rules, no more than 10. Many states have a rule of no more than 10. By the way, Kentucky just announced they're going to a rule of no more than 8. This is a nationwide problem. I understand that people say I don't like the restrictions, I have COVID fatigue. How can you say I shouldn't have more than 10 people in your house? Look, the truth is the government doesn't have an ability to monitor it. You want to know what is smart, what is reasonable, what is protective of other people and yourself? This is where the spread is coming from. It's the small gathering spread.
We have to communicate this now to people the way we communicated masks. Seemingly the safest place, my home, my table, my family - yeah, even that place is not safe and we're going to have a new public education campaign that speaks just to this. This is not government being overly dramatic, these are just facts. Look, I've heard the political back and forth. Oh this is Democrats saying this. First of all, this is probably the only issue President Trump's people and Joe Biden's people have agreed on. Both of their health advisors say small gatherings are the problem.
The CDC under Trump, the regulation was no more than your household for Thanksgiving. That's what the CDC said. So all those people who want to say this is political, I'm standing up against it. Your president, President Trump, his administration said do it. Joe Biden's administration health advisors said the same thing. Whose politics are you playing? If Donald Trump says the CDC mandates it and Joe Biden's advisors say it's smart, whose politics? Your own politics? You're waving the political flag; whose flag are you waving? It's agreed to by both.
It's a fact of being smart and, luckily, most of us are smart. I had a conversation with someone over the weekend. Well, nobody is going to tell me how many people I can have in my house. It's my house. I want to have my family over, I'm going to have my family over. I said you're right, I'll make a deal with you right now. You do whatever you want in your house, invite whoever you want, but here's the deal: If somebody gets sick from what you did, you handle it. He said what do you mean? I said, don't call an ambulance and expose an ambulance driver. Don't go to the hospital and expose a nurse and a doctor and an 1199 worker because you wanted to be reckless. You handle it. Stay at home and take care of yourself, but don't expose people and don't ask people to risk their lives because you undertook risky behavior. Oh no, I don't agree with that.
I see, I see. So you want to be able to behave in a risky way and then if you get sick, then other people have to risk their lives because you were risky. Is that fair? But that's what they're asking. Well, I'm going to stand up. You want to be a tough guy - guy being gender neutral? I'll tell you what a tough guy does, go volunteer in a field hospital in Staten Island and help COVID patients, if you're a tough guy. You want to celebrate Thanksgiving, bring your whole family and your extended family and go volunteer in a hospital and help COVID people. That's how you celebrate Thanksgiving. Don't create more COVID positive people and then expect other people to come to your rescue. That's not the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Vaccinations, that is going to be the weapon. That is going to be the weapon that will end the war. The only question is when. We're going to be very robust and aggressive on the vaccination program. We're building it around fairness, equity and safety. We're going to have a very inclusive process. I'm reaching out with other governors to the federal government, which is now funding a Black, Brown, poor community outreach program for the vaccine. Blacks died at twice the rate that whites died. Brown died at one-and-a-half times the rate that whites died. They are less served by the health care facilities. We need a special outreach effort. The federal government has provided no funding to do that.
There are also concerns with the undocumented community that they're not exposing themselves to legal action, so we're working through that. But the vaccine critical mass is still months away, and until the vaccine hits critical mass, keep operating at the maximum safe level. We want the economy open. We want people working at the maximum level that is safe. So to recap — it's about hospital capacity, increase in balance testing, keep schools open, small gatherings are the number one cause and we have to alert the public. Small gatherings are difficult. It's not about government enforcement. Government is not capable of enforcing what you do in your home, but again it's people being smart. And we're getting ready for vaccine distribution.
Personal opinion: if I have to wager, you'll see these numbers continue to increase all through the holiday season probably until mid-January. You have not yet seen the effect of Thanksgiving. There will be a lag and you will see the effect a week out from today, but I expect those numbers will continue to go up. If I'm really going out on a limb, I would say, guess you start to see a stabilization mid-January at a higher rate raised by the holiday season. After New Year's, it starts to settle down, you see the rate stabilize, but the rate will be much higher than it is today. That's why it's about the hospitalizations. You won't see a real end until the vaccine hits critical mass and I would wager today you won't see that until late-spring, early summer at the current rate. It could change. So, we have to settle in, but the good news is New York is doing better than almost any other state on the numbers. New York is better prepared than any other state and it is all in our control. It's not in your control, but it's in our control. This is all a function of human behavior and social action. It's all a function of what we do. If you wanted to get the rate to zero virtually, you could do it if you all agreed to a certain behavior pattern. We have to work, we have to function, but it's all in our control. Good news: I believe in New Yorkers. They did this before at a much harder level with less notice, and we'll do it again. But we have to do it. We see the goal line; we just have to get there. Today's numbers: micro-cluster areas 6 percent. Statewide without micro-cluster 4. With micro-cluster 4.5. Test results 148,000. 54 people passed away. They're in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalizations are up to 35,000. ICU up to 681. Intubations 325.
"Tough times don't last because tough people outlast them." Who said that Marcia Kramer?
Marcia Kramer: Oh, what's his name? Your father's favorite person.
Governor Cuomo: A.J. Parkinson.
Marcia Kramer: A.J. Parkinson.
Governor Cuomo: You're right. You get the first question.
Marcia Kramer: [inaudible]
Governor Cuomo: At one point. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. You still get the first question, but we have a number of guests who are with us on the Zoom call and we're going to hear from a couple of them. We're going to hear from Ken Raske, and Mayor Bill De Blasio and County Executive Ryan McMahon from Onondaga County. We also have with us Michael Dowling, Beatrice Grause who's the head of HANY's — the Hospital Association of New York State; County Executive Adam Bello from Monroe; Steve Bellone, County Executive from Suffolk County; Laura Curran, County Executive of Nassau County; George Latimer, County Executive, Westchester County. I want to thank them all for all their help over the weekend. I didn't, I would never have thought to call you over a holiday weekend and bother you, but Commissioner Zucker said I had to. Otherwise, I would have never have done it because I don't believe in that. You know, I'm a 9 to 5 kind of person myself. So, thank you for allowing us to bother you because the Department of Health mandated it. You know how that is, Mike Dowling. But let's hear from, we'll hear from Ken Raske and then Mayor De Blasio and then County Executive McMahon.
What do you think, Ken Raske, and thank you for all your good work. And Bea Grause, thank you for all your good work. What do you think about the hospital situation and what we're looking at Ken?
Ken Raske: Well, good afternoon, Governor. I think you're right on target. The hospital capacity issue has gone to the top of the agenda again. The spring was brutal. You make no bones about it. We were all worried about replicating the situation we saw so vividly in Italy with people lined up in the hallways. That never came to pass, thank God. We learned a lot, sir. We learned an awful lot, and working hand in glove with the New York State Department of Health, with your office particularly, we've come to terms with a lot of issues that we were confronting in the spring such as PPE, the stockpiling of PPE. You provided enormously great guidance there. Surge expansion and planning, including 50 to 100 percent expansion. This new balancing within systems is critical on the load side of things. And I think that your plan as outlined, sir, makes a lot of sense to the hospital community. The new triggering metrics as it relates to obviously hospitalizations is extremely important and creates, is built on a foundation that we absolutely need as we go forward. I'm confident sir, based on what I've seen and what our hospitals are experiencing currently that our ability to cope with this is going to be a total team effort as it has been and our ability to respond to the needs of the public including all their healthcare needs will be assured by the kind of plan you just outlined. So, we look forward sir to working hand in glove again with you as we have and I think New Yorkers should be reassured that their healthcare system is in good hands.
Governor Cuomo: Well, Ken, with your leadership this health care system managed an epidemic that no other state had to deal with. We had the worst problem in the nation by far and thanks to you and your partnership we managed it and we learned a lot along the way so we're in for round two. With any luck at all, round two is not what round one was and we're smarter and were better for it but thank you. I'm just sorry that we have to go through it again but the vaccine is coming and it will end. It will end. Thank you.
Let's go to Mayor Bill de Blasio. I know he didn't get a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving because I kept interrupting but he was very good at speaking with a mouthful of Turkey. He was very good at doing that, continuing to eat but do business at the same time. I respect that.
Mayor de Blasio: You got to enjoy it when you can but, Governor, thank you. I thought the conversations this weekend were very helpful and I appreciate the plan you've laid out. I want to accent the fact that our hospital systems, our health care leadership really deserve tremendous praise for how much they have learned and the adjustments they've made and I thank Ken Raske and all the hospitals that he represents and our New York City Health and Hospital system and Mitch Katz and his whole team and the amount of strategic improvement that has occurred. You right, we found ourselves in the middle of hell out of nowhere in the spring but since then tremendous work has been done and we're seeing very different outcomes and this is part of the good news even in the midst of the challenge that you are focusing on today, that our hospitals, our health care workers are handling cases with really innovative new approaches. Thank God we're not seeing so far the same stress on our ICUs here in New York City. Thank God we are not seeing people pass away as we did in the spring. We got a long way to go and I think you're right to focus us on this whole holiday season and the weeks after but I want to sound a hopeful note that I think our health care system here in New York City is holding strong, we're monitoring it obviously daily, hourly, but I like what I see. I also like the fact that New Yorkers are getting tested. Governor, we have had record levels in the last couple of weeks, the number of people lining up to get tested, we're trying to make it easier, set up more and more locations all the time, the expansion of testing is a crucial strategy for us, all over the city equitably distributed as you said and obviously more deeply in our schools as well. What we're seeing is New Yorkers are responding. They're coming out and they're getting tested and it's helping us to do the work we need to do to keep everyone safe so that to me is part of the heroic story of the people of New York City and New York State and folks really have gotten engaged. We need them to keep getting engaged so a reminder of course, everyone coming off the holidays, that you need to follow those testing protocols if you traveled and you need to have certain quarantine if you don't test out. We're going to be out there in force to make sure people get the support they need if they need to quarantine but also to do the good enforcement work to make sure people realize how serious it is. So, Governor, thank you for the plan you've laid out. We're going to work closely with you and I know that we learned a lot of lessons from the spring, we're applying them successfully here in New York City, and you're right we got a couple of tough months ahead but there is a better day coming, but everyone needs to be part of the solution in the meantime and that's what we're going to keep doing here in New York City. Thank you.
Governor Cuomo: And Mayor, I think opening the schools I thought was the right idea and your testing in the schools is great so we know that they're safe and you want to talk about good news and silver linings, the fact that the positivity rate is so low in the schools compared to the surrounding community so children can continue to get educated and their parents can go about as normal a life as you can have I think that's going to be very helpful and I think it's going to be very helpful as soon as we hit January, we get through this holiday season. So that's also good news, right?
Mayor de Blasio: Amen.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you for being with us, Mayor. And we have County Executive Ryan McMahon from Onondaga County.
County Executive McMahon: Governor, how are you? Governor I want to thank you for your collaboration and your team's collaboration. As you know the data driven approach to making decisions in this pandemic is one that both sides of the political isle should respect and appreciate and I want to thank you for that. In addition to that, because of the testing and tracing programs that have been set up throughout New York State and every county. This allows us to have accurate data so good decisions can be made, and specifically in Onondaga County we just went from a yellow zone for many of our school districts and some of our school districts went into an orange zone and what we learned from the data to your point and to the Mayor's point was that in-school testing showed us that we had a positivity of under 0.4 percent in our districts so keeping kids in school is safe. The regulations and protocols that your team helped put forward are working and as we move forward I really want to specifically thank your team for working with the county executive and the Mayor over the weekend to look at the orange zone protocols so we can do it in a safe way, a sustainable way where we can still address the testing resources and other parts of the academy as well but right now we're very happy, Governor. We look forward to working with you. As you know in Onondaga County, Syracuse basketball, we're in basketball season and we're in the second half of this pandemic. We just got to grind out together.
Governor Cuomo: You're right. Thank you, County Executive, and you're exactly right. We've been through the worst. We're not done yet but we've learned a lot. It is good news on that school testing, and making the testing sustainable and making sure we balance so we can hit all the needs on the testing is going to be very important but we'll watch the hospitals, we'll get through the hospitalization issue and then hopefully we start to turn the corner with this new vaccine and next conversation we're going to have to have is on the vaccine distribution and making sure that we do it here in New York better than any other state in the nation. I want to have the fastest, fairest and safest vaccine distribution program in the country, and we will. Thank you for all your time over the weekend, all of you. And again, I would never, Bill, Steve, George, Mike, you guys know me, Adam, Laura, I would never have interrupted your weekend if it wasn't for Howard Zucker making me with one of those state mandates, and it was an unfunded mandate.
Thank you all very much.