December 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:...

Governor to Sign Executive Order Expanding Eligibility for New York's COVID Rent Relief Program and Reopening Application Window

 

Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 5.91 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 4.49 Percent

 

Statewide Positivity Rate is 4.84 Percent

 

61 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 

State to Partner with Prescryptive Health to Launch 150 New Rapid Testing Sites Statewide

 

Governor Cuomo: "Washington is considering passage of a bill which would help with state and local financing, unemployment insurance, transportation aid, vaccination funding, et cetera. They have been going back and forth. Speaker Pelosi put forth the Heroes Bill months ago. They were then talking about a possible compromise bill. Senator McConnell has been extraordinarily difficult. His statement was let the states go bankrupt. Fifty states go bankrupt, that's bad for the country because the country is 50 states. Senator Manchin has proposed basically a bipartisan compromise bill of $908 billion. I spoke to Senator Manchin. He explained his reasoning which I think is sound. I spoke with Speaker Pelosi. I agree that, as Governor of New York, that we need help desperately and something is better than nothing and as a first down payment I urge them to get something done before they leave for Christmas. Families will not have a holiday if they don't act and if there isn't some aid."

 

Cuomo: "The next chapter is going to be vaccine distribution and vaccine acceptance. This is the weapon that wins the COVID war and we have to get serious about this. The distribution is a massive undertaking by government. I've said a number of times it has to be fair, it has to be equitable, state has to have funding to do it, we have to be able to get the black and brown communities and poor communities. Blacks died at twice the rate that whites died; Browns died at one and a half times the rate that whites died. They've had less COVID testing, they have higher infection rates, there is no justification not to have a very aggressive outreach program for the Black and Brown community, but government is going to have to do its part."

WYSIWYG

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 afternoon. Sparsely attended, because it caught you unaware. I said next week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Not this week. Spontaneously still works. Today, day 278. Update on the numbers, because the numbers are changing. Positivity in micro-clusters, 5.91. Statewide positivity without micro-clusters, 4.49, with micro-clusters, 4.8. Over 200,000 tests, which is a lot of tests. 61 New Yorkers passed away. They're in our thoughts and prayers. 139 up on hospitalization, 41 up on ICU, 4 up on intubation.

 

It's all about hospitalizations. Hospitalization rate, hospitalization capacity. Over the last three days, okay, that's how many people entered the hospitals from those areas over the last three days. Southern Tier has done really remarkably well since we had that problem. I think it really communicated to people. This is change in hospitals over the past week, okay, past seven days. New York City, up 249, Long Island, 181, Finger Lakes, 142, Mid-Hudson, 123. Obviously, highest number, New York City.

 

So really you want to look at this compared to the population in that area, right. Yes, you're going to get more people out in New York City, because New York City has 9 million people. This is the hospitalization by percentage of the region, which I think is probably the most telling tale. Western New York and Finger Lakes both have .03 percent of their populations hospitalized. .03. You then get to Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Mid-Hudson, Long Island, Southern Tier, Capital Region. You're at .02. New York City, North Country, .01. Got it? That is how many people were hospitalized as a percentage of that population. And that is, I think, probably the most relevant chart right now.

 

In the broad scope of things, we're dealing with hospitalizations and increases. We are doing dramatically better than virtually every other state in the country. Who's doing better? Maine, Vermont and Hawaii. Maine, Vermont and Hawaii are in a different situation than New York. Less population, less cities, less density, et cetera. We have been going back and forth with Massachusetts, but Massachusetts is now higher than New York is today.

 

Total scope of things, total number of hospital beds in the state is what? 53,000. Hold it a second, go back. That's not totally accurate. 53,000 until we what? We flex, of the flex and surge. We can increase the 53,000 beds up to 75,000 beds, which we did last time, right. We added 50,000 beds, do you remember that? How many beds are currently occupied? 35,000 beds. How many beds are currently occupied with COVID patients? 4,063. So that's the dimensions that we're dealing with. We're dealing with hospitalization rate, hospitalization capacity, you start with 53,000 beds, you can end elective surgery, reduce the number of people who are in those beds. You can expand the system. It's difficult but you can do it. We did it last time, by 50 percent. That brough you to about 75,000 beds. Today 4,000 people hospitalized with COVID. At our height, how many people did we have hospitalized with COVID? At our peak about 19,000, just to put all these numbers in perspective.

 

The legislature passed a rent assistance bill. The rent assistance bill appropriated $100 million, up to $100 million, but had eligibility requirements on what income levels could qualify. We ran the program. The number of eligible applicants, only brought us to $40 million in rental aid by the parameters of the law. By executive order I'm going to change the law. I've spoken to the legislative leaders about this - reopen the application window, extend the eligibility requirements to help more New Yorkers.

 

Washington is considering passage of a bill which would help with state and local financing, unemployment insurance, transportation aid, vaccination funding, et cetera. They have been going back and forth. Speaker Pelosi put forth the Heroes Bill months ago. They were then talking about a possible compromise bill. Senator McConnell has been extraordinarily difficult. His statement was let the states go bankrupt. Fifty states go bankrupt, that's bad for the country because the country is 50 states.

 

Senator Manchin has proposed basically a bipartisan compromise bill of $908 billion. I spoke to Senator Manchin. He explained his reasoning which I think is sound. I spoke with Speaker Pelosi. I agree that, as Governor of New York, that we need help desperately and something is better than nothing and as a first down payment I urge them to get something done before they leave for Christmas. Families will not have a holiday if they don't act and if there isn't some aid. President-Elect Biden also urged them to get something done. Senator Manchin who I have great respect for by the way says that he believes this is the best they can get done. Again, it's a first down payment. Doesn't come near to the need. It would be a short-term bill until March and I would urge them to get this first down payment bill passed before they leave just so families have funding for the holiday season and it takes some pressure off state and local governments. They would then have to come back and do a real bill next year.

 

Also, as Chairman of the National Governors Association, National Governors Association, we asked for $500 billion in state and local funding. National Governors Association is Democrats and Republicans. We sent a letter supporting a $500 billion state and local package. This bill has $160 billion in state and local funding so it's not nearly what the governors asked for of this country but again something is better than nothing and we will support a first down payment bill.

 

The next chapter is going to be vaccine distribution and vaccine acceptance. This is the weapon that wins the COVID war and we have to get serious about this. The distribution is a massive undertaking by government. I've said a number of times it has to be fair, it has to be equitable, state has to have funding to do it, we have to be able to get the black and brown communities and poor communities. Blacks died at twice the rate that whites died; Browns died at one and a half times the rate that whites died. They've had less COVID testing, they have higher infection rates, there is no justification not to have a very aggressive outreach program for the Black and Brown community, but government is going to have to do its part. People are also going to have to do their part. They're going to have to accept this vaccine and right now all the current data suggests people are very skeptical about the vaccine. The estimates are you need about 75 percent of the population to be vaccinated for it to be effective, and you have 50 percent of the population, roughly, saying they're not going to take the vaccine. Mathematically that doesn't work. You can't get the 75 percent if 50 percent say they aren't going to take it. But this is here and now. This vaccine distribution is going to happen in the next couple of weeks. New York State is going to be very aggressive about the distribution. I believe there's a great advantage to the state that most effectively vaccinates all people, and we'll be reaching out and educating people in the state. I would never ask anyone in the state to take a vaccine that I was unwilling to take myself, that's always been my standard. I'm not asking you to send your child to school if I wouldn't send my child to school. I'm not asking you to put yourself in a situation that I wouldn't put myself, and I won't ask New Yorkers to take a vaccine that I wouldn't take myself, but it is real, and we need people to start to focus on it because we want to get it done very quickly, and I want New Yorkers to start to think about it seriously. We're not going to get to the general population for a while but you will start with nursing home distribution. So, you'll have parents asking their family, "What do you think? Should I take it or not?" You'll have health care staff having to decide whether or not they take it. And people should start focusing on it because it's real and it's here and again, New York wants to do it as quickly as we can.

 

Just to show you how real it is. In this box- What's in this box? Maybe it's Christmas present. Who would I give a Christmas present to at this point? Let's not ask. This is a box of vaccines. Pfizer, which is a great New York company, made the vaccine. Pfizer developed the vaccine without any assistance from the federal government. They did it all on their own, and we're very proud to call them a New York company. The vaccine process is a complicated process, and the distribution is going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. The package itself comes with a Geo tracker GPS tracking device that can track the program, and a thermal monitor so it monitors the temperature of the package. You want to know where the package is and the package has to stay at the right temperature, because if it doesn't then the vaccine is destroyed. It comes wrapped in dry ice. The dry ice because it has to be ultra-cold. When you receive the package, you have to replace the dry ice and then you have to replace the dry ice every five days. Under the dry ice is the actual package that has the trays in it. The trays have the actual vials in it. By the way, the vials are made of glass from Corning Glass, another great New York company. A vial contains enough for five dosages. The vial comes with a diluting liquid and the actual vial gets diluted before the vaccination actually happens. One tray, they call this a tray, one tray can hold up to 195 vials. Each vial, this is a vial, can do 5 dosages. The package itself can hold 5 trays. So, roughly 5,000 dosages could be in this one box. The storage and handling of the box itself is complicated. You can only open the box two times a day for 60 to 90 seconds each time, because keeping it the right temperature is very important. So, it's either in ultra-cold storage, or it has dry ice, but then you can only open it twice a day for 60 seconds to 90 seconds each time. When you actually do the vaccine, you take out the vial. The vial is frozen. You have to allow the vial to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes. You then dilute the vial and let it stand for 2 hours, and then you have 6 hours to administer the dosage, okay? So this is a complicated procedure. That's one dosage and then the person has to come back and receive the second dosage about 21 days later.

 

So, the package comes; it either has to be stored in ultra-cold storage or the dry ice is replaced and the dry ice can keep it. Up to 5,000 dosages, per vial and then there's a procedure to de-thaw the vial, dilute the dosage and then administer the dosage within 6 hours thereafter. And it's one dosage, second dosage is 21 days later, and the vaccine is really isn't effective until after the second dosage. So, it's not easy, but it's real and they're being manufactured, and they're going to be shipped, and we're very proud of Pfizer, we're very proud of Corning, and we are working very hard to be ready for the distribution and training people on the distribution to make sure it's all done correctly. But, this is the weapon that is going to win the war, and that is the light at the end of the tunnel, right? So, it's not tomorrow, it's not a short tunnel, but we know the way through this. We just have to get there, and we have to get there with as little as loss of life as possible.

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