March 5, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: At Novel Coronavirus Briefing, Governor Cuomo Confirms 11 Additional Cases - Bringing New York State Total to 22

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

Currently 1 Case in Nassau County, 18 in Westchester County, and 3 in NYC


Opens Statewide Emergency Operation Center in Albany as well as 2 Emergency Operations Center Outposts in Westchester County - 1 in Hawthorne and 1 in New Rochelle


Governor Cuomo: "The facts do not merit the level of anxiety that we are seeing... The number will increase because it is math. The more people you test, the more positives you are going to find. I'm a little perturbed about the daily angst when the number comes out and the number is higher. Perturbed meaning, I'm perturbed that people get anxious every time the number goes up. The number has to go up if you continue to test."


"During this period, especially if you are in the vulnerable population to coronavirus - and the flu by the way - then you may want to take extra precautions."


During a briefing on the novel coronavirus earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed 11 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 22 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 22 individuals who tested positive for the virus, one resides in Nassau County, three reside in New York City and 18 reside in Westchester County. In response to the growing number of cases, the Governor activated the statewide Emergency Operation Center in Albany, as well as two Emergency Operations Center outposts in Westchester County: one in Hawthorne and one in New Rochelle.


VIDEO of the Governor's update is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.


AUDIO of today's update is available here.


PHOTOS of today's update will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.


A rush transcript is available below:


Good afternoon. It is after noon. Everyone knows the people at the table today. To my right is the Health Commissioner, the good Dr. Zucker. To my left, immediate left, Robert Mujica, Budget Director extraordinaire. To his left, Beth Garvey, Special Counsel extraordinaire.


We wanted to give you an update on the Coronavirus. I think the more information, the more facts people are getting, the better in a situation like this. The numerical update today is we had 11 cases. We did a significant number of tests overnight. We have a new count of an additional 11. So, that is 22 statewide. Eight of the new cases are connected to the attorney from Westchester - the New Rochelle area. Two are in New York City and one in on Long Island. The two in New York City are hospitalized. The one in Long Island is also hospitalized. The eight in Westchester are not hospitalized.


What is going to happen is the number will continue to go up. It must because we are continuing to test more and more. The more you test, the higher number you will have. And as we are testing more, because that is a good thing, you will see the number going up.


Why do we test and find these cases? Because to the best we can limit the spread, contain the spread, the better. Understanding it is imperfect, but from the China experience all of the experts say the more you can do to contain and limit the spread the better. And we are doing with these cases the same we did with the others. You find a case. You then investigate and track back, find as many contacts as possible. Contact those people and go through the same process over and over again. Universe obviously continues to expand, but the more you can do the better. And that's what we're doing all across the state. A couple of points I'd like to make.


Many people are saying to me, "You know, I'm getting confused because I get different pieces of information, and I don't know who's right. I don't know who's wrong. I don't know who to believe." And that is a serious issue, especially with this. You watch TV all day or you listen to the radio and you have all these different sources, you have different politicians, and it sounds like they're saying different things. I think that's compounding the situation. I talked in the past about why do people get afraid. You only get afraid for two reasons in life. One, I'm uncertain of the information. I don't trust it or I'm confused by it. Or two, the information I'm hearing is so disturbing that I'm afraid. Here, the facts do not merit the level of anxiety that we are seeing. I believe it's being generated because of the first point, which is people don't know the truth. They don't know the facts.


So let's just clear up some facts. Whenever I go to the doctor, and I like doctors. I like doctors generically, and I like you especially. But my sister's a doctor. I like doctors. But I like to say to the doctor before they say let me tell you what I think, let me tell you my opinion. Before you give me your opinion, give me the facts, okay? Let me understand the facts, and then I'll hear your opinion. But there's a difference between opinions and facts. And people I think now need facts versus opinions. Opinions are relevant, but give me the facts. Different stories on whether or not this will leave, the virus will end when it gets to the summer, whether or not it's seasonal. We don't know. Short answer is we don't know. Normal flu, you get into the summer months, the flu dissipates. It doesn't go away entirely, by the way, but it dissipates. Factually, we don't know if this virus will dissipate in the summer. Different opinions, but nobody knows.


When do we have a vaccine? The President said that he is working very hard pushing the companies to develop a vaccine and there should be one soon. But the CDC and the health professionals say not until 12 months minimum, maybe 18.


Who is right and who is wrong? The truth is yes you can get a company that may be able to develop a vaccine in several months but that vaccine then has to be tested and that's how you get to 12 months, 18 months. Should I be using hand sanitizer before I go out, while I'm out? During the normal flu season doctors would recommend hand sanitizer and this communicates the way the normal flu tends to communicate, so during the flu season they would say use hand sanitizer. During this period, especially if you are in the vulnerable population to coronavirus and the flu by the way, then you may want to take extra precautions. That only makes sense.


How does it spread? It's a respiratory illness. It spreads either someone who is infected sneezes on their hand, puts their hand on a surface, the virus can live on a surface for a number of hours, unclear how many hours, safe number would be 24 hours, or they sneeze, cough, droplets are in the air, they say the range is six feet. What does that mean? It means theoretically the droplets, if you're in the six-foot range you are especially vulnerable, but where they get communication is in a closed environment - in a vehicle where you're traveling and the air is limited, in a home setting where you're in the same room with a person for a prolonged period of time. But otherwise it spreads basically as the flu would spread.


Should we shake hands? I have doctors who say to me every flu season, you should say, people should not shake hands. They say that to me every flu season. I've never said that. Why? Because I'm a politician, I shake hands. You shouldn't hug. They've said that during a normal flu season. I've never said that either. I'm of Italian-American descent, I'm a hugger. But precautions during the flu season, don't shake hands and don't hug. During this season with Coronavirus, yeah if you want to take precautions, don't shake hands, don't hug. Tell the other person so you don't offend them.


Well the number is increasing. The number will increase because this will spread. And the number will increase because it is math. The more people you test, the more positives you are going to find. I'm a little perturbed about the daily angst when the number comes out and the number is higher. Perturbed meaning, I'm perturbed that people get anxious every time the number goes up. The number has to go up if you continue to test. The number can't go down right. We're not going to detect fewer cases than yesterday. The number has to go up - that's why we're testing. And that's why you run it through. It's a matter of opinion, there's no fact, it's a matter of opinion, but most informed sources say you will see a significant spread of this virus through the population.


The most important point is, all of this: so what. So what. What does it mean? And that is the most relevant question. The so what: 80 percent of the people who get it will self-resolve, may never even know they had it, like the flu. Some mild symptoms, you go through your life and it resolves. Twenty percent will get ill, require hospitalization. The people who are in the vulnerable population - senior citizens, immune compromised, people with underlying illnesses. What am I worried about as Governor? People say to me, "What are you worried about?" I'm worried about undue fear and anxiety, hence why I'm constantly trying to communicate facts. I'm worried about nursing homes, senior care facilities, any senior congregate setting - that's what happened in the State of Washington - that is something we worry about. Personally, my own family, my mother is elderly - she doesn't want to admit it, she doesn't believe it, she doesn't act that way, I'll deny saying that I said that. But, she should take extra precautions. I have friends who are HIV-positive, who are battling cancer, who have compromised immune systems, they have to be careful and they have to be more careful than usual. But, that is what this is, which is the same as it would be for the normal flu. Right? Who does the flu normally affect? Seniors, immune compromised, people with underlying illnesses.


So those are the facts, those are the inarguable facts. Not opinions, those are facts. And when you know the facts, this daily mania of: the number's going up, the number's going up, I'm afraid, I'm afraid. You know the facts, it's reassuring because on these facts there is no reason for undue anxiety.

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