Governor Cuomo: "One of the things with everything else we have going on today, you also have a lot of families in need. In need and at an especially difficult time. You know, today is day 269 of this COVID situation. 269 days. It's a long time, certainly, when you live it every day the way we've lived it every day, it feels like an eternity, right. But in the scope of life, it's not that long a period of time. They'll be a day when we look back at this and we say remember when we went through COVID? Remember when? You know, remember when we went through 9/11? How terrible 9/11 was when we were going through it? But then life brings perspective. And the question is, are we being smart now?"
Cuomo: "It's hard, but sometimes hard is smart. The way I try to do it in my mind to help me sleep - it's not a normal Thanksgiving, this is a special Thanksgiving. This is more special than the other Thanksgiving. Because this is truly about giving thanks and honoring people who sacrificed for us this past year, and there are a lot of people who sacrificed to get us through COVID. There are people who gave their lives to get us through COVID. There are nurses who died to get us through COVID. There are doctors who died to get us through COVID. There are police officers who died to get us through COVID. There are National Guards-people who died to get us through COVID. That's why this is a special Thanksgiving. And for that special Thanksgiving, yes, the celebration is different, but it is special. But it is in many ways more profound and more meaningful than the past Thanksgiving."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's COVID-19 response and distributed turkeys at Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Corp on Long Island.
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 to everyone. How e doing today? All getting ready for Thanksgiving? Beautiful day, socially distanced. It's a pleasure to be on Long Island. It's a pleasure to be at the Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Company. Let me thank Chief Tanya Rivers for hosting us today, thank you very much. Thank you, chief. Is that what we call you, chief? We call you chief at home? I don't want to tell you what they call me at home. I also want to thank the Wyandanch Resource Center for all their help and the executive director, Beverly Theodore, so it's a pleasure to be with her. Thank you very much, thank you Beverly, thank you for having us here today. Wanted to talk about a couple of facts, and then we're going to go give out some turkeys. We're going to give out a lot of turkeys. We're giving out thousands of turkeys across the State of New York.
One of the things with everything else we have going on today, you also have a lot of families in need. In need and at an especially difficult time. You know, today is day 269 of this COVID situation. 269 days. It's a long time, certainly, when you live it every day the way we've lived it every day, it feels like an eternity, right. But in the scope of life, it's not that long a period of time. They'll be a day when we look back at this and we say remember when we went through COVID? Remember when? You know, remember when we went through 9/11? How terrible 9/11 was when we were going through it? But then life brings perspective. And the question is, are we being smart now?
I want to make sure you know everybody who's with me here today. To my left is Gareth Rhodes, who's the deputy head of the Financial Services Department. Melissa DeRosa, who's got that special Thanksgiving sweater on today, her special New York Tough sweater. And to her right, Jack Davies, who works with me in the press office and is one of the gurus who does these fancy PowerPoints, because I don't know how to do any of it.
So today is day 269. Turn on the TV, and everyone is talking about the concern about Thanksgiving, and why we have to be safe during Thanksgiving, and the fear of COVID during Thanksgiving. I was watching the news this morning. Airline traffic is way up, and they're all concerned about the increase in airline traffic. Why is everybody worried about thanksgiving? Because we have to be on high alert. We have to be on high caution. About the COVID increase. And let me just give you two facts, because we're getting ready for Thanksgiving, but two facts that people need to understand that explain why this whole level of concern.
First of all, first fact, by the current rate of increase in COVID, we're going to see a major spike. By the current increase. Nothing else happens. You just look at the line of the COIVD increase right now, you see it going up. Over three weeks it's gone up 128 percent. Three weeks. Why? All the reasons they told us. Remember they said beware the fall, beware the fall? What happens in the Fall? It gets cold people start to stay indoors, college students start to come home, there's less outdoor activity. They talk about COVID fatigue. "I'm tired of being disciplined; I'm tired of wearing the mask." You're seeing that spike go up now. In three weeks, we went from 1,200 cases in the state to about 2,800 cases now. Just by that current line, factor out that line, and it just keeps going up. We used to talk about flattening the curve. Long Island, 149 percent increase in three weeks, higher increase than across the state. It went from 141 cases per day to 351 cases per day. That's Long Island, worse than the statewide increase. Okay, so that's the current situation and then what happens? Now you have the holiday season. Thanksgiving isn't just Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and the holiday season is 37 days. "What do you mean?" Look what happens. Thanksgiving, next day Black Friday, everybody saying, "We have to get ready for Christmas; Hanukkah is coming; Kwanzaa is coming" Right away, day after Thanksgiving, you go right to the Christmas season. The music changes, everybody starts shopping and then that increased activity goes all the way through New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. And that is a period of increased social activity. "Come over for a drink; we're going to have an office party; I'm having a house party; let's get together for the holiday season." Right? We do that every year. That's increased social activity. The more increased social activity, the more that virus is going to spread.
Let's say that we have that current rate of increase, let's say the holiday season only increases at 20 percent - which is the low end of what the experts suggest - so that holiday season the increase in activity only increases the current rate by 20 percent, look what happens. New York State today we have 2.9 percent positivity; we go to 12 percent positivity. That's a problem. Long Island today has 3 percent positivity; that goes to 18 percent positivity. That's a problem. Today 351 people go into the hospital about every day because of COVID; if it goes up 20 percent that's 1,400 people per day going into the hospital. That my friends is a real problem. So, Thanksgiving, we urge caution. Really it shouldn't be about just Thanksgiving. Really this is us saying that this holiday season we have to be smarter and different than we've handled past holiday seasons because it's not a normal holiday season. Celebrate with your family. State rule is no more than 10 people in the household.
You know, nowadays, everybody has a different opinion about everything. Everything is politics nowadays. You notice that? Everything is political. This is not political. Donald Trump, his administration, his CDC, Centers for Disease Control, says celebrate only with your household. Only with the people you've been with. Only your pod, they talk about a pod now. Only you family. That's Donald Trump. President-elect Biden's advisers say the same things. When is the last time you heard Donald Trump's advisors and Joe Biden's advisors saying the same thing, right? Never. This is the only thing that I have heard them agree on. So this is not about politics. This is about just health experts looking at those facts that you just saw. It's going up anyway, it goes up a little bit, we're going to have a problem.
This is not a normal Thanksgiving. It was not a normal summer. It was not a normal Labor Day. It was not a normal Memorial Day. It was not a normal school year. Nothing is normal. Because it's not normal. "You want me to ask different than I act normally." Yes, because it's not normal. "Well, that's hard." I know it's hard. It's all been hard. Every day of COVID has been hard, and Thanksgiving is especially hard. I feel it. For me, thanksgiving was the goal that I was looking forward to. When we were going through all those COVID cases, I would say, well, when we get to Thanksgiving, that's when we can be together and that's when things are going to be normal again, by Thanksgiving, by Thanksgiving. And now we're Thanksgiving, and things are not normal. They're not normal. And it's sad, and Thanksgiving is the one time, it's family, it's about family.
I have one daughter, three daughters. One daughter, twins, and Michaela. One daughter's in Chicago, I had her on the phone, she was going to come home, she's crying on the phone, the doctors said it's not safe for her to come from Chicago. Because even if you get a test, then you have to get on an airplane, then you go through the airport, who knows what's going to happen. So she's crying on the phone. And you know as a parent, when your child cries, it just goes right through you, right, and you melt. Just melts.
I had my mother, who is a senior citizen. She does not admit that she is a senior citizen. My mother somehow became younger than me in age. I don't know how she did that mathematical equation in her head, but you talk to her, she's younger than I am. But she just doesn't understand it. She just does not understand. I had to talk to her last night. She called me back this morning to go back through the same thing. "I don't understand. You haven't seen your sisters in a long time, you haven't seen your nieces, you haven't seen your nephews in a long time, I don't understand it, I don't understand it.
She doesn't understand it. This is a Thanksgiving, 89 years old, never been a Thanksgiving like this in her life. But that's the fact, and it is hard. And it's hard to do, and it's so much easier just to say, "We'll do it the way we normally do it." That's the easy way. "Come over. We'll be careful." It's a mistake. It's a mistake. I wanted to say to Mariah, "Come home." I said to Mariah, "I'll come pick you up." That's a long ride, Chicago. That's how bad I felt. I said, "I'll come pick you up." But she said, even if I don't take the plane, then she's in the car with me for a number of hours, and then she still winds up home in front of people who she can infect. I didn't want to disappoint my mother - you know, 89 years old, she's thinking how many Thanksgiving do I get, right? You start to think that way.
But it's hard, but sometimes hard is smart. The way I try to do it in my mind to help me sleep - it's not a normal Thanksgiving, this is a special Thanksgiving. This is more special than the other Thanksgiving. Because this is truly about giving thanks and honoring people who sacrificed for us this past year, and there are a lot of people who sacrificed to get us through COVID. There are people who gave their lives to get us through COVID. There are nurses who died to get us through COVID. There are doctors who died to get us through COVID. There are police officers who died to get us through COVID. There are National Guards-people who died to get us through COVID. That's why this is a special Thanksgiving. And for that special Thanksgiving, yes, the celebration is different, but it is special. But it is in many ways more profound and more meaningful than the past Thanksgiving. So yes, it's going to look different, it's going to feel different, but in here, it's more special, it's more powerful than past Thanksgivings.
I give thanks to all those essential workers who showed up for work every day so we could stay home safely. Think about that. Every day, I'm standing at a briefing, sitting at a briefing, doing what I'm doing today, saying, "Stay home, stay home it's dangerous. Don't send the kids to school. Stay home, stay home, stay home, except you, essential worker, you have to wake up and you have to go to work. Why? So we can stay home. You have to drive the bus and have hundreds of people walking past you and put your life in danger. You have to drive the train. You have to be at the food store to keep food on the shelves because if we don't have food on the shelves you're going to see panic. You have to show up at the utility company because if people flick that light switch and there's no light in their homes and there's no heat, there's going to be panic." How brave were those people? They went out in the face danger. I give thanks for them. And that is special. So, celebrate Thanksgiving. Celebrate Thanksgiving with your bigger family. Your extended family. Your extended family is the family of New York. Your extended family is representative of all those people who did the right thing this entire year for one and other and acted as a family. When those essential workers went outside, they were your brothers and they were your sisters and they did it out of love for you even though they didn't know you; but because they were part of the family of New York. The family of humanity. The family of community. They believe that. That's what they were honoring otherwise they would have stayed home in bed and said I'm going to stay safe. Just like you're staying home, I'm going to stay home. Because we acted like a family. We acted out of love and we acted out of duty and honor and respect for one another.
That's what I'm going to celebrate. I won't have my family at the table, but I have my broader family at the table and I am honoring them this Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, as usual, we remember the less fortunate, but this is a special one and we have to be careful. New York set the standard for the nation in how people respond. We went from the highest infection rate in the nation to the lowest infection rate in the nation. How does a state do that? How about a state like New York? So complicated, so diverse: Black, Brown, white, LGBTQ, upstate, downstate, Democrat, Republican. How did New Yorkers do that? Because we were together. We came together.
We rose above the differences. We didn't focus on differences, we found the commonality that we are all connected. You're my sister. You are my brother. You're my sister, you're my sister. I feel that responsibility and that connection to you and that's the family of New York. That's what we call New York tough. We're smart, we're united as a family, we're disciplined, putting on this thing. We love one another. We love and we're tough enough to say we love. We're strong enough to say, "I love you." I love you and we're acting out of love. That's what New York tough means.
We have a special mask for Thanksgiving because you know we're also creative in New York. We are creative. We do things a little different. We have a special mask. Don't be a turkey this Thanksgiving. Wear a mask. Don't be a turkey. How good looking is this mask? Look at that. How beautiful is that? Tell the truth. Especially good on me. Covers my nose and everything. I'm better looking with the mask.