July 6, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Photos, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New York City Enters Phase III of Reopening Without Indoor Dining and Subject to State Guidance Today

Video, Photos, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New York City Enters Phase III of Reopening Without Indoor Dining and Subject to State Guidance Today

Announces Mid-Hudson Region to Enter Phase IV of Reopening Tomorrow; Long Island on Track to Enter Phase IV of Reopening Wednesday

Announces DOH Finalizing Guidance on Possible School Reopening in September

Announces Casinos and Movie Theaters to Remain Closed as Government Reviews the Facts

Cancels New York State Fair This Summer Out of An Abundance of Caution

Announces New York State to Make Industry Recommendations on Air Conditioning Systems

Calls on President Trump to Acknowledge That COVID-19 Exists and is a Problem

0.95 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive

9 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Confirms 518 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 397,649; New Cases in 45 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Denying COVID is really advancing the COVID virus. I know this is a politically charged environment right now and somehow COVID has become a political issue which, I've never heard of those virus becoming political but in this environment that has, but if you deny the problem then you will never solve it. We're not the United States of Denial we have never been a nation that is excelled because we refused to admit the problem. We admit the problem and then we overcome the problem if we do not, as a nation, acknowledge the COVID viral increase, it is going to continue."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York City enters Phase III of reopening, without indoor dining and subject to comprehensive state guidance, today. The Mid-Hudson region will enter Phase IV of reopening tomorrow, July 7. Long Island is on track to enter Phase IV on Wednesday, July 8.

The governor also announced that the New York State Department of Health, in consultation with the Reimagine Education Advisory Council and others, is finalizing guidance on the possible reopening of schools in September. New York State previously directed all school districts to develop reopening plans. A decision on whether to reopen schools in September has not been made yet.

Governor Cuomo also announced that casinos and movie theaters will currently remain closed as the state government continues to review the science and facts on their safe reopening.

The governor also announced that the New York State Fair will be cancelled this summer out of an abundance of caution.

The governor also announced that New York State will make industry recommendations on the use of air filtration technology to potentially eliminate the spread of COVID-19 through air conditioning systems. As evidence emerges that COVID-19 spread is linked more to airborne transmission than to surface area transmission, New York State is studying filters, their compatibility with existing air systems, the expense of modifications to air conditioning systems and other factors.

Governor Cuomo also called on President Trump to acknowledge to the American people that COVID-19 exists, is increasing and a serious problem, and that each American is part of the solution. The governor also reiterated his call for President Trump to wear a mask.

Governor Cuomo also updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

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

AUDIO of the Governor'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. Nice to see your socially distanced faces. Beautiful day in New York City. Let's talk about where we are today. Day 128. Everybody knows Melissa DeRosa to my right, Secretary to the Governor. Gareth Rhodes to my left, Deputy Superintendent, Special Counsel at Department of Financial Services and he's been working on the COVID crisis for 128 days.

Total number of hospitalizations, 817. That is the lowest number since March 18. That is very good news. We have the 5-day results by region and all the regions are performing well. You see a little blip up, a little blip down day-to-day. That's really not a concern. You want watch the rolling average which is all good. Also, the numbers we get on Sunday are always a little bit skewed for some reason but that's been going on since we started. You look within New York City, again you see the variance among different boroughs. The numbers are all good, so that's good.

Best news are number of lives lost and we're down to 9. It's unimaginable at one time, that we would be this slow. Obviously, you don't even want to see 9. You don't want 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. But this is great, great news. The rolling average for number of lives lost is 9 yesterday. We did 54,000 tests yesterday. On average we do about 60,000 tests per day - the highest testing rate in the nation - .95 positive. We normally run about 1.1, 1.2, somewhere in that range, so that's all good.

What does this mean? What it means is since we started reopening, which was May 15, we started our phased reopenings. The numbers have actually declined since we started reopening. You see that gold line under May 15. That's where we were when we started reopening. Every expert warned us on the reopening that you could see the numbers start to go up because you're increasing activity. Our premise was, you could moderate the activity so you could start the reopening, but monitor the number of cases and control the phased reopening to keep the number of cases down.

That's just what we've done for the past 7 weeks. We're actually down from where we were when we started reopening which, as you remember, no one predicted. The question was when you start reopening activity will go up, number of cases will go up. Can you control the increase? That was the question. We haven't needed to control the increase, we've actually had a slight decline and now we're basically running flat and that is great news. That is really great news.

It's what we said from day one with my great graphic that nobody liked at the time I originally did it and nobody still likes, but I like it, so sometimes it's nice to be Governor. You have a valve: Control the activity and watch, monitor the valves to see if the infection rate is going up, the hospitalization rate is going up and keep your hand on the valve. If you see it start to go up, slow down the valve. If you don't see the numbers going up, then you can open up the economic activity valve.

That's what we've been doing and that's what you see with these little corrections. New York City goes into Phase Three, but no indoor dining. We have the phases and then we have certain adjustments that we make to the phases. The numbers show you that we are right where we want to be. New York City goes into Phase Three today, no indoor dining. There are rules on Phase Three - it doesn't mean go out and have a party. We have 50 percent occupancy for personal care services. You have to wear face coverings, customers must wear face coverings, 6-foot distance. Prohibited services that require the removal of face coverings, such as facials, you can't get a facial. I did that against my own self-interest. I was supposed to get a facial today. Closed the waiting rooms. Employees providing services must be tested every 14 days. There are rules.

Tomorrow is Phase Four for Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley. Long Island is on track for Phase Four on Wednesday. Their numbers are all good. School reopenings, just to make sure there's no confusion. There's 700 school districts in the State. The State has directed all 700 school districts to come up with a plan on how they would reopen. There's two levels of discussion: Should they reopen and then if they reopen what does a reopened school look like in the quote, unquote new normal? We've asked every school district to come up with a plan on what reopening would look like in your district.

New York City is coming up with a plan, presumed to that request, on what it would look like to reopen the New York City school system in September. There has been no decision yet as to whether or not we are reopening schools. We obviously very much would like to. Nobody even knows the effect that this is going to have on students, socialization of young students, et cetera. We want kids back in school for a number of reasons, but we're not going to say children should go back to school until we know it's safe. We have some time. This is a very fluid situation. When we get the data we will make a decision. In the meantime, I am telling all school districts to come up with a reopening plan.

We don't yet know if we are going to reopen and we'll follow the data and we'll make a decision on the data. The Department of Health is also working on this. Every school district is coming up with a plan to reopen, that doesn't mean they are reopening. Nuance sometimes is important. Not often, but sometimes it is.

On casinos and movie theaters, we're still looking at the data, but for now they're going to be closed. We are not going to open the State Fair in Syracuse. This is a really tough one. Fairs all across the nation are not reopening. We have a fantastic State Fair in Syracuse. We've invested a lot of money. We've had record attendance, 1.3 million people last year, we broke the attendance record. We invested money, we redid the whole State Fair. We built a new expo center, 110,000 square feet, it's really amazing. It's been an economic boon for the whole region. This year we're going to have to cancel it and that makes me personally very unhappy, but that is where we are.

On the COVID transmission, following the facts, the facts and changing as they learn more about this virus. There's less concerned about surface area transmission, more data that it is primarily an airborne transmission. That then raises the question of what can we do with air filtration technology. In here this is an air conditioned building, it's bring air up into the HVAC system, it then runs through the HVAC system and gets recirculated. What kind of filtration can you have on the HVAC system that may be capable of catching the virus as it's attached to the droplets?

There are filters that systems install - HEPA filters are one of them - and then a series of filters that are rated by the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value - MERV value. And the most dense filters can actually filter out the virus, which is remarkable and interesting. Nothing is simple with this virus. It depends on the air conditioning system you have whether or not it can take one of these higher filters and still operate. And different systems take different filters. And we're working through that now. We're spending time on it because I think there's a real possibility that we could actually have a positive contribution here. And different HVAC systems have different capacities, but we're working through this now because if there is a way to filter the air and there's a way to get COVID out of the air, then we want to do that. And if we can do that without an exorbitant expense for existing HVAC systems it's something we have to look at. So we're in the midst of that now and as soon as we know something we will make it public.

New Yorkers did the impossible. We went from the worst infection rate in the United States to the best infection rate in the United States. I like to say that we crossed the mountain. There's the mountain. We don't want to have the challenge of crossing a mountain range, right? One mountain was enough. The last thing we need is to see this virus spike again, and there are two threats in that area. One - New Yorkers getting complacent. 'This is great, New York's doing great, the numbers are down. I heard the Governor, he said everything is great.' We get complacent, we get cocky, we get a little arrogant. That is a real threat and it's a threat that I'm concerned about. You look at the festivities over July 4th, you see gatherings that are not socially distanced, they're not wearing masks. You see it in Manhattan, you see it on Fire Island.

There are reports Upstate of gatherings where people aren't socially distanced and people aren't wearing masks. You know, I don't know how else to say it: Actions have consequences. Our success was a function of our action. You change your action, you change your behavior, you are going to change the outcome. It is that simple. That curve was purely a function of what we did. If we change what we're doing, you're going to change the trajectory of the virus. I understand people are fatigued. We've been doing this for 128 days. I get it, but it doesn't change the facts and we have to stay smart. I need, we need, every person in the state needs the local governments to enforce the law. And I talk to local governments about this all the time. Mayors, county executives, et cetera and I'm going to have another round of conversations today.

I understand that it is not politically pleasant to enforce the mask law or the gathering law or the socially distanced law. I get it. I get that politically, it's difficult for the local governments to do it. But it is the law. And if we don't do it, there's going to be a serious problem. It's not a local government law. It's a state law, so I get the politics and I said to them, "I have no problem taking responsibility. Mr. Mayor, tell your police when they go out to enforce the law. They can say, 'Don't blame the Mayor. It's the Governor. Blame Governor Cuomo.' County Executive, tell your police when they hand out a summons, say, 'This is not a county law. It's a state law. Blame the Governor.'" I don't have a problem with that, but they have to enforce the law. We do not have a state police department that is a large enough to enforce the law in the entire State of New York. That's why we have local police agencies, but they have to do their job and they have to enforce the law and the law is clear. And I want to be difficult or unnecessarily difficult but I'm telling you, if we don't follow these behaviors, the numbers are going to go up. It's that simple.

The second threat is you now have 38 states in this country with an increasing virus rate of infection. It's only getting worse. It's not getting better. You look at states like Texas, you look at Arizona, you look at those curves. I mean we know those curves. We've seen them. We've been there, done that. This is a frightening situation across this country. Look at California, look at the look at the curve on California. We've been here. We've seen this. Déjà vu all over again. AJ Parkinson said that. No? Will Rogers said that. Just seeing if you're paying attention. I know it's a Monday morning, you're a little sleepy. Will Rogers did not say it. Yogi Bear said it. Two points, but it's déjà vu all over again.

This is how the virus came to New York in the first place. It got on a plane in Europe and it landed at JFK and Newark and that's why we had the spike. Nobody knew it at the time. Everybody was saying China virus- the China virus had gotten on a plane, went to Europe and then it came here from Europe. Three million people got on planes and landed in New York in January, February, and March. That's how we had the problem we had. Now you're going to see people getting on planes from the 38 states in this nation where the virus is going up going to land at JFK, Newark, et cetera. You know an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. That's the new mentality we have to have.

We can't protect ourselves as an island, because we're not. We have people coming in and out all day long. And when you have these spikes in China and Europe - that's how it happened the first time - now people can come from Florida or anywhere else. We are already seeing it. We have had significant clusters where people came from out-of-state. They came in, they attended a function, by the next day we have an increase in the infections. We're doing so many tests and so many tracings that we can trace it back to patient zero and they're very often from out-of-state. We have downstate, we have it upstate - it is inevitable. So yes, New Yorkers have to be smart, but we also have a problem that if the virus is increasing anywhere it's going to travel here and then we're going to have a problem.

Denying COVID is really advancing the COVID virus. I know this is a politically charged environment right now and somehow COVID has become a political issue which, I've never heard of those virus becoming political but in this environment that has, but if you deny the problem then you will never solve it. We're not the United States of Denial we have never been a nation that is excelled because we refused to admit the problem. We admit the problem and then we overcome the problem if we do not, as a nation, acknowledge the COVID viral increase, it is going to continue. Those upward numbers don't change on their own. They only change when you change them. That number keeps going up unless you bend the curve. The bend doesn't happen naturally.

The bend happens when people change their behavior and actually reduce the transmission rate. So, you look at those numbers in those states, those upticks are just going to continue. That mountain - that didn't just plateau because God said to plateau. It plateaued because we did masks, and social distancing, and closed down and all those activities, and testing, and tracing. That's how we bent the curve. If we are in a state of denial, you're going to see that curve continue to go up. Now, how do you bend the curve? We know how to bend the curve because we did it. You have to be aware of it. You have to admit it and you then have to take action and you have to be committed to it. And it starts at the top with leadership.

The President said over this weekend, "if we didn't test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases." Think about that for a second. What he's really saying is if we didn't test, we wouldn't find the cases. And if we didn't find the cases, we wouldn't have a problem. That's incredible, but that's what he is saying. So, let's just extend that logic.

If we don't test, then we won't know. And if you don't know, then you have no problem. It's a great way to go through life, isn't it? So, on that theory— let's do no more cancer tests and that will solve the problem with cancer. No more mammograms because we don't want to know and that will solve breast cancer. No more prostate checks. That will solve prostate cancer. No more TB checks. That will end TB. No more HIV tests and that will solve the AIDS issue.

No. Not knowing doesn't mean you don't have a problem. And in this case, if you do not admit it and if you don't confront it— it is only going to increase. We know it has to be done because we lived it here and we did it here. To bend the curve, yes— you have to test. Yes, you have to trace. Yes, you have to isolate. Yes, you have to phase the reopening and you have to socially distance. But by the way, phasing the reopening is better than reopening recklessly where you have the states, "Okay, we're reopen." Everybody comes out, the virus goes up, the stock market goes down and now the states are saying, "we have to close again." A phased reopening is better than reopening and closing. That is not just a premise. It's been proven by the past experience. Look at the states that reopened recklessly and are now closing again. Who did that help? It actually set us back.

So, Mr. President. Don't be a co-conspirator of COVID. Do one simple thing: acknowledge to the American people that COVID exists. It is a major problem. It's going to continue until we admit it and each of us stands up to do our part. If he does not acknowledge that, then he is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus. How did this become a political statement? This is common sense and let the president start by sending that signal very simply: just wear the mask. I've been asking him to do it for weeks. Just wear the mask, and say to the American people, "this is real and it's a problem and we have to do our part." We started masks April 15. First state in the nation to start masks. They make a difference. July 4: true patriots wear masks. True patriots are New York tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving.

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