July 8, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Photos, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Will Decide on Fall School Reopening During the First Week of August

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

Confirms 692 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 398,929; New Cases in 42 Counties

 

Governor Cuomo: "On July 31, local school districts will submit their plans on how they would reopen, what their precautions will be, if they want to have a phased reopening, if they want to have a partial reopening. Those plans would come in on July 31. August 1 to 7, the state will announce a decision on whether or not those schools reopen."

 

Cuomo: "We want to make that decision with the best available data. The facts change here day-to-day, week-to-week. I understand there's a drop-dead date where you have to make a decision by a certain date. But wait until that date to make a decision because the facts may change. As we see, a week can be a lifetime with this COVID virus because everything changes so quickly. The schools say they need a decision made by the end of the first week in August so they can then turn on the switches and get everything ready for September. And we'll look at the data in that first week and then we'll make a decision."

 

Governor Cuomo: "I heard the President speak yesterday and what he was tweeting about today on schools. And look, this is getting a little old as far as I'm concerned. And I heard what the President said on schools, but this is been there, done that, right? School reopenings are a state decision, period. That is the law, and that is the way we're going to proceed."

 

Cuomo: "I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child in, and that's how I make these decisions. If it's not safe for my child, it's not safe for your child. So, we'll get the data and we'll make that decision in August. But just to be clear, the federal government has no legal authority when it comes to school openings."

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will decide whether schools will reopen in the fall during the first week of August. New York State is now consulting with stakeholders on guidance, which will be finalized on July 13. Plans to reopen schools are due on July 31.

 

The Governor also announced that all county fairs will be canceled until further notice out of an abundance of caution. Governor Cuomo previously announced that the New York State Fair will be canceled this summer.

 

Governor Cuomo also announced beginning Friday, July 10, malls can open in regions that have entered Phase IV of reopening if they have implemented an enhanced Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - or HVAC - filtration system and follow proper ventilation protocols. HVAC systems will be required to include filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value - or MERV - rating of which filters out the COVID-19 virus, but can, if the system makes additional protections, run on a minimum MERV of 11. Ventilation protocols include increased outdoor air, reduced air circulation, longer system run times and frequent filter checks.

 

Governor Cuomo also announced that New York State will provide 1,000 masks and 1,000 2-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for the Fire Island COVID Destroyers - a partnership that includes GMHC and Fire Island community leaders - to distribute on Fire Island.

 

The Governor also updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Long Island enters Phase IV of reopening today. 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, pleasure to see all of these smiling faces, all of these masks. To my right is Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To my left is Dr. James Malatras, an intellectual superpower who has been helping us all through this.

 

Let's talk about where we are today. Today is day 130, feels like just yesterday that we started with COVID. No, it doesn't. We have good news, bad news, just like every other day of the past 130 days. We will start with the good news because we are glass half full kind of people. Right, Marsha? The good news is number of the hospitalizations is 841, number of intubations is 97. That is the first time it's been under 100 and it is the first time it's been this low since March 16th. Intubations have been a bad indicator. The number of people who once are intubated actually come off the intubator is very low. About 80% of the people who are intubated don't survive. So the fact this number is down is very positive.

 

All the numbers are where they should be, and you can look at them by region, within a region, you can look at them by county. You see some slight variances among the counties, which we have been seeing and we've been watching, and you get a little uptick, a little downtick, but they're basically all in good shape. Number of lives lost, 11, and it's been about that level for the past week or so and that's also good news. That you can be at a place where you lose 11 people and you say that's good news is welcome to our new reality. Our thoughts and prayers are with those 11. But relative to where we were, that's very, very good news. The rolling average, three-day average, is ten.

 

We did 57,000 tests yesterday. No state tests more than New York tests. I don't believe there's a country that per capita tests more than New York tests. So we get the information and the information can then lead us. If we have a problem, we see a problem and then we can attack the problem. 1.2% positive on the 57,000 tests yesterday.

 

Long Island enters Phase Four, which is the final phase today. We're excited about that. But as I've said every day for the past 130 days, we're making progress because we're acting smart and we have to continue to act smart, because if we don't act smart, you'll see those numbers change quickly.

 

Bad news is everything around us, frankly. Tale of two cities, my father's speech, we now have a tale of two different kinds of states. 36 states are seeing an increase in the COVID infection rate. That is the bad news. Now, the federal government still insists on perpetuating myths, and the federal government says, "Well, the cases are going up because we are testing more." That makes no sense whatsoever and the American people are smart. You know, you're not going to fool them. You're not going to con them. Hospitalizations are going up. That is the indicator. People do not go into a hospital unless they're sick. Nobody goes into a hospital for a vacation. A hospital won't keep you if you're well and you're just going there for a respite. The hospitalizations are going up because more people are getting sick and that is undeniable, and you see it in states all across the country. You look at the numbers in Texas. They're afraid they're running out of hospital beds. Florida, you're seeing a tremendous spike. Some hospitals are out of ICU beds, which is a really frightening situation to be in. We've offered help to all these states, whatever they need. Florida has said that they might need some assistance from us.

 

Whatever they need, we will provide. But you see the same story all across these states. Now, it's bad news for them, it's bad news for us as Americans. It's also bad news because it threatens our situation. We understand this because we've lived this already. We had that spike because the virus went from China to Europe, and we now understand that the planet is small and a virus anywhere has to be considered a virus everywhere. "Well, it's only in China. It's only in Italy. It's only in Spain." Yes, until it gets on a plane, and then it's in our backyard, which is exactly what happened. January, February, March, 3 million people calm from Europe and they brought the virus, a that's why New York had the spike it had.

 

We are expanding the list of states that are quarantined - New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York are acting in unison. We have a formula where if a state is above a certain infection rate, then it is on a quarantine list, and three more states are now over that threshold because the infection numbers in these states are increasing. Total is 19. The airlines have agreed to hand out forms on the flights coming into New York where on that form it will ask you where you're coming from, where are you staying, and we need you to quarantine. New York, New Yorkers know, New York State has proven two things as a fact. We know what works, and we know what doesn't work. Right? We have results in New York. We've lived this. We were the laboratory. And we know that smart data-driven approach worked. We brought down the curve. New Yorkers did it. We are now in reopening, different regions in different phases. But you have numbers. You have proof. You don't have to guess. It's not a question of theory. "I think this, I believe this, well, maybe this." Look at the results. Look at the numbers. This chart, United States is the red line. And that red line is going up. Look at the lines on the bottom. That's EU, that's Canada, Australia. They are all down and basically flat. So, the infection is not increasing, and then compare that to New York.

 

New York, we were higher than any of them. We had a situation that none of them had because that virus came from Europe and nobody told us. We had that initial spike. We had to get the spike down. Those other locations just had to make sure the infection rate didn't increase. We had an added burden. We had to first bring down the infection rate, which we did. And then we had to keep it down, which we are doing. None of those other countries started where we started. Nowhere near it. The country didn't start where we started. We were ambushed by the virus. The federal government didn't track it, didn't know it, didn't tell us. But we've shown what you can do, and that is proof positive of what works. And we're continuing to do that. Following the data, following the facts, which informs our reopening.

 

All county fairs will be canceled. We canceled the State Fair, which is a really beautiful annual event. But we canceled that last week, and we're also going to be canceling county fairs. We've had a lot of consultation, done work on air filtration. There are air filtration systems that can take COVID out of the air. There then winds up a series of questions, what filters work on what HVAC systems. But the filters are rated. The HVAC systems are rated by what they call a MERV rating. So, what we're saying is— the best filter that we would like to see installed is what's called the MERV-13. It goes to the density of the filter and what it can actually filter out. MERV-13 filters out the COVID virus. Some systems can't take MERV-13, so it's either 13, 12 or 11. But one of those three filters— and then we have ventilation protocols. And the mall reopening date is July 10 in phase four. On schools, we are and we have been consulting all stakeholders on guidance on how a school would reopen in September. We have 700 school districts in this state. They range from rural districts to urban districts, suburban districts. Localities are very involved in their schools and school decisions. So, we have been meeting with them. Jim is on a commission that talks to the different districts and their representatives about reopening. We'll have finalized guidance pursuant to those conversations on July 13.

 

On July 31, local school districts will submit their plans on how they would reopen, what their precautions will be, if they want to have a phased reopening, if they want to have a partial reopening. Those plans would come in on July 31. August 1 to 7, the state will announce a decision on whether or not those schools reopen. We want to make that decision with the best available data. The facts change here day-to-day, week-to-week. I understand there's a drop-dead date where you have to make a decision by a certain date. But wait until that date to make a decision because the facts may change. As we see, a week can be a lifetime with this COVID virus, because everything changes so quickly. The schools say they need a decision made by the end of the first week in August so they can then turn on the switches and get everything ready for September. And we'll look at the data in that first week and then we'll make a decision. 

 

I heard the President speak yesterday and what he was tweeting about today on schools. And look, this is getting a little old as far as I'm concerned. And I heard what the President said on schools, but this is been there, done that, right? School reopenings are a state decision, period. That is the law, and that is the way we're going to proceed. It's not up to the President of the United States. There is something called the Constitution that guides government power, and then there are a series of laws that are based on that Constitution. And the President does not have the authority to open schools.

 

We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools. Everybody wants the schools open - everybody. Nobody wants the schools open more than I do. School reopening also ties to the economic reopening, right? Because you can't really reopen the economy fully if you have the schools closed. Schools are important, not just for education, socialization of young people, we don't even know what this means to have kids who are out of school for this period of time. So, yes, we all want to open schools. But we want it to be safe. And the test that I bring to all of these things, day camps, overnight camps, is the my child test. I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child in, and that's how I make these decisions. If it's not safe for my child, it's not safe for your child. So, we'll get the data and we'll make that decision in August. But just to be clear, the federal government has no legal authority when it comes to school openings.

 

And this is just a redux of what the President did on the economic reopening. If you remember, he didn't want to have anything to do with the closing of the economies, he said the governors should do that, governors will decide if an economy closes. But then the President declared, "I have the authority to reopen the economies and I'm going to order a reopening of the economies." No, not true Mr. President. It's not what the Constitution says. I made that point and then the President said, "Okay, it's not up to me. It's up to the governors." The same is true on education. He wants the schools reopened. It's not up to him. It's not up to him. It's not his legal authority, just like it was not his legal authority to say he's going to decide when the economy reopens in this state. And this is a redux because he poses a false choice, and that he's posed the false choice that is one of the reasons this nation is now in the situation that it's in.

 

On the economy he said, it's a choice between the economy and public health and he chose the economy and said to states all across this nation, "Reopen the economy right away. We have to get the economy running and that's what we have to do." It was never a choice between reopen the economy or take care of public health. It was never a choice between reopen the economy or have more Americans die. That was never the choice. And the states that made that choice are the states that are now suffering. It was, "Of course reopen. But reopen the economy and be smart about the way you re opening." It wasn't binary. It wasn't just open the floodgates. Everybody go out. No precautions, no data, no monitoring and then you're shocked when you see the infection rate coming through the roof? Everybody warned him. Everyone said, "If you just reopen, you're going to drive that infection rate up and then it's actually going to hurt the economy." And that is what happened.

 

His premise is now the same thing with the schools. "Open those schools. Open those doors." His own CDC puts out guidance on a semi-intelligent way to reopen the schools. He then says, "Don't listen to the CDC. I disagree with them." Oh really? Do you know Mr. President better than your health experts how to protect the health of students? Do you really want to disregard children's safety? Do you really mean that when you say that? And it's not a choice of open the schools or not open the schools. Of course, open the schools. Just like everybody wanted to open the economy, but be smart about it. Look at the health guidance. Make sure children are protected, have precautions, do the testing, monitor what happens. This has been the story throughout this COVID crisis.

 

New York has proven what works. There's no theory here. There's 19 million people. We had the worst situation on the globe and we took certain steps and we know what works because it has been proven in the laboratory called New York and you cannot deny the results. Testing worked. How did we get into a situation where these other states don't have testing in place? It's been seven months. Seven months we've been talking about this. And you have states where people are waiting on line for eight hours, lines miles long to get tested. We talked about overwhelming the hospital capacity. We talked about ventilators. We talked about emergency hospital beds. We talked about that when this first started and now you have states that are saying their ICU beds are filled. Yes, if the infection rate goes through the roof you're going to overwhelm your hospital system. We talked about this months ago. We talked about having contact tracing in place and now there's states saying they don't have contact tracing in place they can't get it together. States are running out of PPE. We talked about PPE six months and planes going to China to pick up masks. We talked about having a phased reopening based on data, monitor, and when you see the data says it's safe, open up a little bit more, do the calibration. And we talked about masks. New York State, first state in the United States to mandate masks.

 

Look at the numbers. The projection model that the White House uses, the Gates funded IMHE model, shows extrapolating from this now increased infection rate an additional 15,000 Americans die by October. An additional 15,000 Americans die than they had projected. Well what changed? The spike in the infection rate changed so when they extrapolate out based on the infection rate increase another 15,000 Americans die.

 

Wear a mask. IHME says 45,0000 more people will die if they don't wear masks. Think about this. If a mask order is not in place, 45,000 more deaths. You're not going to save everyone's life, I get it. I've struggled with it for 130 days, but how can you lost a life when it was totally preventable? Totally preventable. All you had to do was have a mask policy and you save 45,000 people's lives. Why on God's green earth wouldn't you have a mask policy when they are telling you that it works? And that if you don't do it 45,000 more people will die? What has happened to basic common sense in our government leaders? Why wouldn't you? What is it, hubris? That you were against masks and you made them a political symbol? So now you're going to let 45,000 more people die?

 

Look, leadership starts at the top. Sign an executive order, wear a mask, follow the science, follow the data. Stop dividing people. Stop playing politics. Inspire the nation to act as one. I wear a mask for you, you wear a mask for me. That's what you're supposed to do as president, that's what you're supposed to do as a leader. This is not about politics. It's not about who gets elected and who doesn't get elected. This is far more important, this point in history. When they look back at this point in history the decisions we make will determine how many people live and how many people die. That is not being overly dramatic and that's not being rhetorical. These decisions decide how many people live and how many people die. Period.

 

That's why this is more important than any other time that I have been in public service in any other position. Never was it as clear the consequence of government's actions. Never was it as clear how important government is and public service is and the decisions that are made. You're talking about thousands of people's lives. Tens of thousands of lives. That's why I thank God we're in a state that is New York tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving.

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