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Andrew Cuomo New York City New York State

Press conference with New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo (3/29/20)

Before I get into my notes from today’s press conference with New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, I want to talk a little bit about some of the viewer comments that I saw on today’s livestream. There’s a rather vocal group of people online who seem to think that there is not enough being done to “quarantine” New York City. Let me start off by saying that I do understand these people’s concerns, and I agree that people in New York City should stay in New York City for everyone else’s safety. But, I would like to provide you all with some additional context for this situation that will hopefully help you to understand why throwing the word “quarantine” around is not productive.

First of all, we are already just about as “quarantined” in New York City as we can be. Yes, there are still people who are ignoring the social distancing rules at our city parks. But, for the most part, everyone I know is doing their part and staying at home. Asking people to completely shut the city down is simply not feasible in a place like New York City. Our lifestyle is very different from the vast majority of the rest of this country.

We need to keep the trains and buses running because most of the people who live here don’t drive, and we need to maintain ways for essential workers to get to their jobs and for sick people to get to hospitals. We need to leave school buildings open for meal pick ups because we have more than 100,000 homeless children in New York City who will not be able to eat otherwise. We need enrichment centers for the children of essential workers, because where else will they go? We need all of the grocery stores and bodegas to stay open because many of us, again, do not drive and live in walk up apartments that are not conducive to carrying large amounts at one time. We need the laundromats to stay open because many of us do not have the ability to wash larger items at home. We would like outdoor spaces to stay open because we live in tiny apartments and do not have yards. Are you starting to see the picture I’m painting here?

I understand the fear people in the surrounding areas are feeling about this illness. How do you think we feel here? We’ve all read the news stories about people being turned away at the hospitals, nurses using garbage bags as PPE, the long lines outside to be tested for COVID-19, and we have all seen the death toll. Although New Yorkers have a reputation for being tough, the truth is that a lot of us are scared too. We have good reason to be. I am not excusing people who have attempted to flee the city to escape the disease. But, I think you have to understand that we are all afraid in this country right now, and when you throw words like “quarantine” around people automatically start imagining a scenario where we are walled off and left to die. Please try to understand how that sounds from our perspective.

I am particularly disappointed by the negative comments from upstate New Yorkers about New York City. Unfortunately, what’s happening to us in the city will happen to people upstate soon too. I can certainly understand why some people blame us downstaters for this, but blaming us will not change the inevitable. Thankfully for the upstaters, they are projected to hit the apex of their infection curve after us in the city. That means they will be able to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully they will be able to benefit from some of the resources we have gathered when our curve starts to slope downwards. Upstate New York is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and I would never speak ill of upstaters the way some of them have spoken about us. We are all one state. Let’s please try to remember that and all be New York strong together.

And now, on to the notes!

ANDREW CUOMO

  • The trajectory of new cases in New York continues to climb.
  • Local health providers should be monitoring what’s going in their own area, as different areas will peak at different times. This is what’s known as a “rolling apex”.
  • The curve will hit at different times depending on when it started and the rate of spread in that particular community.
  • This is true all across the country.
  • This rolling apex will happen all across the state of New York.
  • New York City is expected to hit our apex first, followed by Westchester or Long Island, and then upstate New York.
  • For a local health system, this situation is a new challenge. In most places, you have a public hospital system, a private hospital system, or possibly a voluntary hospital system, and these different types of hospital systems do not really interact with one another. There’s also not much interaction between the hospitals within each system. We have to change that mentality, and change it quickly.
  • QUOTE: “No hospital is an island.”
  • He says we need a new culture of hospitals working with one another.
  • QUOTE: “There is an artificial wall almost between [public and private hospital] systems right now. That wall has to come down.”
  • Everyone must help everyone else.
  • Elmhurst Hospital is still under very intense stress.
  • There are 11 Health And Hospital public hospitals in the New York City system.
  • PERSONAL NOTE: I am a longtime patient at Bellevue, which is one of the eleven hospitals mentioned in this system. For those of you who live outside of NYC and associate Bellevue with mental hospitals, yes, it does have a well known psychiatric ward. But, it is also a world class regular hospital. I have two chronic medical conditions; high blood pressure and polycystic ovarian syndrome. I take medication for both of them (although the medication for PCOS is only taken under certain circumstances). They have taken care of me when I was broke, while I have been uninsured, and they saved my life when I nearly died from a viral infection in my 20s. Our public hospital system in New York City is something I am incredibly grateful for, and that I know will fight for our lives now with everything they have. The people who work in our public system are actual saints, and I am praying for them everyday. There are not enough words in the world to say how proud I am of these people. They are truly the best of us.
  • Our 11 public hospitals will need to work together like never before. He says he will speak to Mayor De Blasio about improving communication.
  • He will also be meeting with the leaders of private hospitals tomorrow to talk about how they can all integrate together.
  • The state’s role is to help coordinate all of this.
  • The hope is that we can take advantage of the projected rolling curve and ask upstate hospitals to help relieve downstate hospitals in the beginning, and then ask downstate to do the same for upstate as curves make their way around the state.
  • The New York PAUSE system (Policy, Assure, Uniform, Safety, Everyone) will be extended until April 15th. This is the executive order that commands the state wide shut down. So hold onto your butts, y’all! We’re staying put for at least two more weeks!
  • PERSONAL NOTE: Yesterday, I listed the timelines for the lockdowns in other heavily impacted areas. I think it’s safe to assume that New York City will end up looking at a two month shut down based on those timelines. We’ve already been shut down for a week. So, I would say to expect about seven more weeks of this. That is just my opinion! But, I’m basing it off of what we saw in Wuhan, and what’s being projected for Italy.
  • The New York State Department Of Health has developed a less intrusive saliva and short nasal swab test.
  • This new test can be self-administered in the presence of healthcare workers, and it uses less PPE.
  • Healthcare workers can self-administer this test, and it will help limit their exposure to the virus.
  • This new test will start as soon as next week.
  • When is it over? He says when we come up with an inexpensive at home test that can be brought to volume, that’s when we’ll probably see a return to normalcy in the workforce.
  • I wouldn’t bet on that time being soon.
  • The USNS Comfort will arrive tomorrow, with fresh supplies and staff. It will not be for COVID-19 patients. But, it will handle all of the other medical problems that require urgent care.
  • Our current stockpile includes 2.5 million N95 masks, 6 million surgical masks, 2.7 million exam gloves, 500,000 protective gowns and coveralls, and 300,000 face shields.
  • They are currently distributing 625,000 N95 masks, 1.5 million surgical masks, 600,000 exam gloves, 200,000 protective gowns and coveralls, and 65,000 face shields.
  • They have a purchasing team that is working 7 days a week to get more medical equipment, but it’s difficult because we are bidding against all the other states. But, we are making progress.
  • Finding staff is going very well. We now have 76,019 medical professionals who have volunteered to help. Roughly half of those volunteers are some kind of physician, and the other half of various kinds of nurses.
  • So far, 172, 360 people have been tested for COVID-19 in New York. Of that number, 16,390 are new tests.
  • So far, 59,513 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in New York, Of that number, 7,195 are new positives.
  • New York City has had 33,768 positives so far. Of that number, 4,002 are new positives.
  • There are now only two counties in the state of New York reporting no cases of the illness.
  • There are currently 8,503 people hospitalized in New York. 2,037 of them are ICU patients.
  • So far, 3,572 people have been discharged. Yay!
  • 846 people were discharged from the hospital yesterday. YASSS!
  • At the time of the press conference, there have been 965 deaths in New York. That number is up from 728 yesterday. I will do the math for you, and tell you that means that 237 people died from COVID-19 in the state of New York yesterday.
  • We are still the most impacted state.
  • Rounding out the top five most impacted states, we have New Jersey (11,124 cases and 140 deaths), California (5,565 cases and 121 deaths), Michigan (4,635 cases and 111 deaths), and Washington (4,311 cases and 191 deaths).
  • The number of hospitalizations went up yesterday to 1,175.
  • These daily numbers vary because of many factors, so looking at one day in specific is not always all that meaningful.
  • Our rate of hospitalizations is now doubling every six days, which is a slower pace than where we were a week ago.
  •  ICU admissions also went up yesterday. We had 282 ICU admissions yesterday.
  • The number of people who were intubated went down yesterday to 165. They don’t normally run this chart, but for context purposes I will tell you that the highest number on this chart so far was two days ago at 290 people.
  • More people were discharged yesterday than any day before. YASSS!
  • For perspective, 679,977 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since this all began.
  • He speaks now about some of the fallen, and now I’m crying again.
  • Detective Cedric Dixon was 48 years old. He worked in the 32nd precinct in Harlem, and was a 23 veteran on the force. He could have retired, but he stayed on as a service to his city.
  • Kious Kelly was also 48 years old. He was the Assistant Nurse Manager at Mt. Sinai West.
  • Governor Cuomo says he is at a loss for words, and so he has chosen this FDR quote to speak for him. It says “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
  • The president and the CDC ordered a travel advisory for people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This happened last night.
  • This advisory is NOT a lockdown or a quarantine.
  • It is basically what we’ve already been doing. Nonessential people should stay at home.
  • He says he supports what the president did because it affirms what we have already been doing.
  • Yesterday the completely insignificant state of Rhode Island issued an executive order directing police officers to stop anyone with New York plates at the border for mandatory quarantine. That executive order has been repealed.
  • We thank them for coming to their damn senses about this.
  • QUOTE: “this is disorienting. It’s frightening. It’s disturbing. Your whole life is turned upside down overnight. To be the best you can, find a way to create some joy.”
  • He says that his idea is to have a family day. He talks about his big Italian family gathering for spaghetti and meatballs, and now I’m hungry. He reminds us all that we can do this over skype, or through facetime, and that it’s still special even if it’s different than we’re used to.
  • His story about his kids not trusting his food because they knew he couldn’t cook is the story of my life. When he said “so we got chinese food afterwards” I just about died. Haha, SAME! We are the same, Governor Cuomo! Lol
  • He says “I know we feel we are under attack”.
  • PERSONAL OPINION:People have been coming for us who were not sent for, LOOKING DIRECTLY AT YOU RHODE ISLAND. But, this is New York. We specialize in strength, stamina, and stability. We don’t care about the opinions of haters. We’re not going to brick off New York City, so to all of you out there who are rooting for this to be a disaster movie, you can go shave your backs now. Thanks.
  • QUOTE: “I can’t sit here and say you’re not going to see people pass away. You will. That is the nature of what we’re dealing with, and that’s beyond any of our control. But, New York is going to have what it needs, and NO ONE is going to attack New York unfairly. And NO ONE is going to deprive New York of what it needs.”
  • QUOTE: “There is no state in the nation that is better prepared, or better mobilized than what we’re doing.”
  • EXCELSIOR – “EVER UPWARDS!” (For those that don’t know, this is our state motto)
  • E PLURIBUS UNUM – “Out of many, one” UNITY.
  • “If you put those two things together, it says it all.
  • QUOTE: “If you remember nothing else when I’m gone, if you walk up to the box and have nothing else to remember… Excelsior. You can be better. It will be better. We can make it better. E pluribus unum. We make it better together. That’s it. And that’s what we’re doing.

QUESTIONS

  • QUESTION: When will you start admitting patients to Javits?
  • CUOMO: This week. Remember that we are assembling supplies for the apex, so the idea is that it will be ready for the apex.
  • QUESTION: This shutdown will affect Easter and other religious holidays. What do you say to families about that?
  • CUOMO: He says it’s hard. But, guys… I’m going to just give my personal opinion here and say it’s really not that hard. It’s one easter. God will forgive you if you worship at home. I’m fairly certain a compassionate god would prefer that we take care of our community and reduce the spread of this illness than that we pack into churches and cause more deaths. Cuomo reminds people that the outbreak in New Rochelle was made worse by a religious gathering.
  • CUOMO: By the way, the first COVID patient in New Rochelle is now out of the hospital.
  • QUESTION: Have you spoken to the governor of Rhode Island, and how did you convince her to rescind her executive order?
  • CUOMO: He spoke to her yesterday, and says that he did believe the order was legal or “neighborly”. He said she was receptive to his message and he thanks her for changing her mind.
  • QUESTION: There have been 237 deaths in the last 24 hours, 222 of which were in New York City, do you have any idea what the apex of this might look like in terms of lives lost?
  • DR. ZUCKER: We are already at 965 deaths, so it does seem the deaths will be in the thousands. But, again, these are models and the numbers could change.
  • QUESTION: But, in terms of what you expect to see each day, are we talking about hundreds?
  • DR. ZUCKER: 80% of people who get this illness will recover on their own. The number of people who end up dying is currently hovering at about 1%. So, it depends on how many new cases we see.
  • CUOMO: My opinion is that there’s no way you can look at those numbers and conclude anything other than that thousands of people will pass away.
  • QUESTION: As of Friday, nursing home residents accounted for about ¼ of all the coronavirus deaths in New York, is there anything more you can do to prevent that.
  • CUOMO: Says that coronavirus in a nursing home is a toxic combination. They are no longer allowing visitors in nursing homes, and they are testing staff before letting them in to work. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything else that can be done.
  • QUESTION: What numbers are you looking at to get these data projections?
  • DR. ZUCKER: All of them.
  • CUOMO: You asked about the testing numbers, but I wouldn’t give too much weight to the testing numbers because the people we’re testing are not random. We’re testing people who we already suspect have the virus. And we don’t do the projections ourselves. We have professional firms doing this for us.
  • PERSONAL NOTE: This is a good time to talk about a huge misconception I have been seeing a lot online. People seem to think that because we have done the most testing, that means we are testing everyone. We are not. We are using the same standards as most other states and only testing people with symptoms, and I have heard from friends that it’s hard to get the test even if you are symptomatic. No one is inflating these numbers. We just sincerely have a lot of sick people here. If you are reading this from another state, please understand that the number of people who have the virus here is almost assuredly higher than what we are reporting!
  • QUESTION: Florida has apparently placed a similar ban on New Yorkers coming to the state, similar to what Rhode Island did yesterday. Do you have any comments on that?
  • CUOMO: I don’t know what they’re doing in Florida, but I will look into it.
  • WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID: Oh, so they refused to cancel spring break or close their beaches, yet are surprised they are now having a coronavirus outbreak? Oh, ok. But, now that you already have the virus, you want to ban New Yorkers? Oh. I’m just saying, there’s a reason why your state is a national punchline, Florida. Next!
  • QUESTION: Do you get crime reports? Has domestic violence gone up? What are you doing for the city’s mental health?
  • JIM MALATRAS: We have a hotline people can call to receive free mental health assistance during this time. We are also tracking reported crimes. It’s tough to tell if there’s been any increase in domestic health issues.
  • DR. ZUCKER: We’re working with people all across the state to address the state’s mental health needs.
  • QUESTION: We had ample warning about coronavirus before this became an emergency situation. Why didn’t you shut the state down sooner?
  • CUOMO: We were one of the first to shut our state down. We wanted to do it in a way that didn’t create more panic.
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “We’re fighting two things. You’re fighting the virus, and you’re fighting the fear. I can’t tell you how many people called all night long about the mandatory quarantine comment that the president made as he was getting into a helicopter, which was inconclusive, by the way. Even if you heard his comment, it was not conclusive in his comment. But, people are so on edge… I mean, it really panicked people. They were gonna leave the city last night. It was really… so you need to manage that fear and that panic, and you also need to deal with the virus.”
  • PERSONAL NOTE: California did beat us to shutting down their state by a few days.
  • CUOMO: He says that he does not want to use the term “shelter in place” for what we are doing because it is usually used to describe sheltering in a very guarded room to protect from bombings or an active shooter, and he felt that using that term would only add to people’s panic.
  • QUESTION: Do you regret not closing the state down sooner?
  • CUOMO: We had one of the most dramatic reactions at the first point in all this. So, that answer is basically no.
  • QUESTION: Do you know how many frontline medical providers now have the virus in New York?
  • CUOMO: We don’t have statistics on that.
  • QUESTION: Senator Schumer says that you have flatly rejected 5 billion dollars in coronavirus medicaid funding for New Yorkers because you’re not willing to delay the medicaid reforms until the federal funding runs out. He says you’re hurting local government at this time, what is your response?
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “Well, I would say to senator Schumer, it would be nice if he would pass a piece of legislation that actually helped the state of New York.”
  • PERSONAL NOTE: SHOTS FIRED FROM ALBANY!!!!
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “The piece of legislation he passed stopped the state from a process that was happening for six months that was redesigning the medicaid program to make it more efficient and more effective. It was called the medicaid redesign team. I announced it back in January. It’s the second time we did it. And it takes waste and fraud, and inefficiency out of the system. And that was going on since January. The legislation he passed said you can’t redesign medicaid. For what reason I have NO IDEA. So, it disqualified this state from funding, and he knew that when he passed it.”
  • QUESTION: But you have a choice, you can either take the additional 6 billion in emergency funds and pause the MRT, which is worth 2.5 billion, or… it sounds like you’re not taking the 6 billion so you can push ahead with the MRT.
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “Yeah, I have no choice. Because- I’ll tell you. 2.5 billion per year recurring is worth more than a 6 billion one shot. I’d rather have 2.5, 2.5, 2.5 than 6 billion today. And I called every congressional representative and told them why would you want to stop a medicaid redesign that’s been going on since January? I don’t know what they’re political calculus was, but that’s all it was. It was political calculus.”
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “It was a state passed medicaid redesign effort. Why would you ever want to stop that? I don’t know whose politics they’re playing.”
  • QUESTION: Why not take the upfront money now, and redesign medicaid next year?
  • ROBERT MUJICA: QUOTE: “The numbers here are important. The 6 billion dollar number? We can’t get to the 6 billion dollar number no matter how you estimate those numbers, so probably it’s closer to about 4 billion dollars, and that assumes that the emergency is in place for a full year. There’s nothing in that bill that says that it will last for a year. In fact, it will end as soon as the president declares the emergency is over, and that can happen at any time. So, that 4 billion dollar number also is reduced. If it’s half a year, it’s only 2 billion. Then a significant portion of that money doesn’t come to the state. It went to local governments. So, you’re left with a number that’s under 2 billion dollars, potentially. If, at most, which then you’re basically saying take a one shot of these funds, don’t reform the medicaid system and spend that money inefficiently on a system that unanimously everyone understood was not working properly and was wasting the money. So, the choice is really waste the money that way, or do a bill that actually provides funding to New York State. That bill doesn’t even give us a fraction of the amount of money that is needed.”
  • PERSONAL NOTE: Did y’all catch that? What a mess.
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “Just, so you have a fact. It’s 2 billion. Take 2 billion for sure, right? Door A, door B. Take door A, and you get 2 billion for sure, or door B for 2.6 billion. I pick the door with 2.6 billion.”
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “The real question is to me, why would you do that to the state of New York? Why would you say ‘stop a medicaid redesign’ that saves taxpayers money, that has to be passed by the assembly, and has to be passed by the senate? Why would a federal government say ‘I’m gonna trample the state’s right to redesign its medicaid program that it runs’??? That saves money! Who… What… What is…? I don’t even know what the political interest is that they’re trying to protect.”
  • CUOMO:  QUOTE “Second, the problem with the budget is the numbers. Why? Because the federal government… what we just talked about was in the previous bill. Two bills ago. The bill that JUST PASSED, we get 1.9% of our state budget. About 5 billion dollars, which is 1.9% of our budget, only to use for coronavirus expenses. Ok? 5 billion dollars. 1.5% of our budget. Only for coronavirus expenses. First point, you have states that got 10% of their budget, 20% of their budget, in coronavirus expenses, that don’t even have coronavirus cases! You have some states that have four cases. We have more cases than anyone else. We got the lowest level of reimbursement in the bill. What happened to funding need? Second, the federal bill had NO FUNDING for the fact that states have lost revenue. And speaker Pelosi, god bless her, was asked today, how about Governor Cuomo’s point that it didn’t do anything to help the states? And the speaker basically said, yeah, we have to come back and pass another bill. So, we have a 10 billion dollar, 15 billion dollar revenue hole that the federal government did NOTHING to help on. Now, I have to do a state budget.”
  • CUOMO: The budget is due next week, and now we will have to make drastic cuts to the budget like you have never seen before.
  • QUESTION: On the issue of the travel advisory, what do you envision as essential travel? And does this mean you don’t want people coming in to New York to do business?
  • CUOMO: It’s the same definition as what it’s always been in New York. We only want essential workers traveling.
  • QUESTION: What would be the impact of MRT cuts during a public health crisis?
  • CUOMO: We do have healthcare funding. The federal government did provide 5 billion dollars in the bill for coronavirus expenses. But, every hospital now has coronavirus expenses. The budgeting problem is not funding healthcare, it’s funding the schools. The schools are where we have zero dollars.
  • QUESTION: Could we do short term borrowing?
  • ROBERT MUJICA: The issue is that we won’t have any revenue coming in for the first quarter because taxes have been delayed, so we will have to shift resources in order to bridge the gap. We will do short term borrowing, but we will still have a 10 billion dollar revenue shortfall.
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “When you have that big a hole that has to be closed, there’s two things you can do. You can sort of paper over it and come up with expectations. Well, we believe the next federal bill will actually deliver money to the state of New York. Yeah, you could say that. And you could say that I believe that Santa Claus is real. You know. But, I’m not comfortable doing that. Especially since the federal government just passed the bill, and that’s what we were just hoping for, and the federal government just did the exact opposite and handed us a goose egg. Uh, well we expect the economy is gonna rebound in nine months, and that it’s gonna be what they call the V curve. It’s gonna be a quick down, it’s gonna be a quick up, so all those revenues are gonna keep flooding back so we’re gonna be fine. That’s another way of papering over the hole. I don’t want to do that either. Because I don’t believe it. And I don’t believe anyone’s gonna believe it. And I don’t believe credit agencies are gonna believe it. And I believe postponing a problem, in government, in life, you just make it worse. You just make it worse. Let’s not deceive ourselves. You’re not gonna get saved by the federal government. If they were going to do it, they would have done it. They played the wrong politics. SHOCKER.”
  • QUESTION: Will there be any policy issues done with the budget?
  • CUOMO: The same policy issues we’ve been discussing all along. The main policy objections are to a bill that would is meant to fight against anti-semitism. He thinks it would be a mistake not to address anti-semitism in the state and address “domestic terrorism”.
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “It’s repugnant to the concept of New York and America to attack someone based on their race, color, creed. If you kill someone in an attempt to kill several people based on their race, color or creed, how is that not a terrorist act?”
  • CUOMO: They don’t want to pass that bill, and they don’t want to pass a surrogacy bill that would allow LGTBQ couples to have a biological child. He says this is “wholly ironic” to him, since New York was the first state to pass marriage equality. He says now we are telling those same couples they can’t have kids, and that makes no sense to him.

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