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NY Governor Cuomo Gives Updates On Coronavirus Response; NYC Governor: Numbers Of Ill To Spike Higher & Sooner Than Thought. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 24, 2020 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And it's the people who are running the grocery stores and the pharmacies and providing all those essential services.

Most of us are in our home hunkered down, worried. They're worried and they're going out there every day despite their fear. Despite their fear. Overcoming their fear. And not for their family, they're doing it for your family. When you see them on the street, when you see them in a hospital, please, just say thank you and smile and say, I know what you're doing.

What happens, all these facts, all these numbers, am I strong in my language vis-a-vis the federal government. Yes, I am. But what happens at the end of the day? What does it all mean? That's what people want to know. What does it all mean?

What it all means is what we said it all means the first day this started. The first day I went before the people of New York State and I said, I'm going to tell you the truth, I'm going to tell you the facts the way I know it. Those facts have not changed. Those facts are not going to change.

This is not a new situation. We've watched this through China. There are hundreds of thousands of cases. And 80 percent will self-resolve. That's why experts say to me, tens of thousands or hundreds or thousands of people have had the virus, didn't know they had it and resolved.

That's why we have to get that test that shows you had the virus because you have the antibodies. And you did resolve. And once we do that, that's how you get the economy back to work. That's how you get the backup health care workers.

But 80 percent are going to self-resolve. And 0 percent are going to need hospitals. It's not about that. It's about a very small group of people in this population who are the most vulnerable.

They are older. They have compromised immune systems. They are HIV positive or they have emphysema or they have an underlying heart condition or they have bad asthma or they're recovering from cancer. Those are the people who are going to be vulnerable to the mortality of this disease. And it is only 1 percent or 2 percent of the population.

But then why all of this? Because it's one percent or two percent of the population. It's lives. It's grandmothers and grandfathers and sisters and brothers.

And you start to see the cases on TV. It's a 40-year-old woman who recovered from breast cancer but had a compromised immune system and four children at home.

That's what this is about. It's about a vulnerable population.

I called the executive order that I passed Matilda's Law. My mother. It's about my mother. It's about my mother. It's about your mother. It's about your loved one. And we will do anything we can to make sure that they are protected.

Again, keeping it in perspective, Johns Hopkins, 387,000 cases studied, 16,000 deaths on 387,000, 100,000 recoveries worldwide, 268,000 pending.

Last point, it is about the vulnerable. It's not about 95 percent of us. It's about a few percent who are vulnerable. That's all this is about. Bring down that anxiety, bring down that fear, bring down that paranoia. It's not about 95 percent of us.

And we're going to get through it because we are New York and because we've dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart. You have to be smart to make it in New York. And we are resourceful. And we are showing how resourceful we are.

And because we are united. And when you are united, there's nothing you can't do. And because we are New York tough -- we are tough. You have to be tough. This place makes you tough. But it makes you tough in a good way.

We're going to make it because I love New York. And I love New York because New York loves you. New York loves all of you. Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight. New York loves everyone. That's why I love New York. It always has. It always will.

[11:35:19]

And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.

Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The Javits Center, is it going to be used for the coronavirus or will it be used for overflow not connected to the virus?

CUOMO: The preliminary plan, Zach, is it will backfill hospitals. You take the situation we're looking at, we need ventilators, we need ICU beds. Those can only really be created in a hospital.

But then you have to move people out of a hospital. Where do you put them? This facility, 1,000 beds, can backfill from a hospital. This facility also has acute care capacity.

But we're not anticipating that we do acute care here. We're anticipating that it's a backfill for the hospital beds.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The president yesterday kind of hinted at this and you alluded to it, but he was saying the older Americans are expendable to get the economy back up and running.

CUOMO: My mother is not expendable. And your mother is not expendable. And our brothers and sisters are not expendable. And we're not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable. And we're not going to put a dollar figure on human life.

The first order of business is save lives, period. Whatever it costs.

Now, I also don't believe it's an either/or. I believe you can have an intelligent, refined public-health strategy. You talk about risk stratification.

You can have people go to work. You can test people and find out they are resolved from the virus and let them go back to work. You can have younger people go back to work. You can have an economic startup strategy that is consistent with the public-health strategy.

It's smart, it's complicated, it's sophisticated, but that's what government is supposed to do, right? That whole concept of develop government policy and program. You can do both. But not in a clumsy, ham-handed way.

Well, we'll just sacrifice the old people. They're old, anyway. And the old get left behind. What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection?

You can't keep up, so the band is going to leave you behind. We're going to move on. And if you can't keep up, well, then you just fall by the wayside of life. God forbid.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I notice you didn't mention President Trump by name today. You mentioned the federal government. You mentioned Dr. Azar. They are telling them not to do this, that they've got their own supply chain.

CUOMO: Yes. Yes. People say, people say, people say, politicians say. I look at actions, not words.

They're doing the supplies? Here's my question. Where are they? Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where's the PPEs? Where are the masks? Where are they? Where are they if they're doing it?

By the way, Peter Navarro, well, we want to work with companies. Fine, work with companies. What the Defense Procurement Act was about, the country needed

materials to go to war. When we went to war, we didn't say, any company out there want to build a battleship? Who wants to build a battleship? Maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build a battleship. Maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build us some missiles, maybe, you think? Anybody want to build a plane? Anybody want to do that? That's not how you did it.

[11:40:05]

The president said it's a war, it is a war. Then act like it's a war. It is not anti-business. Nobody is talking about change the governmental philosophy.

By the way, the businesses would welcome it. I speak to the businesses. You know what they say? I'll do it but I need start-up capital. I can't turn my factory overnight into a ventilator manufacturing company. I have to buy equipment. I have to find personnel. I have to have the start-up capital. Will you give me the start-up capital? Will you give me an offer that says, if I make these, you will buy X number of units?

It's a pro-business mentality, not an anti-business mentality. This is a false distinction.

Well, we don't want to tell business what to do. That's our philosophy. We don't want to tell business what to do.

Do you know what business wants? They want to make money. That's what they want. They want to put people to work. They want to open their factory. They want to make money. Let them open their factory and make money. Help them do that by ordering the supplies you need.

It's a war. You're right. Say, Zach, you're building battleships. Here's your contract, god bless you. That's what the Defense Procurement Act was all about.

And at the rate they are going, it is not happening. FEMA says, we're sending 400 ventilators. Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: You have to ask the federal government. What do I know?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I don't know. Their answer is, we don't need to do it because companies are coming forward who want to do it.

By the way, I am sure that is true. It's just the timeline doesn't work. I don't need ventilators in six months. And I don't need ventilators in five months, four months or three months. And by the way, California is not going to need ventilators in six

months. It is now.

So you're asking a business to produce what is a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment, a ventilator, and to do it in 14 days. That is an enormous undertaking. They can't do that on a voluntary basis.

If you use the Defense Procurement Act, then you say, I'll pay for it. I'll give you the start-up capital. I'll fund you buying the equipment. I'll fund you hiring workers. Otherwise, it doesn't work on a normal business timetable.

And the businesses want to know, look, if I go through all of this, somebody has to buy 40,000 ventilators. You know, a ventilator is, on average, $20,000, $25,000 per ventilator. This is an expensive item. Nobody is going to build 40,000 ventilators unless they know someone is buying 40,000 ventilators.

And that's what the federal government can give them with the DPA. I buy 40,000 ventilators. Caveat. They have to be here in 21 days.

Then use them here. We hit the apex first. I will transport them to anywhere you want in the country. I'm not asking, are you going to give us 40,000 ventilators? Address the curve here and then that curve is going to be going all across country.

You hear what I'm saying here today? You're going to have the governor of California several weeks from now saying the same thing. You're going to have the governor of Illinois saying the same thing, the governor of the state of Washington saying the same thing. Do it right here.

We're just the first case. We're just the first template. Do it right here and then we'll move the goods. I'll move the professionals. I'll move the doctors and the nurses who can say, we can teach you how to do this because we went through it. We saw this in New York.

We can actually help one another. That's smart. That's right. That's the American way.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

[11:45:17]

CUOMO: I spoke to the mayor this morning. I spoke to the mayor yesterday. Whatever need he has, we'll figure out how to address. You have a lot of situations that are developing here that just nobody -- no one could have expected, right? These are uncharted waters for all of us.

But that's why I said resourceful, smart. We're quick on our feet. We're agile. What's the problem? We'll figure it out how to do it. We'll do it together.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: I haven't even thought about it, Zach.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This facility of 1,000 or 2,000 beds -- (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Multi-part question. There are two different types of facilities here. One is an emergency hospital, four separate components, 250 each equaling 1,000 in an emergency hospital. That could be used for acute care.

There's a second facility, if you will, which is 1,000 beds. It's a lower level of medical care for people who don't need as intense service.

But let me ask the generals -- do you want to comment on that, Pat, or General Shields?

UNIDENTIFIED GENERAL: What the governor provided was exactly what it is, is the first -- (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Your mic.

UNIDENTIFIED GENERAL: The first phase of the buildout is a thousand beds from Health and Human Services. It comes in with a kit, we lay medical professionals on top of that.

We go to phase two. We continue to build bed capacity so we can provide a little higher level of care potentially as we move forward, but we have an immediate level.

Then there's a third phase that we continue to build out beds in the facility to get to the capacity that the governor is getting after, which does not address the entire number but starts in that path and then the other strategy is to go along with it.

So we expect in the end to be above 2,000, but the basic number is 1,000 and 1,000, and we're working toward being above that number by the time we are done dressing it out.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes, let me --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: The hospital -- give me a second. The hospital will be staffed by federal medical personnel for the 250-bed -- four 250-bed facilities, about 320 medical, federal personnel. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We started the smart way by getting younger

people tested with the antibodies out in the work force. How soon can that test with the antibodies be used on that scale?

CUOMO: They're working on it now. I don't have a hard answer. They're working on it now, they're developing it. It's a fairly simple test. I'm not a medical -- it's only testing your blood for those antibodies, right? It's a fairly simple test. I don't have an answer but I can get you an estimate.

Because these all come back to the same point. The reason I've always said to New Yorkers, relax, is because this is not a major issue for 96, 97, 98 percent of the population. It's only those vulnerable people, 1 to 2 percent of the population.

This conversation about the economy, your question, blunt and jarring in its bluntness, well, if we're only talking about 1 or 2 percent of the population, and they're old and they're vulnerable and they're sick, anyway, well, then why stop the economy? How much are we paying for this 1 or 2 percent? They're old, they're vulnerable, they're going to die, anyway. Why stop the train for the 1 or 2 percent?

It's the same point I've been saying on 90 percent of the people are going to be fine. Don't worry unless you're in that vulnerable category and then a high level of precaution.

But we're not willing to sacrifice that 1 or 2 percent. We're not willing to do that. That is not who we are. It's not what we are. It's not what we believe.

[11:50:09]

We are going to fight every way we can to save every life that we can. Because that's what I think it means to be an American. I know that's what it means to be a New Yorker. I am not going to leave any stone unturned until we can make sure everyone is protected.

That's what I was trying to communicate by calling Matilda's Law, right? That's why I gave it my mother's name. She doesn't want me to give it my mother's name.

But I wanted to personalize it for people. That's what we are talking about. It is only 1 percent or 2 percent. Don't worry, go live your life. It's only the 1 or 2 percent. But the 1 percent or 2 percent is Matilda and Sally and James and Sarah and your uncle and my uncle and they are precious. I am not giving up. I am not giving up.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: No, look, if lightning strikes -- first of all, I agree with the president, try everything you can, I agree. He said he heard good thing about that drug combination. I said so had I. I said send to me and I will use it first. As soon as you send it to me, I will use it. He sends it to me and I am using it today. Not plastic. If it works, great. Great. Great.

CUOMO: But we're talking about two weeks here. If it does not work -- and by the way even if it does work, you are still going to need the beds for people to be on ventilators while you give them the drug even if it turns out that it whines up saving their lives. You don't get around needing the hospital beds and needing the ventilators.

I have to go to work, guys. Thank you very much, thank you.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You were listening to Democratic governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.

I am John King, in Washington.

A mocking, scathing, biting, disdainful, highly critical of the federal response broadside today from the governor of New York today, Andrew Cuomo. He says his state has more cases than anticipated, peaking at 140,000. He believes that apex could be two weeks ago. He says he needs thousands of ventilators. Mocking the federal government for promising to send several hundred.

Let's continue the conversation. A number of broad charges by the governor. CNN's Kristen Holmes is with us and CNN's John Harwood is at the White

House. We are joined by CNN's Jeff Zeleny, our business anchor, Julia Chatterley, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

John, I want to start with you.

The governor tries to balance his criticism with some praise to the government. I would call it 90 percent criticism. Saying New Yorkers are going to die if the federal government does not stop being flat footed in his positive. He says 20,000 ventilators in a federal stockpile. He says send them to New York now so he can save lives and move it somewhere else later. Scathing from the governor.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, we've seen in the last few days that we have a president who waivers under pressure, whether pressure from the stock market, his poll numbers, from businesspeople he talks to.

We have just seen what today's pressure point is. Yesterday, we saw the president giving encouragement for business leaders saying it is not going to go on too long, we are going to restart the economy.

That's a powerful push back from Andrew Cuomo, done carefully, without saying the president's name trying to indicate he has worked cooperatively with the president on this potential trial, therapeutic treatment that he talked about at the end of the news conference.

But a powerful statement that we are not going to leave behind 1 percent or 2 percent of the people who are vulnerable.

And it is not only a partisan message, John. We have seen it in a different way earlier today from Liz Cheney, sending out a tweet saying, there's no normally functioning economy returning to if thousands of Americans lay dying in overwhelmed health care system, overwhelmed hospitals.

So we know the president has been paying attention to Andrew Cuomo briefings. He's going to do a townhall with FOX this afternoon. Let's see what his tone is today in response to that pressure.

[11:55:04]

KING: Kristin Holmes, one of the pressures from Governor Cuomo has been use the Defense Production Act, order factories, give them a contract, tell them to produce masks and ventilators and other desperately needed equipment. He said it, quote, "was explicable to me that the federal governor would not move more quickly on that.

This morning, on CNN, the FEMA director said they were going to do that but there was push back from the White House. This has been days and days of contradictions and mixed signals about whether the president is going to invoke the authorities but he has not used it yet.

Where are we at this moment?

KRISTIN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, where we are is this is a complete mess. Just to note, President Trump, at 8:00 a.m. this morning, tweeting that he has not had to use the Defense Product Act because everyone is volunteering. It was three minutes later that the FEMA director said he was going to use it and they're going to take over this part of the allocation part.

I kind of want to break down what that means. Well, according to the White House and the Defense Production Act, there are several parts of it. President Trump himself is only talking about the manufacturing piece. He's saying he does not need these companies to take over to make these goods because they are volunteering.

There's a whole other section here that's not talked about, which is the allocation. That's what these governors need. Right now, they need the federal government to come in and take control of the supply chain. They need to have the government deciding who gets what and when and how to prioritize in terms of who needs the most. Right now, they're not doing that.

Essentially, you have 50 states who are competing not only with themselves but they're competing with the federal government and international sources who are trying to get these medical supplies themselves. In some cases they're competing with their own hospitals who are trying to get this. There's no real rhythm here and that's what these governors are asking for.

Again, it just seems to be more and more a mess out of the White House's conflicting narrative.

We have to say, even when we ask them specific questions about it, there does not seem to be any real answer. It seems they are going back and forth. Just a reminder, John, the business community pushed back very hard

when President Trump invoked it. That's why you saw that tweet afterwards saying that while he invoked it and was not going to use it. That's something we have to keep in mind moving forward.

KING: Dr. Jha, one of the things the governor said, New York now has the most cases. He says 10 times almost the number in California. He says we're the canary in the coal mine. Is he right? Is New York unique? Their high spike in cases? Or is he right, are we going to see a spike in other places as well?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: John, there's no doubt about it. We'll see this in other places around the country. Cities are going to be hit first. Then we'll see it in suburbs and rural areas. This is not a virus that respects national boundaries and state boundaries.

If we can't get New York though this, it portends bad news for the rest of the country. We have to rally New York but understand there's other places that will be next. I can't predict which ones. I believe California and Washington. Florida, I am deeply worried about. They are not on the list. Arizona has a large proportion of older people. We've got a challenge.

KING: We do have a challenge ahead.

Julia Chatterley, quickly for me, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leaders, says they're on the two-yard line -- yesterday it was the five-yard line -- on the stimulus plan. Financial markets are desperate to see Washington is committed to helping.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely. This is crucial. What we are seeing is a vacuum in national leadership, which is about what we're seeing with gains going on in states and beyond.

Which is the interesting point that Governor Cuomo made about a staggering reopening of the economy here. The public needs coordination and focused leadership. We don't have that from now. Until we get that, we need Congress to act to bridge this financial gap we're seeing and relieve some of the immediate pain.

KING: On that issue, the governor said yesterday the president needs to be able to do that but he said it was clumsy and ham-handed.

Our coverage continues in just a moment.