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CNN NEWSROOM

NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 25, 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): If we take all the state dormitories in downstate New York, that could get us an additional 29,000 beds. We would be at 119,000 beds that you need. You're still not at the 140,000 that you need. But then we're looking at hotels, we're looking at former nursing homes, converting other facilities to make up the differential.

So a lot creative, aggressive. But, in life, you do what you have to do. And that's what we're doing on the bed capacity.

Protective equipment, we have been shopping around the world. We have a whole team that's doing it. Right now, we have enough protective equipment, gloves, masks, gowns, for all the hospital state-wide that are dealing with it. I brought a shipment down to New York yesterday.

Today, no hospital, no nurse, no doctor can say legitimately, I don't have protective equipment. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, we have a supply.

We do not yet have secured a supply for three weeks from now, four weeks from now, five weeks from now, but we are still shopping. And taking care of this immediate need was also good news, and a good job by the team. And again, we're still shopping for more equipment.

Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. We need 30,000. We have in the existing hospital system 4,000 ventilators. This is just in the normal operation of hospitals, et cetera. We have purchased 7,000. And we are still shopping. Federal government has sent 4,000.

We're exploring splitting, where one ventilator could do two patients. Italy has had to do this because they were forced to do it. I want to see if we can study it and do it a little smarter and have a little more time experimenting with it, but we're looking at splitting the ventilators.

We're still working with the federal government to try to find more ventilators. But that is our single greatest challenge, are the ventilators.

Again, the ICU beds, that really means a ventilated bed because, again, this is the number-one piece of equipment that we need. You have beds, you have equipment, you need staff. And you need staff

understanding that some staff is going to get sick. And they're going to be out. So we have been working on putting together a surge health care force.

Go back to the retirees, go back to nurses and doctors who may not be in the hospital, direct medical care occupation, and ask them to sign up for possible reserve duty.

God bless them, 40,000 people have signed up as a surge health care force -- 2,000 physicians, anesthesiologists, nurse practitioners, respiratory, R.N.s, LPNs, 40,000 people have signed up.

That is a very -- that's a big, big deal. Because you can create beds. You can find the equipment. You have to have the staff. And you have to have the staff for those additional beds, which are not now in the hospital system. And you have to have staff when the existing staff gets ill. Or, by the way, just can't work the hours that we're going to need people to be working. So that's very good.

This is also very exciting. I don't know that anyone else has done this. We have talked about the emotional stress that this brings on people. And the mental health stress and the mental health challenges. No one is really talking about this.

You know, we're all concerned about the immediate critical need, the life and death of the immediate situation, which is right. But don't underestimate the emotional trauma that people are feeling and the emotional health issues.

We asked for mental health professionals to voluntarily sign up to provide online mental health services. And 6,000 mental health professionals agreed to volunteer to provide mental health services for people who need it. How beautiful is that?

And the hotline, 1-844-863-9314. You can call that hotline. You can schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. Totally free. To talk to them about what you're feeling and what stress you're feeling.

And again, god bless the 6,000 mental health professionals who are doing this 100 percent free. On top of whatever they have to do in their normal practice. And I'm sure in their normal practice, they're busy. So this is really an extraordinary, extraordinary step by them.

[11:35:15]

Federal government, I spoke with President Trump several times. I spoke with him last night. I spoke with him this morning. I have spoken to people in the White House who are handling these operations. I have spoken with the vice president. I have spoken with Jared Kushner, who is a New Yorker. He knows New York. And he's working in the White House, and he's been extraordinarily helpful on all of these situations.

What we're working on is a common challenge. No one has these ventilators, and no one ever anticipated a situation where you would need this number of ventilators to deal with a public health emergency. So we have purchased everything that can be purchased.

We're now in a situation that we're trying to accelerate production of these ventilators. And a ventilator is a complicated piece of equipment. The president and his team, I think, are using the DPA well because it's basically a leverage tool when you're dealing with private companies. Right.

We need your help. We can demand your help or you could agree to help and we need you to step up and increase production.

Even with that, there's a ramp-up time for a company to put together the supply chain, put together the workforce, and get these things up and running. So Ford is going to help, General Motors is going to help.

The problem is our timeline is so short, we're looking at an apex 21 days, in that range. To get ventilators and these business consortiums put together, supply chain, design team, ramped up and delivered 30,000 ventilators is an extraordinarily difficult task. And it's something that our team is working on with the White House team.

And I want to thank the president for his cooperation, and his team for their cooperation.

We're getting very creative. We're talking to countries around the world. As well as new companies that could do production.

We're also talking to the White House about another concept. New York has the greatest need in terms of numbers. New York also has the most critical need in terms of timing. Right? We talk about our apex. We talk about that curve.

Different localities, different regions around the country are going to have different curves. We are in some ways first. Our case numbers went up first. Our trajectory is first. By a long shot. Different regions will have their curve at different times.

What I said to the president and his team was, look, rather than saying we have to provide equipment for the entire country at one time, let's talk about addressing the critical need in that hot spot.

Once that hot spot turns, because you have an apex and then you have a curve, and the curve is relatively short. Once you address that hot spot with that intensity and intense equipment, intense personnel, then shift to the next hot spot. And have more of a rolling deployment across the country than a static deployment. Right?

I was in the federal government at HUD. I worked on dozens of disasters. You deal with a disaster in front of you at that time, and then you move on to the next disaster. And I think that rolling deployment could work here.

And on behalf of New York, I said we will be 100 percent helpful. We need help from the entire country right now. We need resources from the entire country right now. And because our apex is first, and our numbers are highest, but the apex high point will be sequential across the country.

So I said to the White House, send us the equipment that we need. Send us the personnel. As soon as we get past our critical moment, we will redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hot spot. And I will personally guarantee it and personally manage it.

[11:40:21]

So if you send us 15,000 ventilators, and then after our curve, Los Angeles needs 15,000 ventilators, we can take the equipment from here, we can take the personnel from here, we can take the lessons from here. You know, we go first. We're going to learn things that nobody else has learned, because we're going to be the first one through the chute.

And I personally guarantee that we will bring that equipment, we will bring that personnel, we'll bring that technical assistance to the next hot spot.

I said to the president, I'll be part of going to the next hot spot with our team. We're asking the country to help us. We will return the favor. And we are all in this together. And we're asking for their help, and their consideration, and we will repay it with dividends.

The Senate is also considering a $2 trillion bill, which is, quote/unquote, "relief" for businesses, individuals, and governments. It would really be terrible for the state of New York, the $2 trillion bill. What does it mean for New York state government? It means $3.8 billion. And $3.8 billion sounds like a lot of money. The budget director can walk you through the numbers.

But we're looking at a revenue shortfall of $9 billion, $10 billion, $15 billion. This response to this virus has probably already cost us $1 billion. It will probably cost us several billion dollars when we're done. New York City only gets $1.3 billion from this package. That is a drop in the bucket as to need.

I spoke to our House delegation, congressional delegation this morning. I said to them, this doesn't do it. You know, I understand the Senate theory and the Republican theory. But we need the House to make adjustments.

In the House bill that went over, New York state got $17 billion. In the Senate bill, we get $3.8 billion.

And, well, you just, big spending. We're not a big-spending state. I cut taxes every year. I have the lowest growth rate of the state budget in modern political history. OK. So we are frugal, and we are efficient.

I'm telling you these numbers don't work. I told the House members that we really need their help. In terms of numbers, total tested, we're up to 130,000 people. New

tests, we're up to 12,000. As of yesterday, about 28 percent of all testing nationwide has been performed by the state of New York. The state of New York is doing more testing than any state in the United States of America. And I'm very proud of the team on how we have mobilized and gotten this testing up and running.

People ask, how does the testing work. Any hospital in the state can perform testing. You can walk into a hospital in Buffalo, New York, if you show the symptoms and meet the protocol, you can be tested.

Strategically, we deploy testing in the most-dense areas. Where do we set up the drive' throughs, et cetera? Why? Because we're hunting positives. We're hunting positives so we can isolate them and reduce the spread. You're more likely to get positives in a high-positive area. Right?

Set up a drive-through in the Bronx versus set up a drive-through in Chautauqua County, you're going to get more positives in the Bronx. That's what we want.

But anyone anywhere in the state, you have symptoms, you're concerned, you can walk into any hospital, that hospital can get a test performed.

Number of positive cases, we're up to 30,000. Number of new cases, 5,000. Again, you see the numbers, 13,000. I'm sorry, 17,000, New York City, 4,000 in Westchester, 3,000 in Nassau County. Relatively, Westchester, we have dramatically slowed what was an exponential increase.

[11:45:11]

So again, on the good news side, can you slow the rate of infection? Yes. How do you know? Look at what we did in Westchester. That was the hottest cluster in the United States of America. We closed the schools. We closed gatherings. We brought in testing. And we have dramatically slowed the increase.

Nassau county is 3,000. They're relatively right behind Westchester. They were at like zero when Westchester had started. So we can slow it, and we have slowed it.

Again, you see it spreading across the state, which we said it would. Current numbers, 30,000 tested positive, 12 percent of those who test positive are hospitalized, 3 percent of the positives are in ICU. OK?

This is deep breath time again. I'm anxious. I'm nervous. What does it mean? So 30,000 tested positive, 12 percent are in the hospital, 3 percent are in ICU.

If you look at those 3 percent, they're going to be predominantly senior citizens, people with underlying illnesses, people with emphysema, people with a compromised immune system. That's what this effort is all about. All the noise, all the energy, it's about that 3 percent. Take a deep breath. Now, that 3 percent, that's my mother, that's your mother, that's your

sister. These are people we love. These are our grandparents. And we're going to do everything we can to protect every one of them. I give the people of the state of New York my word that we're doing it. But we're talking about 3 percent of the people who tested positive who we're worrying about.

Most impacted states, we're 30,000. Next closest state is New Jersey at 3,000. California at 2,000. This is a really dramatic differential. This is what I argue to anyone who will listen. We have 10 times the problem that the next state has, which is New Jersey. You compare us to California, which is larger in terms of population, we have 15 times the problem.

Now, you have to ask yourself why. Why does New York have such a high number? And again, in the totality, we understand what it means. But why does New York have such a high number?

And this is my personal opinion. I like to make sure that I separate facts from personal opinion. The facts I give you are the best facts I have. And again, the data changes day to day, but I give you exactly what is on a day-to-day basis.

Personal opinion, why does New York have so many more cases than any other state? How can it be? You're 15 times the number of California. I mean, really is breathtaking when you think about it. State of Massachusetts, with 30 times the number of cases.

So why is the question that people ask me. Two answers. Answer one is because we welcome people from across the globe. We have people coming here, we have people who came here from China, who came here from Italy, who came here from countries all around the globe. We have international travelers who were in China and who were in Italy and who were in Korea and who came here.

And I have no doubt that the virus was here much earlier than we even know. And I have no doubt that the virus was here much earlier than it was in any other state. Because those people come here first. That's the first answer.

The second answer is, because we are close. Because we are close. We talk about the virus and how it transfers in a dense area. It's literally because it's literally because we are close.

[11:50:01]

Because we live close to one another. Because we're close to one another on the street. Because we live in close communities. Because we're close to one another on the bus. We're close to one another in the restaurant. We're close to one another in the movie theater. And we have one of the most dense, close environments in the country. And that's why the virus communicated the way it did.

Our closeness makes us vulnerable. Our closeness makes us vulnerable. That spatial closeness makes us vulnerable. But it's true that your greatest weakness is also your greatest

strength. And our closeness is what makes us who we are. That is what New York is. Our closeness is what makes us special. Our acceptance, our openness is what makes us special. It's what makes us feel so connected one to another. It's what makes us so accepting of one another. It is the closeness that makes us the human beings that we are.

The closeness is that New York humanity that I think exists nowhere else. The closeness is what makes our sense of community.

And there's a gentleman who I still look to for guidance and for leadership and for inspiration. He's not here anymore for you. He's still here for me. But he said things more from profound and more beautifully than most other people ever have.

And one of the things he said that is so appropriate for today: "We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be, the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings, reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race or sex or geography or political affiliation."

That is New York. It is that closeness, that concept of family, of community. That's what makes New York New York. And that's what made us vulnerable here. But it is also that closeness and that connection and that humanity and that sharing that is our greatest strength. And that is what is going to overcome at the end of the day. I promise you that.

I can see how New Yorkers are responding. I can see how New Yorkers are treating one another. I see the 6,000 mental health volunteers. I see the 40,000 health care workers stepping up. I see the vendors calling me, saying, "I can help." That's New York. That's New York. And that, my friends, is undefeatable.

And I am glad in some ways that we're first with this situation, because we will overcome and we will show the other communities across this country how to do it. We'll be there for them. We want them to be there for us. And we will be there for each other, as we always have been.

Any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How does the state decide who is priority when it comes to ventilators?

CUOMO: We have no anticipation of having to prioritize ventilator usage. Our goal is to have a ventilator for anyone who needs one.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You showed numbers that showed you're optimistically at 15,000 and you say you're going to need 40,000. So, some nitty gritty questions. Where are those ventilators that have come in from FEMA going? Did you get any commitment from the White House that they're going to send more than the 4,000 that they've committed already? And what is the plan to reach that number the same way you plan to increase hospital beds?

[11:55:10]

CUOMO: Yes, it's a good question, Jimmy.

First, the ventilators that are coming in. We're putting into stockpile. We'll deploy from the stockpile as we need them. Literally deploy on a need basis, right? So, if one hospital calls up and says, we're overwhelmed, this is what we need, we'll be in a position to deploy.

The increase the beds is within our control, right? There are beds in this state. They're not hospital beds, and you have to figure out how to convert them to hospital beds and you have to figure out how to get access to them. But we have beds. So, that is a logistical operational challenge. How do you turn a dorm room into a hospital bed, right? How do we build a hospital in Javits Center?

The ventilators are different. We don't have them. The federal government does not have them either. No one has a stockpile of these. The federal government has to acquire them the same way we have to acquire them.

I'm working with the White House in creative ways to acquire them, getting companies to ramp up, getting companies to retrofit other machines. There's rolling deployment methodology. But nobody has them. There's no medical stockpile in Washington that magically can make them appear.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There was a report in 2015 where the state suggested, or a task force suggested maybe New York should increase its stockpile. Any reason that that wasn't done?

CUOMO: Jimmy, that's not the fact, and you know it. Read the fact- checkers on it. There was an advisory commission called Law and the Life -- Life and the Law, that had a chart in 2015 that said, if you had the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, you may need "X" number of ventilators.

There's no state in the United States that bought ventilators for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The federal government did not buy ventilators for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Nobody in the world bought ventilators in preparation for a 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The number you're reporting, how many of those have resolved? And are there -- in other words, one came back from Iran -- (INAUDIBLE) clear now and -- (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Yes. Short answer is yes.

Do you know, Dr. Zucker, the number of people who have resolved? Does anyone have that here? Besides the Hopkins number?

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, NEW YORK STATE: We have hundreds and hundreds of people who have left the hospital, and those individuals have resolved. And there are many other individuals who never even came into the hospital. And we can try to get you an exact number on that.

CUOMO: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have a mechanism for reporting that? Because I think -- changed criteria -- the rules are clear on some changes. Talk a little bit about that, what was going on?

ZUCKER: Well, we're following the CDC guidelines and recommendations that, after seven days, if you are positive, and after seven days of being positive, as long as you are more than 72 hours without symptoms, then you can go back to work.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hold on just a second.

This is the best data, OK? This is Johns Hopkins. It's every case since China, 435,000, 19,000 deaths. And again, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts, you look at those 19,000, senior citizen, compromised immune system, emphysema, et cetera. Recovery's 100,000, right? Roughly 10 percent, pending 300,000.

But yes, the recoveries are recoveries. You get it. The people we've had -- people I know, they stay home for two weeks, and they then test negative. You can test negative in two weeks. You can test negative in three weeks. You can test negative in one week after you have it. That is going to be the vast overwhelming number of people.

The biggest number, when this is done and we can actually go back and test, the biggest number is going to be people who had had who resolved who never knew they had it. That's going to be the biggest number.

And the reason we want to get to that test is because then when you talk about restarting the economy, you have a test that says you, Andrew, were exposed to it in February. And by the way, you are recovered and you have the antibodies. Go back to work.

(CROSSTALK)

[12:00:01]

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The number of ICU spaces --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm sorry, I cut off Jesse (ph), and when I cut off Jesse (ph), then he gets annoyed at me and then I pay for the next year.