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NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update On Coronavirus Response; Cuomo Responds To Trump Questioning Need For Equipment, Saying Maybe It's Going Out Backdoor. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We are in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies. The federal government is now also competing for supplies and private hospitals are competing for supplies. We have created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials entities basically from the same place, which is China, ironically enough.

We are fighting among ourselves. We're competing among ourselves. We are driving the pricing.

When we started buying ventilators, they were under $20,000. The ventilators are over $50,000 if you can find them. The ventilators didn't change that much in two weeks. The prices went up because we are driving the prices up.

We need to give our front line, our health care professionals the supplies they need and we need to do it now.

Our rule in New York has been plan forward to get ahead of the problem. The old expression is, don't fight the last battle.

This virus has been ahead of us from day one. We have been playing catch up from day one. Get ahead of the problem, don't fight today's fight. Plan for two weeks or four weeks from now when you are going to have the apex and make sure that we are in a position to win the battle when the battle is truly drawn, which is going to be at the apex.

That's why we are preparing stockpile now. We're building a stockpile. The word stockpile by definition means not for immediate use. It means you are preparing for a battle to come. And you have to have the equipment and you have to have it now.

I have done disaster work all across the nation. I can tell you this. If you wait to prepare for the storm to hit, it is too late my friends. You have to prepare before the storm hits. And in this case, the storm is when you hit that high point when you hit that apex.

How do you know when you are going to get this? You don't. There's no crystal ball. There's science and there's data and there are health professionals who studied this virus and its progress since China. We have months of data. Listen to the scientists. Listen to the mental health, the health care

professionals, and follow the data. And that's what we are doing here in New York.

We just had a great meeting where we brought the health care system from across the state of New York together to come up with one coordinated plan. Not private hospitals and public hospitals and not New York City hospitals and Long Island hospitals and Westchester hospitals and upstate hospitals, not big hospitals and small hospitals. The entire health care system convened, coordinated working as one for the first time in decades.

No one can ever remember the way we deployed and coordinated like this. Why? This is a statewide battle. We want to make sure that we are all coordinated and we are all working together. That's exactly what we have accomplished at this meeting.

No politics, no partisanship, no division. There's no time for that. Not in this state and not in this nation. This is a deadly serious situation. Frankly, it is more important than politics. It is more important than partisanship.

If there's a vision at this time the virus will defeat us. If there was any moment for unity, this, my friends, is the moment. In many situations, there's no red states or blue states and there are no red casualties and no blue casualties. It is red, white and blue. This virus does not discriminate. It attacks everyone and everywhere.

The president said this is a war. This is a war. I agree with that. Then let's act that way and let's act that way now. Let's show a commonality and a mutuality and a unity that this country has not seen in decades. Because, the lord knows, we need it today more than ever before.

[13:35:29]

Questions, comments?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) The president suggested that PPE equipment may be going out the back door. (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: The question is the president suggested that PPE equipment may be going out the back door.

First, there's a warehouse and that's in New Jersey. It is the New York City's warehouse. We are creating a stockpile. For someone to say well, the warehouse has equipment in it, you should be using that equipment today. That defies the basic concept of planning and the basic operation that we have to have working and not just in the state but across the country.

If you are not preparing for a apex and high point, you are missing the entire point of the operation. It is a fundamental blunder to only prepare for it today. That's why in some ways we are where we are. We have been behind this virus from day one. You have the scientists and data projection showing you the curve.

Prepare for the high point of the curve and do it now. When are you going to do it? The night before?

What am I going to tell the hopes when hospitals when they had an influx of 50 percent more people and we need more equipment and ventilators? Sorry?

The whole stockpile concept is to be prepared in the future.

In terms of the suggestion that the PPE equipment is not going to a correct place, I don't know what that means. I don't know what he's trying to say. If he wants to make an accusation then let him make an accusation. I don't know what he's trying to say by inference.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: We just had a conversation about exactly that. In New York City, they're basically two systems. There's what's the greater New York. Ken Raske represents it. It is the private voluntary hospital, Columbia and et cetera.

Then there's the health and hospitals corporation which are the public hospitals. We have those two systems.

We just discussed that. Those two systems have to in this situation undertake a balancing that they probably never had to do before. You had 11 public hospitals.

One hospital starts to get over run, there's a high-low in one hospital. Before that happens, transfer people to one of the hospitals that has more vacancies. Distribute the load among those public hospitals.

And do it immediately and do it on a daily basis. One hospital starting to overload, distribute and transfer. Same thing with the Greater New York Hospital Association.

Take it a step further. One system is at near capacity then the two systems will work together to share the load. We just discussed that and we all agreed to do it. There are no legal barriers.

If a hospital stays with the public system because I think the public system is going to face the greatest stress. If a public hospital starts to get overloaded, transfer to another hospital with less of a load. I don't believe any restrictions.

Ken Raske, the expert on this, I'd ask him to chime in.

(CROSSTALK)

[13:40:02]

KEN RASKE, PRESIDENT, GREATER NEW YORK HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: We are going to work with one cohesive family system. New York is on the city itself as well as Westchester. And I think what we are going to see is that balancing that the

governor is talking about. Balance within the system and balance without the system, beyond it as we go forward and as we encounter more and more stress.

Each day that goes on, the stress point will increase and, as a result, that balancing is absolutely essential. And because the leadership of the governor, it is clear to everybody that we are going to be one cohesive family in tackling this.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: We just spent a couple of hours doing it and it is complicated. Let me give you the top-line, if I might.

Right now, the hospital system operates as separate systems. You have public hospitals, the Greater New York hospitals, the Westchester hospitals, you have Long Island and Upstate hospitals. They all have their own trade associations and public and public and the privates are the privates.

We have to work as one system. So share staffs, share resources. If one hospital does not have enough masks rather than that hospital have to scramble, let the other hospitals help. More mutual. Ken's word is a good one. A health care family as opposed to these state operations and we work that through.

To add on top of the state's system, you have Javits and this facility of 2500 beds and the ship that the president sent, 1,000 beds. These beds are non-COVID beds.

The federal government, I asked them to make the facility COVID facilities, they want to handle non-COVID, which means their function will be an overflow valve for existing hospitals. They can't take COVID patients but they can take non-COVID patients.

When we talk about hospitals being in near capacity, they can download, if you will, to Javits and the "Comfort."

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: How long have you known me. 20 years? Have you known a time in the 20 years that I am not willing to tangle? I'm a tangler.

I understand what the president says -- I thank the president because I take his comment as a compliment. The president commented on a poll that said people were pleased with my leadership. And I thank him for that. That was a compliment.

As far as the president's comment about having a political contest with me, I am not engaging the president in politics. My only goal is to engage the president in partnership. This is no time for politics. You know, lead my example.

I am not going to get into a political dispute with the president. I am not going to rise to the debate of a political challenge. I am not running for president. I was never running for president. I said from day one I was not running for president and I am not running for president now. I am not playing politics. I just want partnership to deal with this.

[13:44:55]

I said to the president, quite clearly, look, when you do good things for my state and you are a good partner, I will be the first partner to say you are a good partner, and I have. I went to the ship "Comfort" today and I said, thank you, Mr. President. We opened up this Javits Center, I said thank you to the Army. When you help my state, I will say thank you.

If I believe New Yorkers are not being served, the federal legislation that they passed, I will say that too. Sometimes it is simple. Just tell the truth, right? And that's where we are. Tell the truth.

If you are doing the right thing by New York, I will say it. If he's doing the wrong thing by New York or the rest of the country, I will say it.

But, I am not going to engage in politics. Not that I am unwilling to tangle because I think it is inappropriate. It is counterproductive and I think it is anti-American.

Forget the politics. Forget the politics. We have a national crisis. We are at war. There's no politics. There's no red and blue. It is red, white, and blue. Let's get over it and, again, lead by example.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: We have said that no one can get evicted for non-payment of rent. That, to me, is the fundamental answer that solves all the above. You can't pay the rent and there's no work and you can't pay rent. Landlords have the right to say evicted. By executive orders there's no evictions. You can't be evicted for three months, period.

If you pay the security deposit, you pay part of the rent, none of the rent, you can't be evicted for three months, period.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).

CUOMO: Yes, if they want to pay, they can pay. Yes. Again, our policy answers it, you can't be evicted for non-payment of rent.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: I think our policy answers it. It is not your rent at some time because you signed a contract. Even to people to whom you pay the rent have to pay the rent, right? They have expenses. No evictions for non- payment of rent and we'll see how long this goes on.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: We spoke about that today. Elmhurst Hospital is a New York City public hospital. It is one of the new city's public hospitals. It is struggling. That's clear to everyone.

We spoke about it directly in this meeting and I have asked other hospitals to pitch in and help Elmhurst and they have agreed. And also anticipate other public hospitals that may struggle as the numbers continue to increase and be ready to help them also.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: You know, the White House projects a 100,000 to 200,000 of death toll. We don't have projections in this state as to numbers of deaths. We are studying models which, by the way, have done by professional companies. I don't come up with these numbers. We are working on the Bill Gates Foundation. And has an institute that does the projection. We are seeing how we are ready for the next battle and apex.

It is 100,000, or is it 200,000? Whatever the number is, it is going to be staggering. The number is already staggering.

[13:50:00]

A human life is a human life. We have lost over 1,000 New Yorkers. To me, we are beyond staggering already. We have reached staggering. And the only point now is do everything you can to save every life possible. That's what this is all about.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: Right now, a hospital is basically an isolated entity. One hospital has its own employees, has its own logo, finances, does its own purchasing, has its staff. You can have associations of hospitals and then individual hospitals. That doesn't work in this environment.

No one hospital has the resources to handle this. No one hospital can do its own procurement. No one hospital has its own staff. No one hospital can deal with the capacity.

There has to be a totally different operating paradigm where all those different hospitals operate on as one system. So when I run out of masks, I can call brother ken at the other hospital and say, I'm out of masks, can you send me some masks, when I refill, I'll send them back.

We have to get to a point where I can say, I have too many people walking in the door. I can't handle it. And we are going to set a load threshold so when you get near the load threshold, you can send people to other hospitals that have a lower vacancy rate.

Purchase together, use staff together, download patients together, balance the load and do it across the state. We have hospitals in Upstate New York where they're experiencing none

of this. They have staff capacity, bed capacity. We need you now here in this fight and engaged. And that's a totally different concept, but that's what we did today.

Ken, you want to comment?

RASKE: Yes, thank you, Governor.

To the question, what we're going to do is work cohesively with the state government, Department of health particularly, in putting together a command center that will receive all this information on an instantaneous basis and then begin feeding out that information and instructions as to what to do.

For example, simply in dis discharging patients to this huge facility that has been built by our colleagues here, this will create a way of decanting the pressure on our institutions, and that information will go to an essential place, transfers will be place and that's part of the cohesiveness we're talking about.

The same thing applies to supplies, ventilators, all the other stuff that goes to make a hospital work. This is going to be done and we're now in the process of pulling it off in a complete basis.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

RASKE: Yes, it's in the works right now.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

We'll do central purchasing, central stockpile, rather than anyone have their own stockpile, and then distribute by need.

We'll take one more. All the way in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CUOMO: The doctors are exactly right. The message is god bless you and thank you. We all applaud you. We are in awe of you. We're all inspired by you. We all wonder, secretly, would we have the courage to really step up at a time of challenge? And they are doing it. They are doing it every day. And we are all in their debt.

[13:55:04]

And we respect them and we love them for what they're doing. And they should have every piece of equipment that they need to do their job. That is the least that we can do. And we are all doing everything we can to make that a reality.

Thank you, guys. Let's go to work.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hearing Andrew Cuomo speaking for 45 minutes or so, talking, warning people about the road ahead, that we are not at the apex, as he described it, of what is to come. We're just at the beginning of what is to come.

He reiterated the importance of staying at home. Saying, if necessary, New York City will close down its playgrounds, which are still open in public parks, if people are not distancing appropriately.

Also talked about the need for supplies for doctors and nurses. Said, if this is a war, doctors and nurses and medical personnel, they are the soldiers in this war. The hospitals are the front lines. This is a war, act that way and do it now.

The president had suggested that PPE equipment, well, sort of questioned why the numbers of requests for PPE equipment, maybe it's going out the back door.

The governor was asked about that. He said that New York is trying to build a stockpile. They're using a facility in New Jersey to store some equipment. He says if you aren't preparing for the apex, the high point, then you're missing the whole point of this entire operation.

We'll discuss with Dr. Peter Hotez, from Baylor, and Dr. Anne Rimoin, from UCLA. Both joining me now.

Dr. Hotez, more than 60,000 cases in the state of New York. The rate of the cases doubling has slowed down from doubling every two days to now every six days. That is certainly positive news.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, FOUNDING MEMBER & CHIEF, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Absolutely. We're starting to see potentially an impact on social distancing and this is very important because Americans are asking, does this actually work?

There's going to be new evidence released in the next day or so impact saying there's an impact on social distancing, headed by Singh.

I was told about it through New York City and the data shows in some cities, where you're aggressively practicing social distancing, the number of new cases of fever, which they attribute to COVID-19 is actually declining. This is very important to know.

The simple reason that if we're not having an impact on social distancing and the number of cases and patients in the hospitals and ICU continues to accelerate, that's the difference between a high mortality rate and low mortality rate.

This ties in with the 100,000 to 200,000 number that Governor Cuomo Dr. Fauci mentioned as well. In the case of Italy, 10 percent, where the hospital systems are getting overwhelmed. New Orleans, at 4 percent to 5 percent getting overwhelmed and other places less so.

If we can push hard on social distancing, I think we can make a huge impact in that number to say that 100,000 to 200,000 deaths are not inevitable.

COOPER: Anne, it does seem, just as Peter was saying, that social distancing is now as important as it was two weeks ago. For people thinking this is just going to be a two-week time period, that is simply not the case.

Dr. Fauci, the White House task force stands by his estimate. There could be 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, and that's even with the social distancing.

I want to play his comments for our viewers and have you talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It would not have been a good idea to pull back at a time when you really needed to be pressing your foot on the pedal as opposed to on the brakes.

I would not be surprised, I don't want to see it, I'd like to avoid it, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Dr. Rimoin, is that number something you're comfortable with?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, GEFFEN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, UCLA: I think the models are as good as the information that we put into them, and right now, we're basing it on what we know about social distancing, about our preparedness in the hospitals. So, yes, I think this is something we could see.

[13:59:46]

But I think the big point here is that we have power to change the course of this epidemic. We've seen this in other places. This is not the first epidemic or pandemic we've fought. We should take lessons from Ebola.

We know if people do the right thing, if people social distance, if we prepare the hospitals well, we can reduce spread and we can reduce mortality. These are all things that we have under our control.