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CNN NEWSROOM

CNN's Chris Cuomo Diagnosed With Coronavirus; Anchor Chris Cuomo Says He Is Feeling Well And Will Continue To Work From Home; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives Updates On Coronavirus Response, Says Forcing The States To Compete For Supplies Doesn't Make Sense; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: We Have Ordered Thousands Of Ventilators From China. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 31, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And I said I need it for my mother. And it was very clear about people who are older what they should be exposed.

My brother, it was two weeks ago, if my brother still had my mother at his house again out of love and comfort and my mother wanted to be in the house anyway. By the way, she did not want to be sitting at home in an apartment.

So, she would have been doing what she wanted to do. He would have been doing what he wanted to do. It would have seemed great and harmless, but now we have a much different situation.

Because if he was exposed, chances are she may very well have been exposed. And then, we would be looking at a different situation than just my brother sitting in his basement for two weeks. So think about that, right?

My brother is smart, he was acting out of love. Luckily we caught it early enough. But, it is my family and it is your family. It is all of our families, and this virus is that insidious. We have to keep that in mind. Keep in mind Matilda's Law. Remember who's vulnerable here and protect them.

You want to go out and act stupid for yourself, that's one thing. But your stupid actions don't just affect you, you come home you can affect infect someone else and you can cause a serious illness or even death for them by your action.

People have to really get this and internalize it because it can happen to anyone. Two weeks with my mother and Christopher. Today is a very different situation. Last point, there is nothing I have said different since I started these briefings and there is nothing that we have learned that's different since I've started these briefings.

We know what to do. We just have to do it. It is individual discipline to stay-at-home. That's what it is. It is discipline. No social distancing. It is discipline. Well, I am bored. I know. I am bored. It is discipline. Making this healthcare system work, that's government skill that is government's performance. That saying to that healthcare system, I don't care how it worked yesterday I don't care whose turf it is? I don't care whose ego is involved? I am sorry we have to find a way to work a better way.

Time to say to that Federal Government and to FEMA and HHS, you have to learn how to do your job and you have to learn how to do it quickly because time is not our friend. It is about as social stamina.

This is not one week, two weeks or three weeks or four weeks or five weeks, six weeks. Okay? This is not going to be an Easter surprise. Understand that and have the stamina to deal with it. It is unity. Let's help one another. New York needs help now.

Yesterday I asked for healthcare workers from across the country to come here because we need help. We'll pay you. More importantly we'll return the favor. This is going to be a way across the country, New York then it will be Detroit and then it will be New Orleans, then it will be California.

If we are smart as a nation, come help us in New York. Get the equipment and get the training and get the experience and then let's all go help the next place and the next place and the next place. That would be a smart national way of doing this and showing that unity.

Unity meaning that we are not I know this is a political year. Everything is a political backdrop and Democrats want to criticize Republicans and Republicans want to criticize Democrats not now. There are no red states or there are no blue states.

The virus does not attack and kill red Americans or blue Americans, it attacks all Americans. Keep that in mind because there is a unifying wisdom in that, any questions? Let's do on topic question first, if anyone has any questions on local issues, we'll do that afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many healthcare workers are on the ground right now? Are all New York workers are going to work on the ground? We are hearing that some people who are trying to apply and they're in New York and they're not getting out - any response on when that will happen?

[12:05:00]

CUOMO: Well, let's remember what we said. We have now a few days ago, we put out a - the question are all healthcare workers working? The problem is healthcare are working too much they're over stressed they're working too many shifts. They're afraid to go home. They may bring the virus home. They're under immense physical and emotional stress.

We put out a request a couple of days ago towards retirees to come forward. We have now about 78,000 people who said that they would help. God bless the state of New York and God bless humanity. We now are working with the hospitals and we did this in the meeting yesterday also sorting those 78,000 people by regional and by expertise across the state.

We have a portal that Jim or Howard can explain because we then have to link them up with the hospital, right? You don't need - we have the 78,000 - pool of 78,000. You then have to coordinate that with the hospital in that region with those skills. That's what we are doing now. Jim you want to--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --great so today the portal will be launched and live. The 78,000 or so, we have to do some pre-checking. So we check for licenses discipline and those people who didn't have a license or had disciplinary issues were taken out. So the hospitals can more easily access the workforce.

As the Governor said they're broken down by region by discipline and now they can go in and what we were trying to do is prioritize the availability of the portal to the hospitals that needed the most right now that have that need some extra help in the field.

But we're working very closely with the entire system like the Governor said they make sure we're linking up those new healthcare workers in those needed facilities. So it will be live today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is that connected with the - workers who were coming --?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is everyone. So what we are trying to prioritize the in state workers which we have by region so we know the potential healthcare workers in every region of the state where they are and what their status is?

We want to get those people in first because they're here in New York. We want to prioritize actually the New York regional - down state regional employees because we know that they are closer to those facilities that are in need now and we're going to need the upstate employees potentially later.

And then we have the out of state employees that are potentially - we are trying to keep those folks closer, looking at folks in New Jersey looking at the folks from Connecticut and other places that where they don't have to travel long distances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what are the timeline you're getting those people on are there any concerns about individuals who are elderly helping?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are looking at aids and we are going through back when we have and about 175 people doing backgrounds on every person who comes into the portal and the hospitals we're working with as well we'll also do their own checks to make sure the person is up to it.

So if they may not get to one job they may actually be up to another job. So we're making sure we have some cross coordination there as well. And some of the hospitals could potentially have some of these folks in needed areas by Thursday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean the figures that are coming in had you anymore - new projections as to when the apex might pick in New York City and state as a whole?

CUOMO: We're into this new apex hit, that's the $64,000 question. We have literally five models that we look at. It is true to say almost no two are the same. The range on the apex is somewhere between let's say 7 to 21 days. If you look at all five, it is 7 to 21 days from now.

Look, Jesse, I say this does not mean no good. It is 7 to 21? The range is too broad. Do I have 7 or do I have three weeks? This also it's a variable that they are looking at. You know on one hand you would think they would be able to tell because you have the China model you have the South Korea data and et cetera.

But then you have variables here, how effective is the social distancing? How many people are actually staying home? How does the density relate? So, there are variables. But it goes from - the apex estimates 7 to 21 that's not the only estimate that varies.

They then vary on how many beds you would need, right? We have 53,000 beds statewide if we operate as the state. We mandated 50 percent more beds now we are up to 75,000 beds. All of them say you need more than the 75,000 and the high estimate is 140,000.

[12:10:00]

CUOMO: The ventilators estimate among those projections goes from 10 to 40,000. Are those right Jim? Do you remember it Howard?

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, NEW YORK: Roughly 20 or 40,000 on most average projection in addition to what we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --hospitals we are coordinating them one of the executive orders that you signed actually will let you put in a receiver into somebody's hospitals if they don't meet that 50 percent threshold or even go above that. Do you foresee having to do that and what would that allow you and doctors operative bill?

CUOMO: The hospitals had been cooperative. And the question is we have the ability to point the receiver if the hospitals are not being cooperative. The hospitals are being cooperative. We put out that rule that you have to - have to aid 50 percent capacity. They all hired at 50 percent capacity they'll responded.

We are sending out a rule today that says I want to know your stock, what you have in stock and what's your stockpile is and what's your inventory is? We really need to share. Nobody has enough so like everybody put everything into the middle in a pot and then we'll distribute it.

We are doing that. It is not Joe going to be as much they are not listening. It is going to be their capacity level, right? You have the State of New York. You have about 170 hospitals. If we sat here two months ago, we could have graded almost all 170 hospitals. And you would have had some stronger and some weaker. As a general rule the public hospitals would have been on the weaker spectrum less financing et cetera and history of being more trouble. You now put weight on all 170 even if you put the equal amount of weight on all 170.

You're going to see a different reaction in the hospitals depending on the underlying strength of that hospital. You put a differentiated weight of what you happen to be in Brooklyn and it happens to be more density in Brooklyn and that hospital gets more weight and you get a different variable.

But in general, what you are going to see is the hospitals that were stressed can't take the stress, right? It is not even a medical concept the personality, too. The personalities who are having trouble dealing with stress are having more trouble dealing with this stress so the health and hospital corporations which I said to the public hospitals.

I said to the private hospitals you have to help them. We have to watch when they get up to near capacity, transfer patients. Elmhurst got up to capacity you heard other public hospitals had open beds. We have to get better and faster at transferring patients to other facilities, right?

A perfect system everybody is at 50 percent or everybody is at 60 percent or everybody is at 80 percent. Not some people are at 40 percent and some people are at 110 percent. That's not the way the system is organized right now.

They all talk you know have - they all have but they are different systems. You almost have to shock the system into actually saying okay, we are really going to operate as one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That more to gives you weight, if you don't see them making no shifts gives you no weight to go in and basically demand it?

CUOMO: Yes. But look, no hospitals are going to say I want to be over capacity. It is just they did not have the cooperation or the system to call someone up and say I am drowning I need to have somebody else except 150 patients.

And that's going to have to be managed into the system because that is something we never did before. We have never been here you know normally you have beds that - hospitals fighting for patients because patients are revenue, right?

So you never had a situation where they said I am going to send you patients. They wanted the patients, they wanted the revenues. So this is a much different situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York City area patients being transferred to upstate hospitals yet?

CUOMO: No. First we have levels of sort of triage. [12:15:00]

CUOMO: First we're going to try to bring upstate staff down to New York State hospitals. That's one of the requests we're going to make today. You have upstate hospital that are nowhere near capacity, send your staff down to New York City hospitals.

Worse step, you are over capacity in all New York City hospitals. You've redistributed the load you're still over capacity then send people to the upstate hospital is that right, Howard?

ZUCKER: Yes, correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is only the cost trends make the transfers and how does this staffing work with union chiefs who are staying the staff that comes upstate? Who makes the decisions about whether to --?

CUOMO: It would all be voluntary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will be voluntary who is going to take it across forward --?

CUOMO: Well, we are all paying the cost, right? The hospitals are paying the cost the state is paying the cost. I said to them look frankly we'll figure out the cost. This is about saving live. I am not going to say who pays the bills should not determine whether or not people live or die. So I said do whatever we have to do to save lives and then we'll figure out the bill afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just said that the state has 3,000 ICU beds how much had that grown at this point you have 2700 people in the ICU so far leaving 300 beds?

CUOMO: No I said I needed 30,000 beds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, so how many do we have now?

CUOMO: Well, that's an interesting question. We have ordered 17,000 from China. That we would pay for roughly $25,000 each. By the way anyone who says oh, may be that you don't need that many ventilators, you are saying 30,000 ventilators, you don't need that many you don't really believe you need that many.

You know how many you know and I really, really believe that number because we are paying $25,000 per ventilators and we are broke and the last thing I want to do is buy a single ventilator that I don't need.

The complexity with ventilators is we ordered 17,000 from China. So did California so did Illinois so did the Federal Government so did Italy. And what's happening is China the orders into China are very slow in coming out, exactly how and why we are not sure.

It is just that they have such a tremendous demand. Of the 17,000, we only have a firm expectation on 2500, is that right? We have a firm expectation of 2500.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --coming--

CUOMO: It is supposed to come in over the next two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that means that the ICU - will going to increase like 2500?

CUOMO: Yes. No the ventilator capacity increases 2500 and ICU bed in this situation is essentially a bed with oxygen and a ventilator but you can't have an ICU bed in this situation without a ventilator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --to address the surge?

CUOMO: Well, if its - depends if its six weeks or 21 days, right? That's what we are dealing with. And you can't accelerate the orders anymore from China. When you go back to - when we go back into more retrospective and I don't want to do it now.

But, look at the bizarre situation we wind up in. Every state does its own purchasing so New York is purchasing and California is purchasing and Illinois is purchasing. We are all trying to buy the same commodity, literally the same exact item so you have 50 states competing to buy the same item.

We all wind up bidding up each other and competing against each other where you now literally will have a company call you up and say well, California just out outbid you. It's like being on EBay with 50 other states bidding on ventilators.

And you see the bid go up because California bids Illinois bid Florida bid New York bids California rebids. That's literally what we are doing. How inefficient and then FEMA gets involved and FEMA starts bidding.

And now FEMA is bidding on top of the 50. So, FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does this make? The Federal Government FEMA should have been the purchasing buy everything and then allocate it to the states.

[12:20:00]

CUOMO: Why would you create the situation where 50 states are competing with each other and then the Federal Government or FEMA comes in and competes with the rest of the others?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor how many non Coronavirus emergencies factor into these plans to better coordinate the healthcare system presumably with first responders getting overwhelmed and heart attacks?

CUOMO: Well look, this is we're learning lessons necessities the mother of intervention. We are learning things here that - it is not that with are learning things here. Anyone could have told you a lot of these things, right?

The situation I just explained with purchasing. Did you really have to learn that 50 states shouldn't compete against 50 states and then FEMA should not come in late and they compete with 50 states? It is not like you had to go to Harvard Kennedy School for learning this, right?

Should you really have a hospital system in New York State where you have private hospitals and you have these struggling public hospitals there are two separate systems the upstate is separate and Long Island is separate. Shouldn't you have planned a comprehensive system?

Yes but, the commercial barriers to that the political barriers to that were so intense that if you did not have a disaster and emergency you could not breakthrough them. Conversations I had with these hospital leaders yesterday in that room.

If it was not for the Coronavirus, I would not have made it out of that room. I mean, what I was saying was so antithetical to the foundation of the business of healthcare in this state which by the way, some multibillion dollar business. Its right it was common sense but sometimes you need the emergency to force change that would be very, very difficult otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you know again like other specifics efforts to shore up the capacity of the healthcare system to handle non- Coronavirus related emergencies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. So the healthcare system is working on all those areas as well and regularly, pretty much every day I have spoken to doctors and nurses who are working on the front line and all of those other patients whether they're present with heart attacks, they're present with a stroke.

The system is continuing to move forward is stressed as the Governor said. The system is stressed but the patients are cared for those other emergencies are getting cared for as well, just put a strain on the system.

CUOMO: Let me give you an analogy if I said to you, look, I know normally you write for your outlet and then there are other outlets. We have a situation and you are going to write and you have to give it to all the other outlets. What you write is no longer just for your publication and you have to give it to all the other outlets.

We don't have ten people who can come. You have to write for everybody else. If I said that in a normal course of business forget it. If it was an emergency and you were the only reporter there, then you do it. And that's true in so many different situations.

You are violating basic commercial rules here and business rules and practices. I am a local government and I am in charge and you know. Over write all that garbage you really need extraordinary times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor you talked about--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --problems of the White House or the state under idea for ventilators to get sent to New York and then they never had thoughts - Governor saw the - and said that there is no questions about when the next hot spot will get ventilators?

CUOMO: JB, Governor Pritzker? He's a good man and he is a friend to mine. He does a beautiful job. He's right. You will have a New York curve and you will have an Illinois curve and you will have a New Orleans curve. How do you know the New York curve is going to end before the Illinois curve peaks?

[12:25:00]

CUOMO: You don't for sure. You know basically there is going to be a spatial sequential factor, but you don't know that we are going to be effectively done before Illinois ramping up. So it can't be literally New York has all the equipment and Illinois has none and then we run to Illinois with the equipment. It can't be that literal.

But, essentially it would work, right? The alternative is also true. Not everybody should have to buy everything. Once we get through this and we have whatever we wind up with, 15,000 ventilators and 15,000 ventilator splitter and 1100 BIPAPs you know if we can help someone else, let's help somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, - eight New York City Police Officers called them sick this morning. Are you worried about staffing of law enforcement in New York City and conversely would you consider sending state police to help with that?

CUOMO: Yes, am I worried about staffing? Yes. You're going to see with healthcare workers you're going to see it with all first responders - like my brother Chris, yes, if you are out there, your chance of getting infected is very high. Yes, and then we'll do whatever we need for backup. If we need state police, I would do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor you did talk about forming - social with states is that still possible and that's what you're doing?

CUOMO: What's happening Nick is, it is almost impossible to buy a ventilator? To the extent anyone is successful in buying ventilators FEMA basically came in and is now capturing the market because the ventilators are coming out of China.

And FEMA basically big footed the states in China. So to the extent anyone is buying it is FEMA. That's why the federal distribution is going to be so important because they are the only ones. I can't buy a ventilator.

I can't buy a ventilator whatever we are willing to pay, I can't buy a ventilator. So it really comes down to how the Federal Government distributes it? That's why it is so important. Let's get someone who hasn't asked a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens when the state runs out of ventilators --?

CUOMO: When the state runs out of ventilators where do I decide to get some?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: no, how can - how will the state sights to get ventilators --? CUOMO: Well, first I don't even want to think about that consequence. I am going to do everything I can to have as many ventilators that we'll need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --seven days some new developments --?

CUOMO: 7 to 21 days no there is no protocol. We are working to get as many ventilators and we have now a number of options. We have, we are looking at all ventilators across the state. We are then redeploying anesthesia machine as ventilators by changing a vent within doing this ventilator splitting which effectively turns one ventilator into two by literally running two tubes.

We are using - Northwell developed an idea to use a BIPAP machine, we've ordered 7,000 of those. We are still in it. We are creative and we are working and figuring it out and I still am hopeful that at the end of the day we have what we need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor I don't know if you consider this on topic many people think it is. You plan on signing an extension bill sort of saving for use you'll get paid on time?

CUOMO: I plan on signing a budget. When we pass the budget - we pass the budget on time the state employees get paid, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The controller currently has the legal authority to make the payments that now, right? The payments that are due to our end and today, those are actually for payroll from two weeks ago. So the controller presently has the authority they have a technical issue with their computer system that they need to deal with.

But they have the authority to make those payments today has nothing to do with when the budget is passed, the budget is always passed on the 31st or 1st of each year. So that is a relative to controller officer's job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if they pay - begins in the next fiscal year?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's right. They have sufficient appropriation authority to make those payments presently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going to be delayed though because of just the way the pay period fell this year, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It has nothing to do with how the pay period fell. They presently have the authority to do it they presently have full legal authority and appropriation authority to make the payments.