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New York Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response; Cuomo: 391 People Have Died in State in Past 24 Hours. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

CUOMO: --- compliance on social distancing will reduce the number.

This says this is the difference between high compliance with social distancing and less compliance. If you have high compliance you're down to 75,000 COVID beds, 25,000 ventilators. Less, it goes up to 110,000 and 37,000.

Interestingly, both are looking at the same point of apex, it's just a lower apex. Both models say you apex at the end of April, just lower -- a lower need at that apex. And that is what we want, because this all comes down to at the apex, can your hospital system manage the volume of people coming into the hospital system? That's all this is about at the final analysis. Now, there are also different models out there based on different presumptions.

People studied China, people studied Wuhan. Well, if you have the same compliance that you had in Wuhan -- Wuhan basically just locked up society. I don't even know that if the federal government enacted the Wuhan model, that the American people would comply. We have a totally different social structure and governmental structure. So, you have different models that project higher or lower.

What we're doing with McKinsey is studying all of them and coming up with a moderate model that is a basis for us to make planning decisions, because I have to make decisions, and I want to make the decisions off the numbers, so that's what we're doing. It's not to say that there aren't other people with other opinions.

There are many people with many opinions and some have the apex happening sooner, some have the apex happening later. You can find people who believe the apex will come in seven days, you can have people who say the apex won't come for six weeks. You have that kind of range. You have a broad range on the number of beds, you have a broad range on the number of ventilators.

Our course for planning purposes is a moderate model, because in truth, the higher models, we don't even have a chance at meeting that capacity anyway. You say, over 110,000 beds, there is no possible way we could get there. So, in some ways, an overly aggressive estimate doesn't even mean anything to us because it's just unachievable. People ask, well, what's going to happen? And Dr. Fauci said yesterday or the day before -- the days blend together -- estimated 100,000 Americans may pass away. Some people have said 100,000 to 200,000 Americans may pass away before this is over. When is it over? When you achieve what they call herd immunity. How do you say 100 to 200? That's a broad range. Well, it goes back to the other point -- nobody really knows, but 100 to 200, you're saying a significant amount of people lose their lives.

There is a group that is funded by the Gates Foundation -- thank you very much, Bill Gates -- that projects 93,000 Americans will lose their life by the time this is over. That model suggests 16,000 New Yorkers will pass away by the time this is -- runs its course. My guess is, so, when Dr. Fauci says 100,000 -- there are models out there that make these types of projections. And what would that mean to New York? That would mean about 16,000.

Frankly, that would mean that New York is only 16 percent, roughly, of the number of deaths. I don't even understand that, since New York is so much higher right now. But what that does say to the rest of the nation is this is not just New York. If you believe these numbers, 16,000 deaths in New York, that means you're going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York.

[12:35:00]

So to the extent people watch their nightly news in Kansas and say well this is a New York problem - that's not what these numbers say.

This says it's a New York problem today, tomorrow it's a Kansas problem, and a Texas problem and a New Mexico problem. That's why I say to my fellow governors and elected officials all across this country - look at us today, see yourself tomorrow.

And let's address it in New York, and let's cooperate to address it in New York because it's going to be in your town tomorrow, metaphorically. And if we learn how to do it right here, we'll learn how to do it the best we can because there is no right - it's only the best we can, then we can work cooperatively all across this country.

The other thing this model says - people say, well when is it over? Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks - this model projects you're going to have a high death rate through July. If this model is correct this could go through the summer.

Now, other people talk about getting back to work, starting the economy April, May, June - this model says it could go on through July. Now the question has become nuanced. Well, could you still be dealing with a virus and get the economy up and running, and get people out of their homes? Yes, I think there are ways to do both. Not picking between human life and the dollar bill, because no one is going to pick a dollar bill over human life.

But can you come up with a public health strategy that is consistent with people getting out of their homes and starting to get back to work? Yes you can. My opinion is the best way to do that is to come up with a rapid testing procedure where people can test, they know who's positive, they know who's negative and they know who can go back to work and come up with a test quickly, and they're starting - that is readily available, that people can do at home so you can take the test, know where you are and we can start ending this terrible situation that we're in.

Also you come up with testing and rapid testing, not only do you get up and get the economy running you end the anxiety. The anxiety is what is most oppressive here, not knowing.

Not knowing if I'm positive, if my friend is positive, if my loved one is positive - not knowing when this is going to end. The anxiety of dealing with this isolation day, after day, after day it's like a bad groundhog movie. Day, after day, after day - when does it end? How does it end? I don't know, I'm out of control.

I think that testing is going to be the best mechanism to try to work through that. On the good news front we have new testing available in New York, Regeneron, which is great New York company has created 500,000 testing kits at no charge - thank you, Regeneron. And they are distributing them across the state.

Corning, another great company has donated 100,000 tubes and $500,000 at reduced cost so we can do more tests. New York is very aggressive on testing, we have been from day one, and we think that has helped us slow the spread of this virus.

My favorite topic, young people must get this message - and they still have not gotten the message. You still see too many situations with too much density by young people. They can get it, they're putting their lives at risk. This can kill young people, rare circumstances but it can. But you get infected you give it to someone else - so think about somebody else.

[12:40:00]

And I've said this 100 different ways, the compliance is still not where it should be. You saw the models on the differential in the compliance versus major compliance and minor compliance. So we're going to take more dramatic actions.

We're going to -- we are going to close down the New York City playgrounds. I talked about this for weeks. I warned people that if they didn't stop the density and the games in the playgrounds; you can't play basketball, you can't come in contact with each other; that we would close the playgrounds.

I've spoken to Speaker Johnson from New York City who feels very strongly about this and did from day one. We agreed initially with the mayor that we would try compliance and the mayor was going to use the NYPD to enforce compliance social distancing in playgrounds.

It is still a problem. We're working with the speaker, we're working with the mayor but we're going to close down the city playgrounds and leave the open spaces available. So use the open space in a park.

Walk around, get some sun, great. No density. No basketball games. No close contact. No violation of social distancing period. That's the rule. Other good news, we are working with all the hospitals in the state to do something they have never done before; which is to act as one to cooperate, to share supplies, share staff, support one another, shift patients among hospitals, which really has never happened to any great extent.

And the hospitals have been very cooperative and I want to thank them very much. In this war we must plan forward for the next battle. Meaning we have been behind from day one. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. You don't win a war that way.

The next battle is the apex. The next battle is on the top of the mountain. You see that curve? You see a curve? I see a mountain. The next battle will happen at the top of that mountain. That's where it is going to be joined and that's where the enemy either overwhelms our healthcare system or we are able to handle the onslaught of the enemy at the top of that mountain.

And that's what we're planning for everyday. But I want to offer you a different perspective that I'm starting to think about. And I think we all should start to think about. As a society, beyond just this immediate situation, we should start looking forward to understand how this experience is going to change us or how it should change us.

Because this is going to be transformative. It is going to be transformative on a personal basis, on a social basis, on a systems basis. We're never going to be the same again. We're not going to forget what happened here. The fear that we have, the anxiety that we have; that's not just going to go away.

When do we get back to normal? I don't think we get back to normal. I think we get back or we get to a new normal, right? Like we're seeing so many facades of society right now.

So we will be at a different place. Our challenge is to make sure that transformation and that change is positive and not negative. Let's make sure we're taking the positive lesson and not the negative lesson.

You could get weary of intimacy and contact and density. Social distancing, don't go near anyone. What a terrible thing to live with as a human being. What a cruel torture. Isolate yourself from other people. Be afraid of hugging someone.

Just think how emotionally and personally repugnant that concept is, right? We crave human connection. And now we're being told that could be dangerous. You can't kiss, you can't hug, you can't hold hands.

[12:45:00]

So how -- how we come out of this and making sure that it's positive and not negative. How do we learn from this and how do we grow from this, right? Society life, you will get knocked on your rear end.

You will deal with pain, you will deal with death, you will deal with setback, you will deal with suffering. The question is, how do you get up? Well first, do you get up and second, if you get up, how do you get up? Do you get up smarter, do you get up wiser, or do you get up bitter and do you get up angry and do you get up fearful?

We are in control of that and we have to start to think about that and we also have to be smarter from what we went through.

How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again. Oh no, this is a once in a lifetime, never again. Something like this will happen again.

We're seeing it in the environment, we're seeing it with floods, we're seeing it with hurricanes; something like this will happen again. You can't just turn off the economy like a light switch.

How did governments work together? You can't figure it out on the fly what the federal government does, what the state government does, what the local governments do. Figure it out before, learn the lessons from this.

Tele-medicine and tele-education; we had to close the schools. Well, why weren't we ready with a tele-education system? Why weren't we better at tele-medicine? Why didn't we have that capacity rather than having people wait on all these lines to come in to get the same basic diagnosis and the same basic advice?

Why don't we have medical supplies made in this country? Why are we shopping in China for basic medical supplies?

Why don't we gear our medical research to these types of threats and challenges, which we know are on the horizon? We know these virus's are changing, we know that they mutate. Why don't we get ahead of it? You still have to run society.

Let's talk about first responder capacity. We now have first responder's who are getting sick and the work force is dropping. Well that was inevitable, right? That was going to happen.

What's the backup to that situation? And let's talk about societal stability and engagement at times of crisis. You can't just tell everyone, go home and lock your doors and sit on your couch and order take out for the foreseeable future.

That's not who we are, it's not even a mental health issue. It's just a - it's a personal health issue; it's how we - how we relate to one another. We're not built to be isolated for long periods of time and not have human contact.

So how do we deal with that? And these are the types of questions that we have to start to think through; but not today, that is the next challenge, I believe.

And that is what we're going to have to think about soon, but for now, one crisis at a time, as they say. And we have plenty to handle with the current crisis preparing for the battle on the mount, which is what we are doing every day and that's what we are doing. And not only are we doing it, but we have to succeed at it, you know?

Government process is very good at saying, well, we're trying, we're working on this, we're doing our best, we're doing our best. Winston Churchill at his - no use saying we are doing our best, you have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

Tad harsh goes with that expression, which I think you could say, tad harsh. Handsome, but a tad harsh, but it's true. And that's what I say to my team - to my team everyday.

This is beyond best efforts, this is beyond I'm working very hard. We have to get this done and we have to succeed, we have to find a way. We have to make it happen, because too much is at stake.

[12:50:00]

Last point on a personal note, my brother Christopher, as I told you yesterday, tested positive for the coronavirus. He's at home, he's doing fine enough. He has a fever, he has chills, symptoms of basically a very bad flu.

But I want -- I think this is illustrative of in a number of ways. First of all, anyone can get this disease. Relatively young people, strong people, people who take a lot of vitamin pills, people who go to the gym a lot. Anyone can get this disease.

There is no superhero who is immune from this disease. That goes for a New Yorker, as well as a Texan, as well as a Californian. Anyone can get it. No one can be protected from it, I couldn't protect my own brother. With all he knows and as smart as he is, he couldn't protect himself. So, anyone can get it and everyone has to be protected.

I understand the data. I understand 80 percent self-resolve, 20 percent go in the hospitals. Christopher is not in the category that is problematic by all the data. He should have it, he'll have it for a period of time, and he will then resolve. If he has bad symptoms, he'll go into the hospital, he'll be treated, and he'll be released. That's what all the numbers say.

Even though that's what all the numbers say, when he told me he had the coronavirus, it scared me. It frightened me. Why? Because we still don't know. We still don't know, and even if there's just a 1 percent, 2 percent chance, it's frightening. It is frightening. It frightened me. And I deal with all sorts of stuff, and I've seen all sorts of things.

And it frightened me. Why? Because we're talking about my brother. We're talking about my little brother. This is my best friend. I talk to him several times a day, basically, spent my whole life with him, and it is frightening on a fundamental level. And it's frightening because there's nothing I can do, and I'm out of control and there's nobody who can tell me, and Dr. Zucker can't tell me anything. And Tony Fauci can't tell me anything because nobody really knows.

And this situation is the same situation for everyone, for everyone. So, yes, I'm frightened for my brother. I'm worried about my brother, as everyone is worried about everyone in their family and everybody they love. I take solace in the numbers and the facts, because you can't divorce yourself from the facts, otherwise, you go to a place of irrationality; but we're emotional beings.

And as an emotional being, it is frightening and it is unknown and it is threatening and it is scary and people are dying. He's going to be OK, I believe that. He's in his basement. And I sent him over a book that could be helpful, Beginner's Guide to Striped Bass Fishing, I hope he picks up some tips from that.

But I also want to say to him, because I want him to know, he found out yesterday morning that he had coronavirus. He did his show last night. He did a show last night from his basement. What a gutsy, courageous thing to do, and we talked about it. And in some ways, this can be very instructive, I think, to many people, because everybody wants to know, well, what happens if you get coronavirus? Alright, he did. And he does the show every night. Maybe some nights he won't be able to do it, but he does his show every night.

[12:55:00]

So, what's the positive? Show the country what it means to have coronavirus. And that information, that experience can be helpful to people and that's why he did the show last night. OK, I have coronavirus, but you know what, here I am I'm doing my show.

I didn't fall over, I didn't collapse, it's not a death sentence, here I am, I'm doing my show. Kudos to him, my pop would be proud. I love you little brother. And even though this isn't a flattering picture, I did not pick this picture with your mouth open, but it is suitable in some ways.

Any questions, comments?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the policy for posthumous (ph) testing of suspected cases?

CUOMO: If you could repeat that please because I missed it? Also, let's do any questions on coronavirus. If you want to question on budget or anything else, let's do them at the end. But I'm sorry. I didn't hear your question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the state's policy or procedure for posthumous (ph) testing of suspected coronavirus cases?

CUOMO: What's the state's policy for posthumous (ph) coronavirus testing? I have no idea. Do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it - this is based on a clinical picture, right? So if someone died as a result of respiratory illnesses, the person would be tested to be sure and try to figure out what happened to them because there are contacts that that person has been exposed to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So does that pool (ph) includes people that were - that tested positive for coronavirus or also people who had coronavirus-like symptoms?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when we hear we know those who have died and if they're tested at the time of autopsy, those are included in the deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, can you confirm that there were some patients who were removed from New York City to Albany Medical Center and I believe also Ellis Hospital as well last night?

CUOMO: Were there patients who were moved - coronavirus patients who were moved from New York City to Albany Med? Yes, and we've talked about this is one state. This is one family of New York. This is one family of the United States of America, by the way. We support one another. In two ways, staff from upstate hospitals will be going to downstate hospitals because one of the real critical situations are staff shortages and staff exhaustion. So upstate staff will come help the downstate hospitals. And downstate hospitals who are at over capacity can transfer patients to upstate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it safe to move COVID patients who are being -

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It depends on the patient, but if they're in a place where the hospital can't treat them, then it's better to move them and be in a hospital setting where they can get treated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if we're doing this now, does that mean that the downstate hospitals are full? I know that the DOH has data on beds, including ICU beds. Can you make that available? And also if - you said 110,000 beds for COVID. What is the total capacity? Is it still 140,000?

CUOMO: About 140. One-tenth (ph) for COVID would suggest that you have 30,000 non-COVID patients. We tried to bring down the non - we tried to bring down the patient count by mandating no elective surgery that was non critical. So people are not going into the hospital right now to have a hip replacement unless they really need it. They're not going in for any type of elective surgery. So it brought the number of patients down so we could get more COVID patients in.

The transfer from New York City - the New York City Hospital to Albany Medical was more of a one-off situation which had been individually arranged. We are now - Department of Health is now coordinating all transfers. And you're right. The first step is transfers within the system. So downstate New York you have the health and - H&H system transfer among the 11 H&H hospitals, the balance load, balance capacity, and transfer among the private hospitals, the balance load then transfer among those two systems. And then worst case scenario transfer upstate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much capacity is left between H&H and the private hospitals? I guess Long Island and Westchester, too?

CUOMO: Yes, they are not at capacity now. It depends on --

[13:00:00]