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White House & Congress Close To Deal For More Small Business Aid; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update On Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:51]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, the White House and Democrats said to be on the verge of delivering a deal on a nearly half-trillion- dollar aid package. Some of that money will go toward funding hospitals and for additional coronavirus testing. But the bulk of the cash is for emergency small-business funding that ran out of funding last week.

Our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is following the development.

Phil, they've been saying for 21-plus hours, we're close, close, close. What's the hang up?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Details. John, you know as well as anybody from covering this stuff the details on packages like this are extraordinarily important.

The top lines are, for the most part, agreed to. More than $300 billion in additional funding for the small-business program that lapsed last week. There's expected to be $17 billion to go to hospitals, $25 billion for testing programs as well. It should have some type of cutout for small businesses and under-banked or under- utilized institutions as well. These are things they've been going back and forth on over the last week.

But the details on two items in particular, where and how the hospital money goes out, and where and how the testing money goes out, have been the primary piece of the holdups in the last 24 hours. I'm told staff was there late last night working on this. They're back working on it this morning.

Everybody knows they'll get there eventually. The problem is when there are this many details still hanging out there, people need the small-business money now. I think these negotiations have gone on far longer than anybody wanted them to.

Lawmakers and administration officials hope they're closing the door or coming close to ending these negotiations with a good outcome, but they're not quite there yet -- John? KING: Phil, let me ask a follow-up question. You say money for

hospitals, money for testing, vital money for the small-business program.

Listen here, the mayors of the two largest cities in the United States say, what about us?

I'm sorry, we don't have that sound.

Mayor Garcetti, of Los Angeles, Mayor De Blasio, of New York, are both saying, we're being left high and dry, we can't function. The governors say the same thing.

Governors start this by -- I mean, the Democrats started this by saying let's get aid to states and cities. They've backed off. Is there a promise from the administration that, if we cut a deal here, that will be front and center next time?

MATTINGLY: There's a promise from the administration that will be part of the next bill. Keep in mind, this was an interim package, right? This is an emergency effort coming together because the small-business program ran out of money so fast.

But Democrats have made clear -- and I'm told they're not done pushing on this. They're still trying to get state and local government funding into this package, it's just not there yet.

I think one of the questions right is Democrats and Republicans differ ideologically on how they want to money doled out in states and local programs.

When the United States Congress is out of the town and you need basically unanimous support in the United States Senate to be able to move forward, you try to take those items off the table, at least that's been the position of the administration and congressional Republicans.

I think the difficulty is, when you say the National Governors Association saying, explicitly, on a bipartisan basis, we need $500 billion, when you have mayors saying we are dealing with major budget shortfalls right now.

Everybody knows states and local governments are going to needs money. The question is how much, when will they get it, and how will that money be delivered. That's where the biggest crux of the disagreements are right now. That's why Republicans are trying to shift this out of this package and into the next one.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:35:07]

KING: Sorry, Phil, I have to cut you off.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is starting his briefing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: -- of America. That was in Seattle and California.

These are the hospitalization numbers for today. A tick down from yesterday but a slight tick statistically relevant.

The question for us is, are we past the apex. We have had a number of days that have seen a reduction, reductions across the board. Hospitals also say anecdotally that they have less patients in their emergency room, which, again, perspective. The emergency rooms were way over capacity. It was chaotic, it was hellish. And the emergency rooms are still at or over capacity. But it's better than it was.

The total change in hospitalizations, you see that it's been going down. The three-day average of hospitalizations is going down.

The number of intubations is down again. That is great news. Not down as much as yesterday, but down.

Number of new people coming in the door with COVID diagnosis is, again, just about flat with yesterday. This was reporting over a weekend. Sometimes the weekend reporting can get a little funky because it's Saturday and Sunday and they have less of a staff. The reporting may not be as accurate, but it's basically flat.

The question that we initially dealt with at the beginning of this, as the numbers were going up, the question was how long until we reach the top of the mountain, right? Every day it was the numbers higher, the numbers higher, the numbers higher, the numbers higher. The question was, when do you get to the top? How high can it go?

Then we get to the top, the top turns out not to be a peak. It turns out to be a plateau. And then we're on the plateau and it's basically flat. Then the question was, how long are we going to be on this plateau. How long, how wide is the plateau?

The question now is, assuming we're off the plateau and we're seeing a descent, which the numbers would suggest we're seeing a descent, the question is now, how long is the descent and how steep is the descent. And nobody knows.

Just the way nobody knew how long the ascent will tell you how long the descent is. How fast does it come down where we have a lower number that we have some confidence that we have a margin of error? Does it take two weeks to come down? Some projections say that. Does it take a month? Some projections say that.

Again, the projections are nice, but I wouldn't bet the farm on them. And I don't even have a farm.

Worse news is the number of lives lost. That number is still horrifically high. If you're looking for the optimist's view, it's not as bad as it was. But 478 New Yorkers died yesterday from this terrible virus.

Everyone is anxious to reopen. Everyone is anxious to get back to work. So am I. Question is, what does that mean. How do we do it? When do we do it? Nobody disagrees that we want to get out of the situation. Nobody. You don't need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work and we have to get the economy going and we have to get out of our homes. Nobody.

The question is going to become, how, when, how fast, and what do we mean in terms of reopening. With reopening, I want to set the bar higher, meaning the question shouldn't be, when do we reopen and what do we reopen. The question should be, let's use this situation, this crisis, this time to actually learn the lessons, value from the reflection and let's reimagine what we want society to be.

[11:39:57]

And since we are going to have to go through all of this and it's not going to be fast, let's at least make this a moment that when we look back, we can say, wow, we went through hell, but look at all the lessons we learned and look how much better we made this place from this incident, right?

We went through 9/11. We were hellish what we had to rebuild. But we were smart enough to say, how do we build back better. You look at downtown Manhattan now, it is better than it was before 9/11. You look at the security procedures that this nation has, we're better than we were before 9/11.

We had Superstorm Sandy here on Long Island. Terrible. Terrible. Thousands of people's homes gone. Long Island is better today for having gone through superstorm sandy. OK. How do we use this situation and stop saying reopen? But reimagine and improve and build back better.

And you can ask this question on any level. How do we have a better transportation system, a better housing system, better public safety system, better health system, better social equity, better use of technology?

People who are working from home, a lot of them are saying, you know what, I should have been doing this all along.

You have telemedicine that we've been very slow on. Why was everybody going to a doctor's office all that time? Why didn't you do it using technology? Why haven't we been using more technology for education? Why haven't we incorporated so many of these lessons? Well, because change is hard and people are slow.

Now is the time to do it. And that's what we're doing in a multi-state regional coalition. And that's very important because that is the smartest way to do it.

On a more granular level, here in New York, we're going to have a reimagined task force that focuses primarily on Downstate New York, which has been the most affected area, and led by the state with those local elected officials.

But let's get the best housing experts, let's get the best transportation experts, and let's use this as a moment to really plan change that we could normally never do unless you had this situation. In the meantime, do no harm. And this is my number-one concern every

day. Do no harm. Don't let that infection rate go up, and that's testing. And that is watching the dial, right?

We know what's going to happen now. The weather is going to warm. People are a little more relaxed because they see the numbers coming down. And we know human behavior, right? They want to get out of the house. They want to be more active.

There's a sanity quotient to this. There's only so long you can say to people, stay in the house and lock the door, right? They have to go out and do something. And they will. They will come out with warmer weather. And we do have parks and recreation areas. It's not even healthy to stay in the house all the time.

But that is going to happen. That activity level is going to increase naturally. When that activity level increases, you can very well see that infection rate spread. Infection rate is primarily a function of contact. You touch a surface and then I touch a surface. You cough and the droplets go on me. It's contact.

And that's why places like New York City or anywhere you see a hot spot cluster, New Rochelle, it was about contact. People start coming out, they start moving around more, there will be more contact. That contact will increase the virus spread.

Watch the dial, watch the virus contact spread. You'll see it in the hospitalization rate. To the extent we're doing testing, you'll see it in the testing rate.

But remember how thin our margin of error. We were at 1.2, 1.3, 1.4. That's when the virus is outbreak. One person is infecting more than one additional person. When you get the infection rate below one, theoretically, the virus is slowing.

We're at .9. We're at .9 to 1.2. That is a very fine margin of error. I don't know that it's even statistically relevant, frankly, because all of these numbers are a little loose.

[11:45:08]

But that's what we have to watch. And we will. And we have to watch this until we have a medical treatment or we have a vaccine. That's when this is really over.

In the meantime, I say again to my local government officials, I'm getting a lot of calls from a lot of supervisors, town elected officials, et cetera. They're under increasing political pressure, and they're wanting to do things.

The state rule is now everything is closed and the state rule is they can't take in the action that is contrary to that. Because coordination and discipline is now key.

Beaches, public facilities, schools, parades, concerts, these would all be magnets for people. I work with our other states because, frankly, if they open up a beach

in Connecticut, you could see a flow of people from New York going to a beach in Connecticut if I don't open our beaches. Or if they have a concert in New Jersey, people are cooped up here, you could see them get in a car and drive to New Jersey to a concert.

By the way, you drive to New Jersey to concerts, anyway, without COVID.

I told someone yesterday, I ran into a couple in Albany who said they were from Queens. They are in a car eating from Styrofoam trays. They drove up from Queens to buy Thai food in Albany, takeout, because they like the Thai food restaurant in Albany.

I said, you drove from Queens to Albany to buy Thai food. Two and a half hours, three hours. I said, they have Thai restaurants in Queens, with all due respect to Thai restaurants in Albany. They're very, very good. But why drive three hours? They said, we just had to get out of the house. We had to do something so we like to take a drive.

So that anything that Jersey and Connecticut and New York do can affect everyone else. Suffolk does something, Westchester does something, New York City does something, it affects everyone else. That is the reality. So everything is closed unless we say otherwise,.

And the most important thing -- I just had a conversation with a local official. Look, people need government to work. Government has to be smart. And if it looks confused between the state and the county or the state and the town, that's the wrong message for everyone. So let's just be smart.

On testing and funding, those are the two areas we're looking to work with our federal partners. Testing is going to require everyone to work together, federal and state.

State and locals, by the way, we're starting the largest antibody test ever done today. In New York, the largest sample. But this has to be a multilevel government coordinated project because we have to do this on an ongoing basis.

Also on the funding issue, this is obviously a unique period in a lot of ways. We did a state budget in a way we've never done it before. Since our state didn't have any revenues, the way we did the budget was we basically said it's dependent on what we get from the federal government, and the federal government that promised funding all along. We said whatever we get from the federal government will determine our state budget, right?

Because the state has a $10 billion to $15 billion hold right now. That's never been done before. It basically said, I'll tell you the state budget when I know the state budget. And the state budget is going to be a function of whatever the federal government gives us. The federal government has not funded states to date.

The National Governors Association, bipartisan, headed by a chairman, Governor Hogan, Republican -- I'm the vice chairman. We have said with one voice, you want the governors to do the job, we need to provide funding for state governments.

There's now another piece of legislation they're talking about passing in Washington, and again, it doesn't have state and local governments in it.

But if this week, we're going to do a state forecast, if they exclude state government again, our state forecast will project, without any federal funds -- you can't spend what you don't have. If you were to do -- allocate on a flat basis relatively on a flat basis across need, you would be cutting schools 20 percent, local government at 20 percent and hospitals at 20 percent. This is the worst time to do this.

[11:50:33]

Now, the federal government said, from day one, don't worry, we'll provide funding from the states. Yes, don't worry. But I am worried because I heard this over and over again.

My job is very simple. I have one agenda and I have one purpose. I fight for New Yorkers. That's my job. I don't have any side jobs or any other places to go or people to see. That's all I do. And I'm tell you, New Yorkers need funding for this budget because we can't do it otherwise.

Washington is saying what? We want to fund small business. Yes, great. You should fund small businesses. And they want to fund financial services and large corporations and airlines and hotels. That's all great. Fund all those businesses.

But at the same time, don't forget teachers and police officers and firefighters and transit workers and health care workers and nursing home staff. Those are the people who I fund with the state budgets budget. You should not make us choose between small businesses and large businesses and people who are on the front line doing the workday in and day out.

I would go a step further, and I would propose hazard pay for front- line workers. We all say, they did a great job, the police and heroes. Yes, they are. But you know what, thanks is nice but recognition of their efforts and their sacrifice is appropriate.

They're the ones that's carrying us through this crisis. This crisis is not over. The equity and fairness of what's happening, I think any reasonable person would say we should right this wrong.

And 40 percent of the front-line workers are people of color, 45 percent in public transit, 57 percent of the building workers, 40 percent of health care workers. People of color are disproportionately represented in delivery services and childcare services, right?

The economy closed down. The economy did not close down. It closed down for those people who have the luxury of staying at home.

All those essential workers, who had to get up every morning to put food on the shelves and go to the hospital to provide health care under extraordinary circumstances and the police officer who had to go out and keep you safe and the firefighter who had to go out and fight the fire, those people worked and they went out there and expose themselves to the virus.

Two-thirds of those front-line workers are women and one-third come from low-income households. So they have been doing this work, they've been stressed, they're going home to a household often had two wage earners. One of them is not working and they're living on one salary.

And after all of that, we see the infection rate among African- American ands and brown Americans higher proportionately than other groups. Why? Because they were out there exposing themselves. That's why.

You can talk about health disparity and et cetera. But I believe all the studies are going to wind up saying, yes, when you are home with your doors locked dealing with cabin fever, they were out there dealing with the coronavirus. That's why they are infected. Pay them what they deserve. I would say hazard pay, give them a 50 percent bonus. And I would do that now. Yes, airlines, also front-line workers.

Also we have a need and responsibility to get the assistance we need to people in low-income communities. We have NYCHA is public housing in the public of housing in the city of New York. High concentration of people in one place. Many people in the small lobby and many people in elevators and hallways. A higher number of people in the apartment, just a higher occupancy. That's where the virus spreads.

[11:55:23]

We'll set up a test program in NYCHA. We'll have on site health services and testing in the New York city area with New York City housing projects, working with local officials. We'll do it as a pilot program to see how it works. If it works well, we'll go further with it.

We have Congressman Meeks, Congressman Hakeem Jefferies, Attorney General Letitia James, Speaker Carl Heastie, and Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz, who will be working on this and coordinating it. I think them very much.

We'll also bring 500 clothe masks to NYCHA. That's one mask for every person in public housing, and hand sanitizers and et cetera, just so they have the necessary equipment they need to do the social distancing and protection.

Personal opinion, not a fact. Throw it in the pail. What we are doing here, as a general rule, what we do determines our future, right? As smart as government is, as smart as people are, that's how you shape your future.

But this is cause and effect on steroids. What we do today will determine tomorrow. We are not going to need to wait to read the history books. We make smart decisions, you will see smart outcomes in two weeks. We make bad decisions, you will see bad outcomes in two weeks.

So when they say the future is in our hands, the future is really in our hands.

And we are going to get through this. We can control the beast. The beast will not destroy us. We can destroy the beast. Great news.

We have a lot of work to do to keep the beast under control. We have a lot of work to do to reopen. But we are going to set the bar high and we are going to reimagine. And what we reopen will be better than what we had better before. Build back better. Build back better. B, B, B. And that's what we are going to do.

Because we are New York tough. Tough is not just tough. Tough is smart. Tough is discipline. Smart is united. And smart is loving.

Questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When will New York release the number of COVID cases at nursing homes like California has done?

CUOMO: Doctor, James?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We updated our survey this past week. We'll get that data in, and as soon as that's ready, we'll post it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, the president just tweeted that the testing is up to the state and not up to the federal government. Just a quick reaction on that. And also, is the state capable doing the types of testing it need to do in order to not only identify who has the disease but who has had the disease?

CUOMO: The president is right. The states 00 testing is up to the states, which we'll implement the test and, logistically, coordinate the tests.

For example, in this state, I should make the determinations as to what labs participate in testing. We have about 300 labs in New York. It is my job to coordinate those 300 labs. Which one should do this, which should not, how do I decide what lab works where?

They are regulated by the states, these labs. So how many labs do I have work in Suffolk, how many labs do I have work in Nassau, how many labs do I have work in Buffalo? How many tests can I get done in total? How do I allocate those tests? How many antibody tests? How many antibody tests can get form those labs? How do I allocate the antibody tests? That all within the state purview.

So I think the president is right when he says the states should lead. And that's the state's leave.

[11:59:58]

What the states will run into is, when you talk to those labs, the 300 labs, they buy machines and equipment from national manufactures.