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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: The Curve Continues To Go Down; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Opening Testing Sites At New York City Public Housing; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Calls Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Grim Reaper As He Calls For State Bankruptcies Not Blue State Bailouts; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Prelim Results Of Antibody Tests On Group Of New Yorkers Show 13.9 Percent Have Antibodies For Coronavirus; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Senator Mitch McConnell Calling For State Bankruptcies Instead Of Federal Funding Is One Of The Dumbest Ideas. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 23, 2020 - 12:00   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): So, yes, region analysis. But understand that regional analysis that you still exist in the tri-state area with millions of people who are looking for something to do to get out of the house and put the kids in the car and go. So that has to be factored in. Because that is a significant factor.

We also have to do more to get testing in the African American, Latino communities.

We talked about health disparity this state did not have the kind of disparity we have seen in the state. But I want to understand them and I want to address them. There are going to be a number of factors why you could have a higher percentage of positives in the African American, Latino community.

There were existing health disparities and there were existing core morbidities under lying illness and diabetes and etc. I also believe you have a greater percentage of "Essential Workers" who are African American and Latino and while everyone else or many other people had the opportunity to lock down at home is terrible as that was.

The essential workers have to get up every morning and go out and drive the bus and drive the train and deliver the food and do all those essential services that allowed people to stay-at-home. Also you have more people in the New York City area and more people getting on subways getting on buses and more people dealing with that density.

And we know that's where it communicates but, New York City has an authority. We are starting more testing today at New York City housing authority facilities. You talk about public housing I was a HUD Secretary, I worked in public housing all across this nation. That's some of the densest housing in the United States of America.

People crammed into elevators crammed through small lobbies overcrowding in their apartment. So public housing does pose a special issue and it should be addressed. I also want to get more testing in African American and Latino communities all through the New York City area and including Long Island after this.

I want to work with Congressman Hakeem Jefferies and Congress members of Ed Clark and Congress member - to help us work with the churches in those communities. The churches have volunteered many of them to be testing sites.

One of the problems is finding a testing site. But many churches have said they would be willing to use their facilities for testing sites. As we ramp up the testing, I want to get it into the African American and Latino community and using the churches and network, I think it is going to be extraordinary effective.

But this is something that New York should lead the way on answering this question and addressing this issue. Also I want to speak from our friends in Washington, Senator McConnell who is Head of the Senate you know we have been talking about funding for states and local government it was not in the bill that the House is going to pass today.

They said don't worry, don't worry the next bill. As soon as the Senate passed it this current bill Senator Mitch McConnell goes out and he says maybe the states should declare bankruptcy. This is one of the really dumb ideas of all time. I said to my colleagues in Washington, I would have insisted that states and local funding was in this current bill.

I don't believe they want the funds states and local government. Not to fund state and local governments is incredibly short cited. They want to fund small business fund the airlines. I understand that. But state and local government funds police and fire and teachers and school.

How do you not fund police, fire and teachers and schools in the midst of this crisis? Yes, airlines are important, yes small businesses are important so are police and fire and health care workers who are the front line workers.

When you don't fund the states, then the states can't fund those services. It makes no sense to me. Also makes no sense that the entire nation is dependent on what the Governors do to reopen. We've established that. It is up to this Governor, it is up to this Governor, it is up to this Governor.

But then you are not going to fund the state government? You think I am going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work? And then to suggest we are concerned about the economy states should declare bankruptcy? That's how you're going to bring this national economy back by states declaring bankruptcy?

You want to see that market fall through the seller let New York State declare bankruptcy. Let Michigan declare bankruptcy or let the Illinois declare bankruptcy, let California declare bankruptcy.


CUOMO: You will see a collapse of this national economy so just don't. Vicious is saying when Senator McConnell said this is a blue state bailout. What he is saying is if you look at the states that have Coronavirus problems, they tend to be Democratic states.

New York, California, Michigan and Illinois they are Democratic states. So, if you find states that are suffering from the Coronavirus that Democratic states don't help New York State because it is a Democratic state. How ugly a thought?

I mean just think of what he is saying. People died 15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democrats. So why should we help them? I mean for crying out loud if there was ever a time you're going to put aside your pettiness and your partisanship in this political lands that you see the world through Democrat and Republican and we help Republicans but we don't have Democrats that's not who we are?

It's just not who we are as a people. I mean if there's ever a time for humanity and decency now is the time. And if there was ever a time to stop your political obsessive, political bias and anger which is what it's morphed into just a political anger. Now is the time and you wanted to politically divide this nation now with all that's going on?

How irresponsible and how reckless? I'm the Governor of all New Yorkers Democrat, Republican and Independent I don't even care what your political party is? I represent you and we're all there to support each other. This is not the time or the place or the situation to start your divisive politics it is just not.

And that's why - look our rules were very simple from day one this is - there is no red and blue. They should have never been a red and a blue when it comes to many important issues but certainly not now and that's not what this country's all about. It's not red and blue it is red white and blue.

And when we talk about New York tough we're all New York tough. Democrats and Republicans and we're all smart and we're all disciplined, and we're all unified and we're all in this together and we understand that and that's how we operate, and we operate with love. And we're strong enough to say love. To say love is not a weakness it is a strange and New Yorkers are that strong. Questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor we're seeing over 1100 corrections staffers and inmates who tested positive for COVID. What might get to the state due to release people detained on pro violations more quickly and what about releasing elderly and medically vulnerable people? And making sure that inmates are getting hand sanitizer is there any ability to get the national quarantine jails?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So as of today, there's 263 prisoners who have tested positive for COVID. And then from that we are quarantining people there's a 1397 people in the prison system which have been quarantined.

We actually have not seen the kind of outbreaks that we feared that we would see we're monitoring it very closely. We've done a number of things including stopping visitation and doing isolation above and beyond but within humanity making sure that you're not putting people solitary confinement.

So we're monitoring this very closely. We're getting briefed on it every morning. We've already taken a number of steps to technical parole violations for people over 55 with the 90 days and as the situation evolves and warrants changes, we'll change.

CUOMO: Excuse me one second let me just go back to my self-proclaimed grim reaper Senator McConnell for another second. He represents the State of Kentucky OK but when it comes to fairness New York State puts much more money into the Federal pot then it takes out OK. At the end of the year we put in to that Federal pot $116 billion more than we take out. OK.


CUOMO: His state the State of Kentucky takes out a $148 billion more than they put it. OK so he's a Federal legislator. He's distributing the Federal pot of money. New York puts in more money to the Federal pot then it takes out. His state takes out more than it puts in.

Senator McConnell who was getting bailed out here? Is your state that is living on the money that we generate? Your state is getting bailed out not my state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A follow up question about the National Guard. I didn't get an answer on that. I was wondering if there were any thoughts or news in the National Guard to clean jails and prisons or even nursing homes.

CUOMO: Not at this time. Let Jessie go. You, OK go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than one percent of the population here - tested during there's operating prisons or enough tests available?

CUOMO: Enough tests are not available anywhere. We need more tests for prisons, more tests for nursing homes, more tests of antibodies. We need more tests across the board. That is not just New York that is nationwide that's why everyone is scrambling on this testing, testing, testing and how do you bring it up to scale Jessie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just add one thing then. We are testing in prisons the same way that we're testing outside of prison. So people who are demonstrating the symptoms that are associated with it that we know have come into direct contact. And so they're getting the same standards being applied within prison walls as is to everybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone needs to be tested has a test?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they fall under those conditions yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you called Senator McConnell? Have you been in contact with him do you intend to?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the issue of the 20 percent of New York City residents who seem to be testing positive be at the antibody testing does this change the calculation Vis a Vis contact tracing? I mean that's two million people basically in New York City that could conceivably have been exposed?

CUOMO: No, it doesn't change the calculus. And look contact tracing is not the answer. It's not the be all and end all. But it's one of the tools and in a very small toolbox, right? You don't have that many affected tools to use. So it's a tool in a small tool box and you're right the tone of the questions right could you ever test and trace every positive? No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, the State Department of Health is charged with regulating nursing homes and investigating - making sure they're complying with regulations. Why is it that they haven't done that already that's up to their job?

CUOMO: No, they do it. They do it on an ongoing basis. This is a crisis situation for nursing homes. They are under a lot of pressure we understand that through no fault of their own by the way. This happens to be a virus that happens to attack elderly people and nursing homes are the place of elderly people.

So they - this is a very intense situation for nursing homes we get it but they still have to perform their job and do their job by the rules and regulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what went wrong? The state had a ton of regulations and guidelines any of --?

CUOMO: Nothing went wrong. It's you know what went wrong in hospitals. What went wrong in society? What went wrong nothing. Mother Nature brought a virus and the virus attacks young people. I'm sorry old people and nothing went wrong. Nobody is to blame but for creation of the situation, but they have to deal with the situation. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor the situation at the Rochester City School is apparently is becoming increasingly critical. The School Superintendent there has suggested he's going to leave at the end of June and their finances teetering as they were in before all this is have gotten increasingly dire. Is there a concern that you have there and is there anything that you can do in this point on that?

CUOMO: We've been talking about the Rochester School District for a few months. I don't think anything's happened recently. Rob, do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the budget we did give them some flexibility and gave them advance payments on their situation. I think the Superintendent there had some desire to make some reductions that doing with locally with the board on what they needed to do. We gave them some flexibility and we give them advance payments to the tune of close to $30 million in this budget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that they could use those tools but like every other district they're going to have problems, but they were actually treated and were given more flexibility than any other district in the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, with that the nursing homes, what should these facilities have done differently when this guidance came out from the DOH saying that they had either readmit or admit new patients to these homes?

And when the voices concern saying hey, we don't have a PPE we don't have enough space our staff calling out sick. What's that communication like a DOH and how is DOH then handling that?

CUOMO: Yes, they should have followed the rules. And the rule says if you can't provide adequate care to a patient you must transfer the patient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it is up to them to transfer the patient?

CUOMO: Yes, and then if they can't transfer a patient to another facility so they call other facilities. Do you have a bed available? If they can't transfer the patient, they call Department of Health and say I can't find a facility for this patient and Department of Health finds the facility for the patient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did anything nursing homes object to one this policy and two--

CUOMO: They don't have the right to object. That is the rule and that is the regulation and then they have to comply with it. And the regulation is basic common sense. If you can't provide adequate care you can't have the patient in your facility and that's your basic fiduciary obligation.

I would say ethical obligation. And it's also your legal obligation. If you can't provide adequate care the person must be transferred. If you have COVID people, they have to be quarantined. They have to have separate staff that's the rule. If you can't do it we'll put them in a facility that can do it. That's the rule.

Now when the person gets transferred then they lose a patient. They lose that revenue. I understand, but the relationship is the contract is, you have this resident, you'll get paid you must provide adequate care if you can't that patient has to be transferred to a facility where they get adequate care.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking in Albany New York as we drop out there. The Governor discussing one of the issues that will be a legacy stain of the Coronavirus pandemic that is the high death count at nursing homes not only in New York State but across America the Governor announcing a new state investigation today into the nursing homes in New York one of the many states that have a tragic death rate in the nursing homes.

Also discussing another one of the legacy stains the high rate of Coronavirus among Latino, African Americans and other communities of color. And the Governor taking a political shot at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who says he believes states should file for bankruptcy not get Federal aid from Washington.

But the most important thing the Governor did today was released the first wave of a study he says New York state has done. 3,000 new Yorkers from 19 counties across the state 40 different locations tested as they came out of grocery stores and other stores asked to participate. So the state could learn how many New Yorkers have been exposed?

And here's the starting number, the Governor says 13.9 percent, 14 percent in this preliminary study tested positive for Coronavirus antibodies. So let's discuss now with Doctor Amesh Adalja he is an Infectious Disease Expert and CNN's Dana Bash is with us as well.

Doctor let me start with you. When you see this testing with all the caveats it is people who left their home. So you're not testing the in home conversation its 3,000 people that's a big data pool as the Governor said. But it's maybe not as comprehensive as you would like, but if 14 percent of New Yorkers Ball Park has antibodies for the Coronavirus that tells us.

Number one, a much higher percentage of people has been infected that have shown up with symptoms at hospitals for treatment what else does it tell you?

DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: It tells us that this virus is much more widespread than we thought. And that when we looking at the models that are using hospitalization rates and looking at case fatality ratios that those are likely overestimating because they're based on skewed data.

And that's one of the reasons maybe isn't some of the models have been off because our hospitalization rate may be much lower because the denominator is so much bigger. And I think it's also in a way reassuring it meaning that we are developing some immunity to this. There are people that have mild illness that don't even know that they're sick.

And those individuals may be part of how we move forward as we start to think about re opening certain parts of the country? Looking antibody testing in this is something to be replicated all over the country. So we have a better situational awareness of what's going on.

KING: And so help me let's stay on this theme for a second. Now that you have this information obviously you know for weeks and months and years people are going to be studying this today and tomorrow how does New York State and how does the Health Director in any other state how does the President's Coronavirus Task Force take that information and say OK what do we learn from it? What do we have to change in what we are doing today?

ADALJA: This again puts into perspective the fact that this is a heterogeneous outbreak. You can see in New York City, New York City having a 22 percent rate and upstate New York having a much lower rate. So this has infected different parts of the country at different rates. So that tells you that you can't have a one size fits all type of policy for a whole country let alone even a state. [12:20:00]

ADALJA: So you will have to see regionalization as we open these places up. And you also have to encourage other states to do this because people don't quite know exactly what happened in their community? So we should do a lot more of this and have it inform the way we think about moving forward and re opening certain activities because it's going to be safer and in certain areas and less safe in other areas.

KING: A lot of rich politics in this briefing as well. But one more health care question for you, Doctor before I move on to some of the politics here. The Governor went through relatively optimistic numbers from New York. Again there is no good news here but it's less depressing news when you look at you known obviously the case curve in terms of hospitalizations is down.

Thankfully intubations are way down. But one thing he noted and he said this is stubborn and frustrating is that there are still about 1300 new COVID diagnosis. People walking into a hospital every day about 1300, that number has stayed flat as all the other curves come down that one came down from its high but now it seems to be flat. What does that tell you are that a resilience question or persistence question about the Coronavirus?

ADALJA: What we know is that these aren't symmetrical curves that you see. Oftentimes a graphical would just show something going up and going down at the same rate. That's not necessarily the case. We know that there are still transmissions going on of this virus and it may take some time for case counts to go down lower.

And remember when we start to lift social distancing it is inevitable the case counts will be going up. So we - I get less interested in the number of case counts. I'm much more interested in hospitalizations because what this epidemic is about and what all of our social distancing is about?

Is preserving hospital capacity not allowing cases to search so that they threaten hospital capacity? So I get less worried about those case counts and just more on looking at the good trends in terms of hospitalizations, intubations need for ventilators that's really what I focus on.

KING: And so Dana as we listen to the Governor. He's laying out his healthcare diagnoses for his state if you will important new data. And then he turned and he got very angry at the Senate Republican the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is starting to get incoming from conservatives members of the tea party.

Let's not - I've all these bailouts all this government spending Mitch McConnell says state should file for bankruptcy maybe instead of getting this giant fusion of Federal aid. Governor Cuomo called that one of the really dumb ideas of all time and he went on to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Don't help New York State because it is a Democratic state. How ugly a thought? I mean just think of what he's saying. People died, 15,000 people died in New York for crying out loud. If there was ever a time you're going to put aside for you to put aside your pettiness and your partisanship in this political lens that you see the world through.


KING: He went on to note that New Yorkers when they pay their Federal taxes pay more to Washington than they take out. He said Kentucky takes out from Washington more than it puts it. He says who is getting the bail out here Senator so some raw angry politics in the middle of this pandemic?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We saw this coming from a mile away as urgent and as scary as what we have seen going on has been for the past you know now six weeks or so.

An understanding that people like Mitch McConnell and others for whom it is anathema to be writing big Federal checks in and voting yes and working on big packages unprecedented packages Federal tax dollar money to bail out a whole host of things.

That the tide would turn at some point. It hasn't fully turned yet but that press release that statement from Mitch McConnell that Governor Cuomo highlighted is the Canary in the coal mine and the fact that he decided to highlight it obviously it was a personal friend to him as a New Yorker and he's dealing with the reality of made up of a budget shortfall you know beyond which we can probably imagine.

But if you marry what McConnell said with the protests that we're seeing? You know we've seen this movie before and it's probably going to be very, very familiar sequel.

KING: We saw this movie in 2010 when after the 2008 financial collapse--

BASH: Yes.

KING: --primary challenges including several of Mitch McConnell's friends in the Senate got beat in primary challenge by Republicans saying it's not conservative to do all these ballots. Here's my question for you Dana as we close this conversation though Governor Cuomo says and the President has publicly said he thinks that maybe in the next package you do help the states.

Mitch McConnell now says maybe we shouldn't do that. So you're going to have the Democratic Governor of New York the Republican Majority Leader of Kentucky in a tug of war for the President of the United States?

BASH: Right. And let's just remember even though the President has said that he's been known to change his mind. And he is also looking ahead to November and New York isn't on the table for him other blue states are not on the table for him. [12:25:00]

BASH: And you can bet that as they're going to do the hard negotiating those facts are going to be put in front of him and a very clear way the political realities for him despite how much blue states like New York say that they need this? And despite the President's promise.

KING: Right, one of the many fascinating ripples health care related on the terms of the city's anybody's, political related in terms of the money. We'll have to follow in the days ahead. Dr. Adalja and Dana Bash thanks very much for your insights there.

After that important briefing Governor Cuomo up next for us days of pushing forward President Trump now says he disagrees with some of the Georgia Governor's decision to reopen up tomorrow.