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Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Gov. Andrew Cuomo Updates State's COVID-19 Response; Gov. Andrew Cuomo Lays Out How Phased Reopening Will Look; Gov. Cuomo: Hospitalizations, Intubations Down. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired April 26, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Open for business? With more than 50,000 Americans dead, states begin to reopen. But is it safe for Americans to go get a haircut or a tattoo?

I will speak to Colorado Governor Jared Polis and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams next.

And medical advice? Health officials rush to warn Americans not to take the president's word when he mused about injecting disinfectants.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was asking a question sarcastically.

TAPPER: For the latest in the White House pandemic response, I will speak to the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, in moments.

Plus: in the red. As more than 26 million Americans file for unemployment over the past five weeks, Democrats say, more help is on the way.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We will be ready soon with our next bill.

TAPPER: But with Republicans opposed to what they're proposing, did Democrats miss their best chance to get it done? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me to discuss next.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is anxious.

Two months ago today, February 26, President Trump said we were a couple of days away from -- quote -- "close to zero" cases of coronavirus in the United States.

Today, we're at over 900,000 confirmed cases and more than 53,000 Americans dead. Now, after weeks of near total lockdown, more than a dozen states across the country are beginning to reopen. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp is pushing an aggressive reopening, despite warnings from officials, including President Trump.

But testing remains a huge issue across the country, with governors scrambling to find enough tests and testing agents and other supplies to get critical information about the spread of the virus in their states.

We are going to speak live in a few moments with the White House coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx.

But I want to begin with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who joins me now from the Capitol.

Speaker Pelosi, good to see you. I'm glad you and yours are all well.

PELOSI: Thank you.

TAPPER: Let me ask you. Nearly all of your members traveled back to Washington to cast their votes in person on that bill. But a new report in "The Washington Post" this morning says that more than a dozen Democrats think the House right now is failing to meet its constitutional mandate, because it can't really legislate or oversee the coronavirus response.

You heard Congressman Jason Crow says he hasn't had a classified briefing in six weeks. Congressman Denny Heck says Congress is ill- prepared. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin says the House has not found its footing yet.

What's your response to them? Is it time to allow remote voting during a pandemic?

PELOSI: Well, they're two different issues.

First of all, I'm very proud of our House Democratic Caucus. Their unity, their ideas were able to give us a bill that was so very much improved over what the administration was presenting.

Two weeks ago, the secretary of the Treasury called me and said, I need a quarter-of-a-trillion dollars in 48 hours. I said, I don't think so. We will get back to you.

And when we did, with the leadership of Maxine Waters and Chairwoman Velazquez of the Small Business Committee, Maxine of the Banking Committee, we were able to expand that initiative to include over $110 billion more for small businesses.

And that was a very major achievement, because it strove to -- what it strove to do was to say, no longer will we -- will we harden the lack of access to credit for small women, minority-owned businesses, Native American, veterans, rural businesses, and the rest. We will open the door. So, we got hundred $110 million more loans, more grants and the rest. And we got $100 billion for hospitals and testing.

We think that was a good piece of work for those two weeks.

TAPPER: Right. PELOSI: Yes, I share the frustration that they have about the committees. And we are -- I'm all for doing remote voting by proxy. I want it to be bipartisan. The Republican leader, Mr. McCarthy, has assured me that he will consider this. He's not there yet. He could be there. But whether he is or not, we will we -- our process was to strive to make it bipartisan.


But we will -- of course --

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. I want to interrupt STATE OF THE UNION there with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his daily briefing. Let's listen.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- continues and that's a very good starting place. We are now back to where we were on March 31st before we started this dramatic increase in the number of cases.

We're still watching. Big questions, how fast does the number continue to come down? First, does the number continue to come down? Because that would be a nightmare if it ticks up. And how fast does it come down? And how low does it go, right?

Before we started this, we only had a couple of hundred cases. When do we get back to a couple of hundred new COVID cases going in? The overall hospitalization rate is down, the number of intubations is down. Even the number of new COVID cases is down. Still not good. Still 1,000 new COVID cases yesterday, to put it in focus. That would normally be terrible news. It's only not terrible news compared to where we were.

This is just terrible news, 367 deaths which is horrific. And there is no relative context to death. Death is death, 367 people passed, 367 families -- what I've been working from day one is to make sure that people understand the facts of what we're dealing with, because this is a unique situation.

Government really can't act unless the people fully support the action. What we have done here government couldn't do. It was a pure function of what people did. So my plan all along has been give people the facts and if they have the facts, they will act responsibly.

But they have to have the facts. They have to buy into the plan. And it really is an individual decision, right? Who is taking care of your health? You are. We're mutually dependent in that what I do can affect your health, but it really comes down to giving everybody the information so people can make their own decision.

And the great achievement in this period has been that when people get the facts, and they trust the facts and they understand the facts, they do the right thing. And that is a lesson that I hope people remember after this is all over. But we still have to remember the facts. And we talk about reopening. We talk about reimagining. Let's start to put some meat on the bones of what we're talking about so people understand. The federal guidance from the CDC is that before you start reopening, the state and regional hospitalization rate must be in the decline of 14 days. OK? That's the CDC's guidance.

The federal government leaves it up to the states. It's up to the governors. It's up to the governors, but they also give guidance. And in this case, I think the CDC guidance is right. So we're monitoring the hospitalization rate. We're monitoring the regional hospitalization rates. We said in this state, it's a very diverse state.

Upstate regions are like states in the Midwest, even out west. And we have different hospitalization rates so we look at the rates all across the state as well as across the regions. We're going to reopen in phases. A regional analysis on what we call our economic regions that we've been working with the state on and those regions have been working together on economic policy, et cetera.

So to analyze the regions, which are existing coalitions, actually work. But look at the regional analysis. Make a determination. And then monitor whatever you do.

Phase one of reopening will involve construction and manufacturing activities. And within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk, right. There is a range of construction activities. There's a range of manufacturing activities, but those businesses that pose a low risk within them.

Phase two would then be more a business by business analysis using the matrix that we've discussed. How essential a service does that business provide, and how risky is that business?


If you reopen that business, how much risk are you possibly incurring? And how important is it that that business reopen? And that matrix will be guiding us through phase two.

In phase two, when we get there, we need businesses to do that analysis. They have to think about how they're going to reopen with this -- quote, unquote -- "new normal." What precautions are they going to take in the workplace? What safe guards are they going to put in place?

So, it's very much going to be up to businesses. Then we're going to leave two weeks between phases so we can monitor the effect of what we just did, right? Take action, monitor. Two weeks, that's, according to the experts, the incubation period of the virus, so you can actually see if you had an effect, will you increase the rate of infection, which you would then see in hospitalizations, testing, et cetera.

So, everyone understands the overall risk that you start to increase activity, the infection rate goes up. Two weeks to actually do that monitoring. That's the broad outlines of the reopening plan and then you get into caveats.

One caveat is you can't do anything in any region that would increase the number of visitors to that region, right? You have a whole multistate region in lockdown here. It's possible that you open something in Syracuse, so you open something in the North Country where you now see license plates coming in from Connecticut, New Jersey, people from down state all coming to that area because they've been locked down and they're looking for an activity.

So that's something that we have to pay attention to. And all of this is done in a multistate context with our neighboring states. Most relevant, especially down state. Down state is, obviously, the most complicated situation. That's New York City, that's Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, and surrounding suburbs.

Multistate coordination is vital there because the New Jersey, Connecticut, New York City area is basically very intermixed. People are going and coming. They live in one place. They work in the other place. So, that coordination is important.

You get upstate, coordination with Massachusetts is more important in some areas, right? Some parts of the state, Pennsylvania coordination is more important. So, coordinating with those states that are neighbors to that region.

Down state we've said we have to coordinate the main activities. There are gears that intermesh. You can't turn one gear without turning the other gears. That's how you strip gears. I keep trying to explain it to my daughters.

Transportation, parks, schools, beaches. These are all coordinated activities, right? You turn one they all have to turn. And that's true for New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester. They all have to be coordinated. And we're working with local businesses and leaders to do that.

Again, on the phased reopening, does my business reopen? What is your business? And how would you do your business in this new normal? You normally have people in a conference room? Are you going to do that? You normally have people in workstations that are right next to each other? Do you plan on reopening that way?

So this is not a one-sided equation here. Businesses, you develop a plan on how you would reopen given everything we now know, and if you have a plan -- I'll show you in a moment, that takes into consideration these new circumstances, more essential, lower risk. The way a business opens will determine the risk. They can't really determine how essential their service is, but they can determine how risky opening them up -- opening their business would be.

Also, we need them to be creative and think outside the box. And we've been speaking with business leaders across the state, but some people even need a new economic model. We want to bring sports back, right? So there's an activity that people can watch on TV. What sports can you do without an audience? What sports can you make work economically where you don't have to sell a seat in the stadium or in the arena? How do you do drive ins? How do you do different types of businesses that could actually work in this environment? And, again, they have to be creative and they have to think about it.


Down state, which does have particular needs, we need summer activities in down state New York. You can't tell people in a dense, urban environment all through the summer months we don't have anything for you to do. Stay in your apartment with the three kids. You know, that doesn't work. There's a sanity equation here, also, that we have to take into consideration.

Special attention for public housing residence. Special attention for low-income communities. That, number one, paid a higher price for this disease than anyone else. We talk about the racial disparities. African-American and Latinos. We're increasing the testing. We're going to have more to say on that this week. But lower income communities need more assistance through this.

And I will also need to focus -- we need to focus on the basics. We need more food banks, more food assistance. There are people who literally are struggling for food and for child care. We have to make that more available. And I want to bring in in a coordinated way the philanthropies. There's a lot of good will. A lot of people want to help. Philanthropies represent the positive force in our society. I want to make them part of this in a partnership, and we're doing that.

So, working through all of this with partners in the business community and the health care community, right? Because we have an economic strategy and we have a public health strategy. It has to work with businesses who are creative and more thoughtful, and health care professionals who just learned a very important lesson with what we went through. And I don't want it lose that lesson.

In terms of businesses thinking about the new normal, think about it in terms of people. How are you going to protect your people? What are you going to be doing differently with your employees? Your actual physical space. What does the physical space look like when you reopen in this new normal? What are you doing about PPE equipment? How are you cleaning? What is the hygiene? What is the access? What is the screening? How do you move people? What is the travel and transportation? And then what processes can you put in place to make your business less risky, right?

How can you train people? How can you communicate about this disease? Can you do testing in your workplace? These are all factors for businesses to consider that want to reopen quickly.

And, again, it's between the two. It's governmental decisions in partnership with business decisions because -- I think every business leaders gets, you can't go back to where you were. We have to go back in light of the circumstances that have developed.

And in the midst of all this, monitor the public health impact. All of that progress we made by flattening that curve, we could lose that in a matter of days, if we're not careful. And it's important that people understand what that actually means. And this gets a little technical, but it's worth understanding. If I can understand it, anybody can understand it.

They talk about the rate of increase of the spread of the infection, right? The R0 factor. But it's basically straight forward. If one person infects less than one person, that's the first category of R0. One person infects less than one person.

The next step up is one person infects one person who then infects another person. One to one to one to one to one.

The worst situation is one person infects two people and then those two people go out and infect two people. And that's fire through dry grass, right? Now you're in bad shape. That's where we were when this started.

We were actually there before we even knew we were there. This is now the insight that the disease came from Europe to New York because it was already out of China by the time we realized it. It went to Europe, went to Italy, went to the Lombardi district, got on a plane, came to New York, and was here much earlier than we knew. And it was spreading much earlier than we knew at a much higher rate.


We have to be down to the one person infects one other person. You can't really go beyond that margin. Right now we're at 0.8. One person infects 0.8 percent of a person. So, one person is infecting less than one person. That is good news. At that rate, you see the virus declining.

Upstate, interestingly, it's 0.9. Again statistically very close, but upstate the infection rate is one person infects 0.9 percent. Down state one person is infecting 0.75. OK? So that's where we are across the state.

If we keep the infection rate below one person infecting one person, that is where the infection rate continues to drop. That's where you'll see the curve dropping. So, we have to stay there.

How do you monitor it? You have three basic dials. Number of hospitalizations, which you see every day, which I show you every day. The number of hospitalizations. And you can see that by region. The number of positive antibody tests. This is why testing is so important. We're doing antibody testing around the state and regions. Antibody testing tells you how many people have been infected. A little bit of a lag because you only have the antibodies after you've had the virus, but it tells you on a lag basis how many people have been infected.

The third dial is the diagnostic tests, which are just positive/negative. And they tell you on an absolute basis what your infection rate is. Those are the three dials that you're watching. You take these activities, you watch those three dials and you have your hand on the valve, right? The activity valve. So you open the valve a little bit, phase one. Watch those dials like a hawk and then you adjust. That's called the Rt factor. Rate of transmission factor. What is the rate of transmission of the virus? We're now at about 0.8. You cannot go above 1.2. 1.2, you see that number go right back up again. And we'll be sitting here talking about showing you a chart that showed up, down, and then up again. That's what happens if the rate of transmission gets to 1.2.

So, this is the balance that we collectively need to strike. I want to get back to work. I want to get back to work. My kids want out of the house. I need to do something. I understand. We have to do it intelligently and that's -- this is the definition of intelligence in this context.

Also, I don't want to just reopen. We learned a lot of lessons here. Painfully but we learned a lot of lessons and that's what reimagined means to me. How do we take the lessons we learned, take this pause in life, and say when we reopen we're going to be better for it and we're going to reimagine what our life is and we're going to improve for this pause?

Look, even on an individual level you had time to decompress a little bit or compress for a different set of factors but I think everybody went through a period where they analyzed their life and what they were doing and when somebody all of a sudden pulls out the rug from under you and you wind up in a different place you just see life differently. And I think that's true for most people.

OK. After that reflection, how do you -- what have we learned? How do we improve? And how do we build back better? Because it's not about return to yesterday. There's no return to yesterday in life. It's about moving forward. It's about taking your experience in what you learned and bringing it to a positive effect.

And with that, I want to end on just sharing a story that taught me a lot. There's a tunnel in New York called the L Train Tunnel. People in New York City know it very well. It's a tunnel that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn and 400,000 people use this train in this tunnel.


Four hundred thousand people is a larger group than many cities in this country have. OK? So, they had to close down the tunnel because the tunnel was old and the tunnel had problems and everybody looked at it and they said, we have to close down the tunnel. Four hundred thousand people couldn't get to work without that train. They had all these complicated plans on how they were going to mitigate the transportation problem and different buses and different cars and different bikes and different horses -- the whole alternative transportation.

And this went on for years. Everyone said you had to close the tunnel and it was going to be closed for 15 to 18 months. Now when government says it's going to be closed for 15 to 18 months, I hear 24 months to the rest of your life. That's my governmental cynicism. But that was the plan. We're going to close it down, rebuild the tunnel 15 months to 18 months, the MTA.

This was going to be a massive disruption. I heard a lot of complaints. I get a few smart people, Cornell engineers, Columbia engineers. We go down into the tunnel and we looked at it. And the engineers say, you know what? There's a different way to do this. And they talk about techniques that they use in Europe. And they say not only could we bring these techniques here and we wouldn't have to shut down the tunnel at all. Period. We could just stop usage at nights and on weekends and we can make all of the repairs. And we can do it with a partial closure for 15 months.

The opposition to this new idea was an explosion. I was a meddler. I didn't have an engineering degree. They were outside experts. How dare you question the bureaucracy? The bureaucracy knows better. It was -- it was a thunder storm of opposition, but we did it anyway. And we went ahead with it and we rebuilt the tunnel and the tunnel is now done better than before with all these new techniques.

It opens today. It opens today. And the proof is in the pudding, right? We went through this period of, I don't believe it. This is interference. It opened today. And it opens today not in 15 months but actually in only 12 months of a partial shut down. So it's ahead of schedule, it's under budget, and it was never shut down.

I relay this story because you can question, and you should question, why we do what we do. Why do we do it that way? I know that's how we've always done it, but why do we do it that way? And why can't we do it a different way? Why not try this? Why not try that?

People don't like change, you know, we think we like change but we don't really like change. We like control more than anything, right? So it's hard. It's hard to make change. It's hard to make change in your own life let alone on a societal collective level. But if you don't change, you don't grow. And if you don't run the risk of change, you don't have the benefit of advancement.

Not everything out there has to be the way it is. So, we just went through this wild period where people are walking around with masks. Not because I said to but because they understand they need to.

How do we make it better? How do we make it better? And let's use this period to do just that. And we will. And we'll reimagine and we'll make it a reality because we are New York tough and smart and disciplined and unified and loving and because we know that we can. We know that we can. We showed that we can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) seems to be an outline kind of a philosophical approach to reopening, but when can people expect, like, dates and hard facts and times of opening? When are we going to get details?

CUOMO: You have them. You have May 15th. The pause is statewide until May 15th, right? Then you have the CDC guidance that says hospital -- total hospitalizations declining for 14 days. [12:30:05]

OK? So we get to May 15, what regions have seen a decline for 14 days will - we're assuming we're seeing a decline in the state for 14 days but what states - what regions of the state have seen a decline for 14 days?

That's where you will start the conversation to get to Phase 1 in that region. The regions that would be more likely able to open sooner would be the upstate regions. You take like Central New York, you take the north country, you take the Mohawk valley. Those regions have seen lower numbers from day one.

So you would talk about Phase 1 opening there which is construction and manufacturing. With the caveat don't do anything that's going to bring people in from all across the board and then you have people from New York City in Massachusetts and Connecticut coming in.

Also the construction by manufacturing is a business by business analysis, not all construction is the same, not all manufacturing is the same. What are those businesses doing to incorporate the safe procedures. But you would see that more likely in the upstate areas, if those numbers continue to decline the way the CDC recommends.

Downstate New York is going to be more complicated. You can't do anything in New York City that you don't do in Suffolk, you don't do in Nassau, you don't doing Westchester. You can't do anything in downstate that we don't do in coordination with primarily Connecticut and New Jersey.

Coordination does not mean total consistency but it does mean coordination. We have to know if we're doing something different. We've had issues where certain activities were open in Connecticut and you saw many New York license plates in the Connecticut parking lot.

We opened beaches in New York City but Jersey doesn't open beaches. You all see New Jersey people at our beaches so you won't be in lockstep but before we do anything, I want to make sure we know what we're doing.

Because you'll see people react to different activity levels in different communities.

REPORTER: But conceivably, you could see manufacturing and construction start to come online in certain upstate regions after May 15?

CUOMO: With certain precautions after May 15. Yes.

REPORTER: What about schools and retail? What do you think?

CUOMO: Schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening. So you couldn't really get to a maximum Phase 2 without opening schools. Question on schools is going to be do you reopen for the rest of the school year and then it's going to be a question, many local school districts are talking about summer school. And they're contemplating summer school to make up for some of the

lost time. Remember you have a real problem. This remote learning, I think is going to be one of the lessons we learn. Remote learning is great in concept. We had to jump into it with both feet.

And we didn't really have a chance to scale up for it. So many of the school district, we have 700 school districts in the state, many of them are saying they want to do summer school because they want to make up for some of that class time.

So that we have to feel out as we go. See, on any of these things, I'm not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves. You know, you want to talk about the two-week window. I think that's an intelligent window to talk about. Anybody who sits up here and says well, I'm going to tell you what's going to happen a month down the road, I wouldn't believe that person.

REPORTER: - School districts right now are trying to put together their budgets, put out a financial plan that has a broad based cut coming so what - what guidance for them? What should they expect?

CUOMO: Call Washington.

REPORTER: Well, they need to put together a budget. I know they want to call Washington. They get that. You said 20 percent. Is that the right number? Financial plan doesn't have any.

CUOMO: Rob, what number should they do?

ROBERT MUJICA, BUDGET DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE: It says in the financial plan, there could be up to 20 percent additional - up to 20 percent or additional reduction. On May 15 - May 1 was the first checkpoint. On May 1 we'll know exactly what the revenues are.

We'll know exactly where we are with Washington, whether we have more money. We'll release a plan by the middle of May. That still gives time for the school districts to make their budgets so between now and May 15, we'll have more clarity and more specificity in the financial plan.

Right now, we're letting you know, this is where we stand. This is where we stand. This is where the revenue picture is. Those are the facts and by the time they put their school budget votes together, they will have those numbers and we'll have that time.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

CUOMO: I'm sorry.

REPORTER: Your executive order puts the school budget votes after June 1. Do we know when they'll be, how they'll be done, by mail, by board?

CUOMO: No, I don't know. We haven't gotten there yet. Mark.

[12:35:00] REPORTER: Governor, in your presentation, I heard a lot about businesses in private sector but have you been in touch with the state worker union leaders and have you got any push back like we don't want to be the guinea pigs or we're first one - we're all workers, we're the first ones out at work? And have you laid out a plan of the spacing or social distancing at the office buildings? Can you, you know - I don't see it in the presentation.

CUOMO: Yes, well, we are part of those. When you talk about opening up a government office that is not now open, we are part of that same analysis as for a business. We would not open any government office that doesn't have all those social distancing measures, reconfiguration of the work place, etcetera.

So we would do the same thing we're asking businesses to do.

REPORTER: Are you planning anything? Are you working on that?

CUOMO: Yes, yes, we are we are planning that. We come back in phases, reduced workforce, more space, etcetera and then we have certain functions that are more essential than others also.

You know the same thing I'm asking business to do, we are doing. It would be easy for me to say every state agency is essential. Yes, but there are - and every state agency is essential otherwise we wouldn't have it but there are some that are more essential than others in a short term basis.

For a business, yes, every division is essential. I get it. But short term, do you a more essential divisions than others that you could bring back and do social distancing, etcetera in your workplace. Also big factor here that is implicit, I think but let me make it explicit in case I'm wrong and it's not implicit.

The big factor here is what people do. That's been the factor from day one. Andrew, why do you spend so much time going through all the facts? Because I need people to understand so they actually do it, right? Or not do it. I gave them the facts on why I think they need to wear a mask.

If people don't wear a mask, do we have the ability to force people to wear a mask? 19 million people? No. No. So they have to understand it and if they understand it, they will do the right thing. I believe that. If they think my facts don't add up or my conclusion doesn't add up then they don't wear the mask. Luckily they wear the mask. On this Phase 1 opening, monitor, monitor, monitor. That assumes they are going to be responsible in their behavior.

That they can now go out and go to a new store that's open. OK, if they're wearing a mask and they're using - cleaning their hands, that's one scenario. If they go to work and they're using a mask and they keep social distancing and they don't get sloppy, they don't get undisciplined, that's one situation.

That personal behavior changes, I am telling you, we're talking about a window of 0.8 to 1.2. That's all we're talking about. That we can blow through that like you know winds through reeds so it depends on what people do. How smart, how disciplined they are through this whole process.

REPORTER: The state showed the way to the private sector so that you can set up a scenario that would work and then the state and then the private sector?

CUOMO: Yes, we will - we will do that. We will show a work place that is socially distant, people wear their masks, they don't go to cafeteria. There is no congregate. The transportation is accommodated. We will show that what we do.

REPORTER: Can the state too say that this is our complying with PPE regulations or mask wearing -?

CUOMO: They have to give us a plan before we say they can reopen. Yes, we're talking to businesses now, literally individual businesses. We have groups that have been set up that are meeting with businesses, talking to businesses. Steve Cohen who's a former secretary. Bill Mulrow who is former secretary to me, have been doing this for weeks.

They were here at one meeting - one briefing, dealt with your questions, ran away. I don't know that there was a connection between the two but they have been talking to businesses, coming up with individual business plans because even construction - construction manufacturing which are in Phase 1. Yes. What construction? How will you operate? Manufacturing can be anything, right?


How will your business operate in this quote/unquote new normal and that is business by business.

REPORTER: I'm sorry. How will the state keep track of new infections or transmissions while Phase 1 is in effect?

CUOMO: Just the way I said. With the 3 dials. You have hospitalization rate, which you know now. We have a new system in place. Every hospital in the state on a day to day basis - basis gives us that hospitalization rate. So that dial one.

Dial 2 is the antibody testing which we are now bringing up the scale in a large number statewide and regional. Antibody testing tells you how many people were infected with a two-week lag, OK? Because that's what - roughly two weeks to develop the antibodies. That's the second dial.

The third dial is diagnostic testing, statewide and by region. This is what we got last week when we tested. Last week we were in Buffalo and we tested. 3 percent of the population were positive. This week 4 percent of the population is positive. Oh, maybe that statistically relevant - irrelevant.

Four days later 5 percent. Oops. Close down the valve so you have those three dials. Those three dials, hospitalization rate, antibody testing rate, positive diagnostic testing rate, positive-negative. They give you the rate of transmission which is how fast is the virus spreading.

REPORTER: It's been done in the regions that are in Phase 1?

CUOMO: Yes, that's why we've said, all of this is dependent on testing because without testing you only have one dial. You only have the hospitalization dial. And the hospitalization dial is a little misleading - well, it's not misleading. It tells you what it tells you but it tells you people who got infected in some period over the past two weeks or maybe three weeks and who are seriously infected so that they have to go to a hospital.

But that's all that hospitalization rate gives you. The antibody test and the diagnostic test give you a higher level of information by reaching.

REPORTER: Governor, the Westchester county center was one of the areas that was - one of the facilities that was crafted into a temporary hospital. The infection rate is going down, the work has been completed there but if there happen to be no patients as far as I know, what do you do now with those facilities, with that facility in particular that doesn't appear to be much more useful?

CUOMO: Yes, today we are in good shape and today that would be a true statement. Do you know if that'll be a true statement in 60 days.

REPORTER: I don't know.

CUOMO: So what would you do with the facility?

REPORTER: You're the governor.

CUOMO: Yes but what would you do if you're the governor? You'd leave it right there because you don't know what it's going to be in 60 days.

REPORTER: I mean is there a possibility that you could transfer - there's been lots of talk about nursing home patients and residents. Could you move people out of nursing homes?

CUOMO: Nursing home patients. Let's go back to square one. A nursing home can only provide care for a patient who they believe they can provide adequate care for. If they cannot provide adequate care for a patient, they must transfer that patient.

If they can't find an alternative nursing home or facility, Department of Health will find an alternative nursing home or facility. We have vacancies in nursing homes and in facilities. There is no nursing home who says, I have John, I can't take care of John. I don't know where to send him. They'll call Department of Health and we'll find a bed for John in a facility that can take care of him.

That is how it works. There was one story. It said, oh well, nursing homes said they wanted to send someone to the Comfort which was the ship, the federal government gave us and Department of Health said, they can't send them to the Comfort. Yes, nursing home can't send the person to the Comfort because that's

not the agreement with the federal government. Comfort only took referrals from hospital so the person was assessed at a hospital first. But forget the Comfort. If a nursing home calls up and says I need to send - I can't take care of this person. We will find a bed for that person. Period.


REPORTER: But isn't that - but doesn't that - isn't that at least a mixed message from the March 25 memo that said you know you cannot deny admission or re-admission just because of the suspected Covid-19 patient?

CUOMO: No, you were in that facility. You have Covid, you are back in that facility. That facility if they're going to care for you, if they're going to care for you, must quarantine, must have PPE for staff, must follow these guidelines or they say I can't take care of John. I can't take care of him, I'm not equipped. I don't have the space to quarantine him. I don't have the staff. I don't have the PPE. I can't take care of John.

I'm going to transfer John to another facility or I'm going to call the Department of Health and tell them to come pick up John. But if you keep John and I'm paying you to keep John or John's family is paying you to keep John then you have to give John the appropriate care and here's appropriate care for person who is Covid.

REPORTER: Alec Baldwin has released a video calling on you to grant clemencies to people in the prison - in the prison system here. Do you have any plans to do that and what do you make of this?

CUOMO: We have been doing that. I haven't heard his comments.

REPORTER: - clemency as far as you granting?

CUOMO: Based on what? Right?

REPORTER: Based on vulnerable population, pregnant inmates.

CUOMO: How about if they are violent and they just started their sentence?

REPORTER: This is - specifically the call is for prisoners who are near the end of their terms within a year or -

CUOMO: That we've been doing. That we've been doing.

REPORTER: Governor - open the economy, how can you possibly help farms that are struggling upstate? Obviously the supply chain is in a bind right now. Can the state do anything?

CUOMO: Yes, the Department of Agriculture is looking at just that. You know, these stories about dumping milk, I don't really understand the - what the economic forces are where they have too much and they - we've talked to Department of Agriculture. Look, if there's a way we can buy it. We're talking about food banks in New York City for low income communities and they were talking about dumping milk in upstate New York, right? I don't get it.

So that's the exact issue that we're looking at and if there's a way that the state can purchase as part of these food bank programs for example, we will do that. One of the things is New York City schools bought a lot of the products from upstate New York because we work - we worked very hard to develop that relationship.

Apparently, the purchasing of the schools is down or it's different purchasing. I don't know the exact specifics but anyway we can fix that, we will.

REPORTER: Different topic - domestic violence, you guys did that hotline website. Is there any updates on the data? Are you still seeing incidents go up?

CUOMO: Look, you - we see domestic violence going up. We see apparent trends in alcoholism going up. We see some trends that say drug usage is going up. Mental health needs are going up. Do not underestimate the stress that this situation has created, the abnormal circumstances that it has created.

I don't know if I have a job. I'm not getting a paycheck. The bills are still coming in. I see no light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm cooped up in my home. And I'm under tremendous stress and then I have this added stress of being in the situation that I've never been before in my life.

Yes, that is a toxic mix. So when we talk about reopening, getting people out, some activities, place where people can walk, just something you know. I say tongue in cheek is the sanity index but you know people need to know that there's an opening.

There is a future, that there's hope, that somebody's doing something and then you need a relief valve just on a day to day basis so people have some relief in their life, some vent.

REPORTER: Just about everyone at this point has said that crisis is emphasised how important healthcare workers are even outside of the crisis. That being said, does that shine any light or add any urgency to the plight of pensioners of the former St. Claire's hospital who are frankly done at this point?


CUOMO: Oh, that's a good point. I do not - I don't know if we can get to that problem with this situation. I'm aware of it. I don't know - I don't - I don't know how we can help those people through here but it's something we'll look at.

REPORTER: Financially it would be difficult because the state is strapped for cash but as far as investigating to figure out who's responsible for the disappearance of their money? Is that something that should that be emphasised, seeing as those people are nimble here? CUOMO: Yes, for sure, for sure.

REPORTER: Do - on Monday should cancel the Presidential primary in New York?

CUOMO: I'm sorry.

REPORTER: Do you think tomorrow the Democratic commissioners of the Board of Elections should cancel the presidential primary in New York.

CUOMO: Yes, I haven't expressed any opinion to them.

REPORTER: I'm asking you.

CUOMO: Yes, have we said any opinion?


REPORTER: OK, do you have an opinion? You're a smart guy.

CUOMO: Not that smart. Not that opinionated. Just a cool dude in a loose mood. You know me Jim.

REPORTER: As the leader of the party of the state, you won't weigh in?

CUOMO: No. Mark. Mark and then we'll come right back to you Jessy.

REPORTER: Since deaths lag behind hospitalizations, why not use a decline in the death rate as the bellwether for reopening instead of hospitalizations?

CUOMO: Well, we look at both, right? We look at the death rate by region. And we look at the hospitalizations. They basically track more or less - Do you do we know statistically what the variance is between the two?

JAMES MALATRAS, CUOMO AIDE: The death rate, we look at hospitalization is important because that's the front end. That's sort of the newer cases so you know what the capacities and the system.

We still know as a ratio about 25 to 30 percent of all hospitalized populations due to Covid end up in ICU. Of the 25 to 30 percent, 90 percent of those people end up on intubation and that rate of death is really fairly high so we work - when the Governor talks about hospitalizations, that's that entire process that's factored in to the dial of reopen-not reopen.

CUOMO: And remember the train comes off the tracks here. The train comes off the tracks. When you overwhelm the healthcare system, that's when everything goes bad. That was Italy. That's what we were very worried about, right? That infection rate keeps going up. You will have the death rate associated with that infection rate but first, you'll have a collapse of the hospital system and you'll have people in hallways, on gurneys who aren't getting cared for.

And that's what we were petrified of frankly and that's why we boosted all the hospital capacity, all these extra facilities. That's why that hospitalization rate, 1000 people walked into a hospital today. That number of people walking into the hospital. That number gets too high, you overwhelm those emergency rooms, we go back to where we were, shuttling equipment all across the system, shuttling patients all across the system.

That's the first indicator warning sign.

REPORTER: But my question is related to reopening and the economy and the state as opposed to using the death rate going down for 14 days.

CUOMO: The CDC came up with the hospitalization rate. I don't know their methodology to tell you the truth.

REPORTER: Use different -

CUOMO: Yes, we do use both. We look at both. Jesse, take the last question.

REPORTER: What would you say to business owners, particularly in upstate who are being absolutely clobbered by this economically? What sort of words of hope, what sort of words of comfort can you offer them or this will - this will get better, this will be over by X date.

CUOMO: Well, you know X date. Nobody has X date. There is no X date. You listen to the national experts. Listen to Dr. Fauci, right? Dr. Fauci says there may be a second wave. It could come back in the fall, right?

So nobody's giving anybody a date here but short term, the numbers are on the decline. Everything we have done is working. The rates are all dropping. The hospitals did phenomenal work but they did not get overwhelmed and we coordinated healthcare services.

The policies are working. We're now looking at a relatively short period of time. 14 days of decline. If you don't have 14 days of decline, nobody would say be reckless and open anyway, right?

That doesn't help any business leader in the state. And start incrementally which is what everybody says, construction and manufacturing. The piece you wouldn't have and the business owners who are feeling pain.


Retail stores, hospitality, hotels, etcetera. That is a more problematic area to open up even in some of the states that are rushing to open. You see those retail stores Jesse. They still are trying to figure out how to do that and they've sort of left it up to the - some retail store owners are opening, some aren't opening.

Some let people in, some don't let them in so that is a complex sector to deal with. The hospitality and hotels, you know it's hard to do these precautions in a hotel setting. But there's no doubt but that we have at this point gone through the worst.

And as long as we act prudently going forward, the worst should be over.

REPORTER: - sports, do you imagine you know Yankees games happening in the empty Yankee stadium, this summer?

CUOMO: Look, I ask - I ask the - I've talked to the many of the sports owners and sports companies. Look, I don't know. It's not my business. I don't run. I don't know the economics but if you had an - if your choice was play or stay home, I don't know what players get when they stay home by their contract but assume the players are getting less money or no money, right?

If you could - if you could make the economics work without the seat sales, right? And you could have teams play without the seat sales but you had televised and you had the television revenue and whatever else went with that. You know, we're in a different place. You know, be creative. Try to figure it out but if players could get paid more than staying home and owners will get some revenue versus total shut down. Why not? I'd love to watch.

Yes, no, I've talked to a number of sports owners, I don't want to get into names but it does depend - I know enough to know the economics of baseball are a little different than the economics of basketball than the economics of other sports.

So it would have to be up to them that they do an economic analysis that says yes, some revenue is better than no revenue and my players are willing to negotiate a contract reduction. And if they could do it, yes, but everybody has to think outside the box, right?

Because there is no box. OK.


WHITFIELD: All right New York governor Andrew Cuomo there in his daily briefing on this Sunday. Hopeful, hopeful because the number of deaths in New York is down to 367 and hopeful that number of new cases it isn't down but very cautious about the idea of reopening and when and if it happens, the governor underscores it will happen in phases. Let's talk about this.

With me now CNN National Correspondent, Jason Carroll in New York, CNN Chief Media correspondent Brian Stelter and Dr. James Phillips. He's a CNN Medical Analyst and physician and assistant professor at George Washington University hospital. Good to see all of you.

Jason, you first. He was cautiously optimistic, right? About laying out how New York would reopen but there are conditions.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And the headline in all of this is there might be some good news down the road here in terms of if you're in the manufacturing or construction business.

Basically what the governor is saying is he's laying out a plan for reopening. Says that's going to be happening in two phases but all this is going to be based on some of those CDC guidelines which basically needs to show a 14-day decline in the number of new - new infections.

So when you talk about Phase 1, he said Phase 1 would be with construction and with manufacturing but he also said that these businesses would have to be low risk and he said after Phase 1, there's going to have to be a two-week period where they're going to have to look and see, OK, what was the result of Phase 1 opening.

Phase 2 then he said would be done on a business by business analysis. He said that he would ask some of these business, OK, how essential is this particular business, how risky, how important is this business.

And he also looked at May 15, Fredricka, as that sort of day where he's going to be taking a look at went to possibly start looking at Phase 1 of all of this and again Phase 1for those in your manufacturing, those in the construction business and he also said that this would be something that would not just be statewide look, but it would also be regional. In other words, you'd be looking at what's happening in states like New Jersey and states like Connecticut.

So possibly some light at the end of the very dark tunnel, at least in the very beginning if you're in the manufacturing or construction business.

WHITFIELD: And he said, you know, the Governor's office is also talking to businesses.