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New York Governor Gives Coronavirus Update; Researchers Probe Reliability Of Available Antibody Tests. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 12:30   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- nuisance, it's not really the right use of the term. Attractive nuisance is a legal term. But an attractive nuisance in this context, you open up a facility or an attraction that could bring people from outside the region to you.

You have all this pent up demand in the whole tri-state region makes sure you don't open up something that's going to bring hundreds of people from the outside in. What business precautions will those individual businesses take? Watch the health care capacity. Your health care system cannot go over 70 percent capacity.

Again, there's a two week lag. If you're at 70 percent, bells should go off. Don't go over 70 percent in your ICU beds. Many of the people who come in with COVID need an ICU bed because it's a respiratory illness. As a matter of fact, almost -- at the heat of this, almost every bed in a hospital turned into an ICU bed. That's why we needed the ventilators, because these people who get seriously ill with COVID need that level of care.

Remember, you have a flu season coming up in the fall. And the number of hospitalizations normally goes up in the flu season. So anticipate that stockpile the equipment. We learned a lot of painful lessons here. One is you have to have the PPE, you have to have the masks, you have to have the gown. There's an international demand on it. So make sure we have a stockpile of reserve of the PPE.

We have to have testing. How many tests Dr. Birx's recommends, 30 per 1,000 people, different people, different record have different numerical percentages. But I think we start with that. Do we have enough testing sites? How long does it take to turn around the test? And then are we advertising to people?

This is where you go in. This is what you do to get a test if you think you may be infected. The whole thing with keeping that infection rate down is find a person early who is infected, let them know it, and then trace, and then isolate.

Do we have a tracing system in place? Mayor Bloomberg is helping us organize this. It's never been done before. Nobody ever heard of tracing to this extent. But tracing is, once a person says they're positive, you trace their contacts back. You notified people. You test people. That's a whole different operation. The current recommendation is you need at least 30 tracers per 100,000 people. So we have to have that in place. You have to have isolation facilities in place. Isolation facilities are when someone gets sick, you know they're positive and they don't want to go home to quarantine, because if they go home, they could infect their family, which is what's happening now, a lot of these new cases.

So we have to have a facility where somebody who is positive can quarantine for the two weeks without going home. And we have to identify them now. We have to coordinate regionally, the schools, transportation, network, testing, tracing. This all has to be coordinated on a multi county effort.

We have to reimagine telemedicine, reimagine tele-education. We have to have a regional control room that is monitoring all these indicators and gives us the danger sign if we get over 70 percent capacity, if the infection rate pops up, we have to have one central source that's monitoring all these dials that hits the danger button. So you could actually slow down the reopening.

And then we have to protect and respect essential workers, which I talk about in a moment. On businesses, they have to have social distancing, continued testing, ongoing monitoring protocols, that's all part of the new normal. And businesses are going to have to do that. If they want to reopen, they're going to have to adopt the federal and the state guidelines on this issue.

Today, we're announcing an advisory board that is made up of statewide business leaders, academic leaders, civic leaders, who is advising us on just this. And they have been for weeks and I want to thank them very much.

Manufacturing and construction as the first phase businesses, that's 46,000 jobs in a place like central New York. So it's a major employer. And these are businesses that can adapt to the new normal in terms of their employees, in terms of the places of business, and in terms of the processes that they put in place.


On the health care capacity, again, we just lived this. We cannot be in a situation where 70 percent capacity is exceeded. You need at least that 30 percent buffer on hospital beds and you need 30 percent of your ICU beds available if that number starts to tick up.

In terms of testing, we have to have the testing regimen in place and we have to prioritize the people who get tested, symptomatic people, individuals who came in contact with a symptomatic person and frontline and essential workers.

They do have a higher rate of infection because they are putting themselves in harm's way. And we want to make sure they have the testing, so we have an early alert system. You have to have the right number of sites. Testing won't work if it's impossible to get. Testing won't work if it's too hard to get. So you have to have the right number of sites for the area that you're dealing with. The advertising is very important. It has to be available, but people have to know it's available and they have to know what the symptoms are that would have them go get tested because again, this is about people understanding it and people buying into it. This is not government orders. This is people get it. They know the facts. They know what they're supposed to do. And they do it because they have been -- we've communicated successfully the circumstances and the facts.

But you need that testing and you needed to trace the contacts. Otherwise you see that infection rate increase. On the tracing, the estimate is 30 tracers for every 100,000 people. So that's a data point. That's what it means to have tracing in place.

And then isolation facilities is a proportionate number of people who test positive, who say, I can't go home or I don't want to go home. I don't want to infect my family. I don't want to infect my significant other. I have enough issues without having to explain how I infected my significant other with COVID would develop point, so isolation facilities available for those people.

And then the regional control room where you're monitoring all of those metrics, you're monitoring hospital capacity, the rate of infection, the PPE burn rate, how businesses are complying. And it has an emergency switch that we can throw if any one of those indicators are problematic. Because remember, we have gone through hell and back over the past 60 or so days.

What we've done has been tremendous, really tremendous. And what people have done, what the American people have done, what New Yorkers have done has been to save lives, literally. But we have to remain vigilant. This is not over. I know as much as we want it to be over, it's not over. And we have to respect what we accomplished here.

When they started this, the projections for this state were 120,000 New Yorkers would be infected and hospitalized. Only 20,000 were infected and hospitalized. How could they be so wrong? They weren't wrong. We changed reality. The differential, the variance is what we did.

It's closed down. It's wearing masks. It's all of that. We've reduced the rate. We so-called flattened the curve, flattened the curve. Well, that meant 100,000 fewer New Yorkers didn't get seriously ill, didn't go into a hospital, didn't overwhelm the hospital system. And a percentage of those people who got seriously ill would have passed away. So we literally saved lives.

We can't now negate everything that we accomplished. We have to do the opposite. We have to take this experience and we have to learn and grow from the experience. And we have to build back better than before. As a society and as a community, we need better systems. This exposed a lot of issues, fundamental issues.

We have to do a better job on tele-education, remote learning. Sounds great, but you have to have all the equipment. People have to be trained and teachers have to be trained. We jumped into it. We have to do a better job. We have to do a better job on telemedicine. Not everybody has to show up at the doctor's office. You can do a better job. We have to do a better job in our basic public health system.


I mean, when you look back, the virus was in China last November and December, last November and December. Why didn't someone suspect? Well, maybe the virus gets on a plane last November, December and lands in the United States the next day, right?

Everybody talks about global interconnection and how fast you're going to -- everybody knows there's a virus in China last November, December. China says, don't worry, we're taking care of it. Yes. But all you need is one person to get on a plane. As it happened, one person got on a plane and went from China to Europe, and then it went from Europe to New York.

The flights from China basically go to the West Coast. The flights from Europe basically go to the East Coast. We got it through Europe. But where was the whole international health community? Where was the whole national host of experts, the WHO, the NIH, the CDC, that all alphabet soup of agencies? Where was everyone? Where were the -- where was the intelligence community with the briefings saying this is in China and they have something called an aeroplane and you can get on an aeroplane and you can come to the United States.

Governors don't do global pandemics, right? But there's a whole international, national health community would do that. Where are the experts? Where was "The New York Times"? Where was "The Wall Street Journal"? Where was all the bugle blowers who should say, be careful. There's a virus in China that may be in the United States. That was November, December.

We're sitting here. January, February. Still debating how serious this is. And again, it's not a state responsibility, but in this system, who was supposed to blow the bugle and didn't because I would bank that this happens again and it's the same thing going to happen again. I hope not. So we have to figure these things out.

We also have to remember that as a society and as a community, we're about government and we're about systems. But even more, we are about values. What makes us who we are, are our values. And that's my last point, which is point number 12, protect and respect the essential workers.

I had two nightmares when this started. One, that I would put out directives on what we need to do. And 19 million New Yorkers would say, I haven't been convinced, I'm not going to do this. Because I'll go with the directives work. We're going to close down every business. You have to stay in your home.

I mean, the most disruptive government policies put in place, I can't even remember the last time. I don't -- I can't even see in the history books the last time government was more disruptive to individual life. No businesses. Everybody stays home. No schools. What happens if New Yorkers said, we're not doing that? We are doing that. It's too much. It's an overreaction. It's political. Everything's political nowadays, right? It's so easy to say. Well, it was just political.

That was a fear, because if New Yorkers did that governmentally had no ability to enforce 19 million people staying in their homes. That's why the communication was so important. Give them the facts. Give them the facts. Give them the facts, so they understand why. That worked.

Second nightmare was what if the essential workers don't show up? You have to have food. You have to have transportation. The lights have to be on. Someone has to pick up the garbage. The hospitals have to run. What if the essential worker said, I'm not showing up. You communicated so effectively, the fear of the virus that the essential workers say, yes, if everybody staying home, I'm staying home, too. It could have happened.


I went through the HIV virus when HIV started. People were petrified. Nobody knew what it was. And nobody knew how it lived, how it was transferred, how long it lived. People were petrified. Nobody wanted to go near it. What happens if the essential workers here said, I'm not going to show up to run the bus. You don't pay me enough to put my life in danger. I'm not doing it. They showed up. They showed up.

I just finished communicating how dangerous this was to convince 19 million people to stay home and close schools and closed businesses and the essential workers still showed up. That is a value. They didn't show up for a paycheck. They didn't show up because government asked them to show up. They didn't show up because their employer said, I need you to show up. They showed up out of their values and out of their honor and out of their dignity, that's why they showed up.

My grandfather, people know my father in this state. My grandfather, little Italian immigrant, Andrea Cuomo, named for him, no education, ditch digger came here. The classic immigrant story winds up having a little grocery store in South Jamaica, Queens, poor community.

And during the depression, he almost lost the store and he loved to tell the story. Why did he almost lose the store? Well, it was the depression and the finances. No. Because he gave away food during the depression because he wouldn't let anyone be hungry.

So a family would come in, nobody had money was the depression. And he would give them food. And he was giving away so much food that he had problems paying his bills, it gave him a lot of stress. Wind up having a heart attack as a young person. But no one told him to do that. That was just his values. And I would ask him about it afterwards.

I said, Grandpa, why would you? He said, what am I going to do? Let them go hungry? I'm going to let somebody go hungry. That was unimaginable to him. He was an essential worker. Nobody called them an essential worker. But he was an essential worker. And that's what people are doing day in and day out here.

The person who delivers the groceries, the person who's driving the bus, the person who's driving the subway, the nurses, the doctors, the orderlies, all these people who are showing up every day, not because of the check. They could stay home, too, and file for unemployment. No, they're doing it out of their sense of honor and their sense of dignity and their sense of pride that this is their mission. This is their role. They're New Yorkers. They're Americans. And they're going to show up, the police officers, the firefighters.

I mean, everyone's petrified. You're going to be a police officer. Are you going to pull people over in a car? You can go into our house for a domestic disturbance, wrestle with somebody in the house, you don't know who it is. That's what they do. That's their job. That's why I wanted to thank the healthcare workers. And everybody thinks the health care workers.

But it's not just the health care workers. It's all the people who've been out there all this time, making sure everyone else could stay home. They have higher infection rates. They're getting paid a minimal amount of money. They have families at home, too, that are suffering. But they're getting up every day and they're doing their job.

So as we talk about reopening, protect and respect the essential workers, they need testing. They need equipment. They're putting their lives on the line. Protect and respect the essential workers. Public transportation, we've kept running because they need it to get to work. That's why public transportation continued.

We talked early on about closing down public transportation. They said, forget it. That's how the nurses are getting to work. That's how the orderlies are getting to work. Nobody will be in a hospital. Nobody will be there to deliver the food. Nobody will be in the power plant to keep the lights on. Nobody will be at the telecommunications department. Public transportation is vital for them.


Well, then make sure public transportation is safe and disinfected. "The New York Times"-- "The New York Daily News" ran a story today on the public transportation in New York City and their front page is a picture of a subway car filled with homeless people and their belongings.

Respect the essential workers. That is disgusting what is happening on those subway cars. It's disrespectful to the essential workers who need to ride the subway system. Upstate New York need to ride the buses to get to work. They deserve better and they will have better.

We have to have a public transportation system that is clean with the trains are disinfected. Have homeless people on trains. It's not even safe for the homeless people to be on trains. No face masks. You have this whole outbreak. We're concerned about homeless people. So we let them stay on the trains without protection in this epidemic of the COVID virus, no, we have to do better than that. And we will. And we will learn from this. And we'll be better from this because we are New York tough. And tough means not just tough because tough is easy. It's smart and it's disciplined and it's unified and it's loving. And that's who we are and that's what we are. And that's why we got through this as well as we have thus far together, because of our values, because of our respect, our dignity, our mutuality, our love for one another, our willing to sacrifice.

And because we're fortunate where we have many, many heroes in our midst, not because they have medals on their uniforms, but because they have honor in their souls and they have strength in their character and they have dignity and pride in themselves. And because they show up every day, every day to make sure everyone is protected.

And they have to be at the top of the list. They're going to be at the top of the list in the next iteration of whatever this is. They're going to be at the top of the list at the Golden Gate. But they deserve our respect and protection here and they're going to get it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor? Michael Benning (ph) from --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Andrew Cuomo, he is in Syracuse -- the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in Syracuse today, giving his daily coronavirus briefing at the top, talking about relatively positive news for the state of New York. Hospitalizations down, intubations down, still a stubborn number of new diagnoses every day, but the governor making clear he believes New York is on the path to progress.

May 15th is how long his New York pauses, in effect, talking at length about the complexity of the reopening process, saying he wants to make sure the state gets this right. He says we cannot negate everything we have accomplished. Also saying that emotions cannot drive the reopening process, noting that parts of the state, especially upstate where he is today, central New York, have a lower infection rate. They may be able to do things earlier than like down in New York City.

Constant talk about testing, they need to ramp up testing, both diagnostic testing. New York also had we heard the numbers yesterday, an interesting series of antibody testing to try to determine who already has been exposed to the coronavirus.

Right now, there are eight antibody tests that have been given emergency authorization by the FDA. That's a handful, the 120 antibody test kits available on the market right now. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and U.C. San Francisco are working now to evaluate some of those tests, try to figure out how reliable the tests are in revealing who is still at risk of infection or who has been infected and may be at least temporarily immune.

Joining me now, two researchers leading this effort, Dr. Alex Marson is an associate professor at U.C. San Francisco. Dr. Patrick Hsu, an assistant professor at U.C. Berkeley.

Dr. Marson, let me start with you first. Yesterday, in the New York briefing, it was stunning to hear Governor Cuomo saying that they have done their version of this testing with New Yorkers and that he put at 14.9 percent, so 15 percent of New Yorkers he believed had been exposed, had the antibodies for a coronavirus, nearly 25 percent in New York City.

But the question is, and this is what you're trying to get at in this research. Do you trust those numbers? Do you trust these tests?

DR. ALEX MARSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO: Thank you for having me on. These numbers are crucial for understanding this pandemic. And there is now a wide diversity of different tests that are coming. In many cases, they're just showing up at people's doorsteps or people are hearing about them.


There's different types of tests. And each one has their own characteristics. So we teamed up to really just start asking basic questions of do these different tests give us reliable information? We decided that we would take a standardized set of blood samples either from people that we know have been infected with coronavirus, the coronavirus that causes this pandemic or blood samples that were drawn before the outbreak going back to 2018 and before.

And just compare head to head and see how all the tests that are starting to become available perform. Do they give reliable information that we can actually interpret? That was what we set out to do.

KING: And so, Patrick, come into the conversation right there. If I'm watching this at home and I'm trying to figure out, is it safe for me to go back to work or have I been exposed, do I already -- do I have hopefully at least some limit, maybe limited, maybe it last for a long time immunity.

Do you have any sense yet or when will you know if some of these tests out there, I'm going to call them bogus, maybe they're not designed to be, maybe people brought them to the market to quick with the best of intentions. But do you know how many, what percentage of these tests are good and helpful and what may have been rushed out of the scene too soon?

PATRICK HSU, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY: There's a big market out there, that's for sure. And we find tests that are good and other tests that may not be as good as you might need.

But our goal was to do this head to head bake-off in order to not to declare a winner or to have a ranked list of tests, but to have a cheer that would be reliable in order to ensure adequate supply of good tests on the market. And that's exactly why we've shown that there are some tests that are quite sensitive and have a pretty good specificity as well.

KING: And Dr. Marson, in the sense of what, so when you look at the numbers, you said, the numbers are important. When you look 25 percent nucci (ph), do you trust that number? Do you think it's a ballpark number because we're not so sure about the reliability, these tests just yet?

MARSON: Well, I think just to back up for one second that I think it's really critical for your viewers to understand. Before we even talk about the reliability and the numbers, one thing no one knows for sure and we and no one else can tell you is that even if these tests are reliable and we see the presence of antibodies, that does not tell anybody that they're safe to go back to work.

We do not yet know whether a positive on any of these tests actually will tell us whether someone can get infected in the future. So that's a critical point. And now each test has its own characteristics. And we have to go and look at the actual tests that are being used in New York, which we have not yet done. But we have a general process that people will need to start to gather information about how many people are exposed and antibodies and tests in general are a powerful way to do that if we know the numbers about how to interpret the false positives and --

KING: If we know. Dr. Alex Marson, Professor Patrick Hsu, we appreciate your insights today. Please come back as you learn more about this. This is one of the defining questions everybody has right now, especially in this reopening debate.

Thanks for joining us here today. Appreciate your time. See you back here tomorrow. Brooke Baldwin picks up our coverage after a short break. Have a good afternoon. Stay safe.