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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Give Coronavirus Update; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: MTA Has Plan To Disinfect All Trains Daily; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: MTA Will Provide Free Vehicles For Essential Workers From 1-5 AM Daily While Trains Are Being Cleaned; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Reopening "Not A Political Exercise, It's Science"; White House Weighs On How To Reopen Businesses, Schools. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 12:00   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Yes, even better than that is what you do? And how you act? And let's make sure that we are doing everything we can.

Let's clean, disinfect those trucks, those buses and trains every 24 hours. Why? Because that's the way we best protect the health of our essential workers which makes sense if you want your essential workers to continue to come to work it makes sense if you don't want the infection rate to go up in your society.

It makes sense if you don't want the essential workers to get sick and again it is our obligation as human beings to reciprocate and make sure we are doing everything we can. Now to say disinfect every train every 24 hours is just a task that nobody has ever imagined before, okay?

I would wager in the history of public transportation in this nation, you never had a challenge of disinfecting ever train every 24 hours. Disinfect, how do you even disinfect a train? You know we clean trains but how do you disinfect? This is a whole new process and these are chemicals this is new equipment for workers it is new methods.

Just think about it, you have to disinfect every place that a hand could touch on a subway car, every rail, every pole every door wherever a hand could touch or coughing, sneezing or where ever droplets could land, right? So you have to disinfect that entire interior of the car and then you have to disinfect the stations, the handrails and everything that people could be touching.

It is a massive undertaking that we have never done before but that's the right thing to do. That's as we said we have never done tracing before we've never done disinfecting trains and cars before, so what? That's what we have to do.

So figure out how to do what you have to do? And this is what we have to do. And I challenge the MTA to come up with a plan. They came up with a plan they can disinfect all trains and buses every night. It can best be done by stopping train services from 1:00 am to 5:00 am every night during the pandemic. So they can actually perform this service.

Now remember the context that we are in this pandemic, ridership is down 92 percent. One to five are these slow hours, 1:00 am to 5:00 am is the slowest ridership estimate is about 10,000 people running the system, ride the system overall during that period of time.

So the MTA will launch what they call the essential connecter program. They'll have buses, dollar vans and if necessary will provide for higher vehicles to transport a person, the UBER, the LIFT, the VIA Vehicles at no cost to essential workers during those hours to provide transport.

So people who need transportation during 1:00 am and 5:00 am can have it and will have it. Even to the extent for a higher vehicle paid for by the MTA. Remember 1:00 am to 5:00 am, we don't have bars open we don't have restaurants open so you don't have a lot of traffic that you would normally have.

You do have essential workers who are using our trains and subways and they'll have transportation during that period of time. This is going to be one of the most aggressive, creative challenging under takings that, the MTA has done. It is going to require the MTA, the state, the city, the NYPD to all work together. It's not that easy to stop train service.

You have to close down stations you have to make sure people don't walk in then you have to figure out how to clean all these trains and all these stations? I have consulted with the elected officials on the MTA's recommendation and we all agree to accept the plan on the Essential Connecter Program.


CUOMO: The MTA is undertaking something that people would have said was virtually impossible. Trains and buses will be disinfected daily, service will continue. MTA will also disinfect the fleet on the Metro North in the Long Island railroad which is what goes out for Long Island, it goes to Northern Suburbs.

They can do that without any disruption and service because of the volume of ridership et cetera. So just think about it. The entire public transit system in down state New York will be disinfected every 24 hours. This is a joint MTA, state and city and partnership, we are doing a lot of things here that we have never done before.

And I have never wanted to shy away from the challenge. I don't believe the government has that option. I never want to say well, that's just too much, too hard or too ambitious. We can do it. I believe we can do it. I believe we can do anything. I believe we can build bridges. I believe we can build airports. I believe we can defeat global pandemics.

But this is as ambitious as anything that we have ever undertaken. It is going to require a lot of extraordinary service and effort from multiple agencies all working together. The MTA has stepped up by recommending this plan. The state will do whatever it has to do. Big part of this falls to the city and I have spoken to Mayor De Blasio. It is going to require a lot of assistance from the NYPD. It's going to require a lot of assistance from different city agencies. Again, closing down every station and close down the trains. We have never been here before.

I guarantee another ten things come up when we go to do this that is also unanticipated consequences. So the Mayor is really stepping up to the plate here and is doing something that no Mayor has have ever attempted to do before.

We'll all do our part. We'll all work together but it is a heck of undertaking for the Mayor. I applaud for his ambition here in stepping up and taking this on. You know it is always easier to just say no. so is easier to say we can't do it. When you say we will try to do it now you are changing things.

And whenever you change there is opposition every time. So it is always easier just to stay status quo. It is always easier not to risk being - not to try to raise the bar, because maybe you can't do it may be there will be problems. So it is easier just to say no it is easier to say this is all we can do. It's impossible that's not what the Mayor is doing here.

The Mayor is stepping up and he is stepping up in a big way. I want to applaud him for it. I think we have the Mayor who's on the telephone or some electronic means. There he is Mayor Bill De Blasio. Welcome to Albany.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Hi Governor. It is a pleasure to be with you. We are doing something different and doing something necessary and being willing together to go someplace we never been before.

You and I have talked about this kind of idea a lot over the years. I think when we first met each other the word disruption was considered a bad thing and in recent years it's taken on a positive connotation that when we disrupt something that is not working or has been thought about in a narrow way and we go someplace new and better, that's a positive.

And I think what we're talking about today is exactly that. I commend you and everyone at the MTA and I want to talk about why I think this plan is so important in terms of our essential workers our first responders, our healthcare heroes? Why I think is important in terms of also addressing homelessness in a new and powerful way?

But I first want to say - I want to express my appreciation along with you really appreciate that - one of your previous topics the contact tracing. Really appreciate that, my predecessor Michael Bloomberg is stepping up in such a big way for New York City and New York State.

And contact tracing, the test and tracer approach is going to change everything. You and I are united in that as well.

[12:10:00] DE BLASIO: Aggressive approach in fact Governor you are seeing right is hiring 1000 contact tracers with healthcare background to super charge this effort. And I think we're going to be able to show this country a model that's going to be extraordinary to beat this disease. So I look forward to that partnership as well.

Right here on the issue of the MTA, we've all been thrown on the biggest Corbel in our lives with this pandemic. But look at the consistent heroism with the healthcare workers the first responders the grocery store workers the pharmacists everyone who came forward?

And Governor I know you feel it, too. It is probably the proudest moment we've had as public service in this state in this city watching the heroism of these New Yorkers stepping up. We owe it to them to understand their lives. The notion that they have a daily routine where they go into battle they go towards the danger.

They go where the exception is which so many people couldn't even imagine but that's what these heroes are doing. We owe it to them to support them every way possible. You and I have talked about the PPEs and the basic protections but we also owe it to them to be safe on the way to work and on the way back home to their families.

So I think what we are doing here in partnership is exactly the right thing to say. We're going to find a way to make our subway system cleaner than it's probably ever been in history honestly. And address this crisis in a whole new way. I agree with that and I commend you for it.

And yes, it took some disruption to say we are going to do something during this pandemic we've never done before. But it makes sense when it comes to protecting our heroes. Second point is homelessness.

Look, another issue you and I - well, we know it is been in many ways an intractable issue because there was not always an impulse to disrupt. Here is an example of saying look we now have found new ways to get street homeless people off the street.

I want to commend the Commissioner and everyone at the NYPD who was really focused on how to help the homeless commission your - banks everyone at homeless services, the social services and all those also those heroic outreach workers.

Governor you know about this work. We go out there day after day to engage with homeless people on the streets and the subway get their trust and get them to come in to shelter in an ultimately to permit housing.

This work has always been in some way timely by the reality of a homeless person who is struggling with everything they are dealing with, mental health challenge the substance abuse challenge and riding the subway all night long. We're New Yorkers, we know about this reality.

And it has been putting a stark light by this crisis like so many other challenges and disparities have. Well, it is an unacceptable reality. This new plan will disrupt that unacceptable reality and allows to actually getting help to people more effectively.

If you are not going back and forth on a train, then you actually are coming above ground where outreach workers are there to help you. Where NYPD are trained in hold this outreach are there to support homeless people and get them to a better situation.

Governor, you know for decades in this city somehow a homeless - were actually tolerated. People thought oh, it is a kind of thing what could we do about that? I am proud to say in the last few years homeless services NYPD, nonprofit organizations we got together and we said we are not allowing that anymore.

We shut them down and we found it actually helped us to get the homeless to the help they need. This is another example of that. So I want to let you know that as we all talk about this idea and I commend you and your team in Albany and obviously the team at the MTA, it has been as productive conversation these last few days.

And one I think we've come together - yes, we're going to do something unprecedented. We're going to do something because - emergency but we're also going to do something that's going to protect people and offer a new way to get people help we never got enough.

Governor, thank you, I think this is a partnership. You're right it is not going to be easy. No one said it was going to be easy. But you have my full commitment and commitment of the NYPD and all of our agencies.

We're going to make this work together and we're going to be able to look back and say we did something that actually changed people's lives for the better and as long as it takes we are going to stand with you and get this done.

CUOMO: Thank you. Thank you very much Mayor De Blasio. Mayor made a lot of good points. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy but nobody ever said it was going to be this hard either. And I think the Mayor's point is very well taken.


CUOMO: Look, we are doing things all across the board here that have never been done before. And I think there are lessons to learn and lessons we'll take with us, telemedicine I think is a lesson we'll take with us. Tele education, remote learning it is a lesson we'll take with us. A new public health system is a lesson that we'll take with us.

I think we're going to improve and learn from this experience with the New York City transit system because the truth is it was not working well or as well as it should before. We did have a problem with the homeless. And Bill is right, Mayor De Blasio is right.

I worked on it all my life. Outreaching to homeless people is very, very hard and getting them to come into a place that actually provides services is very, very hard. So this can actually energize the connections with outreach work in the homeless population and we've never had to disinfect trains like this or buses like this and they'll be cleaner than ever before.

Global pandemic, but you live, you learn and you move on and most importantly you meet the challenge. You meet the challenge. This is a daunting challenge. The Mayor is stepping into it with eyes wide opened and it takes guts and it takes courage. And there will be bumps along the way, I guarantee you but that's where we are and that's why we get the big bucks.

But I also want to be able to say today to the essential workers, we thank you, not just with words but with our actions and I want you to know we are doing everything we can to keep you and your family safe. That's what it means to say thank you. Act with gratitude.

They're on those trains and they deserve to be kept safe and they deserve to have a clean, safe ride to and from work and they're going to have it. We're going to move heaven and earth to make sure that happens.

So, in a challenge, what do we do? We come together and where rise to the occasion. We never did it before I know. So we'll do it now and we'll figure out how to do it? We have overcome every obstacle that we have been thrown. We have the beast on the retrieve. We are making ground every day. We just have to keep it up and we will. We are New York tough, we are smart we are disciplined we are unified and we are loving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor in terms of the subway shutdown, will that be pigged to the on pause order? Or what are the exact parameters for that?

CUOMO: No, that has nothing to do with the on pause order. It goes into effect, when is the effective date?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The morning hours of Wednesday.

CUOMO: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on the on-pause order, when do we expect a decision on that Vis a Vis schools and other --?

CUOMO: Before I said by the end of the week when you asked earlier this week, I said by the end of the week, nothing changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Likely tomorrow?

CUOMO: That's the end of week, unless you have a different calendar at "The New York Times".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First is what is your response to criticism that Seattle was quick to respond to the Coronavirus while you and Mayor De Blasio were not as quick? What's your response to that criticism?

CUOMO: It is actually wrong. No states moved faster at the time from the first case of a total shutdown. If you count days, no states moved faster from the first case to total close down, it is March 1st through March 19th. No states at that time moves faster. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if I could also make another point on that. The emphasis at the beginning of this was on the West Coast, they did the China travel ban. They stopped the international flights that were coming into the West Coast. What they did not do was shut down the international flights coming to the east coast?

Where do the flights from Europe come? New York. Where do you seeing problems with the cases New York City and Northern New Jersey? We now know based on reporting from "The New York Times" in the last several days there were 10,600 cases in New York City before we even knew of our first positive case.

So while the Federal Government focused on the West Coast and closed down travel that was coming into the West Coast and they had their first case in January and California did their shutdown on March 19th. They did not close international travel to Europe until I think it was March 16th.

We now know that there were at least 10,600 cases in New York and I'm betting that number is higher by the time we got our first positive case confirmation on March 1st.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as the Governor said, we shutdown fully by March 20th. Between March 1st and March 20th, we shutdown schools, colleges, casinos, movie theaters, bars and restaurants we did it on a - basis and with literally zero guidance from Federal Government.

CUOMO: Also, look, Ii am not big in figures or doing Monday morning quarterback especially when you are in the middle of the game. The times you go back and look, they did not write an editorial saying we should close down until after I closed down, right?

The sources they quote saying well, maybe we should have closed down earlier and after that said or there is no evidence that says close down of schools, for example, makes a difference so if you don't have to be consistent and it is easy to raise a point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, if you have done the shutdown a week or two earlier, how much of difference you could have on this?

CUOMO: Look, depending we have talked to people would say - you get a range, people would say you had cases coming here from Europe which nobody knew. We had something like 2 million people coming from Europe because the virus went from China to Europe and came here from Europe.

Nobody saw that happening, otherwise, you would have done a Europe travel ban when you did a China travel ban. Just nobody saw it coming. If you rewind the tape, then I would go back to November, December when you knew there was a virus and who were the international watchdogs and who were the international public health operations?

Where are the CDC and the NIH and all those guys back November, December and January? Where was "The New York Times" Editorial Board? Everybody missed it. Governors don't do a global pandemic that's not in my job description.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York at the end of his daily Coronavirus briefing defending his state's response. He was asked to compare it to Washington State; he said no state moved more quickly in shouting down.

One of his top aides also made clear noting that the President shut off traveling into the United States from China but the traveling from Europe was coming in to the East Coast, Newark, New Jersey and New York airports as the case count went in March.

Much of the briefing spent on the complexities of the challenge of try to reopen the economy. The Governor saying New York State would need an army of between 6,400 perhaps 17,000 contact tracers those who will follow up when new people are testing positive.

And if you're watching whether in the United States or around the world you saw a long discussions about sanitizing and disinfecting everyday night of the New York City subway stations plus the commuter trains that go out to New Jersey and Long Island up in to Connecticut. You might be asking why do I have to spend a lot time on that?

Just imagine your community whether you live in Boston or Chicago or Los Angeles here in the United States, Paris or Rome or Barcelona, Beijing, Tokyo around the world, this is the challenge that governments have to go through as they decide to reopen their economies and that which speed some of those people may be many of those people who get on the subway or get on the train or get on a bus or get on a streetcar will have the Coronavirus.

How do you protect safety as you put people back to work? So Governor Cuomo saying good news on the medical front but much more of his time now spent on the complexity of reopening challenge ahead and as he was speaking a very important new wrinkle that relates to that.

This hour the American reopening experiment, the White House now weighing new possible guidelines detailing just how businesses, schools and other organizations should reopen and what precautions should they take? As they do so CNN's Nick Valencia breaking this news and joins us now.

Nick, CNN obtained this draft document from the Centers for Disease Control, lay out what it recommends?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we obtained this document through a Federal health official as well as through the White House a source tied to White House Task Force myself as my colleague Liptak.

And we want to take you inside to what's happening right now in Washington, D.C. and how it may affect your future? As we are told by Federal health officials the White House is currently reviewing a 17- page CDC draft documents, part of the reopening America plan here. It is a guideline that clearly lay out what institutions like schools and faith-based organizations and others should do to keep people safe here going forward.

Forgive me if I am reading here John. We are just getting this draft here it is breaking down on CNN.


VALENCIA: Some of the details include schools should space desks at least 6 feet apart, avoid non-essential or nonessential assemblies and field trips. Have students eat lunch in classrooms robin cafeterias.

I mention Churches as well faith-based organizations according to the CDC guidance should limit large gatherings. Rely on virtual or outdoor services where possible uses stationery collection box. And of course, follow those guidelines wearing facial coverings.

Finally, and just very quickly restaurants are on this list as well. They shouldn't according to this a draft document should move towards disposable menus, plates and utensils. We want to be clear CNN did reach out to the White House Task Force to try to get more information about these recommendations that was a couple of hours ago.

We have still not yet heard back but you're seeing it there for yourself this 17-page document laying out what could be the guidance here. Again, we want to stress John that this could of course change as it's currently being reviewed at the White House John.

KING: And Nick, I know we're in the middle of this breaking news. So the question may be unfair. Do we have any sense of when they will make their decisions on whether this draft goes public whether to make some changes? I ask in the context every state now starting their experiment if there's going to be new Federal guidelines that say well don't do that or please do this the sooner the better I would expect is the matter of urgency?

VALENCIA: Well look here in Georgia you have Governor Kemp being poised to loosen or ease social distancing restrictions here. You have Federal guidance that is expected to expire at midnight. We just don't know to be clear to our viewers when this will be talked about potentially at a briefing later today.

But if you want to learn more you can go to we have that 17- page document. We also tweeted out you can read it for yourself. Again, this is the document we're verifying from health sources myself and Kevin Liptak that is currently being reviewed at the White House John.

KING: Very important breaking news from CNN's Nick Valencia. We thank Kevin Liptak for his fine reporting as well. Let's talk this over now with me to share their expertise and their insights CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips.

So Doctor Phillips that every state we have a 50 state experiment now going on and sometimes within states counties or cities doing something different than the Governor. The CDC drafting this document how important do you think it is or do you think it's important that there would be Federal guidelines that say if you're opening your restaurant this is what you should do in terms of spacing?

This is what our public health works believe is urgent. If you're going to have services at your Church, your synagogue or your mosque this weekend this is how you should do it? How critical is that?

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's absolutely critical. And I'm thrilled that these guidelines came from the CDC because they really are the experts. You know one thing Governor Cuomo just said is that we've never done this kind of thing before with pandemic.

And actually, we have done things with epidemics and the CDC is the group that holds the knowledge and has the experience of how to actually manage contagion? And so the fact that the CDC that they let the scientists that actually know how to do this come up with the guidance to help us all learn how to do it in the best way that keeps communities safe and allows us to restart our economy is a really hopeful one in my mind.

KING: And to the point you made about Governor Cuomo, you're a medical doctor, medical professional but I'm trying to get at the complexity of this. I know you're an advocate for more testing. You heard the Governor talk about testing and then the necessary contact tracing and building the army.

That's one piece of it and there's been a lot of tension between the Federal Government Governors state and local officials where the Federal Government says you have all you need and the local officials say no we don't at least not yet.

And then there are the other steps again I was saying earlier maybe if you're watching in Seattle where you are. If you're watching around the world you might think why do I care about the MTA, the New York City Subway system?

But the pieces of this puzzle are so fascinating in it does you have a testing regimen? Do you have contact tracing? But as you ask people to go back to work that's one piece of it but they have to know if they get on a bus a street car into a taxi cab on to a subway train or a commuter rail that it's been cleaned.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: I think you're exactly right. And you know I think the Governor was trying to describe something that is actually you know doing this is like playing three-dimensional chess. There are pieces you have to think about all over the place.

But fundamentally in healthcare we think about 5 big pieces we have to solve and that's do you control the virus? Do you have sufficient testing to understand if the viruses circulating undetected? As the healthcare system have capacity? Can you test and can you isolate? Can you trace and isolate?

And those five pieces we have to solve for. But as you start going in those pieces start magnifying out it's like a tree that branches outward seen everywhere you go are you going to be safe? And that means every single environment that you can be in contact with you have to think about what are the specifics of that particular place?

And so I think the Governor did a great job talking about the rocks, you have to cross as you play this three dimensional complex game. KING: By interstates to me it's fascinating and also can be frustrating and challenging.