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Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds Another Press Briefing About The Needs And The Crisis In New York. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 22, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is Reliable Sources from an empty studio here in New York City because we've asked all of our guests to join from home this hour.
We are standing by for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily briefing. New York, of course, is the current epicenter of this outbreak in the United States. We will take you live to Albany just as soon as the governor starts speaking.
This hour we're also going to be looking at leadership in crisis, what that means in government, what that means in the news business, and in corporate America. We're going to speak with legendary newsman Carl Bernstein and Dan Rather about their experiences, their perceptions of this moment in this time, about what's going right and what's going wrong, those daily White House briefings for example.
I'm also going to speak with three of the top editors from three of the world's top news outlets about how they're adapting, how they are coping with this crisis, and keeping the news flowing. Because this emergency is unlike anything we have known in our lifetimes. And that is one of the reasons why it's so scary.
As BuzzFeed's Katherine Miller recently pointed out there is nothing to compare this moment to exactly. There's no crisis in our past quite like this. It's a combination of various crises that we've lived through and that we know about in the history books. What we do know is what's needed today, tomorrow, and in the terrible days to come. What is needed in these days is leadership. And we can all provide it.
We can all provide leadership in our own ways, in our families, on our blocks, in our communities, in our religious circles, in our corporate settings, if we (ph) were lucky enough to have jobs in this moment, we can work with our teams, we can video conference in, we can provide leadership and support each other.
We are seeing so much incredible leadership from doctors and from healthcare officials who are using this media of megaphone -- they are using television essentially to plea for help, to explain why it is so urgent that we have more masks and more ventilators delivered to cities like New York and other parts of this country and other parts of this world.
And we are seeing local lawmakers do the same thing. Again this morning here on CNN and other networks we are seeing lawmakers and public officials pleading for Federal Government assistance but at the same time coming up with solutions on their own.
Television is a lifeline right now drawing attention to the lack of masks, the lack of other essential gear. And the news media is doing it's part as well, trying to get the word out and empower people.
Look around the world at some of these newspaper front pages. Three newspapers in Britain banded together with a unified message the other day. The front pages here say "When You're On Your Own, We Are There With You."
Let's look at Argentina as well. Front pages from Argentina translated to English say, we stop the virus together, let's make responsibility go viral.
Around the world we are seeing newspapers, television networks, digital media and yes, social networks do their part to help people come together. It is urgently needed right now.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural address in 1933 is best known as a speech where he said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But I want to read a different portion of what FDR said that day. He said, "This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today." That's what leadership is about.
So before we go on with the program we're going to take you to Albany. Governor Cuomo is speaking right now. Let's listen in.
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CUOMO: ... watch the other countries, you see that trajectory and trying to turn the trajectory. But as of now the numbers are continuing to increase.
What we're working very hard to do is to keep the rate of increase of the spread of the disease to a level that we can manage it in our hospital system. We have 53,000 hospital beds available. Right now the curve suggests we could need 110,000 hospital beds, and that is an obvious problem. And that's what we're dealing with.
You have the nation's role in the situation, you also have the states' role. This is what they call an emergency management situation. And there are rules for emergency management, who does what. Basically the state governments, local governments manage an emergency unless the emergency overwhelms the capacity of the local government.
And then the higher level of government takes over. That happens even on the state level. A city will be in charge, a county will be in charge, unless it
overwhelms their capacity, and then the state comes in and takes over. The federal government has made a decision to leave the states in charge of deciding quarantine procedures, whether to open, whether to close. That's why you see New York taking certain actions, Illinois taking certain actions, different states taking certain actions because the federal government thus far has said different situations in different states, let the states decide dependent upon the number of cases they have.
And I think that has been right to-date. That could change, but it has been right to-date. However, the federal government should nationalize medical supply acquisition. The states simply cannot manage this. This state cannot manage it. States all across the country can't manage it. Certainly the states that are dealing with the highest case load can't handle it.
But you're hearing it all across the country from states, they just can't deal with finding the medical supplies that they need. And that's why I believe the federal government should take over that function of contracting and acquiring all the medical supplies that we need.
Currently, when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some ways we're savaging other states. I'm trying to buy masks, I'm competing with California and Illinois and Florida. And that's not the way it should be, frankly. Price-gouging is a tremendous problem, and it's only getting worse. There are masks that we were paying 85 cents for, we're now paying $7. Why? Because I'm competing against every other state and in some cases against other countries around the world.
Ventilators, which are the most precious piece of equipment for this situation, they range in price from $16,000 to $40,000 each, and New York State needs 30,000 ventilators. This is just an impossible situation to manage. If we don't get the equipment, we can lose lives that we could have otherwise saved if we had the right equipment.
The federal government has two options to handle this. Voluntary partnership with companies, where the federal government says to companies, I would appreciate it if you would work with us and do this. And the president has done that. And he seems to have gotten a good response on a voluntary basis.
The other way is what's called the Defense Production Act, where the federal government has the legal authority to say to companies, you must produce this now. It is invoking a federal law. It is mandating that private companies do something. But I think it is appropriate. If I had the power, I would do it in New York State, because the situation is that critical.
I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators, the essential medical equipment that is going to make the difference between life and death. It's not hard to make a mask or PPE equipment or a gown. But you need companies to do it. We have apparel companies that can make clothing, well, then you can
make a surgical gown. And you can make a mask. But they have to be ordered to do it. If the federal government does it, then they can do it in a very orderly way. They can decide how many they need. They can designate how many each factory should produce. And then they could distribute those goods by need rather than having the states all compete against each other.
It would also be less expensive, because it would avoid the price- gouging that is now happening in this marketplace. I can tell what's happening. I'll contract with a company for 1,000 masks. They'll call back 20 minutes later and say the price just went up because they had a better offer. And I understand that. Other states who are desperate for these goods literally offer more money than we were paying.
And it's just a race that's raising prices higher and higher. We even have hospitals competing against other hospitals. If the federal government came in, used the Defense Production Act, you could resolve all of that immediately.
Also, we need the product now. We have cries from hospitals around the state. I've spoken to other governors around the country. They have the same situation. They need these materials now. And only the federal government can make that happen. So I believe the federal government should immediately utilize the Defense Production Act, implement it immediately. Let's get those medical supplies running. And let's get them moving as quickly as possible.
In terms of federal government funding, they should prioritize the funding. Individuals need money. You are laid off. You're going paycheck to paycheck. We took care of the rent issue here in New York. The mortgage payment. But you have to buy food. You have to buy essentials. And if you haven't worked and you're laid off, you're in trouble.
So I think the federal government is exactly right. The president has talked about this. Get funding to the -- into the pockets of families that need it to live.
Second, money to governments. I'm spending money right now that we don't have. I'm not going to deprive people of medical services, but the economy has stopped, people are not paying their taxes. If you're not paying your taxes, that's a state source of revenue. So funding from the federal government is essential for me.
And, third, the corporate subsidies that the president is talking about I think is also right. But the corporate funding should not be a gift to corporations at the taxpayers' expense. Let's learn from what happened in 2008. I was attorney general at that time in the State of New York, where we bailed out corporations, they bought back stock. They paid their corporate executives handsomely. They benefited from taxpayer money. And the taxpayers wound up getting none of the profits. The citizens should benefit from the corporate success. If the
government takes equity, if the government charges an interest rate, but this time if the taxpayers are going to bail out these big corporations, make sure the taxpayers share in the success of these corporations. Let's do it right this time.
Also, the federal funding, they're working on another coronavirus bill. I was in Washington for eight years. This should not be the usual sausage-making of pork barrel, right? When you do a piece of legislation in Washington, most legislatures, it becomes, the expression, "sausage-making." It becomes pork barrel. It goes through the political process. And the political process says everybody should get some money, which dilutes the funding, gives it to communities and governments that don't really need the funding, and doesn't even address the need.
It's one of the reasons why so people are so suspect of government spending, right? Because it winds up pork barrel. Every senator is going to say, I want money for my state. Every congressperson says, I want money for my local district. I want to be able to go home with a little package that I can hand to my local government.
That's not what this is about, in this case. This is about addressing a need and getting funding, precious funding to people and places that need it. And the rule here should be, money follows the need. It's that simple. What places need it? Self-serving, but New York State has 15 times more cases than any other state right now.
Fund the states, fund the places that need it. Follow the number of cases. And use need as the basis for funding. It's common sense. It will be respected by the people of this nation. And the alternative to politicize this funding process is intolerable.
To my congressional delegation, I say, look, New York received no funding from the first coronavirus bill, even though New York has the greatest need. And that was a technical mistake in the way they wrote the bill. Political custom is one politician or elected official should not pressure people of their own party.
My congressional delegation is largely Democrat. So political custom would be, well, don't pressure another Democratic elected official. I say that is baloney. I represent all the citizens of the State of New York. That is my job. It's a very simple job I have. I fight for New Yorkers, period, Democrats, Republicans, period. And this is no time to play politics. And we need our congressional delegation to stand up and to fight for New York.
Also on the federal role, I'm requesting today from the federal government that the Army Corps immediately proceed to erect temporary hospitals. I went out yesterday, I surveyed the sites. There are several good options that give us regional coverage. An Army Corps temporary hospital on Stony Brook, which is on Long Island, Westbury, which is on Long Island, Westchester, where we have that terrible cluster, which is, thank goodness, reducing, and the Javits Center, which is a very large convention center in Manhattan in New York. And New York City is where we have the highest number of cases.
I met with the Army Corps. They've reviewed these sites. I approve it. I approve it on behalf of the State of New York. And now we just have to get it done and get it done quickly. These temporary hospitals are helpful, but they don't bring supplies and they don't bring staff. And that compounds our problem of not having enough medical supplies and, frankly, compounds our problem of not having enough medical staff because we are trying to increase the capacity in our existing hospitals.
The sites that we picked allow for indoor assembly of these facilities, so they won't be out-of-doors. They'll be indoors. Some places we may need to do them outdoors. But these campuses also have dormitories where the health care staff can stay. They're very large. There's space. And, again, I have made all the necessary approvals. So from my point of view, construction can start tomorrow.
These are pictures of the places where we would assemble them in Stony Brook, Old Westbury, Westchester County Center, and Westchester, all indoor locations, all open, all ready, accessible. Jacob Javits Center, we just expanded it. It's one of the largest convention centers in the country. It is open, it is ready to go. There's no red tape on the side of New York.
We're also asking FEMA to come in, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to come in and erect four federal hospitals at the Javits Center. The federal hospital by FEMA is different than the Army Corps of Engineer temporary facility. The FEMA hospitals come with staff and with supplies. They're in 250-bed configurations.
We're asking for four of those 250-bed configurations to be assembled in the Javits Center. The Javits Center can easily manage them. It's in the heart of Manhattan. They're fully equipped. They're fully staffed. Again, we're ready to go as soon as the federal government is ready to go. That will then give us regional coverage in Downstate New York, which is our most heavily-impacted area.
The president signed a FEMA emergency declaration which allows FEMA to go to work. By that emergency declaration, funding for these services is split, 75 percent by the federal government, 25 percent by the state government. The federal government can waive the state's share, as they call it, waive the 25 percent from the state.
I'm also requesting that the president waive the 25 percent. I just cannot pay the 25 percent. We literally don't have the funding to do it. And by the way, I don't believe any state will be in position to pay the 25 percent.
So I don't just say that on my behalf, I say that on behalf of all the governors. I'm the vice chairman of the National Governors Association, I've been speaking with governors all across the nation. No state has the financial capacity to participate, in my opinion. But I know for sure New York doesn't because we are the heaviest hit state right now. I'm asking the president to do what I did here in the state of New
York; Cut the red tape, cut the bureaucracy. Just cut to the chase, get the Army Corps of Engineers moving, get FEMA moving. Let's get those buildings up, let's have them in place before that trajectory hits its apex.
Time matters, minutes count and this is literally a matter of life and death. We get these facilities up, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don't, we will lose lives. I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but I want to be honest and that is the simple fact of this matter.
We're also implementing the trial drug. We have secured 70,000 hydrochloroquine (ph), 10,000 Zithromax from the federal government. I want to thank the FDA for moving very expeditiously to get us this supply.
The president ordered the FDA to move, and the FDA moved. We're going to get this supply and the trial will start this Tuesday. The president is optimistic about this -- about these drugs, and we are all optimistic that it could work.
I've spoken with a number of health officials and there is a good basis to believe that they could work. Some health officials point to Africa, which has a very low infection rate. And there's a theory that because they're taking this anti-malarial drug in Africa, it may actually be one of the reasons why the infection rate is low in Africa. We don't know, but let's find out and let's find out quickly. And I agree with the president on that, and we're going to start and we're going to start Tuesday.
I also think the FDA should start approving serological testing for coronavirus antibodies and they should do it as soon as possible. What this does is, it tests the blood to see if you have antibodies that were created to fight the coronavirus.
Remember, all the health officials say the coronavirus was here before we started to test. Many more people have had the coronavirus than we think. Most people have resolved the coronavirus who have had it. How do you know that? You can test and find the antibody that the body created to fight the virus. If you have that antibody, it means you had the virus and you resolved it.
Why do you want to know that? Because I want to know who had it, who has the antibody which means they most probably will not get it again, and that can help us get our medical staff back to work faster.
So it's a different level of testing, but I think the FDA should move as expeditiously as they have before on this type of testing, find out who had it, who has the antibodies, and that will help us especially on medical staff shortages.
Also on the state role, what am I supposed to do? I'm not just looking to the federal government. I understand that we are responsible, here in the state of New York, and we're doing everything we can on hyperspeed. We have to expand the existing hospital capacity. This gets back to
the 53,000 current beds when we may need 110,000 beds. We have said to the hospital administrators, we have a goal of you increasing your capacity in each hospital by 100 percent. Yes, an ambitious goal; yes, very difficult; yes, it may be impossible in some places.
But remember, a hospital is highly regulated. Space is regulated, the number of beds in a room is highly regulated.
We're waiving all those regulations and saying, just from a physical capacity point of view, see if you can increase your capacity 100 percent. Where did we get 100 percent? We have 53,000 beds, we have to get to 110,000 beds. Everybody increases by a hundred percent, we meet the goal. Simple. A little too simple, but.
We understand many hospitals won't be able to do it. However, at a minimum, hospitals must give us a plan to increase capacity by at least 50 percent. So we would be at about 75,000 minimum against the 110 need.
We would still have to find additional beds, I understand that. And you see what we're doing with the federal government, there's an opportunity there. But every hospital, goal of 100 percent increase in capacity, mandate of 50 percent increase in capacity.
We also have an intensive care unit bed issue where we have to increase the number of intensive care units. That is limited by the number of ventilators. What makes an ICU bed an ICU bed in this case? It's that the ICU bed has a ventilator, and that's where we get back to needing the ventilators desperately so we have those ICU beds.
We're putting out a Department of Health emergency order to hospitals that says we're not just asking you to do this. It wouldn't just be a nice thing, I'm not just asking you as governor, as a civic obligation. This is a law that the hospitals must come up with a plan to increase capacity a minimum of 50, goal of 100 percent.
We're also canceling all elective noncritical surgery for hospitals as of Wednesday. Elective noncritical. If it's a critical surgery, fine. If it's not critical, then postpone it. That alone should get us 25 to 35 percent more beds. And again, that is a mandate that is going into effect for the hospitals.
I understand the hospitals are not happy about it, I have heard that. The elective surgery is a big source of revenue for the hospitals, I understand that. But this is not about money, this is about public health. And we're putting that mandate in place starting today.
We're also creating additional beds in places where we can. We're taking over existing residential facilities -- hotels, nursing homes -- and repurposing existing facilities. For example, this is the Brooklyn Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care, 600 beds that we're going to take over. And it will serve as a temporary hospital. And we're doing this in facilities all across the state. Two different facts. I want to make sure we're clear, just so there's
no confusion. Fact one; young people can get the coronavirus. They're wrong when they say they can't get it. They can get it. Eighteen to 49-year-olds represent 53 percent of the total cases in New York.
This is not China, this is not South Korea -- on the theory that, well, I'm an American youth and therefore I'm -- have a superior immune system than China or South Korea, no. That theory is not correct. In New York, 53 percent of the cases, 18 to 49 years old.
Second fact, older people and those with compromised immune system, underlying illnesses can die from the coronavirus. You're right, the 18 to 49-year-old is probably not lethal. But you can get it, and you can get sick. And it's a nasty illness and then you can transfer to someone else. That's the case for young people. Older people, obviously, if you're a vulnerable person, it can be lethal.
Both facts are true, and both facts have to be understood. Young people can get it, you will get sick, you probably won't die but you can transfer it to someone who may very well die.
And you can transfer it even inadvertently without knowing you're doing it. You can touch a surface, walk away. A day later, someone can sit at this table and put their hand in the same place, and contract the virus.
I was in New York City yesterday. It was a pretty day. There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate. You would think there was nothing going on, in parts of New York City. You would think it was just a bright sunny Saturday. I don't know what I'm saying, that people don't get. I'm normally accused of being overly blunt and direct. And I take that, it's true. I don't know what they're not understanding.
This is not life as usual. None of this is life as usual. And this kind of density? We talk about social distancing, I was in these parks, it -- you would not -- you would not know that anything was going on. This is just a mistake, it's a mistake. It's insensitive, it's arrogant, it's self-destructive, it's disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke, and I am not kidding.
We spoke with the mayor of the City of New York and the speaker of the City Council, Corey Johnson. I told both of them that this is a problem in New York City. It's especially a problem in New York City parks. New York City must develop an immediate plan to correct this situation.
I want a plan that we can review in 24 hours so that we can approve it. There are many options. You have much less traffic in New York City because nonessential workers aren't going to work. Get creative, open streets to reduce the density. You want to go for a walk? God bless you. You want to go for a run? God bless you. But let's open streets, let's open space. That's where people should be, in open- space areas, not in dense locations. There is no group activity in parks. That is not the point.
We spoke about it the other day. All sorts of kids playing basketball yesterday. I play basketball. There is no concept of social distancing while playing basketball. It doesn't exist. You can't stay 6 feet away from a person, playing basketball. You can, but then you're a lousy basketball player and you're going to lose. You just cannot do that.
We also have bigger parks in New York City. We opened Shirley Chisolm Park in Brooklyn, 400 acres. Van Cortlandt Park. There are big parks, there are big spaces. That's where you want to be, but we need a plan from New York City. I want it in 24 hours because this is a significant problem that has to be corrected.
In terms of numbers, I said yesterday, New York is testing more people than any state in the country and per capita, more than any country on the globe. That is a positive accomplishment -- pardon the pun -- because we want -- we want testing, we want more testing. We ramped up very quickly. We're doing it better than anyone else.
And that is a good thing. Because when you identify a positive, then you can isolate that person. And that's exactly what we're trying to do. When you increase the number of tests, you're going to increase the number of people who test positive. And the numbers show exactly that.
We have now tested 61,000 people. Newly tested, 15,000 people. So these numbers just are exponential to what is being done anywhere else in the country, and that's why you're going to see much higher numbers than anywhere else. Total number of new cases, 15,000. I'm sorry -- total number of cases, 15,000; total number of new cases, 4,800 new cases.
You see the state, more and more counties. We're just down to a handful of counties now where we don't have existing cases.
As I said, that is going to be 100 percent covered, it's just a matter of time.
On the hospitalization rate, which is a number that I watch very closely, it's 1,900 cases out of 15,000, 13 percent. Thirteen percent is actually lower than it has been. We've been running at 15 percent, 16 percent, as high as 20 percent. This is 13 percent.
This is the key indicator because this is saying how many people are going to come into your health care system as the number goes up. So this is a -- is not bad news.
Across the country, you see New York now has 15,000 cases; Washington State, 1,600; California, 1,500. So we have roughly 15 times the number of cases.
Now, do we really have 15 times the number of cases? You don't know. We're testing much more than anyone else, so that is a major factor in this. But I have no doubt that we have more cases. We have more density, we have more people from other countries who come to New York than many other states. So I have no reason to believe that we don't have more. I don't believe we have 15 times more. I believe that's also a factor that we test more than anyone else.
One hundred and 14 new deaths; total number of deaths, 374. And that is a sobering, sad and really distressing fact that should give everyone pause because that's what this is all about, is saving lives. And we've lost 374 New Yorkers. Keeping it all in perspective, Johns Hopkins has followed this from day one; 311,000 cases, 13,000 deaths.
Statewide deaths. To the extent we can research the cause of death and the demographics of death, what we're seeing roughly, 70 percent of those who passed away were 70 years old or older. And the majority had underlying health conditions, OK?
So it is what we said it was. Approximately 80 percent of the deaths of those under 70 years old had an underlying health condition. So young people can get it, young people will get sick, young people can transfer it. Mortality, lethality? Older, compromised immune system, underlying illness. That's what we're seeing.
But even within that population, the capacity of our health care system can save those lives. It doesn't mean just because you're 80 and you have a compromised immune system or you have an underlying health condition and you get coronavirus, you must pass away. That's going to depend on how good our health care system is.
But in terms of overall perspective, I'm afraid for myself, I'm afraid for my sister, I'm afraid for my child? Older, underlying illness, be very, very, very careful. This gets back to Matilda's Law, this get back to my mother. That's my fear; This gets back to nursing homes, senior care facilities, et cetera.
Personal advice -- this is not factual. I try to present facts, I've tried to present everything I know. I try to present unbiased facts, I try to present numbers. Because people need information. When you do you get anxious, when do you get fearful? When you don't get the information or you doubt the information or you think people don't know what they're talking about or you think you're getting lied to. So I present facts.
This is personal advice, this is non-factual. So it's all gratuitous, you can take it and you can throw it in the pail. But we have to think this situation through.
Don't be reactive at this point to this situation. Yes, you are out of control in many ways. You're out of control to this virus. You're out of work. Situations are changing. They're not in your control. You don't even know how long this is going to go on. It's a very frightening feeling. That is true. But you can also take back some control. Start to anticipate and plan what's going to go on.
Plan for the negatives and plan for the positives. There are going to be negatives and there are going to be positives. There are real economic consequences. How do you handle the economic consequences? You're not alone. It's everyone in the United States. That's why you see this federal government acting quickly to get funding into the pockets of families who need it.
But think through what the economics mean. Think through the social issues and the social impact of this. Think through the emotional issues of this. You know, it -- it would be unnatural if you didn't have a flood of emotions going on. It would be unnatural. Either you wouldn't understand what was happening or you wouldn't appreciate it.
But if you know the facts and you understand what's going on, you have to have a flood of individual emotions, positive and negative. And anticipate it. You know, stay home; stay home; stay home. Well, when you stay home, remember the old expression, "cabin fever," right You stay home alone, you don't want to be isolated emotionally. You can be isolated physically; you don't want to be isolated emotionally. You want to keep those emotional connections. You want to talk to people. You want to write letters. You want to have emotional connectivity. That is very important.
If you're not alone, and you're in the house with the family and the kids and everybody's together, that's a different set of emotional complexities, you know, being in that enclosed environment. Normally, the kids are out; everybody is going to work, and you're only together a short period of time a day. Now you're all in the same place for 24 hours.
You know, I remember when the kids were young, what it was like. It was pure joy. But I remember what it was like to be with them for multiple hours. You know, it's complicated. I live alone. I'm even getting annoyed with the dog, you know...
... being in one place. So think that through, because that is real and it's going to go on for a period of time. This is not a short-term situation. This is not a long weekend. This is not a week. The timeline, nobody can tell you; it depends on how we handle it. But 40 percent up to 80 percent of the population will wind up getting this virus. All we're trying to do is slow the spread. But it will spread. It is that contagious.
Again, that's nothing to panic over. You saw the numbers. Unless you're older, with an underlying illness, et cetera, it's something that you're going to resolve. But it's going to work its way through society. We'll manage at capacity rate. But it is going to be four months, six months, nine months.
You look at China. Once they really changed the trajectory, which we have not done yet, eight months -- we're in that range. Nobody has a crystal ball. Nobody can tell you. "Well, I want to know. I want to know. I need to know." Nobody can tell you.
I've spoken to more people on this issue than 99 percent of the people in this country. No one can tell you -- not from the superb Dr. Fauci to the World Health Organization to the National Institutes of Health. But it is in that range. So start to plan accordingly.
It's going to be hard. There is no doubt. I'm not minimizing it. And I don't think you should, either. But, at the same time, it is going to be OK. We don't want to overreact either, right? The grocery stores are going to function. There's going to be food. The transportation systems are going to function.
The pharmacies are going to be open. All essential services will be maintained.
There's not going to be chaos. There's not going to be anarchy. Order and function will be maintained. Life is going to go on -- different, but life is going to go on. So there is no reason to be going to grocery stores and hoarding food. You see all this overreaction on the TV every day, which then makes you think, "Well, maybe I'm missing it; maybe I should run to the store and buy toilet paper."
No. Life is going to go on. The toilet paper is going to be there tomorrow. So, a deep breath on all of that. But I do believe that, whatever this is, four months, six months, nine months, we are going to be the better for it.
You know, they talk about the greatest generation, the generation that survived World War II. Dealing with hardship actually makes you stronger.
Life -- on the individual level, on the collective level, on the social level -- life is not about avoiding challenges. Challenges are going to come your way. Life is going to knock you on your rear end at one point. Something will happen. And then life becomes about overcoming those challenges. That's what life is about. And that's what this country is about. America is America because we overcome adversity and challenges. That's how we were born. That's what we've done all our life. We overcome challenges.
And this is a period of challenge for this generation. And that's what has always made America great. And that's what's going to make this generation great. I believe that to the bottom of my soul. We're going to overcome this and America will be the greater for it.
And my hope is that New York is going to lead the way forward. And together we will.
QUESTION: Governor, on the -- on New York City reducing its density, is it within your powers to do those sorts of things?
And you're talking about closing streets to traffic to increase pedestrian traffic. Can you explain the logic of what exactly that would look like in New York City?
CUOMO: I could make those decisions in New York City. In truth, Jesse, I only -- first of all, I'm a New York City born and bred, if you can't tell. So I know New York City -- from every kind of dimension. I don't know the situation with the parks well enough and I don't know the situation on opening streets, closing streets, well enough.
And frankly, I think the local officials are in a better position to make those decisions. They see this issue also. It's not that they don't see the issue. They see the issue; they see the problem. I want them to come up with a plan. I think they're in a better position to do it.
I want to know what it is. And I want to approve it, because this is a serious problem. That density has to be reduced. And it has to be reduced fast. And that's why I'm asking for a plan from them in 24 hours. But I think they're in better position to do it.
QUESTION: Would you imagine closing parks and playgrounds and things like that?
CUOMO: I want to see what they say. They know. They know the problem. They see it. I mean, it's all over the place. It's not that, you know, you need a microscope to find this. It is all over the city. Now, maybe it was a nice day yesterday or whatever, but people -- it's -- it was all over the place.
QUESTION: Governor, (inaudible) New York City all the way up to the Capital Region are running low on tests and medical supplies. They stopped doing public testing. Some have stopped the drive-through testing. Is that the right thing to do at this point?
Are we running low on medical supplies?
CUOMO: Well, Josepha (ph), the main problem is the equipment. It's the gowns. It's the masks. It's the PPE equipment. And we sent a million masks to New York City yesterday. We have a million masks here so we can supply hospitals.
But we're talking about a very short period of time we're then scrambling to buy all these masks.
I have companies that are manufacturing masks for us. We're buying sewing machines to make masks.
But this is not the way it should be done. Let the federal government -- they have a law called the Defense Production Act, which is precisely for this. I get the president saying he wanted to work voluntarily with private companies and ask them to help, and I get the president saying that private companies were great and they came forward and they said, "We want to help." I get that.
I say, forget the voluntary partnership; order the companies to produce it. Let the federal government do it, so that the private company doesn't wind up marketing with all these states that are competing.
Think about it, we paid 85 cents for a mask. We're now paying $7 for the same mask. Why? Because California will pay $6 and Illinois will pay $6.50. And Florida will pay $6.75. I'm just making up those numbers. But that's not the way it should be. Let the federal government take the function of medical supply production and distribution. Just take it, right?
When it came to testing, I said the exact opposite. I said to the president on testing, when everything was going through the FDA and everything was going through the CDC and it was slow, I said to the vice president, "Decentralize it. Give that function to me, the state."
Why? I have 200 laboratories that I regulate. Give it to me. I'll turn on 200 laboratories, rather than going through a bottleneck in the federal government; everything has to go through the FDA and CDC.
So I said in that -- in that situation, "Give me the task. I'll get it done faster."
So it's not like I'm trying to say the federal government should do something to take a burden off me. I've accepted the burden of testing from the federal government. And by the way, our numbers went through the roof.
This task, they are in a better position to do than I am. Order the production of masks and gowns and ventilators. Give them a deadline. Don't get into this mad bidding war. They know how to distribute it, because you look at where the cases are. And distribute it by the need of the cases, from Washington. Let them take that. This is -- the president can do this. Frankly, it's the president's style to say, "Cut to the chase. This has to be done, and I'm mandating it." And he should do that here.
STELTER: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, updating New Yorkers and alerting the rest of the world to the hard situation in New York state. We are monitoring every word of that press briefing. Cuomo is clearly trying to ratchet up the pressure on President Trump by asking for some specific federal actions.
He says the Fed's should nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies because price hikes and competition between states is getting in the way. I can report from a very well placed source that the White House has been watching these Cuomo press conferences every day, watching very intently and taking cues from the New York governor. So it'll be very important to see how President Trump responds to Cuomo's call later today. You can see on the corner of the screen there's a 4:30 briefing scheduled at the White House.
Governor Cuomo also calling on the Army Corp of engineers to erect temporary hospitals telling New Yorkers all elective non-critical surgeries will be called off starting Wednesday. And urging folks in New York City to stay home and get out of the parks.
This has been a remarkable show of leadership by Governor Cuomo in recent days, he's providing hope, but not false hope. So, we're resetting here on Reliable Sources, we have the CEO of AT&T standing by, the Chief Content Officer for Netflix, three of the world's top news room editors. We're going to get to that next hour.
But first let's review what we've heard from Governor Cuomo with Dan Rather and Carl Bernstein.
Carl, what was the most important message you heard from Governor Cuomo?
CARL BERNSTEIN, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Real leadership of the kind the President of the United States should have provided to the American people throughout this crisis and has not. On the specifics, the governor wants the Defense Procurement Act, not only invoked but used to compel American manufacturers to give the country, the hospitals, the health care system what it needs.
He's been very eloquent about this. He and the other governor's and Larry Hogan who's chairman of the National Governors Conference, Cuomo is vice chairman. They showing the kind of leadership that we need in this country.
And in terms of that act, it provides - we have a President of the United States who has shown authoritarian tendencies throughout his presidency. He now has the opportunity to use the vast authority of the presidency to do what needs to be done to make it possible for this health crisis to do what it can in this country to the maximum.
And what the governor is saying is, Mr. President, I'm working with you. It's time for you to use all of the power at your command to lead the American people and help the American health care system and our state and city.
STELTER: And as you mentioned, Carl. Other governors are doing the same. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is calling for the same federal action. Let me show what was said on Jake Tapper's program a little bit earlier today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER: We're all competing against each other. This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government and the National Defense Authorization that the president has to, you know, to essentially push this manufacturing. It really hasn't gone into effect in any way. So, yes, we're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wide -- a wild west, I would say, out there, and indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for PPE, because of that competition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So to Dan rather, your reaction?
DAN RATHER, AMERICAN JOUNRALIST: Well, first of all, this is a very strong performance, another strong performance by Governor Cuomo. And it echoes the kind of performance I think the American people are looking for, aching for, yearning for out of their president. Now, Cuomo does not have the kind of eloquence that would be ideal in
these circumstances. This is a great opportunity for President Trump to respond to Cuomo. I would say, Brian, that the one thing that stood out to me that Cuomo hit on several times, and that is the price gouging, the price gouging that's going on for masks, gowns, the ventilating machines.
If I'm any judge, and I may not be, but I think the thing that people are beginning to really boil about is this business of price gouging. And the president can put a stop to a lot of that. He can't put a stop to all of it. He can put a stop to a lot of that by using the power of the presidency, which is the basic message, as Carl Bernstein pointed out, in the Governor Cuomo performance today, is the governor practically begging the president to use the powers of the presidency to do such things, as reduce this kind of gouging. And frankly, as a reporter, I would like to know who it is doing the gouging. Let's have some names. Some actual names of people who are doing this.
STELTER: It's a great point.
RATHER: But it will be interesting to see how President Trump responds this afternoon. I don't doubt for a minute that he and his people at the White House have been watching the Cuomo performance very, very carefully.
STELTER: Yeah, it's over to the president now. Carl and Dan, please stay with me. You'll join me in the next hour, as well. More "Reliable Sources," a full hour, coming up after a quick break.