Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Fourth Region Hits Benchmark to Begin Reopening
New York City Strong news – Office of the Governor reports 5.13.2020.
North Country Joins Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, Which Have Met the Seven Metrics Required to Begin Reopening After NYS on Pause Orders Expire on May 15th
Regional Monitoring Dashboard Showing How Many Metrics Each Region Has Met to Reopen is Available Here
Results of Antibody Testing Survey of 2,750 Members of the NYS Police Show 3.1 Percent Have COVID-19 Antibodies
Results of Antibody Testing Survey of Approximately 3,000 Members of the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Show 7.5 Percent Have COVID-19 Antibodies
Confirms 2,176 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 340,661; New Cases in 47 Counties
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that as of today, the North Country has met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state’s regional phased reopening plan when NYS on PAUSE orders expire on May 15th, joining the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions. If the trend continues, these four regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. The Central New York region has met six of the seven metrics and could potentially be ready at the end of the week. A guide to the state’s “NY Forward Reopening” Plan is available here. The state’s regional monitoring dashboard is available here.
The Governor also announced the results of the state’s antibody testing survey of 2,750 members of the New York State Police Show 3.1 percent of the members have COVID-19 antibodies. Additionally, results of the state’s antibody testing survey of approximately 3,000 members of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision show 7.5 percent of members have COVID-19 antibodies. These results are compared to 12.3 percent of the general population in Upstate New York that tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
As the numbers continue to decline and we are coming down the other side of the mountain, a lot of attention is now on reopening. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
“As the numbers continue to decline and we are coming down the other side of the mountain, a lot of attention is now on reopening,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re doing something in this state that no other state is doing – we are having a transparent discussion about the reopening operations because it only works if people understand it and are part of it. New Yorkers will know exactly what is happening in their region and in their county on a daily basis, and the state will continue to monitor these metrics to determine when regions are ready to reopen and if we need to adjust the reopening plans. Four regions have now met all seven metrics required to begin reopening, and we will continue to keep New Yorkers informed as this process goes forward.”
Finally, the Governor confirmed 2,176 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 340,661 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 340,661 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
|County||Total Positive||New Positive|
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here. Let me introduce the people who are with me, those of you who are not familiar with them. To my right, Dr. Howard Zucker who is the New York State Commissioner of Health and is doing a fantastic job here; to my left Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor; to her left Gareth Rhodes who is Deputy Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services but has been working with us on this COVID situation, has been doing a great job.
Pleasure to be in the North Country today, Jefferson County. I want to thank Dr. Stone for having us and the hospitality today. I wear a mask. Apparently it doesn’t say anything. You don’t see any words on it but when someone wears a mask it says to other people, I respect you, I respect your family, I respect the work of our front-line hero, the nurses, the doctors, et cetera, and I wear this mask to protect you and your family because I respect you. It’s a sign of respect, and all New Yorkers I believe should do it.
Let’s talk about the facts today, the situation we’re looking at today. Number of hospitalizations are down again so that is good news. The rolling total of the number of hospitalizations has been down and that’s good news. The number of intubations is down and that’s good news. And new cases per day which is something we watch very carefully a little bit up, but overall down. I refer to that as the mountain. You see the outline of the mountain. Adirondacks, we know about mountains. You see how fast we went up and how much slower the decline was and that’s important. That’s what the national experts are talking about when they say you could have an outbreak that you couldn’t recover from.
The increase, the incline is very fast. The virus travels very quickly and then getting control of the outbreak is much slower and much harder and that was the experience we had here in New York. You see how fast it went up and how many days of super effort by New Yorkers it took to get that spread under control and to reduce the rate of new cases.
The number of lives lost, still painfully and tragically high. These are not numbers. These are families. These are lost individuals. They’re fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and 166 families are in pain today and they are in our thoughts and prayers.
When you look at where we are today, we’re just about where we were when we started this terrible situation so we have hopefully come through the worst. We paid a heck of a price for it but we’ve come through the worst.
One of the things we’ve been very diligent in doing is taking care of our essential workers. We owe them. You know, there’s still a right thing in life and a wrong thing. There’s still obligation and gratitude, and the essential workers we owe. We closed down everything. We communicated how important it was to do that, how deadly this virus was, and then we told the essential workers, but you have to show up tomorrow even though this is a deadly virus. We need you to show up, nurses, doctors, transit workers, police officers. We need you to go to work while everybody else can stay home and try to be safe. They made a tremendous sacrifice. And I asked them to do it myself, day after day. I told them we would do everything we needed to do to protect them.
We’ve been doing testing of the essential workers to see if we have a problem anywhere and good news has been the frontline workers are testing at lower rates than the general population.
So downstate New York, the transit workers tested about 14 percent of the overall number tested positive. That’s compared to New York City where about 19.9 percent of the general population.
The healthcare workers, 12 percent. think about that, nurses, doctors, in emergency rooms, 12 percent. You know what that means? That means PPE works. Masks work. Gloves work. Hand sanitizing works. How do healthcare workers have a lower percentage of infection than the general population? Because people don’t wear these at home and they don’t take the same precautions. But this works.
NYPD, 10 percent, Fire Department 17 percent. We then sampled the New York State Police who have been doing extraordinary work. We sampled 2,700 which is a large sample of the state police. Only 3 percent tested positive. And that’s general population, upstate New York of about 12 percent so that’s also very good news.
And then we tested the people who work at DOCS, our Department of Corrections Services. Prisons, we’ve also been very careful because prisons, you have a congregate population. Wherever you have those gatherings that’s where we see that virus spread so we did a test of those people who work at the Department of Corrections, primarily corrections officials. We sampled over 3,000. 7.5 percent, again, below the general population rate.
So that should give us all some peace of mind that the essential workers who are out there are doing fantastic work for us and we’ve made sure that they were protected in doing the work that they’re doing. All of the frontline workers, public service, frontline workers, tested below the general population so we should feel good about that.
Also, I want people to know that elective surgeries are going to start in 12 more counties and that’s important. We had stopped elective surgeries so we had additional hospital capacity for COVID patients. But as the number of COVID cases has come down we can restart elective surgeries, also ambulatory services, so that is good news.
A lot of attention on reopening now and we’re doing something in this state that no other state is doing. We are doing the most transparent discussion and reopening operation of any state. Why? Because it only works if people understand it and if people are part of it. This is not a government exercise that we’re doing here. This is a social exercise. The 19 million people of New York State are doing this and the best I can do is give them the information. I believe in them. I believe in the people and I believe when they have the right information and they trust the information and they know the information is actually factual as opposed to some type of political jargon, they will do the right thing. And they have, and that’s how we bent that curve and flattened that curve.
Same thing on reopening. You will know exactly what is happening in your region, in your county. You’ll know the facts. You will know the numbers on a daily basis and you will know what we’re doing. We heard testimony yesterday from the national experts, Dr.Fauci, who warns of suffering and death if the U.S. reopens too soon. If you reopen the economy too soon, people are not taking the precautions, you have gatherings, the virus will transfer and you will see a spike in hospitalizations and you will see a spike in deaths. What’s the key in that expression? The key is “too soon.” If you open too soon. All right. What does that mean, too soon? Too soon means you’ opening, you’re increasing activity at a rate that the hospital system cannot handle and people are not taking the right precautions. That’s what too soon means.
Well, then how do we calibrate too soon? You can measure exactly what you are doing. The red valve is the reopening value. You start the reopening valve, activity increases, you’re doing diagnostic testing – are you positive, are you negative – and you watch that rate.
You’re doing antibody testing which tells you how many people were infected and you watch that rate. You know on a day-to-day basis now how many people are walking into the hospital with COVID. We have those numbers. Never had them before. We have them now. You watch that rate every day. And if you watch those rates, you know how fast the virus is spreading, what they call the rate of transmission, the RT. So, too soon, watch the numbers, watch the measures, there is a science to this. And that has to be watched in every county, in every region, and that has to be monitored. And you see those numbers starting to move, you will know if you’re reopening too soon and if people aren’t taking the right precautions and if you see that virus spreading.
So give the information to the people. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I’ve been trying to do from day one, because government can’t do any of this. This is a function of the actions of every individual and every family. We’ll have a regional control group, the North Country, for every region in the state. Watch those numbers every day, make sure those businesses are complying, make sure people are complying, and watch it day to day and you’ll know if the activity is increasing to a level that is increasing the rate of transmission. And act accordingly. And that has to be done on a region-by-region basis. Now also with this virus, we must stay alert because we’re still learning and what we thought we knew doesn’t always turn out to be true. This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way in this country.
When we first started with this virus, we were told it was coming from China, right? Wuhan province, it came from China, and it’s going to come from China now to the United States. Turns out it didn’t from China to the United States. It did in some parts of the country, but the east coast, it turns out it came from Europe. I talk to everyone all day long, in the beginning of this nobody ever said it’s coming from Europe. We had two million Europeans come to New York, New Jersey, the big airports, international airport, JFK, and no one knew it was coming from Europe, because it had gone from China to Europe, and then it gets here from Europe. No one knew. When this started, once you have the virus, you have antibodies, and then you’re immune from further infection. That was stated as a fact. Now it turns out maybe you’re not immune, even if you had it. Maybe you have some immunity, but not total immunity, we’re not sure. Okay.
Then, we were told, children are not affected by COVID virus. Great. Sigh of relief. Less than 1 percent of New Yorkers who are hospitalized under 20 years old. Now, we’re finding out, that may not be 100 percent accurate, either. Because now we’re seeing cases, the Department of Health is investigating, and New York is in many ways, the tip of the arrow here. Looking at 102 cases where children who may have been infected with the COVID virus show symptoms of an inflammatory disease like Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome. We have lost three children in New York because of this. Five-year-old boy, seven-year-old boy, and an 18-year-old girl. These cases are all across the state, predominantly where the population is. 60 percent of these children tested positive for the COVID virus. 40 percent tested positive for the antibodies of the COVID virus, okay? That means children either currently had the virus or could have had it several weeks ago and now have the antibodies saying that they had the virus and they recovered from the virus. 70 percent of the cases went into ICU, which means they’re serious. When you go into intensive care, it means it’s serious. 19 percent resulted in intubation, which means they’re very serious. 43 percent of the cases are still hospitalized. On the age, when they say children, it’s across the board. It can be under one-year-old, it can be up 20, 21-year-old. The majority between five years old and 14 years old. It affects children of all races, and it’s not just in New York.
The Department of Health sent an alert to 49 other states. Dr. Zucker has been leading this conversation nationwide. 14 other states are now investigating cases in their state for possible inflammatory disease for children related to COVID. Five European countries are now looking at this. Because it happened after the fact and does not present as a normal COVID case, it may not have been initially diagnosed as a COVID case. COVID cases are normally respiratory. This is not predominantly respiratory. It’s an inflammation of the blood vessels, which could affect the heart. So, it’s more of a cardiac case than a respiratory case, which is a new manifestation of the COVID virus.
Department of Health is being very aggressive in doing the investigation, and also talking to other states, countries, about what they may have learned, partnering with Rockefeller University and the New York Genome Center to see if there’s anything in the DNA of these cases. But parents have to be aware this. The predominant signs, fever, abdominal pain, skin rash. Other symptoms, change in skin color, difficulty feeding, trouble breathing, racing heart, lethargy, irritability or confusion. So, it’s a wide array of symptoms, as you can see, which makes it even harder for a parent to know exactly what they’re dealing with. If your child has been exposed to someone who had COVID, even if it was several weeks ago, that is a special alert in this situation. Department of Health has told the hospitals in the state to prioritize COVID testing for children who come in with any of these situations. And if you want more information, this is the health site to go to.
Now, as a parent, I can tell you this is a parent’s worst nightmare, right? To have a child — we thought that children were not especially affected by the virus. To now find out that they might be, and it might be several weeks later, this is truly disturbing. So we raise it because it’s something that parents should be aware of. We’re still finding out more about it. We’re working very aggressively. The more we know, the more we’ll communicate. For now, everything we know is on that website. But parents say, you know, “Should I be concerned?” You should be aware. You should be aware. The first job is to protect our children. My baby is 22. Not really baby any more she likes to tell me. She’s theoretically, this is 21 and below. She’s 22, maybe I have nothing to worry about. I still worry because that’s what you do as a parent, you worry. I tried to get her up to come with me today, Michaela, 22 years old. If you think you have any power in life, try to get a 22-year-old out of bed at seven thirty in the morning and you will quickly come down to earth about any expectation of anything. But go to the website in the meantime.
New York State, I’m proud of what our people have done and we’re proceeding with caution and with intelligence. We also need help from Washington. I understand the federal government has said it’s up to the states. It’s up to the governors. We need help to make this happen. We need help from Washington. I think that the decision or realization that is should be down state by state makes sense, but it doesn’t mean the states are on their own, either. We need federal legislation.
We need what’s called state and local aid. Our state budget, our state economy has suffered. We have a significant funding gap and states need assistance. In New York there’s about a 61-billion-dollar funding gap which is a very, very serious funding gap. What does – who does the state fund if we don’t have funds in our budget what does it mean? States fund local governments, we fund police, firefighters, and schools. If our budget doesn’t work who gets cut? Police, firefighters, schools, local governments. The very people who we need to fight this virus and the very people we all call the essential workers and heroes who’ve been doing a great job. How do we not give them the support that they need?
We also need funding for state testing. Everyone says the key is testing. By the way, this is a tremendous operation to put in place. This will be millions of tests in New York. Tracing – never been done before to this extent. It’s going to be thousands of people who have to do tracing. We need funding for that.
The Washington bill should finally provide a real economic stimulus that helps this nation rebuild. Every president has talked about the need to rebuild our infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our airports. Every administration does a report. The bridges are falling, the roads are crumbling, our country doesn’t build airports anymore – which it doesn’t. We’re building a new airport in downstate New York. LaGuardia airport – first new airport in 25 years in this country. How can it be that we haven’t built a new airport in 25 years? You fly around the world and everybody’s airport looks amazing. It’s like a shopping mall, hotel, entertainment complex and then you come to an airport in this country. You need to stimulate the economy; you need to create jobs – do what every president has said but none has done. Democratic and Republican.
The bill that was introduced yesterday has something that’s very important to many states. It repeals what’s called SALT, State and Local Tax deduction. This was a tax change made two years ago, three years ago in Washington. It increases the taxes of homeowners in certain states. New York is one of them. It costs New York State and about 29-billion-dollars per year. State of Massachusetts, 11-billion-dollars per year. It also effects New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland. That is repealed in this bill that the House put in. It’s the single best piece of action for the State of New York. And we have representatives who know this very well, and Representative Lowey and Representative Neil, I applaud them for putting it in. They have to make sure that it’s in the final bill because the only thing that matters is what’s in the final bill. But that is good news in this bill.
And the need for state and local aid, this is not a Democratic, Republican issue. You have Democratic governors, you have Republican governors. All governors will say they need assistance from the federal government. The governors work together in an organization called the National Governors Association – the NGA. The chairman is a Republican, Governor Hogan from Maryland. I’m the Vice Chairman, Democrat. Governor Hogan and I did a joint statement on behalf of all the governors saying we understand what we have to do, we’re prepared to do it, but we need help from Washington, and we need that state and local funding. So this is not a partisan issue.
Something else that Washington has to do, which is very important, special interests always rear their ugly head. These bills that are coming out of Washington, they have a lot of funding to get the economy running, a lot of money for big businesses, and a lot of money for millionaires and a lot of money for large corporations. I fear what is going to happen is that corporations are going to use this pandemic as an excuse to lay off workers. They’re already telling analysts that their profits are going to go up because they’re going to reduce their payroll. So, you’ll have Americans now out of work, who think they’re going to get their job back, but the corporation is going to announce, “By the way, we don’t need all the employees back, we’re going to reduce our number of employees.” And you’ll see layoffs for Americans.
We went through this before. 2008, we had the mortgage fraud economic catastrophe, right? And we bailed out the banks. I was Attorney General at the time. So many banks took the bailout from taxpayers and then gave themselves bonuses, or gave their employees bonuses with taxpayer dollars. And as Attorney General, I had to bring actions against these corporations to get the money back. How absurd – they create a financial catastrophe in 2008, because of these mortgage scams and mortgage frauds, taxpayers bail out the corporation, they turn around and use the money to give themselves a fat paycheck, when they’re the ones who caused the problem in the first place.
So, we made this mistake before. We can’t make this mistake again. I did an op-ed today in the Washington Post that speaks just to this. You want to provide subsidies to corporations? I understand that. Make sure the subsidies are tied to worker protections. Very simple. If a corporation gets a check from the government, that corporation must not lay off any workers. Have the same number of workers after the pandemic that you had before the pandemic. And don’t think taxpayers are going to subsidize you, Mr. Corporation, so you can then lay off workers, and then the taxpayers can then pay for that. I call it the Americans First Law: No corporate bailout if you’re going to lay off workers. And it’s going to be introduced by members of the New York congressional delegation, and I’m very proud of them for their leadership. If we get that Washington bill passed, then it’s going to make a significant difference, because it’s going to give states the ability to do what they need to do to reopen, and we can take it from there because we are New York tough, which is New York tough, and smart, and united, and disciplined, and tough enough to love.