“Does anyone really believe this is the last time like Superstorm Sandy? “Well, it’s a once-in-500-year-flood.” Yeah, sure once in 500 years. It happens three times a year now. This can’t be once in 500 years. There are new rules. I believe there is going to be another public health emergency, different virus, this virus, some other public health emergency.” NY Gov Cuomo
New York City Strong news – Long Island Jones Beach, NY: Office of the Governor reports 5.24.2020. Watch Video
Good morning. Pleasure to see all of you here today. Let’s talk about where we are today. First, on the facts first. Total number of hospitalizations is down, that’s good news. The rolling average of hospitalizations is down, that’s good news. The intubations is down and the new cases are up a little bit on the rolling average, but all part of the decline. That’s all good news. Number of deaths ticked up, which is terrible news, but the overall line is still good. The 109 families that lost a loved one, they are in our thoughts and prayers.
What does a Governor do on Memorial Day weekend? People ask me all the time, “What do you do?” So, what does a Governor do on Memorial Day weekend? You go to the beach. That’s what a Governor does and he brings his friends. I’m here with my friends today. From the far right, Gareth Rhodes. To my immediate right, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To my left, Robert Mujica, Budget Director for the great State of New York and Dr. Jim Malatras, who’s not a real doctor, but he likes to be called doctor.
We’re at the beach. Beaches in New York State, State beaches are open. Jones Beach, the Sunken Meadow Beach, Hither Hills, Robert Moses Beach. Camp grounds, RV parks open tomorrow and we’re excited about that. We remind all New Yorkers to be smart in what they’re doing. We’re now decidedly in the reopening phase and we’ve been following the numbers from day one. No emotions. Following the science, not the politics. This is not a political ideology question. This is a public health question. It’s about a disease, stopping the disease, stopping the spread of the disease and that’s science, it’s not politics.
We have all the numbers posted for all regions in the state. We want people to understand the numbers, we want people to understand what’s going on because it’s their actions that determine our future. Informing the people of the State, that’s what I’ve done from day one every day and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Also, we feel that this is a case of first impression. We’ve never been here before. We’ve never been here before in our lifetimes. That’s true, but the country has been through this before and you learn from the past so you don’t make the same mistakes.
When we went through this in the 1918 pandemic, you go back and you look at the places that opened in an uncontrolled way and you see that the virus came back and came back with a fury. Again, it’s not about what you think, ideology, this is what we know. These are facts. You go back and look at what happened in the 1918 pandemic in St. Louis. Go look at Denver where they loosened up too quickly and the virus came back.
Article in the paper today, the Washington Post. 24 states may have an uncontrolled growth of the virus. They’re talking about California and Florida may still see a spike in the number of deaths, okay. Those are all facts, and they reinforce the point that we’ve been making. Follow the numbers, follow the science. And we have done just that. That’s why you see our curve is coming down where many places in the country the curve is going up.
Remember what happened to us was no fault of our own. Actually, it makes the point, because what happened to us was we did not have the facts when this started. everybody said the facts were the virus was coming from China. Those were not the facts. The virus had left China. The virus went to Europe and nobody told us. And people came from Europe to New York and to New Jersey and to Connecticut. And 3 million European travelers came, January, February, march, before we did the European travel ban. And they brought the virus to New York and that’s why the New York number was so high. We didn’t have the facts. We were not informed. But, once we got past that, and we were in control, we have been smart. And smart has worked. We just have to stay smart. Even though it’s been a long time, and people are anxious, we have to stay smart. You keep watching those numbers.
The Mid-Hudson is still on track on the numbers to open Tuesday. Long Island is on track to meet the numbers on Wednesday. We have to get the number of deaths down on Long Island and we have to get the number of tracers up, but we’re doing that. We’re preparing for long island to open. We’re getting the transportation system ready. The Long Island Rail Road is run by the MTA. They’re going to be cleaning and disinfecting all trains and buses every day, first time ever. We never disinfected buses and trains before, we never thought we had to. But we get it now, and they’re doing it every day. They’re going to add more cars to the trains so people can space out and socially distance when Long Island opens. I want people to remember that the mask is mandatory on public transportation. I think you’re making a mistake, a grave mistake, if you don’t use a mask in your own personal life. We know that it works. We know that the first responders have a lower infection rate than the general population because they wore the masks, so I think if you don’t wear the mask in your personal comings and goings you’re making a mistake. But I do know, as governor, you’re going to subject other people in the public to your behavior then you have to wear a mask when you can’t socially distance, and that’s true on public transportation.
Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps. I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it. Do it. Work out the economics if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy so we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible and we will work with them to make sure that can happen.
All veterinarian practices will begin on Tuesday. That is a service that is necessary and has been necessary for a period of time. That’ll start on Tuesday and I want people to remember that there are people who have paid a very high price, everybody has paid a high price for what we have gone through.
Some people have paid an extraordinarily high price. You have people who literally do not have enough to eat. The demand on food banks has skyrocketed. That’s true all across the state. It’s true here on Long Island and we encourage people who want to make donations, philanthropies who want to make donations, to make them for the purpose of food banks. You know this is a period where it gets very basic. Do you have housing and do you have food? Let’s make sure no New Yorker goes hungry.
Also, as we go forward, we have been talking about the light at the end of the tunnel and we are dealing with it today in the here and now but we also have one eye on the future and when we finish getting through this, which we are, we have to start talking about building back better – not just building back – building back better. Same attitude we had here on Long Island after Superstorm Sandy, devastated Long Island, I said I don’t want to just replace what was. We went through too much pain and we learned too much just to replace what was. Let’s build back better, a new power grid, new more resilient homes, new more resilient roads so when Mother Nature comes back, and she will come back with a furry, we are in a better position because we learned from Superstorm Sandy. Let’s do the same thing here.
What, do we really think this is the last time we are going to have a public health emergency? Does anyone really believe this is the last time like Superstorm Sandy? “Well, it’s a once-in-500-year-flood.” Yeah, sure once in 500 years. It happens three times a year now. This can’t be once in 500 years. There are new rules. I believe there is going to be another public health emergency, different virus, this virus, some other public health emergency. Learn from this and build back better. We asked Eric Schmidt, who is a former CEO, executive chair of Google, who is very good at seeing issues and seeing possibilities to chair a commission for us to look at the situation and say how do we learn from this and how do we prepare going forward and we put together a Commission that is going to work with him that represents all aspects of the state, all aspects of the economy but I want them to get to work and I want them to come up with ideas. Let’s make sure we are better for what we have gone through and start preparing for a new chapter in this saga.
We are writing history in New York. We are writing history in America. That’s what we are doing. We are writing history for a whole modern day governmental and societal response. Chapter one was dealing with the emergency – stabilizing the health crisis. That was chapter one. We have just about completed chapter one. We have started chapter two which is reopening after you have stabilized health crisis. And we are starting to write chapter two. Chapter three, which we are going to begin preparing for soon is rebuilding and recreating the economy. I don’t believe this economy just bounces back. I don’t believe it is going to be enough just to go back to where the economy was. Too many small businesses have closed. You will see many of these corporations are going to use this as an opportunity to lay off workers. I believe that. Many businesses who have gone through this period where workers were at home. They had fewer workers. They used more technology and they are going to decide that “Well, we don’t need as many workers.” That is going to happen. You will have people who decide I don’t want to go back to work. I would rather stay home and do it from home.
So, we are going to need to stimulate that economy and government has a role to play in that, it always has. How does government stimulate and lead the way to these new economic opportunities? How does that Eric Schmidt commission come up with new ideas that we can jump start to grow the economy? That is what the next chapter is going to be about. It is going to be about government working with the private sector, working with businesses to jumpstart the economy, to stimulate it, to get some big projects going that get the business sector engaged and confident and believing once again. Gets people into a position where they will invest once again because they believe in the economy. Build new airports, which makes this nation more competitive. That is what we are doing at LaGuardia. That is what we are doing at JFK. This nation hasn’t built a new airport in 25 years. When are you going to start? Now is the time to start. How do you improve the mass transit system? How do you rebuild all these roads and bridges that have been failing for so long? Everybody talks about it. Nobody has done a darn thing. How about new technology for education? How about new telemedicine? We learned not ever but he has to show up at the doctor’s office. Let’s invest and build that new health care system. We talk about a new health care system that can do testing and tracing and has surge capacity and hospital beds. Let’s build that new public health system and let government get ahead of it and let government lead the way.
New York State has led the way in so many difficult times in history. New York was the first. I am not just saying that as a New Yorker, “There they are, those arrogant New Yorkers.” Read the history books. Read where FDR came up with his great ideas. He used New York as a laboratory when he was a governor and then he brought them nationwide. But we were the first. We started it first and people looked to New York for guidance and for example. And New York was bold and was creative. They talk about the New York energy, the New York mojo. Yes, that is New York. We did things that other people didn’t think could be done, and we did it over and over and over again.
We are at Jones Beach today. Jones Beach is indescribably beautiful. Yes. It is also something else. It was a tremendous feat of ambition and vision meeting competence. Jones Beach, built by Robert Moses, you know what is funny about Jones Beach when he started to build Jones Beach? There was no beach. There was no beach. People assume you have a beach because Mother Nature of each there. There was no beach. This was all built. This was all marsh. This is seven miles of fill. They filled a seven-mile-stretch, 14 feet high. It took so much fill that they dug the channel, a canal, and used that fill to build a beach. How ambitious. “You want to build a beach seven miles long, 14 feet of fill, well that’s impossible.” No, they did it in three years. And it was a marvel, because they believed in themselves. Because you had smart government. You had competent government. People believed in government and they do again, because government did work for people here. It saved lives. So, let’s get that kind of ambition back. Let’s get that kind of optimism back. We built New York. Mother Nature didn’t build this. She gave us a beautiful harbor, but everything else was built and we did it and we can do it again. That is what it means to be New York tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving.