June 04, 2020
Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces State Is Expanding Covid-19 Testing Criteria to Include Anyone Who Attended A Protest Across the State
Announces DFS Will Issue Emergency Regulation to Accelerate Resolution and Payment of Insurance Claims to Help New York Businesses and Consumers Affected by Looting
State is Allowing Drive-In and Drive-Through Graduations Ceremonies
Medical Schools Statewide to Open on June 22nd in Preparation for New Cohorts of Students this Summer and Fall
Mid-Hudson Valley on Track to Enter Phase Two of Reopening Tuesday, June 9th, and Long Island on Track to Enter Phase Two of Reopening Wednesday, June 10th
Confirms 1,048 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 375,133; New Cases in 33 Counties
Governor Cuomo: "Twenty thousand protestors in New York City. Thousand protestors on Long Island... We're going to open the testing facilities for all people who were at a protest... One person, one person can infect hundreds. If you were at a protest, go get a test, please. The protesters have a civic duty here also. Be responsible, get a test. Go to the website and find out the testing site nearest you. We have 700 in the state. You can get a test, get a test."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state is expanding COVID-19 testing criteria to include any individual who attended any of the recent protests across the state. The Governor encouraged any individual who attended a protest to get a test. More information on where and how to get tested for COVID-19 is available at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov.
The Governor also announced the State Department of Financial Services will issue an emergency regulation to help businesses and consumers who suffered damage from looting and vandalism by requiring New York State-regulated insurance companies to expedite the resolution and payment of related insurance claims based on similar emergency relief applied in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. Additional relief provided by the emergency regulation will include allowing policyholders to make immediate repairs to damaged property if necessary to protect health or safety, and to submit claims with reasonable proof of loss, including photos, so businesses don't have to wait for police reports to file a claim. The emergency regulation will also offer small businesses and consumers the option to resolve disputes through an impartial mediation process paid for by the applicable insurer.
Governor Cuomo also announced that schools will be permitted to hold drive-in and drive-through graduation ceremonies this year. The State will reexamine socially-distanced outdoor commencements at a later time.
The Governor also announced that medical schools statewide will be allowed to reopen on June 22nd, following appropriate precautions, in order to safely prepare for and welcome new cohorts of medical students this summer and fall.
The Governor also announced the Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to enter phase two of reopening Tuesday, June 9th and Long Island is on track to enter phase two of reopening on Wednesday, June 10th following a review of regional data by global public health experts.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning. To my right, we have Major West of the State Police. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To her left, Robert Mujica, Budget Director of the State of New York. Today is day 96 dealing with the historic COVID0-19 crisis. It is day 11 of the aftermath of the murder of Mr. Floyd and the unrest and protest that has stemmed there from.
I said yesterday, this is, dealing with the coronavirus in and of itself was the greatest challenge that government and society has had in modern day. You put on top of that the situation with the murder of Mr. Floyd and the unrest afterwards. Those two compound each other. You then wrap it in this hyper-partisan, hyper-political period of time. We are in the middle of an election year, a heated election year, so everything becomes political. You add the issue of race on top of that. It is as dangerous a time as I have ever experienced. So, keep the issues separate, stay smart, and be honest.
With the issue of the protestors, I share the outrage over not just Mr. Floyd's murder but what it represents: one in long string of criminal injustices. It is a metaphor for the systemic racism and injustice that we have seen. And I stand with the protestors in the point that we need meaningful reform. I also believe that change, although very often necessary, is very hard to effectuate in society. We all say change, change, change, but the truth is the status quo has tremendous energy and it is very hard to change the status quo. It is very hard to bring about meaningful change and it only happens when the people get fully mobilized and informed, and that is when you see change. That was the labor right reforms after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, that was the environmental movement after the Storm King situation, that was the rebirth of the economy after the Great Depression.
I believe this is a moment for national change and national reform. And I think it can be a positive moment for this country, but it has to be done intelligently. When you look at the two main crises that we are dealing with, the Mr. Floyd murder aftermath and COVID-19. On the protests post Mr. Floyd's murder, we had additional protests across the state last night. We had them in basically all of the cities. The largest activity Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, New York City. I want to thank the protesters who were mainly peaceful which was smart because then they could make their point. You know, there are a lot of political forces who want to say "Well, these protesters are just rabble-rousers. They're just criminals." They are not. They are young people. They are racially diverse. They are white people. They are African-American people. They are Latinos. They are just young people who represent a cross- section of America who want change.
There is also looting going on and some people would like to say the protesters are the looters. No, no they are not. They are very, very different. You have to keep them separate. So I want to thank the protesters who protested peacefully to make their point and defy or frustrate the political forces that would like to say these protests are all criminals. No, they are people who want change and reform and they are right. And we have to keep the two separate. And the protesters have to help us keep the two separate, and they did. New York City was mainly peaceful.
There were a number of arrests and there were a number of police officers who were hurt. One police officer was stabbed in the neck. Two police officers had gunshot wounds, I believe both to their hands. That is intolerable. The police are doing an impossible job. They're trying to deal with the protesters, they're trying to stop looting, and, they're trying to keep themselves safe because the police want to go home to their families. There is no tolerance for violence against a police officer, period. In any part of the state, period. I also want to reinforce the New York City district attorneys. You have scenes of looting that are on videotape that are indefensible and inexcusable. Looting is criminal activity, number one. Looting, now, is exploiting this situation with the protests. They know that the police are going to be busy with the protesters. They're then using that as an opportunity to loot, and that is inexcusable. And, to the New York City district attorneys, you look at these videos, it would be nonsensical if the police were arresting looters and they were then being arrested and returned to the street the next day to loot again. That would be nonsensical, right. The district attorneys charge crimes. I'm a former assistant district attorney. You look at these videos, burglary too can be burglary with a dangerous instrument like a pipe, like a crowbar, like a rock, like a brick. But, if you have looters who are using rocks, breaking windows, stealing, these people should be charged for the crime that they are committing and bail set, right? I understand the political environment. I also understand that the law is the law, and they should charge crimes appropriately.
On the COVID-19 front, good news, continued good news. The total number of hospitalizations are down. Number of lives lost, 52, little bit higher than yesterday, but this is all within the, statistically these are irrelevant differences. I don't believe the system is this statistically accurate. So, we're seeing a continued decline there, although obviously 52 lives lost are 52 too many. But we see that overall movement is still in a positive direction.
A few more facts so people understand exactly where we are and how far we've come. The testing is the most immediate data on where you are. Testing is, you test people yesterday and you know how many people tested positive yesterday, okay? We do about 50,000 tests per day. Is that a lot or a little? It's more than any state per capita. It's more than any country per capita. One day we'll talk about how New York was able to ramp up their testing to be the testing capital of the world. But, 50,000 tests per day. That is an immediate snapshot of where you are. 50,000 tests yesterday. Long Island with 2 percent testing positive, New York City, 2 percent, Western New York, 2 percent test positive, Capital Region, 1 percent test positive, okay, which is remarkable, in many ways.
It's remarkable in comparison to the other, if you remember, New York City was much higher than Upstate New York. And now you see Long Island, New York City, Western New York, all about the same, Capital District still reads a little lower, but again, these numbers, when you get that close, I wouldn't rely on them. Long Island was 2 percent yesterday. Two weeks ago it was 4 percent, double that. I'm sorry, two weeks ago, it was 4 percent, double that. Four weeks ago, one month, it was 11 percent. Six weeks ago it was 20 percent. We went from 20 percent to 2 percent in 6 weeks. Well, what difference does this socially distance, masks make? I think it's all a bunch of malarky. Oh really? Then you tell me how those numbers dropped like that. Everything we have done is smart and is working and it's in the numbers. It's not my opinion. It's not my theory. It's not because I'm from New York. It's not because I'm a Democrat. It's in the numbers.
New York City was 26 percent 6 weeks ago. Two percent today. Western New York 15 percent down to 2 percent. Capital District 12 percent 6 weeks ago. Six weeks ago was like yesterday. So, we're making great progress, but as fast as these numbers came down, is as fast as these numbers can go up. As fast as these numbers come down, is as fast as those numbers go up. Speaking to somebody this morning, I used a bizarre metaphor. I lost five pounds over the past 10 days - yay. Okay, you lose discipline and you go back to your old eating habits and non-exercise habits, you'll put those 5 pounds right back on over the next 10 days. It came off, it'll go right back on. It is a tortured analogy for this situation. This is all a function of our behavior. Nothing more, nothing less.
On the reopening, reopen with caution. Why? Because we've seen too many examples of reopening where they didn't do it right and it boomeranged. Period. You look at the states that opened fast without metrics, without guardrails, it's a boomerang. And it's not just one or two states as an example. North Carolina, look at these numbers of these other states. Look at when they opened and look at the line after they reopened. North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona. Look at those numbers. This happens in New York with our density, we go right back to where we were. And it's not the exception, it's almost the rule. California, you look at them reopening and then look at the curve after the reopening.
California, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Utah. What am I worried about? I'm worried about that. Why? Because it happens quite often. As a matter of fact, it probably happens more times than not. If we're not smart, that's what's going to happen here. Sweden had a different policy. Sweden didn't do the full close down. They did a limited close down and everybody said, "Oh why didn't we do what Sweden did?" Well we're not Sweden and who's knows that Sweden is doing is actually right.
The lead person for Sweden who came up with the plan we don't have to close down, now says, oops. Maybe we should have closed down. More people died than had to die. Even the countries that did it right and then reopen see the second wave, the second spike where the numbers go up again. So, I'm not a nervous Nelly, I just read the numbers. With the protestors, they could actually compound this situation. Why? You have 30,000 people who have been protesting statewide. You look at videos as I look at the video.
Many of them wear masks, thank God, but there's no social distancing. You look at the encounters with the police, the police are right in their face, they're right in the face of the police. Twenty thousand protestors in New York City. Thousand protestors on Long Island. These are big numbers and yes, they're young people and they're superheroes and nothing can affect me. We're going to open the testing facilities for all people who were at a protest. The super-spreader, all these new new terms. Super spreader. What's a super spreader? Super spreader is what happened to us in New Rochelle, Westchester where we had the first hotspot, new term, in the United States of America. One person, one person can infect hundreds. If you were at a protest, go get a test, please. The protesters have a civic duty here also. Be responsible, get a test. Go to the website and find out the testing site nearest you. We have 700 in the state. You can get a test, get a test.
Also allow the police to do their job when you're protesting. The reason the peaceful protest is so important, not just so you don't get categorized, stereotyped as criminals, but so the police actually can focus on their job which is stopping the looting. Wear a mask and tell people that you may have been exposed to Covid. If you were at one of those protests, I would out of an abundance of caution, assume that you are infected. Tell people. When you go home, tell your parents. Tell your sister, tell your brother who may not be 25 years old and consider themselves a superhero. Tell people, I may have been exposed and act like you may have been exposed. Because by the way, you may have been exposed and you're not worried about yourself, that's a different conversation. Worry about your 55-year-old grandfather or your 62-year-old grandmother or your 60-year-old parent or uncle or aunt. They can die from this virus. By the way, you could too, but that's a separate conversation.
Also, there's a lag in the numbers, remember. If someone goes to a protest last night and they get infected, you don't find out today, you don't find out tomorrow, you don't find out next day. It can be four or five days until any symptoms show. Symptoms may never show, right. Asymptomatic transfer. If you're really seriously ill, you may be in a hospital in eight to 12 days. Eight to 12 days is a long time when we are measuring day to day to decide what to do. You saw the difference in the numbers and two weeks is a lifetime in the numbers. So if you have a viral spread through these protests we are not going to see it in the numbers for a while. In the meantime we are making all these decisions on reopening so it is important that people act responsibly for themselves. If you went to a protest, get a test, tell people, act as if you may have been exposed.
New York City enters Phase 1 Monday. With all of this going on New York City had the highest number of protesters. We have to be smart. The protesters themselves could wind up causing a spike so we have to be smart. The businesses that were looted, and look the other reason why I am saying to the district attorneys they should take these looters and punish them for what they did, many of the businesses they looted were mom and pop businesses in distressed communities that were struggling in the first place. In New York City and Rochester, many of these businesses were essential businesses for the poorest communities in those locales and they looted mom and pop stores that don't have the resources to rebuild and reopen. So we are going to do everything that we can do to help them. The Department of Financial Services, DFS, regulates the insurance industry, they are going to direct insurers to expedite all claims for all looted businesses, free mediation services to accept photos as proof. If a looted business has trouble with their insurance company, go to the Department of Financial Services website and they will provide relief.
Because the numbers today are good we are going to act on the data that we have. We are going to go to outdoor dining as part of Phase 2 and that affects all the communities that are already in Phase 2 and there are a number that are about to enter Phase 2. Westchester, Rockland, Hudson Valley go next Tuesday. Long Island goes next Wednesday. Remember what outdoor dining is: it is outdoors. That's why it's called, "outdoor dining." I know you have a lot of restaurants that want to open. This doesn't say restaurants open. The enclosed spaces are an issue. Outdoor dining— there's no roof, there could be a canopy, but it is outside space. It's open-air space. The wind is blowing. There's ventilation. It's open-air space. You're still six-feet apart, wear face coverings and there are points in the guidelines that are online. But I want to stress: this is outdoor dining space. It's not a restaurant with the doors open. It is outdoor dining space.
The school year is coming to an end. I know a lot of graduates are disappointed. We're going to allow drive-in and drive-through student graduations. We're going to keep evaluating. I get this. I get this on a personal level. My Michaela graduated college. Was supposed to graduate college this year. Well, she did graduate college this year. She just didn't have the ceremony. And you know, she worked so hard, and it's one of those real moments in life going to a college graduation or a high school graduation. So not to have the graduation is painful. I get it. As soon as we can do it, we will. If there's a way drive-ins or drive-throughs can be helpful, I hope that makes a difference in the meantime.
I talked to Michaela about it. Look this is just a bizarre time. It's a time they'll write about in the history books for years to come. They'll talk about it for years to come. I've said all along— it's also a time of reflection, value changing. You learn about yourself, learn about your family, learn about people. I said to Michaela, "what do you want for graduation?" Any other year, she would've said "money." She just goes for the money and that allows her to get what she wants to get. So, there's certain logic to that. This year, she said to me, "I want something that means something to you."
I said, "what does that mean?" She said, "well I want something that means something to you." I said, "how about I give you money and then you can buy something that you think—" she said. "no, no, I want something that means something to you." She would not have said that at any other time but for this. I think it's changed all of us. It's given us all a different perspective.
I'm going to give Michaela my watch. It made me think: what means something to me? What means something to me? I'm going to give her my watch. It means something to me. It's the best thing I have that my father gave me. My father gave me the watch when I was elected Attorney General. My father and mother. So, I've had it for about 14 years. But it means something to me. So. She won't be able to wear it, because it's a man's watch. But. Maybe she can. But it means something to me. And you know what? It's a smarter gift; it's a better gift. It means something to her and it means something to me. And this whole period has brought us to a deeper place as a family. My own family. And for myself. But I get what it's like to not have the graduation. Today at 2 p.m., we'll have a moment of silence statewide in respect for Mr. Floyd and his murder and his family's pain and grief. And as a symbolic moment to say we understand what happened, we're sorry, we grieve and this is an injustice that should never happen again. And we're going to act. We're going to act in the State of New York. We're going to pass 50 which releases disciplinary records, but we stand in solidarity with the senselessness of his brutal murder.
And that is part of being New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving. It's about being loving. Loving to one another.