Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Saturday Covid Statement

October 31, 2020

Statement From Governor Cuomo:

Governor Cuomo: “The news in New York is very good. To be third in the nation is very good. The micro-cluster approach is working. We see that in the numbers. It’s also common sense. If you can target where the increase is starting and you can jump on the increase before it spreads, it will make a difference and it is. The context is we’re in the fall and in the fall the scientists all said the number was going to increase. I said the number is going to increase. It is a function of the fall. Put all those factors together, colleges, schools, weather. The tide comes in. It’s high tide. It’s high tide everywhere. That’s the function of the fall. The question is, can you manage the fall, so it’s been about management of the fall and management of the fall increase and we came up with a micro-cluster approach and it is working very well relative to everywhere else.”

Cuomo: “We have to come up with a new policy for quarantine and I said last week that we were working with global health experts on a new policy And all the experts suggest we shift to a testing policy. And that’s what we’re going to do, and this is how it will work. There will be no quarantine list, there will be no metrics. There will be one rule that applies across the country. And the rule is this: If you are coming to the State of New York, within three days of arriving in New York, you must have tested negative and have proof of test within three days upon your arrival in New York that says you’re negative. Once you arrive in New York, you must quarantine for three days and then can take a test on the fourth day and if the test on the fourth day says you are negative, then God bless, you’re released from quarantine.”

Cuomo: “Remember New York was ambushed, and we were victims of the White House, and federal administration’s negligence. Gross negligence and incompetence. The virus came from Europe, it was not the ‘China virus’ and the incompetence of the federal government allowed us to be ambushed. We scrambled and we managed it. Eight months later, the Dakotas and other states learned nothing. The federal government learned nothing for the past eight months. It’s a disgrace.”

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

AUDIO of today’s remarks is available here.

A rush transcript of today’s remarks is available below:

Happy Halloween, to everyone. Trick-or-Treat, Trick-or-Treat. I have Melissa DeRosa with me, Robert Mujica with me, Dr. Zucker with me, Beth Garvey and Gareth Rhodes. “With me,” is technically not correct but they are on the telephone. I don’t want to be technically incorrect with this group, because they will catch it and then say, “Trick or Treat.”

We did 136,000 tests yesterday. Positivity in the micro-cluster zone – 3 percent – that’s in the red, orange and yellow. That’s Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, Orange, Broome, Steuben, Chemung. Seven-day average in those micro-clusters, 3.1. Anecdotally, the hospitals and healthcare agencies suggest they are seeing a positive shift in those micro-cluster zones. The numbers say it, but the anecdotal also says it. I believe we got their attention in the red zones and the increased enforcement got their attention and the restrictions got their attention – they were displeased with me, but the infection rate came down and I believe lives will be saved and therefore I believe I did my job. I also believe these micro-cluster zones will come and go through the fall. As you tamp down the infection rate in one small area, it’ll pop up somewhere else, so we’ll go through this exercise again – I am sure with much the same dynamics. I am sure.

The overall state positivity without the micro-cluster oversample, 1.3. That’s good news. That’s very good news. Overall state with the oversample in the micro-clusters, 1.49. That’s down from 1.53. Eight New Yorkers passed away. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. 1,121 hospitalized, 248 in ICU. 122 intubated. New York is the third lowest positivity rate in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins, third to Maine and Vermont. Maine and Vermont obviously have different demographics than New York. They’re more rural, less densely populated. They’re also doing a good job so congratulations to Maine and Vermont, but New Yorkers should be very proud of what they’re doing, really proud, third in the nation.

Now remember the context here. You know, you guys report every day differently. It’s like, you know, are we going up or are we going down, is the news good or is the news bad?

The news in New York is very good. To be third in the nation is very good. The micro-cluster approach is working. We see that in the numbers. It’s also common sense. If you can target where the increase is starting and you can jump on the increase before it spreads, it will make a difference and it is. The theory is inarguable. The practice is difficult. It’s difficult politically more than anything else. So the news is good. We’re third lowest in the nation.

The context is we’re in the fall and in the fall the scientists all said the number was going to increase. I said the number is going to increase. It is a function of the fall. Put all those factors together, colleges, schools, weather. The tide comes in. It’s high tide. It’s high tide everywhere. That’s the function of the fall.

The question is, can you manage the fall, so it’s been about management of the fall and management of the fall increase and we came up with a micro-cluster approach and it is working very well relative to everywhere else. Even our contiguous states, you have New Jersey, Connecticut, they’re up like near 5, 6 percent already. You have parts of this country that are in desperate situations, the Dakotas. France is locking down again. People are fleeing Paris. In a sea of division – sea of division, goes back to the poster I did in January that so many of you loved. It’s the sea of division and the sea of COVID chaos. The ship of State is sailing well within that sea. We’re doing very well. The world, however, is in trouble.

Two points I want to make, one on travel. Travel has become an issue. The rest of the states, by definition if you’re the third lowest, it means if anyone comes in from any state, they pose a threat. As New York has been doing better than most states, we’ve been dealing with this for a while. We came up with a state quarantine policy. Probably the first time the State has done that in history. There’s no such thing really as a state quarantine policy, but a state quarantine policy. We had a list and we started to add states to the list when they hit certain metrics. The list started small and then the list got longer and longer and longer and longer.

At one point, it was no longer a list, it was almost all inclusive. So now you don’t have a list because it’s all inclusive. Just to torture the analogy, let’s say I had a list of reporters who I didn’t like to deal with so then I had one reporter, then I had 2 reporters on a list, then I had 3 reporters on a list. It got to a point where I had every reporter on the list. It’s no longer a list, now it becomes I don’t want to deal with any member of the press. You have to come up with a new plan. We have to come up with a new policy for quarantine and I said last week that we were working with global health experts on a new policy.

We’re going to a new plan given the changing facts, we’re coming up with a new program. And all the experts suggest we shift to a testing policy. And that’s what we’re going to do, and this is how it will work. There will be no quarantine list, there will be no metrics. There will be one rule that applies across the country.

And the rule is this: If you are coming to the State of New York, within three days of arriving in New York, you must have tested negative and have proof of test within three days upon your arrival in New York that says you’re negative. Once you arrive in New York, you must quarantine for three days and then can take a test on the fourth day and if the test on the fourth day says you are negative, then God bless, you’re released from quarantine. If the test says you’re positive, then you remain in quarantine. If you choose not to get tested, then you remain in quarantine for the 14-day period. But I don’t know why anybody would do that. So the mandatory quarantine is actually three days upon arrival, you can take a test on the fourth day, test says you’re negative, that’s that. So, you will have had a test within three days of arrival that said you’re negative; a test four days after arrival that says you’re negative. Four days plus three days is 7 days and that’s basically by all probability the incubation period and that’s the policy. It applies to every state except the contiguous states for the regions we’ve discussed. The caveat is this: New Yorkers who travel outside of New York for less than 24 hours must take a test within 4 days of their arrival. If the test says they’re positive, then we go into contact tracing mode, et cetera, quarantine. But they must take a test within four days upon arrival. They do not need to take a test before getting on the plane to come back to New York. That’s the policy, and the list and the metrics are no longer applicable.

Last point, there were stories today that say HHS allowed hydroxychloroquine to be distributed around the FDA’s approval. That is a kind of political interference in public health that is frightening this country. 40 percent of the Americans say they won’t take the first vaccine because they don’t trust the government’s approval process. And then you read that hydroxychloroquine was distributed without FDA approval.

First, I think that is criminal, if it happened. I don’t expect the HHS inspector general to actually do anything. I don’t expect the Department of Justice to actually do anything. But I would expect the House of Representatives to investigate that. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed on their plan for distribution of the vaccine, and their distribution of the vaccine is only through private sector provider networks. They will pay private pharma companies to distribute it. Private manufacturers, private distributors, and then private entities to do the vaccine’s administration, primarily drug stores, large pharmaceutical drug stores, not mom and pop drug stores. CVS, Walgreens, et cetera, chain drug stores. It’s classic for this administration to pay private companies to do it. Two issues. Number one it doesn’t allow state governments any resources to expedite the distribution or make sure that it’s done fairly or equitably. A state can’t facilitate distribution in poorer communities, in racially impacted communities, in communities that are suffering from health disparities. Everybody has to go into CVS or Walgreens, even if you don’t have a CVS or Walgreens in your community. So, it would-by definition-be discriminatory in impact, if not discriminatory by design. Number two is it’s going to significantly slow the process and I think it could take at least a year to vaccinate the population with their distribution mechanism. That they’ll have to live with COVID through 2021 is more than they have a right to ask from the American people, especially since they created the crisis in the first place and have learned nothing since it started. That the Dakotas are in the situation they are in. Remember New York was ambushed, and we were victims of the White House, and federal administration’s negligence. Gross negligence and incompetence. The virus came from Europe, it was not the “China virus” and the incompetence of the federal government allowed us to be ambushed. We scrambled and we managed it. Eight months later, the Dakotas and other states learned nothing. The federal government learned nothing for the past eight months. It’s a disgrace.