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Gov. Andrew Cuomo Holds Another Press Conference For New York Issuing An Emergency Order. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 11:00   ET



GOV. CUOMO: We are, today, issuing an emergency order, that says to all hospitals, you must increase your capacity by 50 percent, you must. Mandatory directive from the state. Find more beds, use more rooms, you must increase your capacity 50 percent.

We would ask you to try to increase your capacity 100 percent, OK? So, we now have 53,000 beds, we need 110,000 beds. If they increased the capacity 100 percent, that solves the mathematical projection, right? I think it's unreasonable to say to every hospital, basically double your capacity.

I don't think it's unreasonable to say, try to reach 100 percent increase, but you must reach a 50 percent increase. Fifty percent increase, we're only at 75,000 beds, we still have a problem between 75,000 and 110,000.

Once you secure the bed, you have to secure the staff. You are going to have staff that are getting sick and need to be replaced. You create these new beds, you don't have the staff for those new beds now, they just don't exist. Your staffing is to your number of beds.

You increase the number of beds, you need more staff. We are going to the entire retired community, healthcare professionals and who are licensed, registered and we're saying, we want you to enlist to help. It's not a mandatory directive, I can't legally -- but, I probably could legally ask them to come into state service, but this is just a request.

We've put it out, we've gotten very good response. You know, there are hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals who are licensed and registered in this state, but we have 30,000 responses to date and I'm doing an emergency order -- executive order for all nurses, who are registered, to enlist.

And the Department of Financial Services is sending a directive to insurance companies. Health insurance companies employ many nurses, doctors, et cetera, in the insurance business.

We're saying to the insurance companies, we don't need them in the insurance business now, we would like them to help in hospitals, because this is not about accessing insurance claims at this point, this is about saving lives. When we get to accessing insurance claims, we can handle it then.

Supplies are the ongoing challenge nationwide. Masks, PPE, ventilators are the number one precious commodity. This is happening on an ad hoc basis. We are competing with other states, as I have said. We have made certain strides. We have a full team working on it. We've very aggressive. We're talking to other countries around the world. We're talking to companies.

We have New York manufacturers who are really stepping up to the plate and converting factories, et cetera. But, this is not the way to do it. This is ad hoc, I'm competing with other states, I'm bidding up other states on the prices, because you have manufacturers who sit there and California offers them $4 and they say, well California offered $4, I offer $5, another state calls in and offers $6, it's -- it's not the way to do it.

I was speaking to a -- Governor J.B. Pritzker yesterday about this. Why are we competing. Let the Federal Government put in place the Federal Defense Production Act. It does not nationalize any industry. All it does is say to a factory, you must produce this quantity. That's all it does.

I understand the voluntary public private sector partnership and there are a lot of good companies who are coming forward and saying let us help. But, it can't just be, hey, who wants to help, let me know. We need to know what the numbers of what we need produced and who is going to produce that and when.

I get that a lot of companies are stepping up and doing good things, and that's a beautiful thing. They're doing it here in New York too, but you can't run this operation that way. It can't just be based on we're waiting for people to come forward with offers, and if you have to -- happen to get a lot of offers on gloves, then you have a lot of gloves.

But, if you get no offers on masks, then you don't have masks. The Federal Defense Production Act just says, you can tell a company manufacture this many by this date. Yes, it is an assertion of government --


Yes, it is an assertion of government power on private sector companies. Yes, but so what? This is a national emergency, and you're paying the private sector company. They're going to produce a good and they're going to get paid. And by the way, they're going to get paid handsomely. You cannot continue to do these supplies on an ad hoc basis.

We have had success securing supplies. We're going to be dispatching them across the state today. These are the number of goods that are going out. You've heard on the news that especially in New York City they're worried about running out of supplies. Again, this won't get us through the entire situation, but this is a significant amount of supplies that will be going out. New York City for example, 430,000 surgical masks, 176,000 pairs of gloves, 72,000 gowns, 98,000 face shields, 169,095 masks which are very precious now. They're about $7 a mask.

So these are significant supplies. We have been having some success in gathering them, and we're distributing them, and this should make a difference. Well, it will make a difference, again, not until the end of the crisis but short-term.

Hospital capacity, I'm on my way down to the Javits Center today. I want to make sure those hospitals are getting up right away, then we're going to use Stony Brooke. We're going to use Westchester. We're going to use all the Westbury.

President Trump did deliver yesterday. I put forth a series of requests in the morning. He did the briefing in the afternoon, and he responded to those requests. That's government working, that's government working quickly, and I thank him for it. It makes a big difference to New York. We're getting those emergency hospitals. The Javits hospitals, for example, those are 1,000 beds right there with the equipment, with the ventilators, and with the staffing, so that's a big deal.

The president declared what's called a major disaster declaration. That allows FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help us. There's normally a 75-25 split between the cost of those services. The federal government pays 75, the state pays 25. I said to the president I can't pay the 25. We just don't have those kinds of resources. The federal government has the authority to waive that 25, so the federal government pays all 100 percent, and that's what the president is doing, and I appreciate that.

I also asked for the FDA to expedite the approval of an experimental drug that we are working on here in the state of New York, which I'll tell you more about in a moment, and the president also did that. The FDA gave the New York State Department of Health approval to use on a compassionate care basis a drug that we think has real possibility.

On the drug therapy, Tuesday we're going to start the hydroxychloroquine with the zithromax. That's the drug combination that the president has been talking about. The FDA approved New York State Department of Health to proceed with an experimental drug, again, on a compassionate care basis, but what it does is it takes the plasma from a person who has been infected with the virus, processes the plasma, and injects the antibodies into a person who is sick. And there have been tests that show when a person is injected with the antibodies that then stimulates and promotes their immune system against that disease.

It's only a trial. It's a trial for people who are in serious condition, but the New York State Department of Health has been working on this with some of New York's best healthcare agencies, and we think it shows promise, and we're going to be starting that this week.

There's also work on a serological drug where you test the antibodies of a person and see if they had the virus already. We all believe thousands and thousands of people have had the virus and self resolved. If you knew that, you would know who is now immune to the virus and who you could send back to work, et cetera, so we're also working on that.


The numbers today, total tested up to 78,000. Tested overnight 24 hour period 16,000. As of yesterday, about 25 percent of all the testing nationwide is being produced right here. Number of positive cases, we are up to 20,000 statewide, 5,000 new cases, which is obviously a significant increase. And as I say, that trajectory is going up. The wave is still going up, and we have a lot of work to do to get that rate down and get the hospital capcity up.

You see it's spreading across the state. This way it's spread across the nation, and that will continue, my guess is, every day. We have right now on hospitalizations 13 percent are being hospitalized. None of these numbers are good, but relatively that is a good number. Remember it's the rate of hospitalizations and the rate of people needing ICU beds.

13 percent is down. It does - has gone as high as 20 percent, 21 percent, hovered around 18 percent, 17 percent. 13 percent is a good number. Of that number, 24 percent require the ICU beds. The ICU beds are very important because those are the ventilators. Most impacted states, you can see that New York far in a way has the bulk of the problem, and that's relevant for the federal government. That's relevant for the congressional delegation that is arguing for federal funds.

Fund the need. Fund the need. New York, we have 20,000 cases. New Jersey, 1,900. California, 1,800. So proportionately in absolute terms New York has by far the greatest need in the nation. Again, to keep this all in perspective, Johns Hopkins has studied every case from the beginning, 349,000 cases. Death toll worldwide is 15,000, right? Many will get infected, but few will actually pass away from this disease.

Also, this is all evolving and this is all evolutionary. And we are still figuring it out. There is - there has to be a balance or parallel tacks that we're going down. We're talking about public health. We're talking about isolation. We're talking about protecting lives. There also has to be a parallel track that talks about economic viability.

I take total responsibility for shutting off the economy in terms of essential workers, but we also have to start to plan the pivot back to economic functionality, right? You can't stop the economy forever, so we have to start to think about does everybody stay out of work? Should young people go back to work sooner? Can we test for those who had the virus resolved and are now immune, and can they start to go back to work?

There's a theory of risk stratification that Dr. Katz, who's at Yale University, is working on, which is actually very interesting to me but which says isolate people but really isolate vulnerable people. Don't isolate everyone because some people - most people are not vulnerable to it. And if you isolate all people, you may be actually exposing the more vulnerable people by bringing in a person who is healthier and stronger and who may have been exposed to the virus, right?

Can you get to a point where the healthy - the people who are most likely not going to be affected - can go to work? Remember, you study the numbers across the countries that have been affected.


The survival rate for those who have been infected is like 98 percent, right? A lot of people get it, very few people die from it. So, how do we start to calculate that in?

We implemented New York Pause, which stopped all the essential workers, et cetera, we have to start to think about New York forward. And Steve Cohen and Bill Marlow (ph), who I've worked with for 30 years and now in the private sector, they're going to start to think about this, how do you restart or transition to a restart of the economy? And how do you dovetail with a public health strategy, as you're identifying people who have had the virus and have resolved, can they start to go back to work?

Can younger people start to go back to work, because they're much more tolerant to the affect of the virus? So, how do you -- you turned off the engine quickly, how do you now start or begin to restart or plan to restart of that economic engine?

Separate tasks, but something that we have to focus on. I offered my personal opinion yesterday. I separate my personal opinion from the facts. You can disregard my personal opinion, you can disregard facts, but they are still facts. I said, don't be reactive, be productive, be proactive. Somebody -- a few people have said to me after it's all -- what -- what did that mean. Happens to me often.

Look, this can go on for several months. OK? Nobody can tell you, is it four months, six months, eight months, nine months, but it is several months. We all have to, now, confront that that is a new reality. That is not going to change. You're not going to turn on the news tomorrow morning and they're going to say, surprise, surprise, this is all now resolved in two weeks. That is not going to happen.

So, deal with this reality. Understand the negative affects of this. Which I've spoken to personally, because these are personally negative affects. You don't feel them governmentally, you feel them personally, you feel them in your own life.

And don't underestimate the emotional trauma, and don't underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real. This is not the human condition. Not to be comforted, not to be close, to be afraid and you can't hug someone.

Billy and Steve walked in today, I hadn't seen them in months, I can't shake their hands, I can't hug them. You know, this is all unnatural. My daughter came up, I'm -- I can't even really give her the embrace and the kiss that I want to give her. This is all unnatural and disorienting. And it's not you, it is everyone. It's -- it's the condition. And we are going to have time, and the question is, how do we use this time positively.

Also, at the same time, we have to learn from this experience, because we were not ready to deal with this, and other situations will happen. Other situations will happen. And let's, at least, learn from this to be prepared for the next situation. As -- as dramatic as this one has been.

Also, one of the -- finding the silver lining, the positive, life is going to be quieter for a matter of months. Everything will function, life will function, everything will be normal operations, there won't be chaos. The stores will have groceries, gas stations will have gasoline, there's no reason for extraordinary anxiety.

But, it is going to change, you won't be at work, you can't be sitting in restaurants, you're not going to be going to birthday parties.


You don't have to go to business conferences on the weekends. There's less noise. That can be a good thing in some ways. You have more time, you have more flexibility.

You can do some of those things that you haven't done. And you kept saying well, I'd love to be able to, I'd love to be able to. Well, now you can. You have more time with family. And yes, I get family in cramped quarters can be difficult. But it's also the most precious commodity.

For myself, this young lady Kara (ph) is with me. She would never be here otherwise. I'm dad, right? The last thing you want to be when you're in Kara's (ph) position is to hang out with the old man and hang out with dad and hear bad dad jokes. They'll come to the holidays; they'll come when I give them heavy guilt.

But I'm now going to be with Kara literally for a few months. What a beautiful gift that is, right? I would've never had that chance. And that is precious. And then after this is over she's gone. She's flown the nest. She's going to go do her thing. But this crazy situation as crazy as it is gave me this beautiful gift.

So, one door closes, another door opens. Think about that. And as I said normal operations will continue. As I have said from day one, the level of anxiety was not connected to the facts. There is no chaos. The net effect many people will get the virus. But few will be truly endangered.

Hold both of those facts in your hands. Many will get it; up to 80 percent may get it. But few are truly endangered. And we know who they are. Realize the timeframe that we're expecting, make peace with it and find a way to help each other through this situation because it's hard for everyone.

And the goal for me social distanced but spiritually connected. How do you achieve socially distance but spiritually connected? I don't have the answer but I know the question. Questions? Comments? UNKNOWN FEMALE: We're talking about how many testing we're doing but at the same time New York City officials told medical providers to stop testing people from prior hospitalization because of the shortage. How does that sort of mash up?

CUOMO: Well, look, you can -- the number of tests will be a calibration at one point. I believe New York City's actions listen to those better than I but I believe New York City's actions was more on the availability of gowns and equipment. And that's a situation that we're all struggling with.

We just are going to send them a big shipment. But I can see local calibrations at different localities making our hospitals, making on protocols within their hospitals. But we have to get down -- the bottom-line remains. We cannot handle the wave at the high point. The wave has to come down.

And that is density control, and New York City give me a plan especially for the parks and young people. And that is testing. And we're doing more than any place in the country but testing, isolation, testing, isolation.

UNKNOWN MALE: (Inaudible) some sense of what those density controls particularly--

CUOMO: We haven't gotten a plan yet, (inaudible). I said yesterday I wanted a plan in 24 hours. I had a conversation with the mayor. I had a conversation with the city council speaker Corey Johnson. We talked to a number of things.

I said put it on a piece of paper because in truth whatever I get from New York City I then want to do in Westchester (inaudible). I don't want people saying in New York City well, I'll just get in the car and go to Westchester or get in the car and go to (inaudible). That's why the geographic template has been very important. But I haven't gotten it yet. We had a conversation on parameters but I actually want a plan on paper.

UNKNOWN MALE: These would be in addition to the density control measures you already--

CUOMO: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Thus is all in addition.


CUOMO: My density control measures weren't enough. That was clear. You could look at a park in Brooklyn, Manhattan. It almost looked like any Saturday - any sunny Saturday when I went. Jim (ph)?

JIM (PH): Governor, yes. The - I'm wondering to go to Marina's (ph) question about testing, there seems to be much more focus downstate than upstate. Why is that occurring and are there plans to (inaudible)? And also maybe Dr. Zucker, we know the global number of ICU beds, but I have to imagine there's more strange (ph) localized down states, so what are those numbers specifically downstate? CUOMO: You go where the need is, Jimmy (ph). You follow the signs. You follow the numbers. You listen to the data. The majority of our cases are coming out in New York City, so you go where the need is. You go where the numbers are. Dr. Zucker, do you want to -


ZUCKER: Sure. Sure. Thank you, Governor. So the vast majority of the ICU beds are down state proportional. Most of the - a lot the hospital beds are down there, so two-thirds of those are pretty much in the city and the metropolitan area around the city.

JIM (PH): What about ICU beds (ph)?

ZUCKER: Well, the - what we have now is we have - as the governor mentioned, we have about 600 individuals in the ICU, but we have many more ICU beds. But we have to, as the governor said, prepare for the potential for many more patients to come in.


CUOMO: Give me one second (inaudible). I don't care upstate, downstate. This is one state, and we're planning for one state. If you get overloaded in Albany, then I'm going to use the hospital beds in Utica. If I get overloaded in Buffalo, I'm going to use the hospital beds in Rochester. If I get overloaded in New York City, I'm going to use the hospital beds upstate. There is no upstate, downstate here. It's one state. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well regarding how many of those ICU beds are currently available, there's 1,600 people in them now and you said that we have 3,000 (ph) in total in the state (ph). What's -


CUOMO: Do you know, Dr. Zucker, the current open capacity of ICU beds?

ZUCKER: I don't know the exact number, but I haven't spoken to the - some of the hospital leadership members.

CUOMO: (inaudible)

ZUCKER: There are beds and they are working to create more ICU beds because you can actually turn beds whether that be a recovery room bed into an ICU bed, and this is what the team that the government asked the hospital associations to work on, and we'll have a report from them shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Zucker, a lot of hospital workers are saying that they're being told to go without using a mask or use a scarf. What would you say to them? Is there a resolution to that or do you think is there any hope?

ZUCKER: Well, I haven't heard the specifics about that, but I know that we have supplies available and, as the governor mentioned on the slide, that we are providing them with more of the protective equipment, both masks as well as gowns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, do you have anything to say on that?

CUOMO: Larry Schwartz has been handling the supplies - finding supplies with Simonida Subotic, and they've been doing an extraordinary job. Howard's going to join their team. There is no one in this state today who should be able to - who can say legitimately I can't get a mask. If you cannot get a mask, we - you saw the numbers we're sending out. We just were successful in getting more, and today we can get masks to anyone who needs them and gowns.

I can't promise you next week or the week thereafter, and that's why I want to see the federal government do this Federal Defense Production Act and stop this ad hoc volunteerism, but today there is no one who we can't cover. Pardon the pun with the mask. (inaudible)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, have there been any additional measures to limit the spread of the virus is state prisons, jails, youth facilities?

CUOMO: We have different policies that we put in place all across the board mirroring the nursing homes, no visitors, same type of policies in prison facilities and other facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering (inaudible) for elderly members in state prisons?

CUOMO: It's something we're looking at, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, the president said basically that the cure might be worse than the disease itself. Can you comment on that, especially in light of you saying that we need to start to look at restarting the economy after this?

CUOMO: Yes, look. The - you have to walk and chew gum in life. I don't have the luxury - no executive really has the luxury of being one dimensional. I'm very proud of the measures we've taken to address this public health crisis. You look at our numbers. We've done things that no other state in the country has done, but I'm also very aware that you cannot - it is unsustainable to run this state or run this country with the economy.