Directs All New Yorkers to Wear Masks or Face Coverings on Public Transportation Systems, While Taking Private Transportation or Riding in For-Hire Vehicles as Part of Executive Order
Announces State Will Send 100 Ventilators to New Jersey
Confirms 8,505 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 222,284; New Cases in 48 Counties
Edited by: JV Staff
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo earlier today announced all NYS on Pause restrictions and closures will be extended until May 15th. This action is taken in consultation with other regional states. The states will re-evaluate after this additional closure period.
Governor Cuomo also directed all New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings on public transportation systems and while taking private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles. Additionally, all operators of public systems, private carriers and for-hire vehicles must wear a mask or face covering at all times while working. These directives expand on the Executive Order announced by the Governor yesterday requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. The Executive Order will go into effect on Friday, April 17th, at 8 PM.
The Governor also announced the state will give 100 ventilators to New Jersey. Yesterday the Governor announced the state will give 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 ventilators to Maryland.
Finally, the Governor confirmed 8,505 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 222,284 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 222,284 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
|County||Total Positive||New Positive|
GOVERNOR CUOMO’S TRANSCRIPT:
Good morning. In case anyone doesn’t know anyone who is here today, from my far right Dr. Malatras, not really a doctor; Dr. Zucker who is really a doctor; to my left Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor; to her left Robert Mujica, Budget Director.
Let’s give you some facts today. My man, Sergeant Joe Friday, just facts ma’am. My daughters say nobody understands who Joe Friday is. That’s their mistake. Dragnet was an under-appreciated cinematic treasure, my opinion. Joe Friday, just the facts, just the facts.
Here are just the facts. Hospitalization rate is down from 18,000 to 17,000 mark. That is good news. Total hospitalizations down. You talk about the flattening of the curve, the apex, how long is it flat? When does it start to curve? We don’t know but this is a good sign today. If you look the net change in hospitalizations it’s down more signify than it has been. So that’s positive news. Three-day average which again is more accurate than the day to day counts – I’m a little skeptical about the day to day counts. This is all a new reporting system but the three-day average is more reliable. ICU admissions number is also down significantly for the first time. So that’s good news. Intubation is down and that’s really good news because the intubations ultimately lead to the worst news – 80 percent roughly of people get intubated never come off the ventilator.
The number of new people who are diagnosed with COVID, about 2,000 still yesterday. So when you see the reduction in rates remember what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a reduction in increases. You still have 2,000 people every day about who are walking into a hospital for the first time or who are being diagnosed with COVID for the first time and 2,000 is still a lot of people.
But the good news is it means we can control the virus. We can control the spread and we did not know for sure that we could do that. We speculated that we could do it but we didn’t know. So now we know that we can control this disease.
The bad news is 2,000 people walked into a hospital yesterday for the first time with the disease and the worst news is 600 people died yesterday from the disease. That is still continuing at a really tragic, tragic rate. Of those deaths 577 in hospitals, 29 in nursing homes. We’ve been watching the nursing homes because nursing homes in many ways are ground zero for this situation. Last night the number in nursing homes was relatively low.
Everyone asked the same two questions. When is it over and how do we get there? How do we start to make our way from here to there? When is it over? When is it finally over? It’s over when you have a vaccine and that’s 12 months to 18 months. We’ve said to the FDA any way we can be helpful in the testing of that vaccine. How do we accelerate that? How do we expedite it? New York is ready, willing and able to do that with the FDA. Maybe there’s a medical treatment between now and the vaccine – that would be great but those are unknowns and it’s out of our bailiwick. We are working with a lot of companies that are working on treatments. We’re testing treatments in our hospitals but that’s a pure medical research and development function which is beyond us.
At the same time how do we un-pause New York? New York is now on pause. How do we un-pause it? First, do no harm. Don’t let that infection rate go up to the best of your ability. Don’t lose the progress that you have made. Second, now go back that we have some stability and we can actually work with the health care system which we had on overdrive for many, many weeks and we had increased capacity as you remember. Every hospital had to increase capacity 50 percent. I mean just think about that, 50 percent more beds, staffing those beds during this horrific period. Now we have a chance to be more intelligent frankly about handling our health care system, testing and tracing, testing and tracing, testing and tracing, and we need the federal government to work with us on that and then phasing an economic return to the quote unquote new normal. Right? Those are all activities that are going on at the same time and that’s our plan to quote unquote un-pause New York.
You stopped everything. How do you now restart that machine in a coordinated way that doesn’t drive up the infection rate? That’s the balance that we’re trying to strike on un-pausing and having businesses open. That is a nuanced question. There’s no light switch. It’s not all businesses go back tomorrow. It’s, what businesses, what do they do, what risks do they pose, and what changes can they make in their business to make them more safe? This is not just government deciding. It’s government deciding with private businesses who now have to take a look at this new normal, this new reality, and tell us how they think they can adjust to it.
One of our questions and evaluations is how essential is that business service? You have to start somewhere. Right now we have the economy working with what are quote unquote essential workers. That’s why the grocery store is open. That’s where public transit is running. All right, so we want to start to bring the economy back. Move up one tranche on how you define essential with what’s the next level of essential businesses. Are there certain businesses that are inherently safer or can be safer? And then let’s talk about how we reopen them and where we reopen them. And these are all questions that we have to work through on a case by case basis.
But there is a matrix and the matrix is how important is the business to society, how essential a service, and how risky is that business from a rate of infection. Obviously the more essential a business, the lower the risk, the more they are a priority. Then how do you do it? You do it in phases of priority and then you phase it up the way we phase it down which is by percentages.
This is going to be an ongoing process over the coming weeks that we’re working through with the other states. But the what, the how, the when, looking at how important that business is and what the risk that business poses, and then do it in coordination with our other states because this is really a regional issue and it should be addressed on that basis. Coordinating with the other states doesn’t mean we’ll always be in lockstep but we’ll talk through everything first and hopefully we’re not doing something that’s contradictory to another state at a minimum, and so far so good on that exercise and then analysis is ongoing.
But it’s not going to be all about what government does. What the private sector now has to think about: what they do and how they do it and how they can do it differently in this new normal. Reimagine your workplace and we learned a lot through this situation. People work from home. Well, how many people can continue to work from home and the business still works? How do you socially distance in the work place? Can you socially distance in your workplace? What are your new normal procedures and practices? How do you think you’re going to get workers back and forth and what precautions would you take? In the workplace how would people work and where would they sit or where they stand and how do you do it without conference meetings and how do you do it without gatherings? How are you going to interact with the public in a way that keeps the public safe? We’re talking about businesses that pose a lower risk. Tell us how you intend to organize and conduct your business and can you do it in a way that poses a lower risk? What would you do with your workforce to make sure, if an infection happens, we can jump on it quickly? As we’re going through all this planning, this is going to be a moment of transformation for society. We paid a very high price for it. How do we learn the lessons so that this new normal is a better New York? There are lessons that we must learn from this because we do need to do things differently or we can do things differently and we can do things better.
Part of the way across that bridge is testing. It is the single best tool to inform decisions and to calibrate all of this. This new testing world is a new frontier for all of us. New York State has been very aggressive about testing. We set a very ambitious goal when we began and I’m happy to say they did it. We’ve done 500,000 tests in 30 days. That’s more than California, Florida and Michigan combined. This is all about figuring it out first and taking a system, that frankly didn’t exist, and creating this testing system and this testing regimen. Five hundred thousand tests in one month, that sounds great. And it was great. It was a great accomplishment and congratulations to everyone who put it together.
When you think of 500,000 tests in one month and then you compare it to the fact that you have 19 million people in this state, you have 9 million workers, the 500,000 doesn’t sound so big. We have many questions to answer. Where do you test? How do you get the supplies? How do you coordinate the private labs? How do you coordinate the demand going to these private labs? Everybody wants testing. Private sector companies are calling for testing. They’re going right to the labs. Everyone is going right to these labs and 50 states are competing and the federal government is buying product from these labs.
This has to be figured out and it can only be figured out in partnership with the federal government. On top of that, once you go for testing, you have to trace every person who comes up positive. Trace means investigate. Investigate all those prior contacts and then one contact, you test that person, leads you to another person. The tracing investigators are really assembling an army that does not now exist. I spoke to the White House this morning about it. I understand that this is a problematic area and the federal government’s not eager to get involved in testing. I get that, but the plain reality here is we have to do it in partnership with the federal government.
You’re talking about supply chains that go back to China. A state does not have the capacity to do that. There’s no reason why you would have 50 states each trying to figure this out on their own, competing the federal government, competing with the private sector. So I’m very much looking forward to the federal government’s willingness to tackle this, understanding that it will be imperfect at best. If we work together we can do better than any of us could do alone. That’s what this is all about. You’re not going to achieve optimum performance. You can’t put together this national system with perfection so people are understandably reluctant to get involved. Understanding the risk and understanding that it’s never going to be done perfectly – if we work together we can do better and that’s what we actually have to accomplish.
We have to strengthen the health care system. Our surge and flex, which is the first time we’ve ever called upon all these hospitals to work together and coordinate. Every hospital was basically its own enterprise. Then we go back and we say, “Well you all have to work together and coordinate and we’re going to help you coordinate.” It was the first time that’s ever happened. We understand about a stockpile like we’ve never understood before. We understand about sharing resources like we’ve never understood before. And we understand about sharing among states and how good people were to New York when we needed it and states stepping up and sending us ventilators and I said New Yorkers don’t forget. And New Yorkers are the most generous and most gracious and we’ll be there when people need help.
New Jersey is still looking at their curve rising. The wave hasn’t crested in New Jersey. They’re our neighbors, anything we can do to help, I’ve told Governor Murphy all he has to do is ask. We’re here and we’re going to send 100 ventilators to New Jersey.
But the key to all of this, the calibration is the infection rate and this gets a little technical, but I need people to really understand this. Why don’t you open tomorrow? Because we’re afraid the infection rate will go up and everything we’ve been doing is to slow the infection. Well, how do you track the infection rate? We don’t, we don’t we don’t track infection rates. We see hospitalization rates which are different. A hospitalization rate is a person who got infected and became seriously ill, so they had to go to the hospital. But we don’t know how many people have been infected or are getting infected. We only know at this point how many people walk into a hospital, Ok? Or how many people get tested in a nursing home.
If you have advance testing then you’ll have a better idea of what percent of your population has actually been exposed. That’s what the antibody testing is all about. But the key is as you’re making this calibration on the reopening of the economy, as you bringing more people out of their homes, how fast is that virus spreading and how quickly is that infection rate rising, right? Dr. Fauci said early on that this virus spreads, it does it very well and we know that and we’ve learned that the hard way.
The rate of infection is everything okay, all those early projection models assumed a higher rate of infection, a higher rate of spread. That’s why they were calling for so many more hospital beds, many more mortalities. Because they projected a higher rate of spread. That has not happened so far. Caveat, so far. We’ve controlled the beast. We brought the rate of spread down. If their rate of spread actually happened, we would have been in a much, much worse situation and we would have been in a really bad place. I mean their projections were staggering and it didn’t happen because we slowed the models.
But remember what they were talking about, CDC which is supposed to be the preeminent source – 160 million to 214 million people infected they were projecting. That was only March 13, that’s what the CDC was projecting. You know how many 160 to 240 million are? We only have 328 million people in the country. They were projecting more than half of the population and maybe two thirds of the population infected and that was only a month ago. They were saying 2.4 million people to 21 million people would be hospitalized. You know how many that is? We only have 900,000 hospital beds in the nation. They were saying, by their projection a minimum of twice as many people would need hospital beds as we have hospital beds. Just imagine that, that was the CDC. The White House Corona Virus Task Force the same thing. White House Corona Virus Task Force was saying 1.5 to 2.2 million deaths, deaths and that was the White House Corona Virus Task Force as of March 31, okay. Worst best case scenario 100,00 to 241,000 with mitigation efforts. March 31 just over two weeks ago. And that’s why all of these models said the same thing. They were all believing a higher infection right now, and that’s McKinsey and that’s Columbia and that’s Cornell. That’s all of them. That’s the Gates funded model. They were all projecting a higher infection rate. We slowed the infection rate by our actions. And that’s why we’re in a better position today.
Now what does the infection rate mean? And I know this gets a little granular, but people have to understand that if they’re going to understand why we need to do what we need to do. The infection rate is how many people does one person infect, okay? How fast is the virus spreading from one person to another? And they talk about Arnot factor. The Arnot factor is the projected spread of the virus, okay? If one person infects less than one other person, the disease is on the decline. If one person basically infects one more person the rate of spread is stable. I get infected. I infect one. One person infects one. When you have a really situation out of control is one person infects two people or more because then the increase is just exponential, and that’s fire through dry grass. This is what they were all trying to project. And this is what we have to control as we start to reopen the economy.
We say we turn the valve on the economy. We open a little bit and we watch the meter, right? What’s the meter? The meter is the hospitalization rate or even better the virus spread rate. So, you start to turn that valve. You start to bring people out of their homes. You start to reopen businesses. You see that number going up. Turn the valve back right away. And this is what we’re trying to deal with going forward. And again, nobody has been here before. So, we’re trying to figure it out. If one person, if the virus spread increases to the place where one person infects two people. That is an outbreak. If one person is only infecting one other person. That is basically a stable increase. Ideally, one person is infecting less than one person. And that is a decline of the spread of the virus. And that’s what we’re shooting for.
Just to belabor this one more point. Where you’ve seen an outbreak epidemic spread, it’s when one person is infecting more than one other person. That’s when you’re out of control. On the Diamond Princess Cruise, the infection rate was one person infects 2.2 additional people. Wuhan was one person was infecting two people or three people. The 1918 pandemic one person was infecting 1.5 to 2.8 on our severe projection. One person was infecting 1.4 to 2.8. On the moderate projection, one person was infecting 1.2 to 1.4, okay? What we’ve done because of our mitigation efforts, social distancing, stay home, lock the door. We’ve brought it to less than 1. Our infections spread rate is 0.9, okay? Wuhan, which really closed down everything and locked it up. Wuhan brought the infection rate down to 0.3, okay? So, that’s the range we’re talking about. But when you think about that, we’re now 0.9. We only have a margin of error of 0.9 to 1.2. 1.2 takes you back to the high projection rate. We’re at 0.9. That does not leave you a lot of wiggle room. So, you’re going to start to phase the reopening. You’re at 0.9 now after this entire closedown. If you go to 1.2, you’re going to have a problem again. So you see how narrow the window is. But, New York Pause has worked. The closedown has worked. That’s how we controlled the beast, that’s how we got it down to .9. However, we’re not there yet. We’re just at .9. Again, Wuhan got down to .3. So we have to continue doing what we’re doing. I’d like to see that infection rate get down even more.
The New York Pause policies, the closedown policies, will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15. I don’t want to project beyond that period. That’s about one month. One month is a long time. People need certainly and clarity so they can plan. I need a coordinated action plan with the other states. So, one month, we’ll continue the closedown policies. What happens after then? I don’t know. We will see depending on what the data shows. What does that mean? Tell me what our infection rate spread is. Is it .9? Is it 1? Is it .7? Tell me what the hospitalization rate is. And then the experts will tell us the best course of conduct based on that data. No political decisions, no emotional decisions. Data and science—we’re talking about human lives here.
As relatively simple and possibly annoying as it seems, wearing a mask is one of the best things that we can do. And I understand we’re getting a lot of not happy phone calls off what I said yesterday about wearing a mask in public, but I’m sorry it makes people unhappy. I do not consider it a major burden and it really is a simple measure that can save lives. And yes, people say it’s a personal intrusion on them, but again remember it’s not just about you, right? I have rights, also. And my kids have rights. And your kids have rights. And you have a right for another person to take reasonable safeguards not to get infected. So the masks work. We said in public.
Today, I’m going to include public transportation systems – private transportation carriers, for-hire vehicles, any operator of a public system, an operator of a public carrier and for-hire vehicles must wear a mask at all times. What does this mean? If you get on a bus, you need to wear a mask. If you get in a train, you need to wear a mask. If you get into a private car service—Uber, Lyft—the operator needs to wear a mask. If you get on a private bus, the operator needs to wear a mask and you need to wear a mask on a private carrier. So, is this inconvenient? Yes, but you’re in a closed environment, by definition. You’re not socially distancing, by definition. You’re the front seat of a car to the back seat of a car. You’re one seat in a bus to another seat in a bus. This is a precaution for everyone that I think balances individual liberties with a social conscience. This will go into effect Friday, 8 p.m.
Ultimately what determines the rate of infection? You do. And I do. That’s what this all comes down to. As simple as it sounds. It’s not about government, it’s not about anything else. It’s about what people decide to do, and what people have decided to do. They have brought this infection rate down, it’s that simple. Nurses, doctors did a phenomenal job. First responders did a phenomenal job. Essential workers did a phenomenal job. But that rate came down because people changed their behavior. That’s what happened. It is about the behavior of our people. It’s that simple. It’s our behavior, it’s our level of discipline, it’s how we educate our children, it’s how considerate we are of others. What we’re willing to do to safeguard others’ health in our community. That’s what makes all the difference on what we’re doing. And it is the simple things. It’s wearing a mask. It’s washing your hands. It’s the hand sanitizer. It’s the social distance. It’s making sure your children understand what to do, what not to do. It’s all of these simple procedures that seem almost insignificant but on a collective basis make all the difference in the world. And it is making smart choices. I want to get out of the house. I’m going crazy. I need to do this. I need to do this. I know, but be smart. Be smart and engage what you’re doing relative to everyone else and relative to the overall goal.
But I will tell you, and I don’t know that people truly appreciated this. I don’t know that I did. Of all the unique aspects that we have learned going through this, the most positive and the most surprising to me has been how people have responded. The policies that I have communicated are not worth the paper they are printed on. I could stand up here as governor and say we must do this, we must do this, we must do this. These are some of the most life-changing policies government has ever issued. Think about it. This is not government saying, here’s your tax rate. Here’s age of voting. This is government’s saying, stay in your house don’t touch another person, wear a mask. I don’t even have the ability to enforce these measures on any scale if people said I’m not willing to do it.
So these policies, which are difficult, which are life-changing, they are being implemented by people because people are choosing to do the right thing. It is that simple. And what this is all about, today, the masks on transportation. I trust in New Yorkers. You know, I believe if the facts are presented to the people in this state, New Yorkers will do the right thing. What is the right thing? There’s always a right thing. It is the appropriate path that is socially and morally correct. And New Yorkers have a very strong right thing quotient. They know what the right thing is when they hear it. And all I’m trying to do is give them the facts and the information to explain why I’m suggesting these actions. They decide whether or not to follow them. I can’t put a mask on 17 million people. 17 million people will decide whether or not they’ll do it. But they have done it because they have the facts, they have the information, they understand the risks, they understand the rewards, they understand the consequences, and what they have done has worked. And it’s brought this state forward and it’ll bring this nation forward. And that’s New Yorkers at their best. And that’s because we are New York tough. And because New York tough is more complex than the words suggest. It’s smart. It’s united. It’s disciplined and it’s loving. And New Yorkers have proven that, time and time again, every day for 46 days.