New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that he was ‘on the cusp’ of ruling which businesses could reopen first after the May 15 lockdown ends but that the crucial antibody testing that is needed is being held up because American labs are relying on China for chemicals.
As hospitalizations in New York continue to slow and the death rate flattens, Cuomo said the state is starting to ‘transition’ into the next phase of the pandemic which is reopening.
He gave the announcement at a 90 minute press conference on Friday where he eviscerated President Trump – who tweeted earlier in the day that he should stop ‘complaining’ about the lack of federal help – and reminded the president that he based all of his early decisions on information that came from the White House.
Trump had accused Cuomo of overestimating the level of crisis response that was needed.
On Thursday, Cuomo extended the state’s lockdown until May 15, explaining that the infection rate needs to decrease more until he is satisfied that it is safe for people to get back to work.
‘We’re starting to transition to the other place – the second half of the situation which is unpausing. The situation we’re in now is unsustainable.
‘People can’t stay in their homes, out of work, you can’t keep the economy closed forever. Society cant handle it personally or economically,’ he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving his daily briefing on Friday. He has extended New York’s lockdown until May 15 but says the state is beginning to enter the second phase of the crisis which is how to reopen
New York currently has an infection rate of .9 percent which means every person who gets the virus gives it to one person or less.
On Friday, deaths across the state had risen by 630 to 12,822. Cuomo did not announce the number of new cases but they stand at more than 200,000.
An infection rate of 1.2 is considered outbreak territory. Cuomo wants to move as far enough away from that number as possible before he allows people back to work.
‘You only have a very slim margin to operate on. You open too fast, you’ll get to 1.2 in three days and we’ll be right back to where we started,’ he said.
‘We were over the line, in outbreak territory. Now, we’re right on the line,’ he said.
He has not yet nailed down which businesses will get to reopen first and how to avoid them becoming swamped with people once they do.
‘What you create, inadvertently, is a problem when you see all sorts of people descending there because that’s open. The first barber shop to open, there will be a line going out the door.
‘That has to be thought through and coordinated. We are on the cusp but we’re still in the midst of a public health crisis,’ he said.
A patient arrives at the Brooklyn Hospital Center on Friday. New York still has the highest number of cases of anywhere in America
The largest problem the state is facing now is a lack of funding from the federal government which will allow the state to ramp up testing, he said, and the fact that labs are relying on China for the chemicals they need to actually do the tests.
Cuomo fumed over the scenario and said it was similar to the global rush to buy ventilators and PPE equipment when the entire world was flocking to the Chinese market because it was the only place that produced what was needed.
‘Everything goes back to China and China is in a position where they’re being asked globally. That’s a piece of the equation that I can’t figure out.
‘We need masks? Made in China. We need gowns? Made in China. We need ventilators? Made in China. We need testing agents? China.
‘These are all national security issues when you are in this situation,’ he said.
Cuomo also pontificated about using the crisis as an opportunity to implement change in society. He compared it to 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy and said in both instances, the country had come back stronger.
‘We talk about the new normal. This also has to be an opportunity where after this horrendous period that we’ve gone through on every level, after the exorbitant cost, the personal pain, the death of this, this has to be one of those moments in time when we look back and say society transformed.
‘We have to say: Yes society took a terrible blow. But it became a moment of reflection where all sorts of new reforms and innovations happened,’ he said.
He gave the example of airport security post 9/11 and the infrastructure that was built after Hurricane Sandy to better protect the city.
On a personal level, he said, he’d had the opportunity to spend time with his daughters when otherwise he was ‘too busy’.
Cuomo said on Thursday that even when businesses are allowed to resume, they will still have to implement social distancing.
‘We have to get to tomorrow. What is the final conclusion of this ugly chapter. I still believe it’s when we have a vaccine, when we know this virus is totally controlled.
‘Maybe there’s a medical treatment in between – we hope, we pray – that would totally change the trajectory.
‘People looking for a quick fix, a quick answer, it would be a medical treatment. A vaccine would be a quick fix, in the mean time it’s going to be an incremental process between today and tomorrow.
‘As much as people don’t want to hear that, that’s the truth. You’re not going to hear any day soon it’s over, the nightmare ends. We have to be smart,’ he said.
CUOMO SAVAGES TRUMP AND SAYS ‘I’M NOT GOING TO THANK YOU FOR DOING YOUR JOB’ AFTER THE PRESIDENT TWEETED THAT HE SHOULD STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT LACK OF FEDERAL HELP AND GET ON WITH TESTING
Trump tweeted half-way through Cuomo’s press conference to criticize him
Cuomo eviscerated President Trump during his briefing on Friday after a reporter asked him to respond to a tweet the president issued while the press conference was ongoing.
The pair have come to blows several times this week with regards to how the country would reopen. Trump, who refused to issue a national lockdown, had said that it was up to him when states reopened when in fact the responsibility lies with the governors.
On Friday, Trump tweeted during Cuomo’s press conference: ‘Governor Cuomo should spend more time “doing” and less time “complaining”. Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking! We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing.
‘We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks. Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!’
Cuomo, enraged by the remarks, said he had thanked him sufficiently but that it was the role of the federal government to take the actions that they have.
‘I’ve said thank you a number of times. Am I meant to send a bouquet of flowers?
‘Thank you, again, Mr. President for the Javits and thank you for the US Navy Ship Comfort which, by the way, is just doing your job as president,’ he said.
He went on to fume that Trump was now trying to wash his hands of the crisis by refusing to help with testing and said that he had devoted money to ‘big business’ and airlines but had given nothing in the way of funding to state governments.
Cuomo shot back by pulling up a slide of what were the CDC’s predictions on March 13 that so many people would become infected or hospitalized
He also responded to suggestions by Trump that Cuomo had overshot the worst case scenario of the pandemic and asked for more than he needed.
Cuomo pointed out that all of his plans were based on information that the White House coronavirus task force and the CDC issued.
‘So were we foolish for relying on your projections, Mr. President? The CDC coronavirus task force? That’s you.
‘We relied on your projections. OK. We shouldn’t have relied on your projections,’ he said.
‘No one can take the posture of: Just say thank you for what I’ve done and I’m now out of doing anything else. What if I said, “OK. I’m done. I’ve saved hundreds of thousands of lives, flattened the curve, created more beds than anyone imagined, I’m done now. I’m going home.
‘That’s what he’s saying: I’m done.’