ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo's press conference today was a combination of what he called “breathtaking” numbers of dead – the highest in a single day since the COVID-19 cases in the state have been tracked -- with continued evidence that social distancing is working in slowing the spread of the disease. But he said he worried that that news might give some New Yorkers a false sense of security.
“What we are doing is working. It is flattening the curve so far,” he said. “But if we stop what we are doing, you will see that curve change. It is not over. By no means are we out of the woods.”
He was asked about relatively low numbers that were upstate, and warned a reporter to be 'very careful of tense.”
“You will see more cases upstate. I'll bet you anything you want to bet. We'll see more on Long Island. I'll bet you anything you want to bet. We're not through this. We're in the midst of it.”
The state will be launching a social media campaign called “Who Are You Staying Home For?” in an effort to remind New Yorkers that the restrictions in place are protecting the most vulnerable, including medical workers.
For the first time since beginning his daily press briefings, the governor did not show a graphic indicating total number of cases. He also said that the state has been relying on reports from hospitals and nursing homes to compile its fatality numbers. Cuomo said they are now trying to find out how many more numbers were not reported because those patients were never hospitalized.
The number of patients hospitalized, he said, continues to go down – 586 yesterday, with a three day average also down. The governor said some hospitals report they are releasing more patients than they are admitting.
The new death toll is 6268, up 779 from one day ago. By comparison, 2753 people died on 9-11. Cuomo said he would order all state flags flown at half mast to honor the dead.
“All our projections basically turned out to be wrong, because you're predicting what people will do. I'm more afraid of the curve changing because people read something into it that's not there. I'm taking this day by day.”
Cuomo said he's asking SUNY Albany to team with the Department of Health to look into the reasons for higher numbers of cases of the virus among minority communities. He said more testing will be done in those communities, not just for COVID-19, but for other data to help gather information to plan public policy in the future.
“I know about co-morbidity,” he said. “But what else is there? Are more of them public workers because they don't have a choice?”
He said the state will send an additional $600 to everyone who has filed for unemployment, an amount the federal government will reimburse. The governor also said unemployment benefits will be extended to 39 weeks total.
Cuomo called the voting held in Wisconsin “totally nonsensical,” and said he would issue an Executive Order making absentee voting available to any state resident.
He said he is continuing to work with neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut to plan for an eventual restart of business, but had no prediction when that restart could begin. He also said the National Association of Governors may again consider a buying consortium for medical supplies to avoiding competing against each other for what is needed.
“Or the federal government could do the purchasing,” he said. “What happened here, that's just madness.”