ALBANY – The state's death toll continues to be almost unimaginably high – another 671 people died since yesterday. But in his daily press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it's clear that New York's COVID-19 rate has plateaued, and he's turning his attention to making a preliminary plan to reopen the state.
Cuomo said he'd be holding a press conference at 2 PM after speaking with the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware and he hopes to have a plan that is coordinated with all of them.
A total of 1958 people were hospitalized with the virus since yesterday, a number that's held fairly steady for the past six days, down from a high of 3413 at the worst of the pandemic in New York. The number of intubations is down.
He said the worst appears to be over, but cautioned that “I'm not confident the worst is over. All of this is a direct result of what we do. If we do something reckless, you can turn those numbers with just two or three days of reckless behavior.”
Cuomo laid out a timeline to being able to say “This is over” that is actually 12-18 months long.
“This is really over when we have a vaccine. That's going to take 12-18 months. But there will be points between now and then when we can feel better.”
The governor said any plan to reopen must integrate the economy, transportation, schools, and public health. He said there wouldn't be an on/off switch, but instead foresees a gradual reopening of businesses, always watching the infection rate to see the impact of each change.
“The projection models for the virus were wrong because 19 million New Yorkers believed the threat was real,” he said. “I'm not asking any New Yorker to take my word for it. Here are the facts. You decide. Credibility comes from giving all the facts without spin. What I propose we do is drawn from those facts. I'm not worried you can't handle the facts. I hope you agree with me that this is the intelligent response, because that's the only way this works. I can't force 19 million people to do anything.”
In answer to a question of whether he might consider reopening upstate as a test case, Cuomo said there could be a distinction made in places with different case loads, but the question will be how to calibrate that into a reopening plan. He also said testing, federal support, and precautions like masks, gloves, and temperature-taking will have to be part of any reopening plan.
The governor said the new Department of Labor website is working much better than the one which crashed under the weight of state unemployment claims. Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa pointed out that people who have applied should answer a phone call from a private number.
“If a private call comes up, it's Labor,” she said. “Answer.”
As the press conference ended, Cuomo was asked about the possibility of the president firing infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci. President Trump retweeted a conservative who called for Fauci's firing over the weekend.
“I think he (Dr.Fauci) is great,” Cuomo said. “He's been very helpful to me. I can't imagine – crazy as things are, crazy as they are in Washington –I can't imagine that that would ever happen.”