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Audio transcription and precipitation: Governor Cuomo is invited to CNN with Ana Cabrera


Earlier in the day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was invited to CNN with Ana Cabrera to discuss New York State’s ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.

AUDIO is available here.

A rush transcript of the governor’s interview is available here:

Ana Cabrera: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is joining us now. Governor, I know how busy you are, thank you for taking the time. What is your reaction to what you just heard?

Governor Cuomo: Good to be with you. Well, Ana, when it comes to quoting, quarantining quotes, which means a lot of different things now, obviously in this environment – but that’s where we are, that’s what we do. We have started compulsory isolation. You stay at home unless you are an essential worker. This is what we do and I think it makes sense. It makes sense for the state, makes sense for the other states, our neighboring states, Connecticut and New Jersey, which the president mentioned is doing the same thing. So I think this policy makes sense. I do not know what forced quarantine means, but that is what we are already doing.

Ana Cabrera: So are you having a problem with the idea that there are travel restrictions? Basically, what I heard from the president was that New Yorkers couldn’t leave the state.

Governor Cuomo: Well, it’s not about forty. It would be a lock. If you say we are geographically confining people, that would be a lockdown. Then we would be Wuhan, China, right? And it would make no sense. It is a time when the President says that he is trying to restart the economy, New York is the financial sector. You are geographically restricting a state crippling the financial sector. You think the Dow Jones stock market went down – it would fall like a stone. I don’t even think it’s legal. Interstate commerce clause, et cetera.

So I think it would be exactly the opposite of everything the president talks about. How would you operationally stop New York and New Jersey and Connecticut goods, food and trucks, et cetera? I can’t believe he is considering this.

Ana Cabrera: What if he wants a lock? Do you want to continue to stop it? You said you didn’t think it was legal.

Governor Cuomo: Look, a lock is what they did in Wuhan, China and we are not in China and we are not in Wuhan. I don’t think it would be legal. I think it would be illegal. You can’t say you can’t leave New York State or New Jersey State or California State. And by the way, if you wanted to start doing it, it would have an impact across the country. It’s New York, New Jersey, Connecticut today, tomorrow is New Orleans, the day after Detroit. Then it’s Texas, then Florida, then California.

At the same time, we say that we are trying to restart the economy, I do not remember in history when it was done. We would have to go back to the civil war to talk about state borders like that. I think it would cripple the economy, I think it would shock the economic markets in a way that we have never seen before. As governor, I will not close my borders. The trucks must arrive. Food must arrive. Mail must arrive. I will not endanger the health and safety of my people.

What the President tried to achieve, he worked very hard to work with the governors. He worked very hard to work with New York State. I spoke to him this morning. We have a good cooperative relationship, so that would be exactly opposite to everything he has said and everything he has done so far. And it would be totally counterproductive.

Ana Cabrera: Have you spoken to him this afternoon since he made these remarks?

Governor Cuomo: No, I literally spoke to her a few minutes ago. We had a good conversation. We talked about additional help to New York State in terms of temporary hospital beds. We talked about the medical ship arriving in New York. He never talked about quarantine.

Ana Cabrera: How would it even work? Do you think he would send soldiers to guard the bridges and tunnels going in and out, for example in New York? If it’s just the city that’s locked.

Governor Cuomo: No, it couldn’t work. That is why I said that it would be the photos that you saw on television with the province of Wuhan in China. I don’t even know how you could do it. We need goods arriving from New York. We need food. We need mail.

Ana Cabrera: On the point that you also mentioned about the financial sector about the possibility of having interstate commerce, but also of the financial sectors. It is the heart of Manhattan. What would that mean for the stock market? Should it close?

Governor Cuomo: Oh, it would fall like a stone. I mean, I don’t know if it should stop operationally, but it might as well stop. You say you can’t come to New York to do business; business people cannot leave New York to travel to Chicago for a meeting. I mean, it would be chaos and chaos. And that would bring this economy down in a way, I think, that wouldn’t recover for months, if not years. So, he is totally opposed to everything he said. I don’t even think it’s plausible. I don’t think it’s legal, and it would really be – it would be total chaos. I have no other word for it.

Ana Cabrera: The New York Stock Exchange in particular – I’m sorry, I don’t want to interrupt you. I think there is a slight delay with our signal here, but I was thinking of the New York Stock Exchange. Obviously, if that – again, it’s a little vague right now about the quarantine he’s talking about, but at one point he mentioned New York. I imagine there are a lot of people coming in and out of New York who don’t live in the city who could be part of the stock market. That’s what I was talking about regarding the impact on the stock market, right?

Governor Cuomo: You are perfectly right. There are people who come in and go out all day to trade with the stock market. There are meetings – thousands of people coming in and out directly related to the stock market. So, and I know the presidents are very concerned about what has happened to the stock market. We are all. I’m governor of New York. Anyone who has a retirement fund and has seen it fall is worried. So why would you just want to create a total pandemonium in addition to a pandemic, I have no idea.

Ana Cabrera: Well, if you think about the actions you’ve taken, right, regarding New Rochelle, and you’ve set up, you know, a somewhat restrictive area, and you’ve done it to stop the spread , if there is none. t sort of a lock, how do you control it? How do you prevent the spread from getting worse?

Governor Cuomo: We had the hottest cluster, if you will, the hottest hotspot in the United States of America was New Rochelle, Westchester, as you said. And we did something called the containment zone which said that we closed schools and not big rallies. We never said you couldn’t come and go. We have never limited the mobility of people. We have never imprisoned people in a geographic area, even in New Rochelle. We called it a containment area, which was not the best word. It must contain the virus – it must not contain people. We never contained anyone. I don’t remember the last time this country said that we were going to contain you in an area.

Again, that’s why I think – I don’t even think it’s legal. You have all kinds of provisions – state rights, interstate commerce, et cetera. So it’s an absurd idea, frankly. And again, this is totally opposite to what the President wants to do, which is to work with the states, to help the states, to make the economy work and to bring some sense of stability. At this point, you wouldn’t literally divide the entire nation because it’s not just New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, right? It is Louisiana and New Orleans. And you’re going to see these numbers increase continuously. So every few days it will be another hot spot. This is where we are. And if you start to delimit areas across the country, you would just be totally weird, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social. It wouldn’t even be productive. Look, this virus, you don’t know who has it. We have done more testing in New York than in any other state. That’s why we know better who has it in New York. But once these other areas start to have the right test and the volume of tests that you will see across the country.

Ana Cabrera: Governor, are you going to call the President tonight and tell him about it?

Governor Cuomo: See if the President was considering this, I guarantee he would have called me. I mean we are talking about relatively trivial issues when it comes to dealing with this situation. It’s – it’s a civil war type discussion.

Ana Cabrera: So don’t you think he is really serious about this?

Governor Cuomo: I don’t think it is serious – that any federal administration can be serious about the physical foreclosure of states or parts of states across the country. I don’t think it’s legal. I think it would be economic chaos. I don’t think the American people would support it. It is only a matter of time before the number increases in hot spots across the country. So I think it makes absolutely no sense and I don’t think any government figure or serious professional would support it.

Ana Cabrera: However, there are growing concerns that we are hearing not only the president, but also the governors of other states about travelers entering their states from New York. There are reports that the Governor of Rhode Island has ordered that all vehicles with New York State license plates be stopped when they enter New York State. What is your reaction to this?

Governor Cuomo: I think it is a reactionary policy. I am concerned about people with the virus entering my state, right. So I think it’s a reactionary policy and I don’t think it’s legal. And we are talking now in Rhode Island. If they don’t go back on this policy, I’m going to sue Rhode Island, because it’s clearly unconstitutional. I understand the goal and I could set up my borders and say that I won’t let anyone in until they take a test to see if they have the virus or not. But, you know, there is a point of nonsense, and I think what Rhode Island has done is at this point of nonsense. Again, it’s not even legal. It is a neighboring state, I am sure we will be able to resolve it. But I think we need to balance it out. I understand that people are nervous and anxious, and that is a scary situation, but we have to stay the course and we have to keep the ideas and the policies that we are implementing positive, rather than reactionary and emotional.

Ana Cabrera: So if you think these actions are illegal, what are you ready to do? Would you sue Rhode Island? Do you want to sue the federal government? What happens?

Governor Cuomo: Well, I have sued the federal government several times, by the way, in the past few years. We have had a number of political decisions. I don’t think it will come to that. Again, I spoke to the president. It would be a declaration of war on the States. A declaration of federal war. And it wouldn’t just be New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Next week would be Louisiana with New Orleans, and the following week would be Detroit, Michigan, and it would take place across the country. And I don’t think the president is looking to start a lot of wars with a lot of states right now for many reasons. With Rhode Island, it is a neighboring state. I think what they did was wrong, I think it was reactionary, I think it was illegal, but we will settle this out of court, I’m sure. We have conversations that come and go. No state should use the police to prohibit interstate travel in any way. No state should be able to say, you know, I’m going to use my police to make sure you don’t come with a license plate. By the way, you’re in Rhode Island, what if you’re traveling to New York and coming back to Rhode Island? Do you stop and can’t get back to Rhode Island? Do you know how many people from Rhode Island come to New York to do business? So we have to be a little smart in all of these policies.

Ana Cabrera: I want to tell you more about the situation in New York in particular, because the stories we hear from hospital workers are not good. We see the lines outside of places like Elmhurst. What is the status of fans in New York State? Because I know this is one of the big concerns for you.

Governor Cuomo: Well the fans, which, by the way, before this situation, no one had really thought about the fans. What has happened, one of the special situations with the disease is that it is a respiratory disease, it affects the lungs very badly, and people who are seriously ill with this virus, they all need a fan. And they are on these fans much longer than most people on fans with other illnesses. So you have more people who need fans and they are on them longer, which increases the need for fans. And everyone is trying to get fans. You have 50 states competing for fans. You have 50 states competing with the federal government who are trying to buy fans. Countries around the world are trying to get fans. So we are trying to do our best. We acquire as many as possible. There is a new technology that we are using that divides, they call it division, where one fan can make two people. We are implementing this procedure statewide. And we do our best to move people who need fans to the places that have them. But this is one of the big logistical problems of this whole situation. The problem is that you want to flatten this curve so as not to overwhelm the hospital system. The hospital system is the beds, the staff, but it’s the equipment, and at the top of the list of equipment, there are the fans.

Ana Cabrera: What’s the latest on death rates in your state?

Governor Cuomo: You know, it dropped today. This continues, the overall line is still rising. Today was a drop. We do not know if it is a drop in the day, we tested 17,000 people overnight, 7,000 hospitalizations. But we still see it increasing. The peak possible through digital projections asked for 140,000 hospital beds and about 40,000 ventilators, which is a very large number that would overwhelm the health system. We are therefore trying to reduce the curve, reduce the spread of infections and, at the same time, increase hospital capacity, God forbid. And we get very creative in doing this. We are opening temporary hospitals in locations across the state. So we are doing everything we can to increase hospital capacity and flatten the curve at the same time.

Ana Cabrera: I hear what you are saying about the reaction in terms of providing space, resources to cope with an influx and a rush of more and more patients. If you were completely against a federal foreclosure, how can you control it?

Governor Cuomo: You control our operation. Look, there aren’t a lot of options here, right? Reducing the gap, flattening / canceling the flattening of the curve, that’s what they’re all talking about. We have taken all steps you can take there. No one can go to work except essential workers. Reduce density in places – close restaurants, close gymnasiums, no rallies. So you reduce the spread. You increase the hospital capacity. You test, test, test. We do more testing than any state in the United States, more per capita than China or South Korea. So you isolate the positive. And in part, it is taking its course. All you hope is that you slow the spread of the infection, that you lower this curve to a level that you can treat in hospitals. And that’s what we do. We expect a peak of this curve, the highest point to be between 14 and 21 days. So this is really the essential moment for us, when you get to this climax. And they say it’s 14 to 21 days. Hopefully, after this climax, the number of cases begins to drop.

Ana Cabrera: Okay Governor Andrew Cuomo, you’ve taken a lot of time with us, thank you very much for the conversation. I wish you luck. Be well.

Governor Cuomo: Thanks, Ana.

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