WPCNR CORONAVIRUS REPORT. From the Governor’s Press Office. March 16, 2020:
Governor Andrew Cuomo, appearing on CNN this morning called for standard rules across statelines to control the spread of coronavirus across statelines. Here is the transcript of his remarks to CNN’S John Berman this morning:
Governor Cuomo: We’ve been behind handling this disease from day one. Right? We knew it was in China in November and then we look like we got caught by surprise and we’re always playing catch up. The only way to deal with it a situation like this is to get ahead of it. We need to see the federal government set up to the plate here and set up national rules.
It makes no sense, you look at your broadcast, all these states doing different things, cities doing different things. It doesn’t work that way.
In an emergency, someone has to take charge.
New York State, I’m in charge, that’s the law, because I can’t have one set of rules in New York City, a different rules in Nassau County, surrounding counties. If you close the bars in New York City but don’t close them in Nassau County all it means is everybody drives to Nassau County to a bar.
So you have to have consolidated, centralized authority. You can’t — it makes no sense for all these states to be doing different things. I make rules.
People can drive to New Jersey. They can drive to Connecticut. We need the federal government to stand up and say here are the rules.
And secondly, John, the coming crisis is we’re overwhelming our health care system. That is going to happen. That curve is a wave, and it’s going to break on the hospital system. We need additional beds and we need the army corps of engineers to come in here and retrofit state buildings, dormitories, et cetera for additional hospital beds. And that’s the federal government.
John Berman: We need more beds. We need more ventilators, which is why I want to know what you think of what the Secretary of HHS said over the weekend where he refused to disclose the number of ventilators for, he claims, national security reasons. Listen.
Secretary Azar: We don’t disclose concrete numbers on particular items for national security purposes. But we have many ventilators, thousands and thousands of ventilators in our system.
John Berman: What’s the national security imperative not to tell the American people how many ventilators they have available?
Governor Cuomo: National security imperative is people would get very nervous if they knew how few they had. Thousands and thousands, what does that mean?
We’re looking at an overrun in New York in the tens of thousands. That’s what I said.
We’ve been behind this all along.
The federal government has to step up. Nationwide rules, school closings, bars, whatever and then understand that we have an impending catastrophe when this wave of growth crashes on the hospital system and we don’t have the capacity.
Start now, bring in that Army Corps of engineers. This is what they do. They build. I’ll give them dormitories. Build temporary medical facilities, but they have to do it. I’m not shy, but a state doesn’t have the capacity to build that quickly to that level.
John Berman: True on both counts, you are not shy and a state does not have that capacity. Governor, you keep on saying we have been behind. We are behind, you say. So then how do you assess this proclamation from the President yesterday where he said this virus is under tremendous control? Listen.
President Trump: There’s a very contagious virus. It’s incredible, but it’s something we have tremendous control of.
John Berman: How does that describe the reality you see?
Governor Cuomo: Look, I think this is not the time to be hypercritical, right?
I think the generous view is the President is trying to keep people calm, which is a very legitimate function for leadership.
I’m trying to keep my people calm. I’m trying to say look at the facts because the fear is a bigger problem than the virus right now.
My way of keeping people calm is not telling them placebos. I tell them the facts. I tell them the truth. I tell them what we’re doing. I say we have the capacity to do it.
And I go through the numbers and the facts and I say it’s going to be okay.
I don’t think it’s enough just to say it’s going to be fine and tell people what they don’t believe. I don’t believe that makes people calm. I believe it makes them more nervous because they doubt what they’re hearing.