New York coronavirus numbers continue in right direction
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday gave his final daily coronavirus update. He has appeared on TV before the media for 111 straight days – since the COVID-19 pandemic began and New York state went on “PAUSE.”
Here is what Cuomo said:
Good morning. Today is Friday, Juneteenth, and New York is declaring it a holiday in recognition of the ending of slavery. So, I gave everyone today off, and I can handle this last daily COVID briefing alone. After 111 days of hell, they all deserve a break. They all do.
Today's facts are more good news, and I don't even need a PowerPoint to explain them. The hospitalization number's, 1,284, the lowest number we have seen. We conducted 79,000 tests yesterday, which is a record high for us. And we have the lowest weekly infection rate, less than 1%. And we have the lowest weekly average of lives lost, 25 souls each day, and we'll remember them in our thoughts and prayers. All regions of the state have lower infection rates, and the state experts have gone over all the data and they will allow New York City to begin phase two on Monday.
But, COVID isn't over. We still have much more to do. We have to monitor the local infection rate; local governments must ensure compliance and do tracing; we have to watch out for a second wave; we have to watch out for possible infections coming now from other states; and many people need help to get their lives back to normal. But with all of that, it's clear that over the past three months, we have done the impossible.
In the beginning, this virus hit us hard, because it actually came from Europe after we were told that it was coming from China. When this started, we had more cases per capita than any state in the country or any nation on the globe.
But today, we have done a full 180, from worst to first. We are controlling the virus better than any state in the country and any nation on the globe. Even more, by reducing the infection rate, we saved over 100,000 people from being hospitalized and possibly dying – just think about that. It is an unimaginable achievement. I'm so incredibly proud of what we all did together, and as a community. We reopened the economy and we saved lives. Because it was never a choice between one or the other, it was always right to do both.
Today, we are seeing the virus spreading in many places. More people will die, and it doesn't have to be that way. Forget the politics. Be smart, open the economy intelligently, and save lives at the same time. That's what we showed works in New York.
We owe thanks to so many people, to our heroes, the health care and essential workers, to our legislature, our colleagues in New Jersey, Connecticut and neighboring states, local governments, the Army Corps of Engineers that did a great job, and most of all, to the great people of the state, who rose to the occasion, who joined hands and did what they had to do.
I want to thank all the people that helped me personally, my team in state government, led by Melissa DeRosa, with Rob Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Jim Malatras, Stephanie Benton, Linda Lacewell, Gareth Rhodes, Jill DesRosiers, Larry Schwartz, and so many, many more. I want to thank my Cara, Mariah and Michaela for keeping me grounded and making me laugh at times that I thought I would cry. Thank you to all the people who send me letters and tweets, and wave on the street, or give a thumbs up. I can't express how much it means to me. Your energy keeps me going, and your smiles lighten my soul, and I thank you.
To the 59 million viewers who shared in these daily briefings, thank you. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt, thank you for believing in me and giving me support.
Good Lord knows I needed it – and don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. Someone said to me, they were concerned because she relied on me to know what was happening. I will still do what I do. We just don't have to do it every day. And that's a good thing, and let's hope it stays that way.
I know this period has been incredibly hard on all of us. I thought about it every day as climbing a mountain, the Mount Everest of social challenges: 42 days up the mountain and 69 days down the other side. Every step, every day, hurt and was hard. It was frightening and sad. But I really believe we will be the better for it. I believe we are.
I was talking to Michaela the other day. She was supposed to graduate from college this year and she was going to have a great ceremony and a big party. I said that I was sorry that she would miss that, but she said something interesting. She said she was disappointed about missing the ceremony, but that she had learned a lot over these past three months. She learned about herself, she learned about government, she learned about people. She had gotten an education just when she thought her education was over. She's right.
After 62 years, when I thought I had seen it all, I've had an education, too. A few weeks ago, I had been thinking that I was disappointed that we didn't get to unveil our new state seal that our Legislature just changed to add the words, "e pluribus unum" – out of many, one. We did it back in April, because we thought the country needed to remember at this time of division that Americans are one; that we are united. To remember that our nation's founding premise and enduring promise is unity. Then I realized, in many ways we did something even better.
We didn't just put the words on our state seal, we made the words come true. We made the words come to life. In this crisis we were united, we were there one for another, we did act as one. It was extraordinary. I've never seen or felt anything like it. I ask myself and today I ask you: Why did it take a crisis to bring us together? Why does government usually appeal to the worst in us rather than the best? Why do our politics today play to our fears and weaknesses rather than appeal to our strengths? Why doesn't government challenge us to reach higher and speak to our better angels? Why can't it motivate us by love rather than hate? Why doesn't government urge us to realize we are members of the same community, the same family? That we all benefit when we work together? Isn't that what we really showed over the past 111 days? That working together works? That the only way forward, is if I protect you and you protect me. I wear a mask for you and you wear a mask for me.
If you care for me and I care for you, we showed that in the end love does win. Love does conquer all. That no matter how dark the day, love brings the light. That is what I will take from the past 111 days. It inspires me and energizes me and excites me. If we could accomplish together what we did here, this impossible task, of beating back this deadly virus, then there is nothing we can't do. We will be better and we will be stronger for what we have gone through. It shows us how capable we are when we are at our best. It shows us that we have great potential to do even more and we will.
Now New York must lead the nation on police reform and lead the way on building back better. We must lead the way on reenergizing our economy and protecting our environment and welcoming a new era of civil rights and social justice. I know that we can. We learned that our better angels are stronger than our demons and sometimes we just need to listen for them.
Over the past 111 days, we heard them and it was beautiful.
Let's keep listening together. Thank you for everything and God bless.
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), representing the counties of New York, commended Cuomo for his “early, strong and steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“County leaders, who led the local response to the global pandemic in the communities, appreciate the governor’s early intervention and daily press conferences that helped educate New Yorkers about the virus and its danger to public health and safety. Without that steadfast leadership, it would have been more difficult to contain the COVID-19 virus.
“We also applaud the governor’s work with health care facilities to build out hospital capacity, ensuring those in need would have access to quality health care during this unprecedented crisis.
“While the pandemic is not over, in New York state we implemented an action plan that can serve as a model for any state or nation to help combat a range of public health emergencies.”