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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo holds a coronavirus briefing before departing New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for a COVID-19 mission to Savannah, Georgia, on Monday. Cuomo will be meeting Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson this afternoon. (Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo holds a coronavirus briefing before departing New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for a COVID-19 mission to Savannah, Georgia, on Monday. Cuomo will be meeting Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson this afternoon. (Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)

Cuomo: 2 threats remain in coronavirus battle; state will shut again if people noncompliant

Mon, Jul 20th 2020 12:20 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered the following comments in a press conference Monday morning in New York City.

We have two main threats. The first threat is the number of congregations that we're seeing across the state, but especially in downstate, primarily of young people. I have talked about this before. We saw it again over the weekend and it is a problem. It is a problem. We know enough about this virus. We know that there are inevitable consequences to our actions. If you have congregations of people, they are going to spread the virus.

Now, many of these conversations tend to be young people and young people, as a general rule, believe they’re superheroes. I understand. I was a young person once, just last week. OK, maybe not last week.

"Well, we can't get sick."

First of all, that's not a fact. There are facts and there are wrong pieces of information. You can get sick in your 20s. You can get sick. You can die in your 20s – people have. Even if you live by the theory of you're a superhero, you will take the virus and you will give it to someone else.

Unless you live in a hermetically sealed bubble, that will happen. You will go home and you will transfer to someone else who will transfer it to someone else, and you could kill someone.

So, from an aspect of any social responsibility at all, it's not just about you. It's not just about you. It's about who you could infect and who you could hurt. And it has, it has continued unabated and it's getting worse. I am telling you it is a problem. It's not a new problem, but it is growing.

To the partiers who come out, I understand the frustration. I understand you've been inside for a long time. I understand you're young. I understand people like to socialize. I get that it's the summer. I get that the work environment is not as tough, so you have the flexibility to go out. I get all of that. I really do. But, I'm telling you it has to stop. And I'm telling you in plain, New York speak, as a born and bred New Yorker, it's stupid – what you're doing. It is stupid.

“Well, that's not a governmentally appropriate word.”

It's a true word. Don't be stupid. That is good advice in life. Take it from a person who's lived a lot of life. Don't be stupid. What they're doing is stupid and reckless for themselves and for other people. And it has to stop.

To the local governments, I've said repeatedly that the local governments are in charge of compliance and enforcement. If young people are going to come out and do something stupid, the local governments have to enforce the law. That's how it works in life. And the police department has to enforce the law. And they are not doing it. And that is their job and they have to do it.

I will tell you what's going to happen. I spoke to a number of restaurant owners yesterday. We've had numerous conversations. The bad restaurant and bar owners are going to make it worse for the good ones. Most restaurants and bars are complying; they're going through a very tough economic situation, but they're living by the rules. The bad ones who are exploiting the situation and breaking the law – by the way, this is not just morality; they're breaking the law – are going to make it bad for everyone.

The local governments are not doing their job. We cannot allow those congregations to continue. If it happens, I'll tell you what's going to happen. We're going to have to roll back the opening plan. And we're going to have to close bars and restaurants. That is what we are going to have to do.

So, to local governments I say look, you don't want to enforce the law because you think it's politically unpopular, and you don't want to do something that's politically unpopular. I'll tell you what's more politically unpopular: When you're going to have to explain to the people why we had to close all bars and restaurants. That's going to be more politically difficult than telling the (police) to do their job.

This is not a point of sending out the police department to inform young people to wear a mask. They've heard that message. The police department is not there to inform them of mask compliance. Police departments have to enforce the law. They have to enforce the law. That is the only line between anarchy and civilization. They have to enforce the law. And they're not.

The bad bar, bad operators, in terms of restaurants and bars, they're going to make it bad for everyone and for themselves. We will have to roll back the bar and restaurant opening. If congregations continue, if the local governments don't stop it, that is what is going to happen. One plus one still equals two, right, and there's a logical consequence of actions, and that's where we are. That's the first threat.

Second is, we see the infection rate increasing all across the country. It's a fact: It's not getting better, it's getting worse. The theory that, “Well, New York is going to be immune from what's happening everywhere in the country,” that does not work. We were not immune from what was happening in China, and what was happening in Europe when the virus went from China to Europe, and then it came here from Italy and from France and from Spain, and the federal government never knew, and that's how New York got the virus.

An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. That's the saying that I'm going to put on plaques and give to people. If the virus is going up in the other states, we have a real challenge and a real threat, because those people come to New York.

We put in place an unprecedented quarantine program, we're enforcing it, but, it's virtually impossible to enforce with total certainty. People take trains, people drive – you know, states don't have border control agencies. We don't do border control. When you drive in from another state, you don't show your passport to anyone, right? There is no "New York passport." We don't do border control.

So, that is a very real threat and I don't see it turning around in the rest of the country any time soon. That is a predicament that we'll do everything we can to help the other states, and we are, but that is beyond our control.

That's not like the congregations and the party. Those are the two threats.


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