Saturday, May 2, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces Results of Completed Antibody Testing Study of 15,000 People Show 12.3 Percent of Population has Covid-19 Antibodies

  Today is Saturday. I know that because it's on the slide, otherwise I may not have known that. I follow the days by what's on the PowerPoint. Everybody talks about this is uncharted waters, that we've never been here before, and that's true. But even when you are in uncharted waters, that doesn't mean you proceed blindly, right. 

So uncharted waters doesn't mean proceed blindly, right? It means get information, get data, the best you can, and use that data to decide where you're going. So, especially in this situation, you have so much emotion, you have politics, you have personal anxiety that people feel, social anxiety, social stress. Let's stick to the facts, let's stick to the data, let's make sure we're making the best decisions with the best information that we have. So, we do a lot of testing, a lot of tracking to find out where we are.

We test number of hospitalizations. Every night we find out how many people are in the hospital the day before, and we've been tracking that. Good news is that number is down a tick again today. The net change in hospitalizations is down tick. Intubations is down, which is very good news. The new cases walking in the door, the new COVID cases, the number of new infections, was also down a little bit, 831. It had been relatively flat at about 900 every day, which is not great news. Yesterday was 831. We'll watch to see what happens with that. The number that I watch every day, which is the worst, is the number of deaths. That number has remained obnoxiously and terrifyingly high, and it's still not dropping at the rate we would like to see it drop. It even went up a little bit, 299, 289 the day before. That is bad news. Two hundred and seventy-six deaths in hospitals, 23 in nursing homes. As everybody knows, nursing homes are where the most vulnerable population and the highest number of the most vulnerable population.

Again, use the data, use information to determine actions. Not emotions, not politics, not what people think or feel, but what we know in terms of facts. We've been sampling all across the state to determine the infection rate so we know if it's getting or if it's getting worse. We've done the largest survey in the nation testing for people who have antibodies. If somebody has antibodies, it means that that person was infected. That's what the antibody test does for you. It tells you that that person was infected. They've now recovered so that they have antibodies. I went through this with my brother Chris. He got infected, he now has the antibodies. So if you test him, he tests positive for antibodies.

We've been doing these antibody testings all across the state. We have the largest sample now, over 15,000 people which is an incredibly large sample. When we started on the 22nd, we have 2,900 people surveyed at that time. We had about a 13.9 percent, just about 14 percent, infection rate statewide. It then went up to about 14.9 and today it is down to 12.3. Now, statisticians will say this is all plus or minus in the margin of error, but it's a large sample, it is indicative, 14.9 down to 12.3. As you can see, we test about every 4 or 5 days. We have so much at stake, so many decisions that we have to make that we want to get those data points as quickly as we can.

Seeing it go down to 12 percent, may only be a couple of points, but it's better than seeing it go up, that's for sure. Again, this is outside the margin of error so this is a good sign. It is 15,000 people surveyed so it's a large number. You can then start to look at where in the state, who in the state, so that will inform our strategy. You can see it's a little bit more male than female, not exactly sure why that is. In New York City, you see the number went from 21 to 24 and it's down to 19.9. Again, that's a good sign. You always want to see the number dropping rather than the number increasing. Within New York City you see the Bronx is high, 27 percent, Brooklyn 19, Manhattan 17, Queens 18, Staten Island 19. We're going to do more research to understand what's going on there. Why is the Bronx higher than the other boroughs?

Statewide, you see it's basically flat. This is predominantly an issue for New York City, then Long Island, then the northern suburbs, then the rest of the state. But Erie County, which is Buffalo, New York has been problematic. The racial breakdown we're looking at to study disproportionate impact, who is paying the highest price for this virus what's happening with poorer communities, what's happening with the racial demographics, overlaid over the income demographics, and also if there's any information that could be instructive.

We're still getting about 900 new infections every day walking into the hospital. That is still an unacceptably high rate. We're trying to understand exactly why that is, who are those 900? Where is it coming from? What can we do to now refine our strategies to find out where those new cases are being generated, and then get to those areas, get to those place, get to those people to try to target our attack.

If you remember we had the first cluster in the nation. The first hot spot even before they called them hot spots was New Rochelle, Westchester. There was a tremendous outbreak in New Rochelle. We then sent all sorts of resources into New Rochelle and we actually reduced that hot spot.

We're going to distribute today 7 million masks to just those communities in nursing homes, poorer communities, people in public housing in New York City, New York City Housing Authority, so we'll be doing that today. Seven million masks is a large number. There is about 9 million people in New York City total 7 million masks will make a big difference.

We're also funding food banks. The more this has gone on, the longer people are without a job, the longer people are without a check, basics like paying rent and buying food become very important. We have addressed the rent issue, the immediate urgent need. Nobody can be evicted for nonpayment of rent and that's true through June. So, people are stable in their housing environment.
The next basic need is food right and we're operating food banks. We just funded $25 million more in food banks. All the food banks will tell you that the demand is way, way up and we need help in funding the food banks. There are lot of philanthropy, a lot of foundations that are in the business of helping people. Well if you're foundation or not-for-profit, or philanthropy, or a person who wants to help, we could use more funding for food banks. The state budget is also very stressed with what's going on. So, we don't have the state funds to do what's need. But we would appreciate donations for the food banks.

And to keep our transit workers safe and to keep the public safe, the riding public, we're going to do something that has never been done before. And that is that the MTA is going to be disinfecting every train 24 hours. This is such a monumental undertaking I can't even begin to describe it to you. The New York City subway system has never been closed. It operates 24 hours a day because we have a 24-hour city. We're taking the unprecedented step during this pandemic of closing the system for four hours at night from 1:00 a.m. to 5 a.m. when the ridership is lowest. The ridership is lower to begin with. It's down about 90 percent because of everything, but its lowest during 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. We're going to close it from 1:00 a.m. to 5 a.m., the MTA is going to literally disinfect every train and I just view the operations on how they're doing it, it's smart, it's labor intensive. People have to wear hazmat suits. They have a number of chemicals that disinfect, but literally you have to go through the whole train with a misting device where they spray disinfectant literally on every surface. You know this virus, they're just studying it now, but there are reports that say the virus can live two or three days on some surfaces like stainless steel. You look at the inside of a subway car, you look at the rails, you look at the bars, they're all stainless steel. So, to make sure the transit workers are safe, to make sure the riding public is safe, the best thing you can do is disinfect the whole inside of the car, as massive a challenge as that is. But that's what the MTA is doing and they're doing it extraordinarily well.

You know, this was a delicate balance all along. We needed New Yorkers to understand how dangerous this virus was, and we communicated that early on, so that when we want stay home, people understood they should really stay home, right? New Yorkers can be a cynical bunch, and just because a governor says stay home, they're not going to stay home unless they understand why they need to stay home. So, we presented those facts, but at the same time we're saying to essential workers, after hearing just how dangerous the virus is, and by the way, you have to go for work tomorrow. And they did. And if the essential workers didn't, then you would have seen a real problem. If you don't have food on the shelves, if you don't have power to homes, if you don't have basic services, if the police don't show up, if the fire department doesn't show up, if the EMTs don't show up, if the ambulances don't run, if the nurses don't show up, if the doctors don't show up, then you are at a place where you've never been before.
So, after communicating how dangerous this situation was, the next breath was, but frontline workers, you have to show up. And then did. And they did. And they did their job. That's an extraordinary example of duty and honor and respect and love for what they do and who they are and love for their brothers and sisters in the community. And they demonstrated it. They didn't say it. They demonstrated it, every day when they get up and they leave their house. So, God bless them all, but we also have to do what we have to do to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep them safe, and this heroic effort on cleaning the subways is part of that. And we will continue it, because we are New York tough, but tough doesn't mean just tough, it means smart, it means united, it means disciplined and it means loving. You can be tough and you can be loving. They're not inconsistent. Sometimes you have to be tough to be loving. And that's what New York is all about.

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