GOVERNOR CUOMO UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON STATE’S PROGRESS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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New York State Positivity Without Red Zone Focus Areas Included is 1.05 Percent; Full New York State Positivity is 1.12 Percent

 40 Percent of Yesterday’s Hospital Admissions from Areas in Hot Spot Zones Downstate and Southern Tier Counties State is Monitoring after Recent Increases in Cases

 12 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 641 Establishments; Observes 5 Establishments Not in Compliance

Governor Cuomo: “The President has been promoting the politics of denial on COVID and he’s done that on day one. He’s doing the politics of denial even after he had COVID And it’s a disgusting denial when you see the number of lives lost. There are some states that have followed the politics of denial and have turned it into science fiction. The theory was if you test less, you will find fewer cases, and if you find fewer cases, you have less of a problem. That’s almost a laughable concept. But you are now seeing it in the numbers as if it is an actual representation.”

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. New York State’s positivity rate without the Red Zone focus areas included was 1.05 percent for yesterday’s test results. The state’s overall positivity rate is 1.12 percent.

 In “Red Zone” focus areas included as part of the Governor’s Cluster Action Initiative, the positivity rate for test results reported yesterday is 3.70 percent – down from the 6.13 percent average from last week – however, it is important to note that weekend test results are often not reflective of the current situation and testing results over the next days will help show the impact of recent efforts to combat these outbreaks. The “Red Zone” focus areas are home to 2.8 percent of state’s population, yet had 17.6 percent of all positive cases reported last week to New York State. 

AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here

 A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

Happy Columbus Day. I’m joined by Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Gareth Rhodes, Beth Garvey. Sorry for doing the briefing late, but I was out celebrating Columbus Day, like I’m sure many of you on the telephone were doing. Before we go to the numbers, I want to make a larger point. I’ve been watching the news, TV news, reporting 30 states are showing an increase in the number of COVID cases and putting numbers on the screen on the increase of COVID cases. Many of those numbers come from extrapolating from the infection rate that the states report. I think we’re in a place where numbers are losing their meaning.

Second, COVID, I don’t believe goes away anytime soon. They talk about the fall and we’re seeing an increase across the country, which is what they projected, but this is not a second wave. A second wave is the virus mutates and comes back – that’s the second wave, right? And we’re still in the first wave, and this is just an inability to deal with the first wave nationwide. Even if they come up with a vaccine, you then have to administer the vaccine. There will be people who will not receive the vaccine for one reason or another. We went through this in the past with vaccines – some people don’t believe in vaccines and they won’t take the vaccine. Some people will be nonresponsive, some people will be hard to reach, some people won’t be able to afford it, some people will be afraid of it. So, I think it’s realistic to say, at least for a year, you will be dealing with COVID. That’s without the mutated virus, et cetera, and that may be an optimistic scenario. Doesn’t mean that once they start with the vaccine, some people won’t have the vaccination, and by the way, the vaccine, some people say you need two dosages of the vaccine, but you will still have COVID outbreaks, let’s say for a year. So, you’ll still be needing to manage COVID outbreaks for optimistically, one year of time. How you do it is very important because that’s the difference between a cluster and community spread, right?

The President has been promoting the politics of denial on COVID and he’s done that on day one. He’s doing the politics of denial even after he had COVID. “It’s not a problem, you get COVID, you get in a helicopter, you go to Walter Reed, Walter Reed sends a team of doctors and they give you experimental drugs that nobody else can get and then you’re fine.” Yeah, that’s denial. And it’s a disgusting denial when you see the number of lives lost. There are some states that have followed the politics of denial and have turned it into science fiction. The theory was if you test less, you will find fewer cases, and if you find fewer cases, you have less of a problem. That’s almost a laughable concept. But you are now seeing it in the numbers as if it is an actual representation. You look at the chart that I sent you, take a state like Florida. Florida was doing 428,000 cases – I’m sorry – 428,000 tests at their peak on a high week. 428,000 tests in a week. Last week, they did 153,000 tests. Close to a third. Why? That’s the Trump politics of denial. We only have cases because we’re testing. If we test less we will have fewer cases. So Florida goes from 428,000 tests per week to 153,000 tests.

Texas goes from 520,000 tests to 349,000 tests. Georgia goes from 210,000 tests to 132,000 tests. Arizona goes from 94,000 tests to 70,000 tests. How can your testing numbers be going down? Our testing numbers are going up because this was all about ramping up testing. Getting your state labs sophisticated on how to do testing. Acquiring the reagents. When we started testing, we could only do 500 tests per day. Five hundred tests per day. We now do 120,000 tests per day because you ramp up.

You would have to purposefully ramp down the number of tests. Why would you do that? Because it’s the politics of denial being implemented in the public health system, which is based on science-fictionScience-fiction is if you don’t test, you won’t find the positive cases and therefore, they don’t exist. That is science-fiction, but that is what you see happening in some states in this country.

When people are listening to the news or reading the news, this is how many cases, this is in this state, this is in this state, here’s the map with all these different colors. Part of it is all science-fiction because it’s not accurate because they’re not collecting data that is accurate because they don’t want to. It’s the politics of denial actualized in state data. How do you go down in the number of tests and why? And, by the way, why isn’t that reported – which would then dispel the myth, right? Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona – this is how many cases we have. No it’s not. It’s the number of cases you have discovered with your reduced number of tests. That’s just a sample.

New York, we’re doing the exact opposite. New York, our strategy is now to identify micro-clusters. What is a micro-cluster? I’ve never heard that before. You’re right, you’ve never heard it before because it’s a new term that we use in New York. We do more testing than any other state so we have more data. We also are obsessive about getting incoming case numbers from the hospital. You map those cases and you find the greatest predominance of cases in a geographic area. That is a micro-cluster. For us, the greatest number of cases in a micro-cluster is relative only to us in New York. In other words, we have a 1 percent, just about, infection rate. We find a 2 percent cluster, to us that’s a micro-cluster. To other states that’s nothing, because relatively our numbers are so much lower. So, we say in our micro-clusters we have an infection rate of 3 or 4 percent, okay? Today, for example, the micro-cluster is 3.7 percent, alright? The Red Zone. You look at the chart we sent out, 3.7 percent — Illinois statewide is 4.2. Texas is 7.6. Ohio is 3.7. Michigan is 3.3. North Carolina is 6. Jersey is 3. Florida is 11. Virginia is 4.8. Right? Georgia is 6. Pennsylvania is 7. Arizona is 6. How can you call a hot spot a micro-cluster, a micro-cluster or a hot spot if it is lower than all these other states? It’s not a national hot spot. Nationwide those numbers are better than many states. Only relative to New York do we consider it a micro-cluster. Only when you’re at 1 percent does 3 percent seem like an issue. Most of these other states would celebrate if they had 3 percent. 3 percent in a lot of states would be a safe zone. In New York it’s a micro-cluster, and we’re going to be doing more of this wherever we find a concentration of cases relative to our norm, that is a micro-cluster. It is only relevant to New York, because every other state is in a much different situation. So, when we say Red Zone, micro-cluster, Brooklyn, Queens, yes, but that is not accurate to say New York State has hot spots, which is a term we used in the state, but it’s not nationwide. A hot spot, it’s nationwide. A cool spot compared to where other states are, right? And it’s because we’re this diligent that we keep the number down. I talk to Governors all day long. They say, “how do you stay at 1 percent?” I say, when I see two cases on the same block, I run to that block. That’s how. So, yes. Hot spot, even though it’s a lower percentage than many other states. Okay? I just wanted to make sure we were clear. Because if we’re going to continue to do this we’re getting more refined in our targeting. And as we go into the Fall, and the numbers nationwide are going up, we want to purposefully keep our numbers down. Even one percent, by the way is an absurdly low margin to operate on, and unrealistic. I understand intellectually, however emotionally I want to set the bar very high, or very low if the case may be. But that’s what the chart will show you, and I just want to put this conversation in some sort of, since it’s red nationally it has to be in the national focus. Look at the New York State infection rate compared to other states where 1.1, right, and again, our hot spots are doing better than many states.

 Today’s numbers, the hot spot number is 3.7. That’s actually down but this is a holiday weekend so again take these with a grain of salt.

The state is 1.05, so we’re at one. The state, if you add in the micro-clusters, the red zones, it is at 1.1. Now, that number is also misleading because it oversamples areas that you know have an abnormally high rate, okay? Some of you reporters are political reporters. If I released a poll and said normally Democrats in a poll are 44 percent, this poll has 60 percent Democrats, you would say, yeah, but then it’s skewed. Yes. We don’t do weighting in these polls but I’m telling you we take, we’ve been oversampling the micro-clusters because we want to know what’s going on there. If you add that oversample into the statewide sample, it skews a statewide sample and that’s 1.1 but if you like to report skewed results then be my guest.

 12 New Yorkers passed away, 878 were hospitalized – that’s is up 58. The largest single identifiable addition is from the micro-clusters. The hospitalization rate is 78. Remember we were at 18,000 hospitalized so the hospitalization number to us is more relevant as an indicator for where people are, where the cases are coming from again, right? We can do it testing tells you where the cases are, hospitalizations tell you where the serious cases are, and that’s why we track the hospitalizations the way we do. 185 in ICU, 86 intubated, and that’s basically, be region, 1.1 New York City, that’s a problem, that’s Brooklyn and Queens; Capital Region 0.9; Central New York 1.4; Finger Lakes 0.8; Long Island 1.2; Mid-Hudson 1.9, that’s Rockland and Orange; Mohawk Valley 0.4; North Country 0.2; Southern Tier 0.9; Western New York 1.1. Western New York is better than it has been but we would like to see that at 1.0. Orange is 2.3; Rockland is 4.0; Broome, we have that one cluster as 3.0; Brooklyn is 1.2.

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