NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Speaks with Mayor Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, FL
Today during his Tele-Press Conference, NY Governor Cuomo had St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman as a guest.
The Governor announced how New York been helping St. Petersburg over the past few days with a testing site and with PPE (personal protective equipment) in the form of test kits, gowns, gloves and masks.
Aside from being on New York State’s travel advisory watch-list, Florida’s been struggling in its battles with the COVID-19 crisis. The state has been recently setting national records for the number of new cases in one day and quite a number of its hospitals have been hitting full capacity.
Mr. Cuomo pledged long ago to help other states in their times of need just as they were there to help New York during its worst days of the crisis. Thus, Governor shared his thoughts, well wishes and thanks with Mayor Kriseman.
Transcript for this audio follows below.
“We have a special guest with us today who I would like to speak about and speak with at the beginning of the call. Then I’ll go through the numbers for the day. We have a team on the ground in St. Petersburg, Florida today, and we’re joined by Mayor Rick Kriseman. The team has been working with St. Petersburg over the past few days. We’ll be setting up a testing site today. Working with St. Petersburg and we’re sending down some necessary materials. We’re sending down 7,500 test kits, 7,500 gowns, 11,000 pairs of gloves, 7,500 N95 masks, 124,000 surgical masks, 7,500 face shields, 1,250 gallons of our New York clean, special hand sanitizer. You try that hand sanitizer, mayor, your hands will never be the same, I can promise you that. But it will kill the COVID virus, and it’ll give you a special tingling sensation.
Mayor, it’s our pleasure to be of help. You know, I was, as you know, New York went through this first, and I asked, at one point, on one dark day, when I was doing the briefing, I asked Americans to volunteer to come help us. We were overwhelmed in the hospitals, and I asked for doctors and nurses who could come help New York. And 30,000 people volunteered, 30,000 doctors and nurses. And I’ll tell you, it was one of the really powerful experiences of my life, actually. 30,000 doctors and nurses volunteer to come to New York, to go into an emergency room at the height of this frightening COVID pandemic. I was so shocked at just the generosity, the courage, the love that people showed. I said at that time, I can’t express the gratitude, I said and, we will be there for you. It was really America at its best, you know, it was that neighborliness, that barn-raising spirit, I help you, you help me, I’m your neighbor, you’re my neighbor.
I had seen it after 9/11, where people from all across the country came to New York to be supportive. But I tell you, I was really personally touched, and I said on behalf of all New Yorkers, whatever anyone needs, we will be there. And I spoke for all New Yorkers when I said that and they have reinforced that and I want to honor it. And we’ve been doing that. We know what you’re going through. We’ve been watching the numbers. We’ve been watching the news. We’re sorry that you have to go through it. You’re in our thoughts and our prayers.
I want to personally applaud you, mayor. You were right early on. You were right on the stay-at-home order. You were right on the intelligence of wearing masks. Literally if we had followed your advice in those calls, this nation would be in a difference place. I was saying basically the same thing in New York that you’ve been saying in St. Petersburg. The stay-at-home order works, the masks work, we should have taken this seriously sooner. I also agree with you on the young people. That’s where we’re seeing the increase in the numbers. We’re struggling with it here in New York with bars and restaurants. But I applaud your leadership, I know it’s hard to speak, especially when you’re the first one uttering the thoughts, and these are not popular thoughts, you know. Nobody wants to stay home, nobody wants to have to wear a mask. But it’s a test of leadership, and it’s also a period in history where you really see what people are made of, you know. When the pressure is on, that’s when the character comes to life, and we’ve seen a lot of character and we’ve seen people who were under pressure and they didn’t stand up frankly but you did stand up and you were right and you’ve been doing a great job in St. Petersburg before this.
I was the former HUD Secretary so I had a lot of experience working with mayors all across the country and I know a good mayor when I see one and you are a good mayor so it’s our pleasure to be helpful.
The testing site, I spoke with them this morning. They said that’s going well today. I’m sure you need the supplies. Anything else you need we’re here but in the meantime just keep going. We’re together. We’re Americans. We’re your neighbors to the north. We obviously have a lot of New Yorkers who go down to Florida and I grew up in Queens. Everyone moved to Florida when they were finished in New York so there’s a lot of commonality and we’re with you in spirit and we’re with you as a neighbor. Anything you need we’re here. You stand strong but thank you for joining us this morning, mayor.”
“Well, thank you, Governor, and first off, thank you for the very kind comments. I do remember when you made some of the comments about wanting to provide assistance and I’ve been in elected office now for almost 20 years and I know politicians oftentimes will say a lot of things and make a lot of promises but you, sir, you follow through and you did exactly what you said you were going to do and that’s not something that a lot of politicians unfortunately do and I agree with you it is a test to leadership and again, Governor, you and your team, the leadership that you have provided, the assistance that you’ve given us and the donations but equally important how you’ve communicated. We’re not getting good, clear concise, factually-based communications from Washington, a lot of state capitols it’s not coming from, but we’ve gotten it from you. Your residents have, really the entire country, I think has really benefitted from how clear and concise and just accurate you’ve been in everything that you said and commanding and I certainly appreciate it. It helps me as a mayor do my job when the message that’s being put out is clear.
In St. Petersburg and the county that we’re in in Pinellas we’ve tried to be leaders. We were the first to take, among one of the first, to take actions related to a safer at-home initiative, mask mandates, and I think it’s really helped get our numbers on track to really start reducing the positivity rate. Our county in Pinellas is one of the most densely populated in the state of Florida and yet we’re the largest county over the past several days, the past week, that has a positivity rate that is now under 7 percent and it’s because mask orders work and you, sir, you showed us that. You showed it in New York and we’re following it here and we wish all of Florida quite frankly would have a mask mandate. I think our state would be doing better but I got to thank you again for the support.
I agree widespread testing is key. Our hospitals have been overstressed and so the PPE that you’re sending us, the supplies you’re sending us, is really critical and I’d like to give the press a really clear example of the impact that you and the State of New York are having on us here in St. Pete. We are the home of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital which is the only Hopkins facility outside Baltimore and it’s here in St. Pete and they’re taking care of kids that are suffering with COVID-19 and they emailed us and said if they could have more iPads that could help them meet the increased request for virtual appointments and therapies and you all delivered and you’ve made that request a possibility and a reality and it’s going to impact the kinds and our community and the families of these kids and so again I can’t thank you enough – and then the testing site.
It is in a neighborhood where we have disproportionately impacted zip codes, a couple of zip codes where we are seeing our highest levels of positive testing and they are the neighborhoods of our largest minority population and so for us to be able to do testing there and be able to get the data related to that test really will help us in trying to address and target what steps we need to take to try and reduce the positivity in those zip codes too. So, again, on behalf of the entire community and the 270,000 residents of this great city I have to say thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“Thank you very much, Mayor, very kind of you. I appreciate it. I truly do. And I agree with everything you said. On the testing in those hotspot zip codes, that’s very important, you know, and SOMOS Community Care is working with us up here and we brought them down there and they’re the ones setting up the testing site. You’re also right that at the end of the day leadership mattered here, you know? Government has been sleepy for a lot of years in many ways. You didn’t really need government to step up on a critical mission, this is a critical mission. And you said you’ve been in public service 20 years, experience shows, character shows and yours did, my friend. Anything you need, we are here. Thank you for your kind words. It’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation, you know, I thought that New York went first because we had the virus that came from Europe, nobody realized it, everybody was talking about China. The virus left China before any of these geniuses knew it, it went to Europe and then it came to New York from Europe, literally on the plane that’s where the flights landed. So we got hit very hard, we were ambushed. But, we would have liked to think that we would have learned the lessons as New York was going through it and that we knew what the future was and we handled it differently. We didn’t do that. But you stood up, you led and I’m proud to call you a friend. Anything you need, we are here, we are here. So thank you, Mayor. Thank you very much.”
“Thank you so much, Governor.”