NEW YORK, N.Y. - On Saturday, Governor Cuomo touted the state’s progress on two fronts: responding to protesters' demands for police reform and fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, as hospitalizations and deaths reached new lows.
Cuomo said 32 New Yorkers died statewide on Friday.
The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized was 1,734, the lowest since March 20. “We’ve done it. We have tamed the beast. We are now 180 degrees on the other side,” he said.
On policing, Cuomo touted his executive order signed Friday — dubbed the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative — that requires localities to pass comprehensive reform plans by next April or risk losing state funding. Calling it "a moment to turn the page on this entire issue,” Cuomo said the measure provides communities a seat at the table in remaking their local police force.
“This is a new stage. People are still out protesting. You don’t need to protest,” Cuomo said. "You won. You accomplished your goal. Society says, ‘You’re right. The police need systemic reform.' That was accomplishment one. Now go to step two. What reform do you want?"
Asked to clarify what penalties cities and counties might face in the absence of a new policing plan, Cuomo said the state could “theoretically” withhold all funding, not just police funding. Funds for vital health and human services would be protected.
“It will in any case be a significant amount of funding,” he said. As for the April 1, 2021 deadline, Cuomo said: "Why nine months? It takes nine months to give birth. And we’re going to birth a new vision for a police force, community by community.”
Also during the briefing, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker defended the decision to shutter sleepaway camps this summer, calling it “one of the tougher decisions that I’ve had to make.” He cited the risks of children eating, sleeping and using bathrooms in a communal setting. “Social distancing in these situations is just not possible,” he said. “So what will happen is that the virus will get into one of these camps, and it will spread.”
While crediting New Yorkers for pushing down the COVID-19 transmission rate well below other areas of the country, Cuomo also admonished protesters and police alike to wear masks. “Wear a mask. It is the state law. It’s not an option."