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Cuomo says COVID-19 hot spots in New York could see "more restrictions"

Cuomo on challenging fall, new COVID cases
Governor Cuomo on a challenging fall season, possibility of statewide lockdown and new book 08:37

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are on the rise with 37 states seeing an uptick in daily cases over the last seven days. One of those states is New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled new lockdowns for nine "hot spots" where cases are surging.

"What we're doing is we are targeting what we call micro-clusters, so when we see a small group of cases, we are the firefighters who rush in to stamp it out before it takes off," Cuomo told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday. "So we have several areas in the state that are small, they're about two square miles, but wherever we see cases popping up, that's where we jump."

New York reported more than 1,000 new cases Tuesday — far fewer than the high of more than 11,000 a day in April, when the state was the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. Right now, Cuomo said, New York's overall infection rate is around 1%. But with infection rates in some states above 5%, Cuomo said he'd institute more restrictions before numbers reached the levels seen last spring.

"I never want to get that high, so what we're going to do is do more restrictions on any clusters that start, and that's how you stop it from getting statewide," Cuomo said. "Let's learn the lessons from the past seven months. This is déjà vu all over again. We're having the same conversation we had when this virus started. We've learned a lot. Let's acknowledge what we've learned, you know?"

Cuomo also acknowledged that mistakes were made in his initial handling of the virus. New York sent seniors recovering from COVID to nursing homes, where thousands caught the virus and died.

"There's no doubt that we learned lessons," Cuomo said. "The virus preyed on the weak and it preyed on people in nursing homes and most of the lives lost, the single greatest percentage is in nursing homes. And that's true all across the country. And there's also no doubt that we're in this hyper-political environment so everybody wants to point fingers. New York, actually, we're number 46 out of 50 in terms of percentage of deaths in nursing homes — 46 out of 50. So, yes, people died in nursing homes. Yes, we've learned a lot of lessons, but 46 out of 50, it's not a predominantly New York problem. If we had to do it all over again ... I would do things differently."

Cuomo said one of his biggest challenges throughout the pandemic was getting people to understand the severity of the virus in order to be effective as a leader, something he also describes in his new book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic."

"This was not really about government action," Cuomo said Tuesday. "Yes, I'm governor of the state of New York, but I can sign a piece of paper that orders people to stay home and orders businesses closed and schools closed, but that doesn't mean they're going to follow. Government, frankly, doesn't have the authenticity to take these kinds of actions or the enforcement capacity. So it was really about getting people to understand the problem so that the people actually agreed to take these actions to protect themselves."

"I knew it was unlike anything we had ever done before and I think the rule book went out the window. People in this partisan atmosphere, they're not going to listen to a politician," Cuomo said. "They're not going to listen to a governor. Nobody trusts anyone. I said to the people, basically, 'This is Andrew. My mother's Matilda. These are my daughters. This is my situation. My situation is like your situation. I'm in the same place that you are in. This is not just about information, it's about emotion, and I'm feeling the emotion that you're feeling. And I'm afraid for my family. So let's work this through together.'"

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