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Coronavirus Update: Cuomo Says Decisions About Reopening Are Actually About How Much A Human Life Is Worth

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that decisions about reopening - and the increased pressure to reopen - are essentially questions about how much is a human life worth.

"There's a cost to staying closed, no doubt. Economic cost, personal cost. There's also a cost to reopening quickly. Either option has a cost," Cuomo said. "The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost, but the higher the human cost because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making. What is that balance? What is that tradeoff?"

Cuomo pointed to changing federal models which show the national death toll increasing from 60,000 to 134,000 and the number of daily cases increasing from 25,000 to 200,000.

"When you accelerate the reopening, you will have more people coming in contact with other people. You're relaxing social distancing. The more people in contact with other people, the higher the infection rate of the spread of the virus. The more people get infected, the more people die. We know that. And that's why the projection models are going up," Cuomo said.


"That is the hard truth that we are all dealing with. And let's be honest about it, and let's be open about it, and let's not camouflage the actual terms of the discussion that we're happening. And the question comes back to how much is a human life worth?" he added. "That's the real discussion that no one is admitting openly or freely, but we should. To me, I say, the cost of a human life - a human life is priceless, period. Our reopening plan doesn't have a trade-off. Our reopening says you monitor the data."

Cuomo made a passionate appeal to the federal government to provide state and local governments with money in a stimulus bill to help them recover from the economic devastation the pandemic has wrought.

WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Coronavirus Update 

"'Bailout.' This is the topic of whether or not the federal government should provide aid to state governments," Cuomo said. "It's the state and local governments that fund police, fire, education, teachers, health care workers. If you starve the states, how do you expect the states to fund this entire reopening plan?"

He pointed to legislation the federal government passed that helped airlines, small businesses and hotels.

WEB EXTRA: See Gov. Cuomo's May 5, 2020 Presentation Slides (.pdf) 

"So the debate now is, well, it's the blue states that have the coronavirus," Cuomo said. "And the Republicans are saying we don't want to give money to the blue states. First of all, this is not a blue state issue. Every state has coronavirus cases. It's not just Democratic states that have an economic shortfall. Republican states have an economic shortfall.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"No blue state was asking for a bailout before this coronavirus," he added. "How do you call it a 'bailout,' which is such a loaded word, such a rhetorical, hyperbolic word. 'It's a bailout.' There's no bailout. Because of the coronavirus, this nation has been impacted and states have been impacted. Because the states make up the nation, and we need financial help because of the coronavirus situation."

Cuomo said that New York has contributed more money to the federal government than it has received for decades.

He also said the coronavirus pandemic represents the right time to reimagine the education system. The pandemic and social distancing has made it necessary to hold virtual classrooms and integrate technology.

"It's not about just reopening schools. When we are reopening schools, let's open a better school, let's open a smarter education system," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said New York will partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reimagine education and come up with a new normal.

Hospitalizations, intubations and new hospitalizations for COVID-19 are all down, but 230 additional people have died from coronavirus.

"There's no doubt that we're coming down the mountain, the only question is what trail we take, what path we take coming down the mountain, how does that decline continue, does that decline continue. And that is purely a function of what we do," Cuomo said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Coronavirus Shutdown 30 Days In

The governor again urged all New Yorkers to wear a mask when in the presence of other people, calling it "the right thing to do."

The governor said he is calling on New Yorkers to submit user-created ads urging people to wear masks. You can find out more information by CLICKING HERE.

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