Gov. Cuomo warns mass protests could exacerbate COVID-19 spread

 
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he stands with the protesters who have been demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, but warned that mass rallies could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.
"Don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," the governor said. He noted that New York City has been on track to begin Phase I of reopening on June 8 -- but said the implications of this weekend's rallies on any potential spikes in coronavirus would not be seen for weeks.
"How many super spreaders were in that crowd?" he asked, adding that people who attended in close proximity to others could now be spreading the virus to their families.
The governor said Monday that New York's coronavirus numbers on hospitalizations and intubations continue to trend in a positive direction. The state saw 54 deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours.
The governor's remarks came after a weekend of unrest in New York City with multiple massive protests that occasionally erupted in violence. The protests across the state and the nation were sparked in response to Floyd's death while he was restrained by a Minneapolis police officer. The officer has since been charged with murder.
BRIEFING NOTES:
-Cuomo says numbers continue to trend well, with intubations and hospitalizations down. There were 54 deaths in last 24 hours. Cuomo says 2% positive rate in all COVID testing.
-5 regions have entered Phase II; Western NY region on track to move to Phase II tomorrow, Capital region on track for Phase II on Wednesday. Final determination on Western NY will be announced this afternoon pending data review.
-Cuomo notes the progress New York has made. He says NYC is still on track to begin Phase I reopening next week -- but he warns that mass protests seen in the city this weekend 'could exacerbate COVID-19 spread.' 
-'Don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,' Cuomo says on having mass protests amid the pandemic.
-He reiterates that he shares the outrage and stands with protester who are demonstrating against the death of George Floyd.
-The violence in these protests obscures the 'righteousness' of their calls for change, Cuomo says. He says incidents of looting and violence gives people the right to dismiss the protests as a whole.
-Cuomo says he believes there are people who are using the protests and this moment to 'sow the seeds of anarchy.' He says there is 'no doubt there are outside groups who come in to disrupt.' He says there are also people who are just using this moment 'to steal.'
-Due to the nature of the virus, Cuomo says we won't now the impacts of the rallies on spreading the virus for weeks. "How many super spreaders were in that crowd?" he says, noting that people who attended in close proximity to others could now be spreading the virus to their families.
 
-Cuomo says he has the National Guard on standby and has told mayors across the city that they are ready to help respond to protests if necessary. He says NYC has its own massive force but the National Guard could also go there if needed.
-Cuomo says the actions of some NYPD officers responding to the protests are "very disturbing" and have "exacerbated" the tensions, and he references videos of police cruises driving into crowds, protests being shoved or having their masks pulled down and sprayed with pepper spray. "Drive the car into the crowd, you should be fired," he says -- but says the attorney general will review the incidents at his request. He says he will be speaking to the mayor, and says that while there is a review underway, that "doesn't mean you do nothing in the interim."
PHOTOS: Protests in Brooklyn over death of George Floyd