Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Cuomo said he can't predict when the hospitalization and death rate numbers will drop to the necessary threshold required for reopening certain regions because as he put it, "we all failed" at predicting.
"Now, people can speculate. People can guess. I think next week, I think two weeks, I think a month," Cuomo told reporters on Memorial Day. "I'm out of that business because we all failed at that business. Right? All the early national experts. Here's my projection model. Here's my projection model. They were all wrong. They were all wrong."
Cuomo's rare admission came during an event at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City when a reporter asked the governor when hard-hit New York City might reopen.
Cuomo mentioned the statewide criteria that regions needed to hit to phase out of quarantine, which included a 14-day decline in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. But, he admitted he didn't "want to guess" when the Big Apple could meet the benchmark because past projections have been wrong.
"There are a lot of variables. I understand that. We didn't know what the social distancing would actually amount to. I get it, but we were all wrong," Cuomo said. "So, I'm sort of out of the guessing business, right? We watched the numbers. We prepare as the numbers drop, so when the number actually hits the threshold, we're ready to go. We just finished that. We're in the midst of that with Long Island, Mid-Hudson region, etc. But... I don't want to guess."
Cuomo revealed Saturday that for the first time since March 24, daily deaths in New York dropped below 100 and Long Island was set to meet the criteria he set out for a phase-one reopening this week.
Under the metrics, regions must have a decline in hospitalizations and deaths and meet testing and contact-tracing benchmarks.
Cuomo's comments on Monday spoke to long-running concerns about the reliability of models that have informed governors and mayors and federal officials imposing historic lockdown measures that crushed the U.S. economy.
The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), for instance, has faced criticism for fluctuations in its predictions for total U.S. deaths. Amid these varying predictions, the U.S. nevertheless is poised to surpass 100,000 total deaths from coronavirus in a matter of days.
Cuomo, who has faced criticism in recent weeks for the soaring number of deaths at nursing homes in his state and for a policy that until recently sent coronavirus-positive patients back into those facilities, also was asked Monday about testing policies.
Cuomo said patients were being tested, though the requirements really applied more to staff than to patients.
New York has seen over 362,000 COVID-19 cases and over 23,000 deaths, according to the latest estimates.
During the Monday news conference, Cuomo also announced that state and local governments will provide death benefits for frontline workers who died from COVID-19 during the pandemic, including transit workers, public-health employees and first responders. Their local or state pension funds would pay out the benefit, Cuomo said.
Fox News' Tara Prindiville contributed to this report.