ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Friday to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts, and respond to an increasing amount of calls from lawmakers for him to resign.
The governor provided the following data Friday:
- 299,278 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Thursday
- 9,299 new cases
- 3.11% positivity rate statewide
- 74 new COVID-19 deaths
- 4,634 hospitalized, lowest since December 6
- 935 in ICU
- 639 intubated
“On vaccination, we have administered 6 million doses to date,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose is 21%, and the percent of New Yorkers full vaccinated is 10%.”
The governor expressed optimism about President Joe Biden’s announcement that vaccine production and distribution would be ramped up.
“That is a good thing,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Obviously, remember when we started, we were talking about June, July, August. The president is now talking about May 1. That means we have to have a tremendous increase in our capacity to vaccinate, and that is a logistical undertaking unlike anything we have done before. So we’re going to be preparing for that, but the president’s announcement that May 1, everyone will be eligible for a vaccine. What that means is in New York 15 million people will be eligible and we have to have the capacity to address those people as quickly as possible.”
To ensure availability for folks to get vaccinated, the governor said he would be signing a bill to give New Yorkers paid time off to get the shot.
“The vaccine time off bill I’m signing grants each employee in New York, both public and private, paid time off to get a COVID vaccine,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Up to four hours per shot, so this corresponds to the president’s new directive. This will ensure that all New Yorkers have the opportunity to get vaccinated. Our goal is to be the COVID-safe state.”
Earlier on Friday, multiple members of New York’s congressional delegation called the governor to resign in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment and an allegation of groping, as well as scrutiny over his administration’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.
The Democratic governor has denied he ever touched anyone inappropriately, and has said he’s sorry if he ever made anyone uncomfortable. He addressed the allegations on Friday’s conference call:
“As I have said before, and as I firmly believe my administration has always represented, women have a right to come forward and be heard — and I encourage that fully, but I also want to be clear: There is still a question of the truth,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I did not do what has been alleged, period. I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives, but I can tell you as a former attorney general, who has gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation, and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision. There are now two reviews underway.
“No one wants them [investigations] to happen more quickly and more thoroughly than I do,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Let them do it. I’m not going to argue this issue in the press, that is not how it is done, that is not the way it should be done. Serious allegations should be weighed seriously, right? That’s why they are called serious.
“As I told New Yorkers many time: There are facts and then there are opinions, and I’ve always separated the two,” Gov. Cuomo said. “When I do briefings, I put out the facts and then I offer my opinions, but they are two different concepts. Politicians who don’t know a single fact, but yet form a conclusion and opinion, are in my opinion reckless and dangerous. The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance. That my friends is politics at its worst.”
“Politicians take positions for all sorts of reason, including political expediency and bowing under pressure, but people know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Let the review proceed. I’m not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people. Part of this is that I am not part of the political club and you know what? I’m proud of it. This is all that I’m going to say on this topic at this time.
“I made a promise to the people of this state and I have a job to do,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’ve been doing it for 11 years, and this is probably the most critical time in this state’s history. Everything that I have learned in the federal government, as attorney general, as governor, I am bringing to the table at this moment. We have a budget due in two weeks for a state that is in fiscal crisis. It will be the most difficult budget we have done. We have to perform 15 million vaccinations and we have to be ready on May 1 for eligibility for the entire state — never been done before. And then we have to rebuild our state from the bottom up because we have serious issues all across the state, especially in New York City. That is my job, that’s why I was elected, that’s what I am supposed to do, and that is exactly what I am going to focus on.
“The people of this state: Look, they have known me for 40 years,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They elected me attorney general, they elected me [as governor] three times. I have been in the public eye my entire life. My entire life I have been under public scrutiny, since I was 23 years old and ran my father’s campaign. New Yorkers know me. Wait for the facts, wait for the facts. Then you can have an opinion. I am confident that when New Yorkers know the facts from the review, I am confident in the decision based on the facts, but wait for the facts. Opinion without facts is irresponsible.”
The governor said the allegations made against him are not true.
“What is being alleged simply did not happen and that’s why you have to wait to get the facts,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m not going to do it in the press, that’s not how it should be done, it doesn’t respect anybody’s rights.”
The governor ended the conference call by saying he had not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate.
On Thursday, Cuomo announced that beginning April 1, domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York State due to declining COVID-19 cases and increasing vaccinations.
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.