SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Tuesday where he updates New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts, discussed expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, and addressed allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

New York state’s COVID-19 stats, as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to the governor:

  • 5,797,480 total doses administered
  • 19.4% of New Yorkers with at least one dose
  • 9.6% of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series
  • 156,774 doses administered over past 24 hours

Tuesday’s statewide coronavirus data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported – 174,514
  • Total Positive – 6,850
  • Percent Positive – 3.93%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive – 3.16%
  • Patient Hospitalization – 4,899 (+69)
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week – -470
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 478
  • Hospital Counties – 51
  • Number ICU – 1,011 (+6)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 675 (+6)
  • Total Discharges – 150,813 (+340)
  • Deaths – 75
  • Total Deaths – 39,169

“The White House says we’ll have a flat allocation for the next two weeks, and there’s a larger Johnson & Johnson surge that we’re administering this week,” Gov. Cuomo said on Tuesday’s conference call. “Last week of March into April, it should increase dramatically, so we will be increasing our capacity in anticipation of that increase.”

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the New York State Fairgrounds near Syracuse, which is temporarily operating as a state-run COVID-19 vaccine distribution site, and he announced expanded vaccine eligibility.

The governor said it’s the fairgrounds is the second largest mass vaccination site in the country, and it administered nearly 10,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses over the past 24 hours, second in the nation and only trailing another state site, the Javits Convention Center in New York City which the governor toured Monday.

“We are now coming down to the end,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Are we at the end? No. That’s why we need to stay safe and stay smart with masks and distancing, but this is the beginning of the end because the vaccine is the weapon that will end this war.”

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The governor announced the age requirement for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will change from 65+ to 60+ effective Wednesday at 8 a.m.

“We’re going to drop the 65-year-old-plus to 60-year-old-plus and that’s going to start tomorrow,” Gov. Cuomo said. “60-year-old-plus are going to be available, they can start making appointments tomorrow. They can make them at the mass vaccination sites they can make them, at pharmacies, but that will start 8 a.m. tomorrow.”

Additionally, the governor said beginning March 17, all vaccination sites will be able to vaccinate anyone who is currently eligible, with pharmacies as the lone exception.

“So whether you’re going to a county-run site, a city-run site — every site can vaccinate everyone who is eligible with one exception: Pharmacies will still only be doing 60-plus and teachers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Pharmacies will do 60-plus and teachers — we want to get those schools open. Every other site will be doing every other person who is eligible.”

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The governor announced further eligibility expansion for public-facing employees.

“Also on March 17, next Wednesday, the public facing public employees will also be eligible, non-profit, public-facing emergency employees, and employees who are providing necessary services will also be available,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Essential public workers will also be available. These are the people who are the every day heroes who are out there doing their job, they’re putting themselves in a possible exposure.”

The governor reiterated the importance of equity and fairness in the vaccination process.

“We’ve talked about this from day 1: COVID discriminates, COVID discriminates by race,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They say the virus is race blind. Yes and no. It will infect anyone, but by circumstance it will affect Blacks and Hispanics more than whites. When it comes to the vaccine, it is very important that we correct that injustice and we make sure that we have access to everyone.”

The governor also announced Monday 10 additional mass vaccination sites, like the one recently activated at the former Kodak Hawkeye parking lot in Rochester, will soon be coming online in different regions throughout the state.

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“We want to stop this virus, we have to stop the virus,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You know how you win the war? You go out and you win the war, you go out and you defeat the enemy, the enemy doesn’t defeat themselves. You know how you crush them? You crush them with the vaccine, but we have to take it, but then let’s get back to work and rebuild the economy. This vaccine is the ticket — we just have to make it happen.”

The governor’s appearance at the fairgrounds was closed to the press. He did not take questions and did not address separate investigations into his administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, or the recent sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior allegations lobbed against him. He was asked about the allegations on the afternoon conference call.

Tuesday, a sixth woman came forward with a new allegation against the governor of inappropriate behavior. According to the Albany Times Union, the woman told a supervisor that Cuomo inappropriately touched her while she was at the governor’s mansion for work.

Her identity is being withheld but the paper reports she is a member of the executive chamber staff. Acting Counsel Beth Garvey told the Times Union all allegations are “going promptly to the investigators appointed by the attorney general.”

When asked about the latest claim, the governor said he had not heard about it as of Tuesday afternoon.

“First, I’m not aware of any other claim,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is very simple, I never touched anyone inappropriately. No one ever told me at the time that I made them feel comfortable. The sense of people was that they wanted an independent investigation, and I’m going to respect that investigation. It will get the facts — every woman has the right to come forward.”

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When asked about the governor’s calls in the past for former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to resign when he was accused of sexual harassment, the governor said there are varying degrees of allegations.

“There’s a spectrum of allegations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There’s capital crimes, physical violence. I told [my daughters] what I told you. I never touched anyone inappropriately. You can allege something, it might true, it might be untrue, that is what the investigation will do.”

When asked if the governor would go forward with a campaign for a fourth term next year, while facing current instigations, the governor said “today is not a day for politics.”

“You don’t know any facts yet,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You know allegations, you don’t know facts. Let’s operate on facts. Let’s get the facts, then we’ll discuss.”

Full press conference

Full conference call audio

Check back with News 8 WROC as we update this developing story.