Gov. Cuomo: Vaccination, state budget, reopening society are New York’s priorities

New York State

JERICHO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured a mass vaccination site in Nassau County on Monday where he gave an update on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the announcement from the governor was closed to the press. The mass vaccination site he toured is at SUNY Old Westbury of Long Island’s Nassau County, one of three new mass vaccination sites opening this week. Old Westbury, along with Brentwood and Southampton sites, will open Friday and they will all operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“New Yorkers have displayed discipline and dedication following the rules and slowing the spread, and now that we have the vaccine, those efforts are paying off,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re committed to quickly expanding the state’s vaccine distribution network to get shots in arms as quickly and efficiently as possible, and these three sites will help Long Islanders access the vaccine and gain some peace of mind as we continue battling the pandemic.

Vaccination

The governor said the state’s No. 1 priority presently is focusing on vaccinating New Yorkers. He said the vaccination process has gone well so far, but there’s a long way to go and he said the mass vaccination centers are helping turn the tide in the war against coronavirus.

The governor also said that since he’s now eligible for the vaccine in the 60+ age group, he would be getting his shot soon.

“I’m going to take mine and I’m going to take mine at a pop-up center in a Black community because I want to make the point that it’s safe,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m going to take Johnson & Johnson because I want to make that point that the Johnson & Johnson is safe, and I will be taking that in the coming days.”

The governor said it’s important to make the vaccine increasingly available in communities that have been hardest hit.

“Opening up vaccine sites in public housing, opening up vaccine site in community centers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We will bring the vaccine to those communities hardest hit. We’ve done over 120 pop-up sites already, I want to get my vaccine in a church, predominately for the Black community to make the point, but we need the Black community and Hispanic community to come forward and have confidence in this vaccine. On Long Island, about 11% of the population is Black. Only 5% have taken the vaccine — half the eligible population. Hispanic community, about 17% of the population only 8% of those vaccinated. White community vaccination is actually higher than the population. We have to fix that.”

State’s vaccination breakdown, as of Monday afternoon:

  • Total doses administered – 6,699,848
  • Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 122,778
  • Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,059,142
  • Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 22.5%
  • Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 11.6%           
 People with at least one vaccine dosePeople with complete vaccine series
RegionCumulative TotalIncrease over past 24 hoursCumulative TotalIncrease over past 24 hours
Capital Region275,5753,709139,1312,220
Central New York248,4922,822134,5802,851
Finger Lakes283,4903,936147,4712,658
Long Island510,8626,716283,7763,800
Mid-Hudson428,1026,954216,7182,524
Mohawk Valley122,5231,90165,8541,067
New York City2,038,81343,5271,009,03631,915
North Country141,8171,03279,1661,372
Southern Tier151,5463,48979,4622,293
Western New York292,5373,512162,3582,089
Statewide4,493,75777,5982,317,55252,789

State budget

The governor said the No. 2 issue New York is focusing on is the state budget, due in the coming weeks.

“We are at a pivotal moment in this state and what we do now will decide the trajectory of this state,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The budget is more than just a budget: The word budget doesn’t really work. This is not a budget, this is a plan for recovery for the state of New York. And we have real issues on Long Island. New York City has serious serious issues; growing crime, growing homelessness. Zoom has changed the world. COVID we will recover from, but Zoom isn’t going away. You can live your life a different way. You don’t have to get in a car and commute you don’t have to get in a train and commute — you can do it by zoom. So this is a very delicate moment.”

The governor said the legislature submitted another budget proposal, including a measure on legalized adult-use recreational marijuana and more revenue-raising proposals.

“Raising revenue can actually cost you revenue, if you’re not careful,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The way you do, it you may, actually lose money for the state because businesses and residents will make changes. Passing marijuana reform and legalizing recreational marijuana — we’ve tried to do that for the past three years, we have to do that this year. There’s been too many young lives ruined because of past marijuana laws. We’re very close to marijuana, but truth is we’ve been very close before.”

Reopening

The governor said the No. 3 issue the state considers a priority is reopening society: Businesses, schools, and more.

“We have to reopen the economy, we have to get back to work, we have to get people earning checks,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Part of the reopening process includes resuming traditions and events.

“We are going to start again a great Long Island tradition, which was the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, and that is going to happen this year,” Gov. Cuomo said. ‘We’ll have masks, we’ll have social distancing, but we’re going to do that again.”

The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, a popular Long Island tradition, was canceled last year due to the pandemic. Its return this year brings back a Memorial Day weekend tradition that “celebrates the beginning of summer at Long Island’s beaches, and honors military families and those who serve our country.”

“As we continue to see progress in our fight against COVID and cautiously reopen our state, we can look forward to enjoying more and more outdoor adventures this summer – including the annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park,” Gov. Cuomo said. “With safety measures in place, New Yorkers and visitors can get back to enjoying all that Jones Beach and Long Island State Parks have to offer, and this annual festival is a great way to get outdoors and support the regional Long Island economy.”

The governor said the last year has been a dark period for many, but with herd immunity on the horizon he says it’s a chance to grow from the circumstances.

“We can build back from this, and as a matter of fact we’re not going to build back, we’re going to build back better, we’re going to learn from this,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Circumstances happen, things happen, people get sick, accidents happen: The question is what you do when you get knocked on your rear end? And New Yorkers get up, and they get up stronger, and they learn the lesson and they rebuild and rebuild back better. That’s what we did after Superstorm Sandy and that’s what we will do after COVID.”

Part of building back better, according to the governor, is being better prepared for the next time something like coronavirus upends society.

“This is not the last time where we will see a pandemic,” Gov. Cuomo said. “But we won’t be caught by surprise like we were for this one.”

Coronavirus & controversy

Monday’s new statewide coronavirus data from the governor’s office is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported – 127,005
  • Total Positive – 5,807
  • Percent Positive – 4.57%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive – 3.22%
  • Patient Hospitalization – 4,517 (+31)
  • Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week – -313
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 465
  • Hospital Counties – 50
  • Number ICU – 923 (-4)
  • Number ICU with Intubation – 614 (-5)
  • Total Discharges – 153,971 (+387)
  • Deaths – 58
  • Total Deaths – 39,585

“We know that the vaccine is the weapon that will win this war, but we also know that one of the most critical actions to stopping the spread of COVID is washing your hands, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing,” Gov. Cuomo said. “As more vaccine supply comes to New York and more needles get into arms, we are that much closer to reaching our goals, but we need to remain vigilant. New Yorkers have made incredible progress that we can all be proud of but we are still in the footrace. Until the day we reach the light at the end of the tunnel, we must all remain New York Tough.”

While the coronavirus situation improves statewide, the governor is increasingly under fire in regards to multiple controversies — the latest of which involves an advisor gauging loyalty and support for the governor with implications of vaccination priority to those who are standing with the governor.

A longtime adviser to Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Earlier on Monday, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello released a statement confirming a call took place, but added that vaccines weren’t mentioned, and then he called for the governor’s resignation.

Monday afternoon, acting counsel to the governor, Beth Garvey, released a statement about the report:

“Vaccine distribution in New York is based on objective criteria to ensure it matches eligible populations, ensure equity, and ability to rapidly administer shots in arms. To be clear, Larry’s conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution — he would never link political support to public health decisions.  Distorting Larry’s role or intentions for headlines maligns a decades long public servant who has done nothing but volunteer around the clock since March to help New York get through the COVID pandemic.  Any suggestion that Larry acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false.” 

The three-term governor has rejected calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats, including New York’s two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and has asked New Yorkers to await the results of an investigation headed by state Attorney General Letitia James. Sen. Schumer, Sen. Gillibrand join in calls for Gov. Cuomo to resign 

Rochester-area Congressman Joe Morelle (D-25) has also called for the governor’s resignation.

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

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