Dec 16, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 16

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 16
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 16

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on December 16 to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.

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Governor Cuomo: (00:00)
Mr. Larry Schwartz, former secretary to me, former secretary to governor Patterson has been helping us on the surgeon flex and vaccination process. As a good volunteer and is a good friend to the state chancellor Jim Malatras, please refer to him as chancellor. Deputy director of operations, Kelly Cummings, who makes everything work and run and gets things done. Amen. Dr. Howard Zucker, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. Robert Mujica budget director, and many other hats, MTA, CUNY, and the best sense of humor in the place. Where we are today’s day 291. Here are the numbers for today. Statewide positivity without micro-clusters, 5.8. With micro-cluster, 6.2. Micro-cluster positivity 760,000 tests, 95 deaths. They are in our thoughts and prayers. Statewide hospitalizations, 115. ICU up 33, incubations up 31.

Governor Cuomo: (01:18)
Percent of population hospitalized, this is important and it’s varied. Western New York knock for Micah, seems to have flattened and is reducing, they’re at .04. That is good news. We’ve been steadfast on the message there, and I think people get it and people are understanding and we want to get Western New York in good shape. The Bills are doing great. So that’s good news. Southern tier is doing well. Mid-Hudson’s doing well. Finger Lakes is not doing well. That’s been a problem for the past couple of weeks. Finger Lakes is now more of a problem than Buffalo. North country, Mohawk Valley capital region, Long Island, New York City is actually the lowest percent, second only to the North country, in the state. So that is interesting. Positivity rate basically tells the same story. Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes. I spoke to a number of hospitals in the Finger Lakes area, Monroe, et cetera. But we need to really focus there. Western New York, again, we’re seeing some progress. But Finger Lakes, central New York, we have to watch. Southern tier lowest positivity than New York city. So that’s interesting also.

Governor Cuomo: (03:07)
Within New York City, look at this variance. Manhattan, 2.7. Staten Island, 5.3, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, all about the same. Staten Island higher than Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx. There’s no reason for that. Staten Island is not as crowded, it’s not as dense. Doesn’t have as much mass transit as some of the other boroughs. There’s no reason for that. So we’re continuing to focus on Staten Island. Where is New York overall compared to the rest of the nation? We are doing very, very well. Were still lower than anyone besides Maine, Hawaii, Vermont, which is extraordinary. Remember, this is an international phenomenon. It’s a national phenomenon. That tide goes up. We’re a boat on the tide. Somehow we have resisted the surge of the tide and we’re doing better than almost any state in the nation. God bless New Yorkers. I believe in New Yorkers, and that’s what that is.

Governor Cuomo: (04:24)
You look at the headlines, New York is on a path towards full shut down. New York headed for shut down. Shut down coming after Christmas. Prepare for shutdown. Is a close down possible in January? Yes. Yes. First of all, anything is possible. Second of all, you look at these increases nationally. Of course, it is possible. You already see states, other states closing down. Big states closing down. Why are they closing down and we’re not? Their numbers are higher than our numbers, that’s the chart I just showed you. So the states with the higher numbers are already closing down. But there’s a big, but, and that’s a big but. Big B-U-T. But, no one knows because it is up to us. What will happen in three weeks? What will happen in four weeks? You tell me what you are going to do over the next three weeks or four weeks and I’ll tell you what’s going to happen, right?

Governor Cuomo: (05:40)
We know there’s been an increase over the past few weeks. But, that doesn’t determine what happens going forward. I put on a pound a week for the past four weeks. Well then in another month I’ll weigh four pounds more. No, it depends on what you do, and that’s where we are. There’s a great quote, “Don’t speculate about the future. Create the future.” You know who said that?

Speaker 1: (06:17)
AJ Parkinson.

Governor Cuomo: (06:19)
AJ Parkinson, right. Don’t speculate. Maybe this, maybe this, maybe this, maybe that. Create the future. It is all in our control. New Yorkers can stop a shutdown, New Yorkers can save a lot, save lives. It depends on what we do and we just have to do it. And New Yorkers are good at doing it. Slow the spread, manage the hospitals, administer the vaccine. Slow the spread, personal responsibility small home gatherings. It’s happening in your living room. Personal responsibility, I’m not going out. I’m just staying home and inviting friends over. Danger alert Will Robinson. You have to be smart, personal responsibility. Local governments, do your job and enforce the rules. Enforce the rules and get the information to the general public. We’re starting a new series of PSA campaigns. Celebrate the holidays smart. Be smart, healthy holidays. They always say happy and healthy holidays. Focus on the healthy this year. Healthy holiday season.

Governor Cuomo: (07:32)
Hospital management, Dr. Zucker is sending a letter to all the hospitals. Hospitals have to shift to crisis management mode. Crisis hospital management is a different state of mind for hospitals. Hospitals run as individual hospitals or as systems, and they don’t really interact that much with each other. That culture has to change 180 degrees, and what has to happen is a hospital system, meaning a hospital group that has more than one hospital. They have seven hospitals, 10 hospitals, big ones, 30 hospitals. You have to operate as a system. One hospital is in an area where you know there’s a high COVID rate, start to transfer to this other hospitals. “Well, that’s not how we work.” Well, it’s how you have to work now. Also form an agreement with a neighboring hospital system, that if one system starts to run into capacity, you can cooperate with the neighboring hospital system to share the burden. What we call a patient load balancing. Balance the load so you don’t have one hospital getting overwhelmed, which is what we saw in the past. We had one hospital overwhelmed and five blocks away we had a hospital with plenty of capacity. That can’t happen again.

Governor Cuomo: (09:14)
And then you have some hospitals in the state that are just individual hospitals and they’re not part of the system. They are the most problematic because they don’t have a system to fall back on. In Dr. Zucker’s letter he says to them, “You must form an alliance with a system.” So if one hospital gets into trouble and they don’t have any other hospitals in their system they control, have a relationship with one of the other systems so you can go to them for capacity. And then what they’re looking at is the same math that we’re looking at. They know what zip code they’re in. Look at the increase in your zip code, factor it out, and make sure you can manage that and make sure you can load balance. They need to watch the numbers and they need to be prepared. Greater New York Hospital Association Ken Raske is a real pro. He’s going to be working to coordinate the downstate hospitals, find the individual hospital’s partners and making sure the systems cooperate.

Governor Cuomo: (10:28)
HANYS B. [Grouse 00:10:30] likewise is an experienced professional. She’s going to be coordinating with the upstate hospitals. They’re going to be working with Dr. Zucker. Northwell Health is the largest hospital system in the state of New York, Michael Dowling, a former health commissioner. So he understands it from both sides and he’s going to be providing technical assistance statewide, and we appreciate that. Also, I want hospital managers to know that this is serious. It’s one thing to run a hospital on a sunny day. It’s another thing to run a hospital in the middle of a pandemic. They have to run hospitals in the middle of the pandemic. We went through the spring. This is not a case of first impression. We learned lessons from the spring. I understand it’s a culture change, understand the bureaucracy doesn’t want to do it. I also understand they have to do it. And if they are competent hospital administrators, they will do it.

Governor Cuomo: (11:34)
Vaccines, which is the third piece. We have started phase one of the vaccinations in New York. I believe we did the first vaccination in the United States out at Northwell, nurse Sandra Lindsey. This woman is a champion. I don’t know her, except her face did not flinch when she took that needle, and I respect that. I remember when I had to take the COVID test on TV. It is very hard to have someone poke you, probe you and show absolutely no emotion on your face. So, good for her. What’s happening now is as the vaccinations go up, COVID will come down. But, it’s a foot race, and it’s a foot race over a six to nine month period. We have to get the vaccination out as soon as we can. That will start to bring the COVID rate down. But it’s just a question of logistics and supply and make making it happen, and making it happen is hard. The priorities are we have to have a public education campaign, because as I’ve said before, we have to hit the 75 to 85% of the population has to take the vaccine.

Governor Cuomo: (13:03)
… 75 to 85% of the population has to take the vaccine to hit what they call herd immunity. Right now we have 50% of the population who says they won’t take it. You cannot get to 75% without the number 50. So we need a real public education campaign. We have to make sure it’s fair and we have to reach out to the communities that paid the highest price; the black community, Latino community, poor community. And we have to expedite the distribution and administration. And that is just 9,000 logistical pieces that have to work. That’s trains, planes, automobiles, everything working. It’s the most ambitious governmental operation that has been undertaken, period. And we have been planning for it and we’re now implementing. We so far received 77,000 doses yesterday. Total we’ve received 87,000 doses. That’s about 170,000 doses that we were speaking about from Pfizer.

Governor Cuomo: (14:10)
We expect an additional 80,000 in the next few days. That will go for residents at nursing homes. And that’s part of that 170. Pending approval, we could get another 346,000 doses from Moderna. What happens is the state gets the vaccine, the state then distributes it proportionately to regions. Don’t double count numbers. When you listen to a lot of broadcasts or read the stories, Buffalo got 57,000 vaccines, New York State has 87,000 vaccines, New York City has 42,000 vaccines. No. The only number that we have is the number that the state has. We then distribute that to Buffalo, New York City, North Country, et cetera. So it’s a little misleading as to how many vaccines we have. We have the 170 from Pfizer, and then we’re hoping for an additional shipment from Moderna. Those are all allocations of the 170. And this is all in Phase I, which is vaccinating priority healthcare workers, congregate care workers, et cetera.

Governor Cuomo: (15:36)
We will then move to Phase II. Phase II are essential workers and priority general public. What’s priority general public? General public who have underlying health conditions, et cetera. How are we going to do that? Good question. Glad I asked it. We’re setting up regional vaccination hubs. They’re going to be led by local hospital systems. Why? Because this is a medical operation, not a political operation. If you remember with the COVID testing, there was a lot of back and forth, well who got it first and was there favoritism, et cetera. Medical professionals are going to administer Phase II by state guidelines, but it’s going to be done by medical professionals. The state has done guidelines for Phase II. Those regional hubs, we call them, will create a regional plan for that region for Phase II. Again, it will be done pursuant to the state guidelines and then sent back to the state, the state approves or disapproves that regional plan.

Governor Cuomo: (16:59)
We have designated the vaccination hub coordinators. So Finger Lakes, UofR is going to manage the vaccination starting with Phase II. Catholic Health System, Western New York, United Health Services, SUNY Upstate, Westchester Medical, Greater New York Hospital Association in New York City. They will be administering the vaccination. Northwell and Long Island. It’s a medical procedure. It will be handled by medical professionals. There’ll be no political favoritism, et cetera. These hub coordinators will all coordinate with the local stakeholders. They will work with the city government. They will work with the county government. They will work with the community-based health organizations. They’ll work with community-based organizations to outreach to communities that are hard to reach, but they’ll come up with a plan that meets the needs of that region. You’re dealing with the North Country that’s different than when you’re dealing with New York City.

Governor Cuomo: (18:13)
So the regionalization makes sense and they’ll have a plan that’s tailored to their area. Again, the state will then approve the plan. The state will provide the logistics, the support that they need to actually get it done, get it done quickly. They’re going to put in their plans the first week of January. Department of Health will go through them. We want to be in place and ready as soon as we get the Phase II allocation. When do we get to Phase II allocation? Right now we’re talking about probably late January for Phase II. The dates tend to change with the federal government. It’s not a criticism. I know they’re trying to move a lot of pieces and big pieces very quickly, but the one piece we need to start the chain is we need the delivery of the vaccines. And on the current schedule, we think we get to Phase II late January. Our goal, best vaccine program in the United States of America.

Governor Cuomo: (19:28)
Why is that such an ambitious goal? Because we are New Yorkers and we always set the bar high on ourselves. We want to be the first COVID free state. The state paid more than its fair share for COVID and what we went through in the spring. And I want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be the first state to kill this beast. So people have questions. When can I get a vaccine? How much will it cost? What comes next? We have a website you can go to that has all the information, Vaccinate New York. It’s a one-stop for all information. That logo, NewYorkTough, that is supposed to be a bandage that would go over a vaccine. If you look at the other page, you see that bandage. That’s what that is supposed to be. I don’t think anyone would get that, but that’s what that is. There it is the bandage again. But here’s a very important point. In New York State, no person will have to pay a penny for a vaccination. No person will pay a penny for a vaccination. We want people to get vaccinated.

Governor Cuomo: (20:51)
It shouldn’t be about wealth. No one will pay a penny. And the New York State Department of Financial Services is putting out a directive today saying the insurers must cover any cost of vaccination. We’re getting the vaccine from the federal government, but theoretically an insurer could say, but I had to pay the nurse. I had to pay this one. State Department of Financial Services saying the insurers have to pay that cost themselves. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel. We have to hit 75, 85%. Don’t relax until that happens. You have to follow the same rules. And by the way, that means all through the holidays. And that’s the problem. Another topic, state finances. News papers today suggest that Congress suggests no state and local funding.

Governor Cuomo: (21:51)
This is a major problem. It’s also a major disgrace. We have been talking about this for months since before the election. And then after the election, people were supposed to put their politics aside and actually do their job. Apparently that hasn’t happened. This is a purely partisan debate. Again, I’m chairman of the National Governors Association. I talk to governance on both sides of the aisle. Many Republican governors received a lot of funding early on from the CARES Act. As a matter of fact, they received so much funding that they need flexibility to be able to spend their money. The Democratic states that were hardest hit have run out of that money and need additional funding like New York, like Michigan, like California, like Illinois. Some people in Washington say, well, bankrupt the states. Bankrupt the States. If you bankrupt states, you bankrupt the nation. You really want to bankrupt New York? What would that do to the nation’s economy? Bankrupting New York. And you want to bankrupt New York now in the middle of this pandemic when the numbers are spiking, when we’re just about to start this ambitious vaccination program where I need hospitals and nurses and National Guard to do this unprecedented operation? Now is when you want to bankrupt New York? It is madness, madness, hyper political parochialism madness. You know how important New York is to the overall economy. You know how important California is to the overall economy, Chicago, Illinois. How do you just say, let these states go bankrupt? How do you expect me to administer the vaccine? And you know that unless we crush this virus everywhere, we don’t crush this virus anywhere. Virus is a national pandemic. In fact, the people from one state are going to the other state. That’s the problem. I’ve been fighting this fight for months. I believe President Biden will correct the situation. He has said it publicly, privately. He gets it. The problem is he has to get into office. So you’re talking about February, March of next year. The question is, what do we do to get from now until next February, March. We can’t lose essential workers and essential organizations, especially with what we’re doing now. So the state is going to advance $1.5 billion to organizations that need cash flow between now and next February, March, when we expect the federal government will tell us that they’re going to be helpful and what that amount of funding is. But we understand we have to get from here to there and we need them to function. So we’ll have up to 1.5 billion that we will advance until that point. Some people are talking about doing a tax increase. Look, at this rate, we’re going to need tax increases. The question is how much of a tax increase. And to determine how much of a tax increase you have to do that in the budget. Because a tax increase is only one mechanism to close the hole. You have a $15 billion hole in the budget. We need $15 billion. Well, we can do some in taxes. Okay. How-

Governor Cuomo: (26:03)
Well, we can do some in taxes. Okay. How much? And how do we fill the rest of the hole, which is going to be in cuts? You have a $15 billion hole, you want to do 5 billion in taxes? All right. Then we need to cut $10 billion. Where do we cut that $10 billion? And who do we cut on that $10 billion. You want to raise taxes? Fine, from who? And where do they go? You want to do cuts for the rest? Fine, from where? Education? Housing? Health care? And are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana? How about sports betting? Marijuana, we were supposed to have done for the past two years anyway and would raise revenue.

Governor Cuomo: (27:02)
So if the legislature wants to do the budget now, we can do that. But we have to do a budget, not just a tax increase because you can’t do a tax increase in abstract. You have to do a tax increase relative to the budget. We could do a whole budget now, but then we’re going to close a $15 billion gap now, and it is going to be devastating to people because you would have to do massive cuts and massive tax increases without the federal aid.

Governor Cuomo: (27:39)
But those are the choices. You do the budget now with no federal aid and you solve for a $15 billion hole, that would lay off thousands of workers. The tax increase would be extraordinarily high. Also, doing the tax increase now gets you no additional funds than doing it in the beginning of next year. Legally, that is not correct. We’ve done tax increases in 2009 and had them retroactive and they’d been upheld. Or, we wait until next February, March, we do a budget when we know what the federal funds will be. Then we do the tax increases and the cuts to actually balance.

Governor Cuomo: (28:28)
Those are the two choices, we can do it either way. I favor waiting until next year because if we close the $15 billion hole this December, I can tell you the cuts to education are going to cause school districts to lay off teachers all across the board. I can tell you, hospitals are going to have to lay off workers. I can tell you, government is going to have to lay off workers just when we’re doing vaccines, just when we’re fighting the pandemic.

Governor Cuomo: (28:54)
And then Joe Biden takes office and comes up with a federal aid package to the states. Then what do we do? Call back the school and say, “Oh, by the way, now I can give you funding.” The school is going to say, “I just fired 500 teachers. How do I get them back?” So that’s where we are on that.

Governor Cuomo: (29:20)
But a bridge to here and there is the state advancing $1.5 billion until we know where we are on the other side. If Joe Biden, as president, doesn’t provide state and local funding, or can’t get it passed, we’re going to have to close that $15 billion, on our own. If we have to close that $15 billion on our own, it is going to be devastating. You’re not talking about the tax increase they’re talking about, you’re talking about multiples of that tax increase. You’re talking to cuts in almost every service. This would be the highest deficit in the history of the State of New York and this is no time to be savaging essential services.

Governor Cuomo: (30:14)
Look, this is all hard. This is all hard, and I know hard. The times test us. It creates pressure. Pressure finds the crack in the stone, a little crack, but you put it under pressure, and then the pressure explodes the crack. The weak crumble. But pressure also forges diamonds and New Yorkers are diamonds. We’re a necklace of diamonds, different shapes, different sizes, different colors, but a necklace of 19 million diamonds. That’s why when New York tough and smart and united and disciplined and loving.

Governor Cuomo: (31:07)
By the way, just if you think we didn’t have enough on our plate, big storm coming, Nor’easter coming, primarily downstate, which has the warning, a watch upstate. A state of emergency we may declare at 6:00 PM in those counties, in the Hudson Valley because they are supposed to be the areas that are very hard hit.

Governor Cuomo: (31:42)
This is a weather projection, very specific, it’s like Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix, also pointing to two very specific area with very high snowfall, 18 to 24. That’s the dark purple. What does that Ulster and Sullivan, I think Monticello, very specific that those areas are going to have the highest snowfall.

Governor Cuomo: (32:12)
I once said that the weather forecasters were incorrect the next day, and I got savaged by the weather forecasters from across the nation for saying that their forecast was incorrect. So I am going to learn a little bit and not do that, but that is a very specific forecast. So we’ll wait to see how that turns out.

Governor Cuomo: (32:40)
But it’s a statewide situation, which makes it difficult for us because normally when it’s just a region we can deploy. This is going to be statewide. So we’re going to have to be all across the state. We have been gearing up large numbers of everything. Plus I will be out there with my shovel and I can shovel vast quantities of snow and Rob Mujica is going to join me and Dr. Howard Zucker. So if I fall over from a heart attack from shoveling the snow, Dr. Zucker will be right there, which I appreciate. Questions?

Operator: (33:27)
Thank you, governor. If you’d like to ask a question, please use the raise hand function at the bottom of your window. We’ll take a moment to compile the Q&A roster. Governor, you now have Andrew Siff from NBC 4. Andrew, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Siff: (33:47)
Good afternoon governor, and everyone gathered. My question has to do with the possibility of a shutdown or pause. Mayor de Blasio has said, he believes it will be necessary right after Christmas, I’m wondering why that timing and how close you believe we are to that reality?

Governor Cuomo: (34:12)
You are asking, Andrew, for a crystal ball projection. Nobody knows what New Yorkers will do between now and Christmas and how they’ll act on Christmas week. The numbers are not predestined. The numbers are a reflection of what we do. That’s what I just said. You can’t say how New Yorkers are going to act. If New Yorkers are smart and if they celebrate smart and if they focus on healthy holidays, and if they’re careful, the rate will come down.

Governor Cuomo: (34:57)
I think what the mayor … I think a helpful warning is right, saying to New Yorkers, “Look, if we don’t do anything different and these numbers keep going up, you could see a shut down,” I say probably in January, but that’s if all the numbers go up. The answer to that equation is don’t have the numbers go up. We’ve seen many places, Andrew, where New Yorkers get it. They got it in the spring, they changed. They got it in Brooklyn and the number came down. They got it in Orange County and the number came down. They got it in Monroe and the number came down. They got it in the Southern tier and the number came down. They’re getting it in Western New York and the number is coming down. So we know that we can change the numbers.

Governor Cuomo: (35:57)
I believe in New Yorkers. I believe they’re going to be more prudent through Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, et cetera, because I think they saw what happened at Thanksgiving, right? We predicted a Thanksgiving surge, but I think they actually saw that happen, and I think they’re going to be more careful through this next holiday season.

Governor Cuomo: (36:29)
Call me a foolish optimist, but I think New Yorkers are capable of getting us to the point where there was no shutdown and getting us to the point where we save lives. I think New Yorkers are that good, that that can happen. We need New Yorkers to be personally responsible. We need the hospitals to step up and be in crisis management mode, and we need to start communicating with people with PSAs, et cetera.

Governor Cuomo: (37:10)
But I believe it’s possible that there’s no shut down. It’s purely a function of our action. Nobody has knowledge. These are all opinions. I talk to 50 experts a day. Some say, it goes up some, say it flattens, some say, it goes down. They don’t know because the intangible is how people act. I’ll tell you this, in the spring, nobody believed we were going to flatten the curve. Nobody I talked to. Nobody believed you could have a population react as responsibly. I’m an optimist. If New Yorkers are responsible, if the hospitals do their duty and step up their game, we might not have a shutdown, period, and we’ll save lives. So that’s where we are.

Governor Cuomo: (38:12)
Now to the extent elected officials want to say to people, “You need to be careful unless,” I understand that. But that’s what that is. I think their warning, which is what I’ve been doing also, we have to be careful or else, but, or else is not an inevitability, it’s not a foregone conclusion.

Governor Cuomo: (38:36)
Next question, operator.

Operator: (38:38)
Governor, you now have Andrew Donovan from Channel 9 in Syracuse. Andrew, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Donovan: (38:46)
Andrew Cuomo, Andrew Siff, and Andrew Donovan. Three Andrews in a row. That’s a good start.

Governor Cuomo: (38:50)
Yeah. Well, Andrew Donovan, did you see your numbers? You have to get to work, Andrew.

Andrew Donovan: (38:59)
We’re watching very closely. Congratulations on your projection of December …

Andrew Donovan: (39:03)
… watching very closely. Congratulations on your projection of December 15th. The chancellor watched proudly as SUNY Upstate administered the first vaccines in Syracuse. My question is for the other hospitals. When can they expect shipments of vaccines? I know some need other storage and Moderna will come in helpful with the storage side of things. My second question, the cash advances that you’re offering, are those for agencies already expecting state money and you’re just giving it to them sooner?

Governor Cuomo: (39:32)
Those are state agencies. No, those are agencies that would get funded from the state but have a cash flow problem through January and February. And the state would advance up to $1.5 billion to get us to January and February, which is the point where we can actually do a responsible budget because you know the numbers, Andrew. To do a budget, you have to make all the decisions at once, right? You have a financial crisis in your household. All right, we’re going to get rid of the dog so we save on dog food. All right. But before you decide that, is there something else you can do? Is that going to really make a difference? And why don’t we come up with a whole plan about how to stabilize your household income before we get rid of the dog? Because, by the way, we like the dog.

Governor Cuomo: (40:33)
That’s why I say any tax increase, cuts, it has to be done in the context of a whole budget. And I’ll do the whole budget right now. I mean, I’m sitting here, I’m ready. But I think it’s smarter to do it in February when we have the federal money and we don’t have to cut schools, hospitals, et cetera. But Rob Mujica, on the 1.5 billion for agencies that have essential cash flow, did I say that correctly? How would that work?

Rob Mujica: (41:03)
Yes, Governor, that’s right. So many agencies are concerned about the withholding or concerned that the state hasn’t made payments because of that. So what we’re going to do is make sure that those agencies that have critical needs, we’ll be able to give them those money so they have the level of certainty through the end of the fiscal year.

Governor Cuomo: (41:23)
By the way, this state and local discussion is just starting. I have a conversation with the governors this afternoon, with President-elect Biden. And our number one agenda is going to be state and local financing. I’ve spoken to President-elect Biden about it before, he gets it. We’re going to talk about it again today. The problem is he has to get into office, right? And then he has to propose a budget. So we’re looking at February, March, which then puts us right in timing for our budget, which is March. But we have to win the state and local financing. And I am confident with Joe Biden we will. Next question.

Operator: (42:21)
Governor, you now have Michelle Bocanegra from Politico. Michelle, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Michelle Bocanegra: (42:31)
Hi, Governor. Can you hear me?

Governor Cuomo: (42:32)
Faintly, Michelle. If you could just speak-

Michelle Bocanegra: (42:35)
Oh, okay. I’ll speak up a little. So good morning. I just have a question about mayoral control ahead of the assembly hearing tomorrow. As you know, the current extension has been granted to Mayor de Blasio is expiring in 2022. So I just wanted to ask if you’re going to push for another extension when the time comes. And also, in your opinion, has it been a helpful tool during the pandemic given the ever-changing situation or do you feel like it’s just accelerated and worsened tensions between the mayor and families and educators, et cetera?

Governor Cuomo: (43:14)
Yeah. Michelle, I have not weighed in on that. I thought it was something the council was considering weighing in on, but I have not offered an opinion. Do we know where that is, anyone? When would the legislation need to be-

Melissa DeRosa: (43:33)
Mayoral control extends through Mayor de Blasio’s term and then it expires.

Governor Cuomo: (43:36)
And then it would require a new law?

Melissa DeRosa: (43:38)
That’s right. And the assembly’s doing a hearing on it tomorrow, I believe.

Governor Cuomo: (43:41)
Oh, that’s right. The assembly’s doing a hearing on it. We’d have to pass a law next year. So we have plenty to talk about right now and we haven’t gotten to the topic with the legislature. But I’m sure that the assembly, especially because the assembly is predominantly from New York City, I’m sure the assembly is going to have very strong feelings about that. And then we’ll have a conversation. I just haven’t had that conversation. Thank you. Next question.

Operator: (44:13)
Governor, your next question comes from Keshia Clukey from Bloomberg. Keshia, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Keshia Clukey: (44:22)
Hi, Governor. Thanks for taking my question. Just first of all, how many vaccines were actually given yesterday? And then also, are you expecting any delay in the vaccine process with the snowstorm coming?

Governor Cuomo: (44:39)
We do not know if there’s a delay. Well, let’s go back. Are we expecting any deliveries in the next couple of days? We are. Larry.

Larry: (44:52)
I mean, the next allocation, which would be the first Moderna allocation, is tentatively slated for December 22nd. As you know, we received the first Pfizer allocation. That went to 90 hospitals. And then the first allocation from the Moderna drugs vaccine is tentatively slated to be distributed to all hospitals here in New York state on December 22nd.

Governor Cuomo: (45:21)
So hopefully by December 22nd, the snow is not an issue. And this is UPS, this is FedEx. They’re very good at getting goods to their location. And we supplement them. If they can get it to an airport, we can get it from the airport. So we don’t anticipate this at that time. I don’t know that we have these. Doctor Zucker, how many vaccinations have been done so far?

Dr. Zucker: (45:48)
4000.

Governor Cuomo: (45:48)
4000.

Dr. Zucker: (45:48)
About 4000.

Governor Cuomo: (45:50)
About 4000. Can we take one more question, operator?

Operator: (45:57)
Governor, your last question comes from Paul Liotta from the Staten Island advance. Paul, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Paul Liotta: (46:05)
Hi, Mr. Governor. Thank you for taking my question. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of issues in Staten Island. And some of our local electives have been calling for your authority to be reigned in in terms of shutdowns. I just wanted to see how you’d like to respond.

Governor Cuomo: (46:20)
Paul, yeah, there’s politics. Politics, politics, politics. Then there’s facts. Facts, facts, facts. Put up the Staten Island slide, please. This is the fact, Paul. Staten Island has the highest infection rate in New York City. Why? It’s less dense than the other boroughs, it doesn’t have the subway service of the other boroughs, it doesn’t have the crowded office buildings of the other boroughs, it has less sidewalk traffic than the other boroughs. Why? And you know what I focus on? I focus on the parts of the state that have the worst problem. Western New York for a long time had a problem. Early in the spring was New York City. There was no reason for this. And this, to me, is just sad.

Governor Cuomo: (47:29)
Because when people get infected, they’re going to the hospital. And when they go into the hospital, they die. And I don’t think there’s any reason for it. I think it’s politics. It’s also sad because there is no political difference. Donald Trump recommends stricter in-house guidelines than New York state. Donald Trump recommends stricter in-house guidelines than New York state. Donald Trump says only immediate family members in a household, only immediate members in that household. So no inviting over Uncle Joe, Aunt Nancy, none of that. That’s the Trump administration’s guidance. Our guidance is less than that. So both the Trump administration and the Biden administration agree on the same guidance. Why do people want to play politics with it?

Governor Cuomo: (48:46)
And then it’s ironic. Politicians are funny. My father didn’t like politicians. And I tell the story, we’re in a delicatessen one day. And my father was in office. And I’m standing next to him and somebody comes up and starts to chat. And says something about, “You’re a politician.” And he got all bristly. He could get bristly, my father. God bless him. And we get back in the car. And I said to him, “You know, dad, she said you’re a politician. But you are a politician. You can’t get …” “No. I’m not a politician. Politicians are people who say whatever they have to say. They blow with the wind. Yeah. Just yes man to make people happy. That’s not who I am. That’s not what I am.” He had a real distinction. Politician had a negative connotation.

Governor Cuomo: (49:48)
A friend of mine was talking to a politician on Staten Island who’s been very vocal. “This is a hoax. There is no coronavirus. Don’t worry about it. Free Staten Island. Don’t worry about a mask. Don’t worry about anything. Everything’s good. Is the governor over-restrictive?” You know what the politician was interested in? Getting a vaccine. If there was nothing to worry about, like he told the people, why would you want a vaccine? Right? So it’s the facts. Just focus on the facts. And let’s be safe through the holidays and let’s get the numbers down and let’s make sure New York doesn’t shut down and let’s make sure we save lives. Thank you very much.