Feb 5, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 5

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 5
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 5

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on February 5, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy joined the briefing. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus updates for New York here.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:33)
Good morning. From my far right, Gareth Rhodes, Beth Garvey, Commissioner Zucker. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica. Good morning, everyone. Today is day 342. These have been the longest 342 days of my life. I think most New Yorkers would say that. Most people who live in New Jersey would say that. This is been in extraordinarily difficult, difficult, stressful period. And you really saw people rise to the occasion. We are working on three priorities, rebuilding and recovery, vaccination, and controlling COVID. To rebuild and recover, we need help from the federal government. This has been a national pandemic. It’s a national economic crisis and no state can recover on its own and we need federal help. And it’s in the nation’s best interest to help the States recover. What you call state and local relief has been debated for over a year. Prior administration was against providing States and localities with relief.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:51)
President Biden said when he was running for election, that if elected, he would provide state and local relief. And he was true to his word. He proposed $350 billion. It was accepted by the House. It was accepted by the Senate. So this is really good news. We’ve been waiting a long, long time for it. How the federal government ever thought the nation was going to recover if the States did not recover was always beyond me. Federal government is only a compilation of the States. You can’t have a federal recovery without a state recovery, but President Biden stepped up and did what he said he was going to do. Now, the question is, fairness in the distribution of the 350 billion. That 350 billion goes to Congress. They’ll come up with a formula to distribute the 350 billion. And that’s the next chapter in this story, what is the fair distribution of the 350 billion? And I believe that it is factually inarguable, but that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut paid a higher price for COVID than other States and other parts of this country. That is just a fact. COVID came to United States from Europe, not from China. And those flights landed in New York and New Jersey and they populated the tri-state region. That’s why we had the explosion in the numbers early on. That’s why we had deaths here before they even had COVID tests because the virus was coming for three months and the federal government had no idea. It was negligence by the federal government. And when you talk about fairness, the federal government should allocate funds in a way that is fair and fair to this crisis. When a state gets hit by a hurricane, that state gets relief. It’s not that every state gets relief. The places that paid the highest price for the emergency. And our state and our region paid the highest price for the emergency.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:26)
We also need fairness in the tax policy. What happened during the Trump administration is it was highly political and they used taxes to actually hurt certain States and take from certain States. They took tax money from New York, New Jersey, other democratic States, and they transferred it to Republican States. That’s what the quote unquote SALT provision was all about. Salt is technical and confusing, state and local taxes, but they, for the first time ever, taxed the taxes that people pay. It was the first double taxation in history. And it was a pure redistribution of wealth, saying we’re going to take from the richer States and give to the poorer States. They took from New York. They took from New Jersey. They took from Connecticut. They took from California and they redistributed that money to Republican States. We still have an open litigation on it. So we say to the Congress now, be fair, repair the damage that was done with a hyper political administration that proceeded President Biden and be fair in the distribution of the COVID relief funds. And fair is to distribute the COVID relief funds proportionate to the damage of COVID. That’s the next step. Repeal SALT because every day that SALT is still in place, you have people paying more in taxes that they shouldn’t be paying, and it hurts this State and hurts other States that were victims of the SALT attack. And distribute the COVID relief, proportionate to COVID relief. I want to welcome our friend and our neighbor, a great colleague of mine, someone who we’ve worked hand in glove with all through this long, long year that really tested all of us and tested government, tested our individual strength to the core, but you got to see what people were made of. And I got to be in the trenches with Governor Murphy, and I can tell you that this is the kind of person you want to be in the foxhole with. He’s been a great neighbor, a great friend, and an extraordinary public servant, and I’m pleased to be with him today. Governor Murphy, good to see your face.

Governor Phil Murphy: (08:17)
Good to see you, Governor Cuomo. Thank you very much for having me on today and same right back to you, period, full stop. Not just for these 342 days, that takes my breath away, but for the past three years, since I’ve had the honor of serving as Governor in New Jersey. I could not have had, we could not have had as a State of better partner across the Hudson than you and your team representing the empire State, everything from tax fairness, to battling the virus. People say, gosh, we don’t see you guys as visibly with each other as we did in the spring and early summer, that may be true, but I want to echo what you’ve said, the partnership with you personally, with your team, continues as strong as it has ever been, and it has been invaluable. And that partnership has saved lives without question on both sides of the Hudson.

Governor Phil Murphy: (09:08)
I want to just echo, very briefly, two points that you raised Andrew. Number one, the state and local aid. We desperately need it. And I won’t repeat your great comments in terms of not just the need, which is inarguable, but also the way that the need should be apportioned. We were clobbered with you and Connecticut and Ned Lamont’s done a great job there and the Metro New York region. And that must be taken into account, not only getting the State local over the goal line, which I know President Biden is committed to, spoke with Speaker Pelosi earlier in the week. The great news is the leadership in Congress gets this, but also the way that it is apportioned.

Governor Phil Murphy: (09:48)
And then secondly, repealing the cap of the state and local tax deduction, which was done as you suggest, not for any practical purpose, but completely based on politics. And New York and New Jersey were already over disproportionately giving more to Washington than we’d get back from Washington to begin with. Now listen, we’re happy to do that if it’s a fair deal, but this deduction cap made that deal a very unfair deal, double taxation, as you rightfully point out, prioritizing other parts of the country ahead of our region, prioritizing the very wealthy, the biggest corporations over work and family. So it is high time that this thing gets taken off the books. The longer it stays on, the more people are going to get hurt. I think in New Jersey alone, Governor, it’s been an increment of, I believe, of around $3 billion out of the pockets of our homeowners in the State. It’s high time we got this thing off the books. I’m honored to be working on that with you and on so many other fronts. And thank you again for your extraordinary partnership and leadership.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:57)
Well, Governor has been my pleasure, and it really has been. It’s been so frenetic that we haven’t really had a chance to go back and study or analyze, but I feel the same way. I couldn’t have had a better partner. And if our delegations lock arms on this appropriation on the 350 billion and how it’s distributed, and they lock arms on the repeal of SALT, which by the way, every representative of New Jersey and New York stood up when SALT was passed. Every one of them said it was unfair. Every one of them said it needed to be repealed. So now it’s just a question of when, and our point is, time is of the essence. We’ll get through this and we’ll be the better for it. And I want to thank you personally, Phil, for everything you’ve done.

Governor Phil Murphy: (11:47)
Same right back to you Andrew. God bless you.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:49)
Thank you, God bless you Phil. Thank you. Governor Murphy mentioned the cost. Our cost per year of just SALT is over $12 billion. Our cost per day is $34 million. Every day that SALT is not repealed is another $34 million that is taken from the taxpayers of this State. Think about that. And that’s why time is of the essence. $34 million a day New Yorkers are spending. And that’s why I focused the way I focus. Then that’s why we’re going to continue to keep the pressure on until SALT is repealed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:32)
Let’s talk about controlling COVID. Statewide positivity rate, 4.3. Statewide deaths, 153. They’re in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalizations down. ICU up 10. Intubations up 14. Percent of hospitalizations by region. Long Island, Long Island, Long Island. Every part of the state is down. This is again, we target the highest percentages and it’s Long Island in terms of hospitalizations. Positivity, it’s Long Island and the Hudson Valley. In New York City, it’s still the Bronx. We have made good progress in Staten Island. And I want to thank them very much because Staten Island was disproportionately high for a long period of time. More people got positive, tested positive, more people were hospitalized in Staten Island, but that’s turned around. So I want to thank the people of Staten Island. And we are focusing on the Bronx.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:42)
The numbers overall are continuing to decline, what we call the post-holiday surge. We’re now down to 4.6, we were 7.9. It’s the lowest daily positivity since November 28th. So that takes us to about Thanksgiving when people started to gather, started to celebrate, and then we started to see that number go up. So we flattened the curve a second time. Hospitalizations are down, lowest level since January 1. So congratulations to New Yorkers, they rallied, they pulled together and changed their behavior and they changed the curve. The curve is determined by behavior and New Yorkers, once again, rose to the occasion. We’re then talking about vaccinations. We’re over 2 million, 2.2 million, 1.7 first doses, 495,000 second doses. We have used 99.02% of the dosages that we have received. Who’s counting? We’re counting. That’s why it’s 99.02%. That is obviously just about using all the doses we have received. And we now wait for the next week’s allocation, but this is where we want to be. We want to use everything that we’ve received and get it into people’s arms as soon as possible. And that’s what we’re doing. And then we’re reliant on the supply. And the more supply we get, the more we can vaccinate. And the Biden administration is working very hard to increase that supply. They have increased that supply, but the more they increase the supply, the more we can actually vaccinate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:32)
Hesitancy, another new word, is a major obstacle in our path. Hesitancy is a new term for people who don’t want to receive the vaccine. They’re skeptical, they’re cynical about the vaccine and they’re not willing to take it. All the polling data has shown that you have a higher rate of hesitancy in Black and Latino communities. Association for a better New York did a poll, a recent one, but it said again, White population is more willing to take the vaccine than Black or Hispanic New Yorkers. What drives the differential? It’s a difference of opinion in the effectiveness of the vaccine. What are the side effects? Distrust of the healthcare system and distrust of government.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:34)
Well, the Trump administration approved it, yeah, well, I don’t trust the Trump administration. I have that conversation 10 times a day. Yes, it was approved by the Trump administration. It was also approved by the New York State Department of Health and New York State doctors, who have been studying it and the side effects, et cetera. But this is a real challenge and I don’t believe-

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:03)
This is a real challenge. And I don’t believe in camouflaging a problem because you never solve a problem that you’re unwilling to admit.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:12)
A perfect sample, look at the hospital workers, what they call the 1A population. These are people who work in a hospital. They didn’t have to schedule a vaccine. They didn’t have to get in their car and go drive and wait on a line. The hospital management said to the hospital workers, “We have the vaccine, please take it.” And they asked the staff to take it for now eight weeks, two months, “Please take the vaccine.” It’s in the building that they work.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:50)
Well, who actually took it and who didn’t take it? 70% of the workers were white. 63% of the people who took the vaccine are white. 17% of the workers are African-American. Only 10% of the recipients are African-American. 8% Hispanic or Latino, 10% vaccine recipients. So of hospital workers, Hispanics and Latinos actually over-performed. 11% were Asian, and they were 16% of the eligible of the people who took the vaccine. So it over-performed with Asian New Yorkers, over-performed with Latinos, underperformed, with African-American, black, New Yorkers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:46)
Not just the hospital workers, which to me are just a very interesting sample group because there is no other answer. They had, all the obstacles to the vaccine were removed for the hospital workers. But even if you look at the essential worker population, what’s called the 1B, police, fire, teachers, 75% of them are white, 74% of the people who actually received the vaccine. 17% are black, only 5% took it. 14% Hispanic/Latino, 10% of recipients. 6% Asian, 7% of the recipients. So there you see a differential in both the black and the Latino population.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:36)
Even for the 65-plus, which is a more diverse group and a more complicated analysis, frankly. But whites, you see about a proportionate representation. Blacks, you see a disproportionate, 13% were eligible, 65-plus, only 4% of recipients. 12% eligible Hispanic/Latino, 5% of the recipients. So you see a significant differential there also with the over 65. Asian population, just about where they should be.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:15)
So we have challenges in reaching the black community, and there are two challenges. One, access, can they get it? Is it accessible? And two is the acceptance or the hesitancy. We have to address both, and we are. The hesitancy must be directly addressed with facts and validation. And I’m speaking to leaders in the black community, pastors, community groups. We have to get the information out.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:50)
Yes, there’s reason for cynicism. Go back to the Tuskegee experiment. Yes, there’s bonafide reasons for distrust of the system. I get that. But it’s not true with this vaccine, and that is going to be a process of communication, and we’re going to have to talk through it. Because we can’t deny it, it’s real. It has to be addressed. We’re starting an advertising campaign working with validators in the community. But it is an issue that’s going to have to be addressed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:25)
We expected it. We talked about it early on. We are addressing it, but it still exists. Making special efforts to get into the community, to have the conversations, make it accessible, we’re doing more in this state than any state in the nation in this regard. But you can never do enough.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:49)
One of the things we’re doing is mass vaccination sites in high positivity areas, which are also high black, Latino demographic. And one of the mass vaccination sites is opening today. It’s at Yankee Stadium. It is only for Bronx residents. As you saw, the Bronx is one of the highest positivity rates in New York City, and it has been persistent in its high positivity. A landmark in the Bronx, a landmark in New York City is Yankee Stadium, and that is true for many, many decades. I remember the first game my father took me to see in Yankee Stadium. That’s back in the days of Mickey Mantle to the world.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:45)
But we reached out to Yankee Stadium with a somewhat unorthodox request, which is would Yankee Stadium be willing to help us with this COVID crisis by making the stadium available as a mass vaccination site? It was an unusual request. I understand that. But the Yankees ownership said, and management said, yes, they would. And we now have a mass vaccination site at Yankee stadium. I want to thank SOMOS healthcare who’s actually providing the clinicians. New York City is a partner. I want to thank them. I want to thank the National Guard, which is doing a great job setting it up. They really are extraordinary.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:36)
But also, I want to thank the Yankees themselves, and I want to thank the president, Randy Levine, who’s been a good friend to all New Yorkers and always steps up to the challenge, no matter how different it is. And this was a different request, I get it. And Aaron Boone, who’s the manager of the Yankees, and they had a very strong season, and we’re going to see an even better one next year. And Mariano Rivera who, to me, symbolizes in many ways the best of the Yankees spirit. And I’ve just been a phenomenal fan of Mariano Rivera and his style, his accomplishment, his performance, and his spirit, and his smile. He just has an infectious smile.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (24:28)
And we have with us today, the president of the Yankees, Randy, good to see you, the manager, Aaron Boone, and the Sandman himself behind the mask, Mariano Rivera. Randy, I know this was an unusual request. You stepped up to the plate. Pardon the pun. I knew I would get on the field in Yankee Stadium one way or the other as a kid. I never thought it was going to be this way, but I’ll take it. I’ve said to everyone who’s going to Yankee Stadium, I promised you we wouldn’t destroy the infield. Any damage to the infield, the state is going to be responsible. I’ll be there with new sod, and I’ll fix any divots that we create. But Randy, thank you so, so much. Thank you for what you did. Randy Levine.

Randy Levine: (25:20)
Thank you, Governor, and it’s an honor to be with you today. Of course, we got my manager, Aaron Boone, and the only unanimous Hall of Fame person ever elected, one of the greatest Yankees ever, Mariano Rivera.

Randy Levine: (25:38)
From Hal Steinbrenner, the whole Steinbrenner family, let me just say that this is an honor and a privilege for the Yankees to be able to be your partner and the city’s partner and SOMOS’s partner in this endeavor. This stadium is historical. It’s built into the fabric of this city and the Bronx. We’re part of the Bronx community. And this is bigger than baseball. This is a bigger, bigger purpose than baseball.

Randy Levine: (26:08)
So we are so honored and privileged to partner with you. We will do whatever it takes to make it better. I came in this morning. There are hundreds of people out there. And Governor, I wish you could see their face because it’s hope. We’re getting to the end of this. It’s hope. And they’re registering. Everybody here is communicating. The people on the ground are wonderful. Congratulations in the way this was set up, both to your staff and our staff. It’s just phenomenal.

Randy Levine: (26:40)
So we’re here to do whatever it takes because this is the most important thing that each and every one of us are dealing with every day. So please, don’t ever hesitate to call upon us for anything. And if it’s okay with you, I’d like Aaron and Mo to say a few words.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (26:58)
Please, please.

Aaron Boone: (27:00)
Thanks, Randy. Thanks, Governor. This is an exciting day in the Bronx. And this is a special place, Yankee Stadium, and has been the host of a lot of really special opening days. And I would say this is the most special opening day. The fact that we’re able to be out there and really saving lives in this community, like Randy said, this is a day of hope, and it’s really exciting to be here and to be a small part of this, so thank you. Mariano.

Mariano Rivera: (27:38)
Governor, thank you. Thank you for those kind words and thank you for having me, Randy. But it’s amazing because I consider this my house. I’m here with Doctor [inaudible 00:27:49] of SOMOS, a dear friend of mine. It’s wonderful what you guys are doing because I used to pitch here and save games, now this is about saving lives. Randy mentioned, as he said it, you can not say it better than that. This is greater than baseball. I mean, we’re talking about thousands and millions of people.

Mariano Rivera: (28:12)
And I walk around the people that were getting the vaccine, and I see so many smile faces. That’s what it is all about. Hope is the name of the game right now. And thank God, yes, thank God for everything because Yankee Stadium has been provided. I mean, many, many wonderful games and World Series, but now they are providing opportunities to come here to the people of the Bronx. Our people come here be vaccine. And I’m happy, that’s why I’m here supporting them. They supported me for so many years. I’m here to support them now. Thank you very much.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (28:51)
Well, Randy Levine, I can’t thank you enough, and I can’t thank you enough on behalf of all New Yorkers. Again, you’re right, this is unusual times, but I’ll tell you the truth, you really do get to see what people are made of. And when I called you, I knew how unique this request was. And you could have very easily said, “No, thank you,” but you were 100% open and your entire group has been fantastic to work with. So Randy Levine, I can’t thank you. Manager Boone, you had a great season, we’ll have a better one. Mariano, your spirit means so much to the people of this state. The love they have for you and your credibility, your credibility that you are there today, and you’re saying that this is smart and this is what people should do, I think is going to go a long way. And the words you just used that you’ve saved games in that stadium, which is totally true, and now, you’re saving lives, truer words were never spoken. And there’s a sweet, poetic irony in that. You are saving lives and this vaccine does save lives, and that’s why it’s so important that people know that and people accept it. Because this vaccine can save their life. And your presence today is going to bring that message home to many, many people because they do trust you and they do respect you. So thank you very much for being a part of this today.

Randy Levine: (30:51)
Governor, can I add?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:52)
Please, Mr. Levine.

Randy Levine: (30:56)
To help get people here, what we’re going to do, so all you Yankee fans and baseball fans, we’re going to have over the next couple of days some little Yankee trinkets and gifts for people to help incentivize them coming down here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:13)
Randy-

Randy Levine: (31:14)
Yes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:14)
I’m coming. Save some for me, Randy, so put them on the side.

Randy Levine: (31:16)
We’ve got you covered always.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:23)
Randy Levine, Mariano Rivera, Manager Boone.

Randy Levine: (31:27)
We’ll replace the turf, you can take any of it home.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:32)
It’s the one thing I’m competent to do on the field is to do the seeding. That’s all I can do. But Mariano-

Randy Levine: (31:42)
[inaudible 00:31:42].

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:43)
Mariano, you should know I’ve gotten pretty good at hitting a curve ball in this job, I’ll tell you the truth, because they throw a lot of balls in my league. Thank you all very much. God bless you. Thank you very much.

Randy Levine: (31:58)
[inaudible 00:31:58]. Thank you.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:58)
I’ll see you soon. Thank you.

Randy Levine: (31:58)
Okay.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:03)
Ah, that was a treat, and that’s an important message. And Yankee Stadium and the Bronx and Mariano Rivera, I hope people hear those words, and I hope they take them to heart.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (32:18)
We have maintained a priority focus on hospital workers on the vaccine or else, or else if there is a another variant, if there is another surge, if the hospital workers are not vaccinated, they will get sick. If the hospital workers get sick, the hospitals will fail. That’s why the priority for the hospital workers. Also nurses, doctors, these are the frontline heroes. Everybody says that. They are more exposed to the COVID vaccine than anyone else. Everybody knows that. And if they ever got the COVID, they would be super spreaders. Everybody knows that. So we prioritized and focused on vaccinating hospital workers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:07)
We’ve made tremendous progress in that. When we started January 18th, we were at 63% of the hospital workers were vaccinated. We then did a push. Every day I talked about it. We went up to 72%. We are now at 75%. That is exactly where we needed to be, and we are there. And it was a great effort on behalf of the hospitals to get there, and I want to thank them very much because it has been a tremendous amount of progress in a relatively short period of time.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:44)
And remember, they are also dealing with the hesitancy issue in the hospitals. And they can offer to the staff, but they can’t mandate that the staff takes it. So they did have to have the conversations and the education and the communication that we’ve been talking about.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (34:03)
Missions and the education, and the communication that we’ve been talking about. But many of the hospitals did a great job, and overall, they did a great job because we’re at 75%. There is still a very uneven performance in this regard. And this still has to be addressed. You have some hospitals that are at 100%, and then you have hospitals that are at 40%. That is a major disparity. And the differential between literally the higher performing and the lower performing is over 100%. So that is a problem. I’ve asked the local health departments, please focus on the lower performing hospitals, especially those local governments that run the hospital. These are your hospitals, please get the performance up. But overall it has been a great, great success. The hospitals have had eight weeks to focus on their staff, and that’s how we achieve the 75%. We’re giving them one more week to do the last workers. Please go back and appeal to them one more time, the people who haven’t taken it, talk to them about the facts. Talk to them about the experience of people who have taken the vaccine.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (35:36)
We now have over 2 million New Yorkers who have taken the vaccine. You have a lot of data on possible side effects, et cetera. We’re not asking them to go first. They’d be number 2,000,001, right? So please go back and try one more time, but one more week for this allocation. And then what we’re going to do is reallocate the doses that were set aside for the hospital workers, and we will then give that allocation to the local health departments to do people with comorbidities. And that will start February 15th. The hospitals will still get enough doses to do who they have to do and who they’ve scheduled, and any workers who they can convince to take it. But an allocation above that will be given to the local health departments, and we’re going to open it up to people with comorbidities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (36:39)
We do not have a supply that can reach everyone, we understand that. So the prioritization is to reach those people who are most at risk or most essential to this period of time. But February 15th, we’ll open it up to people with comorbidities. Comorbidities and age are the major factors in COVID mortality. And just hear this one number, 94% of the people who die from COVID are people with comorbidities or other underlying conditions, 94%. So why don’t we do this group of workers? Why don’t we do this group of workers? You do every group in this state when you do people with comorbidities. If you are carpenter with a comorbidity, if you are a teacher with a comorbidity, if you are a homemaker with a comorbidity, if you’re a lawyer with a comorbidity, whoever you are, 94% of the deaths are people with comorbidities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (37:57)
Yes, we had to do a hospital staff. Yes, nursing homes. After that 94% of the deaths, people with comorbidities. And that’s why I feel comfortable about this decision. We have one week, local health department start preparing for it. Think about it. We’re working with the CDC to establish the comorbidities list. What is a comorbidity? How do you define it? CDC has guidance on that. We’re working with the CDC to clarify some definitions, but we’re basically going to follow the CDC guidance. Local health departments have a week. Hospitals you have one more week to get your hospital staff to accept the vaccine and then we’ll focus on the comorbidities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (38:52)
Questions of the use of the second dose as the first dose. That is a federal decision. The state does not make that decision. The federal government controls the allocation. We get a first dose allocation, we get a second dose allocation. When we get it from the federal government, they say, “Use the first dose with the first dose and the second dose with the second. And that’s why this is first dose allocation and that’s why this is a second dose allocation.” The FDA has spoken specifically to this, “At this time, suggesting changes to the FDA authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in available evidence. Not rooted solidly in the available evidence. Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (39:44)
So their federal position is clear. This is the Biden administration. We worked very closely with them and they are a very respected group of public health officials. CDC, “The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. CDC continues to recommend that people get their second dose as close to the recommended interval as possible.” So the federal position is clear. Use the first dose for the first dose, use the second dose for the second dose. I have spoken to them about using a percentage of the second dose for the first dose. It’s complicated, but I think it could be done. The federal government is not there at this point. They have not approved it, but if they do approve it, then New York is ready, willing, and able to do it. But it’s a federal decision.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (40:44)
Johnson and Johnson filed for an emergency use authorization. This is a big deal. The meeting is going to be in a couple of weeks. But if they approve Johnson and Johnson, it’s a game changer. It’s a single dose, not two dosages, which makes a phenomenal logistical difference and it does not require the cold storage chain that Pfizer requires. Pfizer requires significant cold storage that most facilities don’t have. Hospitals do have the cold storage capacity for Pfizer, so we’re using regional hospitals to keep the Pfizer vaccine. Many local health departments then have to go to that hospital to pick up the vaccine because they can’t store it. Johnson and Johnson, that’s not the case. It’s basically normal refrigeration equipment. So single dose plus no cold storage chain, that is a very big deal. They’re talking about a possibility of 100 million doses by June. That would be a huge deal. So fingers crossed, but this would be a massive supply differential.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (42:06)
To remind local governments, we have to have a police reform plan in place on April 1. I understand that dealing with public safety is not an easy issue. I get it. I also understand that it is an essential issue. We’re talking about rebuilding the economy. We’re talking about reopening. We’re talking about getting people to go back to work. We’re talking about getting people to come back from vacation homes and go back to cities. They have to be safe. They have to be safe. That is the foundation. And yes, I get the tensions and I understand it’s hard to address the tensions between the community and the police, but it’s always trust and respect and the collaboratives have to be undertaken, and we have to have the conversation, and we have to reach a place of commonality.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (43:06)
And that’s 55 days away. Local governments that don’t have a past Public Safety Reform plan passed by the legislative body signed by their chief executive, they will not be eligible for state funding. And if they receive state funding, there would be a monitor that would be put in place. So 55 days, please let’s get this done. Variants of interest, another new term. It goes into the new COVID dictionary with hesitancy, variants of interest. We’ve identified 15 new variants of interest cases, 59 total UK strains in New York now. That number is up. The UK strain is reportedly up to 70% more transmittable. That is a frightening thought. So we’re watching it closely. CDC is watching it, other countries are watching it. But we do now have 59 cases, this is where they are. It’s all throughout the stat and it is something that we are watching. All those numbers are now on the way down. All those numbers are on the way down.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (44:42)
Well, what could change it? A variant strain could change it. A variance strain that is more infectious, more transmittable or more lethal, or a variant strain that is resistant to the vaccine. Those could all be game changers. So we deal with the here and now, we deal with the facts that we have now, we deal with the reality that we face now, but we’re aware of new ones possible threats in the future. If those new possible threats actualize, we will re respond to them accordingly as we have all through this. Mariano Rivera, you don’t know what the picture’s going to throw. The pitcher throws the ball. You watch the pitch and you adjust the swing accordingly. So we wait to see what the COVID pitcher throws, depending on whether it’s a fast ball or a sinker or a curve ball, then we will adjust our swing accordingly. But right now, while the numbers are down, but we’re aware that the pitcher has the capacity to throw a curve ball and we are ready for the curve ball if that pitch comes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (46:12)
Yesterday, I sent the letter to the Congressional delegation and I had a conversation with them on the phone on the same topic that we talked to Governor Murphy about earlier, the allocation of the $350 billion is everything. And I understand the Congressional process. I respect the Congressional process. I understand that COVID has affected every state. COVID has not affected every state the way it is affected this state. That is the fact. My job as governor of New York is to represent the people of the state. I fight for the people of the state. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s my oath. This state deserves a disproportionate amount of the federal aid because we had a disproportionate amount of the pain and the loss. We had more economic loss. We had more deaths. We had more disruption. In many ways we did the nation of service because we dealt with this issue before anyone else. And they could see what was happening in New York and learn from what was happening in New York. Going second, or going third, or not having the COVID issue until three, four, five months after New York dealt with the problem was a significant advantage. We had no notice. That’s why I call it an ambush. We couldn’t prepare our hospitals. We couldn’t prepare our people. We didn’t even know it was here because the federal government never told us. That’s why say it’s a federal negligence. Now you’re going to allocate funding to pay for the damage. We had more damage. Hurricane hits a block. There are 20 homes on the block. Some homes have more damage than other homes. You have to allocate funding to rebuild the homes on that block. The homes with more damage, get more funding because they had more damage. All 20 homes don’t say we should have the same amount of money and the same amount of funding because we were all involved in the hurricane. No, the house that had more damage from the hurricane should have more funding because they have more repairs to do.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:55)
No house was more damaged than the house of the state of New York. That is a fact and an inarguable fact. So put the politics aside and deal with the COVID facts. It’s called the COVID Relief Bill, COVID Relief. Provide the relief that COVID caused. That’s our point. Last point, Super Bowl weekend. Yay. Let’s have a party. Let’s have a party, but let’s celebrate smart. Right? We just went through the holiday surge. Celebrate, but celebrate smart. Super Bowl, celebrate, celebrate smart. And the Bills aren’t even in the Super Bowl this year, so TV works fine. We are New York, tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving, loving, loving, loving. Let’s take some questions operator.

Speaker 1: (49:59)
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 brief moment to compile the Q&A roster. Governor, your first question comes from Peter Haskell at WCBS 880. Peter, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Peter Haskell: (50:20)
Hey, governor. I want to ask you about indoor dining. I get that Valentine’s day is to start, but a lot of couples prefer not to go out on a school night. Would you consider changing that to Friday or Saturday, and secondarily, what about extending the curfew outside of New York for Super Bowl Sunday?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:46)
First of all, Peter, how great was Mariano Rivera? Wasn’t he beautiful?

Peter Haskell: (50:49)
Beautiful.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (50:52)
He’s a special human being. I’ve had a chance to meet him. He really is special. He has that infectious personality and I hope people listen to him. First of all…

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:03)
… and I hope people listen to him. First of all, true romantics honor Valentine’s Day as Valentine’s Day. A true romantic Peter, says, “Yes, it’s a school night, but Valentine’s Day is Valentine’s Day.” Would I consider opening the restaurants early? We follow the data, we follow the facts, so let’s talk on Monday. And let’s see what the numbers look like on Monday. And then we can talk about Friday on Monday, when we see the facts. I get the point. I’ve talked to the restaurants about it. They are eager to do indoor dining. I get the point about Friday, Saturday, but let’s look at the numbers over the weekend and talk about it on Monday but I do hear you and I do get the point. And look, I want to reopen as much as anybody wants to reopen anything, on every level. It’s on the numbers and safe, but let’s look at the numbers over the weekend and then we’ll have the conversation on Monday. Who has an answer to Peter’s second question? Peter, are you still there?

Peter: (52:28)
Yeah, I’m here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:29)
What was the second part of the question?

Peter: (52:30)
The second question was extending the 10:00 PM curfew for Super Bowl Sunday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:38)
Yeah. The curfew, like everything else this past year, it’s complicated. In this state, we don’t have different licenses for restaurants and bars. Many states licensed bars separately from restaurants. In retrospect, I can see why, we have one license and it doesn’t distinguish between a bar or a restaurant. If we could separate the two, then you could argue for different times at a restaurant than a bar, we don’t have that ability. It’s one license. And the curfew is because when people tend to stay later and they’re just drinking, then there’s more gatherings. You can’t drink and wear a mask. Actually they have some masks with a sippy straw, but I don’t know that you really want to sit at a bar and drink through a sippy straw.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:45)
So that’s the point of the curfew. And no, we’re not thinking about changing the curfew for Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe if the Bills were in the super bowl, it’d be different conversation, Just kidding. Anyone want to add anything on that one? You want to add anything else? Next question, operator.

Operator: (54:11)
Governor, next up we have Gwynne Hogan from WNYC. Gwen, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Gwynne Hogan: (54:18)
Can you hear me, governor?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:19)
Yep.

Gwynne Hogan: (54:21)
Thanks so much for taking my question, I appreciate it. Just on the first point, have you read the letter from the Albany Press Corps? Are you considering implementing those changes? But in terms of what my questions are today, when will you give us a list of preexisting conditions? This is something folks have been asking for, for a long time. And secondly, can you explain why your administration does not consider prisons congregate settings?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:48)
The list of preexisting conditions, we’re going to follow the CDC list. So if, you go pull up the CDC list, you have the list. We need some clarifications because some items on the list, raise questions for the health professionals and that’s what we’re working through. But if you take the CDC list, you have the basic list. Prisons, we are vaccinating people in prisons on the same basis that we’re vaccinating people and the general public. So it’s 65 plus, and the people who are medically frail in the prison system.

Gwynne Hogan: (55:36)
When will that start governor?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:38)
It has started.

Gwynne Hogan: (55:41)
Today? Because it had not started yesterday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:44)
Does anyone know.

Speaker 2: (55:45)
We announced yesterday that it started. So as of today, we’re beginning to do that.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:48)
And [crosstalk 00:55:49].

Gwynne Hogan: (55:49)
Do you know how many folks have got …

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:51)
And I didn’t get …

Speaker 2: (55:52)
No, it’s a universe … I’m sorry, governor.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:54)
Go ahead.

Speaker 2: (55:54)
Excuse me. It’s a universe of 1,075 people. So it shouldn’t take very long, but yes, it’s starting today.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:00)
I did not see the letter from the Albany Press Corps.

Gwynne Hogan: (56:05)
I’m sorry, you didn’t answer my earlier question. Why are prisons not considered congregate settings? Because people in shelters can receive vaccines, if they’re under 65, other types of congregate settings are eligible for vaccination under 1B.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:20)
I don’t know the specific definition of congregate. I know for the prison system, we are doing 65 plus and medically frail, which is the same situation for a senior citizen who’s living in an apartment, et cetera. It’s the same set of rules for both. Okay? Next question, operator.

Operator: (56:53)
Governor, next up we have Dennis Slattery from the Daily News. Dennis, your line is now open, please unmute your microphone.

Dennis Slattery: (57:02)
Good afternoon, governor. How are you?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (57:03)
Hi, Dennis. How are we doing, buddy?

Dennis Slattery: (57:04)
Doing okay. I just had a quick question about, so today you’re appearing with Governor Murphy. You guys are talking about SALT and other items that impacts the budget. One thing I was curious about though, Jersey joined a lawsuit, it’s going to the Supreme Court that would impact the commuter tax. And it could decide the fate of about a billion dollars in income tax revenue. Have you talked to Governor Murphy about this?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (57:31)
Our staff has talked about it. It’s no doubt, we have a difference of opinion. That lawsuit could have devastating consequences to the state, if we’re not successful. I believe we will be successful and we should be successful, but there’s no doubt that it would have devastating consequences. But look at the same time, Dennis, there is no path forward that doesn’t bring back the New York City or New York state economy. There is no long-term path that doesn’t address the chronic problems in New York City. The COVID issue, vaccines, the crime issue. These have to be addressed long-term because yes, the lawsuit is about, well, if you live in New Jersey, should you pay? If you stay at your house in the Hamptons, should you pay? If you live in the Hudson Valley in your summer house and you moved out of the city and you’re now in your Hudson Valley summer house, should you pay? If you went to Florida, should you pay the New York City tax?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:58)
That’s the lawsuit, but long-term the person who’s now in the Hamptons has to move back to New York City. The person who’s in the Hudson Valley house has to move back to New York City. The person who’s in Florida has to move back to New York City. If they don’t, your problem is going to be bigger than the lawsuit, because you’re going to have a fundamental shift in the economics of the city. So there is no long-term answer, other than have people move back to the city because they’re not afraid of COVID and you do have arts operating and you do have theater and the energy of the city is back and this city is safe. That’s the only longterm path, Dennis. Next question, operator.

Operator: (59:53)
Governor next up, we have Patricio Robayo from Radio Catskill. Patricio, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Patricio Robayo: (01:00:01)
How you doing governor? My question is about police reform. April 1st is right around the corner for police reform to be submitted by the towns, villages and the cities. But what happens after that? Will the state have any oversight on whether or not the plans submitted are implemented?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:20)
Good question. We do not speak to what a locality’s plan should be. You have 500 jurisdictions in this state that have police departments, almost all of them have a level of the tension between the police and the community. We saw demonstrations after the George Floyd killing all across the state and you could argue by scale. Some of the smaller cities actually had larger demonstrations. You have to put that community at the table and figure out what is their issue and how do you come to a mutual trust and respect between the police and the community. The police can’t police without trust and respect of the community. And the community will not allow policing by a police department that they think doesn’t trust them.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:23)
So you don’t really have an option. I liken it to a marriage, which is a bad analogy, but it has to work for both or it’s not going to work. And divorce is not an option here, but whatever they say works, fine. Pass it by your legislative body. Sign it by your executive and then we will leave it to that locality to follow the plan that that locality passes. If they don’t pass it, then the state’s point is, we believe public safety and a public safety agreement is essential as a government service. Public safety is a top priority and your local government have to have a plan for public safety that is accepted by your community and your police.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:21)
If you don’t have that plan and we started talking about this a year ago, so they had plenty of time. If you don’t have a plan by April one, then the state’s not going to fund you or we’ll put in a monitor over your police. And the monitor will make sure everybody’s working to get that plan done. But public safety is a fundamental responsibility of government, I believe that. And you want the economy to come back, you want people to move back. You want people to stay. You want children to stay and buy a home and make their life here. You have to have a safe state, a safe city, a safe town, a safe village. And that’s why April one. Thank you. Operator, let’s take one more question.

Operator: (01:03:16)
Governor, your last question comes from Michelle Brown at News 12. Michelle, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Michelle Brown: (01:03:23)
Good afternoon, governor. Thanks for taking my question. Governor, we have a teacher who lives in Rockland County, but she teaches in New Jersey. She was about to get her vaccine today, but we were told your office went out of their way to stop it. Why would you stop it, if she’s a teacher which qualifies for your state’s 1B group?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:47)
I have no idea. That’s like a mind bender. New York state resident teaches in New Jersey and you say she was stopped from getting a vaccine in New York?

Michelle Brown: (01:04:02)
Yes, correct. In Rockland County.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:05)
Huh? Does anyone know what that situation is?

Speaker 2: (01:04:09)
I don’t but I can’t imagine that, that’s true. So I’m happy to look into it right after this and we’ll get back to you directly, Michelle. But teachers in New York, who work in New York, can get vaccinated in New York. The same way that firefighters, police officers, regardless of which states they’re in. Although, in other states where they work, they’re also honored with reciprocity. But we’ll get the specific answer for you on that.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:29)
I could see Michelle, where someone was confused at a site, because this is a little wrinkle on the situation, but our policy is, no they would receive a vaccine in this state.

Michelle Brown: (01:04:46)
Is Governor Murphy still there?

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:49)
Nope.

Michelle Brown: (01:04:54)
All right. Thank you governor.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:55)
Thank you, Michelle. All right. Thank you all very much. Have a good weekend.