Mar 22, 2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 22
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on March 22, 2021 in Mount Vernon to provide updates on COVID-19. Read the transcript of his briefing with coronavirus and vaccine updates for New York here.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
It’s my pleasure to be in Mount Vernon, my pleasure to be at Grace Baptist Church with so many great community leaders and faith leaders here today. You’ll hear from a tremendous leader for the entire state in a moment, Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson, who is the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church, and also the chairman of the National Action Network. He has done phenomenal work, let’s give him a round of applause for all his good help.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:37)
We have Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, who is the mayor of the city of Mount Vernon. Pleasure to be with you, Madam Mayor. We have our great health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker. I want to thank him very much for all his great work. We have Tyrae Woodson-Samuels, Westchester County legislator, pleasure to be with him. We have Henry Munoz from the SOMOS Healthcare group, which is going to be doing a vaccine center here at Grace Church. They have been phenomenal all over the state, all over the country, by the way, Henry Munoz and Dr. Ramon Tallaj. Let’s give them a round of applause. And if the technology works, we’re going to be with a Rev. Al Sharpton. First, what a beautiful day it is today, truly. We are now in a new season. We are in the season of the spring and the spring says it is a time for renewal. It’s a time for rebirth. That’s what the spring is about. You can feel it in the air. You can see it on my face. This is not high blood pressure. This is a sign of spring and also forgetting sunscreen. But put that aside for a second.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:04)
You see the Earth coming back to life after a long, cold, dark COVID winter. A winter, a year that has been unlike anything that we have experienced in modern times. More loss, more isolation, more fear, more anxiety than ever before. But today is a new day, and it feels that it is a new day, and the signs are all around us.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:33)
Now, it’s not enough that the seasons turn, God helps those who help themselves. And we need to do what we need to do to rebuild and rebirth New York. First thing we have to do, is take the vaccination. Take the vaccination. We have great news on the vaccine front. The production is ramping up. We spent so many months not having enough. Over the next few weeks, you’re going to see the production of the vaccine ramp up. We got more good news, the AstraZeneca vaccine, now, another additional vaccine is going for FDA approval. So Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, Moderna and now AstraZeneca, we will have enough vaccine to vaccinate people.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:28)
We have to make sure we have the capacity and the willingness to take the vaccine. And we’re announcing today, the Roll Up Your Sleeve campaign, vaccinate New York. And we’re deploying a foundation of our society, which is our faith based community. We have religious leaders here from all across the spectrum. We have rabbis who are with us today. We have imams who were with us today. We have priests who are with us today. We have pastors who are with us today. All across the religious spectrum. And what we’re asking, is for faith-based facilities, across the state, to partner with local health organizations, local hospitals, local community-based clinics, local FQHCs, and make the houses of worship, the faith-based facilities, vaccine centers. Invite people into the house of worship to receive their vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:37)
It will create a network all across the state, using those facilities, and it will also bring trust and it will bring faith. Yes, the vaccine is safe. Yes, the medical community has said it, but I believe when the religious community says it, it’s going to bring an added credibility. That’s what the Roll Up Your Sleeves is all about, asking the faith-based community, “Partner with a health care operator, perform the vaccines in your facility. And we will provide the vaccines to any facility that participates.” Invite your congregation, invite your neighborhood, use your trust, use your relationship to get past this hesitancy, et cetera.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:29)
Not only do we have to do the vaccinations, we have to do it equitably. And we still have not reached fairness and equity in the number of vaccines. Here, in The Hudson Valley, 79% of the population is White, 86% of those who are vaccinated are White, 79%, 86% vaccinated. 14% of the population is Black, only 8% of those vaccinated are Black. 19% of the population is Hispanic, and only 13% of those vaccinated are Hispanic. That discrepancy has to be remedied. COVID discriminates. COVID killed twice as many Black people as White people. COVID killed one and a half times as many Hispanics as White people. Justice says, “Let those who were afflicted most, be the first in receiving the vaccine.” And that is our goal.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:45)
Second, we take the vaccine, then we’re going to have to rebuild. The storm came, first order of business during the storm, save lives. And that’s what we did for the past year, save lives. Storm passes, what’s the second order of business? Now, we have to go out in the light of a new day and we have to rebuild. We have to repair the damage of the storm and this COVID storm left much, much damage; economic damage, personal damage, psychological damage, mental health issues, children who spent the year out of school, children in poor communities who didn’t have the same access to remote learning, who were left behind more than anyone else. We have to rebuild.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:39)
And we’re going to rebuild the same way we beat COVID in the first place. You know what beat COVID? You know how New York went from the highest infection rate in the United States to the lowest infection rate in the United States? We came together. It was the unity of New Yorkers that did it. We realized that we were all in this together, that I wear this mask for you, and you wear your mask for me. That from COVID, unless we are all safe, no one is safe. COVID unified in this state. COVID divided in many other states and COVID was used as a tool of division in many states. But in this state, it was the exact opposite. We said, “We’re all unified. It doesn’t matter, Black, White, gay, straight, upstate, downstate, Christian, Jewish.” It didn’t matter. We had to protect one another and there is tremendous strength in that unity.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:42)
And we went from the highest infection rate… Nobody had the problem we had in New York, no country on the globe had the problem that we had in New York. We were ambushed by COVID, but we brought it down and we saved thousands of lives. And that’s how we’re going to rebuild, with that same strength and that same unity. And we are going to do it. And we’re not just going to build back, because we’ve learned, we’ve changed, we’ve grown. Life sometimes will knock you on your rear end. Things will happen. You’ll have a health issue. Something will happen at home, there’ll be a domestic issue. Life will do that to you. The question is, who gets up, and who gets up the smarter for the experience, and who gets up having learned from the experience? And we know that our strength is unity, and we’re going to rebuild the state that is better than ever before.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:52)
Let me now turn it over to a hero of mine. Our host for today, this facility for all the good work it’s done, Grace Baptist Church is now going to be a vaccine center, starting tomorrow. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson, please.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (10:10)
Thank you, Governor. That’s our governor, let’s give him some love.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (10:18)
I want to, first of all, acknowledge our mayor. And then I want to acknowledge my colleagues in ministry, from all over this area. One of the things that’s happened with COVID, is it’s united us across faith, across gender, across community. Sometime hardship can bring you together in ways that your theology might separate you. But I am thankful today that we are all one accord, trying to heal this nation, trying to heal this state, and heal this community.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (10:53)
And I want to acknowledge those who are here, Rev. William Mizell, who is senior assistant pastor at Grace Church. Rev. Dr. DeCohen, who is the…
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (11:03)
… the Grace Church, [Reverend Dr. Cohen 00:11:03], who is the President of the Westchester UA Black Clergy and Pastor of the Congregational Heights Church in Mount Vernon. [Reverend Steven Polk 00:11:12], Pastor of the Greater Centennial. You might raise your hands so they’ll know who I’m talking about. [crosstalk 00:11:18] And [Bishop C. Nathan Edwards 00:11:19], of Friendship Worship Center, [Bishop Arthur Thomas 00:11:22], [Oneness 00:11:22] Rehobeth Apostle Church, [Reverend Jeffrey Wheeler 00:11:28], Mount Calvary CME Church, Reverend Vernon House, New Life Fellowship. [Imam Mussa Abdu Ali 00:11:34] [Yusaf Shawn 00:11:34] Islamic Center in Mount Vernon. Judith Watson could not be here today, but she’s our partner. She’s the executive director of our Mount Vernon Health Center. She and I at Grace Church had been partners in distribution, and I’m grateful for Mount Vernon Health Center.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (11:56)
[Reverend Greg Merryweather 00:11:56], Calvary Baptist Church, Haverstraw, Pastor [Jim Bostic 00:12:00], Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center. Reverend Shaun Jones, Star of Bethlehem in Ossining, Reverend James Duckett, Fort Mott Baptist Church in the Bronx, [Mari Litwak 00:12:13], Orthodox Union, [Rabbi Joe Pastinik 00:12:17], Executive Vice President of New York Board of Rabbis. There he is. [Eli Portcharma 00:12:24], Executive Director of Westchester Jewish Council, [Rabbi Adam Balton 00:12:31], Congregational Shariah [inaudible 00:12:33], and [Dr. Mill Isteem 00:12:36], Westchester Medical Center, Hudson Valley Equity Task Force.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (12:42)
We are grateful to be here together. I want to thank the governor for joining us here at Grace Church today. He’s been here many times. I’ve been blessed by his presence and his partnership, and I admire his leadership. I also am honored to host you here today. Today’s visit fulfills a commitment that you made last year to our community, that those were first in line to die from COVID would not be the last in line to get the vaccine, the vaccine that is helping us crush COVID and saving lives. That is one of the reasons I’ve always liked and respected you, sir. You are man of your word, like your father. Governor, you’ve been a servant leader during the darkest seasons of the pandemic. When there wasn’t a map and little understanding of the pandemic, you relentlessly navigated all of us in New York with information and inspiration.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (13:52)
Your example has been modeled by multiple states across the country. Your leadership set the standard for how to address the challenges of COVID, and you were delivered the worst case of COVID that hit the United States in the earliest moments of this experiment into our capacity to survive. Last year, you established the New York State Vaccine Task Force to make sure that the vaccines would be safe enough for the people of New York before you took your vaccine. And a short time after you created the Vaccine Equity Task Force, which I had the honor to serve as an executive committee member, to ensure the communities of color would not be overlooked as they so often and tragically are.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (14:36)
Dr. King told us that of all the forms of inequality, racial health injustice is the worst of them all. It often results in physical death, and it causes us to be shocked by how far we are from each other. COVID magnified that painful truth. Racism is a public health crisis, but you have made it your business to get enough vaccines for our people, and you have created mass vaccination sites all over the state that often have overnight hours so that working people could get the vaccine, and more people could get the vaccine quickly as possible.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (15:22)
And you have created pop-up sites at churches and community centers all over the state. You’re a man of your word, and you are a man of principle, and you’re a man of action. A lot of people talk a good game, but that’s all they can do, is talk. You put words into action, and you are saving lives. You said you would not take the vaccine until the people of color of your age category were eligible, and some risk to yourself. You waited three months, until last week, to get your vaccination. You have modeled behavior. You are been a servant leader, and you got the vaccine in Harlem, surrounded by leaders like [Mark Marielle 00:16:08] and [Hazel Dukes 00:16:08] and that community. You went to our community to raise the importance of the situation.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (16:17)
I’m a preacher. So, you know, I can’t help, but I’m going to tell you. [crosstalk 00:16:25] I got to tell you that the Bible says that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, get out of my way. And Governor, you have demonstrated that kind of courageous faith, and it has proven that we are moving the mountains that blocked us. It’s not the first time you’ve done it. Your whole career, your whole life, from serving people in housing and needs, your whole journey as a architect and laying out the blueprint for a better New York, of building the economy, the whole activity. Last week, I can’t help but cross the Mario Cuomo Bridge. Under your leadership, that bridge connected our state. It is an architectural genius that’s being seen all over the state, all over the nation. People are admiring it. And this afternoon I’m going to the new LaGuardia Airport to get a plane, and it wouldn’t be possible without you.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (17:23)
And across the street, the Thompson Towers, housing towers, it’s a partnership between our state and you and building affordable housing in this community. So your work ought to speak for you. And those of us who’ve been the beneficiaries of your commitment ought to stand up and speak. I have no question and I have no hesitation when asked to speak on behalf of the governor, because I know his works. [crosstalk 00:17:49] I know his works. Some people are stuck on words, but I’m stuck on work, and the governor has demonstrated great work.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (17:58)
You also made it clear that vaccines are safe, all three vaccines. I think you’ve done a magnificent job in letting the black and brown communities know that the vaccine is safe. You know, we have a history of distrust. That’s one of the things that we got to overcome. African-Americans, not only the actions of supply. That’s not just our problem. Our problem is that African-Americans and people of color have a historical reluctance, a history that takes away trust and builds fear. And so we have to go down deep to free people from misinformation and conspiracy theories that cause them to not want to take the [inaudible 00:18:41], but your focus on our community is a welcome focus, and we’re grateful. So having access to them is key. And you are making it a reality.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (18:49)
Right here at Grace Church, we are launching, as you said earlier, a pop-up site tomorrow, but also a vaccine center. You [inaudible 00:19:00], at first, those of us who are here, as the governor has said, [inaudible 00:19:03]vaccinations.com, and get the capacity to take it. This is the time to do it, and it will save lives: yours, mine, our neighbors. Remember, taking the vaccine is not just for you. You take a vaccine to save the lives of others. You take the vaccine to save our grandmothers and our grandfathers and our children. You take a vaccine to make our city safe, our nation and our state safe.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (19:32)
Houses of worship have been and will continue to be a crucial part of ending the crisis. I employ my fellow leaders of all faith to follow this model, which has worked so well in moments of real challenge. We reverends, rabbis and imams have come together to bring peace to our shared community. We must do that again. And now, with today’s announcement, people 50 or over will be eligible for vaccines.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (20:01)
As we learn in the book of Romans, love one another with brotherly love and affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Governor, you have shown us great honor, and today, we return that honor to you. You are saving lives. Thank God for your amazing leadership. And thank you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:33)
That’s why I spoke first. I’m not going to follow Reverend Richardson. As the Reverend said, tomorrow, and I want to highlight this, vaccines will be available for people 50 years old and above. So we are dropping the age as we’re vaccinating more people. Tomorrow morning, 50 and above, make your appointment and get your vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (21:06)
It’s now my pleasure to introduce Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard of Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon is a great town. It has been for many years. I started working in Mount Vernon, in this city. I was in my twenties doing housing work. A lot of challenges in Mount Vernon, but this is going to be spring for Mount Vernon also, Mayor. I want you to know that. And this is going to be a rebirth that brings everyone with it and is going to bring Mount Vernon back even better than before. With your leadership. We’ll do it together. Mayor, please.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (21:55)
Thank you so much, Governor Cuomo for coming to Mount Vernon. You said it’s hard to speak after Pastor Richardson. You preached this morning-
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (22:03)
You said it’s hard to speak after Pastor Richardson, you preached this morning as well. Y’all got a little Baptist minister in you, I see. You’ve been hanging out. Thank you always, as well, Dr. Richardson, for being an incredible community partner, for opening up Grace and working with our faith based community, because this is how we develop greater penetration into our community to reach those who are most vulnerable, those who are distrustful, those who have hesitancy. So we thank you. We also want to thank our Reverend Sharpton for joining us through Zoom this morning. We’re sorry that he couldn’t be here, but the magic of Zoom is allowing him to partner with us. Mount Vernon has suffered greatly, as so many communities across the country have. But being the blackest community North of the Mason Dixon Line in this country, we know that we have many frontward facing employees. We have not only our first responders, but we have essential workers like health workers. That’s 18% of our industry here. So 18% of the industry in Mount Vernon is health workers. They were on the front lines. Childcare workers, restaurant workers, retail workers, people every day. And even our government workers. We didn’t have the option to stay home. We had to go out every day. And so we’ve seen over 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID in Mount Vernon. And when you have a population of 70,000, and we know that there’s probably twice the number of people that were infected but were not able to be tested in the earlier stages, because we were ramping up and New York was hit hard early, we’re grateful that we have made it here today. In the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we saw over 25% of our first responders infected. Some were even on ventilators. And so this is something that we take very seriously in Mount Vernon.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (24:06)
We know, as already it’s been stated, that the pandemic has killed black Americans at twice the rate of white Americans, that it has killed the Hispanic Latino population at 1.5%, 1.5 times white populations. And here in Mount Vernon between our African-American and our Hispanic Latino population, that makes up about 84 to 85% of our population. So understand the devastation that we’ve experienced. We know that the vaccine is the beginning of the end for COVID. It’s the beginning of the end. And the only way that it can be the beginning of the end for COVID is if we take the vaccine, is if we get vaccinations into arms of our residents, old and young, black, white, Hispanic, North Side, South Side, it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, we need to get vaccines into the arms. And so we’re excited about that. Governor Cuomo and the New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force have gone to great lengths, great lengths to ensure that Johnson, Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations are available, and we know they’re speaking about AstraZeneca going through the process now.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (25:21)
And the state’s Equity Task Force, and that’s important. People talk about equality, but equality and equity are different. We’ve been infected at higher rates. We’ve died at higher rates. And so the vaccinations have to be available to us at higher rates. We have to make sure we’re getting them to those who need it most. I’m encouraged to see that New York state is working with our faith community, because as we said already, it’s how we get deepest penetration into our community. Now the key is making sure that we have access to vaccines. And so I’m excited, Governor Cuomo, that you have brought another pop-up vaccine here to Grace Baptist. In the beginning of the pandemic, they became a testing site. They did antibody testing. They’ve done several pop-ups. And they’re back to do a pop-up again. We’re glad that you’re working with our federally qualified health center, the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, as they’ve been incredible partners. And this will allow people to get more vaccines.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (26:24)
I believe that we’re doing the Johnson and Johnson, is that correct? And I’m excited about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. And why am I excited about the Johnson and Johnson? I’m not saying it’s better than other ones, but when you are working and managing under-resourced communities like ours, to be able to give one dose that has the same effectiveness, it’s half the work. We want to make sure that we’re using our resources wisely, that we’re able to get out and vaccinate our home bound, our disabled, our seniors, making sure we’re able to reach out into our homeless community and make sure that they’re vaccinated. It’s going to be hard to find them for a second vaccination. And so Johnson and Johnson gives a different option that I think we have to understand how critical it is. And being the former secretary of HUD, you know the homeless community is significant and increasing, especially in this time of COVID. I’m looking forward to taking my vaccination tomorrow now that we are at 50 and above.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (27:27)
I’m eligible to take it, so I’ll be here first thing in the morning. I’ll be here first thing in the morning to take it and I’m just excited about that. We are looking forward to a permanent site being here in Mount Vernon, Grace Baptist, the Neighborhood Health Center, working with our local pharmacies to ensure that there are multiple access points throughout Mount Vernon. You’ve been creating max vaccination sites all over the state and pop-up sites as well. So thank you again, reaching down into the community. I’m calling on everyone. We understand that people have hesitancy. We understand the history. We understand clinical trials now and trials back then that we didn’t even know were happening. We understand there’s hesitancy. But there’s plenty of things that we eat and we take into our bodies, and we’re not paying attention to that.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (28:24)
We have to trust the science at this moment. We have to trust the science. We have to understand that the social determinants of health, like housing, and economics, and transportation, education put us at a disadvantage, and our infection rates as well as our comorbidities are high. So we have to take advantage of this. We want to make sure that we’re opening up our economy and that our community is rebounding. We’ve already said that we are rebounding and resilient. And the only way that we can do this is if our health is stable. Our public health is equitable to our public economy. The two cannot be disconnected. So the churches, and the synagogues, and the mosques will definitely be able to host vaccination sites, and together we will crush COVID. So thank you, again.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: (29:24)
In closing, I just want to say, one of the biggest challenges that has been unique to Mount Vernon is not having a fully functioning hospital. We have not had an ICU since last July. And so that makes ensuring that we’re working to open our hospital more, but more importantly, ensuring that we are vaccinated so that we can keep our community safe. While we know that we have not necessarily stable healthcare here fully, we have to make sure that we do this. So please, I encourage you, I implore you to go out, to sign up here through Somos, who’s our partner, and make sure that we are getting everyone vaccinated. We look forward to more access to the vaccine on a continual basis and bringing our community back again. Like you said, it’s spring, and we’re ready to live, and to open up fully and enjoy our lives. Get back to a closer new normal. Thank you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (30:31)
Now if the technology is with us, we are going to be joined by Reverend Al Sharpton. Let me say this about the Reverend. He is a good friend. We’ve worked together for many, many years, more than either of us would care to admit. We’ve fought on the same side. We’ve tussled against each other, but we’ve always fought for the same goal. And I have tremendous respect for the Reverend. On the issue of distrust, hesitancy, and I’m with Reverend Richardson, I don’t like to use the word hesitancy because it’s not hesitancy. It’s distrust that the black community feels when they hear the Trump Administration says the vaccine is safe. Yeah, I didn’t trust the Trump Administration when they said the vaccine was safe. That’s why we had a New York panel review it, et cetera.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (31:23)
But now you have black medical professionals across the country saying it’s safe. You have 7 million New Yorkers who have already been vaccinated. I have said, I recommend it to my mother. I just took it the other day, so I’m not the best example yet. But here you have Reverend Sharpton who took the first dose weeks and weeks ago, because the way the system works in New York is it works by age. I don’t mean anything by that. I was just saying, it works by ago. So the more senior got the vaccine first, because we respect age, with age comes wisdom, comes seniority, comes experience. What else comes with age? Swagger comes with age. [crosstalk 00:32:38] … He doesn’t look happy. So the Reverend Sharpton has demonstrated his belief by his action. Last point, National Action Network. The word that matters is the middle word, action. Action. Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Richardson, it’s about action. It’s not advocacy for the sake of advocacy-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:03)
It’s about action. It’s not advocacy for the sake of advocacy. It’s not words for the sake of words. It’s making a difference in life. It’s about change. This Twitter politics that has taken over, “I tweet, therefore I am.” No. Make a difference in a person’s life, accomplish something, make change. Reverend Sharpton has made dramatic change. He has brought action. That’s what the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was about.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (33:33)
Action, change, progress, and the National Action Network and Reverend Sharpton have done just that. It’s my pleasure to partner with him. He’s going to take this message of the united faith-based community now all across the nation. He has a national voice and a national pulpit. This is another place where New York State can serve as a national model. The Reverend Richardson said it right, “Theology should not divide humanity when it is our time to be unified and come together. Because in that unity, there is strength.” Reverend Sharpton, it’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (34:23)
Thank you, Governor, and to the Mayor and to Dr. Richardson and to all of the faith leaders that are there at Grace Baptist Church as we unveil this effort to get houses of worship to sign up to being sites in the Turn Up Your Sleeve campaign. It is important that we do this.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (34:49)
Let me say that Dr. Richardson, not only pastors Grace Baptist Church, but chairs the National Conference of Black Churches and chairs the board of National Action Network. The Mayor, who has also been a shero in our community and those faith leaders, many of whom we work with very closely, Bishop Edwards and others, on many issues, but there’s no issue that is more important than this.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (35:17)
Let me say this to the Governor, despite these age wise cracks that you make, that we will never forget that in the later part of last year when people were looking at the racial inequity of how COVID-19 was impacting the country and the State, you stepped up and raised that issue first and made it a national issue. Therefore we will always remember that you had the courage to stand up and now we must stand up and take advantage of the State again showing the nation that faith-based buildings, buildings that are temples of trust. Even those that don’t attend a church or synagogue or mosque know that their families always would bury their dead here and would marry there and would come to get hope when there was despair.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (36:24)
There is some level of trust that houses of worship have. No better place could be a place to turn then not only to pop-ups, but to now vaccine sites where people can pop in and roll up their sleeve and get help. That is why I joined Governor Cuomo. As he said, we’ve known each other for decades, even though we are both younger than Dr. Richardson. [Crosstalk 00:36:53].
Dr. Richardson: (36:57)
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (37:04)
The only reason I’m not there in person is that I just got my second shot about an hour ago here at Harlem Hospital, because I just am keeping the schedule of when you get your second vaccine. I want people to know I was hesitant. I was one among many that said, “We need to be sure.” Because history has made us skeptical. But as I saw black doctors like Dr. Kinsey Corbin step up and say, “I was part of making this vaccine.” As we saw black experts around the country speak up. And as we saw people still being afflicted, we don’t have the luxury of waiting. We must do all we can, as we can on the ground to save our people and this is not over. In the last 10 days, two members of my staff at National Action Network has been found to be positive with COVID.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (38:07)
So we need this, we must do this. We are beginning to see our way out of it, but we’re not there yet. And I can say that from our own staff at National Action Network, that is why we need churches all over the State, mosques and synagogues to sign up with this campaign. And we will take this model around the country. I’ve said to the Governor as other sites are there, I will join with them and others in being at those sites, because we cannot allow anything to distract the fact that we are fighting for our very lives. And we’re fighting with those that have stood up and said, “We cannot have a segregated way out of this. We must come out of this together.” And if blacks have suffered disproportionately, we must disproportionately remedy what the suffering is. And that’s what I salute and stand with you on, Governor Cuomo.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (39:07)
Let me make it clear. Our appeal is to people everywhere as we open these sites, all we ask you to do is roll up your sleeve. Roll up your sleeve and do it for your loved ones. Nine years ago today, my mother passed on this day, nine years ago. Not only was she my mother and father, I was raised by a single mother, she was my best friend. I know she would want me to say today what I’m saying with you Governor and with you Dr. Richardson, and with you madame Mayor, that we need to save lives. The Bible says, I will say as a Baptist minister, that, “You must not turn my house from a house of thieves to a house of prayer.” We must turn our houses to houses of prayer and not just let people be robbed by false information, misinformation and conspiracy theories that will remedy them into harm’s way.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (40:07)
So roll up your sleeve for your mother. Roll up your sleeves for your children. Roll up your sleeves for grandmamma. Pull up your sleeves for the life and safety about community. We’re not asking you on this occasion to march. We’re not asking you in this occasion to go to jail for civil disobedience. All we’re asking you to do is come to a house of faith and roll up your sleeves. And let’s save our communities. Let’s do it by putting our arm to the wheel or arm to a vaccination, and let us become those that led us out of this pandemic.
Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson: (40:50)
50 years from now historian will say, “What did they do during this critical time? What did they do when New York State and other States were close down? When the Broadway lights were dim? The theaters closed, the restaurant is closed. What did they do when they couldn’t even go to church and had to do it virtually?” Let history record that we came together across theological and racial and denominational lines, across political lines. We may be of different colors and different faiths, but we together rolled up our sleeves to save one another. Thank you and God bless you.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (41:43)
Amen. Reverend Sharpton as usual, beautifully said and correctly so. Thank you. I think everyone heard the message today. Now it’s just about doing it. It’s just about doing it. Thank you for being here. God bless you. Amen.