Mar 9, 2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript March 9
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference on March 9, 2021 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)
And what it is today, and it is night and day. We’ve been breaking all sorts of records. Attendance records. It’s revitalized the entire region. I want to congratulate everyone who’s been associated with the fair, but I want to give a special thank you and shout-out to Troy Waugh, who’s done a great job. Let’s give Troy a round of applause.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:26)
And now, this site, State Fairgrounds, great recreation area, great attraction, it has transformed itself to where this site is today, the second largest mass vaccination site in the United States of America. It did 9,500 vaccinations in the past 24 hours, second only to Javits Center. Isn’t that amazing? Give the whole group and the National Guard a round of applause for what you’re doing here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:13)
I want to welcome some special guests who are with us today. You’re going to hear from Ann Marie Taliercio in a moment, right after me. Then you’re going to hear from, who represents the AFL-CIO, as you know. Then you’re going to hear from Fanny Villarreal, who represents the YWCA. And then you’re going to hear from Pastor Draper, who is going to speak on behalf of all the pastors who are here and the faith-based community that is working in partnership with this organization. I also want to recognize a special member of our society for many, many years. A great, great leader, Van Robinson. Let’s give him a round of applause. We also have Paul Dickens with us from the CSEA, and I thank him.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:09)
Look. Where we are now in this long journey of this past year, we are now coming down to the end. Are we at the end? No. That’s why we have to stay smart. We have to stay safe. Masks, et cetera. But we’re at the beginning of the end. And the end is the vaccine. The vaccine is the weapon that wins the war. We know that. It’s been tested. It’s been proven. Now, you have to make the weapon, and that’s taking time. Biden Administration, God bless them, has increased the number of vaccine distribution. They’ve moved it up, so we’re going to have many more vaccines faster, and that’s good news. But you have to make the vaccine. You have to distribute the vaccine, which is a massive governmental operation. Nobody’s ever had to mobilize like this in this short a period of time. It’s what today’s center is all about.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:14)
And then third, you have to get people to accept it. You can have the vaccine, you can have the distribution center, but until that needle is in an arm, it doesn’t mean anything. Now, the supply of the vaccine is dependent on the federal government, and that ebbs and flows. Why? Because when the Biden Administration came in, they didn’t have enough vaccine for the country. They just had not bought enough vaccine. President Biden comes in, opens the vaccine cupboard, the cupboard is bare. They have scrambled, and they have secured more vaccine, but it’s uneven, so we got a big dosage of Johnson and Johnson. One shot. Great. We got that last week. But then it’s going to trail off for a couple of weeks, and then it’s going to increase again, the supply. So you’re going to see an unevenness to the vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:15)
Everybody says, “I want the vaccine. Why can’t I get it?” Because there’s not enough vaccine. That’s the simple answer. And you are going to see this ebb and flow in the supply from the federal government. That’s a fact. We’re going to have to deal with it. It’s going to be still an annoying few months, but we’re getting there. But the supply is increasing. If the supply is increasing, we can then increase our distribution levels.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:46)
And I’m very pleased to say today that our first level was 65 years old plus. Right? Because COVID affects older people more, so our initial threshold was essential workers, nursing home, 65 plus. We’re going to drop the 65 year old plus to 60 year old plus, and that’s going to start tomorrow, so now 60 year old plus are going to be available. They can start making appointments tomorrow. They can make them at the mass vaccination sites. They can make them at pharmacies. But that will start 8:00 AM tomorrow, 60 plus. That means people like as old as I am now will be available, eligible for the vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:48)
Second, all sites, starting March 17th, next Wednesday … All sites, county sites, FQHC sites, mass vaccination sites, we have thousands of distribution sites … All sites to simplify the situation can vaccinate anyone who is eligible. All right? So whether you’re going to a county-run site, a city-run site, what they call an FQHC, every site can vaccinate anyone who is eligible with one exception. Pharmacies still will only be doing 60-plus and teachers, 60-plus and teachers. Why? Because the pharmacies, it’s not as easy for them to identify different types of workers, et cetera. They can identify age because age you can identify by just the driver’s license.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:48)
And President Biden, rightfully so, has made teachers a priority, so pharmacies will do 60-plus and teachers. We want to get those schools open. Every other site will be doing every other person who is eligible. Also on March 17th, next Wednesday, the public-facing public employees will also be eligible, not-for-profit public-facing emergency employees, and employees who are providing necessary services like the YWCA. They will also be available. Essential public workers will also be available. Public-facing building workers will also be available. These are the people who are the everyday heroes, who are out there doing their job. They’re putting themselves in a possible position of exposure. They are essential for us to continue operating. They’re going to become eligible on March 17th. Let’s give them a round of applause.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:05)
Last point is the distribution is working, it’s going out, it’s going out fast, not as fast as we would like but as fast as the supply allows. It also has to be fair, it has to be fair. We’ve talked about this from Day One. COVID discriminates. COVID discriminates by race. They say the virus is race-blind. Yes and no. It will infect anyone but by circumstance it infected blacks and Hispanics more than whites. Twice as many black people died from COVID as white people. Twice as many black people died from COVID as white people. Just think about that. One and a half times as many Hispanic people died from COVID as white people. Just think about that. COVID discriminates. Black population had less access to healthcare. Hispanic population had less access to healthcare. Black-Hispanic population had more comorbidities, more underlying conditions. That’s why COVID preyed on blacks and Hispanics more than they did the white population.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:23)
So when it comes to the vaccine, it is very important that we correct that injustice and we make sure that we have access to everyone. You take Central New York. 87% of the population is white, 94% of the people who received the vaccine are white. 87% of the population, 94% of the vaccine. Black population 11%, only 5% of the vaccine. Hispanic population 4%, only 2% of those who have been vaccinated. Asian population 3%, only 2% of those who have been vaccinated. So we need to increase the vaccination number for the black, Hispanic and Asian population. One of the reasons the pastors are here today is to say, “Look, we understand there’s a hesitancy issue.” I don’t like the word hesitancy because it’s a muddled word. There’s a trust issue. Black community has less trust of the system. “Oh, how can you say that?” It’s true. It’s true. Tuskegee experiment, they have less trust of the system. Well, the Trump administration said it’s safe. I don’t believe the Trump administration. Says the black community. By the way, I don’t believe the Trump administration, says me, Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:56)
We had a New York State panel that also reviewed it. We’ve done six million dosages. It’s worked. Top black professionals, medical professionals in the United States say take it. I’ve recommended it to my mother who has taken it. I am going to recommend it to my daughters who have taken it. I am going to make an appointment. I am going to take it. The pastors who are here today are saying take it. There is no reason why anyone would be recommending this vaccine unless they believed it saved lives and has proof that it saves lives. We want to stop this virus, we have to stop the virus. You know how you win a war? You go out and you win the war. You go out and you defeat the enemy. The enemy doesn’t defeat themselves. No war does the enemy defeat themselves. All the training that the National Guard receives, the army receives. Nobody ever says, “Wait for the enemy to destroy themselves.” Go out there and crush them. You know how you crush them? You crush them with this vaccine, but we have to take it, and then let’s get back to work, let’s rebuild this economy, let’s rebuild this state, let’s get our lives back to normal, let’s get children back in school. Let’s get paychecks back in homes, let’s get normal society functioning again. This vaccine is the ticket. We just have to make it happen. Thank you and God bless you.
Speaker 1: (12:41)
Well before I start, I’m [inaudible 00:12:43] and I’m the proud representative of my union brothers and sisters in Central New York. I represent the Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and I have written remarks because I don’t want to forget one word, but before I do go into them, Governor, I want to personally thank you because for this whole year, I knew Governor Cuomo and the state of New York, his team, had my back. We don’t like to go into politics of our country but I wasn’t so sure either if I was going to take the vaccine, but when I heard that New York State had the professionals, were talking with worldwide professionals, but the council that sits somewhere, I don’t know where you sit, Albany, wherever, I know you were looking at the vaccine. So I knew, and I did take it. I don’t want to say why, these ages creep up on you but I happen to be in one of those age groups and I took it, I feel so much freer now that I took it, and I wear my mask but thank you Governor for always having our back. That’s so important. So important to all of us. As we know you have our back. I know, I live with a military veteran. So thank you Governor, and it’s always an honor to be with you, especially when you bring good news about more vaccine.
Speaker 1: (14:09)
But then again I was thinking these words over. When doesn’t he come with good news? It’s usually about a better state fair, it’s usually about economic development and today it’s about a vaccine, which is really the lifeblood is what we need to go forward. This is what’s going to get everything back moving again and I represent workers who have been out for a year. They’re with the hotel and restaurant workers, that’s my actual job. They’re never going to go back to work unless we have this vaccine. So besides my brothers and sisters of my union, we have the union men and women of Central New York to thank because they are the essential workers. They are the community when you say the community. It’s union brothers and sisters who go out and do the work every day, regardless of what’s going on.
Speaker 1: (15:04)
Thank you to CSEA because you can’t Zoom garbage collection. You can’t Zoom snowplowing, and we all know we really need snowplowing in Central New York, that’s a done deal. We’d go nowhere without our snowplows. We like to say we can now buy food online but not everybody has computer access. The retail clerks in the supermarkets, these were the frontline workers that went out every day and they risked their lives, but now with the advent of more vaccine and a governor who watches our back about these things, we got the vaccine all through this difficult year. When it was available, we got it first, and now they’re going to be able to go to work and do their job with the security that they have the vaccine. So for all of them I thank you and their families. Because we all know what it’s like to go to work and not really know if you’re coming home and if you have to worry about –
Speaker 1: (16:03)
… not really know if you’re coming home and if you have to worry about not having a vaccine, but now you don’t. It’s there. You just have to go get it is. It is welcomed news. It brings really security and relief to all our workers here to get our economy going again. It’s a quick act. You just go. We have wonderful caretakers that give us the shot. You get it. You go home. You rest a little. For the most part, you’re fine and you can go to work the next day.
Speaker 1: (16:29)
We have three vaccines. They are all safe. They’re all available. Or as they become available, just make that appointment and get a shot. We have the Pfizer. We have Moderna. And we have Johnson and Johnson. I’ve spoken to a lot of people, symptoms, some people get them. You know you have to be careful if you are the one who gets them, but seems to be all over the board. Some get them. Most don’t get them. I’ve spoken to the nurses who gives a shots and who work up at the hospital. They said, you just have to be careful.
Speaker 1: (17:04)
I want to thank the governor for today’s announcement. Your efforts have saved lives. Another thing I’ve said, if it wasn’t for your leadership since March, maybe just about a year ago, I believe Central New York would have been ravaged. That virus would have worked, it would have got off a plane in Syracuse. It may have gotten off in LaGuardia, but it would have gotten back on and gotten off in Syracuse. I think a lot of us are here today because of your quick action. I mean this. I mean this. Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (17:40)
Thank you. Oh, I was supposed to take my mask off.
Speaker 1: (17:57)
Did you hear me?
Fanny Villarreal: (17:59)
Fanny Villarreal: (18:03)
Thank you, Governor. I am glad to stand here with you today to join this announcement. Thank you very much.
Fanny Villarreal: (18:10)
I would like to acknowledge some of our friends that are here. Linda Brown Robinson, the immediate past president of Syracuse [inaudible 00:18:18]. My dear friend, right there, Ben Robinson. Superintendent [inaudible 00:18:31]. Where’s he at? Wendy Colucci, the field coordinator of Central New York Area Labor Federation. Welcome. Paul Deacons United President CSEA [inaudible 00:18:49] County. Walt Dixie Executive Director of Jubilee homes. Elisa Morales Executive Director, Spanish Action League. Gwendolyn Mouk Syracuse [inaudible 00:19:06] NAACP. Gwendolyn. Michael Nancy, labor relations specialists CSEA, Local 1000. John Schick, political action coordinator for the CSEA. Ann Marie Taliercio, the President of Central New York Area Labor Federation. Pastor Derek [inaudible 00:19:37] moderator of Northeastern Youth Direction of [inaudible 00:19:41]. Dr. Amy Tucker, my colleague and Chair of the Central New York Health Regional Equity Task Force.
Fanny Villarreal: (19:54)
Thank you very much. Good morning. I am Fanny Villarreal, the YWCA Executive Director and Central New York Ambassador for the State Health Equity Task Force. Last year has been hard on many, many people and groups, including the not-for-profits. It is hard to run a not-for-profit even in normal times. The COVID crisis has just made this far worse. Still, not-for-profits like the YWCA have remained New York tough. I agree with the governor that the vaccine is what ends the suffering. I have been proud to join in and his efforts to make sure the vaccine is fairly distributed.
Fanny Villarreal: (20:34)
Today, he’s once again delivered on his mission. Opening eligible to not-for-profit workers on the front lines will allow hard working organizations across the state to do what we do best. We need these workers vaccinated to bring vital services, programming, and other supports to our communities, especially here in Central New York. I got the vaccine and I can tell you, it’s safe. After a year of constant uncertainty, I can tell you how much relief it brought to me. I did it because I love my family and I love my community. Now, with the same love, it is my mission to educate about the importance of the vaccine.
Fanny Villarreal: (21:24)
With three vaccines now available, more of us will be able to feel the same security it brings. I urge everyone who is now eligible to do the same. It’s time we get back to our life, to pick up the pieces of last year, and get back to the necessary work or rebuilding our community.
Fanny Villarreal: (21:45)
Thank you again, Governor Cuomo. This is another step in the effort to end the crisis once and for all. God bless you. Thank you.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (22:05)
Let the church say amen.
Speaker 2: (22:05)
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (22:07)
Oh, that just feels right that I’m up here. Certainly we thank you, Governor Cuomo, for gathering us here today. I speak on behalf of my colleagues that share with us and thank you for your leadership, especially on the issue of distributing the vaccine.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (22:26)
If I can recognize the clergy that are here with us today, I am a Reverend DeCarto Draper, the senior pastor with Tucker Missionary Baptist Church here in the city of Syracuse. We have Pastor H. Bernard Alex, the senior pastor of the Victory Temple Baptist Church; Pastor Sharon Bow, Hope Chapel AME Zion Church in Utica; Pastor Darren Duson, Leap Of Faith Outreach Ministry; Pastor Derek Galloway, founder and senior pastor of Connected Christian Church; Pastor Darren C. Jaime, the pastor of the People’s AME Zion Church; Pastor James Jones, Praise Temple Church Of God In Christ. We have Pastor Sean Robertson, pastor of the Southern Missionary Baptist Church; Pastor Derek Tannahill, who serves as the pastor of the Pentecost Evangelical Baptist Church, as well as the moderator of the Northeastern Baptist District Association; Pastor Phil Turner, the pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church; Elder Wallis Barkins Sr., Brotherly Love Church Of God In Christ; and Elder Wallace Barkins Jr., Brotherly Love Church Of God In Christ. Thank you all for sharing with us today.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (23:41)
We know that this shot is what ends the suffering that COVID has brought to our African-American, or shall we say, Black and Brown communities. There are those of us that may be standing here who survived COVID. You’re looking at a COVID survivor. The vaccine plays a-
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (24:03)
-vibrant. So the vaccine plays a very important role as we try to curtail and curb COVID-19. We want to say to you today, Mr. Governor, thank you not only for your leadership in the state of New York, but in our nation. It was you who was a trailblazer for us in the midst of uncertain and uncanny and unscrupulous leadership. We thank you that you rose to the occasion, and New York was a trailblazer for other states as we fought COVID-19.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (24:42)
I’m reminded today of what Paul says to his son in ministry, Timotheus. He says, “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, and I’ve kept the faith.” Indeed, Governor Cuomo, you have led us to the end of this race, and we now have three vaccines. There’s still a lot of fight ahead. However, we need to get this vaccine into the arms of as many people as possible.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (25:12)
Now, I say this, that a lot of us think that getting the vaccine is responsible, but I flip it and say the vaccine is important for those who are irresponsible, for those who won’t wear a mask, for those who won’t social distance, for those who will not think about the families of others, for those of us that stand here today as clergy. A lot of us have had to stand and commit bodies to the ground because of COVID-19. So now that we have this vaccine, I heard one of the prior speakers say about the symptoms or the side effects, I said to my congregation, “I would rather have a side effect that have to go to the cemetery.”
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (26:09)
Today’s announcement helps us do just that. More vaccines are on the way. Again, we want to thank the governor and his team for continuing to work with the houses of worship to deliver the vaccine directly to the communities that need it. Efforts have been made better with the approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and it actually works a lot better for some people because it’s one shot. For those who are homeless and those who may not have the transportation to get both shots, this Johnson and Johnson shot will help us get those people who are in the underserved and underprivileged communities vaccinated. So now we can open this up to more New Yorkers, which will allow us to end this suffering for over the last year.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (27:02)
I shared with the young ladies who stood with us that for the first time in my life, I’ve never been able to go to church on Easter Sunday or my members were not able to come or they were not able to attend on Mother’s Day. For the first time, people were not able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with family members. So we understand. We understand in the African American community that there’s a lot of mistrust, and part of that is, Mr. Governor, it’s because a lot of us in the African American community have Southern roots. We have Southern roots, and we understand what happened with the Tuskegee experiment. Matter of fact, we have a Tuskegee alum with us, Dr. H. Bernard. Alex is a proud alum of Tuskegee University.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (27:52)
But we say that we trust Dr. Fauci and we trust Dr. Zucker, and locally, we trust Dr. Gupta. I even trust Dr. [inaudible 00:28:04] on CNN, because it’s important to us that we get back to our way of life. The only way to get back to this way of life is that we must encourage the vaccine, and my prayer is that if you’re not going to take the vaccine, please don’t talk other people against it, is that you make it … Let it be a personal decision.
Rev. DeCarto Draper: (28:38)
Again, we say thank you, Governor Cuomo and your team, for leading us through a dark and dismal period. But we thank you that you stood tall, you stood strong, and we want you to know that we appreciate your leadership and loyalty to the state of New York. Now, I wouldn’t be a preacher. I left here with something, and I want you to be encouraged by this, Mr. Governor. The Bible declares, “Now unto him who was able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (29:20)
Beautiful words. Let’s give the reverend another round of applause. Beautiful, Reverend. Let’s give Fannie a round of applause and Marie. Okay. Let’s sum it up. Number one, 60-year-olds are eligible starting tomorrow, making appointments starting tomorrow, 8:00 AM. Remember, it’s still uneven. We still don’t have enough supply, but do your best. I know it requires patience, but 60-year-olds start tomorrow. Next week, March 17th, all sites, county sites, all sites can administer vaccines to any eligible population, except pharmacies. Pharmacies will only be doing 60-plus and teachers. Also, next Wednesday, March 17th, the everyday heroes, the essential workers, YWCA, public employees, et cetera will be eligible for the vaccine. We’re going to go to work. I’m going back. I’m getting on the phone, talking to the White House. You know what I’m going to ask the White House for? Two words, more vaccine. Let’s go to work. Thank you very much.