Jan 8, 2021
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Press Conference on COVID-19, Capitol Riot Transcript January 8
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a January 8 press conference to provide COVID-19 updates. He also addressed the attack on the U.S. Capitol that took place on Wednesday. He said: “I believe President Trump should resign. I believe if he doesn’t resign, I believe he should be impeached.” Read the full transcript of his news briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
… eventful week, and the most crucial thing that happened, the most lasting thing that happened is what happened in Washington, D.C. We’ve seen a lot over the past four years. I’ve seen a lot over the past four years with this administration, but I would have never imagined anything as horrific as what happened in Washington, D.C. This was not a political rally. This was not democracy in action. This was anarchy. This is an explosion of hate. This is the result of a leader who for four years actually appealed to the worst in people, appealed to fear and racism and discrimination, appealed to people’s fear of different people.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07)
This country is made up of different people. That’s the founding premise of the country. We’re all different. That was how we were formed. That is the American franchise. When you demonize differences, you literally tear the fabric of the nation apart, and that’s what this president has done from day one. The old political strategy, divide and conquer, divide white from black, divide Jewish people from non-Jewish people, divide gay people, LGBTQ from non-LGTBQ, divide old immigrants from new immigrants. Divide, divide, divide, divide, that’s what he excelled at.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:02)
He martialed hate. He marshaled fear, and that’s what you saw happen in the Capitol. You look at what these people were celebrating. It was racism. It was anti-Semitism. “Camp Auschwitz.” How disgusting a statement. ” Six million weren’t enough.” How repugnant and repulsive a statement. Confederate flag, this was the KKK in Charlottesville, who didn’t wear a mask because they felt liberated in their hate by President Trump. It’s so horrific on so many levels.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:01)
I was in the Federal Government for eight years at a very contentious time. I was there during the Clinton administration, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This was during impeachment. This was the Newt Gingrich revolution. This was a really heated political environment, but nothing like this, nothing like this, nothing like the vitriol and hate that we saw here. From a security point of view, I’m shocked at what they allowed to happen. I remember walking into a federal building. You had to go through metal detectors, take everything out of your pockets as a Cabinet secretary. The security of government, the security of the American government, that is paramount and international countries and anarchy groups watch this.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:06)
The State of the Union Address, several times I was the person, the Cabinet member who didn’t attend and the State of the Union. Why? They were so security conscious that they said, “Well, if everyone is in the State Capitol, it’s an opportunity for someone to attack. So they had one Cabinet member stay out just in case there was, God forbid, an attack. Look at the level of security and the level of planning, and then they gave me all these briefings and showed me all these national security issues. What happened to the security of the nation’s Capitol?
Andrew Cuomo: (04:59)
I mean, if you’re looking at this, any bunch of thugs, any mob can literally take over the government, which is what they did. The police, what happened? What happened to the security forces? I mean, look at the difference when President Trump wanted to walk across the street to hold a Bible in front of a church for a photo opportunity, he had the attorney general as the advance man. He had troops, he had tear gas. He had people on horseback clearing the way for a photo opportunity. When there are protests for civil rights, with predominantly black and Latino protesters, look at how they acted. And here you had for hours this crowd running rampant.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:09)
They said to me at the beginning of it, “Maybe we should send down the National Guard.” I said, “Well, by the time we assemble the National Guard and we get them down, it would be hours. I’m sure, given the police presence in Washington, D.C., they’re going to have thousands of police in a matter of moments.” It never happened. It never occurred. How does that happen? And what signal does it send about the vulnerability of this nation?
Andrew Cuomo: (06:48)
I mean, it is so disturbing on so many levels. I’ll tell you the truth. I can’t stop thinking about it. This, my friends, is a moment in history. There are moments. What did you do at the time of 9/11? What was your reaction? What was your response? There are moments that define you, that are a picture of your character and a picture of your soul and what you believe and who you are fundamentally. COVID was a snapshot, a long snapshot, but a snapshot. What did you do when COVID happened? How did you react? Did you stand up? Did you run away? Were you competent? Were you incompetent?
Andrew Cuomo: (07:45)
It was a moment. This is a moment in history and we’re going to be defined by what we did in this moment. Certainly elected officials are going to be defined by this moment. Certainly federal elected officials are going to be defined by this moment. It’s what statement we make as a people about what we believe about government and democracy. I believe President Trump should resign. I believe if he doesn’t resign, I believe he should be impeached. “Well, he only has 13 days.” That’s not the point. The point is the statement that we do not tolerate this as a government. That’s why impeachment.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:36)
Now, impeachment will bring great anguish to the country. The last thing I want to see, and this nation needs, is another period of division, another period of hyper political activity. But if he won’t resign, I believe impeachment is appropriate. By the way, impeachment also means the president doesn’t have the power to pardon, and some of the pardons this president has done are really reprehensible. But I believe if he doesn’t resign, he should be impeached, but I believe he should resign.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:19)
I call on every New York federal official to call for President Trump’s resignation. Don’t put the country through an impeachment. Don’t wait for any Cabinet action. Call for him to resign as his own act, but call for him to resign. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. I don’t care if you’re a Republican. I don’t care what you are. You’re a government official. You took an oath. You saw the anarchy. You saw the hatred. You saw the vandalism. You saw the theft. You saw the breakdown of society. You saw this nation look like a joke internationally. Put your politics aside and do what any reasonable American believes.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:20)
Now, even in this political time, we still have reasonable Americans. There is no reasonable American who looked at that screen and so what happened and said, “This is okay.” There’s no reasonable American who saw what the president did and said, “This is okay.” None. Are there hatemongers who say, “Yeah, that’s right, overthrow the government.” Sure there are, sure there are those voices, but don’t respond to those voices. Don’t respond to those voices. Respond to what reasonable Americans, reasonable New Yorkers believe, responsible New Yorkers believe. Put principle over party.
Andrew Cuomo: (11:12)
There is no Republican or Democratic elected official, federal official who can look in the mirror today and say, “I condone what happened. I condone what this president did.” None. You support an orderly transition of power, President Trump resigns, Vice President Pence takes over, Vice President Pence governs for the remaining days. That’s an orderly transition of power and a statement of principle. Make that statement today. If you don’t, you will live with it forever. And the question is simple, where you with the mob or are you with the American people?
Andrew Cuomo: (12:02)
If you’re a New York federal representative, are you with the mob or are you with New Yorkers? That’s what I ask you today. New Yorkers, Democrats and Republicans, they don’t support mob rule. They don’t support racism. They don’t support antisemitism. They don’t support discrimination. They don’t support anarchy. No New Yorker does, and if they do, I don’t care if you’re a Republican, you don’t want to represent those sentiments. You don’t. No responsible elected official should. Let our congressional delegation show this country that we still have reasonable leadership and principled leadership and say, “Yes, this president should resign. The president should resign.”
Andrew Cuomo: (13:07)
Show that solidarity, show that yes, there is some common sense left the government and some decency left in elected officials, despite the crazy political times. And if you don’t, you will live with it. You will live with it. The question will always be, what did you do when Washington, anarchy descended? What did you do when they were climbing through the windows saying, “6 million dead Jewish people wasn’t enough.” What did you do at that moment? And you will live with the consequences. The numbers today, statewide positivity without micro-clusters 7.49, with micro-clusters 7.7, micro-clusters 8.3, 243,000 tests, which is a large number of tests, 161 deaths. We remember them in our thoughts and prayers. Statewide hospitalization up 13, discharges down 23. Hospital admissions up 18. ICU plus 51, intubations plus 53.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:37)
We know these numbers. We know what is happening. This was all predictive. It is all predictive. Thanksgiving, holidays, socialization, holiday spread. The number goes up. We’ve said that since before Thanksgiving and we said, ” Celebrate smart, stop the spread, social gatherings.” The infection rate went up. You look across the state, Finger Lakes still highest percent of people hospitalized. Positivity rate, still the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, capital region. Still makes the point, it depends on your behavior, your belief in your community. It is community spread. How do you resolve community spread? The community acts differently. That’s the simple truism here. New York City, Bronx is now spiking. Manhattan 4.4, Staten Island 7.8, Brooklyn 6.7, Queens 7.4.
Andrew Cuomo: (15:56)
We are in a foot race. What’s the foot race? How fast the infection rate goes up, how fast the vaccination rate goes up and who wins? That’s the whole predictive equation going forward. How fast does infection rate go up? How fast does the vaccination rate go up? I am telling you, we are in a danger zone. The infection rate is going up quickly. The faster the infection rate goes up, the faster the hospitalization rate goes up, the hospitalization rate goes up, the hospitals reach capacity. Hospitals reach capacity, economy shuts down. That is what happens.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:44)
Add to that foot race, a new factor, the UK strain. The UK strain is here. One case in New York, two cases in Connecticut, one case in Pennsylvania, 26 in California. This is one nation, people get on a plane, they travel. It’s here, it’s here and it’s spreading. This infection rate is frightening. Spoken to global experts, UK experts, this is the Usain Bolt of infection rates. Usain Bolt was a phenomenal sprinter, holds records. That’s what the UK strain is. It took over the UK in three weeks. In three weeks. This strain is so powerful it overtakes the original strain.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:38)
So in the foot race between the infection rate and the vaccine, you just add Usain Bolt on the side of the infection rate. On the vaccine rate, New York receives 300,000 doses per week. Okay? From the Federal Government. That’s the entire dosage amount that we receive. You have to vaccinate 70% to 90% to achieve herd immunity. We have 20 million people. That means we have to do 14 million vaccinations. At the low level of the herd immunity, 70%, that’s 14 million. How long does it take you to do 14 million vaccines if you get them in the arms as soon as you get them if you’re getting 300,000 per week? 47 weeks, 47 weeks. You know what that means? We lose the foot race. That means hospitals are overwhelmed. We don’t win that race. Hospitals, we will close when you’re 21 days of 15% capacity.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:55)
You see the hospital capacity reducing across the state. We’ve done everything we can to increase capacity. Adding 50% hospital beds, we’re balancing patient load, we’re finding additional staff. So we’ve increased capacity and we’re still climbing. If the hospital capacity continues to climb, we are going to close regions, and you can see where we are. We’re 22% in the capital region, north country is doing better for demographic reasons. But 21 days from 15%, we close. Why? Because we then have 21 days to try to come up with alternative accommodations for hospitals and hopefully 21 days of a closed economy will slow the spread somewhat. It won’t slow the spread entirely. This is not like the spring, because this spread is more on social gatherings. And many of the economies are partially closed, but that is what we are looking at.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:17)
Do I have a crystal ball? No, but it’s math. It’s math and you can extrapolate out the numbers. And look around, it’s happening everywhere. You’re seeing hospital systems overwhelmed. UK closed, Germany closed, Italy closed. California, the hospitals have been overwhelmed. Hospitals get overwhelmed, you call an ambulance, the ambulance doesn’t come because the ambulance has no place to take you. That’s how frightening this situation is and how serious it is.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:01)
Well, how do you slow it? There’s only two options. You slow the spread, slow down Usain Bolt, or you increase the vaccine supply. We can’t increase the vaccine supply. We don’t control the vaccine supply. It’s all done federally and then we get a proportionate amount. What we get, we have to get into people’s arms. We started with group 1a, which are the nurses and the doctors, the hospital staff. Why? I said yesterday, silly analogy, which I’m prone to do, in the airplane they say when the oxygen mask drops down, “Put it on your face first before your child’s face.” Why? Because you’re no good to your child if you’re dead, that’s why, to be blunt. We need the hospital staff safe.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:00)
Hospital staff safe. First, if they’re infected, they won’t show up to work. That reduces the hospital capacity. Second, if they’re infected and they don’t know it, they are then super- spreaders. So, put the mask on the hospital workers first. Keep that hospital capacity open, and the hospital capacity right now, is most limited by staff shortages. We’ve increased the number of beds. We have a staff shortage and we have nurses who are getting sick. That’s why 1-A is health healthcare workers, and by the way, that is universal across the country, universal, federal guidance, state guidance, anyone who has a head on their shoulders, do the healthcare workers first. Healthcare workers are called group 1-A. They are all now eligible. There are 2.1 million healthcare workers in the State of New York. They are all eligible.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:15)
Where do they live? This is where they live regionally, and again, it’s basically a breakdown of the population in the state, but they’re all throughout the state in concentrations of population. We know who they are. We know where they live. We know where they work. The percentage that has been vaccinated to date, and this is the problem. North Country has done 37% of the healthcare workers. Finger Lakes, 26, Buffalo, 23, Southern Tier 23, Central New York, 24, Mohawk Valley, 23, Capital Region, 29, Long Island, 25. New York City has only done 13. New York City, not only is the lowest number, it’s also one of the places of the greatest density, so we’re concerned about it. But those numbers are very, very low. They’re just no when near where we need to be. What is the percent of healthcare workers you still have to do? The inverse number, 63, 74, 75, New York City, 87% of the healthcare workers still have to be done.
Andrew Cuomo: (24:38)
Well, not all healthcare workers will take the vaccine. That’s right. Not all New Yorkers will take the vaccine, but we have to get to 70 to 90%. If you don’t get the 70 to 90%, you don’t have herd immunity. The vaccine doesn’t work. The healthcare workers have to be a minimum of 70. All the expectations were, they would be much higher than 70, because you can’t have the general population below 70, and the healthcare workers are the most informed. Now, doctors overwhelmingly, are taking the vaccination. Nurses are somewhere between 85 to 70%, depending on where you are, what the facility is. But the minimum we can have from the healthcare workers is 70%. We hope to get that number up to 80%, because you are going to have drop-off with other groups in the population. For the healthcare population, 1-A, 2.1 million total, 479,000 have been vaccinated.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:50)
That’s 23%. That is not 70%. We have 430,000 unused doses. We need 1 million additional doses just to take care of the healthcare workers. The plan was to use the hospitals to distribute to the healthcare workers. Why? Because they’re healthcare workers and they’re in hospitals., That’s why and use the hospitals to do the healthcare workers, because 1-A is all healthcare workers. That’s why we use the hospitals to do, as the primary source of distribution. The hospitals were slow. Week one, they did 33,000 vaccinations. Week two, they did 102,000. Week three, they did 148,000. They said they were ramping up. They were ramping up. They were ramping up. I understand, but they’re ramping up too slowly. This past Monday, I said to them, “You have until Friday to ramp up. Use it or lose it.” This week, they did 195,000, which is more than they’ve ever done.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:01)
That’s week four to date. We haven’t finished week four. So, this week we’ll be over 200,000, which is significant progress. I was direct with the hospitals and they have responded plus or minus. You have some hospitals that have done a great job, and they’re at 100% of the allocation. You have some hospitals that are not doing a great job. Why? Because, there’s levels of competence in these organizations. It’s not that everyone doesn’t want to do it. Everyone wants to do it, but this is reality, and this is life. If you have 200 institutions, you’re going to have a range of competence in those institutions. That’s a fact of life. If you have 200 barber shops, you’re going to have a range of competence. If you have 200 plumbing companies, you’re going to have a range of competence. The most competent, most efficient hospitals are up near 100%, and the less competent administrations are lower.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:14)
The hospitals have increased. I thank them for their efforts, but it’s still not enough. So, we’re going to accelerate the distribution. What we’re going to do, is add new distribution networks to supplement the hospitals. Again, the thought with the hospitals, were that’s where the healthcare workers work. That’s where the healthcare workers are comfortable, but we’re not pleased with the rate of distribution, so we’re going to supplement the hospitals with additional networks. We’re not recruiting and organizing thousands of new providers. The larger distribution network will include private doctor networks, what’s called the FQHCs, County Health Departments, ambulatory centers. This is the Urgent Care, City MD, et cetera, and the pharmacy network. There are 5,000 pharmacies in the state of New York. Pharmacies distribute the flu vaccine. They do this. They know how to do this.
Andrew Cuomo: (29:27)
We have 1200 pharmacies that are already committed and will be ramping up next week, and we’ll continue to use the hospitals also, but we’re going to bring in a much larger distribution network to do this. 500 pharmacies will come online next week and we’ll have hundreds of additional distributors coming on next week. On Monday, they will begin accepting reservations for vaccinations. I’ll discuss in a moment. This is a very large group of people and it can’t just be show up at the pharmacy. It’s going to be much the way it was with COVID testing. Go to a website, find out the location nearest you, make a reservation. That will happen on Monday. The network will distribute to 1-A and 1-B. The new providers must prioritize their healthcare staff. Why? The same reason, 1-A is a priority. We don’t want a nurse who is COVID positive, treating a 100 patients a day.
Andrew Cuomo: (30:49)
Healthcare workers can be super-spreaders. So, the new providers, pharmacists, vaccinators, et cetera, get your people vaccinated first. Hospitals continue to prioritize the unvaccinated 1-A, because again, we have to get those healthcare workers up to at least 70%. So, keep them as a priority. The large union groups that have the ability, I’m asking them to attempt to organize their own administration of the vaccine. Many of the police departments I’ve spoken with, they have EMS. They have EMT. They have medical offices. They can administer literally, their own vaccine. Fire departments, the same thing. They have EMS. They have EMT. Many County Health Departments can administer for their police, volunteer fire, et cetera. So, whenever we can get a large group to have an alternative distribution, that’s good, because it relieves pressure on the remaining distribution network.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:14)
Transit workers, we’re speaking with, if you have a provider network that you work with, which many large unions do, then let that network do the vaccinations. Teachers’ Union, et cetera. So, wherever possible, we want to get those distribution mechanisms segregated. The local Health Department. In those cases, will give the police, the fire, the teachers, correction officers, an allocation on a weekly basis. Then, to the extent they can take care of themselves, fine. If they can’t, fine. We’ll take care of them in the larger network. But, to the extent we get groups to organize their own distribution, that will free up the distribution mechanism to focus on the largest group in 1-B, 75-plus New Yorkers. 75 years old and older. This is the group that is most at risk. This is the group with the highest death rate.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:35)
This is by far, the largest group in 1-B, our New Yorkers who are 75 years old. These are people who have been hyper-cautious now, for many, many months. They’ve been in their apartment. They’d been in their home. They haven’t seen their family. They’re afraid to go out. They’re afraid to get COVID. This is the group that desperately needs the vaccine. Department of Health is going to hold a webinar on Monday for all the new providers and people who want to participate. Again, there are 5,000 pharmacies. We want to make sure they all understand the rules of how to participate. There are hundreds and hundreds of doctor networks that will qualify. We want to make sure they all get signed up, and they know the rules. All the County Health Departments and the unions who are thinking of doing administration themselves, the webinar will be for you, and that will be on Monday.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:49)
1-B is a very large group. 3.2 million New Yorkers in 1-B. 1-B 870,000 teachers, 200,000 police and firefighters, 100,000 public safety workers, that’s correction officers, et cetera. 100,000 public transit workers, 1.4 million 75-year olds. That’s why, to the extent we can get those public employee groups to manage their own vaccine, allows us to focus on the 1.4 million 75-year-olds. Again, that’s by far the largest group, and those are people who desperately need it. Where are the 1-B population? They’re spread across the state, again by population centers. The state will allocate vaccines to the distribution network, proportionate to the group and the region. In other words, the United States government distributes the vaccine dosages by population. New York gets its relative population to the rest of the nation.
Andrew Cuomo: (36:19)
I worked very hard to make sure there was no politics in the distribution. The Federal Government doesn’t always love New York. I worked very hard to make sure we got our fair proportionate, population percentage, and we do. That is the way that I am going to distribute the vaccine, purely on the numbers, by the percentage. That is the way we will distribute the vaccine locally. Police officers, firefighters, whatever the percent you represent of 1-B, will be the percent that is allocated to your group. All treated fairly and proportionately by group and by region. Capital Region, Western New York, New York City, Long Island, it’s all numerically proportionate to where that population exists. Within that region, the police get what the police represent. The firefighters, get what the firefighters represent by percentage, and the 75-plus get what they represent by numbers.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:49)
So, for example, 75-year olds and older, are 1.4 million. That’s 45% of the 1-B population. Whatever we get, we’ll distribute regionally by percentage, and 45% of that will go to 75-year olds. For example, Capitol District has 5.9% of the 75-year olds. They get 5.9% of the portion for the weekly allocation. All groups will be treated equally and fairly, and if there’s willful fraud, they will be disqualified. I spoke to a number of local officials over the past few days. One of them said, “I’m a former police officer. I believe police officers should go first.” One of them said to me, “I’m a former teacher. I believe teachers should go first.” Let me be clear.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:02)
I can argue that police officers should go first. I can argue that teachers should go first. I can argue that 75-year old people should go first. I can argue that correction officers should go first. I can argue for any of them. I will argue for none of them. I will argue fairness for all of them. No local official has discretion to prioritize one group over another. No provider, no pharmacy, no doctor’s office can decide they want to give vaccines to firefighters over doctors. This is a crisis. Everyone needs it. We’re going to do it fairly. We’re going to do it fairly. This is a valuable commodity. I understand there’ll be fraud. I understand there’ll be there’ll be theft. I’m telling you, we are going to monitor it carefully.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:11)
Also, during 1-B, the State will mandate social equity distribution by local Health Departments, public housing, houses of worship, low-income tracts. The State will mandate.The State doesn’t like to mandate. “Oh, the State has mandates. They’re telling us what to do.” I’m very reluctant to mandate. In this case, I’m not reluctant. This has to be done with social equity and social justice in mind. Blacks died at twice the rate of Whites. Latinos died at one and a half times the rate of Whites. The infection rate was higher in poor communities. The COVID testing was lower in poor communities. We’re not going to decide in this state who lives and dies by race or income. That is not going to happen. If we just use the pharmacies and the doctors networks, the healthcare deserts that have fewer pharmacies, fewer doctor’s offices, less access to healthcare, are going to be once again at the bottom of the line. That’s not going to happen.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:18)
I said from day one, and I believe the nation should have done this, but New York will do it. We’re going to make sure it’s done fairly and we’ll have special efforts, and I understand it will require special efforts to get it into those communities. But that is a State mandate, and the state will itself, implement social equity programs. To the hospitals, I say, “Continue vaccinating.” If it was up to me, I would have the hospitals open 24 hours, seven days a week. If I ran the hospital, that’s what I would do. The numbers are low. You have many, many healthcare workers who are clamoring for the vaccine. I would say 24 hours, seven days a week. Get the numbers up. But my two cents is they should all stay open. I’m signing an Executive Order that is going to make additional staff eligible to do vaccinations, so hospitals, this new network will have more people who they can hire.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:25)
In addition to the thousands of distributors, we’re bringing online, DOH is going to set up mass distribution sites over the next several weeks. We’re going to, for example, we’re going to use the Javits Center, which is going to open next Wednesday, where we will just do mass distribution sites and we can do thousands of vaccines. Now, and I want to make sure we all understand this, because I guarantee you, this is the song we’re going to hear for the next several months. Our distribution network will far outpace our supply. Our supply is the problem. Here’s the reality, dose of reality. It’s a good line. To finish 1-A, we need 1 million doses. 1- B we need 3.2 million doses. Put 1-A and 1-B together, you need 4.2 million doses. We get 300,000 doses per week. At this rate, it will take us 14 weeks to do 1-A and 1-B. 14 weeks. 14 weeks is an eternity of time, but it will take 14 weeks to do 1-A and 1-B.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:02)
… weeks to do one 1a and 1b. 14 weeks. That’s April 16th before we get through 1a and 1b, which is just the healthcare workers, the public employees, high risk, and 75-plus. 75-plus leaves a lot of members of the general public out. But even if you’re 75-plus, it’s 14 weeks before we can get through the entire population. Again, 75-plus, that’s 1.4 million people. It’s the largest single group. When you’re talking about 14 weeks, we’re talking about more of a scheduling and a planning operation than anything else.
Andrew Cuomo: (44:53)
Don’t say, “Well, the governor said I’m eligible. I’m over 75 years old, but I can’t get a vaccine done.” It’s going to take 14 weeks to get all 75-year-old people done. We’ll start to identify pharmacies next Monday. You’ll call the pharmacy. The pharmacy will give you an appointment. Don’t be surprised that the appointment is three months from today. That is the necessity by the supply we receive.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:34)
We’ll get more drugs. I can’t. If I would, I could. Pfizer, Moderna, hopefully, the supply increases. President-elect Joe Biden is making some moves that I think a very smart. I’m working with his team on moving supplies as quickly as possible. Maybe Johnson & Johnson comes online, maybe AstraZeneca. Maybe the supply goes up. But we can only distribute what we receive, and 14 weeks is a long time.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:11)
I’m going to put a new unofficial rule in effect, which is Matilda’s Rule. Matilda is my mother. My mother is 75-plus. Barely 75-plus. I know what’s going to happen. My mother wants the vaccine. My sisters call regularly and say, “When can Mom get a vaccine?” They’re now going to hear, “Oh, Mom is eligible for the vaccine.”
Andrew Cuomo: (46:45)
Yes. That doesn’t mean Mom, that you can get the vaccine tomorrow. Monday you can make a reservation, but it’s going to take 14 weeks. My mother is very sweet, and my mother’s a very loving person, but my mother also has a stern side, so I just want to be clear with my mother and with everybody’s mother and with everybody’s father and with everybody’s grandfather, we’re talking about 14 weeks until the federal supply is increased.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:20)
Let’s calibrate our expectations. This is about planning, and this is about scheduling. To the local teachers, et cetera, plan on 1/14th of your allocation per week. I would suggest you then schedule and prioritize within your group who should go first. I leave it to you. Teachers who are in the classroom go first, teachers who were older go first. I leave that to the union. Police, who goes first? You’ll be receiving roughly 1/14th of your total allocation per month. Same thing with transit workers, et cetera.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:08)
This is going to be more of a planning tool than anything else. Federal government increases? Knock for MICA they do. As soon as we get an increase, we’ll increase the supply. It’s very simple. But the one refrain, which everyone will say, is, “I need more.” Every local health department is going to say, “I need more.” Every police department needs more. Every 75-plus needs more. Everyone is going to say, “I need more,” and they’re all going to be right. We are rationing a scarce commodity that we don’t control. It’s from the federal government.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:54)
By the way, the first person to say, “I need more,” is me. I’ve signed numerous letters to the federal government saying, “I need more.” I believe the federal government should be releasing the second dosages now rather than holding the second Pfizer dosages. I think they should be expediting the approvals of the other vaccines. I need more. Before a reporter asks me next week, “Well, I was speaking to the local health department, and they say they need more,” let me preempt that. I need more. 300,000 just for 1a and 1b is 14 weeks. Somebody like myself, I’m not even in the planning stage right now. That’s the reality, so let’s prioritize and quickly use what we can. We have many distributor options. The slow distributors of the vaccine will not be used from the program. If we have a slow distributor, we’ll just move on to a faster distributor because we want needles in arms.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:23)
A couple of other points, on Monday, we’re going to have the State of the State. This is going to be a different State of the State than past States of the State because these are different times. It’s going to be a much more specific action-oriented State of the State, fuel global abstract policy proposals, and more specific initiatives because that’s what we have to do. We have to deal with this COVID today, deal with the vaccines, and then post-COVID reality.
Andrew Cuomo: (50:55)
Post-COVID is a different world. Post-COVID is a transformed world. Post-COVID is a transformed the economy. How do you rebuild an economy? How do you take advantage of the new opportunities post-COVID? That’s going to be the State of the State.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:11)
A couple of items that are going to be in the State of the State, which I’m going to talk about now, so they won’t be in the State of the State. At a time when the Trump administration seeks to strip Americas of their voting rights, we did see a lot of concern through the election time, and we want New York to be a champion of democratic reforms. I’m going to propose legislation to speed up the counting by requiring county boards to process absentee ballots as soon as they’re received and begin counting and reporting them on election day. We’re also going to extend the time for absentee ballots from 30 to 45 days before an election and extend early voting hours. It worked well. Extend it.
Andrew Cuomo: (51:59)
One of the most horrific results of the pandemic has been a striking increase in domestic and gender-based violence. I’m going to propose a new office to address just this, but also authorize the courts to make abusers pay damages, including housing and moving costs related to domestic violence. I worked, I ran a not-for-profit called [HELP 00:52:28]. I worked with many victims of domestic violence. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I couldn’t leave the house because I had no place to go,” “I couldn’t leave the house because if I went to my family’s house, he would follow me, and my family didn’t want that trouble.” Too many people stay in the house because they don’t have an alternative. That has to stop, and it will stop in the State of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (52:53)
We also want to create a new crime, which is a misdemeanor for domestic violence, people who buy guns. Right now, there is a loophole in the law. We want to close that. If you’re an abuser, you should not be allowed to buy a gun in the State of New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:15)
We also have to do more on eviction protections for tenants. We’ve made great strides in New York, but we need to do more. We have to advance legislation, and I will. That places statewide moratorium on commercial evictions until May 1. You have a lot of small businesses that can’t pay the rent and are getting evicted, and we should have in law that you can’t evict those small businesses until may one.
Andrew Cuomo: (53:45)
Also, I’m proposing a law that says, “No penalties for late or missed rent payments during the pandemic through May 1.” In other words, when a tenant gets a bill for back rent, it can’t then have all these penalties and late fees and charges that make payment of the past rent even more onerous.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:13)
Then on the good news side of things, Pier 76 on the west side of Manhattan, which is just a phenomenally amazing site, if you can just imagine this. That’s the Hudson River, and that is the west side. This is a peer that just goes out into the Hudson River. It has been used as a tow pound for many, many years. City of New York said 20 years ago that they would stop using it as a tow pound because it’s just a phenomenal piece of real estate.
Andrew Cuomo: (54:55)
Last year, the legislature passed a law saying that the NYPD had to vacate by this January 1 and penalizing the NYPD if they didn’t, $12 million penalty. That piece of real estate will then be transferred to the state. The state will transfer to the Hudson River Park Trust, and it will be a public space. We’re going to put out proposals for designs that are going to start this month, but this is going to be a magnificent asset to the west side, and especially during these tough times and tough days, a beautiful open public space that will just be a great place to take in New York.
Andrew Cuomo: (55:47)
I think it will be a visitor attraction. Long-term, the Hudson River Park Trust will decide what the use of it is, but in the interim, we’ll make it a great public space. I’m very excited about that. I want to thank the people who worked on this for a long time. Sometimes government can be slow, and sometimes you have to really fight the fight to get it done.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:11)
I especially want to thank Deborah Glick who championed this effort and wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I respect that, but that is good news, and I feel good about that, and I feel good about this. Go Bills. I have to work on my State of the State tomorrow because with the new Washington alignment and the new Senate, it changes my State of the State.
Andrew Cuomo: (56:40)
I can’t go. I wanted to go. I was planning to go. I can’t go. I said I would give my ticket to a nurse as a token of all the appreciation we have for our frontline heroes, and I asked ECMC to ask the nurses, Erie County Medical Campus, to ask the nurses at ECMC who did the nurses in the center believe deserved that ticket, and the nurses picked Brianna Brandon. Brianna is bringing her mother to the game, so congratulations. Have fun. I wish I were there, but in some ways, I’m even happier that you’re going to be there instead of me because we love you, and we love what you did, and we love what you represent, and we want to show you this respect and this gratitude. Go Bills. Questions.
Thank you, governor. If you would 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, you now have Jeff Cole from WWNY. Jeff, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Jeff Cole: (58:15)
Good afternoon, governor. How are you?
Andrew Cuomo: (58:18)
How are we doing, Jeff?
Jeff Cole: (58:20)
Okay. Going back to the beginning of your comments here today, in addition to your message to New York’s federal representatives, Senator Gillibrand puts blame on President Trump and also told us in an interview yesterday that Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is complicit in what President Trump has done to this country. Do you agree, sir, that the Congresswoman is complicit in what has happened in our nation’s capital?
Andrew Cuomo: (58:44)
Well, we’ll make it simple, Jeff. I asked them, I asked the federal representatives today if they’re complicit, and I’ll tell you it’s a yes or no. Question is if you don’t support who he is and what he did and what happened, ask him to resign, and if you don’t ask him to resign, you’re complicit. It’s that simple.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:15)
Complicit, what does complicit mean? Politicians, they’re very good at mincing words. I like to be more direct. Are you complicit? I don’t know. What do you mean by complicit? “Do you believe the president should resign?” I do. I believe he should resign. If he doesn’t resign, I believe he should be impeached. I believe impeachment will be bad for the country, so I believe he should resign.
Andrew Cuomo: (59:48)
“Congresswoman Stefanik, do you believe he should resign? Yes or no? Congressman Meeks, do you believe he should resign, yes or no?” That’s how I pose the question. If they say, “I don’t think you should resign,” yeah, then you’re complicit, you’re part of it, you condoned it, you’re with the mob.
Governor, you now have George Stockburger from WETM. George, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
George Stockburger: (01:00:22)
Hi, governor. How are you?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:24)
How are you?
George Stockburger: (01:00:25)
Good. Chemung County has been in the orange zone since October. Chemung now has about 200 cases. Steuben County has over 600 and is not in the zone. Can you explain why Chemung County is still in the orange zone?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:41)
I cannot off the top of my head, but I will get you the answer after this call, and if Peter or Jamie… and we’ll make sure you get a call back. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head for the county, so I’m sorry. Next question, operator?
Governor, you now have Jeff Kulikowsky from WSYR. Jeff, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:01:12)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:13)
How are we doing, Jeff?
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:01:14)
Hi, governor. How are you this… Good. Good. Go Bills, right?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:17)
All right, hold on. Let’s stay on that for a second, Jeff.
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:01:19)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:21)
Okay, here we go. Go Bills. We’re doing the Bills as a pilot, and I’m going to talk about this in the State of the State, but testing people before an activity, if you test negative, then you can go into the Bills game, but if you test negative, you could go into a restaurant. If you test negative, you can go into a theater. If you test negative, you can go into a commercial office building. We saw with a Bill 7,000 people. “Oh, you can’t test 7,000 people.” All right, let’s see if we can.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:03)
Anyway, we have tested 7,000 people going into the Bills game. I just got the numbers. Of the 7,000 tests… which, by the way, worked great. It was a drive-through for most people, about five minutes a car you didn’t get out of the car. You took your test. You went right through. 7,000 tests. What do you think the positivity rate was on the 7,000 tests? Go ahead. I’ll give you an over or under. What do you think, Jeff, was the positivity rate? It’s an unfair question.
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:02:44)
I want to say below 1%.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:46)
What would you say?
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:02:48)
Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:52)
1.9%. Very close, but that is remarkably low. Remarkably low as a random test. I don’t know what it says, maybe self-selecting with Bills fans, but it’s a 1.9% positivity, and we already did 7,000 tests before the game. Okay, but that wasn’t your question. What was your question?
Jeff Kulikowsky: (01:03:20)
Well, I know we’re not there yet, but the Syracuse mayor, Ben Walsh, with the support of the Onondaga County executive have written it to ask for the City of Syracuse to be taken out of an orange zone and instead put the entire county into a yellow zone. Is that something you would consider so that there are still some restrictions, but it does give some of those restaurants in the orange zone an opportunity to at least have a few people and keep the people that are going from the city literally over a geographic line into restaurants that fall in no zone?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:53)
Yeah. That is the problem with the whole zone concept. It’s geographic, and people drive outside the zone. I have a great deal of respect for the mayor, and I have a great deal of respect for the county executive. We’ve done a lot of good things together, and they’re good colleagues. As soon as I get the letter, I will look at it, and I will talk to them. Thank you, Jeff. Next question, operator?
Governor, you now have Morgan McKay from Spectrum News. Morgan, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Morgan McKay: (01:04:31)
Hello, governor. How are you?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:04:32)
How are you, Morgan? You have to speak up a little bit.
Morgan McKay: (01:04:35)
Thank you. I was wondering exactly when will vaccine start for phase 1b? I know you’re saying that they can start scheduling next week, but I’m wondering exactly when that will start, and also, just with President-elect Joe Biden saying that he could possibly start releasing more vaccines once he becomes an office, just your thoughts there as well.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:03)
Okay. The 1a, 1b, on Monday, you can start to schedule appointments. Pharmacies will start coming online. Some Monday, more on Wednesday. We’ll start opening… The providers, we’re going to have thousands of providers coming online next week. Monday basically is when the registration website will open to make an appointment. We’re talking about 4 million people, and even though there are thousands of centers, you don’t want to have 4 million people descending on any center, and we want to do it by reservation, so on Monday, we will-
Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:03)
… a reservation. So on Monday we will open up a website that will tell you, “Here are the pharmacies in your area. Here are the doctor networks in your area. Here’s the mass distribution site in your area. Call your Walgreens on main street and make an appointment.” That’s on Monday for 1A, 1B. Hold that second point. The Walgreens, the distribution sites that are open, they need to first prioritize their own healthcare workers, because we don’t want a COVID positive pharmacist. We don’t want a COVID positive nurse who then does 50 vaccines in a day, and then infects 50 people, right? So they will be doing their healthcare workers first, but on Monday 1A, 1B will basically be able to make a reservation.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:13)
Some doctors networks and pharmacists and mass vaccination sites may say, “Come in Wednesday, come in Thursday, come in Friday,” it depends. Hospitals, we still want to continue prioritizing the health care workers. The health care workers are far from done, and I am deluged with calls from healthcare workers saying their hospital hasn’t made the vaccine available. So I’m asking the hospitals … if I had the power, I would order them to stay open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, I’ll tell you the truth. But the hospital we’ll have to continue to focus on the health care workers.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:02)
On Monday, 1A and 1B will be open for the entire network, primarily by appointments. Hospitals can open 1A, 1B, but prioritize healthcare workers, because as I said, this is all about keeping the hospitals open and I’m tired of people talking about, “We honor our frontline heroes, the nurses and the doctors.” That’s nice. Rhetoric is nice. Cards are nice. They want vaccines and you want them vaccinated, because you don’t want to go before a nurse to get a vaccine who’s COVID positive, and you don’t want to see a hospital closed down because they can’t get nurses because the nurses are sick, especially in this situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:55)
So hospitals are part of the network. They prioritize healthcare workers, but they can also do 1B. Pharmacies are part of the network. They’re going to be ultimately 5,000 pharmacies, but we want them to do their healthcare workers first so they’re not spreading the infection. Doctor’s offices, same thing. Do your nurses, do your doctors first. Community-based centers, same thing. Vaccinate your healthcare workers so you’re not spreading.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:09:35)
As I said ad nauseam, the universe of 1A, 1B is 4 million people. At 300,000 doses dosages per week, that takes 14 weeks. Calibrate that please, because that means a police union doesn’t get enough vaccination for 14 weeks. Teacher’s school district does not get enough vaccination for 14 weeks. 75 year olds will not be able to get a vaccine up to 14 weeks. And the disconnect is going to be, “The Governor said Monday I could call for our reservation.” Yes, but it’s going to be 14 weeks, which is an incredible amount of time.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:10:37)
Here’s my mother is an example. I’m telling you the conversation I’m going to have with my mother. She’s going to say, “I called for an appointment and they said they don’t have an opening for three months,” and she’s not going to be happy with me. I’m going to say, “Yeah, but I told you that,” and the conversation will go downhill from there. Please calibrate that. We are dependent on the supply. I work closely with the Biden administration. They are working on accelerating the supply. That is great news. And the more we get, the more we transfer. And the more we transfer, then the faster that would be. So if we go from 300 to 400, it goes from 14 weeks to 10 weeks, or whatever the math is, but it’s pure math as far as we’re concerned. And as fast as the feds can regulate it, the better.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:11:42)
I want to double down on the caution that the providers must follow the rules. You cannot show favoritism one group to the other, and you can’t give the vaccine to people who are not eligible for the vaccine. I don’t care if the person thinks they’re a big shot. I don’t care if it’s a mayor. I don’t care if it’s a County executive. I don’t care if it’s a bank president. People are people, and lives are lives and nobody’s life is more important than anyone else’s life. This rationing system, this prioritization was accepted federally, nationally by Governors all across the state. It makes sense. It’s fair, but we have to do what’s fair. Don’t commit fraud with the vaccine and don’t give it to your friends and don’t give it to your family who’s not eligible. Follow the law. It is the law, and if you don’t follow the law, we’re going to enforce the law.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:13:04)
So on Monday, it opens for 1A, 1B. To the extent you can make a reservation and somebody says you can come in and get it on Monday, fine. To the extent a hospital says, “I have vaccine that I can make available on Monday,” fine. The hospitals still have to prioritize the healthcare workers and they have a long way to go. But if they have extra capacity and they can do 1B on Monday, fine, but make a reservation. Dr. Zucker, Melissa, you want to add anything on that? Gareth, Jim, Beth, Robert? Why don’t you add something, Robert? Next question, operator?
Governor, you now have Jeff Preval from WGRZ. Jeff, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone
Jeff Preval: (01:14:09)
Hi there, Governor. Thank you so much for the time. We were expecting some sort of an announcement from you today on the reallocation of unused vaccine doses, not used by hospitals to this point. Is there any additional information on that, and are you reallocating any of those doses?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:14:30)
Yeah. What we’re going to do is this, the main way we’re addressing the slow distribution by the hospitals. And again, not all hospitals were slow. You did have some hospitals that did a fantastic job. We’ll put out the list of the high performers and the low performers. You’ve seen overall increase in the performance. I said on Monday that they had to actually step up, and they went from 10,000 per day to like 60,000 per day vaccinations. Some of them did extraordinary work, but as I said, it is competence. It’s 200 organizations with 200 management structures, and you’re going to have better, you’re going to have worse. It is always the way, and that’s what you see. You see better and you see worse.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:15:40)
People get defensive. I understand that. I get defensive when people say I’m incompetent, I get it. But numbers are also numbers, right? And that’s why you’re going to have the numbers of the percentage that that hospital did. The main way we’re going to solve it is we’re bringing in a new distribution network, right? The thinking was, you’re doing healthcare workers, where do healthcare workers work? They work in a hospital. Make the hospital the focal point of the distribution for 1A, because 1A was only healthcare workers. It made logical sense. They are overall slow on distribution. We’re bringing in a new distribution network. Thousands of additional distribution points, pharmacies alone are going to be thousands. Doctor’s offices, hundreds. FQMCs, hundreds. Ambulatory centers, hundreds of them. Local health departments must at a minimum set up two sites themselves. State mass distribution centers. So we’re just setting up an entirely new distribution center, which frankly is going to have much, much more capacity than product.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:17:11)
We’re now going to have the opposite problem. We’re going to have 1,000 pharmacies and you’re going to call 1,000 pharmacies, and they’re going to say, “I have no vaccine.” That’s what’s going to happen. I’m setting up that aggressive a distribution network because I’m hoping for increased supply. With reallocation, what we’re saying is, right now, leave the allocation in those hospitals, prioritize healthcare workers, open it up to 1B people on Monday, stay open 24/7 or whatever you’re willing to work. Then we’re just going to eliminate the slow distributors in favor of faster distributors going forward. So in other words, if you’re a hospital that distributes 100% of the vaccine and you’re now doing 1B people, I’d rather give you … We have very scarce amount. I’d rather give you the vaccine than a hospital that I know it takes two weeks to get out the same number of doses. It’s all about getting needles in the arm. So at this point, we’re not going to go take back the allocation. Hospital, prioritize 1A, stay open longer, you can give it to 1B, but the slow performers just are not going to get additional allocations. Anyone have anything to add? Next question, operator?
Governor, you now have Keshia Clukey from Bloomberg. Keshia, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.
Keshia Clukey: (01:19:01)
Hi, Governor. Just was curious, two questions. First, do you have the total number of people vaccinated in the state and will you be releasing some sort of website that has those numbers daily so we’re not asking you every day. Then also on the vaccinations with 1B, can you elaborate on how that process would work in terms of making sure that healthcare workers are prioritized?
Andrew Cuomo: (01:19:33)
Yeah. Two points. Gareth will give you the most update vaccination number. Hospitals must continue to prioritize health care workers, which means if you’re a healthcare worker and I’m not, I’m a police officer, I’m eligible. But if the hospital says I have one appointment left, the healthcare worker is prioritized. Hospitals must continue to prioritize healthcare workers because we must get those people prioritized.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:20:19)
On the rest of the distribution network, they all must do their healthcare workers first. So you have healthcare workers in the hospital, they have a priority. Then you have healthcare workers in all these other sites. Many of those sites are going to become distribution centers. All those providers have to do their healthcare workers first. Ambulatory center, doctor’s office, you have to do your nurses and everybody first. Pharmacy, you have to do your pharmacy staff first. So everybody has to do their own health care staff first, and it’s prioritized through the entire distribution network.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:21:12)
Again for the hospitals, we want to make sure we don’t run out of hospital capacity. On the distribution network, pharmacies, et cetera, we don’t want infected vaccine workers giving out viruses. We don’t want them coming in contact with the people. Do you have the number?
Gareth Rhodes: (01:21:33)
Yes, we’ve done 479,000 doses so far. That includes 400,000 with the New York state sites, the hospital programs, urgent care clinics, et cetera. And 79,000 through the federal long-term care facility, nursing home program so far.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:21:53)
One point I didn’t mention is the nursing homes will be finished by the end of next week. Is that right? That is a great accomplishment. So the nursing homes will be finished by the end of the next week. Healthcare workers between the acceleration in the hospitals and the private healthcare network, doing their own healthcare workers, we’ll increase that. Then we’ll open 1B.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:22:28)
But again, caution, caution, caution, because the supply is a major problem. We are going to wind up having, I will predict for you, two predictions. One, we’ll wind up having 3000 distribution points in a couple of weeks, but none of them will have nearly enough vaccines. Police, fire, et cetera, they’re going to get 1/14th of the allocation per week. And everybody’s going to say they don’t have enough.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:23:09)
Again, when the supply does develop, we’ll have the distribution center, and I’d rather have the distribution system up now so that if and when the supply increases, we can handle it. But my first prediction is everybody’s going to say, “I need more.” My mother is going to say, “I don’t want to wait three months for an appointment.” That’s what she’s going to say. And she’s going to be unhappy, and she’s going to think that she should go first because she is 75 plus, and she’s going to be unhappy, and that’s going to be the way it is. Second prediction, Bills win. Bills win. Bet on it. Thank you.