Dec 28, 2020

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Transcript December 28

Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Dec 28
RevBlogTranscriptsAndrew Cuomo TranscriptsNY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Transcript December 28

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a December 28 press conference on COVID-19 in the state. Read the full transcript of his news briefing here.

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Governor Cuomo: (00:01)
Good morning. Welcome Gareth Rhodes to my far right, chancellor James Malatras. We have Kelly Cummings who’s our director of operations, Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of health. To my left, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor. To her left, Robert Mujica, budget director.

Governor Cuomo: (00:26)
303, we made it. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. Santa was very, very good to me, maybe better than I deserve. I hope New Yorkers took our caution and celebrated smart. Celebrate smart, avoid shutdowns, that’s what my season’s greeting card says this year. Celebrate smart. We understand the celebration, the religious significance. Lord knows after this year, we need to break, but be smart. And if we’re smart than we can avoid shutdowns, because we control our destiny. There is nothing preordained here. What will happen will be a consequence of our actions. A year where we felt out of control, we’re actually in ultimate control, because we control the spread of the virus by our actions. Celebrate smart and avoid shutdowns.

Governor Cuomo: (01:33)
This is what the numbers say today, which we’re not quite sure what it means, but we’re studying it. Statewide positivity without micro-cluster, 7.8. Statewide positivity with micro-clusters, 8.3. That is an increase from the 5.9 seven-day average. Positivity and micro-clusters, 9% and 124,000 tests taken. This is a jump from Friday, Saturday to Sunday. Now, Friday was Christmas. Sunday is two days after Christmas. We have been talking about potential for spread during Christmas. For it to go up in two days is dramatic and very, very fast. So we’re studying what the uptick in that number actually means.

Governor Cuomo: (02:45)
If you look around the country, you’ve seen significant upticks in just the past couple of days. California went from eight to 13. Florida went from eight to 11. Texas went from two to nine. New York, went from 5.8 to eight. Is that even possible? It’s statistically improbable. Now, if you look at the numbers, you also see that the number of people getting tests is actually much, much lower.

Governor Cuomo: (03:24)
So these are people who got tests after Christmas, and it says lower number of people who got tests, so it’s a smaller population. So one of the theories that we’re going to look at is people who were going to get a test because they were traveling, because they were concerned about spreading the virus, were getting tested up until Christmas. And anyone who went and got tested post-Christmas over the weekend was a person who was showing symptoms and thought they might be a positive, and therefore they went for a test.

Governor Cuomo: (04:13)
So the sample is artificially skewed. Fewer people got tested and more of those people were showing symptoms. That’s why they went and they got tested. The number of positive cases didn’t go up. It’s that the number of people being tested went down by almost half. So fewer people get tested, same number of positives, but proportionately, it’s a higher number.

Governor Cuomo: (04:45)
Evidencing that theory, the number of tests in an urgent care clinic went way up. Urgent care clinics tend to be the places where people go when they feel symptoms, and they want to get a test. That’s what you tend to see in urgent care clinics. And that’s the number that went up in urgent care clinics. So it may very well be that. And that may be a national phenomenon that we’re seeing, but we don’t know, and we’ll see what the numbers say over the next few days. And that will explain if this is a circumstantial situation post-Christmas, less people getting tested and they have a higher positivity because the people who are getting tested are symptomatic, or was there spread pre-Christmas that actually is being evidenced now?

Governor Cuomo: (05:48)
You see the test results, 124,000. We were doing 220,000 tests some days. So numbers is significantly low. And again, these tests are not random. They are people who go for tests. So who went to get a test after Christmas, over this past weekend? Possibly people who were symptomatic, because people were just doing it as a prophylactic went before, but we’ll see over the next few days.

Governor Cuomo: (06:24)
Statewide deaths 114, the hospitalizations up 376, discharges 425. Fewer people get discharged over the weekend, so the net number goes up, not necessarily the new admissions, but the discharges go down. Statewide ICU, up 35. Statewide intubation up 30. But the general caution remains the same. Social gatherings spread the virus if you are not smart; fact, not opinion, fact.

Governor Cuomo: (07:03)
You see statewide where the positivity is. Finger Lakes again is the most highly problematic area. Western New York has actually made good progress, but that’s on the percent of hospitalized. Positivity, you have Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, Capital Region, other places that we have to focus on and places, frankly, that have to focus on themselves. If you live in those areas, then it’s you and your community and the behavior in your community that is affecting the numbers. And again, the numbers make it plain. It’s not about theory. It’s not about, “Well, I believe this. I believe that. Here’s my opinion. Here’s my theory. Here’s my culture. Here’s my politics.” Numbers are numbers, and there’s no denying numbers. And this is not testing a political theory or your medical theory of the virus. They are numbers. They’re telling you the facts.

Governor Cuomo: (08:13)
Again, New York City, Staten Island has the highest positivity. Why is Manhattan 2.8 and Staten Island the six? That defies logical explanation. Manhattan is much more dense. Manhattan, you’re taking more public transportation. You’re on the subways. You’re in buses more than you are on Staten Island. You have more people on the sidewalk in Manhattan. It is the precautions that people are taking in those areas. Again, “I think this, I think that. Every politician has an opinion.” Ask your local politician, ” Explain the numbers to me. How does your political theory jive with the facts?” And see what they say.

Governor Cuomo: (09:12)
Post COVID future. We’re getting to the new year. I’m going to do a State of the State. What does 2021 look like? 2021 looks like what we’re going to make it look like. It’s going to be what we do. And clearly, the key is going to be the vaccines. It is the one really good piece of news we had in 2020 was that the research community, the medical community came up with highly effective vaccines. So it’s about getting those vaccines now in people’s arms. It’s nice, I show you the dot, vial and the box and all that. That’s nice, but what matters is getting it in people’s arms. 140,000 New Yorkers have already received one vaccine. That would put New York at the top of the national chart on number of vaccines that have actually been given to people. We expect another 259,000 vaccines this week; 139 from Pfizer, 119 from Moderna.

Governor Cuomo: (10:26)
Where are the vaccines going? This is where the vaccines will have gone to-date by the end of this week. We’re shipping as we speak, and by the end of this week, this is how many vaccines will be given out all across the state. They will not have been necessarily administered, but they will have been delivered.

Governor Cuomo: (10:54)
Well, why does one place get more than the other? This is again, math. This is proportionate to the number of people-

Governor Cuomo: (11:03)
This is proportionate to the number of people eligible for the vaccine in that region. It’s probably roughly proportionate to the population, but that’s how we do the allocation. It’s not that we like capital region more than central New York. It’s all on the math.

Governor Cuomo: (11:24)
Who’s getting the vaccine? We have priority populations, as we have more vaccines, the priority populations expand, right? We’re going down the list. You have the number one priority two, three, four, five, six, seven, more vaccines. You just work your way down that list.

Governor Cuomo: (11:43)
This week, it’s going to be urgent care center employees, individuals who are administrating the COVID-19 vaccines for obvious reasons, including the local health department staff, residents of Oasis facilities. These are congregate facilities. Congregate facilities are problematic. It’s where you have a lot of people in concentration. Nursing homes are obviously the most problematic because the congregate plus older vulnerable people. Oasis, what we call the old facilities, they’re congregate not necessarily older, but congregates facilities.

Governor Cuomo: (12:26)
We’ll then continue with high-risk hospital care workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS workers, who are the people who show up. God bless them and respond to calls. Coroners, medical examiners, funeral workers, other OMH facilities, et cetera. These are all congregate facilities where you have a number of people in one location.

Governor Cuomo: (12:51)
Who’s getting the vaccines? Next week, we expect to open to ambulatory care health workers, public facing public health workers. Again, including those administering the COVID-19 tests. We have an hour, a whole group of people who are interfacing with the vaccines, with the testing, and we want to make sure they get the vaccine.

Governor Cuomo: (13:15)
Another issue popped up. Because every day is a new issue to deal with, a possible fraud by a healthcare provider and you’re going to see more and more of this. The vaccine is a valuable commodity and you have many people who want the vaccine and you’ll have fraud in the vaccine process. It’s almost an inevitable function of human nature and of the marketplace.

Governor Cuomo: (13:49)
Vaccines are valuable and there’ll be people who break the law and we’re looking at one healthcare provider who may have done that. The Department of State, I’m sorry, the New York state police has actually been pursuing an investigation. They’re going to refer that case to the Attorney General’s office, Attorney General, Letitia James, and her office is going to take it on and make it a priority. We want to send a clear signal to the providers that if you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out and you will be prosecuted.

Governor Cuomo: (14:33)
I’m going to sign an executive order that says, we’re very clear. The vaccines are a priority. There’s not going to be any politics at play as to who gets a vaccine and we looked at the CDC, federal government for guidance, and we will not tolerate any fraud in the vaccination process. Anyone who engages in fraud is going to be held accountable. The executive order I’m going to sign today says a provider could be fined up to a million dollars and revocation of all state licenses, which frankly may be more of a deterrent than the $1 million. And that will apply to a provider, a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, any licensed healthcare professional. So if you engage in fraud on this vaccine, we will remove your license to practice in the state of New York. So we are very serious about this and this is the type of fraud that will be uncovered. On the old adage that people talk, people talk, and somebody gets a vaccine and he goes out and tells his buddy, I got a vaccine. How did you get a vaccine? You’re not ready. You’re not on the priority list. Well, you can go to this place. I was the attorney general for four years, people talk. We will find out and it’s not worth risking your license, as well as a possible civil and criminal penalty.

Governor Cuomo: (16:21)
We’re also going to be extending the housing eviction moratorium by executive order. We are working with the legislature. The legislature is going to reconvene this week. We’ve been working with them on a piece of legislation that will also extend the eviction moratorium. We want to make sure that homeowners are protected, that it doesn’t affect their credit rating. There’s no mortgage foreclosure. The legislature convenes today and we have an agreement with them on housing moratorium bill. We want to get to May 1st and we’ll see what happens by May, but we want to protect tenants. We want to make it simple. We don’t want people evicted. We don’t want them to have to go to court to fight the eviction, but we want to make sure they’re not committing fraud either. So they will make representations that will be legally enforceable. And again, we have an agreement and as soon as that bill is passed, I’ll sign it.

Governor Cuomo: (17:27)
Today I’m also signing an executive order to withhold pay increases for all state commissioners and statewide elected officials. This is the right thing to do, I think. Obviously it’s easy for me to propose something that’s going to affect myself. This also affects all commissioners and statewide elected officials, Doctor Zucker, for example, won’t be getting a raise this year. It’s no reflection on what these commissioners have done. They probably worked harder this past year and performed better than any commissioner in their position, frankly, in decades. There has been no test like this test for a government official, but I appreciate their sacrifice and their showing of solidarity for the people of this state during this difficult period and during this difficult financial period. I also want to thank the lieutenant governor and the attorney general and the controller for the same statement that they’re making. They’ve all worked incredibly hard this year and this is another sign of their commitment and their public service, so I thank them very much.

Governor Cuomo: (18:47)
The bills in the New York State Department of Health, continue to work together to develop a pilot plan, that would allow the bills to operate. Now, this is not just about attending a football game. I want people to understand. We are trying to find a way to reopen businesses and use our technology to reopen businesses. It is not going to be an option for us to keep the economy closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The experts are talking about hitting critical mass on the vaccine, herd immunity, maybe June, some say September. Some are now saying the end of the year, by the way, and the percentage of the population that has to be vaccinated keeps changing also. It started at about 60% and it went to about 70%. Now, it’s about 80%. Some people are saying as high as 90%. that is going to take many months.

Governor Cuomo: (20:02)
If you wait to hit critical mass for the vaccine, you are talking about closing the economy for six, nine, 12 months, going forward. If it goes to 12 months, that means a longer period than since this began. That is not possible. It’s not possible economically, psychologically. It’s just not possible.

Governor Cuomo: (20:34)
So how do you start to reopen businesses safely? How do you use our testing capacity to reopen businesses safely? And that’s what we’re working on and that’s what the Department of Health is working on. Well, you should be giving tests to other groups. First of all, we have rapid testing that we provide to any nursing home, any county, any local government, free of charge, as much as they request, we can provide and we have never not provided an amount of rapid testing that has been requested by a local government, local Department of Health. So it’s not that we have a shortage of rapid tests, but we do have to have a model that shows we can start to reopen businesses and anyone who thinks that we’re going to make it another six, nine, 12 months with a closed down economy, that’s just not a realistic possibility. So, that’s what we’re trying to work on and demonstrate.

Governor Cuomo: (21:44)
Can you do it? Can you use testing to reopen a business safely? And can you do it on a large scale, which would be the bills? Also, many stadiums across the country are already open and without any…

Governor Cuomo: (22:03)
… and without any testing whatsoever. But the model DOH is working on is smart. How do you use testing to start to reopen businesses? Because that is going to be the challenge in 2021. And we’re still working through that.

Governor Cuomo: (22:19)
Western New York has also done a good job in getting ahead of their positivity rate. They had the highest positivity rate in the state. Today, they’re the fourth lowest in the state of New York. So I think Western New Yorkers has heard the message. We now need Finger Lakes to understand it, Mohawk Valley to understand it, Staten Island to understand it, but they are in control of their own destiny.

Governor Cuomo: (22:47)
And you see the variants across the state. There’s also a story in that. Why is Manhattan 2% and the Finger Lakes four times the infection rate in Manhattan? How do you explain that? Except the behavior of those people in that place.

Governor Cuomo: (23:11)
With that, we’ll take questions.

Moderator: (23:20)
Thank you, Governor. If you’d like to ask a question, please use the raised hand function at the bottom of your window. We’ll take a moment to compile the Q and A roster. Our first question comes from Andrew Siff of WNBC. Andrew, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Andrew Siff: (23:42)
Yes. Good afternoon, Governor. On the issue of ParCare, which you have intimated, is now the subject of a fraud investigation. The company tells us today that it was the state health department that sent them the vaccines, and they’re providing a voucher for it, and saying that they received the vaccines legitimately, and that there’s no fraud there. And that if anything, the state health department got confused about who gets the vaccine first, and how to distribute it. What should this company have done if they got the vaccine and it wasn’t their fault?

Governor Cuomo: (24:19)
Yeah, let’s take a step back. I don’t want to put on my former Attorney General hat, and I’ll ask Dr. Zucker for his response. But look, Andrew, if you say to the department of health, I operate Siff Community Care, and I am a licensed operator as a community health center, and I want to distribute the vaccine in accordance with the law, to the priorities as established. If you make that representation, you might receive the vaccine, right? We’re distributing vaccine to hundreds and hundreds of providers around the state.

Governor Cuomo: (25:01)
If it turns out that you’re just Andrew Siff, and there is no Siff licensed community health care facility, then you defrauded the department of health. And to say, well, I was sent the vaccine, yeah, but were you sent the vaccine because you made false representations?That’s the question. And have you dispensed it unfairly, and not in accordance with the law and the priority populations? That’s the question.

Governor Cuomo: (25:35)
And that’s the subject of the investigation that the state police have been doing. The state police believe there’s enough evidence to commence a criminal investigation, and hence the referral to the office of the Attorney General.

Governor Cuomo: (25:47)
But let me ask Dr. Zucker if he has any other additional information.

Howard Zucker: (25:51)
Governor, I think you nailed exactly the key points, that we provided them the vaccine because they fraudulently filled out a form that said that they were a qualified health center. That was incorrect. So, that’s strike one. And number two, they moved it from one area to another area, which was inappropriate. So, that’s strike two. And then they gave it to people who were not on the priority list. And so, that was strike three.

Howard Zucker: (26:17)
And as anyone from New York City, I’m a Yankees fan, and three strikes and they’re out. And that’s what happened.

Governor Cuomo: (26:26)
And Jets fan.

Howard Zucker: (26:27)
And Jets fan. [crosstalk 00:26:29] And a Bills fan.

Governor Cuomo: (26:29)
[crosstalk 00:26:29] And Bisons fan. And Bills fan. And Jets fan. And Giants fan. Melissa?

Melissa: (26:34)
And I also just want to add, for anyone else who’s seeing this and thinking that they can do the same thing, in addition to the executive order that the Governor is signing today on the up to million dollar penalty, falsifying business records here is a crime that can be charged up to a year in prison. So, that’s an additional thing that this company could be facing.

Governor Cuomo: (26:52)
Next question, operator.

Moderator: (26:56)
Governor, you now have Gwynne Hogan of WNBC. Gwynne, your line is now open. [crosstalk 00:27:03] Please unmute your microphone.

Gwynne Hogan: (27:04)
Hi, can you hear me?

Governor Cuomo: (27:04)
Yes, Gwynne, how are you?

Gwynne Hogan: (27:06)
Wow. I didn’t mess it up this time. Thank you for taking my question. I appreciate it.

Governor Cuomo: (27:10)
Yeah, we did miss you last week, though. We waited for you, I want you to know.

Gwynne Hogan: (27:13)
I know. [crosstalk 00:27:15].

Governor Cuomo: (27:13)
More than-

Gwynne Hogan: (27:15)
Oh, I got back on the line.

Governor Cuomo: (27:16)
We waited a long time. We sat here in silence.

Gwynne Hogan: (27:23)
So I wanted to ask you, the federal COVID relief bill has $1.3 billion towards rent relief. I’m wondering if the state has developed guidelines, or who and how it might be distributing those funds?

Governor Cuomo: (27:34)
Yeah. I’ll refer to Robert Mika. We have to get more detail on exactly how much we get, and what are the federal regulations that we’re going to need to match? And it’s premature for that. But let me ask Robert if he has any additional information.

Robert Mika: (27:57)
No. As the Governor pointed out, we just found out about this addition to the federal bill last week. We will develop a plan for those funds, but right now we’re still waiting for the federal government to give us clear guidelines on it. Also, where the distributions are, there’s some of the money that has to go to local governments. So we’re looking at all of those things. And once we have clear understanding what the federal rules are, then we will come up with a plan for those funds.

Governor Cuomo: (28:25)
Yeah. And Gwynne, just so we’re clear, three drops of water does not a bucket fill. Three drops of water does not a bucket fill. This bill that they passed in Washington has several relief funds for certain groups and certain functions in this state. It is three drops of water in a bucket, and the bucket is empty, and the bucket is called a $15 billion state deficit. So it’s almost inconsequential. We have a $15 billion deficit.

Governor Cuomo: (29:13)
Well, I gave you X for this, and X for this, and X for this. Okay, now we have a $14.5 billion deficit. So what we need to do in terms of rent relief, and small business relief, and lost revenue from COVID, and expenses of COVID vaccination process, this federal government’s bill does virtually nothing for us. And the big fight on this bill where Washington failed, was what was called state and local funding. They dropped that from the bill. And that’s what would have provided economic relief to the states and local governments on a meaningful level. So this is all but insignificant, these small grants that they’re making, and it comes nowhere near to addressing any of the needs that we’re facing, or the people of this state are facing.

Governor Cuomo: (30:29)
It’s a cruel irony that they say, well, we’re giving New York State X for rent relief, and Y for small businesses, and we’re giving this to the schools. They make it sound like they accomplished something. They accomplished nothing. When you compare that to the need, it’s telling a starving family, well, I gave you two pieces of bread. Yeah. Thank you very much. Next question, operator.

Moderator: (31:08)
Thank you, Governor. You now have Teri Weaver of the Post Standard. Teri, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Teri Weaver: (31:17)
Hi, Governor.

Governor Cuomo: (31:18)
Terry Weaver, how are you?

Teri Weaver: (31:20)
I’m doing well, thank you.

Governor Cuomo: (31:22)
Good to hear your voice.

Teri Weaver: (31:25)
I wanted to ask about the positivity rates in the zones across the state. I know that you have changed the metrics for those, adding hospitalizations and other things, but we’re still also using positivity rate to determine those zones. But we haven’t seen that positivity rate zone by zone in a few days. I was wondering why the state stopped releasing that. And if you could start releasing it again?

Governor Cuomo: (31:54)
Yeah. I think maybe they just took a couple of days off over Christmas. And Scrooge, I’m not. But it depends on who you ask, Teri. Do you know, Gareth?

Gareth Rhodes: (32:08)
Yes. Hey, Teri. We’ll be adding this. We have a website that has all the different zones on there, and if we haven’t already, we’ll be adding those numbers to that website, and updates on a daily basis. So you can see it there.

Governor Cuomo: (32:22)
I think that means Gareth took Christmas off. Did you take Christmas off?

Gareth Rhodes: (32:30)
If the website is updated, then I did not. If it’s not, then I did.

Governor Cuomo: (32:35)
It will be updated, Teri. We did provide the numbers in this by region, just not that.

Gareth Rhodes: (32:45)
We haven’t by region. I think Teri’s asking for those specific micro-cluster zones, and that should be on our website. And if it’s not, I’ll make sure it’s updated.

Governor Cuomo: (32:52)
Okay. Next question, operator.

Moderator: (32:56)
Governor, you now have Lisa Colangelo of Newsday. Lisa, please unmute your microphone.

Lisa Colangelo: (33:03)
Hi. How are you?

Moderator: (33:03)
Unmute your microphone.

Lisa Culangelo: (33:03)
Hi. How are you?

Governor Cuomo: (33:04)
Lisa [Culangelo 00:33:04], how are you?

Lisa Culangelo: (33:07)
Very good. Thank you. I was wondering if you had any other reports of fraud involving the vaccine in the state, with any other providers? Have you received any information on that?

Governor Cuomo: (33:19)
Besides Newsday? Kidding, kidding, kidding. That is the only case that we’re at liberty to speak about now, but Lisa, as I said before, whenever you have a valuable commodity that is being dispensed, you should expect fraud. Right? It’s a function of the marketplace, it’s a function of demand, it’s a function of human nature. As I mentioned, I was Attorney General before this. I was an assistant district attorney at one time. If you have a valuable commodity and you’re dealing, by the way, with hundreds of provider organizations, you can’t dispense this as quickly as we’re trying to dispense it to 20 million people without involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of personnel. Right?

Governor Cuomo: (34:24)
I mean, just think about this. You’re going to have doctors and nurses and pharmacists and health aids who have access to thousands and thousands of vials of this vaccine. You should expect that, the old expression, that some of those vials are going to walk. Right? That’s the old colloquial expression. They’re going to walk. They’re going to develop legs and walk away in the dark of night. And that’s the situation that we’re dealing with. So we are hyper-cautious, hypervigilant. We’re putting in the strictest penalties in the country, the best we can determine. I’m making it clear that I understand the value of a vial. One vial, and you saw how small a vial is, some of those vials can do 10 vaccines. You could sell that one vial.

Governor Cuomo: (35:34)
So I understand the temptation. I understand human nature and the market. You’ll be penalized, you will lose your license, you can go to jail. So think about that also. And in this kind of situation where that vial would then be administered to 10 people, people talk, to stick with another old colloquial truism. People talk. And you won’t get away with it and it’s not worth the risk. So we are, unfortunately, experienced with human nature and with fraud. So we have the penalties in place, we have the safeguards in place, but when you’re dealing with thousands of people and hundreds of organizations and a valuable commodity, expect a level of fraud.

Governor Cuomo: (36:35)
We had this conversation when we were talking about the unemployment benefits and how fast we were getting out the unemployment benefits. And the provocative questions would be, “Well, there are a lot of people waiting for the unemployment benefits. Get them out fast. Why aren’t you getting them out fast? You’re slow. You’re hurting people. You’re demonic.” I say, yeah, but the flip side is there will be fraud. And if we don’t certify people and if we don’t make sure they’re eligible, what’s going to happen, as sure as night follows day, is you’re going to have people who defrauded the government. And then you’re going to come back the other way and say, “Taxpayers were defrauded. How did you do that? How did you let it happen?”

Governor Cuomo: (37:31)
And by the way, that’s exactly what has happened. You’re going to see the same function with this vaccine. We’re working very hard to get it out quickly. You will see organizations and people who take advantage of the situation and we are prepared for them. Next question, operator.

Moderator: (37:51)
Thank you, Governor. You now have Sasha Pezenik from ABC News. Sasha, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Sasha Pezenik: (38:01)
Thank you, Governor, for taking my question. It’s in regards to ParCare. A couple fronts here. How many individuals are we looking at being charged in this investigation so far? And then, number two, the Moderna vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, so how are we going to ensure that those individuals, I believe it’s about 869, who receive this dose through ParCare are going to be able to get their second doses? Thank you.

Governor Cuomo: (38:28)
Sasha, it’s an ongoing investigation, so I don’t want to say too much about it, but fraud can happen on two levels here. Right? The organization can be involved in fraud. Well, I’ll give you three levels. I’m really going back to my attorney general days. The organization can be involved in fraud, individuals employed by the organization can be involved in fraud, and recipients of the vaccine can be involved in fraud. Right? Or they could have been defrauded, but these are all questions of fact.

Governor Cuomo: (39:15)
So if you receive the vaccine and you knew you weren’t supposed to receive the vaccine and that was a fraudulent act by you, that’s one situation. If you were eligible and you had no idea that this was a fraudulent organization, that would be a different situation, but it’s going to be a question of fact, Sasha. And I don’t know any facts, at this time, that I would convey that wouldn’t compromise the investigation, unless Dr. Zucker does or Melissa knows.

Howard Zucker: (39:51)
Nothing here, but the public health always is a priority. So we want to be sure that people do get vaccinated and get their doses, but as we said, looking into the investigation. So there’s two sides. There’s the investigation side and then there’s the public health side and we will always do what’s best for the public health, as well.

Governor Cuomo: (40:08)
If the individuals involved were not participants of the fraud, but victims of the fraud, then it makes it even easier, but let’s get the facts first. Right? Okay. One more question, operator.

Moderator: (40:24)
Thank you, Governor, for your last question. You now have Carl Campanile of the New York Post. Carl, your line is now open. Please unmute your microphone.

Carl Campanile: (40:33)
Greetings. How you doing, Governor?

Governor Cuomo: (40:35)
Hey, Carl. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

Carl Campanile: (40:40)
Merry Christmas. Happy New Year to you and yours. I have a followup question on ParCare. You said before, I just wanted to see if you could clarify, are you looking at any other firms that may have acted improperly here in terms of obtaining or distributing the vaccine or is it just ParCare at this time?

Governor Cuomo: (41:07)
Let me say it this way, Carl, because we’ve had this type of conversation many times in the past, again, going back to the attorney general days. The only organization that we are looking at for possible criminal activity at this point is the organization you mentioned. The Department of Health is constantly and the New York State Inspector General is constantly and the Attorney General’s Office is constantly looking at organizations and looking at the distribution system, but the only organization that is being investigate for criminal fraud at this time is the organization you mentioned. Happy New Year, everyone. I’ll talk to you before then, but Happy New Year. (silence)

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