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Homeland Security

New York State

Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces New Yorkers 60 Years of Age and Older and Additional Public Facing Essential Workers Will Be Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

March 9, 2021

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Well, good morning to everyone. It's my pleasure to be back at the State Fair. Not a normal State Fair situation that we have today. First, this State Fair is such a phenomenal success story. You know, you have to remember what it was a few years ago and what it is today. It is night and day. We've been breaking all sorts of records, attendance records. It's revitalized the entire region. I want to congratulate everyone who has been associated with the fair, but I want to give a special thank you and shout out the Troy Waffner who has done a great job. Let's give Troy round of applause.

Now, this site, State Fairgrounds, great recreation area, great attraction. It has transformed itself to where this site is today the second largest mass vaccination site in the United States of America. It did 9,500 vaccinations in the past 24 hours, second only to Javits Center. Isn't that amazing. Give the whole group and the National Guard a round applause for what you're doing here.

I want to welcome some special guests who are with us today. You're going to hear from Ann Marie Taliercio in a moment right after me, who represents the AFLCIO, as you know. Then you're going to hear from Fanny Villarreal who represents the YWCA and then you're going to hear from Pastor Draper who is going to speak on behalf of all the pastors who are here and the faith based community that is working in partnership with this organization. I also want to recognize a special member of our society for many, many years, a great, great leader, Van Robinson. Let's give him a round of applause. We also have Paul Dickens with us from the CSEA and I thank him.

Well, look where we are now in this long journey of this past year. We are now coming down to the end. Are we at the end? No. That's why we have to stay smart. We have to stay safe, masks etcetera, but we're at the beginning of the end. The end is the vaccine. The vaccine is the weapon that wins the war. We know that. It's been tested, it's been proven. Now, you have to make the weapon. That's taking time. Biden administration, God bless them, has increased the number of vaccine distribution. They've moved it up, so we're going to have many more vaccines faster and that's good news. But, you have to make the vaccine. You have to distribute the vaccine which is a massive governmental operation.

Nobody's ever had to mobilize like this in this short a period of time. What today's center is all about. And then third, you have to get people to accept it. You can have the vaccine. You can have the distribution center, but until that needle is an arm it doesn't mean anything. The supply of the vaccine is dependent on the federal government and that ebbs and flows. Why? Because when the Biden administration came in they didn't have enough vaccine for the country. They just have not bought enough vaccine. President Biden comes in, opens the vaccine cupboard, the cupboard is bare. They have scrambled and they have secured more vaccine, but it's uneven.

So, we've got a big dosage of Johnson and Johnson, one shot, great. We got that last week. Then it's going to trail off for a couple of weeks and then it's going to increase again, the supply. So, you're going to see an unevenness to the vaccine. Everybody says, "I want the vaccine. Why can't I get it?" Because there's not enough vaccine. That's the simple answer. And you are going to see this ebb and flow in the supply from the federal government, that's a fact. We're going to have to deal with it. It's going to be still an annoying few months. But we're getting there.

The supply is increasing. If the supply is increasing, we can then increase our distribution levels and I'm very pleased to say today that our first level was 65-years-old-plus because Covid affects older people more. So, our initial threshold was essential workers, nursing home, 65-plus. We're going to drop the 65-year-old-plus to 60-year-old plus, and that's going to start tomorrow. So, now 60-year-old-plus are going to be available. They can start making appointments tomorrow. They can make them at the mass vaccination sites and they can make them in pharmacies. But that will start 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. 60-plus, that means people as old as I am now will be eligible for the vaccine.

Second, all sites starting March 17, next Wednesday. All sites, county sites, FQHC sites, mass vaccination sites. We have thousands of distribution sites. All sites to simplify the situation can vaccinate anyone who is eligible, alright. So, whether you're going to county-run site, city-run site, what they call an FQHC, every site can vaccinate anyone who is eligible, with one exception. Pharmacies still will only be doing sixty plus and teachers. Sixty plus and teachers, why? Because the pharmacies, it's not as easy for them to identify different types of workers, etcetera. They can identify age, because age you can identify by just a driver's license. And president Biden rightfully so has made teachers a priority. So, pharmacies will do sixty plus and teachers. We want to get those schools open. Every other site will be doing every other person who is eligible.

Also, on March 17, next Wednesday, the public facing public employees will also be eligible. Not for profit, public facing emergency employees and employees who are providing necessary services like the YWCA, they will also be available. Essential public workers will also be available. Public facing building workers will also be available. These are the people who are the everyday heroes who are out there doing their job. There putting themselves in a possible position of exposure. They are essential for us to continue operating. They're going to become eligible on March 17. Let's give them a round of applause.

Last point is the distribution is working. It's going out. It's going out fast, not as fast as we would like, but as fast as the supply allows. It also has to be fair. It has to be fair and we've talked about this from day one. Covid discriminates. Covid discriminates by race. They say the virus is race blind. Yes and no. It will infect anyone, but by circumstance it infected blacks and Hispanics more than whites. Twice as many black people died from Covid as white people. Twice as many black people died from Covidas white people. Just think about that. One and a half times as many Hispanic people died from Covid as white people. Just think about that. Covid discriminates. Black population had less access to health care. Hispanic population had less access to health care. Black, Hispanic population had more comorbidities, more underlying conditions. That's why Covid prayed on blacks and Hispanics more than they did the white population. So, when it comes to the vaccine. It is very important that we correct that injustice. And we make sure that we have access to everyone. You take Central New York, 87 percent of the population is white. 94 percent of the people who received the vaccine are white. 87 percent of the population, 94 percent of the vaccine. Black population, 11 percent, only 5 percent of the vaccine. Hispanic population, 4 percent, only 2 percent of those who have been vaccinated. Asian population, 3 percent, only 2 percent of those who have been vaccinated. So, we need to increase the vaccination number for the Black, Hispanic and Asian population. One of the reasons the pastors are here today is to say look, we understand there's a hesitancy issue. I don't like the word hesitancy because it's a muddled word. There's a trust issue. Black community has less trust of the system. "Oh, how can you say that?" It's true. It's true. Tuskegee experiment, they have less trust of the system. "Well, the Trump Administration said it's safe." I don't believe the Trump Administration, says the Black community. By the way, I don't believe the Trump Administration, says me, Andrew Cuomo. We had a New York State panel that also reviewed it. We've done 6 million dosages. It's worked. Top Black professionals, medical professionals in the United States say take it. I'verecommended it to my mother, who has taken it. I'm going to recommend it to my daughters, who have taken it. I am going to make an appointment. I am going to take it. The pastors who are here today are saying take it. There is no reason why anyone would be recommending this vaccine unless they believed it saved lives and has proof that it saves lives.

We want to stop this virus, we have to stop the virus. You know how you win a war?You go out and you win the war. You go out and you defeat the enemy. The enemy doesn't defeat themselves. No war does the enemy defeat themselves. All the training that the National Guard receives, the Army receives, nobody ever says wait for the enemy to destroy themselves. Go out there and crush them. You know how you crush them? You crush them with this vaccine. But we have to take it. And then let's get back to work, let's rebuild this economy, let's rebuild this state, let's get our lives back to normal, let's get children back in school, let's get paychecks back in homes, let's get normal society functioning again. This vaccine is the ticket. We just have to make it happen. Thank you and God bless you.

Ann Marie Taliercio: Well, before I start, I'm Ann Marie Taliercio, and I'm the proud representative of my union brothers and sisters in Central New York. I represent the Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. And I have written remarks because I didn't want to forget one word, but before I do go into them, Governor, I want to personally thank you, because for this whole year I knew Governor Cuomo and the State of New York, his team, had my back. And, you know, we don't like to go into politics of our country, but I wasn't so sure either if I was going to take that vaccine. But when I heard that New York State had the professionals, were talking with worldwide professionals, but the council that sites somewhere, I don't know where you sit, Albany, wherever, I know you were looking at that vaccine. So I knew, and I did take it. I don't want to say why, you know, these ages creep up on you. But I happen to be in one of those age groups. And I took it, I feel so much freer now that I took it, and I wear my mask, but thank you Governor for always having our back. That's so important, so important to all of us, as we know you have our back. I know, I live with a military veteran.

So thank you Governor, and it's always an honor to be with you, especially when you bring good news about more vaccine, and, but then again, you know, I was thinking these words over. When doesn't he come with good news? It's usually about a better state fair, it's usually about economic development, and today it's about a vaccine, which is really the lifeblood is what we need to go forward. This is what's going to get everything back moving again, and I represent workers who have been out for a year. They're with the hotel and restaurant workers. That's my actual job. And they're never going to go back to work unless they have this vaccine.

So besides my brothers and sisters of my union, we have these union men and women of Central New York to thank because they are the essential workers. They are the community, when you say 'the community' - it's union brothers and sisters who go out and do the work every day, regardless of what's going on. Thank you to CSEA because you can't Zoom garbage collection. You can't Zoom snowplowing and we all know we really need snowplowing in the Central New York. That's a done deal. We'dgo nowhere without our snowplows. We like to say we can now buy food online, but not everybody has computer access. The retail clerks in the supermarkets - these are the frontline workers that went out every day and they risked their lives, but now with the advent of more vaccine, and a Governor who watches our back about these things, we got the vaccine all through this difficult year. When it was available, we got it first and now they're going to be able to go to work and do their jobs with the security that they have the vaccine. So, for all of them I thank you and their families, because we all know what it's like to go to work and not really know if you're coming home. Andif you have to worry about not having a vaccine, but now you don't. It's there. You just have to go get it. This is welcome news and it brings real relief and security to all our workers here to get our economy going again.

It's a quick act - you just go. We have wonderful caretakers that give us the shot. You get it get, you go home, you rest a little and for the most part, you're fine and you can go to work the next day. We have three vaccines. They are all safe. They're all available or as they become available, just make an appointment and get that shot. We have the Pfizer, we have Moderna and we have Johnson & Johnson. And I've spoken to a lot of people, symptoms - some people get them. You know you have to be careful if you're the one who gets them, but it seems to be all over the board. Some get them, most don't get them. And I've spoken to the nurses who give the shot and who work up at the hospital, they said, you know, you just have to be careful. So, I want to thank the Governor for today's announcement. Your efforts have saved lives. And another thing I said - if it wasn't for your leadership since March, maybe just about a year ago, I believe Central New York would have been ravaged. That virus would have gotten off a plane in Syracuse. It may have gotten off at LaGuardia, but it would have gotten back on and gotten off in Syracuse. And I think a lot of us are hear today because of your quick action, and - I mean this - thank you. I don't know what else to say.

Fanny Villarreal: Thank you Governor. I am glad to stand here with you today to join this announcement. Thank you very much. I would like to acknowledge some of our friends that are here - Linda Brown-Robinson, the immediate past President of Syracuse-Onondaga NAACP. My dear friend, right there, Van Robinson. Superintendent Nebraski Carter Living Water Church. Wendy Colucci, the Field Coordination, Central New York Area Labor Federation, welcome. Paul Dickens, CSEA Onondaga County. Walt Dixie, Executive Director of Jubilee Homes. Elisa Morales, Executive Director, Spanish Action League. Gwendolyn Muok, Syracuse-Onondaga NAACAP. Michael Nesci, Labor Relations Specialist, CSEA Local 1000. Josh Schick, Political Action Coordinator for the CSEA. Anne Marie Taliercio the President of the Central New York Area Labor Federation. Dr. Amy Tucker, my colleague and Chair of the Central New York House Equity Task Force.

Thank you very much. Good morning. I am Fanny Villarreal, the YWCA Executive Director and Central New York Ambassador for the State House Equity Task Force. Last year has been hard on many, many people and groups, including the non-for-profits. It is hard to run a non-for-profit even in normal times. The COVID crisis has just made this far worse. Still, non-for-profits like the YWCA have remained New York Tough. I agree with the Governor that the vaccine is what ends this suffering. I have been proud to join him in his efforts to make sure the vaccine is fairly distributed. Today he is once again delivering on his mission. Opening eligibility to non-for-profit workers on the frontlines will allow hard working organizations across the state to do what we do best. We need these workers vaccinated to bring vital services, programing, and other support to our communities, especially here in Central New York.

I got the vaccine and I can tell you it's safe. After a year of constant uncertainty I can tell you how much relief it brought to me. I did it because I love my family and I love my community and now with the same love it is my mission to educate about the importance of the vaccine.

With three vaccines now available, more of us will be able to feel the same security it brings. I urge everyone who is now eligible to do the same. It's time we get back to our lives to pick up the pieces of last year and get back to the necessary work of rebuilding our community.

Thank you again, Governor Cuomo. This is another step in the effort to end the crisis once and for all. God bless you. Thank you.

Reverend DeCarto Draper Jr.: Let the church say, amen. Certainly we thank you, Governor Cuomo, for gathering us here today, and I speak on behalf of my colleagues that share with us. Thank you for your leadership, especially on the issue of distributing the vaccine. If I could recognize the clergy that are here with us today. I am Revered DeCarto Draper, Senior Pastor of the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church here in the City of Syracuse. We have Pastor H. Bernard Alex, Senior Pastor of the Victory Temple Baptist Church; Pastor Sharon Baugh, Hope Chapel A M E Zion Church in Utica; Pastor Darren Duson, Leap of Faith Outreach Ministry; Pastor Derek Galloway, Founder and Senior Pastor of Connected Christian Church; Pastor Daren C. Jaime, the Pastor of the People's A M E Zion Church; Pastor James Jones, Temple Church of God In Christ; Pastor Shawn Robertson, Pastor of the Southern Missionary Baptist Church; Pastor Derek Tannehill, Pastor of the Pentecost Evangelical Baptists Church as well as the moderator of the Northeastern Baptist District Association; Pastor Phil Turner, the Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church. Thank you all for sharing with us today.

We know that this shot is what ends the suffering that COVID has brought to our African American, or shall we say Black and Brown communities. There are those of us that may be standing here who survived COVID. You're looking at a COVID survivor and so the vaccine plays a very important role as we try to curtail and curve COVID-19. We want to say to you today, Mr. Governor, thank you not only for your leadership in the State of New York but in our nation. It was you who was a trailblazer for us in the midst of uncertain and uncanny and unscrupulous leadership. We thank you that you rose and New York was a trailblazer for other states as we fought COVID-19. I'm reminded today of what Paul says to his son and ministry. He says I fought a good fight, finished a race and kept the faith. Governor Cuomo, you have led us to the end of this race and we now have three vaccines. There is still a lot of fight ahead. However, we need to get this vaccine into the arms of as many people as possible.

Now I say this, that a lot of us think that getting the vaccine is responsible but I flip it and say, the vaccine is important for those who are irresponsible, for those who won't wear masks, for those who won't social distance, for those who will not think about the families of others, for those of us that stand here today as clergy. A lot of us had had to stand and commit bodies to the ground because of COVID-19, so now that we have this vaccine, I heard one of the prior speakers say about the symptoms of the side effects, I said to my congregation, I would rather have a side effect than have to go to the cemetery.

Today's announcement helps us do just that. More vaccines are on the way and again we want to thank the Governor and his team for continuing to work with the houses of worship to deliver the vaccine directly to the communities that need it. Our efforts have been made better with the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it actually works a lot better for some people because it's one shot and for those who are homeless and those who might not have the transportation to get both shots, this Johnson & Johnson will help us get those people who are in the underserved and underprivileged community. So now we can open this up to more New Yorkers which allows us to end this suffering for over the last year. I shared with the young ladies who stood with us that for the first time in my life I've never been able to go to church on Easter Sunday or our members were not able to come or they were not able to attend on Mother's Day. For the first time people were not able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and so we understand, we understand in the African American community that there is a lot of mistrust and part of that is because a lot of us have Southern roots. We have Southern roots and we understand what happened with the Tuskegee experiment. As a matter of fact, we have a Tuskegee alum with us, Dr. H. Bernard Alex, who is a proud alum of Tuskegee University, but we say that we trust Dr. Fauci and trust Dr. Zucker and locally trust Dr. Gupta - I trust Dr. Gupta on CNN - because it's important to us that we get back to our way of life and the only way to get back to this way is that we must encourage the vaccine, and my prayer is that if you're not going to take the vaccine, please don't talk other people against it, is that you let it be a personal decision. Again, we say thank you, Governor Cuomo and your team, for leading us through a dark and dismal period, but we thank you that you stood tall, you stood strong, and we want you to know that we appreciate your leadership and loyalty to the State of New York. Now I wouldn't be a preacher unless I left here with something, and I want you to be encouraged by this, Mr. Governor, the Bible declares, now unto him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly, above all we can ask good things.

Governor Cuomo: Beautiful words. Let's give the Reverend another round of applause. Let's give Fanny a round of applause and Ann Marie. Okay, let's sum it up. Number one, 60-year-olds are eligible starting tomorrow. Make an appointment, starting tomorrow, 8 a.m. Remember, it's still uneven. We still don't have enough supply but do your best. I know it requires patience but 60-year-olds start tomorrow. Next week, March 17, all sites, county sites, all sites can administer vaccines to any eligible population except pharmacies. Pharmacies will only be doing 60-plus and teachers. Also next Wednesday, March 17, the everyday heroes, the essential workers, YWCA, the public employees, et cetera, will be eligible for the vaccine. We'regoing to go to work, I'm getting back, I'm getting on the phone talking to the White House. You know what I'm going to ask the White House for? Two words: more vaccine. Let's go to work. Thank you very much.

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