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Homeland Security

New York State

Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers On State's Progress During Covid-19 Pandemic

March 17, 2021

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

Good afternoon, guys. Say hello to Kelly Cummings, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Dr. Zucker, Melissa DeRosa. Let me give you an update as to where we are today on COVID.

Positivity rate, 3.41. 54 New Yorkers died from COVID yesterday. They're in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalization down 33, 4,624. ICU, 954. Intubated, 601.

Positivity by region: Mid-Hudson, number 1 in inverse, 4.6. Long Island, 4.5. New York City, 4.1. Western New York, 1.99.

Behavior matters. Community behavior matters. Western New York was at the top of the scale for a long time as people remember. It's now 1.99.

Capital Region, 1.7. Finger Lakes, 1.6. Mohawk Valley, 1.5. North Country, 1.5. Central New York, 0.8. Southern Tier, 0.6. Statewide 3.28.

By borough, interesting, 7-day positivity, Queens, 5.2. Staten Island, 5.2. Bronx, 5.1. Brooklyn, 4.8. Manhattan, 2.87. Again, community behavior matters. Bronx was the highest level as you remember. They're all close but now it's Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, 2.87. Manhattan has always been, not always but for a long time, has been down at the bottom.

Vaccines, a few minutes ago we did the 7 millionth shot in the arm. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this morning. I want everyone to understand Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, they all work. Take whatever vaccine you can get. We're working very hard at the equitable distribution. We now have 145 community-based pop-up sites. 14 State mass vaccination sites, which are the highest throughput sites. If you ask what are the single most effective, the mass vaccination sites have the highest throughput. We also have 6 mass vaccination sites in partnership with the federal government. 52 churches across the state are now doing vaccinations. We're opening 16 new pop-up sites across the state this week, including eight new church sites, new pop-up sites, eight in New York City, two on Long Island, two in the Hudson Valley, one in Saratoga Springs, one in Geneva, one in Buffalo, one in Wellsville. They should do 5,200 shots, those pop-up centers. People can sign up for an appointment today,, or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX.

Reopening, today we're announcing that effective this Monday, March 22, the final five yellow zone clusters will be lifted, so all clusters will be lifted. The remaining clusters are in the East Bronx, West Bronx, Manhattan, Newburgh, New Windsor, Queens, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills. That means any specific restrictions in those locations that had been in place will be lifted and now will fall in line with overall State guidance but that means all the clusters will be lifted on reopening.

Indoor fitness classes will be reopening. That's primarily in New York City on Monday, March 22. Gyms were open, but indoor fitness classes were not open and that caused a certain amount of consternation. They will open Monday, March 22. They will also be subject to the protocols that have been in place all across the state, 33 percent capacity, sign in with contact information. They scheduled the classes to allow cleaning, disinfection, masks, social distancing, shared equipment cleaned, local health departments shall inspect.

Curfews on reopening, we're announcing starting April 5, the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew for food and beverage establishments and the 12 a.m. curfew for catered events will remain in effect for the time being. We're evaluating both now and we will have an announcement on them in April.

Third piece of business is the budget. The budget is more important this year than any budget we have done and frankly, it's more complicated than any budget that we have done. The federal government has provided significant funding. The federal funding is the ultimate, what we would call, one-shot. A one-shot is non-recurring revenue. It's a one-time installment.

The trick with one-shots is that they don't recur. Whatever you fund with a one-shot then by definition once that one-shot is exhausted there's no funding for that activity. The one-shots create what we call a cliff. Raises spending to a very high basis and then for a very short period of time and right after that spending you hit a cliff and it's a long way down to the bottom.

It's also complicated because there are revenue increases and the federal government also proposes, rumored to propose, revenue increases. Many in the same area that we're talking about. We will do a tax increase and then the federal government in several weeks may also announce that tax increase nationwide. Trying to anticipate what the federal government is going to do and then align it with what the State is going to do is complicated. It's complicated.

Conversations are ongoing, but there's a long way from here to there and, as I said, there are more dimensions to this budget than normal. Normally you only have State revenue, what did you need, what did you raise, what do you want to want. This is an entire overlay of the federal government funding and then an overlay of the federal governments future tax actions which the Biden administration is talking about for their infrastructure bill, to fund their infrastructure. It's complicated. Everyone is talking and we're trying to work our way through it. But those are the three focuses, the vaccines, where this is going to accelerate very quickly.

The Biden Administration did a great job of securing more vaccines, but, the allocation to the state increases dramatically in a very short period of time. So we're going to have to do millions and millions of doses in a very short period of time. They want to increase eligibility for everyone in May. That would make 15 million New Yorkers eligible. We have only fully vaccinated about 2 million New Yorkers. Fully vaccinated. even let's call it three. But you'd be going from 3 million to 15 eligible, which means you'd have 12 million people eligible who haven't received a vaccine, and then a tremendous allocation coming in very quickly. So this is a logistical nightmare for the state to perform on the vaccine side. On the vaccine side, you also have the equity component, where hesitancy, lack of trust, access, we want to make sure it's done fairly. So that's an added complication. But that's job one.

Job two is we have to get the budget done, and that's extraordinarily complicated. And job three, reopen, and reopen with energy, and optimism, and with a real sense of progress that people can see so they have confidence in New York. New York has taken a beating during COVID. It's important that people, businesses, have confidence in New York. We have serious issues. It's not just COVID. COVID created a number of ancillary issues. We have tremendous public safety issue. We have a crime problem. Again, I remind local governments, April 1, they, I've been saying for a year, must have their new public safety plan in place, done in collaboration with the community. So public safety, you don't often think of public safety as a reopening issue, but public safety, crime, is a major priority for people in making decisions whether they want to stay in a community or not. And gauging the reopening with COVID, curfews, et cetera, that's an ongoing process and we've been continuing that, restaurants opening, et cetera. So those are the three tasks I'm focused on. Reopening, vaccination and getting the budget done.

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