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New York State

Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Partnership with SOMOS Community Care to Vaccinate Underserved New Yorkers for COVID-19 at Community Medical Practices

March 26, 2021

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

Governor Cuomo: Hello. Good afternoon to everyone. It is my pleasure to be back in the Bronx. It's my pleasure to be back at New Settlement. I tell you the truth, on the way here, brought back a lot of memories of where we were in the beginning of COVID. When we talked about what we were facing. It's amazing how far we've come. And we have a lot of people to thank for that.

Let me acknowledge some of the special guests who are here. You're going to hear from Henry Mu√Īoz and Dr. Ramon Tallaj in a moment. They are the co-founders of SOMOS Community Care. They have been doing a fantastic job, fantastic job, all across this state, all across this country by the way, in providing COVID response. You're going to hear from the great borough president of the Bronx, as he will tell you, Ruben Diaz, who's been a great friend. And Ruben is my type of elected official because he's the type of elected official who gets things done, you know? My grandfather, God rest his soul, used to go like this when politicians came on TV, meaning all they do is talk. He didn't do it when my father was there, but he would do it when my father wasn't there. Some elected officials talk, some elected officials talk and get things done. And that is Ruben Diaz, and it's an honor to be with him. You're then going to hear from another politician who left big shoes for us all to follow, former borough president Fernando Ferrer. And he's been a mentor to so many of us who have watched him and watched his service, and tried to live up to the standard that he set.

As I mentioned before, we went through a long year with COVID, and it has been a year. It's looking back, it was a long winter of COVID. Lot of darkness, a lot of pain, a lot of isolation, a lot of alienation, a lot of emotional trauma, a lot of loss, a lot of death. We lost people at a time when we couldn't even grieve losing people. We lost people and in some ways they just disappeared. You couldn't see them in a hospital. You couldn't attend a funeral. You couldn't even grieve the way we normally grieve. It was horrendous. It was horrendous. There's no other word for it. It was a winter of darkness and pain. But the seasons change. The seasons change. And the season's now changed. We are in Spring. Sun is out, it's a different season, it's a season of renewal, it's a season of rebirth, it's a season of possibility, it's a season where we see opportunity again. And we're reenergized in the Spring. And we needed that.

We have two tasks ahead to really bring that energy of the Spring forward and to turn a page in this terrible saga. The first thing we have to do is we have to get vaccinated. We have to get vaccinated. What defeats COVID? The vaccinations defeat COVID, period. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, if they approve AstraZeneca. We have the weapon that wins the war. We have the weapon that kills the enemy. But it has to be here. It has to be put in the arm. The Biden Administration is doing an excellent job of actually acquiring the vaccine because when President Biden took office, he went to the vaccine cupboard and the cupboard was bare. He had to go back and acquire enough vaccine. that's what they are now doing. And you're going to see the number of vaccines coming to the state increasing. And as soon as we get those vaccines to this state, we are going to get them in arms.

Developing, mobilizing an unprecedented network of providers to do just that and to bring the vaccine to the communities that were hardest hit. Today we're announcing that SOMOS, which has a fantastic network of community clinics, 2,500 pharmacists, in many of the communities across this state that need healthcare the most, you have SOMOS doctors and you have the SOMOS organization. 2,500 doctors, goal of 1 million vaccinations, SOMOS alone. The state is going to be providing vaccines directly to SOMOS so they can get those needles in those arms in those hard-to-reach communities.

We're opening pop-up centers everywhere, in churches, in community centers, in the communities that were hardest hit. This facility that we are standing in today is going to be a pop-up vaccine site. We learned a lot through COVID. Many lessons to learn, public health, preparedness, et cetera. But, we also learned during COVID that COVID discriminated. COVID killed twice as many Blacks as it did whites. Twice as many Blacks died from COVID as did white. One and a half times as many Hispanics died from COVID as died from whites. Why? Those communities received less healthcare services. They had more comorbidities, more underlying conditions. They did not have the same access to healthcare. They didn't have the hospital network. They didn't have the resources to provide the healthcare. So they were more vulnerable.

What we're saying now when it comes to the vaccines, those who paid the highest price for COVID should have a priority in receiving the vaccine. And we have work to do. In the New York City area, the white population makes up 53 percent of the New York City population. Whites are 55 percent of those who have been vaccinated. So, the number of people vaccinated for whites is actually higher than the percentage of the population. For the Black community, they represent 27 percent of the population, only 19 percent of those vaccinated. and for the Hispanic community, 28 percent of the population but only 22 percent of those vaccinated. We need to do vaccine equity. We have to get the Black number up. We have to get the Hispanic number up. And that's what we have been focusing on, and we're going to continue to focus on. That is job one.

There is a hesitancy about for some in receiving the vaccine. They call it hesitancy. I reject the word hesitancy. I don't know what that means. And hesitancy is one of those words you use when you don't want to really admit the ugly truth of what it is. It's not hesitancy. It's distrust. It's the Black community and the Hispanic community has less trust in the system. So when the Trump Administration stood up and said, don't worry, this vaccine is safe, they said I don't believe you. by the way, I didn't believe the Trump Administration when they stood up and said it was safe. But, I understand the skepticism. I understand the cynicism. But, the facts tell the opposite story. We didn't trust the Trump Administration to say it was safe. We had the best New York doctors and healthcare professionals in the state review the vaccine. They said it is safe. 7 million people have taken the vaccine. 7 million people. My mother took the vaccine. I took the vaccine. 7 million people. It is safe. And if you want to talk about risk, the risk is not in taking the vaccine. The risk is in not taking the vaccine. That's where the risk is. If you get sick, and what happens if you get sick? If you get sick, and who you infect, that's the risk. That's why everyone has to take this vaccine, and that's why we're here to assure people who have distrust. "I don't know if I should believe." Every major Black medical professional, major Hispanic medical professionals, elected leaders, pastors who are here today, everyone, saying the same thing. This is a safe vaccine, you should take it.

The second thing we have to do, after the vaccine, is we have to rebuild. Spring says resurrection. Spring says life comes back. But it does not come back automatically. God helps those who help themselves. God doesn't say "you sit there and I will pick you up and raise you up." God says "I will be with you, but you need to do what you need to do, and you have to show the resilience and take the effort to stand up." And that's what we have to do. We have to show the resilience of who we are and we have to rebuild.

I am confident in New Yorkers, and confident in our ability to do that, because that's who we are. This is one of those life moments that tests and shows character. You know when you know who a person is? Not in the good days. You know who a person is when they get knocked to the ground, when life hits them and sets them back. When they have a health emergency, when they have a problem in their family, when they lose their job, when they have a setback. Life will knock you on your rear end for one reason or another. But in that moment, now we're going to see who you are. Now we're going to see who you are. Now we're going to see what you're made of. What do you do when life knocks you on your rear end? Do you sit there and say woe is me, how unfair or do you say I'm getting up? I'm getting up and I'm going to be smarter for what happened and I'm going to be grabbing the arms of my friends and we're going to pull ourselves up together.

New York says we're going to get up and we're going to get up better and stronger than ever before. That's what New York is. That's what we did after 9/11. I remember it like it was yesterday. Terrible loss of life, fear, trauma and many of the naysayers said oh New York will never be the same. Will never be the same. We're a terrorist target and New York will never be the same.

Some naysayers said that, but the majority said no. We're going to build back and we're going to be better and stronger than ever before. Yes, we're changed. Yes, we're more security focused, more security conscience after 9/11, but we're building back better than ever before and we did.

It happened after Hurricane Sandy. Oh my gosh, how can we rebuild, how can we do this? We did. You know where else we saw it? We saw it in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria. 2017, Hurricane Maria. Not only did New Yorkers say that we're going to rebuild New York. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, what New Yorkers said is we're going to take our spirit of resilience, our spirit of charity, our character and we're going to go to Puerto Rico in their moment of need and we're going to help them rebuild. The first plane that landed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria - New Yorkers. Ruben Diaz, Marcos Crespo, Nydia Velasquez, Andrew Cuomo - on the first plane that landed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

After Hurricane Maria when Puerto Rico was still struggling, an earthquake. An earthquake. Again, the question is what does Puerto Rico do and what do New Yorkers do? We were on the next plane again helping Puerto Rico. Rossana Rosado, 1,000 pallets of supplies, millions of dollars in aid, 1,000 SUNY and CUNY students went down to Puerto Rico together to visit. I went down on a trip with my daughter Michaela who's here today. We were in the back of a large Army truck driving through a neighborhood.

It was so high that the telephone lines, the power lines we're just going across the top of the truck. We were with the Governor of Puerto Rico. He was at one end of the truck with my daughter Michaela, I was at the other end of the truck. I turn around and a power line is coming over the truck right for Michaela's head. The Governor grabbed her head like a basketball and luckily bent her head down and the cable went right over. We were there. We were there because that's who we are.

It's going to be with the same spirit that we're going to bring to New York. We're not just going to build back after COVID. We're not just going to automatically evolve after COVID, we're going to create a New York that is better than ever before. We learned from COVID. We learned from the pandemic. We learned the strength of unity. We learned how to organize. We learned how to come together. We learned that we are mutually interconnected - that I wear this mask because I love you and you wear this mask because you love me. That transcending all: race, color, creed - the unity of community. That's the key to rebuilding.

We also open today the Hurricane Maria Memorial which we said that we would build after Hurricane Maria to remember the victims of Hurricane Maria but also to remember the experience and the solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico. Also, as a memorial for the connection between the people of New York and the people of Puerto Rico. That Hurricane Maria memorial is located at Battery Park City. From that memorial you see the Statue of Liberty. It is the New York Harbor and it's our way of once again memorializing all of our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who came to New York and joined the New York family.

I want to thank the commission for the memorial that worked so hard on it. Rossana Rosado, who is our Secretary of State, whose done an extraordinary job. I want to thank Marcos Crespo, Tonio Burgos, Edwin Melendez, Dennis Rivera, Casimiro Rodriguez, Havidan Rodriguez, Santos Rodriguez, Hilda Rosario Escher, Teresa Santiago, Brenda Torres and Elizabeth Velez. Also Nydia Velasquez, Jose Serrano, Maritza Davila - let's give them a big round of applause and thank them.

You're next going to hear from Dr. Mu√Īoz, Henry Mu√Īoz and Dr. Ramon Tallaj and then from Ruben Diaz and then from Ferrando Ferrer. We're going to show you a short video of a testament to the memorial that opens today so you have an appreciation. My last words are that say it all for me: [remarks in Spanish]

We remember that we go forward together. Thank you and God bless you.

Henry Mu√Īoz: Good afternoon. My name is Henry Mu√Īoz. I'm actually not a doctor, I'm a person who spent his whole life as an activist and as a designer of change on behalf of the Latino community for this country. I'm a firm believer that libraries and archives and textbooks and museums and memorials are incredibly important because we never had them. They tell stories about who we are in the past and where we're going as a people.

I just want to take a moment, I'm really affected by what you're opening today. To tell the story to the entire United States of America the heroism of our people because we lived through a moment where people told us we weren't heroes and we are. In many ways, that's what we're here today to do. I'm very thankful to Ramon Tallaj for helping me to see what he saw here in New York and what his colleagues, Dr. Pena and Dr. Denise Nunez and Dr. Jose Goris, Dr. Victor Peralta, Dr. Dalsia Acosta and Lidia Virgil and Alex Damiron and Sara Valenzuela and all the people who never get to stand up on a stage like this - the heroes of SOMOS - to help tell their story.

I want to thank you, Governor Cuomo for bringing this group of heroes together to this moment. SOMOS in English means 'we are.' Those are words that have been missing from health care in our country for many, many years. We are united. Out of many one. Here today because the State of New York and the Cuomo administration had a little idea that probably no one will remember called the disrupt. That program, that idea that you were willing to try and change a complex and unfair health care system for people who haven't had a voice for themselves or for their family or for their neighborhoods. You create the opportunity for SOMOS to organize. To organize a new model of community healing and medicine. One that looks like these people. Without that belief and that willingness for you to try to be innovative, to see what we see, we would not be able to bring vaccines to our community. My father wasn't a Governor, he was a labor leader, and I grew up in South Texas in a moment where it felt like this is a very heated moment of civil rights activity. And he would tell me, "Mijo, the movement of a people begins with the steps of just one person." He used to tell me that we all have choices about the way that we'd spend our day or our lives.

And if I close my eyes, Governor, I can still clearly see the day about a year ago, it was the last time that our doctors, hundreds of them, had an opportunity to gather, not that far from here, and you told us to get ready, that it was time to take to the streets, to test our people and to take care of our city and our state. And because of your administration, we were ready. Within hours SOMOS was setting up testing sites in parking lots with very little protection, buying our own supplies with passion for our people and personal disregard that our heroes faced. We went to the epicenter of the virus and we brought the people's voices with us and we translated this disease in three languages. We did away with the need to present identification for those of us who have citizenship issues. We created sites for people who don't have cars and don't have money for taxis. We set up in churches - and we have our priests here today - and in parishes and community centers and parking lots and schools and at doctors' offices. And before you knew it, SOMOS has tested hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. And if anybody had ever told me that I would see this in my own country, we fed over two million meals to New York families in the richest country in the world, in the richest city in this country. And SOMOS knew that from our research and our experience that the road from crisis to recovery would be, and is, a long one.

And we did this together with you, Governor, and with the state. There is no way that SOMOS could have done this without you. And when we got far enough, we decided that we would share our experience with places where people needed hope like we did. We went to Texas and to Florida and to Georgia, and we tested people and we trained people. And yes, at SOMOS, we lost too many of our family and too many of our colleagues got sick. But we all made that choice and we joined this movement. So here we are - doctors and nurses and priests and office workers and organizers and activists. The legacy of this moment in the history of New York, ready to volunteer and to stay open late, to do whatever it takes to once again create a new model of care during this national emergency. A moment where the vaccine, finally, will come to the people, to the neighborhood, to the trusted family doctor in the clinic right down the street the way it's always been, because a person in our community is used to going to the family doctor to get themselves and their child vaccinated. And we've waited while the vaccine went to chain pharmacies and hospitals, but the moment is here now for us to deliver the vacuna de la esperanza to our people. And today is the day that vacuna de la esperanza becomes la vacuna de la comunidad.

So we want to thank you for all that you have done, for all that all of us have done, to take of people and for everything that you're going to do in the future. We need you to get this vaccine. Now it's my honor to introduce to you my partner and my colleague and my friend and my brother, the man who envisioned all of this that we call SOMOS, Dr. Ramon Tallaj.

Dr. Ramon Tallaj: Desde el fondo de nuestros corazones, unos 2,500 m√©dicos y trabajadores de la salud y 30 mil familias y cerca de un mill√≥n de pacientes que asistimos a los barrios pobres de Nueva York, Gracias. Gracias no s√≥lo por su apoyo para nosotros hoy tener la vacuna de la esperanza para acabar con este virus de la soledad como muere nuestra gente. Nuestras oficinas est√°n ubicadas en los sitios m√°s pobres de nuestra ciudad para vacunar a nuestra gente y acabar con el Virus de la Soledad, pero tambi√©n usted nos ha dado el apoyo desde el inicio para poder hacer los testing en toda la ciudad. En nuestros barrios pobres, en nuestra genta que est√° sufriendo m√°s que todo el mundo, cerca de un mill√≥n de tests hasta ahora en la ciudad y carca de dos millones de alimentos fueron distribuidos. Usted cre√≥ este ej√©rcito de m√©dicos quiero que lo sepa, y trabajadores de la salud, bien equipados y decididos hacer los campeones de la medicina preventiva en la comunidad y ahora de la vacunaci√≥n y lo hemos hecho con una alta calidad y ahorrando una cantidad substancial de dinero al gobierno federal y estatal. Pero hubiera pasado si no hubiese el apoyo un grupo de m√©dicos no se hubiesen juntado a hacer este trabajo. Por generaciones, estos m√©dicos en su mismo idioma con o sin dinero o con o sin papeles sin seguro atienden en nuestros barrios a gente pobre cerca de sus casas, cerca sus apartamentos porque la medicina es local porque la gente tiende a escoger esos m√©dicos basados en sus valores que esos m√©dicos tengan y en su cultura. Entendemos su cultura porque somos inmigrantes como ellos, somos la misma gente. Hoy, con esta nueva iniciativa seguimos juntos salvando vidas su gobierno y nosotros en la comunidad y vamos a combatir la inequidad y la injusticia que ha existido en la salud para que se haga justicia con nuestra gente hispana, afroamericana y asi√°tica. Quiero que sepas, antes de terminar, que hoy cumplimos un a√Īo, 26 de marzo del 2020 orando ininterrumpidamente de 8 a 8:30 de la noche. Cuando le dijimos a la gente despu√©s de trabajar a orar y por favor l√©anse a Isa√≠as 2620 algo como esc√≥ndanse por tiempo en sus aposentos, lo pueden leer. Pero los m√°s importante que eso hoy en nuestra oraci√≥n que hacemos un viacrucis que representa como el Padre Fajardo, el padre Amioris. Le estamos pidiendo al todo poderoso que los bendiga y le d√© la sabidur√≠a necesaria para seguir ayudando a la gente del pueblo que m√°s lo necesita porque su apoyo es importante y usted lo ha demostrado una y otra vez. Y para despedirme a nuestra gente que nos ve, Este el Virus y esta es la Vacuna ni importa que esta enfermedad tu tenga este virus te puede matar, la vacuna de la esperanza te puede salvar.Vamos a ponernos la vacuna! Gracias.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz: Good afternoon everyone. Buenas tardes a todos. I just want to say thank you to all of my colleagues in government, all of the men and women of clergy - will the men and women of clergy please raise your hand, if you're here today and you're clergy? Let's give them all a strong round of applause. Of course to Dr. Tallaj, to Henry Munoz, to Dr. Denise Nu√Īez, to Dr. Pe√Īa and all of the men and women, the doctors of SOMOS - you are truly our cavalry. You have been amazing since the start of the pandemic, and even before that, to make sure that we get quality health care in our communities and in many cases for my community and in the Bronx in our native tongue. If you ask any expert, they will tell you that no matter how good the quality of care is, that much of it gets lost if medical instructions are not passed down to the patient, if it's not in their native tongue. And since the pandemic I've witnessed, I've been on the ground, everyone can research it, I've been trying the best that I can for my community and my borough. And every step of the way, SOMOS, you all have been there, and for that I say thank you on behalf of Bronx.

Mr. Governor, thank you once again for not forgetting the Bronx. Thank you for not forgetting Latinos. He's not new to this. Let me tell you why. Yes, I represent the Bronx, where over the last 13 months, we've seen and experienced a lot of pain, and death, and sickness, and loss. Lives, institutes, institutions, businesses, family members. We've seen it all. The economy has tanked. And yes, when we speak of COVID and we speak of the void that is left, we tend to just look at the period of time since COVID hit us. But let me submit something extra to you, and where COVID has also devastated us as a borough and my borough in particular -- I know there are people here from other boroughs -- the fact is that what we have been able to gain over the past 11 years in the Bronx was decimated in 11 months. I say that because the Bronx was the borough that we all felt was left for dead and forgotten, and we were able to go from 14 percent unemployment when I first took office in 2009. Last February -- not a month ago, but just last year in February -- we were at 4 percent, and that's because of the leadership and the help and assistance that you have given us by not forgetting us, Mr. Governor. By having your strike force, your unemployment strike force working with our organizations. I see Marlene Cintron here from the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; let's give her a strong round of applause.

We were able to put people to work when folks speak of infrastructure and transportation alternatives, the Governor through your leadership and assistance, and that state's, we were able to have $1.2 billion for four Metro North stations, $1.8 billion for the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange. We were able to have hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars so that we can raise our housing stock. So, think about psychologically aside from the last 13 months now what COVID has done, think about what it has meant to us when we've worked all this time. But we couldn't have done it, and we couldn't have had that solid foundation without your leadership and without your support, and for that we thank you. I mean the list goes on and on, when you look at the Greenmarket Regional Food Hub. Ladies and gentlemen, part of the reason why the population got hit so hard with COVID and even before that is because you are what you eat, and nutrition is important, and if you don't have affordable foods that can fortify your body then you have a citizenry that is susceptible to viruses and disease, and we got hit so hard. But it was your $50 million that was able to do that at the Hunts Point Produce Market. And time and time again you've always remembered us, you've always stood by us, and you've always made sure that we were not forgotten.

To pivot a little bit to Puerto Rico. So when we got hit with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico the Bronx felt it, the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Rican diaspora felt it really, really bad. Not only did we feel it because our family members were suffering, but those of us who do all that we can to make this country better, we saw a federal government that failed us. And it was the State of New York, it was the Governor who said earlier, it was people like Marcos Crespo, and Nydia Velazquez, and so many who really focused to make sure that we can get the adequate resources, and pay the attention to Puerto Rico, to our family members that was so desperately needed. My single most proudest day as the Bronx Borough President was September 30th, 2017. Why do I say that? Because that was the day that we were on Southern Boulevard and Aldus Avenue, and that was the day we told everyone we need to make sure that we get them food, and water, and clothing to the people of Puerto Rico. Over 300,000 pounds of goods, and water, and nourishment was raised right there on the street, and without the National Guard, without the state government, without the airplane that you said was sent over there, we could not get it to individuals like all of our aunts, and uncles, and cousins that are over there.

And we didn't stop there, we went back when we saw the Hurricane, and feeding people, and going to the baseball stadiums, and going to the school yards where folks were camping out because they were so afraid that the structure was not sustainable, and they were sleeping outdoors. We went out there, and we saw that for ourselves, and we were able to get pillows, and blankets, and nourishment to those people as well. Once again, not forgetting the Bronx, not forgetting Latinos, not forgetting Puerto Ricans. And so to have this memorial, it goes a long way because just like COVID, there are so many families that are still struggling in Puerto Rico, and people who are over here because they haven't been able to go back. Remember, it wasn't just a hurricane, it wasn't just the earthquakes, it was the economic tsunami that hit them, and so on and so forth.

So, Puerto Rican families are still struggling here in the State of New York, and they're still mourning, and then COVID is on top of that, and then if they can go now to this memorial then that goes a long way in helping to heel. Today is a good day for the Bronx. Today is a good day for Puerto Ricans. Today is the day where we start the healing and the mourning process so that we can move forward and build bigger and stronger than ever. And you can only build stronger than ever if you have a solid foundation, which brings me to the next individual. I stand on the shoulders of the 11th Borough President in this borough, Fernando Ferrer. The Governor spoke earlier about getting kicked down and seeing who's with you, it was in the 70s and the 80s and boy was the Bronx kicked down. It took strong leadership, it took vision, it took fortitude, it took somebody with a plan, it took somebody who cared, somebody who empathized, somebody who came from our DNA to make sure that we outlined a plan moving forward to at least lay the solid foundation so that somewhere down the future someone like Ruben Diaz Jr. could continue to build on that solid foundation. That individual is someone who I'm proud to call my friend, that individual is somebody who everybody needs to celebrate, and that individual is with us here today. Ladies and gentlemen, the 11th Borough President of the history of the Bronx, Fernando Ferrer.

Fernando Ferrer: Mr. Borough President, after an introduction like that I should probably keep quiet. It's very generous and I appreciate it, and as a resident of this borough I appreciate you, the 13th Borough President of the Bronx, a great Borough President, who is doing a terrific job to keep this borough moving in the right direction. I'm proud you're my Borough President. And I'm glad to be with Governor Cuomo, and I'm proud he's my Governor. This is an important moment for the Bronx and for all of our neighbors. Few places had been harder hit over the last year than the Bronx. The loss of life and health here have been devastating. Like so many of you, I personally lost family members, friends, sent too many condolence notes. COVID-19 is cruel and it has been cruel. First it takes away your loved ones, and they have to suffer alone. Then it robs us of our ability to get together and mourn and celebrate. It's one of those things that stays with your for a long, long time. But there's only one thing that can bring us back out of it, and that's a shot in the arm. That's why I'm proud of the Bronx frontline workers, and neighbors for their work to watch out for one another. But the only thing that's going to end this, the only thing, is that shot in the arm, is the vaccine.

The Governor's leadership in getting the vaccine to places like New Settlement in the Southwest Bronx is impressive, so that the areas most affected negatively by COVID don't have to be at the end of the line for the vaccine. That's wrong, and he's making it right. And with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, those who worked two and even three jobs supporting their family, they won't have to worry about coming back for the second shot. Just come in once -- one and you are done. So, the best thing we can all do right now is come here to New Settlement, or one of the many other sites the State set up, to get the vaccine. Getting your shot will save lives. Do this for yourself, do this for your family, do this for your friends and for your neighbors. So thank you, Governor Cuomo, and all our community partners for making this life saving vaccine available right here in the Southwest Bronx, and not a moment too soon.

Governor Cuomo: Well thank you. Let's give another round of applause for Fernando Ferrer, Ruben Diaz, thank you. Henry Munoz, thank you. Dr. Ramon Tallaj, thank you. I bring you greetings from Speaker Carl Heastie who's in Albany. He couldn't be here today; he's working on the budget. I'm supposed to be working on the budget; I was working on the budget with him all morning. As you know, the Speaker has a touch of COVID. I can tell you firsthand it has not affected his energy level one iota. He was all fired up this morning, but regards from Speaker Carl Heastie. I also want to thank Rigaud Noel, Executive Director of the New Settlement Community Center for having us here today. Thank you very much. The great Bishop Ray Rivera, thank you so much for everything you do. Thank you. Thank you. We have Pastor Susana Rivera Leon, thank you very much. And Pastor Sal Sabino from the Heavenly Visions, thank you very much, thank you, thank you. Winter is over. Spring is here. Let's get a vaccine. let's rebuild New York better than ever before, and then let's go celebrate at Battery Park City, this memorial, to Hurricane Maria, and more, to the Puerto Rican community, and how important they are, and the respect and the love that we all share for them as New Yorkers. Thank you and God bless you.



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