Despite calls for his resignation amid a growing number of women accusing him of sexual harassment, including two current staffers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains intent on leading New York into its post-COVID future.
The governor spent an hour on Wednesday in New York City giving a COVID-19 update and outlining plans before taking questions from the press. As more residents become vaccinated, he stressed the importance of “rebuilding New York.”
“This is something that we’ve never done before,” Cuomo said. “… You go through difficult situations in life, things happen, the question is do you weather it, do you learn from it, and do you grow from it? That is going to be our question from COVID.”
His announcements ranged from the launch of a new public health citizen training initiative to revealing that Pier 76 in Manhattan will open as a park on June 1.
Cuomo harkened back to New York’s rebirth after tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001 and the disaster of Hurricane Sandy. He then outlined his vision and plans for moving forward on the tail end of the pandemic, introducing the New York Citizen Public Health Training Program. The free, 16-hour course is open to all residents through Cornell University.
“It’s really exciting to see this being offered,” said Dr. Lorin Warnick, a dean in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at Cornell University, who joined the news conference via video call. “It will allow citizens of our state to learn from Cornell educators and become public health leaders for their families and communities.”
On the physical side of New York’s renewal, Cuomo said that work to strip down the former tow pound at Pier 76 begins today. The area will be ready for the public to enjoy by June 1, at which point the Hudson River Park Trust will take over with more long-term plans for the project.
The governor added that plans for rebuilding Penn Station, connecting the High Line in the north, and expanding the Javits Center are in place.
He also discussed the 2021 budget as the deadline looms on April 1. He listed his executive top priorities as:
- Legalize marijuana
- Public safety – George Floyd reforms
- Rebuild New York – Green Rebuilding Program
- Universal broadband access and affordability
- Rent relief
- Nursing home reforms
Cuomo said his overall goal is to have “a budget that accelerates reconstruction, rebuilding, rebirth” and “create a New York post-COVID that is better than ever before.”
During the questions portion of the conference, Cuomo again fought back on pressures to resign and refused to answer questions about allegations due to the ongoing investigation of sexual harassment alleged by at least eight different women, most either former or current staffers.
Cuomo has been holding fewer public appearances with press present in the past few weeks, often visiting mass COVID-19 vaccination sites surrounded by his supporters and focusing on vaccine efforts, especially in underserved communities.