Governor Andrew Cuomo snubbed reporters Monday in his appearance at the Javits Center calling the 24 hour vaccination site a symbol of the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.
The event was streamed live off the Governor’s website, with pooled media access granted to the Associated Press. Other outlets, however, were barred “due to COVID-19 restrictions,” according to the Governor’s office.
Nobody, therefore, could question Cuomo about the scandals swirling around him — or about the theme of the Javits Center event itself.
Cuomo compared the evolution of Javits Center from a “sea of army cots” as a temporary field hospital last year to its current state administering the Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot and the two-dose Pfizer remedy.
He also reiterated his call to Black and Brown New Yorkers to take the vaccine, with only about 18% of African Americans in the city having taken it by his administration’s count.
“We’ll make it available. We’re doing it on this site faster and better than any place in the nation. But we need people to come forward,” Cuomo said. “And we need the Black population to come forward. And we need the Hispanic community to come forward. They have to go first. We can’t put the needle in your arm. If you don’t bring your arm forward.
With Black clergy members in attendance, Cuomo announced the state would open 10 more mass vaccination sites in New York City, Long Island, Hudson Valley, Capital, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and Western New York Regions.
The Cuomo administration said the sites would be coming online in the next few weeks and New Yorkers will be able to make appointments through the state’s website. The one new site coming to New York City will be in the Bronx, though location details are pending.
“After a long year, we now have three vaccines that will finally help us in this crisis. It’s never been so important that we all do our part to get vaccinated. The sooner we can get vaccines into as many people as possible, the better off we will all be herd immunity will finally put COVID on the defense and allow us to move forward,” said Dr. Howard Zucker, the state Department of Health Commissioner.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are confident that the J&J vaccine will not only clear up some of the chaos around having to administer the two doses required from Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as well as eliminating the need for cold storage, but that it will speed up the state’s recovery.
This is all hinged on how fast the federal government can distribute allocations of the vaccines to states.
With press access limited, no one asked about Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment allegations, which have evolved into a chorus of calls for his resignation that include Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Mayor de Blasio, as well as many other lawmakers.
Cuomo said during a press call on Sunday that he would not resign until Attorney General Letitia James issued the report on her office’s investigations into the accusations from five women, four of whom are former staffers, stretching back as far as 2000.