Governor Andrew Cuomo held the first briefing in ten days on Wednesday, ignoring calls for his resignation amid a variety of controversies, and updated New Yorkers on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort.
But his appearance was not without an apology for the allegations from three women claiming he made unwanted advances, stating that he was embarrassed and promised to do better.
Instead of announcing any career decisions in regard to three women claiming sexual harassment against him and Attorney General Letitia James launching a formal investigation, Cuomo said the state is in a new phase of the pandemic after New York received its first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional. And I truly, and deeply apologize for. I feel awful about it. And frankly, I am embarrassed by it. And that’s not easy to say, but that’s the truth. I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the Attorney General’s report before forming an opinion.”
Cuomo did not address a question from reporter Marcia Kramer asking if he would step aside, but finally said explicitly that he would not resign and reiterated his apology.
“I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people in the state of New York. I’m not going to resign,” Cuomo said. “I worked for the people of the state of New York they elected me, and I’m going to serve the people of the state of New York and by the way we have a full plate, we have COVID, we have recovery, we have rebuilding, we have a teetering New York City. We have a terrible financial picture. We have to do vaccines.”
Cuomo said his apology was specifically directed at “the young woman” who worked in his office, perhaps indicating Charlotte Bennett, the 25-year-old who accused Cuomo of asking pointedly sexual questions. He also stands accused of attempting kiss a woman at a wedding and proposing a game of “strip poker” to Lindsey Boylan on a flight in October 2017.
The governor reported continued improvement in infection rates across New York City and said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should bring the state closer to the next level of recovery.
“This is a from a practical point of view, not a medical point of view, [Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine] is much easier than the Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, it’s one shot. You don’t have to come back for a second shot, you don’t have to schedule a second shot, it doesn’t take a second appointment. And there’s no cold storage for the Johnson & Johnson,” Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo will be following the recommendations of the Biden administration by prioritizing teachers in order facilitate safe in-person learning.