Follows Request from Governors to Federal Government to Increase Supply and Give States More Advance Notice About Future Vaccine Allotments Rather than Week to Week
Governor Cuomo: "You have a new federal government and a totally different approach. They came in after 6 days they said we want to partner and you have a competent, professional federal government that tells the truth. Look at what President Biden said. Literally he said to solve this problem we need the vaccine, that's the weapon that wins the war, we understand that."
Cuomo: "Now, the states will know what they're getting every week for the next 3 weeks and we're getting about 16-17 percent morewe can do a schedule for 3 weeks and we can schedule appointments and start to run on an efficient basis rather than what's been going on."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Wolf Blitzer: Governor, thank you so much for joining us and I understand you were actually on the phone call earlier today when the President's Coronavirus coordinator, Jeffrey Zientz, told governors that vaccine allocations for the states would increase - he said by about 16 percent starting next week. How is that announcement perceived?
Governor Cuomo: It's great, great news. From a governor's point of view, I say amen, Wolf. We've been dealing with COVID for, it seems, like a lifetime. The federal government never really accepted responsibility. President Trump's whole point was leave it to the states, it's up to the states.
Now you have a new federal government and a totally different approach. They came in after 6 days they said we want to partner and you have a competent, professional federal government that tells the truth. Look at what President Biden said. Literally he said to solve this problem we need the vaccine, that's the weapon that wins the war, we understand that. And he's going to order it.
In other words, they hadn't even ordered enough vaccine, Wolf. You have 300 million people, it require 2 dosages, you needed 600 million and President Biden said I'm going to order the 600 million because there was only 400 million ordered and the end will be toward the end of the summer when we can do the 300 million vaccinations or as close as we can get with herd immunity.
That's the truth and that's competence and that's taking responsibility. Short term, because you have this week-to-week chaos that's been going on with the federal government, where they said everybody was eligible but there's no supply. You have this almost public panic. Now, the states will know what they're getting every week for the next 3 weeks and we're getting about 16-17 percent more.
At least now, we can do a schedule for 3 weeks and we can schedule appointments and start to run on an efficient basis rather than what's been going on.
Wolf Blitzer: What questions, if I can ask, did you and your fellow governors - you're the Chairman of the National Governor's Association - what questions did you have for Jeffrey Zientz and the new administration?
Governor Cuomo: The governors are in charge of actual managing and doing, so we tend to be granular and specific in our questions. We had questions about how much federal aid will be provided in the distribution through agencies like FEMA and how we can use the National Guard. We got good news on both. The federal government will reimburse for the National Guard and FEMA, they'll pay all the federal share, which is a very big deal for us.
Then the predictability so we can actually schedule and when we start to see a ramp up and they're going to order the medicine because the cupboard was bare, they're going to order enough vaccines so it can be done in six months.
And I think now you can give the American people a timetable, because what's caused so much confusion I think, right now, in our state, by the federal guidelines seven million people, Wolf, are eligible for the vaccine, but I only get 250,000 dosages. So they told seven million New Yorkers, "you're eligible," but it would take seven months for you to get the vaccine. That's just madness, and made people more anxious. Incompetent government can kill people. This is not a joke, and more people died here than needed to. What you heard from President Biden has, just on a professional level, not a partisan level, Jeffrey Zients, Dr. Walensky, these are pros, and it's a pleasure.
Wolf Blitzer: As you know, Governor, I don't have to tell you this but I'll share it with you, there's some new research just came out from the CDC that finds in-person education is not necessarily linked to a significant increase in coronavirus transmissions and as long as the schools take all of the serious precautions. Based on the guidance is there any reason that schools across New York State shouldn't be open?
Governor Cuomo: No. I mean the CDC did just say it, but countries around the world had been showing that for weeks if not months. I said here in New York, months ago, that all the data says the schools are safer than the surrounding community. And if the schools are safer than the surrounding community, keep the schools open and keep the children in the school.
We do more testing in New York, Wolf, than any state in the country, so we know what the testing is in the community, what the infection rate is in the community, and what the infection rate is in the school. And it is, almost across the board, always lower in the school. So my position has been, keep the schools open if they're safer, plus you're actually educating children. When you go to this remote learning, there's all sorts of disparate impact on who actually has a computer, who has internet access, who has somebody to help, and it's the poor, the Black and the brown child that tends to be left behind.
So, I'm glad the CDC confirmed that, but all data up until this point has said the same thing.
Wolf Blitzer: So when do you think all schools in New York State will have in-class learning, back to normal?
Governor Cuomo: Well, I think you're going to see it on a locality by locality basis, and frankly it's going to be a big item for the teachers' union. But, we know we can do the testing, we know it's safer than the surrounding community, so why wouldn't you lead if you can keep the schools open? That has been my position.
Wolf Blitzer: Because the argument has been that the teachers' union has been the biggest obstacle, that they don't want it, is that right?
Governor Cuomo: Well I think in many areas, yes. Now, I think the teachers' union if they know that it is safe and there is testing and you see the data and it's safer than shopping in your local community, what's the argument? And part of President Biden's plan, this is going to provide more testing capacity to get more testing in schools, to prove that very point.
Wolf Blitzer: Good luck with all of, I know the parents, they want their kids back in schools. Kids want to be back in schools. Good luck with this, this is so, so significant, with Governor Cuomo, thank you so much, we'll stay in close touch.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you so much, thanks for having me Wolf, a pleasure.