Governor Cuomo Calls into Question Federal Administration's Demand for ID Numbers of New Yorkers Who Receive Covid-19 Vaccine
Positive Testing Rate in All Focus Zone Areas is 3.50 Percent; New York State Positivity Outside All Focus Zone Areas is 1.48 Percent
Statewide Positivity Rate is 1.70 Percent
14 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday
Governor Cuomo: "New York is in the midst of the sea of division and COVID increase. All around us the COVID infection rate is going up. You see it in states all across the nation. You see it in countries around the globe... All I can do is warn New Yorkers and ask them to remember what worked for us, and what worked for us is discipline and smart; that's what worked for us, and we have to keep it up because these are dangerous, dangerous times. We're going to stay with the micro-cluster approach; it has worked. But I'm telling you these are danger signs all around us."
Cuomo: "The vaccination program is going to be the most labor intensive task that we have undertaken. It will be the greatest operational task government has undertaken through this COVID pandemic...The federal government just sent out a data sharing form agreement to the states. This is just another example of them trying to extort the state of New York to get information that they can use at Department of Homeland Security and ICE that they'll use to deport people. That is what this is. I will not do it. I wouldn't do it when they extort me on Trusted Traveler Program, and I won't do it now."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below:
Hello. This is Governor Cuomo. Today is day 247. I'm joined by Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Dr. Zucker, Beth Garvey, Gareth Rhodes. Positivity in micro-cluster zones: 3.5 percent. Positivity statewide without the micro-cluster zones: 1.4. Positivity with the micro-cluster zones: 1.7. We are still the third lowest state in the nation -- only Maine and Vermont are lower than we are. 14 New Yorkers passed away from COVID yesterday, they're in our thoughts and prayers. Hospitalizations: 1,151. 276 in ICU. 116 are intubated.
New York is in the midst of the sea of division and COVID increase. All around us the COVID infection rate is going up. You see it in states all across the nation. You see it in countries around the globe, and you see it in contiguous states, New Jersey, Connecticut. Connecticut may be changing their restrictions. New Jersey may be changing their restrictions. Pennsylvania has a real issue. So, we should be on high alert, and we should be even more diligent because the virus spreads and it just goes across state boundaries, and we're in the party season; Halloween, coming in to Thanksgiving, students are going home. All I can do is warn New Yorkers and ask them to remember what worked for us, and what worked for us is discipline and smart; that's what worked for us, and we have to keep it up because these are dangerous, dangerous times. We're going to stay with the micro-cluster approach; it has worked. But I'm telling you these are danger signs all around us.
Another topic that is very important that we need to focus on -- we the collective 'we' -- the vaccination program is going to be the most labor intensive task that we have undertaken. It will be the greatest operational task government has undertaken through this COVID pandemic. What you've seen is governmental incompetence exposed, right? My theory is you've had government that has atrophied. You have government leaders now who are not really government leaders. They're politicians who said the right thing to get elected, but many of them are not competent, qualified government leaders and you're seeing the difference now between government competence and incompetence, and you're seeing the difference between a government leader and a person who was elected to office but was not a government leader.
When you see what we have to do for vaccines it's going to be even a more rigorous test. Testing, management of the hospital system, contact tracing were the most rigorous governmental challenges we faced to date, required hiring thousands of people, setting up hundreds of sites, massive coordination. Some states did it better than others. Our state, he says with all due humility, on the numbers New York State has done it better than anyone else.
Vaccination is going to be more challenging than anything we've done. The federal government is designing the vaccination program. The vaccination program they designed is very simple - big pharma will produce the vaccines, as they're produced they will become available, the military will be in charge of shipping them although the military says they're going to use commercial shippers like FedEx and another company called McKinnon and they'll ship them to the states and then the states will be responsible for the distribution except the distribution mechanism that the federal government has designated is the traditional private health infrastructure.
The same way you'd get a flu vaccine, you can go to a CVS, you can go to Walgreens, you can go to your doctor's office, you can go to a hospital - that infrastructure, number one, is incapable of expediting the vaccination process. How do you know that? It is the same infrastructure we used to do testing and that infrastructure has produced 120 million COVID tests over eight months. The infrastructure would have to do 330 million dosages twice, 660. If it took that infrastructure eight months to do 120 million COVID tests, how long does it take that same infrastructure to do 660 million vaccines? It's math.
Second, the infrastructure will have a discriminatory effect because the infrastructure does not exist to the same extent in poor communities and Black and Brown communities, and the Black and brown communities are the communities with the highest COVID infection rate and the highest COVID mortality rate. So if you had to do any prioritization you would say get the vaccines to the communities that have the highest infection rates. That would be the Black and Brown communities. Give the vaccines to the communities that have the highest mortality rate. That would be the Black and Brown communities. Give the vaccines, on a priority basis, to essential workers because they have to go to the hospitals every day, etcetera. That would be the Black and Brown community. This infrastructure doesn't exist to the extent necessary in the Black and Brown community.
Yesterday, you heard from the Attorney General Tish James, you heard from the national head of the NAACP, Mr. Johnson, you heard from the national head of the Urban League, Mark Morial who all made the same point.
New issue: The federal government just sent out a data sharing form agreement to the states. The federal government says before we send you the vaccines, we want a data sharing agreement where the states will share patient information with the federal government. Now, health information is normally private, HIPPA laws, et cetera. The federal government, why they need any patient data, I have no idea. For a state to be eligible to receive the vaccines, they want a data sharing agreement. What information do they want from the patients?
They want the name, they want the address, they want the date of birth, they want the ethnicity, they want the race, the sex and then they want the ID number. What is an ID number you ask? Well, you would ask if you could ask. The ID number is normally a driver's license number or a passport number or a social security number. That is what the ID number normally is. The data use agreement says that the information will be used by, and I quote, CDC, HHS and "other federal partners."
Now, I have been down this road before. This is an administration that has, from day one, with the wall, been relentless in their pursuit of undocumented people. When we did the driver's licenses for undocumented, they extorted the State, they broke the law to try to get the undocumented driver's licenses. They removed us from the Trusted Traveler Program to extort me to give them the undocumented driver's license list. They caused us great damage by removing us from the Trusted Traveler Program; which actually facilitated national security.
It was done by the Department of Homeland Security and their ICE thugs: Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli, who are just thugs and criminals. They extorted the State. They lied - oh how can you say that? Because the U.S. Attorney said that when they threw out their lawsuit, because they lied in the court papers and it's now being investigated by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, who is their Inspector General. Do you know how egregious something has to be for a Trump inspector general to investigate a Trump agency on an immigration matter? So now, this is a redux. For the vaccine you have to give us the information of everyone who will receive the vaccine including the ID number, which will be shared with other federal partners. Other federal partners include Department of Homeland Security, include ICE. Why would you possibly need a person's driver's license number or Social Security number or passport number before they receive a vaccine? Why? There is no legitimate health reason. This is just another example of them trying to extort the state of New York to get information that they can use at Department of Homeland Security and ICE that they'll use to deport people. That is what this is. I will not do it. I wouldn't do it when they extort me on Trusted Traveler Program, and I won't do it now. Any Democratic governor that agrees to give them this information, I think, either doesn't understand what they're doing, or he doesn't understand what it means to be a Democrat.
So I am saying back to the CDC and HHS: I'll give you the name, and the address, and date of birth, ethnicity - that's all relevant - sex, but why do you want the driver's license number, passport number or Social Security? What legitimate health reason do you have? And that's the question I'm posing to President Trump and Secretary Azar and Dr. Redfield of the CDC today. Why do you want that information to administer a vaccine program? This is on top of the question I posed yesterday, how can you expect the private health providers to adequately provide for the black and brown community? I believe not providing state government with funds to supplement the private provider network is discriminatory and I believe it's illegal. If they provided me funds, I could supplement the private provider network just like it did with COVID testing. We could provide it in public housing, we could use faith-based organizations like we did with COVID testing; I could supplement the private network. Second question, why do you need this information from people? What other federal partners do you want to share it with? Will you say it won't be used for immigration or is this just another backhanded way to extort the state?