May 10, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Eight New Pop-Up Vaccination Sites at MTA Stations

Video, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Eight New Pop-Up Vaccination Sites at MTA Stations

Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, East 180th Street, 179th Street, Coney Island, Broadway Junction, Hempstead and Ossining Locations Open from May 12 to May 16

MTA to Provide A Free Seven-Day MetroCard or Free LIRR/Metro-North Round Trip Ticket to Individuals who Get Vaccinated at Sites

All Sites Open for Walk-in Vaccinations on a First Come, First Served Basis; MTA Employees Can Get Vaccinated at Sites

Nassau Coliseum Will Have Fully Vaccinated Fan Section for Islanders Playoff Games

SUNY and CUNY Boards to Require Vaccinations for All Students Attending In-Person Classes This

Governor Cuomo: "What's the key to supercharging your vaccination rate? Eliminate the excuses, increase access, and to the doubtful, communicate the facts. You have no factual argument against the vaccine."

Governor Cuomo: "Remember the big picture. Vaccinate New Yorkers and then build New York back better than before we are not going to have gone through the hell that we went through just to restore what we had. I'm not doing that. New Yorkers are not doing that. The house was demolished. We're not going to build back the same house. We're going to build back a better house. We have federal funds. We're going to take this as a pivot moment for New York."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced eight new pop-up vaccination sites at MTA station stops in the New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions. The sites will serve up to 300 walk-ins per day on a first come, first served basis utilizing the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The MTA will provide incentives to get vaccinated at the sites, including a free seven-day MetroCard or free round trip Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North ticket. The MTA will partner with SOMOS Community Care, Northwell Health and Westchester Medical Center on the sites. MTA employees can get vaccinated at the sites.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:

Good morning. A lot going on today. What's going on today? A lot. Let me introduce who we have here with us. From my far right, Kelly Cummings, Director of Operations. Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of Health extraordinaire. Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of the New York City Transit Authority, who is doing a great job. Chairman Patrick Foye, who has been shepherding us through this unprecedented time and doing a great job at the MTA. And John Ledecky co-owner of the New York Islanders. Congratulations to the Islanders who are making it into the playoffs. We are very, very excited on behalf of many New Yorkers.

Let's talk about where we are and then we have a number of announcements today. Watch the numbers. I know you all get up first thing in the morning and go to the website and check the numbers because the decisions are based on the numbers. Overall statewide positivity, 1.4. 2000 hospitalizations. ICU is down, intubations down. Statewide deaths, 27. When people say COVID is over, COVID isn't over. 27 people died. 27 families grieving today. So it's not over. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

Positivity. I say this a lot, but look at the variances across one state and ask yourself why. Why do you have such a wide range within one state? When we get the politics out of COVID, and politics has infected COVID from day one, thank you to the prior federal administration, but there's a lot to discuss and analyze here. For example, why do you have this variance? Western New York has had one of the highest rates for a prolonged period of time. Finger Lakes is now higher than Western New York.

Staten Island is back at number one. And you want to talk about in explicable range of positivity? Manhattan, 0.7. Staten Island, literally double Manhattan. How do you explain that? Brooklyn right behind Staten Island. Queens, Bronx.

How do you make decisions, Governor? We make decisions on the data, on the science, on the facts. We always have. It's worked very well for this state. This state made more progress on COVID than any state in the United States. Fact, we went from the highest infection rate on the globe to one of the lowest. That is a fact. And we did it on the science and the data. First metric we watch, the positivity rate and the positivity rate has been great. We were at 7.9, January. We are now at 1.4. 58 percent decline over the last month. 35 straight days of decline. Congratulations, New Yorkers.

You see the same trend all across the state. Little variance here and there, but the same basic trend all across the state. We're now focused on the places in the state that have the highest infection rate. And that right now is Western New York and Finger Lakes.

Second metric, hospitalization rate. This is what we were petrified of when we first started. People forget that. When we first started the COVID infection rate was going up so fast that the experts all projected an overwhelming of our hospitals. They were projecting a need for 140,000 hospital beds. We only had 50,000 hospital beds in the entire state. That's what aged Dr. Zucker and myself. But we fixed that and the hospitalization rate is now down to 2000. We were close to 9,000 in January. 49 percent decline over the last month.

Third metric is the vaccination rate. And this is now the most important metric to watch, is the vaccination rate. Positivity's good, hospitalization's good. Vaccination rate is key. Why? With all the political garbage and with all the different medical opinions, everybody agrees on one fact. As the vaccination rate goes up, the positivity rate goes down.

As the vaccination rate goes up, the positivity rate goes down. They are an inverse. Everybody says it, every country shows it. It's the one global fact, if there are any facts in COVID, it's the one global fact that everybody agrees on. Keep the vaccinations going up, the positivity rate will come down. That's why we are so aggressive on vaccinations. We're doing everything we can, every way we can. 16 million total doses. We're now over 60 percent of the population who had at least one shot. 48 percent fully vaccinated.

But, because this is a but, but the vaccination rate has declined. This is not a New York phenomenon. This is a nationwide phenomenon. As you know, I'm head of the Governor's Association. Every governor is talking about the number of people now coming in for vaccines is declining.

Why? Part of it is understandable. There was a group of people who wanted to get the vaccine right away and remember how people were fighting for vaccine appointments right away. Some people were hyper anxious. A lot of them are in my family. I'm going to get a vaccine. I want to get a vaccine, I want to get a vaccine.

So you had a hyper anxious population to begin with. Then you had a second tier population who wanted to get the vaccine. They weren't that anxious. They've gotten the vaccine. And you're working your way through really the population.

You have two groups. One, I call the youthful, one I call the doubtful. Young people are not getting vaccinated. Why? They were never the focus, they weren't even eligible early on. Everyone said the young people can get it and they're going to be fine. There was a transmission risk, but this whole COVID was introduced as young people really don't have to worry about it. And then we reinforced that when we said the eligibility was by age. The doubtful are vaccine hesitant people. I'm afraid of it. I don't understand it. I don't trust it. Government, I don't trust. I don't trust any of it. I don't want to take the needle. I don't want to put something into my body.

The doubtful is a problem unto itself. The youthful is a problem unto itself and we need to address both separately. You look at the age stratification on the vaccination, it is very clear. 75 plus didn't take it as much as 65, but I understand that. I've had a lot of conversations. There's 75 plus, they're anxious about a vaccine. They have other problems they're dealing with. 65 to 74 is the highest population rate, which makes sense when you think about it. And then it goes straight downhill. The 16 to 25, we're at 24 percent. So we're at 60 percent as a population, we're 24% with 16 to 25. 26 to 34, we're at 35 percent. That's where we have to get the numbers up, the youthful and the doubtful. The doubtful, I'd say a hardcore 20 percent is philosophical. It's fear-driven, it's misinformation driven. But we also have to attack the doubtful problem.

What's the key to supercharging your vaccination rate? Eliminate the excuses, increase access, and to the doubtful, communicate the facts. You have no factual argument against the vaccine.

So, today, no excuses. SUNY and CUNY boards will require vaccinations for all in-person students coming back to school in the fall. You're a young person. You go to a SUNY school, State University of New York, City University of New York, you must have a vaccine to come back in September. If you must have a vaccine, get it now, if you have to get it anyway.

I also encourage private schools to do the same thing. Let's make a global statement. You cannot go back to school in person in September unless you have a vaccine. That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine. And if you have to get it by September, you may as well get it now. Why wouldn't you get it now? OK?

Second, there are some situations where people are discriminating against people who got a vaccine, which is almost inexplicably to me. There's a situation with summer camps saying if you are vaccinated, you cannot go to that camp. If you're vaccinated, you can't be a staff member that camp. We can't be in a situation where we're full throated, encouraging people to get a vaccine and then have people saying, if you get a vaccine, you can't participate in this activity. I want to propose a law that says you can't discriminate against the person who has a vaccine. I understand the anti-vaccine argument very well. We've been through this before, Dr. Zucker and I, when we mandated the measles vaccine a couple of years ago. I understand the anti-vaccine argument.

In my opinion, there is no science to it. There is no science to it. You can have a theory. You can have a belief, but you can't use that to make public policy without science and without data. But we also have to start to get creative because you are seeing this all across the nation and we're good in New York are getting creative. We are very creative types. Here's the creative idea: Wednesday to Sunday, we're offering vaccines at subway LIRR and Metro North hubs. Get a shot and take a free ride on the MTA. You get a free seven-day Metro card for everyone vaccinated at a subway station and LIRR Metro North to free one way trips anywhere in the service area.

It's Johnson and Johnson, so it's one shot. So think about this: You are walking into the subway station anyway. You are walking past the vaccination site. It's a one-shot vaccination. Stop, take a few minutes, get the vaccine, and then you get the incentive of a one week unlimited Metro card if you do it at a subway station or free tickets, Long Island Railroad Metro North. Why wouldn't you do it? No excuse. You're walking there anyway. It's Johnson and Johnson. One shot. You don't have to schedule a second shot. You don't have to go back to that station and you have a financial incentive. These are the places where we're going to be up starting this. These are major hubs Ossining on Metro North East 180th in the Bronx, Grand Central Station, Penn Station, Coney Island, Broadway Junction, Hempstead, Long Island, 179th Street in Jamaica.

That's my old stop, 179th Street in Jamaica. It's as far east as the subway goes in Queens. Different times because we want to see what timeframe works the best, what stations work the best. There's a theory that people are going to be rushed in the morning, and they're not going to want to stop in the morning, that they're more likely to stop in the evening on the way home. So we have a lot of theories. We're going to test them, see how it works, see what the receptivity rate is and then we can adjust. But it is a creative idea. We're trying many creative ideas, because we have to get that vaccination rate up. And in this tuition, we've always handled this as a community. Everyone should be doing everything they can to get people vaccinated. That's what mayors should be doing. And county executives should be doing. That's what the religious community should be doing. That's what sports teams should be doing. As far as I'm concerned, we all have one goal: Get people vaccinated.

And that brings us to the Islanders. Congratulations to the Islanders. They are a great New York team. We're building a new arena with the Islanders out at Belmont. We were out there a couple of weeks ago, John, myself, and a few others. It is going to be amazing. Really an amazing arena and before we opened the new arena, they have now clinched a playoff spot. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow for the playoff games. Home games or the Nassau Coliseum. Fifty percent of the tickets will be sold to vaccinated people. And the rule then will be for the vaccinated section three feet distancing, 50 percent of the sales to the unvaccinated people, six-foot distancing. Everybody wears a mask. My point to business owners, sports, concerts, et cetera, the more vaccinated people actually the higher the capacity, because they only have a three-foot distance requirement. So it's actually increasing capacity to get people vaccinated. The playoffs start at the end of May. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow. The Islanders needed to set guidance and they had to do it cleared by our health commissioner, Dr. Zucker. And that's what they're going to do. So congratulations to the Islanders.

Last point, remember the goal of all of this. Remember the big picture. Vaccinate new Yorkers and then build New York back better than before we are not going to have gone through the hell that we went through just to restore what we had. I'm not doing that. New Yorkers are not doing that. The house was demolished. We're not going to build back the same house. We're going to build back a better house. We have federal funds. We're going to take this as a pivot moment for New York. We weren't perfect the day before COVID. We weren't. So don't say we're going to rebuild what we had because the day before COVID that was Nirvana. No, recognize where we were the day before COVID. Recognize the problems and use this as an opportunity to improve and build the state better than it's ever been. That's our goal. That's our ambition. That's what's driving us and that's what you drive all of us.

With that, let me turn it over to my colleagues for comments. And we will first go to Sarah Feinberg, interim president for the New York City Transit Authority.

Sarah Feinberg: Thank you, Governor. The MTA is excited to be assisting in this important state effort to ensure that every New Yorker has easy access to a free COVID-19 vaccine. We're committed to doing everything we can to help lead New York's recovery. The MTA will provide eight convenient sites across the region from Wednesday, May 12th through Sunday, May 16th, where members of the public or employees of the MTA can walk up to receive a free one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination without an appointment.

I won't repeat the sites that you already mentioned. The MTA is also providing free transportation passes for everyone who receives the vaccination, as the Governor said. If the region is really going to recover, we need as many people as possible to get the vaccine. Safety from COVID and safety from crime and harassment are what we need to get people back on mass transit. And while we continue to work with our city partners on the second issue, we have a golden opportunity here to tackle the first.

We're at a pivotal point for the city. The Subway is reopening 24-7, as the Governor has announced, curfews for bars and restaurants are being eliminated and we just hit a new ridership milestone on the Subways. Last Friday, May 7th, we've recorded 2.23 million riders, the most on a single day, since the pandemic began. Bus ridership hit a pandemic high on April 28th with more than 1.2 million trips taken. So it feels like New York is getting back to normal. We can't get complacent and jeopardize this progress, so I want to urge all New Yorkers who haven't been vaccinated to consider these sites because the more folks we vaccinate, the sooner the region can return to normal. Thank you, and I'll turn it over to Pat Foye.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Sarah. Mr. Foye.

Pat Foye: Thank you, Governor. Thanks Sarah. In addition to the six New York city sites Sarah mentioned there were another two locations, one each in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North footprints. One will be at the Ossining Metro-North station in Westchester County on the Hudson line and another at the Hempstead Long Island terminal at Hempstead branch.

We feel this is an important step to help the region reopen and build back better. We've we focused on high traffic sites where we can vaccinate many customers and employees, employees are eligible for this too, on a first come first serve basis. The MTA has already been administering vaccines to our employees since January 13th, shortly after vaccines first became available. The men and women of the MTA have been heroes in this pandemic, heroes moving heroes. And to date, nearly 30,000 employees have received at least the first dose through the MTA's program or as part of city or state efforts. Our vaccination program is part of the MTA's nation-leading and overall transit COVID safety. That also includes the MTA's mask force distributing free masks at Subway, bus, and railroad customers, enhanced disinfecting and cleaning efforts and partnering with the federal government and MIT to research best in class technologies.

Now the MTA moves from continuing efforts to vaccinate its employees, to helping vaccinate the public too. As Sarah mentioned, we will be providing free transportation passes to everyone that gets a shot at one of our locations, either a free seven-day unlimited MetroCard or a round trip ticket for Metro-North or the Long Island Rail Road.

We want to see more and more customers return to the system. Just as New York City Transit is surpassing new pandemic ridership milestones, so are the railroads. Last Friday, May 6th, Long Island Rail Road hit a pandemic high of 101,600 riders. Metro-North, too, saw 83,100 trips that same day, a new pandemic weekday high. Let's keep that going. We only get one shot, pun intended, at reopening strong and revitalizing the regional economy. That makes the coming weeks and months essential to recovery. I'm bullish on New York, we all are. I'm confident we will emerge from this crisis stronger and better if we all pull together. Thank you. Thanks, Governor.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Well said. Heroes moving heroes. That's so true. And it is one shot. This is our one shot, and it's our shot to take. And speaking about shots, Mr. Jon Ledecky, we're very proud of the Islanders. I want you to know you offered Mr. Ledecky, I said, you know, I could be a backup goalie. I have a lot of pucks shot at me every day. I'm sort of in that business. He didn't see it my way. Congratulations, Joh, we're all very proud, good news for New York, uh, and we needed it. Congratulations.

Jon Ledecky: Thank you so much, Governor. It's great to be here with you today, and it's great to be back in the playoffs for the third straight season. Today's news that you have increased the overall capacity and therefore the number of fans who can attend the Stanley cup playoffs is wonderful news for our fans, who are the most passionate and loyal in all of sports. Islander fans are the heartbeat of this franchise and we owe everything to them. It's a fitting tribute to our fans that they can be at the Nassau Coliseum in big numbers for the playoffs and can celebrate the many wonderful memories they have had there through the years. Our fans are truly the seventh player. They are now going, thanks to you, to rock the barn one more time at Fort never lose. We're also grateful to Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL for their support in delivering the Stanley Cup playoffs through these unprecedented times. Governor Cuomo, this is a wonderful gift to New York. Thank you for your leadership and guidance as you have taken forward the Islanders' amazing new home at UBS Arena at Belmont Park. Our fans have a cheer when we score. We say yes, yes, yes. Thank you for saying yes to Islander nation today.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. My pleasure, Jon. Commissioner Bettman has been great for us. Where's he from?

Jon Ledecky: Queens. Another Queens boy.

Governor Cuomo: There you go. What a coincidence.

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