May 26, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces 'Get a Shot to Make Your Future' Vaccine Incentive Giving 12- to 17-Year-Olds Who Get Vaccinated a Chance to Win Full SUNY or CUNY Scholarship

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces 'Get a Shot to Make Your Future' Vaccine Incentive Giving 12- to 17-Year-Olds Who Get Vaccinated a Chance to Win Full SUNY or CUNY Scholarship
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12- to 17-Year-Olds Who Get Vaccinated Can Have Names Entered into Random Drawing for A Full Scholarship to SUNY or CUNY Beginning May 27

10 Winners Per Week for Five Weeks; Full Scholarship Including Tuition, Room and Board

Sign Up to Be Notified When Drawing Begins Here

Governor Cuomo: "It is an incentive for students. You're 12 to 17. You're planning on going to college. You are wondering about how you're going to pay for it. This is a full four-year scholarship to a SUNY school, to a CUNY school, to a community college, then moving on to a four-year program. So it's a significant incentive for students, and by the way, it's an incentive for parents. For parents, you're worried about paying college tuition, tell your 12- to 17-year-old, go out, get a shot, it protects the family, protects the 12- to 17-year-old, and they are then eligible for a raffle. And again, it's going to be among a small population, so your odds are good because it's only the population that has been vaccinated."

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the 'Get a Shot to Make Your Future' incentive for 12- to 17-year-olds to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Participants can enter into a random prize drawing and potentially receive a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY college beginning May 27. Winners receive a full scholarship to any public college or university, including tuition and room and board. New York State will administer the random drawing and select 10 winners a week over five weeks for a total of 50 winners. Federal COVID-19 relief and outreach funds will be used to cover the cost of this vaccination incentive program. 

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:

Top of the morning to you. Happy Wednesday. To my right, Ms. Beth Garvey, Counsel to the Governor. To my left, Budget Director, Robert Mujica. Good to see all of your smiling faces. We are in a new season. You're smiling, Kevin. We're in a seasons change. We went through a horrific period with COVID, but we're coming out the other end and we're adjusting accordingly and it's spring. It's going to be a New York spring. New York spring of renewal and reimaginationthat we make happen ourselves, right? 

So we are constantly assessing the situation and where we are and we're adjusting. 

We're watching the positivity rate of COVID. Yesterday's numbers, 0.7% positivity, lowest since August 30th. So that's really fantastic news. Hospitalizations are down. ICU is down. Intubations are down. Well, it's over, COVID. No it's not over. 17 people died. So it's much, much better, but it's not over. Again, you see a variation across the state. Finger Lakes, 2.2, highest in the state. New York City, 0.6. Long Island, 0.6. Mid-Hudson, 0.7. Western New York, which has had a high rate for a long time, is 1.4. New York City, guess which county has the highest? Staten Island, which has been fairly consistent. And again, these positivity rates, why do you get the variety across one state? Everybody hears the same facts. It depends on individual behavior. It depends on community behavior, but you look at the trends, the trends are all headed in the right direction. So yes, you look at the day to day number, but more you look at the overall trend.

Positivity is down. Okay. New York's 0.7. What does that mean 0.7? Is that good or bad? What is the positivity rate across the country? What do we compare 0.7 to? What's the national positivity rate right now do you think? Guess. What do you say? 3, 2.5, 2.6. Zack FInk is a winner, but a good guess, close.

So we're at 0.7. The nation is at 2.6. That is great. Right? The nation is at roughly four times the positivity rate of New York. Where does New York rank nationally compared to the other states?

Come on. This is a participatory peep, where does New York rank?

Give a guess, Zack. Top three. Good. You're on today. You did your homework. You've been watching these numbers. So, 0.7 compared to 2.6 and we're in the top three states in the nation. That is congratulations to New Yorkers. They've listened, they've learned, they're behaving properly. So congratulations. It's what makes New York, New York, you know? We went through hell. We had the highest infection rate in the United States of America, but New Yorkers reacted and responded. 

We're watching the positivity rate, what determines the positivity rate? Behavior and the percent of vaccinations. We're at 18 million vaccination, 64%, at least one dose, 55% fully vaccinated. And that number of vaccinations went straight up then plateaued. And is now the climbing that is a natural curve. You had that great rush of people who really wanted to get a vaccine. Then that tailed off. Then you had people who were lukewarm and now it's dropping and getting the vaccine rate higher than 62 was going to be hard.

You look at countries around the world. 62% is a high vaccination rate. We would like to get it higher. So how do you get it higher and how do you make sure you continue to make the progress? And again, the answer is up to us. None of this is predetermined. None of this is going to happen if we just sit back, the only thing that's going to happen is what we make happen. 

Part of this is energizing the economy. How do you jumpstart the economy? How do you restart the economy? Government has a role. New York state government is the most aggressive in the nation in starting a stimulus development program, right? New airports, JFK, LaGuardia. We just announced the new round of upstate airport renovations of the New Belmont arena, which is where the Islanders are going to play. Improving the Long Island Railroad with the third track. New Penn station, which would be transformative for commuters coming into New York.

And if you're going to continue to grow, there's going to be more commuters. If any New Yorker needs inspiration about our future, just go look at the Moynihan Train Hall and look at the capacity of New York in action. Look at the Mario Cuomo Bridge when you say, well, we can't do big things anymore.

New Port Authority bus terminal, which is long overdue. MTA accelerating its subway plan and the new East Side Access Project, which is a marvel of engineering. And it has been going on and we've been working on it diligently. It's interesting because nobody really knows what it is and nobody really has seen what it is, but it is an entire transit complex underground, and we're going to do a tour of it tomorrow. I think people who come on the tour are really going to be shocked at what that project is and the difference that it could make for New York and how impressive it was. Remember, East Side Access, everybody hears the terms. It's bringing trains from Queens into Grand Central, and then accelerating transportation from the Long Island Railroad into the east side of Manhattan and then to the west side of Manhattan. But it's a phenomenal engineering feat. It's not finished. We've been accelerating the timeline, but it is at a point now where you can actually get a feel for what it's all about. And it really is going to be exciting and extraordinary. Remember when we opened up the 2nd Avenue subway up to 96th street and people were like blown away.

This is that on steroids. So the state is doing everything we can in terms of macroeconomic development. Is that going to turn around the economy? It's going to help. It's going to show it's going to make major significant transformative changes. It's going to show optimism. It's going to show potential, but the growth comes from private-sector growth. And you have a private sector that has been all but paralyzed through COVID and badly damaged through COVID. 

So how do you start that private sector economy up and running? Government is not going to make the economy work. We can stimulate it, but it's going to be the private sector. It's going to be those individual businesses, individual real estate projects. And to stimulate those projects, we have $800 million in small business grants and $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance. This is going to affect literally hundreds of thousands of businesses. For the business relief program, 330,000 eligible small business grants. For the tenant relief program, 200,000 lower-income households and landlords. What is this designed to do? Get money to small business, let them reopen, let them hire, get money into low-income tenants who've been struggling, let them pay their rent, so the landlords are financially stable. The landlords can start to improve properties once again. Small business owners can start to improve their business once again. That's the real economic engine in New York. 

So we're going at it top down and bottom up. Top down is major infrastructure transportation improvements that can dramatically transform the economic dynamic of the city and the state. That's the big state projects: eastside access, new airports.  Bottom up? Get money into all those small businesses. Get money into those small landlords so they can start to renovate, and they can start to recuperate. Now, the applications for the business program open June 10th. The applications for the rental program open on June 1. They are on a first come, first served basis, so they start June 1, June 10th. That's a week, two weeks away. People should prepare their applications now because it is first come first served. If you don't send in an application, then don't complain if the application isn't granted. But in terms of economic stimulation, getting that money out, getting it into the hands of small businesses, getting it into the hands of tenants, getting it into the hands of landlords so they can start to run their business, that's how you're really going to see this economy come back and come back quickly. 

At the same time, we're working on dual tracks. Re-imagine, re-energize the economy Also continue to manage COVID. And you continue to manage COVID by continuing to vaccinate and by personal behavior. And as I mentioned earlier, we have to continue to get the vaccination numbers up. We've seen a 47 percent decline in the number of people coming in for vaccinations. So this is an issue. Where is the need in terms of vaccination? The greatest need is the 12- to 17-year-olds. They are 5 percent of the current COVID tests, but their 10 percent of the positivity rate. That's the highest differential of any age group, meaning there are more, in fact, 12- to 17-year-olds, when we actually run the tests. 

Also, that group, 12 to 17, is the lowest percent vaccinated by far in the state. Why is that? Well, they just became eligible for the vaccine. And what they've heard for the past year is they are not a priority when it comes to COVID, right? So it's understandable. It's not like the 12- to 17-year-olds are delinquent. It's that they've not been eligible, and they've not been stressed as a priority when it comes to COVID. But they are now, especially with reopening schools, et cetera.

So what do we do? Identified the need increasing participation, especially among the young people and get creative. None of us have been here before. There is no book to follow, so get creative. OK. Today we're announcing get a shot and make your future. We will raffle off on a weekly basis, full tuition, room-and-board scholarships to any public college or university for four years. It will be just among 12- to 17-year-olds who come in and get their shot. OK? Tomorrow through July 7th, any 12- to 17-year-old who gets their first Pfizer dose -Pfizer is two doses -we will award 10, four-year scholarships by a random drawing of those people who got the vaccine every Wednesday. 

It is an incentive for students. You're 12 to 17. You're planning on going to college. You are wondering about how you're going to pay for it. This is a full four-year scholarship to a SUNY school, to a CUNY school, to a community college, then moving on to a four-year program. So it's a significant incentive for students, and by the way, it's an incentive for parents. For parents, you're worried about paying college tuition, tell your 12- to 17-year-old, go out, get a shot, it protects the family, protects the 12- to 17-year-old, and they are then eligible for a raffle. And again, it's going to be among a small population, so your odds are good because it's only the population that has been vaccinated. 

Once you get your vaccine, you go to a website, you input your information, we'lldo a random drawing every Wednesday from that universe. People who received the vaccine earlier have a greater chance to win because they are eligible for every drawing every week, okay? It's not just those people who get it that week. Once you get the vaccine, you go into the pool. But, if you get the vaccine earlier, you'll have more chances to win, because you'll be in the first week pool the second week pool, the third week pool, fourth, fourth week pool, et cetera. So get the vaccine and get it early. It makes total sense, it's free, it's available, there's no appointments, it's smart, and you also have a chance to win a full scholarship.

But, we have to do it because what we do is going to decide the path ahead. It's time to get on with life, it's time to rejoin society, it's time to see family, it's time to see senior citizens. It's time to start human contact, social contact, and it's our opportunity to make this state better than ever before. This is not about reopening. All these states and countries talk about reopening. We don't want to reopen. We don't want to go back to where we were the day before COVID. It's been over a year. We want to be better than we were the day before COVID, and that's our goal. 

Last point to remember, first, congratulations to the Islanders. They could clinch the round tonight at the Coliseum. All venues have the option of going to 100 percent capacity for fully vaccinated people. Some venues, and we authorized, you can be 50 percent vaccinated, 50 percent unvaccinated, but that limits the capacity of the venue. The sections that are fully vaccinated means people can sit right next to each other, which is also, by the way, a more enjoyable way to participate in the event. You go with your buddies, your family, to see a ball game, you want to sit next to your family. That happens in a vaccinated section. The unvaccinated section has a seat or two empty in between people. So it limits the capacity of the venue. We've authorized 50-50, but the venue can choose to go to 100 percent vaccinated. 

If you're operating an arena, a stadium, a theater, concert venue, you can go to 100 percent capacity, only vaccinated people. That's what Radio City Music Hall did. That's what Mr. James Dolan did. You can go to Radio City Music Hall, you must be vaccinated. You must show your card when you come in, or your empire pass, but, he then has 100 percent capacity. So it works with the venue. It also works with the public because it's another incentive to get vaccinated. Right? And we're in the business now of creating incentives to get vaccinated. Go to a Subway station, get a vaccine, you can get an MTA pass. You can win a ballgame ticket. You can win a lottery ticket. Young people, you can win a scholarship. You want a better chance to get a ticket, Islanders are sold out today. You want a better chance to get a ticket? Having a vaccine allows you to participate in those venues that go to 100 percent fully vaccinated. From a public interest point of view, it works because it's another incentive for you to get the vaccine so you can participate in those activities. It's a win-win, and New Yorkers are winners, so I encourage everyone to do it.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
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