September 8, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces #VaxtoSchool Campaign to Drive COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among School-Aged New Yorkers Statewide

TOP
Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces #VaxtoSchool Campaign to Drive COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among School-Aged New Yorkers Statewide
Share

New Website at ny.gov/vaxtoschool for Parents and Guardians with Ready-Made Resources for Schools and Localities Hosting #VaxtoSchool Events

Dedicated Instagram Channel, @Vaccinateny, to Provide Vaccine Education for School-Aged New Yorkers and Families

#VaxtoSchool Pop-Up Sites to Open in Areas with Low COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among 12 to 17-Year-Olds and #VaxtoSchool Buses to Provide Mobile Vaccinations

SUNY and CUNY Announce the Integration of the State's Excelsior Pass for Back-To-Campus, Proof of Vaccine Efforts

Governor Hochul: "Just a few hours ago, literally an hour and a half ago, I was walking the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial and the museum there with the former mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg. And as I was there, I was reflecting on the moment 20 years ago, but not just what happened on 9/11, we'll be speaking much more about this over the next few days, but what happened afterward. And I took such inspiration from how New York pulled together and showed their resiliency, and truly built back stronger and better than ever before. And that is actually where we are today. As we continue our response to dealing with a pandemic, which is still very much with us, it's how we respond to it and how we react and how we go forth is how we'll be judged 20 years from now, just as we're looking back at this milestone after 9/11. And what we've seen is you know, quite extraordinary. New Yorkers coming together in all walks of life, Assemblymembersworking in hospitals, the first responders, the essential workers. We can never give them enough gratitude for what they've done, and we'll find ways to honor them as we go forth."

Hochul: "We are announcing what we're calling #VaxtoSchool. And first of all, it's going to be a state funded digital marketing campaign to reinforce the messages that I'm giving you today and we'll have a site, a micro-site, which is where everything is in one location for parents and guardians to know what to do. Ready-made resources for schools and localities to host these events slowly, taking the vehicles to the schools and making it easier and we're going to be announcing the list of schools where this will be occurring very soon. So we're going to make it easy on you. We'll have a digital channel. We'll have it available on Instagram, and it's just all about prioritizing the health of our teachers, our administrators and our children. So we get that sense of security that parents will need when they say goodbye to their child and send them off to school. And we're going to be announcing the pop-up sites very shortly. So school, working on that workplace next and a lot's been done."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of the multi-faceted statewide #VaxtoSchool campaign to support increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates among school-aged New Yorkers, furthering the administration's commitment to making the health and well-being of students, teachers and families a top priority. 

As part of this campaign, the Governor announced a new, dedicated website at ny.gov/vaxtoschool with critical resources and materials for parents and guardians of school-aged New Yorkers and school communities. The new site includes information, and an FAQ for parents and guardians, as well as a multitude of ready-made signage for school leaders to support #VaxtoSchooleducation and operations in their local communities on the ground.

Additionally, the State has launched a new Instagram channel, @VaccinateNY, to educate school-aged New Yorkers and their families about the COVID-19 vaccine directly. The new social media page will provide approachable, interactive content through easy-to-understand vaccine information, prospective content partnerships, #VaxtoSchool social media design contests, and quick video explainers, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in our effort to provide all New Yorkers with the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. DOH will also amplify these digital education efforts across all of their channels including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

VIDEO of today's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page

A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below: 

Governor Hochul: Good morning, everyone. I understand the press need a few extra minutes to set up. Is that correct? Because I was ready at 1:15, just want you to know. I was ready. I know you needed a few extra minutes. I want to thank everyone for joining us today. I've been joined by our great commissioner of Labor, Roberta Reardon, who you'll be hearing from at the end of the presentation. Also two great individuals, three great individuals, who I've had the pleasure of working with, our deputy majority leader of the Senate, Mike Gianaris, and I want to thank him in advance for his efforts to make sure that our work sites are safe, as well as Assemblymember Karines Reyes, who doubles as a nurse during a pandemic, as well as a legislator, and what an extraordinary individual she is. Also the leader of labor for New York State, Mario Cilento. We wish him happy Labor Day week, but also thank him for his very intense involvement with us to make sure that we ensure safety for our workers during the pandemic as they get back to work. So I wanted to recognize them.

Just a few hours ago, literally an hour and a half ago, I was walking the grounds of the 9/11 Memorial and the museum there with the former mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg. And as I was there, I was reflecting on the moment 20 years ago, but not just what happened on 9/11, we'll be speaking much more about this over the next few days, but what happened afterward. And I took such inspiration from how New York pulled together and showed their resiliency, and truly built back stronger and better than ever before. And that is actually where we are today. As we continue our response to dealing with a pandemic, which is still very much with us, it's how we respond to it and how we react and how we go forth is how we'll be judged 20 years from now, just as we're looking back at this milestone after 9/11. And what we've seen is you know, quite extraordinary. New Yorkers coming together in all walks of life, Assemblymembers working in hospitals, the first responders, the essential workers. We can never give them enough gratitude for what they've done, and we'll find ways to honor them as we go forth. 

But we were the hardest hit. You know this story well. I'm not telling you something we all didn't live through. And the question is where we are today. And I wanted to give you a snapshot of our numbers and what we're seeing and what we're concerned about and what we're feeling better about. And there's not a single person who wants to have that bad flashback or relive that horror show we experienced last year, and all of us are absolutely 100 percent committed to ensuring that we do everything in our power to continue this battle. I feel like we're always in battle mode. Last week, it was mother nature we were battling, and now we're fighting the forces of nature again that have seemed unrelenting in this pandemic as more variants emerge. 

So I just wanted to let you know exactly where we are. Let's start getting a quick assessment of the numbers. It's all about the numbers, my friends. We're watching the numbers like a hawk, and just wanted to let you see by region, the numbers are starting to creep up again. Statewide, we're at 3.4. Western New York, where I live is popping up there. Mohawk Valley, Central New York, some of the numbers that we're concerned about. Not unlike what we went through last year, and we're always going to continue raising the question, what is different by region? Why are some areas doing better than others? And what can be done to take us to a better place? 

All of the above, so all those numbers start trending downward. So you can see the regional breakdown as well as our overall positivity, the seven day average. Quick look at New York City, Manhattan, being the lowest 1.66 percent, and I will tell you, I see everybody on the street wearing masks. That says to me masks work, I know masks work. We have evidence to prove it, but also I believe that's one of the reasons why Manhattan is doing better. Staten Island, I just was there a couple of days ago, surveying storm damage, and the numbers are creeping up toward 4 percent, and so we want to make sure that people are aware of these numbers and the consequences of this, what this means.

Daily hospitalizations, is what we look at closer than anything, because the question is, do we have the capacity in our hospitals to handle situations where people not just contract COVID, but also succumb to it and need hospitalization. And why there's such tension here is that what we're seeing, and you saw the news this morning, other parts of our country, where they're actually denying life-saving healthcare to individuals who have non-COVID illnesses because the capacity is not there in the hospitals. We were on the verge of that last year, fought back hard, won that battle, and the hospitals that stepped up and increased their capacity, the surge efforts that were undertaken under the emergency order last year, we know how to handle this if it happens again. So you'll watch the numbers here, our daily hospitalizations are much lower than they had been, but this could change overnight, this could change very quickly, and I want to thank our hospital partners and everyone involved in those who are continuing to ensure we have adequate supply of PPE. 

The biggest challenge for our hospitals is not the PPE. It's not the beds. Just like last year, it's staffing. Staffing is not what we need and we have to do everything we can to encourage people. And I think just like after 9/11, so many people signed up to go into the military, become a firefighter, law enforcement, because they were so inspired by the actions of those who showed the utmost courage on that day. Similarly, I think there's a lot of people who now inspire to go into the health services, healthcare, hospital workers, transport, EMTs, but the problem is they're just not online yet. It takes time for some young person who says I now want to be a doctor or a nurse because I want to be on that frontline, not unlike 9/11. It just takes time for the training. You went through the training, you know what I'm talking about. 

So the bottom line is it's just all about getting vaccinated and wearing the masks. There's nothing brand new about how we're going to deal with this next phase. It's all about having the resources and the tools and the weapons. And we didn't have a vaccination a year ago. We didn't have a vaccination basically widespread until last January, February. I didn't get mine until March. We did it by age. So, we have so much more at our disposal this time, and we're in a better shape and that's why the hospitalizations are troubling, but if we can keep them from spiking upwards, we're going to be in and we're going to be okay.

Let's see, hospitalizations overall, 445 out deck. Then now we have, daily hospitalizations, 2,415. So that's been a spike since last year, but it's again, how are the hospitals handling it. We have five times the number we had last year. Let's look at our overall hospital capacity. I'm looking at this bottom line right here, statewide, 36 percent beds available. ICU, 26. That is manageable today. I talked to the leaders of hospitals. They can handle that today. But we have to make sure that it does not creep much beyond that, or else we'll have to take more dramatic action to increase bed capacity and then they know what to do, they've done this before. So we stand ready to trigger whatever we have to do to activate more capacity. We're not there yet, but it's something we're watching.

Vaccination rate. We're pretty good. We're pretty good. You look at the CDC numbers, and those may wonder why the difference between state numbers initially and CDC numbers. CDC calculates everybody in the state, people who are at military installations, and in our federal prisons. So it actually, there are more people in the state who are vaccinated that had been demonstrated before. So I'm going to go with the CDC numbers and show that 18 percent, I'm sorry, 81 percent of people over 18 have at least one dose. That's very good news. Children a little lower, but they were just starting off later than adults. So they're at 61 percent. 

Completed vaccine series—this is what it's all about, my friends, getting it done. And for people who think they're okay with one, please help us get the word out. It's not one and done. You are still vulnerable if you've only had one in your series. I know some have had had the vaccine that only requires one dose, but if you've had Madonna or Pfizer you need to get that second dose done.

So we're at about 73 percent for the completed doses and 50 percent for young people, 12 to 17. So another area we need to improve right here, vaccination. Trend line of vaccinations, we're better than the nation, we're better than large states, but I'm very competitive. I like to be number one in everything we do, and I want to see that number go up and I believe we'll get there. We have more vaccine requirements, which I'll talk about in education and in the workplace and we'll make sure that we continue in the right trajectory there. 

So where are we at? The Delta variant still very much with us, a threat, but the vaccines are holding. The vaccines are holding against the Delta variant, which is something we weren't quite sure at the very beginning. The vaccines are working. That is the best news we have. A lot of attention on these breakthrough cases, and I wanted to know the numbers of how many cases are breaking, people that have been fully vaccinated, who are exposed to the virus who end up contracting COVID or testing positive. And that's only 0.5 percent of the fully vaccinated population. And when you think about those who are succumbed to this and have to be in a hospital, it's 0.04 percent of the fully vaccinated population. So it is still a rarity. It is still a rarity but this still now requires us to go back to being much more vigilant about mask wearing and even the washing and the social distance. We have to go back to the beginning and continue to use those, to help us fight back against this so we don't have those numbers increase any more than they are. 

Next up, booster shots. We are waiting for the federal government to permit these. They've told us September 20. I just spoke with executives at Pfizer the other day to see how they're moving along. We're looking very good and they don't think we're going to have any capacity issue or volume. We're going to have plenty of vaccines, which is great news. You remember last year, actually earlier this year, when the vaccines were first available, it was like the hunger games. Everybody was trying to get the vaccines. There were not enough available. This is a very good news dynamic right now. There will be plenty of vaccines available for people to get the booster shots, certainly the people who had them first. Eight months is the time when you need to start getting set up for your booster shot.

So last December we had people in nursing homes, congregate settings, hospitals, elderly, and then we started getting a larger percentage of the population in March and April and certainly into May. So we know that there's going to be a spike in the number of people who are now eligible and hit that eight-month mark, and we need to be ready for that. 

So what we've done, you heard my philosophy. There's two approaches to dealing with this. One is where the state comes in, sets up the testing sites, does everything. That's one path. The other one is you have that available. You do it when necessary. But you also empower the local governments because all of them train for this, the local health departments and the county administrators and the county executives, they do nothing but train for this year-round. They are ready for this. They've done flu, they've done Zika, they've done every other virus that's been out there and they want to be engaged. This is what I heard loud and clear when I was out there in the trenches in Western New York, with all these people, seven days a week, on phone calls, they say, let us do our jobs. That's what I want to do. I want to have the state available to backfill, give surge capacity, give extra assistance, and we're here to help like this. Let's let the locals do what they want to do and do it best, with guidance and requirements from the state. So we're going to give $65 million to local health departments to help support their efforts, as well as work with our providers and our long-term care facilities. 

Also, pop-up sites. We know this work. It's not always about the mass vaccination sites, not always about drive-thrus. It's about targeted approaches to go right into neighborhoods and communities. And we're going to continue doing that as well. We know it works, that trusted partners, someone in the community that they recognize or know from their church or their senior center or their veterans post.

You've heard about the new variant. We're watching it. I've been in contact with our New York State lab, Wadsworth, world renowned for the individuals there and I want to thank them once again for all they do for us every day. And we've seen that that's less than 0.5 percent of the cases in New York thus far.

We know it originated in Ecuador and Colombia and the federal guidelines, which we were in constant contact with the CDC, they tell us right now it's not an immediate threat. There was some early reports that it might be resistant to vaccines. That has not been established. But if that's the case, it could be problematic and I want you to know we're on top of that as well, as I'm sure the pharmaceuticals are preparing to deal with that. 

Where are we today? Two things most important people's minds. You're a parent. All you're thinking about is school. Get the kids back to school, but get them back to school safely, and that's what we've been focused on for a long time, a long time, starting with literally the day before I became governor.

I had a call with all the leadership of education, the school superintendents, the school boards, school administrators, the county leaders, everyone involved who touches the whole education ecosystem. And I talked to them about where we are and what we can do collaboratively to make sure that teachers and staff and above all the children are safe so they can go back.

I don't believe remote working is an option anymore. We will continue to work against that wherever possible, except for children who are immunocompromised and absolutely need to have an option and we need to make sure that they don't fall behind. But the vast majority of children, they need to get back to the environment where they can thrive again, they can be a child again, they can learn with their friends, they can just try to put this whole last year and a half behind them, and just start learning again. And that's something that is so desperately needed and the psychological impact on these children has been dire. It really is. You cannot overstate what young people have gone through, children all the way up to teenagers, that isolation, the distancing from their friends and their normal networks. It's taken a real toll and we're going to be dealing with that for a long time. And we need to continue making sure that we have mental health services and support for these families and children.

But in the meantime, we have to get them back and give parents the confidence that their precious child is going to be safe when they leave their home and go off. 

So we have instituted a universal mass requirement, regardless of whether you're vaccinated. It's simple, it's safe, and it makes sense. Also we've issued just recently DOH guidelines. We are prioritizing in-person learning. We have very detailed recommendations for the school districts to execute on physical distancing and quarantine protocols, helping them know, I've heard this from school superintendents who say, don't leave all of this to us. We are educators. We're not healthcare professionals. Tell us what needs to be done based on your knowledge of the science, the data and the facts. 

And also, weekly testing of all school personnel. We want school personnel vaccinated, that is our number one priority, as an option, we'll let them test out, and they'll have to have weekly testing, but it's my sincere hope that everyone will agree with this, but people need to know the vast majority of teachers are already vaccinated. That should give comfort to parents who are concerned about their children's exposure to another adult, vast majority are. And I want to thank them for stepping up and doing, not just what's right for them and their own families, but good for the children that will be before them when school starts, but we will have the opt-out option available, but I also want to see many more young people vaccinated until we get the vaccine approved for five to 12.

We still have some lagging numbers between the ages of 12 and 17. You can see that we have 61 percent of young people between 12 and 17 have had at least one dose. It's not bad, but it's not great. And you can see how that goes by population 65 plus are absolutely the ones who understand this, but we are worried about the children who need to be vaccinated in that age group right now. So we're going to continue to be announcing some more initiatives to get those young people motivated.

Fully vaccinated is only about 50%. So of the pool of people who could be vaccinated in this age group, we only have the job halfway done. I'm calling on parents. I'm calling on anyone who can influence this process to say, please, if you want to make sure your children are safe as they're going out, not just in the classroom, but they're out there playing sports and are out in the community and they're socializing with their friends. Only 50%. It's not where it needs to be. We have to make sure that that gets higher. We're going to be announcing some initiatives on that as well. 

So we have to do better. My friends so we are announcing what we're calling #VaxtoSchool. And first of all, it's going to be a state funded digital marketing campaign to reinforce the messages that I'm giving you today and we'll have a site, a micro-site, which is where everything is in one location for parents and guardians to know what to do. Ready-made resources for schools and localities to host these events slowly, taking the vehicles to the schools and making it easier and we're going to be announcing the list of schools where this will be occurring very soon.

So we're going to make it easy on you. We'll have a digital channel. We'll have it available on Instagram, and it's just all about prioritizing the health of our teachers, our administrators and our children. So we get that sense of security that parents will need when they say goodbye to their child and send them off to school.

And we're going to be announcing the pop-up sites very shortly. So school, working on that workplace next and a lot's been done. I want to thank everyone who's been involved in this from the very beginning, particularly our friends in labor, who represent the people who are the most exposed, the people who've had to not have the luxury of sitting home necessarily, in front of their laptop, working remotely, many of them did not have that option. And they were willing to whether they're healthcare workers or grocery store workers, pharmacists or transit workers, teachers, countless others who still continue to stay, to have to show up, regardless of whether the variant is high or it's low and that's the challenge we're facing. 

So if we have to make the workplace itself a safer environment, what we've done is there are already some vaccination requirements in place, state employees, they are required to be vaccinated or else they can have weekly testing. And that has to be in place by October 12th.

Healthcare workers. These are the ones that are most exposed to the virus. We have to make sure that they're protected as well as the people they come in contact, they have to be vaccinated and we have a deadline of September 25th for people in these entities. And I know that this is probably problematic. I recognize this because we're having a shortage of workers in these healthcare facilities, and many of them are vaccinated, I thank them, but we have to encourage more people to get vaccines so they can be in their workplace and we get back to normal and take care of people who are sick or who are in these various facilities.

SUNY students. This has been great, they're back on campus, no alternative. And there's been great compliance. And I want to thank SUNY administration and all others who've been involved, it's working very, very well. CUNY students, the same thing.

MTA and Port Authority. We're going to be requiring vaccinations of all workers, and there will be a week testing opt out, but again, just get the vaccine. Why do you want to get tested every single week? It's not fun. I've had it done countless times. The vaccine one prick. Back in two weeks, you get another one you're done again, and they don't have to worry about the weekly testing. So I'm encouraging all these workers to follow the vaccination protocols and just get it done.

One way we were able to increase my confidence that the workplaces around New York State are going to be safe, was the New York Hero Act. And I want to make sure that this is explained, that people understand how significant this is. This was signed last spring, last May, it never had the teeth. It didn't have the enforcement, in which case, it wasn't operational.

And what it does is that it mandates that all workplaces have enforceable protocols that we mandate health and safety protections, including: health screenings, masks, physical distancing, cleaning, and disinfection and personal protective equipment. And everyone thinks that that's already happening, no. There are many workplaces where people, the employers, the operators of the work site did not take it seriously. And they were not doing this. They were not properly protecting workers across the state of New York. And so there are some individuals who are the heroes of the Hero Act. And I want to thank again, AFL-CIO president Mario Cilento, Senate Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris, and Assembly Member Karines Reyes for her work and again, as a healthcare professional, she knows how important this is. I want to allow them a few minutes to say a few words.

But when this is all done, when we declare an end to this pandemic, I want to be able to look back and say there was not one thing that we should have done that we didn't do. And this hero act is part of that strategy.

We know that the Delta variant is continuing to rage. We have conditions and workplaces where people are feeling anxious and insecure and the thing we need to do is unleash the full potential of the New York City and New York State economy. It has been suppressed. It's been in this induced coma for far too long, and now it's time to come back. But come back to safe schools, come back to safe workplaces and start letting the world know we're back. With this vaccination and the rates that we have in New York. It is a safe time to come visit, to enjoy all that is great about New York state, New York City.

I'll be out there myself promoting some of our various industries and letting people know that I feel comfortable with what we've done up until now and the number of people who've been vaccine. Thank you New Yorkers for getting vaccine. Thank you for continuing to wear your mask and thank you to our champions of the Hero Act.

And so with that, I'd like to introduce Mike Gianaris and invite him to come up and say a few words.

Senator Mike Gianaris: So, this is what this room looks like. What a refreshing change to have a Governor that actually seeks the input of others and is collaborative in her approach. And in just the first couple of weeks, Governor Hochul you have shown that you do that in so much more. So thank you for that. And thank you for implementing the Hero Act.

This is a law that simply requires a certification. That we are in the midst of a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health. Now, I don't think you could find a single person that would disagree with the notion that we are facing that more than at any time in our lifetimes, more than any time in over a hundred years. And yet since May, when this law was enacted in June, when it took full effect, we couldn't get the Department of Health to certify that we were in the midst of a pandemic. 

Through Governor Hochul's leadership. We now have reached that point and these important protections fall into place. We can have greater confidence that our workers, who did so much to get us through the early months of the pandemic at great cost to themselves and their families, will have greater protections in place.

A lot of businesses already provide the basic protections we have all become familiar with, and they probably won't have to change a thing. Just keep doing the responsible thing. But there were plenty that were not doing. And those that worked, when some of us had the luxury of staying home, suffered for it.

Well, from this point forward, that will no longer be the case. And that's because Governor Hochul has insisted that Department of Health make this certification and that our workplaces are safe, not only for the employees, but also for the customers, for public-facing businesses, that we can enter, places continue to get the economy back on track, continue to get New York working again with greater confidence that we won't be putting our lives at risk while doing so. And so that is a wonderful thing that we're here to celebrate today. 

One last thing I'll mention about, the Hero Act, which is very important: It also empowers the workers themselves to monitor and report violations of the process. If you have a bad employer that's not providing the protections. How exactly are we going to know that unless we let the workers, monitor and make reports about things that are not happening as they should, in the workplace. So, the governor mentioned her back to school plan, which is, which is great. The back to work plan also now is going into effect. Between the two of them, I think we will accelerate our recovery from this awful moment in history. 

So governor, thanks again. And thank you to my co-sponsor Karines Reyes and to Mario Cilento and our friends in labor for all their great leadership.

Governor Hochul: Assemblymember Karines Reyes and also if you want to just give a few reflections on what it was like to be a nurse during the pandemic and how you're feeling today.

Assemblymember Karines Reyes: Thank you, governor. It is quite a change, a refreshing change, of tone from where we were a few months ago. And without your leadership and your designation of making COVID a highly infectious communicable disease, we would not be able to fully implement the New York Hero Act. We were talking backstage with Mario about my experience in the hospital, during the height of the pandemic, and having ran out of ventilators and what that feeling was like, the fear in our patients' eyes right before we intubated them.

And the fear of all the staff, the hospital staff, when we were potentially running out of equipment to save another life. And we don't want to be there ever again. And all the measures that you have put in place are leading us to a point where we can fully recover. And we thank you for that. 

I did it, I have prepared remarks, so I'll read them. So I'm proud to stand with you as we witness the full implementation of the New York Hero Act. New York State is actually leading the way with the first of its kind airborne infectious disease protocols. Workers and businesses in our state have been waiting since May for clear guidance from the Department of Labor and Health on how to properly protect their employees and customers from COVID-19. With this full implementation in place, the New York Hero Act will better prepare establishments to defend against rising threats, like the Delta variant, that grow more prevalent each day. We know this pandemic is not over, although our efforts to increase vaccination levels have been fruitful. We know that we still need more active countermeasures to fully contain the virus.

We must provide businesses with robust industry specific safety protocols to stop the spread and keep our states open. And that's exactly what the New York Hero Act does. It allows them to create very specific, industry specific protocols for each industry. Today marks the beginning of our state's proactive approach to ensuring we are prepared in the wake of future diseases, transmissible through the air or respiratory droplets.

And I would be remiss if I didn't thank the labor unions and worker organizations that supported this legislation to protect their workers, such as the RWDSU, the New York State Nurses Association. The New York State AFL CIO, 1199 SEIU, CWA District 1. And I also want to thank the advocacy groups that supported the legislation as well as ALIGN, FWD.us, and the Legal Aid Society, New York Communities for Change, the New York Nail Salon Workers Association and the New York Immigration Coalition.

Finally, I commend Governor Hochul for recognizing this need and look forward to adopting the safety protocols in the near future. Thank you.

Governor Hochul: Next we'll hear from Mario Cilento, who needs no introduction, but he is the president of the New York State AFL CIO. 

Mario Cilento: Thank you, governor. Thank you very much. First. I want to thank the sponsors -both of you really -your dedication and commitment to this issue was inspiring to everyone. We did a few Zoom press conferences. We were talking about that earlier in the other room and, you could see the passion from both of you through a screen, and we know how difficult that is when you do the Zoom meeting, so I thank you both for shepherding this legislation through and getting it to the governor for a signature. So thank you both. Governor, I just want to say that on behalf of the two and a half million union members in the state that I have the honor to represent, really on behalf of all working men and women in this state from Buffalo to Brooklyn to Long Island, first, thank you for implementing the hero act. More importantly, thank you for making the health, the safety and the wellbeing of working men and women in this state a priority. Thank you for that. You know, we've talked about that. You know, we're still in the midst of the pandemic, but when the pandemic first came underway and you know, we've heard all the stories about essential workers and we know that they risk themselves, their health, their wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of their families throughout the height of the pandemic. And we owe them a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay. Let's just be clear: We'll never be able to repay them for it, but we do thank them to the best of our ability. We're still in this. 

And for the labor movement, well before we ever heard what COVID is, before we knew of a pandemic and what it would mean, we've always had a feeling that all workers are essential regardless of who you are or where you're from, whatever your job title is. All workers are essential to their employers, to their coworkers, to their communities. And most importantly, on a human level, they are essential to their families. The people they come home to every night and they were in harm's way as well. 

All you want, when you have a loved one friend, family member, whatever who goes to work every day, you want them to come home in the same condition from which they left that morning. Governor, by implementing the Hero Act, you will help to ensure that millions of New Yorkers across this state will come home in the same condition from which they left in the morning. And I thank you for that. And two weeks ago, when, when you took office, you made mention of how you wanted to collaborate, how you wanted to bring people together.

And that resonated with a lot of people. It certainly resonated with me, but also in the labor movement. We have this thought and this thought process that actions speak louder than words. I will just say that in these past two weeks, your actions have far surpassed anything that we could have hoped for, and they speak volumes to who you are, what you believe in and everything that makes you a leader. And I want to thank you for that because it is very heartening to be with you and to talk to you and bringing people in. And I know we've spoken many times, but you've spoken with other leaders. You've spoken with advocacy groups and you've had the courage of your convictions to act upon what you believed in immediately. And that set a tone for this entire state, and I thank you for that. 

And the last thing is simply this, and it was mentioned, Mike mentioned it just a moment ago, you know, whether it's a restaurant, or a hotel, or a retail outlet, or a supermarket, we all come into contact with all of these workers every single day. You can't walk into a supermarket and not come into contact with the person stocking the shelves, and you can't walk into Macy's and not interact with the salesperson. You can't walk in the street and not run into a sanitation worker, ortake your children to school this week and run into a teacher, or an aide, or a security guard. The fact is, Governor, by implementing the HERO Act, 19 million New Yorkers in this state are safer today than they were two days ago, and that's because of you. And I thank you for that. And again, I thanked you for having the courage of your convictions, to fight for what you believe in, to implement this law, and I thank you for bringing everyone together, because the issues of the labor movement, I can tell, align with how you feel about working men and women, understanding their needs and concerns, and we look forward to continuing to work with you, so thank you governor. 

Governor Hochul: So those are the heroes of the HERO Act, and I want to thank all of you for your leadership, and with that, we'll conclude this portion of the event to present our latest statistics and information on where we are with the pandemic, and we'll return shortly. Thank you.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640