Governor Hochul: "Let's be smart. We can stop this. By getting vaccinated, getting the booster, wearing a mask indoors, staying 6 feet apart, but other than that, still support our community and our churches and all the other institutions that were so devastated during this pandemic."
Earlier this evening, Governor Kathy Hochul remarks at the African American Clergy & Elected Officials Coalition World AIDS Day Remembrance in Brooklyn.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on Flickr.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning, Church!
Boy, this feels like a Sunday, doesn't it? Wonder if this counts, Catholics are always wondering if this counts for the next Sunday, because I was raised as a Catholic. I am so honored to be back here.
First of all, Dee Bailey. Thank you for the incredibly warm welcome.Thank you for a quarter-century-plus of tireless advocacy to use the power of your voice, to bring people together, to let people know, that the fight of AIDS is not over yet. So thank you for keeping the spotlight on this critical issue, our great friend, Dee Bailey.
Reverend Doctor Waterman. We worship together. I've been to many of the AACEO events. In fact, I think all of you for honoring me. March of 2020, one of the last events where we gathered in person. I thank you for recognizing me, and then we also recognize Judith Harrison at the time. We time honored her as part of the Women's History Month. And I know she's not with us. Her mother just passed away, we keep her in our prayers as well.
So this is not a new occurrence to me. It's an opportunity to come out and speak about the power of this relationship between the clergy and the elected leaders. And I want to give a special shout out to all the incredible elected leaders here today. Just heard from our Attorney General, my partner in government, Tish James, let's give her another round of applause. Latrice Walker, I believe is here. My great friend Latrice, here we go, Latrice. I think Jumaane Williams was here, at other places, I don't know. Robert Cornegy is coming, Robert, he definitely knows that -- Robert walks in the room, right, I hate getting photographed next to that guy, I feel like, I feel like I'm down here. And of course, other friends joining as well. Laurie Cumbo, thank you for your service, to our city, for many years, thank you Laurie.
Tremaine Wright, who I was able to lift up and empower her to lead something that I believe was going to eradicate society's racial injustice and all the mass incarceration that occurred, typically young black men, when it came to the possession of marijuana. We now have legalized marijuana and she is leading our efforts to make sure that communities of color are not left behind when there's money to be made, that's the challenge you have to face. So who else would I put in charge of this, other than our great Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, I want to thank her for leading that charge. Thank you for that.
And I'll speak about AIDS in a moment, but he can't stand here without being overwhelmed by that sense of history of the people who've come to this very place. This very place during the Civil Rights Movement, and even before. People like Adam Clayton Powell, and Dr. Martin Luther King, and Shirley Chisholm, and others use this place to speak that truth to power. But to challenge the status quo and say we can do better. And that is the era I grew up in, as a young child in a Social Justice Catholic family.
We didn't have much. My parents actually lived in a trailer park. Not exactly where the wealthy lived, near a steel plant in Buffalo, where my father worked. My grandfather were Irish immigrants who found jobs, making steel. Which is partly why I'm so tough. I have steel running through my veins and you have to, in this business. So I honor those individuals who came here with nothing like so many in this community, but because of an opportunity to get an education, a job. My family's lives turned around. Too many people have not had that opportunity. The opportunity I saw that changed my circumstances. And that's something I'm personally committed to and being raised in the Catholic Church. We didn't just sit there on a Sunday. We took it with us seven days a week. As a child, I went with my parents into the poorest neighborhoods and sat down with senior citizens, who had been left behind. People in great poverty, people with disabilities. I was hard-wired as a child and growing up help God's people, because that's what Christ taught us to do. And I use public service to continue that belief. And that sense of faith that keeps me going every single day.
So I stand here, humbled to be your governor. Honored to have this. And know that every day I'm called to do God's work as every one of us are. And you must work together.
I see our great district attorney here as well. Eric Adams, thank you for joining us, I know we're going to hear from you as well. I heard -- it was Eric Gonzalez! How often does that happen, Eric? I was thinking, Deborah was just talking about how she had worked with Eric Adams. By Eric Adams, I meant Eric Gonzalez. But I will work with you, also Eric Adams. I have a news flash for everybody here. What I said on election night, when Eric Adams handed me the microphone to speak on his election victory night. I said, the era of fighting between the governor of New York and the Mayor of the City of New York is over. And instead we're going to fight for all of you, and we can do that. And that is so simple.
And we will embrace the challenges, the challenges like AIDS, which brings us here today to make sure we never forget. When you thinking about the families that were devastated by this mysterious disease. And there was so much hatred for people and lack of understanding and prejudice against the black communities and also the LGBTQ community at the time, there was a lot of hatred in people's hearts and fear. Tremendous fear, that this was going to spread and they would all get sick. They had to stay away from people.
I remember Hazel Dukes telling me a powerful story about still saying about how she went into a hospital, someone who had contracted AIDS and all she did was put her arms around him and gave this person a hug. She said that person cried because he said people were so fearful, they wouldn't even touch him anymore. He was isolated and alone. We've come away from that, but it took a long time to overcome prejudice and that hatred. And it still permeates.
And that's why we still have health disparities that came to light during this pandemic more than ever before. If you ever thought that the black and brown communities were left behind when it came to good quality healthcare. The COVID pandemic, where more people were hurt, more people got sick, and more people died, that is what we're dealing with still today because this pandemic is not yet behind us.
And I will continue to work with the clergy as we have. There is a truck out front supported by the State of New York. We'll continue bringing the services to the people. Because the members of the clergy, people who sit in churches, trust the people who speak to them from here. That's that trust that I can't necessarily deliver, elected officials may not be able to deliver. It's the clergy who people come to for comfort and to hear the word every single week. And when the word is, you need to get vaccinated or you could die.
And now with this new variant, Omicron, which actually people with vaccinations are starting to get. We got our first five cases in New York, one in Brooklyn. I just sat down with Mayor De Blasio to work in concert with him to fight this. I'm not scaring people. I'm just saying, if you are not boosted, run out and get that booster today because that's the extra suit of armor that you need around you, because we don't know enough about this. This may be as mild as symptoms as a cold or the flu. That's why I'm not going to create mass hysteria over this. But, we need to be smart about this.
When you think about the context and talk about AIDS and talk about COVID, twice as many people died from AIDS in New York State than they did from COVID. 131,000 people lost their lives from AIDS, 59,000 from COVID. I want that number to stop. Look at that disparity there. As we talk about, oh my God, COVID is the worst thing we've ever experienced. We lost more people to AIDS than COVID. So, I honor those who kept up this fight and you need to know the State of New York is your partner.
As we continue to bring education and testing, and resources and treatments to every community, because right now we woke up and there is still 100,000 people who have AIDS in the State of New York alone. We have to protect them, protect our families, and protect everyone from this pandemic. And work together to bring it all back. I don't want to see any more small businesses suffering, and Tremaine Wright, I used to walk her business district together when she was in the Assembly and visit small businesses and entrepreneurs who were struggling so hard to make it happen. And so many of them were shut down and they're hurting, in our little restaurants.
I don't want that to happen again. So let's be smart. We can stop this. By getting vaccinated, getting the booster, wearing a mask indoors, staying 6 feet apart, but other than that, still support our community and our churches and all the other institutions that were so devastated during this pandemic. And yes we have other issues to work on together. We have to do more to fight the specter of gun violence. Which is why I banned ghost guns. People could make a gun that was parts of which were mailed to you and put it together and go shoot somebody, before I signed it into law two weeks ago. We have other things to do as well. And I'm committed to working with Eric Adams, as the new Mayor to fight crime on the streets, to make sure that we have public safety, and go back to where we were in February of 2020, where New York City was the safest big city in this country.
We fell fast and hard, but that's why I know we can come back. We can come back and we have to be committed to doing this and making sure we do it in a way that the police treat the people with respect and people also respect the police. That's the relationship that has to be rebuilt. And we could do that working together. And in a few weeks, I'll be announcing my initiatives at the State of the State Address and tune in to find in it important healthcare initiatives like AIDS research treatments, continue to fight COVID. I'm making sure that there are testing sites, vaccination sites, pop-ups, everywhere, where people want them, they'll be there.
And also we have a housing crisis. We have to make sure that people have affordable housing and the plan I have, you're going to love. It is bold, it is ambitious and no one has ever undertaken what I've planned to do. One thing you need to know about your Governor, she is in-patient. I got things done yesterday. We have waited to long for change to come my friends. Change has arrived.
And I thank all of you, thank you for your friendship and coming together, clergy, elected officials, this is how we make things happen. And I thank you for the privilege to be your governor. Thank you!