Renews Call for Federal Government to Provide Hazard Pay to Essential Public Workers
Confirms 1,249 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 362,764; New Cases in 41 Counties
Governor Cuomo: "Today we're saying we honor that service and we're going to make sure that every government in the State of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency. I also believe the federal government should be doing the same, honoring the frontline workers, showing Americans that we appreciate what you did, that you showed up when it was hard, that you worked when it was hard, you appeared for duty when it was troubling to do so. And I'm sure many people were afraid to show up, but they showed up anyway, and they deserve not just words of thanks but actions that show the appreciation."
Cuomo: "And I think the federal government should dedicate federal funds and pay hazard pay to those workers who showed up. It's a way of saying 'Thank you, we understand what you did, we appreciate what you did.' And it's a way of showing Americans that when there is a next time, and there is a next time, that we truly appreciate those people who show up and do their duty."
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that state and local governments will provide death benefits for frontline workers who died from COVID-19 during this emergency.
Governor Cuomo also renewed his call for the federal government to provide hazard pay for essential public workers on the front lines.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning to all. To my right, we have Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. To my left, Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, who is representing her whole family and the honor of allowing us to lay a wreath in honor of Memorial Day. To her left, Gareth Rhodes, who's been working with us from the onset of this tragic COVID situation.
We're at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. This is a remarkable, remarkable facility and it's always a pleasure to be here. It was started by the Fisher family which is one of the great families of the State of New York. Susan Marenoff-Zausner is here with us today who is the President of the organization. We want to thank her for her kindness.
Today, we honor the service members who have lost their lives. We remember their families and the pain that they have dealt with, and we thank them all for their service, their bravery and their sacrifice. I want to thank the Gelband family, Stu and Ellen, for being with us today and giving us the honor. Let's take a moment of silence in memory of all those who are fallen and wishing their families peace on this difficult day.
Thank you. This is the USS intrepid. I've been here a number of times. Every time I come, I learn something else. Remarkable history itself, launched in 1943. Over 30 years of service, served in World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam War. It really is a phenomenal walk through history, visiting this great ship. 250 Americans who served on board lost their life while they were serving on this ship, and that brings home the message of today.
President Kennedy was speaking about Memorial Day and giving thanks to those who served and who made the ultimate sacrifice, but he reminded us that as we express our gratitude, "never forget that the highest appreciation is not about uttering the words, but to live them." That is the greatest acknowledgment of the sacrifice that has been made, to carry it forward. And this Memorial Day, I think it's especially poignant and powerful when this country is going through what it's going through, and we know something about loss because we're living it again. Over 100,000 Americans will lose their lives to this covid virus.
How do we honor them? We honor them by growing stronger together. And during these times, there are so many Americans who have really risen to the challenge, done more than anyone could ask, more than anyone could expect. We want to make sure that we remember them and we thank our heroes of today. And they're all around us and they did extraordinary service to allow us to continue doing what we're doing. I can just imagine the responsibility of a chief executive who has to call men and women into war and how they deal with that responsibility.
I know that I feel a grave responsibility to our frontline workers, our essential workers, who understood the dangers of this COVID virus, but went to work anyway because we needed them to. We needed the nurses and the doctors to perform phenomenal service in the hospitals. We needed the police, the fire department, the EMS, to show up. We needed the frontline workers in grocery stores to show up so others could stay home and be safe. And I bear heavy the responsibility of explaining to the people of this state and beyond what we were dealing with when we were dealing with the COVID virus and how dangerous it was, and then in the same breath asking people to please show up tomorrow - having just explained how dangerous it was. And many of those people who showed up and did their duty and served with honor lost their lives to keep others of us safe. In many ways that is a microcosm of what we're here talking about today on Memorial Day.
But as John F. Kennedy said, "remember with your actions," and today we're saying we honor that service and we're going to make sure that every government in the State of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency. I also believe the federal government should be doing the same, honoring the frontline workers, showing Americans that we appreciate what you did, that you showed up when it was hard, that you worked when it was hard, you appeared for duty when it was troubling to do so. And I'm sure many people were afraid to show up but they showed up anyway, and they deserve not just words of thanks but actions that show the appreciation. And I think the federal government should dedicate federal funds and pay hazard pay to those workers who showed up. It's a way of saying "thank you, we understand what you did, we appreciate what you did." And it's a way of showing Americans that when there is a next time, and there is a next time, that we truly appreciate those people who show up and do their duty.
Today we also honor the veterans who we lost to coronavirus during this epidemic. Jack Conyers, Stephen Patti, Cleveland Jessup, and those are just a handful, people from New York. We're still in the midst of this COVID battle. We are making progress here in New York.
Again, the hospitalization rate is down. The net change in hospitalizations is down. Intubations is down, which is very good news. Day-to-day hospitalizations are down, which is continued good news and in many ways the most important news. That means the number of people who are coming into our hospitals on a day-to-day basis continues to drop. And the most important to me, the number of lives lost, 96, is still painfully high. But only in the relative absurdity of our situation is that relatively good news. And we remember those 96 families today.
John F. Kennedy's words of appreciation were echoes of the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln after thanking those who lost their lives in the Civil War: "It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on." It's about the unfinished work. That's what Abraham Lincoln said, that's what John F. Kennedy said. That's what almost every great leader of this country has said. It's about dedicating ourselves to the unfinished work.
And we do that here in New York. We honor the memory of the fallen by going forward, by living, by growing, by advancing, by learning from it, by being stronger than ever before, by taking the values and principles of America that they lived and died for and raising them to a new level by rising even higher and even stronger than ever before. And we will do that. We will do that here in New York. We'll do that in this country because America and New York are tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving at the end of the day. And that has brought us to this point where this country is the strongest, best country on the globe and it will take us forward.