Cuomo threatens lawsuit if Trump doesn’t change vaccine distribution plan

In a fiery sermon-like speech on Sunday — part of an online service from the historic Riverside Church in New York City — Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his call for fair distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

He was joined online with State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and members of the Senate and the Assembly delegation among others.

Cuomo described COVID as a low tide for America. When you look out at the ocean during high tide, Cuomo said, “all you see is the surface of the water, and the waves, and everything looks nice and beautiful.”

But, he went on, “When the water goes out and the sea bottom is revealed, and you see rocks, and you see debris, and you see the ugliness that the water was covering.”

COVID low tide, Cuomo said, showed the lack of trust in the federal government. A vaccine will only work, he said, if trust in the government is restored.

“Over the past eight months in this nation with everyone doing COVID tests — hospitals, doctors’ offices, governmen­t — we’ve done 120 million COVID tests. How long will it take us to administer 330 million vaccines?” asked Cuomo. “The federal government must learn from its mistakes and dedicate the resources and supplies to get the job done right this time.”

He pointed out, as he has repeatedly, that Black and Hispanic people have disproportionately been sickened and died from COVID-19, and that the Trump administration plan would distribute the vaccine through private health-care providers that are few and far between in poor neighborhoods.

“The Black and brown communities that were first on the list of who died cannot be last on the list of who receives the vaccine,” said Cuomo.

He referenced Martin Luther King, who had spoken at the Riverside Church, saying that, of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and most inhumane because it often results in physical death.

Cuomo called on the federal government for funds needed to have states fairly administer the vaccine and called out President Donald Trump who has not yet conceded the presidential election but must leave office on Jan. 20.

“Stop the abuse. Stop the division. Stop the anger. Stop the hatred. Stop the narcissism and spend your last months actually trying to help people and repairing the damage you have done,” said Cuomo. “Who gets the vaccine and who doesn’t get the vaccine is not just a question of morality and principle, it’s a legal question.”

If the Trump administration doesn’t change its plan, Cuomo — citing the equal-protection clause in the United States Constitution — said New York State will join with the Urban League and the NAACP to “fight to make sure every life is protected equally.”

Cuomo concluded, “Unless everyone is protected, no one is protected. COVID doesn’t discriminate — neither should we. As Dr. King said, ‘We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny’ — whatever affects one ... affects all indirectly.”


Newest numbers

Statewide, New York’s positivity rate is 2.74 percent, Cuomo announced in a press release on Sunday. That includes the micro-cluster areas where there are added restrictions and added tests; the rate in the focus zones was 4.05 percent, based on Saturday’s test results.

The positivity rate for the Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, was 2.0 percent, tied for second-lowest of the state’s 10 regions. The North Country was the lowest at 1.8 percent, and Western New York was the highest at 5.6 percent.

As of Sunday morning, Albany County has 4,464 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 64 new cases overnight, according to a release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy’s office.

Of the new cases, 32 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, one reported traveling out of state, 25 did not have a clear source of infection identified at this time, and six are health-care workers or residents of congregate settings.

Separately, 26 of the total new positives are associated with the University at Albany. UAlbany is no longer holding in-person classes.

Also on Sunday, The College of Saint Rose in Albany announced it, too, is moving to online-only classes on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The college currently has eight active COVID-19 cases (six students and two employees) and has had a total of 17 cases for the fall semester, according to a letter posted by Saint Rose Interim President Marcia J. White.

Currently, 1,825 county residents are under quarantine, up from 1,733. The five-day average for new daily positives decreased slightly to 91.6 from 92.4. There are now 600 active cases in the county, up from 596 on Saturday.

So far, 18,927 people have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,864 had tested positive and recovered.

Thirty-eight Albany County residents remain hospitalized with COVID-19 — eight of them in intensive-care units. The county’s hospitalization rate has gone down slightly to 0.85 percent from 0.86 percent.

Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 147.

More Regional News

  • Flexible grants of $5,000 up to $50,000 will be made available to eligible small businesses and small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations. The grants can be used for operating expenses, including payroll, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, personal protective equipment, or other business expenses incurred during the pandemic.

  • “A lot of these folks out this way do not want to go down into the city to get services so here we’re bringing services to them and I think this is just going to grow and grow,” said Sheriff Craig Apple of the new program to have social workers and trained EMS crews answer some emergency calls in rural Albany County.

  • As of Wednesday evening, 62.2 percent of Albany County’s residents had received at least one dose of vaccine as had 73.0 percent of county residents 18 or older. The number of residents attending the large points of dispensing or PODs run by the county has greatly decreased; this week, just 12 doses were administered at the county’s POD. The county has shifted its focus to community-based PODs.

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