GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES OPENING OF STATE-FEMA MASS VACCINATION SITE AT YORK COLLEGE IN QUEENS

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Mass Vaccination Site at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn Also Now Open

MTA Will Launch Pilot Program March 1 to Enhance Bus Service from NYCHA and Community Centers to York College and Medgar Evers College

Sites Will Vaccinate 3,000 New Yorkers Per Day; Serves as National Model for Equitable Distribution of Vaccine

Eligible New Yorkers Can Make Appointments for Medgar Evers College and York College State-FEMA Vaccination Sites through New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ Website, by Calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829) or by Visiting the Site

Governor Cuomo: “The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the weapon that’s going to win the war. We know that it works. First obstacle is we don’t have enough of the vaccine. That is true in this state, that is true in every state in the country. There is just not enough supply. President Biden walked in and the cupboard was bare for supply. To me, it’s the hangover of the President Trump legacy. He never handled COVID right. He lied about it. He denied it. He didn’t have the equipment. He didn’t have the testing. He thought he was going to manipulate the situation. We here in New York stood up to President Trump. We told him that he wasn’t giving this the serious attention it deserved. We told him we weren’t prepared.”

Cuomo: “The third obstacle we have to get past with this is people have to trust the vaccine and that’s why the elected officials and the pastors are so important. They say that there’s hesitancy in the black community about the vaccine I don’t like the word “hesitancy,” because it’s flowery and it doesn’t call the problem what it is. It’s not hesitancy; it’s the Black community doesn’t trust the vaccine. It’s trust – they don’t trust the system. “Well, the federal government approved it. I don’t trust the federal government approving the vaccine,” That’s what the Black community is saying, and by the way it’s what I’m saying. I don’t trust the federal approval. “The Trump administration approved it, you should trust.” No. That’s why we had a separate panel in New York State review all the vaccine data and New York State’s finest said the vaccine is safe. Two million New Yorkers have taken the vaccine, 2 million and the results have all been good. All top Black medical professionals in the country say take the vaccine. Take the vaccine.”

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the opening of the New York State-FEMA mass vaccination site at York College in Queens and Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. These sites will vaccinate 3,000 New Yorkers each day. For the first week of appointments, vaccines are reserved for residents of eligible zip codes within Brooklyn and Queens, opening to the entire boroughs on February 27. The establishment of these sites follows the announcement Governor Cuomo made on Wednesday, February 10 when he joined with White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients and White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith to announce the sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens.

Beginning March 1, the MTA will launch a pilot to enhance bus services from Edgemere Houses in Queens and Pink Houses in Brooklyn to the vaccination sites from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and add new bus stops adjacent to the vaccination site at York College.

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

B-ROLL of the vaccination site 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:

Pleasure with all of you. Pleasure for me to be home. I’m a Hollis, Queens, boy. So it’s a pleasure to be at York College. I want to thank Madame President very much for having us there today, and for all the work it took to set up this site. This was not done easily. A lot of organization, but it’s going to do a lot of good. We’re going to save lives at this site. This site is going to save lives, and I’m excited to be here, and I want to thank all the participants who are with us today. you’re going to hear from Assembly Member Vivian Cook, who’s been a long-time great representative for her community, a great friend of mine and my family’s. State Senator Leroy Comrie, who’s going to get his vaccination today. and that’s a great sign, because part of this is about trust. I’m going to be doing the vaccination. I am a certified vaccinator by the State of New York, I took a 20-minute course yesterday. I get to select the part of the anatomy where I do the vaccine, and you’ll be surprised, or maybe not, when you see the part of the anatomy that I pick.

I want to thank Bishop Calvin Rice very much, you’ll hear from him after Senator Comrie. And I want to thank the other electeds who are here. We have MaryAnn Tierney, who’s the acting deputy administration of FEMA, which set up this site on the federal government side. We also have Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson who’s with us, Council Member Adrienne Adams, Council Member Miller, Bishop Calvin Rice, York president, and we have a number of pastors who are here who are going to help us get out the word today, which is going to be very important, because we need people to take advantage of this opportunity. So I want to thank Reverend Frasier, and Diane Frasier, I want to thank Bishop Douglas, I want to thank Reverend Mullings for all his good work, but for being here today also. Reverend Patrick O’Connor, Reverend Thompson, and Reverend Wauchop.

The message is simple. We want to do this and then let the facility operate at 8:00. The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the weapon that’s going to win the war. We know that it works. First obstacle is we don’t have enough of the vaccine. That is true in this state, that is true in every state in the country. There is just not enough supply. President Biden walked in and the cupboard was bare for supply. To me, it’s the hangover of the President Trump legacy. He never handled COVID right. He lied about it. He denied it. He didn’t have the equipment. He didn’t have the testing. He thought he was going to manipulate the situation. We here in New York stood up to President Trump. We told him that he wasn’t giving this the serious attention it deserved. We told him we weren’t prepared. President Trump did what President Trump always does, which is he attacks those who tell him the truth. And New Yorkers stood up and we told him the truth. And he attacked us for it. And he attacked me for it. He was the shoot the messenger kind of guy. But we were right. And then the last act of Trump was he didn’t even buy enough vaccine to serve the people of the country. And that’s why we have this supply shortage, because they didn’t even buy enough vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna.

So now President Biden had to come in. He secured the vaccine by the end of July, we’ll have enough vaccine for everyone. But, we have to get from here to July. And the amount of supply we’re getting has been increasing every week. So it’s supply. Then it’s access, but not just access, what I call equitable access. COVID discriminated against people. COVID killed twice as many Black people as white people. COVID killed one and a half times as many Hispanic people as white people. Why? Because it showed the underlying injustice in society. COVID prayed on the health disparities, and the comorbidities that were existing in communities that didn’t have enough healthcare service in the first place. So now, when it comes to the vaccine, my point is correct the injustice that you created during COVID, where you had more Blacks die, more Hispanics die, higher positivity rate, less testing. Make sure we get the vaccine to these communities. And that’s what were doing here today.

This facility is the largest mass vaccination site in the State of New York. This facility, Medgar Evers in Brooklyn, 21,000 vaccines per week. The largest in the state. And this is the first in the state that says we’re going to bring the vaccine to the community that needs it most, and we’re going to give that community priority to get the vaccine. So, the community surrounding your college has a priority for the appointments here at York College. Between now and Saturday morning, appointments will only be filled for those people in zip codes that are surrounding this area. So, Jamaica, South Richmond Hills, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton, St. Albans, Rosedale, Queens Village, South Ozone Park, Cambria Heights, Richmond Hill, Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis, 11423. That’s me, baby. Jamaica, Queens Village, Far Rockaway, Arverne. Those communities get priority here because those communities were hardest hit. And basic justice requires you give the help first to the community that needs it most. And New York is proud to say, they are bringing social equity to the situation.

The third obstacle we have to get past with this is people have to trust the vaccine and that’s why the elected officials and the pastors are so important. They say that there’s hesitancy in the black community about the vaccine I don’t like the word “hesitancy,” because it’s flowery and it doesn’t call the problem what it is. It’s not hesitancy; it’s the Black community doesn’t trust the vaccine. It’s trust – they don’t trust the system. “Well, the federal government approved it. I don’t trust the federal government approving the vaccine,” That’s what the Black community is saying, and by the way it’s what I’m saying. I don’t trust the federal approval. “The Trump administration approved it, you should trust.” No. That’s why we had a separate panel in New York State review all the vaccine data and New York State’s finest said the vaccine is safe. Two million New Yorkers have taken the vaccine, 2 million and the results have all been good. All top Black medical professionals in the country say take the vaccine. Take the vaccine.

My mother took the vaccine. Unless I was 100 percent sure I would never have told my mother to take the vaccine. Now, my mother qualifies because she’s over 65 years old; Vivian Cook is a good friend of my mother. My mother got offended that I told people that she was over 65 years old, she thought I was giving away her age. She looks much younger than 65 but she still mad at me for saying that she was over 65. I didn’t think I was giving a lot away because I’m 62. How, mathematically, could she not be 65 years old? I don’t know but she’s offended, but anyway she’ll get over it. She loves me because I’m a favorite son so she’ll get over it. But my mother took the vaccine. I’m going to have my daughters take the vaccine. I’m going to take the vaccine when I’m eligible. Senator Leroy Comrie is going to take the vaccine today. Take the vaccine, it will save your life and it will save the life of others, and to all the people who are working here today, to the National Guard, to the FEMA people, to all the volunteers to York College, people who are putting themselves in a dangerous situation to help other people – God bless you. God bless you and we thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Let’s give the National Guard a round of applause and FEMA round of applause and let me ask Assembly Member Vivian Cook to come up and then we’ll hear from State Senator Leroy Comrie and then we’ll hear from Bishop Calvin Rice.

Thank you very much.

Assembly Member Vivian Cook: You see, just got a good sanitizing here. Good morning everyone and thanks for being here today and I want to thank the Governor for bringing us here and bringing the vaccine here to Jamaica, Queens. I want to thank him for coming home and for being the person that he is, okay, I stand with the Governor. I’ve worked with the Governor. I know where his heart is, I knew where his father’s heart was, and his mother is my best friend. And I want to just say, I stand with him and I am going to keep standing with him. Alright, so, welcome to York College, South Jamaica and to Jamaica, the home of the Governor. Thank you. That’s all.

Senator Leroy Comrie: Good morning everyone. I’m Leroy Comrie, I’m honored to be State Senator for the 14th Senate district. I want to thank everyone that has been involved in making today happen, the Governor, President Eanes and York College, my colleagues in elected office who have been championing for this to happen and asking for this to happen, and yelling for this to happen, since the first day that we found out that the vaccine was available. And the governor is right, unfortunately, the past president did a horrible job is making sure that the vaccination was ready and wide distribution for people. He did a horrible job because even a year ago today he was still not understanding that we had a crisis and hadn’t dealt with it but, you know, now we have an opportunity with this site here today at York college and I want to say that I’m proud of our community. I want to thank all the ministers that on Sunday and even before as soon as they found out about the opportunity that the site was here and the link was up that we have over 20,000 people registered for this site already. So, I think we did give our ministers in our community and our elected officials in this area a round of applause.

I qualify, you can figure that, I qualify, so I’m getting my shot today and it’s not going to be by the Governor because I have to stay healthy even though he’s been salivating at the idea ever since he heard about it, but you know, I’m getting this shot because I want the community to see and Councilmember Adams got the shot over the weekend. Thanks to the Governor, we had a pop-up site there with 700 slots. We filled those 700 slots within a half a day those slots got filled. So, there is a desire in this community for the vaccine. There’s a desire and a need to make sure that vaccination comes straight to the community so they can have easy access to it. So, that’s why we’re here at York College.

We have a parking lot for people so they don’t have to worry about parking. I know people in the community are worried because it’s near the train and normally you can’t park here in the morning. We do have a parking lot for accessibility, it’s right on the ground full level in the gym, so people can understand that you don’t have to walk upstairs. You could come right in. It’s a great site and I want to thank the Governor. I want to thank the FEMA person that is here, I didn’t catch your name, and I want to thank all of my colleagues in government who we have been continuously working together closer than ever to make sure that we deliver resources for the community. Thank you all for being here this morning.

Bishop Calvin Rice: Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for your leadership throughout this crisis and thanks to our federal partners who are here this morning for bringing this site to Queens. This site is being opened specifically for our community in Queens. It’s being made available to folks in this and surrounding zip codes. We need to come out and fill every spot and use every tool that’s available for vaccination. You need to come and get it.

This site represents the Governors mission to make sure everyone can access the vaccine. He did not just say it, he did it. I think the vast majority of clergy here this morning in Queens would agree that this site is needed and it is welcome. I know those gathered behind me this early, this early Wednesday morning – they believe that and they rejoice to see this venue open.

Pastor Andrea Hargett, St. Matthews AME Church. Reverend Darryl Frazier, pastor of the Majority Baptist Church. Bishop H. Curtis Douglas, senior pastor Dabar Bethlehem Cathedral. Reverend Dr. Les Mullins, senior pastor, Community Church of the Nazarene and Founder and CEO of Challenge Preparatory Charter School. Reverend Patrick O’Connor, my good friend here in Jamaica right up the block, pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Reverend Jeffrey Thompson, pastor of the Amity Baptist Church here in Jamaica.

We have seen what our communities look like fighting COVID without the vaccine and it’s painful. I cannot count the number of colleagues and friends and relatives that have been taken by this virus. Now it’s time to show what our community can do when we get help and when we help each other.

I got vaccinated myself on February 8 and felt no pain, just a slight soreness in the arm. I got the second shot the day after the big snow. I went outside and shoveled snow, came back inside and felt a little fatigued. Told my wife, I think I’m fatigued from the vaccination. She said, oh no. You old. I took issue with that, Governor, because she’s the same age I am. She said well I’m not tired. I said you didn’t shovel snow. Thank God there were no repercussions from it.

Bottom line, I believe God is working through the hands of this vaccine and through the hands of those who administer this vaccine. I feel that you need to come and take advantage of it. My mother taught me not to bite the hand that feeds you. Neither should we bite the hand of God that is reaching out to save us. It is people of every color and faith coming together to get vaccinated that were in the worst days of COVID.

I believe the vaccine is safe, it is our best tool to protect ourselves and each other and to restore our communities and our cities and our State and our country back to a state of normalcy. My fellow clergy members and I heard the Governor’s call to spread the word and we are here to help spread that word. We have joined together as leaders in faith to call on congregants, our community, our friends and our colleagues together to extend the clarity and call: come and get vaccinated. We have made it this far by faith and by believing in science.

As the scripture says, weeping may endure for a night. We’ve been weeping ever since last March, but joy comes this morning. Joy has come this morning. Come out and get vaccinated.

Governor Cuomo: Okay. This facility opens at 8 o’clock. We have a full schedule for today. Again, people in the zip codes that we’re talking about in these communities, you have priority up until Saturday. Call, make your appointment. Get a vaccine. You heard from more convincing people than myself. It’s safe, it’s right, it saves lives.

I want to thank everyone for getting up especially early. For me it wasn’t early, I’m normally in church by this time anyway in the morning. We’re now going to get on with some vaccinations. We’re going to have Senator Comrie get a vaccination and we’re going to get the pastor. I want to tell you something about the vaccine. I want you to watch Senator Comrie’s face when the vaccine goes in because you can tell a lot about a person the way they take that shot. You watch that face. It is a true test of character. I’m saying, I’ve known Senator Comrie for years, the man will not flinch.

Let’s go get that vaccine.

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