President Trump and other Republican leaders have resisted handing out too much aid to New York out of concern that state leaders are seeking a bailout for economic trouble that began well before COVID-19 ravaged the nation.
“Washington has … literally have taken billions of dollars from us, and that was a function of the Senate and the president, and they are both gone,” Cuomo said during a Wednesday press briefing. “And today, Washington theft ends and compensation for the victims of the crimes of the past four years begins. New Yorkers have been crime victims by the theft of the federal government.”
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, pauses while speaking during a news conference in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
He continued: “Our message to Washington is going to be very clear: We want a return of the state’s property that was stolen by Washington over the past four years. They wouldn’t pay us state and local funding, even though this state has a $15 billion deficit that was caused directly from COVID, which was caused directly from federal negligence.”
Earlier in the briefing, Cuomo congratulated Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., for his projected new title as Senate majority leader after Georgia Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were projected to win the state’s runoff elections. Cuomo said Georgia’s election results “bode well for New York.”
The New York governor also said the state’s slow vaccine rollout was due in part to the federal government’s distribution timeline.
His comments came amid criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has accused Cuomo of botching the state’s rollout due to strict vaccine distribution guidelines meant to serve about 2 million New York health care workers before serving any other groups.
“We haven’t even received half the number of dosages yet” for hospital and nursing home staff, Cuomo said. “We’re still receiving about 300,000 dosages per week from the federal government, and that means we need about 2.1 million dosages just to get through the health care workers and [nursing home residents].”
Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool)
New York’s health care workers are listed under the “1A” group, which will receive vaccines first before those in “1B,” or essential workers and those over 75 years old, can start being inoculated. Essential workers include first responders, teachers and public transportation workers, making up about 6 million people.
“It would take us weeks to work through this population, if not months,” the governor said.
Between 70% and 90% of New Yorkers must be vaccinated in order for the state to reach herd immunity, Cuomo added later.
“Flip side is that the federal government will be increasing production,” Cuomo said. “They say they will. I believe they will, and frankly, the private market is increasing production. Pfizer, Moderna will be increasing. Johnson & Johnson – we’re keeping our fingers crossed for their efficacy test.”
The governor took another swing at the federal government later for not mandating COVID-19 testing for international travelers flying into New York airports as a U.K. mutation of the disease begins to appear within the U.S.
“We don’t want tens of thousands of people coming through our airports every day from countries around the world who were not tested,” he said. “It’s just that simple, and it makes total and common sense.”