New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he had planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration but won’t now, preferring to stay close in case of demonstrations at the state Capitol building in Albany.
At a press briefing Monday, Cuomo also said New York’s Covid-19 cases are falling after a holiday surge. But clamor for the vaccine is rising – after the Federal government expanded eligibility, but without shipping more doses — so he’s asked NY-based Pfizer if the state could purchase them directly.
Authorities in all 50 states are on high alert for possible unrest on inauguration day Wednesday by pro-Trump demonstrators following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 to disrupt the electoral count.
“I was planning to go to the inauguration. I will not be going. There is talk about demonstrations at state Capitols, and advisories … We have made preparations here with the state police. I think my place is to stay in New York state,” he said. “If there’s a possible situation here at the Capitol, I want to be at the Capitol. I sent my best wishes to President-elect Biden… It’s going to be a great day.”
In welcome news, he said the Covid-19 positivity rate in New York is falling – Manhattan is a very contained 3.48% — and hospitalizations slowing. But he slammed outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for promising but not delivering more doses after the federal government “created expectations” by expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone 65 or over.
They “created a wave of expectation. They said there would be more supply to meet the wave they were creating, and now they did a total 180 on whether or not there will be more allocation. If you look at what are getting, it has not gone up,” Cuomo said. He asked the CEO of pharma giant Pfizer, which happens to be based in New York, to sell the state doses directly.
“We are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers. After myself and seven other governors called on the Trump Administration to release more doses, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that relief was on the way. To date, however, the federal government has not acted on that promise — in fact, New York will receive just 250,000 doses this week, 50,000 fewer than the week prior. Because you are not bound by commitments that Moderna made as part of Operation Warp Speed, I am requesting that the State of New York be permitted to directly purchase doses from you,” said the letter to Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla.
“Shifting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drove the number of New Yorkers eligible and prioritized for the vaccine from 5 million to 7 million practically overnight. The federal administration essentially opened up a floodgate while cutting our supply — leading to confusion, frustration, and dashed hopes.”
Cuomo said that despite NY’s gains against Covid, three new, more infectious strains identified in the U.K., South African and Brazil are worrisome. “Any of these strains could be a second wave,” he said.
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