New York Daily News

Gov gives vax pep talk as budget, scandals drag on

- BY DENIS SLATTERY DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF

ALBANY — As budget negotiatio­ns stretch days past deadline and scandals engulf his administra­tion, Gov. Cuomo again surrounded himself with supporters Monday and spoke about COVID vaccinatio­n efforts.

In his home borough, the governor (inset) was lauded by local elected officials, including Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) at the opening of a popup vaccinatio­n site in Rochdale Village in southeast Queens.

“We are doing everything we can to do this equitably and fair.

We are bringing the vaccines to the Black community, to the Latino community, 189 popup vaccine sites in communitie­s of color,” Cuomo said to applause.

Cuomo has hosted several similarly press-free events featuring political allies in recent weeks as multiple women, including current staffers, have come forward with claims of sexual harassment and inappropri­ate behavior.

With vaccine eligibilit­y opening up to all New Yorkers older than 16 starting Tuesday, the governor remains focused on defeating COVID and encouragin­g minorities to get immunized.

He announced the “Roll Up Your Sleeve” campaign, a new initiative to encourage Black and Latino residents to sign up for a coronaviru­s shot as more sites open and doses become more widely available.

Neither Cuomo, nor Meeks, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, made any mention of the state attorney general investigat­ion into the governor’s conduct or the impeachmen­t inquiry being conducted by the Assembly.

The governor is also facing a federal probe into allegation­s that top state officials intentiona­lly withheld the true number of coronaviru­s deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic. Questions have also been raised about VIP testing access granted to Cuomo’s friends and family early on in the crisis when supplies were scarce.

“We forget that the administra­tion in Washington, D.C., did not have a clue, or if they did, they were not telling us the truth as to what was going on,” Meeks said. “[Cuomo] was going to doctors and scientists and as they were changing what they were saying, as they started realizing, he would come and give us that informatio­n on the spot.

“Informatio­n that we need to try to move forward to save lives because around the world, we did not know, we had never seen anything like this in 100 years . ... We owe him a deep debt of thanks and gratitude,” he added.

Cuomo’s recent appearance­s, including a Harlem event late last month during which the governor himself was vaccinated, have had the air of campaign rallies albeit with COVID recovery-themed stump speeches. Dozens of lawmakers, including a large number of Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, have called on the governor to resign.

“We are now in the season of renewal and we have to make it a season of renewal — it doesn’t just happen,” he continued. “Renewal requires effort. You have to see a different reality and you have to make it happen, and that’s where we are now.”

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