Vaccinations, boosting economy top Cuomo 2021 agenda

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:30 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:38 AM EST
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his 10th State of the State address to New Yorkers Monday.

Everything was virtual to help prevent any spread of COVID-19 and the governor said he plans to deliver his speech this year in parts.

I caught up with Political Scientist Harvey Schantz to help break things down.

“A major theme throughout the speech was how Washington, D.C., was letting down New York state,” said Schantz, a political scientist at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The governor spent a majority of the beginning of his speech talking about how COVID-19 has changed New York and how the federal government and our health care system were not prepared for a crisis such as this.

“It is time for an entirely new way of thinking about public health systems. Our nation’s public health was just not prepared for this,” said Cuomo, D-New York.

The governor laid out his goals for the year, including more green energy and addressing social justice. But most of his priorities centered on defeating COVID, vaccinations and managing the short-term economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Last year, for example, Governor Cuomo issues 34 policy proposals before the State of the State. This year, there was only eight policy proposals,” Schantz said.

The state is facing a $15 billion budget deficit in large part due to the impacts of the pandemic. Cuomo repeated his call for Washington to provide more relief.

“He said in his speech specifically that our money went to fund 42 other states. So it really bothers him that we give more to the federal government than they give to us,” Schantz said.

The governor says he wants to legalize marijuana and mobile sports betting and wants to be the green energy capital of the world-- proposals similar to those he made in last year’s State of the State. The Democrat says he will introduce a new telehealth bill after it was proven to be useful this past year in the pandemic, especially in rural communities.

“COVID showed us the limits of our health system but it also showed innovation. Telehealth was invaluable in keeping people remote while providing care,” Cuomo said.

The governor called for better broadband service, something that will have a direct impact on people of the North Country.

“Thought about it as an issue of economic inequality in the city but it’s also an issue in rural areas where not everyone has a compliant broadband hookup,” Schantz said.

The Governor dedicated a lot of the speech to Vaccinations.

He says in order to reach herd immunity in New York, 70 to 90 percent of the 20 million people who live in this state, need to get the vaccine.

The Governor says right now the state has one million doses for over 4 million eligible people. He said it will take months with that amount of dosage coming in to vaccinate and that the federal government needs to make more doses available.

He said the state is going to help step in and open vaccination sites in communities, including in Plattsburgh. We checked in with Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman to see how Plattsburgh landed on the state’s radar, “We’ve been advocating with our full-throated voiced for many months that we wanted to be first in line when there was an opportunity when there was a vaccination.” He said, “I think it needs to be clearly said that there are still many details that need to be defined by this and we are patiently waiting for them. it was very exciting to see the confirmation from the governor’s secretary that Plattsburgh will indeed be one of the sites hopefully starting next week.”

There is still a lot of planning on what the event will look like.

Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, tweeted out during the speech that Plattsburgh would have a site. Her tweet says it will be a “drive-thru” at the airport.

Of course, those who want to be vaccinated still need to fit in the state’s guidelines of who is eligible for one.

Town Supervisor Michael Cashman says he expects to learn more in the coming days but it will not be the town putting the event on.

Next Phase of Vaccinations

Beginning on Monday, another phase of vaccinations launched in New York. It includes people who work at police offices and state offices, like the DMV, teachers, corrections staff, Airline and airport employees and people living in a homeless shelter.

However, experts say although the groups of people are eligible, they’re restricted on how many doses of the vaccine are available to actually give out. There will be information coming on how to register for a vaccine.

This comes as two more people reportedly died from COVID-19 in Clinton County. That brings the death toll in the county to 11.

The Clinton County Health Department also reports 173 new positive cases. The 7-day average percent positive in Clinton County is 6.8%.

Again, the governor said Monday’s address was only an overview. He says in the coming days he will hold three other addresses with a deeper look at plans of action.

Click here to read the governor’s remarks or watch the video below to see the State of the State.

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