Andrew Cuomo on Sunday threatened to sue the Trump administration if they withhold a vaccine for his state, telling a Manhattan congregation that ‘enough people have died and enough injustice has been done during COVID.’
The New York governor and Donald Trump are engaged in an escalating war of words over the coronavirus vaccine.
Cuomo has said that, given Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, he appointed an independent panel of experts to certify the vaccine once it becomes available and reassure New Yorkers that it was safe. Several others states, including California, Nevada and Oregon, are doing the same.
Trump, angered by the slight, said that New York won’t get any vaccine.
From the pulpit of the Riverside Church on Sunday, where Martin Luther King spoke out against the Vietnam War and Nelson Mandela preached racial tolerance, Cuomo said that it was wrong to play games with a vaccine.
Andrew Cuomo spoke at Riverside Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on Sunday
Cuomo spoke from the pulpit where Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela spoke
‘There can be no more fundamental right in this moment than access to the vaccine,’ he said, describing the pandemic as a ‘low tide’ moment in America, when the tide went out and the bare facts were exposed.
He said that, under the federal government’s plan to distribute the vaccine via big name pharmacies and clinics, marginalized ethnic minority communities would lose out.
‘Any plan that intentionally burdens communities of color to hinder access to the vaccine deprives those communities of equal protection under the law and equal protection is enshrined in the Constitution of these United States,’ he said.
‘I tell you today if the Trump Administration does not change this plan and does not provide an equitable vaccine process, we will enforce our legal rights, we will bring legal action to protect New Yorkers.
‘We will fight to make sure every life is protected equally, because enough people have died and enough injustice has been done during COVID. It stops now. It stops with this vaccine.’
Donald Trump, pictured on November 13, is sparring with Cuomo over a COVID vaccine
Cuomo, who has a long history of combating Trump, insisted that the federal government needed to provide more money for states to implement the vaccine program.
New York state, hit hard by the pandemic, is currently $15 billion in debt.
On Sunday Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said that schools across the city will remain open on Monday as the positivity rate stayed below 3 per cent.
In a tweet on Sunday morning, the mayor wrote: ‘Today’s indicators are similar to yesterday: • 117 patients admitted to the hospital • 937 new cases • The test positivity 7-day average is 2.57%.’
He added: ‘Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got.’
On Friday, the citywide positivity rate had risen to 2.8 per cent after climbing for several weeks.
De Blasio warned parents to be ready for their children’s schools to shut once again.
Cuomo and de Blasio’s comments came a day after Trump accused Cuomo of ‘playing politics’ by ‘delaying’ a COVID-19 vaccine.
The president tweeted: ‘I LOVE NEW YORK! As everyone knows, the Trump Administration has produced a great and safe VACCINE far ahead of schedule.
‘Another Administration would have taken five years. The problem is, @NYGovCuomo said that he will delay using it, and other states WANT IT NOW…’
‘….We cannot waste time and can only give to those states that will use the Vaccine immediately.
‘Therefore the New York delay. Many lives to be saved, but we are ready when they are.
‘Stop playing politics!’
President Trump on Saturday accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of ‘playing politics’ by ‘delaying’ a COVID-19 vaccine
The president tweeted: ‘I LOVE NEW YORK! As everyone knows, the Trump Administration has produced a great and safe VACCINE far ahead of schedule.’
Trump continued: ‘We cannot waste time and can only give to those states that will use the Vaccine immediately. Therefore the New York delay. Many lives to be saved, but we are ready when they are. Stop playing politics!’
New Yorkers line up outside a CityMD clinic in Manhattan on Saturday to wait for COVID-19 test as cases across the city soar
New York residents have waited in line for hours in recent days as demand for testing has increased in light of a resurgence in cases
New Yorkers lined up in droves outside CityMD locations across the city on Saturday as a renewed spike in cases has led to increased demand for coronavirus testing.
The lines come as CityMD announced that it would scale back its hours at its 137 locations due to the strain on medical staffers who have had to work overtime to meet the rising demand in COVID-19 testing.
Starting on Monday, CityMD will close 90 minutes earlier, the company said in a statement to customers.
‘Our goal is to treat every person who needs care. Period. But unfortunately, we can’t stay open past our normal hours on a daily basis,’ the statement read.
‘Our site staff and doctors have been seeing patients well beyond normal closing time for months now and we’ve reached the point where they are sacrificing their own safety and health.’
CityMD said it will try to accommodate those who stood on the line just before closing but in extreme cases it may need to cut the line off.
Cuomo said he expects infection rates will keep increasing in New York and nationwide as the holiday season begins.
New York has reported more than 45,700 new coronavirus cases in the past 14 days.
The state is reporting an average of 4,163 new cases per day over the past seven days.
That’s nearly double the rate 11 days ago and quadruple where things stood at the end of September.
Trump said on Friday afternoon in the Rose Garden that a COVID vaccine would be available to the general public – ‘except for New York’.
The state has a population of 19.5 million.
On Friday night Cuomo responded to Trump’s announcement, describing Trump as a ‘bully’.
‘He tries to bully people – he tries to bully governors, he uses government as a retaliatory tool,’ Cuomo told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
‘I’m not going to let a bully push New Yorkers around, period.’
Trump on Saturday posted a video compilation of Fox News clips in which Cuomo is seen praising the president for helping New York in the early stages of the pandemic in March and April
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, said Trump was ‘a bully’ and vowed not to be intimidated
Trump’s ‘bullying’ of New York included withholding the vaccine. Cuomo said it was misguided.
‘As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exceptions of places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say: “I don’t think it’s good politically. I think it’s very bad from a health standpoint,” said Trump.
‘He wants to take his time with the vaccine. He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,’ Trump said.
‘He doesn’t trust the fact that it is this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say,’ the president said.
‘Governor Cuomo will have to let us know when he is ready for it. Otherwise, we can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t to be giving it to its people immediately. And I know many – I know the people of New York very well. I know they wanted, so the governor will let us know,’ he added.
He was referring to Cuomo’s comments on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday when he called the news of Pfizer’s breakthrough on a potential vaccine ‘good news, bad news.’
‘The good news is the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan,’ Cuomo said.
Trump said it was too bad the governor, who became a national figure based on his handling of the pandemic in his state, ‘doesn’t trust’ his White House.
Cuomo appeared on MSNBC less than an hour later to say that Trump’s charge was untrue and that he was ready to distribute the vaccine. ‘We’re all excited about the possibilities about a vaccine,’ he said.
He added: ‘He should be ashamed of himself. He uses the government as a retaliatory tool. That’s what he does.’
And he added: ‘None of what he says is true. Surprise, surprise. As soon as Trump delivers me a dose, I will be ready to administer it. Period.’
How will the states’ independent vaccine panels work?
Governors of five Democrat states – New York, California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon – have said they will appoint a panel of independent experts to look at the vaccines once they are approved by the FDA.
The FDA chief is appointed by the president: currently it is Stephen Hahn.
Donald Trump said on Friday that a COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available for all Americans by April, except for New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately responded, saying: ‘There will be no delay.’
None of the five states have said how long the panels will take to approve the vaccines.
Trump said that New York will not get the vaccine until they have declared they are ready. New York needs the vaccine, to test whether it is up to standard.
Possibly Pfizer – or whoever is first – or the federal government will hand over a small sample of vaccine for the independent panel to test; once the panel is happy, distribution will proceed.
Pfizer is under contract to supply the US government with an initial order of 100 million doses for $1.95 billion.
It is unclear if they can sell to others, such as individual states.
On September 24 Cuomo announced he was forming a Clinical Advisory Task Force.
Their job, according to his office, is to ‘review every COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government, and will advise New York State on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in fighting the virus.’
On September 29 he named seven people to the task force.
On October 19 Gavin Newsom, governor of California, named his 11-person panel, chaired by Dr Arthur L. Reingold, the head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UC Berkeley, School of Public Health.
The 11 people will make up the COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
According to Newsom’s office, the group ‘will independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that receives FDA approval for distribution.’
California has also created a Drafting Guidelines Workgroup comprised of immunization, public health, ethicists, health care and academic experts who will work to develop California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccines.
On October 27 Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined the California panel.