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Cuomo Says President Biden Sets A New Tone, And It Matters

President Joe Biden and N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo
Richard Drew
President Joe Biden and N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a close ally of President Joe Biden, said it’s a “new day” with the inauguration of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, but said he remains concerned about the slow manufacture of vaccines that could finally end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo said he’s thrilled to be able to say “President Biden,” and believes the new president will bring a more loving and healing presence to the nation’s leadership. The governor, who frequently sparred with former President Donald Trump, said the message of resiliency in Biden’s speech matters.

“The president is not just another person on Twitter, normally,” said Cuomo. “The president is a leader, a tone setter.”

Cuomo said he chose not to attend the inauguration because he did not want to leave Albany when there were threats of potentially violent pro-Trump protests at all 50 state Capitols. The security at New York’s Capitol has been hardened in recent days, with street closures, chain link fences and concrete barriers. State troopers, some with assault rifles, and National Guard members have been patrolling outside and inside the building. But the protests did not materialize. Only one demonstrator was spotted, Cuomo said.

“The demonstration in New York was, I think it’s fair to say, less robust than anticipated,” the governor said.

The governor spoke during a briefing on the coronavirus, where he reported that the statewide positivity rate is at 6.84%, and 185 New Yorkers died of the disease Tuesday. Four new cases of the more contagious U.K. variant of the virus have been found, two in Saratoga and two in Suffolk County.

For the second week in a row, New York will be receiving less than the expected doses of vaccine, and will get 250,000 instead of 300,000. Seven million New Yorkers — those 65 and older and essential workers — are the only ones eligible for the vaccine, presently.

“We don’t have supply,” said Cuomo who says at the current rate it will take seven and a half months to get those on the eligible list vaccinated.

The governor said he hopes President Biden will be able to follow up on his promise to ramp up production soon.

Cuomo also said he got an answer to his Monday letter asking Pfizer to sell vaccine directly to New York. He’s told that it’s illegal, because the vaccine manufacturers are operating under a federal emergency order that limits their ability to sell the drug to anyone other than the federal government.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.