New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received Johnson & Johnson‘s coronavirus vaccine during a visit to a pop-up vaccination site at a church in Harlem on Wednesday as the state surpassed seven million doses administered.
Cuomo gave brief remarks at an event at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church, saying that he wanted to get his shot on camera to help boost New Yorkers’ confidence in all three vaccines available.
‘Today I’m going to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because I want to make the point: “Take whatever vaccine you can take,”‘ he said. ‘They all work, they are all safe, don’t try to pick one over the other.’
The governor noted that as an essential government worker he could have gotten vaccinated weeks ago, but said he waited until the shots were more widely available to marginalized groups hit hardest by the pandemic.
‘Communities that suffered most should be first on the vaccine line,’ he said.
Cuomo did not take any questions from reporters at the event, nor did he address the sexual harassment allegations that have dogged his administration in recent weeks.
He did, however, take questions at a briefing on Wednesday afternoon – but refused to talk about the allegations. It came as a plane was spotted flying over the Capitol in Albany with a banner that read: ‘New Yorkers say Cuomo’s got to go.’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine during a visit to a pop-up vaccination site at a church in Harlem on Wednesday
Cuomo gave brief remarks at an event at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church, saying that he wanted to get his jab on camera to help boost New Yorkers’ confidence in all three vaccines
‘Today I’m going to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because I want to make the point: “Take whatever vaccine you can take,”‘ Cuomo said. ‘They all work, they are all safe, don’t try to pick one over the other’
‘The Assembly announced a law firm to conduct their review [of the allegations],’ Cuomo told reporters on a conference call.
‘I’m not going to take any questions or have any comments on the review. At this time, let the lawyers do the job and let them conduct the review.’
The first reporter up during the Q&A portion of the briefing ignored Cuomo’s warning and brought up specific allegations from one of his earliest accusers, 15-year-old former aide Charlotte Bennett.
Cuomo refused to answer, saying: ‘I won’t comment on issues that are subject to the review.’
A plane was spotted flying over the Capitol in Albany on Wednesday with a banner that read: ‘New Yorkers say Cuomo’s got to go’
Cuomo announced that the state has administered over seven million shots on Wednesday
Instead the governor appeared to try to shift the spotlight away from the scandal by announcing that the state is expanding vaccine eligibility beginning Wednesday to include more than 12 million New Yorkers.
The newly-eligible group includes social service and child service caseworkers; sanitation and DMV workers; county clerks, building service, nonprofit and election workers; public works employees and government inspectors.
Notably left off that list were journalists, despite the fact that they were labeled as essential workers at the start of the pandemic.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly called for Cuomo to make journalists eligible, telling the New York Times this week: ‘Certainly members of the media should be vaccinated.’
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that journalists be eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1C of distribution – which is already underway in New York.
Cuomo also announced the opening of 10 new mass vaccination sites, bring the total across the state to 23.
As of Wednesday New York has administered more than seven million vaccine doses, Cuomo said, with more than a million of those going into arms in the past week, according to the state website.
Nearly 4.8 million people, or 22.9 percent of the population, have received at least one dose and 2.375 million, or 11.8 percent, are fully vaccinated.
Cuomo announced the opening of 10 new mass vaccination sites, bring the total across the state to 23. Pictured: People line up outside the Javits Center in New York to receive a vaccine
The list of New Yorkers eligible for a vaccine as of March 17 is shown above
In recent days Cuomo has sought to change the conversation around his administration back to the pandemic as the media has focused heavily on the sexual harassment allegations levied against him by multiple women.
‘He’s focused on the budget, he is focused on getting vaccines into arms and he is focused on continuing to reopen the economy and rebuild following this health and economic crisis,’ an aide to the governor told CNN on Tuesday.
‘Those are his focuses, and he is working every day to advance the ball on those things.’
Cuomo has denied all the misconduct allegations against him but promised to cooperate with an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
President Joe Biden weighed in on the scandal in an interview on Tuesday night with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos.
‘I know you said you want the investigation to continue,’ Stephanopoulos said. ‘If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?’
‘Yes,’ Biden responded. ‘I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.’
‘Takes a lot of courage to come forward,’ Biden added in recognition of the women who have made allegations. ‘So, the presumption is they should be taken seriously. And it should be investigated. And that’s what’s underway now.’
The president also said ‘a woman should be presumed telling the truth and should not be scapegoated and become victimized by her coming forward.’
As for whether or not Cuomo can still lead New York, Biden said ‘that’s a judgment for them to make,’ in reference to some of the senators who have asked for Cuomo to resign, including Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.
Former US Representative Charlie Rangel of New York stood up for Cuomo at the vaccine event in Harlem on Wednesday, saying that the governor deserves ‘due process’.
‘Due process and hearing is basically what we believe in in this country,’ Rangel said.
‘Back off until you’ve got facts, and at the same time thank the governor for what you have done, what you are doing and what you will do.’
Cuomo greets reporters outside Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on Wednesday
Cuomo gives a thumbs up as he leaves Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on Wednesday