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Scandal-hit Cuomo brings speakers on stage to THANK him for his leadership during the pandemic

Andrew Cuomo invited community leaders on stage to thank him for his leadership amid the pandemic on Tuesday, as the embattled governor announced that all New Yorkers over 60 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting tomorrow. 

Cuomo, 63, who will also now be eligible to receive a shot of the vaccine under the latest phase of the roll-out, made the announcement from the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse during a daily press briefing. 

The governor declined to open up the floor for questioning for the second day in a row, as he continues to face calls to resign after being accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by five women, including four former aides. 

Cuomo did however reveal that he is ‘going to take’ the vaccine and will be making an appointment to receive a shot in the coming days. 

‘We want to stop this virus? We have to stop the virus,’ he urged. ‘How do you win a war? You go out and defeat the enemy, the enemy doesn’t defeat themselves.’ 

Under the latest roll-out phase, everyone over the age of 60 can start making appointments to receive a jab at any vaccination site, including pharmacies, starting 8am Wednesday. Before the change, only those age 65 and up qualified.

Additionally, even more residents will be eligible to receive vaccines from March 17, including public-facing government employees, public-facing building workers and workers ‘providing necessary services’ at nonprofit organizations. 

During Tuesday’s conference, Cuomo also invited a number of local figures on stage, many of whom offered fawning remarks thanking him for his ‘trailblazing’ leadership and for continuing to ‘stand tall’ in the fight against the virus. 

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Cuomo, 63, who will also now be eligible to receive a shot of the vaccine under the latest phase of the roll-out, said he will be making an appointment to receive one soon

Among those singing Cuomo’s praises was Ann Marie Taliercio, a representative of the Central New York Labor Federation, who said without his ‘leadership since March, many of us wouldn’t be here today.’

‘Governor I want to personally thank you. Because for this whole year, I knew Gov. Cuomo and the state of New York – his team – had my back,’ she began. 

‘It’s always an honor to be with you. Especially when you bring good news about more vaccines. But you know, I was thinking these words over [her script] and I thought, “When doesn’t he come with good news?”’

Cuomo accepted the praise with a bow. Taliercio then trailed off with remarks about how important it is to take the vaccine as soon as possible, before circling back to the governor. 

‘Your efforts have saved lives,’ she said turning to face Cuomo. ‘If it wasn’t for your leadership since March, I believe central new York would’ve be ravaged. That virus would’ve got off the plane in Syracuse.

‘And I think a lot of us are here today because of your quick actions – I mean this,’ she said, placing her hand across her chest. ‘Thank you.’

Among those singing Cuomo’s praises was Ann Marie Taliercio (left), a representative of the Central New York Labor Federation, who said without his ‘leadership since March, many of us wouldn’t be here today’

Rev. Decardo Draper, the Head Pastor of Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, also offered high praise for Cuomo, calling him a ‘trailblazer’ who ‘rose to the occasion’ of the pandemic. 

‘We want to say to you today, thank you not only for your leadership in not only New York but in our nation,’ he said. ‘It was you who was a trailblazer for us, in the midst of uncertain, uncanny and unscrupulous leadership, we thank you that you rose to the occasion.

‘New York was a trailblazer for COVID-19 as other states fought the virus,’ Draper added. 

The reverend then concluded by reading out a bible passage that he told Cuomo he wanted him to be ‘encouraged by’.

‘Now unto him who was able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can ask of them,’ he said. 

Cuomo then stepped back up to the podium to share that he will be speaking to the White House later this afternoon. 

He said he was going to tell the Biden Administration only two words: ‘More. Vaccines’.

Cuomo exited the stage without taking questions from reporters, the second time he’s done so in as many days.  

Rev. Decardo Draper, the Head Pastor of Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, also offered high praise for Cuomo, calling him a 'trailblazer' who 'rose to the occasion' of the pandemic

Rev. Decardo Draper, the Head Pastor of Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, also offered high praise for Cuomo, calling him a ‘trailblazer’ who ‘rose to the occasion’ of the pandemic

Cuomo said that everyone over the age of 60 can start making appointments to receive a jab at any vaccination site, including pharmacies starting 8am Wednesday

Cuomo said that everyone over the age of 60 can start making appointments to receive a jab at any vaccination site, including pharmacies starting 8am Wednesday

Earlier in the briefing, Cuomo announced the age requirement for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will change from over 65, down to over 60 effective Wednesday morning. 

‘We’re going to drop the 65-year-old-plus to 60-year-old-plus and that’s going to start tomorrow,’ he said. ’60-year-old-plus are going to be available, they can start making appointments tomorrow. They can make them at the mass vaccination sites they can make them, at pharmacies, but that will start 8 am tomorrow.’

Additionally, the governor said beginning March 17, all vaccination sites will be able to vaccinate anyone who is currently eligible, except from pharmacies.

‘So whether you’re going to a county-run site, a city-run site — every site can vaccinate everyone who is eligible with one exception: Pharmacies will still only be doing 60-plus and teachers,’ Gov. Cuomo said. ‘Pharmacies will do 60-plus and teachers — we want to get those schools open. Every other site will be doing every other person who is eligible.’

Further eligibility for public-facing employees will also come into effect on March 17.

Cuomo called such workers ‘every day heroes’ who are ‘out there doing their job, they’re putting themselves in a possible exposure.’

The governor reiterated that the vaccine is safe and implored New Yorkers to get the shot as soon as they’re eligible. 

‘Let’s get our lives back to normal … this vaccine is the ticket, we just have to make it happen,’ he said. 

Cuomo toured the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse on Wednesday, which has become  the second largest mass-vaccination site in the country

Cuomo toured the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse on Wednesday, which has become  the second largest mass-vaccination site in the country

The governor’s briefing came after New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday appointed a former federal prosecutor and an employment lawyer to investigate allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed female aides. 

Joon Kim, who was the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for parts of 2017 and 2018, will join employment lawyer Anne Clark in conducting the probe.

‘There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve,’ James said in a statement. 

An attorney for Charlotte Bennett, one of the former aides alleging harassment, said the appointment of Kim and Clark shows how ‘seriously’ James is taking the investigation.

Similarly, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who would succeed Cuomo if he leaves office, also issued a statement saying she has confidence in the sexual harassment probe.

‘With yesterday’s announcement launching the independent investigation led by [Kim and Clark], I am confident everyone’s voice will be heard and taken seriously.

‘I trust the inquiry to be completed as thoroughly as possible. New Yorkers should be confident that through this process they will soon learn the facts,’ Hochul added. 

Five women have publicly accused Cuomo of either sexually harassing behavior or inappropriate conduct in the workplace — after two more, Karen Hinton, 62, and Ana Liss, 35, came forward with allegations of their own late Saturday. 

Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.

Her claims were followed by Hinton, who recalled for the Washington Post about an incident in which Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000. Hinton said she tried to pull away from Cuomo, but claims he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room. 

Ana Liss, 35, (pictured above) previously served as Cuomo's policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015 but claims he subjected her to sexual misconduct during her time in his administration

Karen Hinton claims the governor summoned her to his 'dimly lit' hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape

Ana Liss, 35, (pictured left) previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015 but claims he subjected her to sexual misconduct during her time in his administration. Karen Hinton (right) claims the governor summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape

In total, five women have come forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said one accuser's claims were 'not true'

In total, five women have come forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said one accuser’s claims were ‘not true’

Similar to Liss, Cuomo’s former executive assistant, Charlotte Bennett, 25, revealed last week that the governor had quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she had relationships with older men.  

Lindsey Boylan also revealed in a February Medium post that the governor had tried to kiss her on the lips in his office and suggested they play strip poker during a 2017 flight. Cuomo’s office has said these claims are false. 

A third accuser, Anna Ruch, 33, then came forward telling the New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding. 

During a Monday press briefing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believes ‘more information’ will come out about the harassment claims that will make it hard for Cuomo to govern.

De Blasio, however, stopped short of directly stating whether he believed Cuomo should resign. 

‘I just don’t see how he can govern effectively when fewer and fewer people believe him,’ he said. ‘I think there’s more information that’s going to come out that makes it harder and harder.’ 

Charlotte Bennett (above), 25, worked as an aide for Cuomo. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her 'terrified'

Charlotte Bennett (above), 25, worked as an aide for Cuomo. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her ‘terrified’

Anna Ruch (above) alleges that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan

Lindsey Boylan, 36, claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and legs

Anna Ruch, 33, (left) claimed Cuomo behaved inappropriately at a Manhattan wedding in September 2019.  Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and leg

Hizzoner’s remarks came in the wake of a statement issued by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) on Sunday, who urged Cuomo to step down as governor ‘for the good of the state.’   

‘Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,’ Stewart-Cousins, the second most powerful elected official in Albany wrote. ‘We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the COVID-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project. 

‘New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.’

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued a similar statement regarding the allegations against Cuomo without the call for his resignation.

Cuomo remains adamant he will not resign on the basis of the allegations and said he will wait until a full investigation into the claims is concluded

He struck a defiant tone during a Sunday conference call with reporters, in which he stated there was ‘no way’ he’d step down, adding those calling for his resignation were ‘undemocratic’.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) said Monday he believes 'more information' will come out about the harassment claims that will make it hard for Cuomo to govern

Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) said Monday he believes ‘more information’ will come out about the harassment claims that will make it hard for Cuomo to govern

Amid the mounting controversy, Crown Publishing Group, the publisher of Cuomo’s book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic, has paused all promotion of the self-congratulatory memoir.

Andrew Cuomo's book publisher has stopped all future promotion of his self-congratulatory COVID-19 memoir as he faces allegations of sexual harassment and a cover up of the virus death toll in nursing homes

Andrew Cuomo’s book publisher has stopped all future promotion of his self-congratulatory COVID-19 memoir as he faces allegations of sexual harassment and a cover up of the virus death toll in nursing homes

The company, which is a division of Penguin Random House, said it also has ‘no plans to reprint or reissue in paperback’, attributing the decision to ‘the ongoing investigation into N.Y.S. reporting of Covid-related fatalities in nursing homes’. 

It was reported Monday that Cuomo received a seven figure advance for the book – after Crown believed it had found ‘another political star’.

But sales were already said to be plummeting in the wake of the dual scandals plaguing the New York governor, according to Vanity Fair. NPD BookScan data shows around 400 copies were sold between January 23 and February 27.

A spokesman for BookScan told the outlet: ‘We can confirm that the title’s sales have dropped in the last five weeks, and for context, this is not reflective of a larger market trend.’

The book had already been widely panned when it was published in October last year as the virus continued to rage in the state and around the world. Since its publication more than 15,000 New Yorkers have died from the virus.

It focused on Cuomo’s Emmy award winning daily briefings and his handling of the crisis from March to June last year. Cuomo had been widely praised for his pandemic response but has seen a sharp fall from grace in recent weeks.

He did address nursing home deaths in the book, writing: ‘Republicans needed an offense to distract from the narrative of their botched federal response — and they needed it badly. So they decided to attack Democratic governors and blame them for nursing home deaths.’


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