COVID-19 dominated Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “State of the State” address as he looked forward to a rosier 2021 after a rough 2020, and vowed to win the war on the virus.
In his 11th “State of the State” address, Cuomo’s agenda spoke of “Reminding, Rebuilding, and Renewing” New York as it combats COVID-19 and faces a questionable economy with a $15 billion deficit following a near year of battling the pandemic.
“Do you remember last spring?", Cuomo stated. "Do you remember what New Yorkers did in their darkest hour? I will never forget it. When COVID ambushed New York and we went from one case to hundreds of cases in a matter of days.
“When sirens filled the night, stillness and mass graves were dug on Hart Island. When fear gripped New Yorkers like a vise. When global experts told us there was no way we could slow the spread,” he continued. “But New Yorkers said yes we could and yes we would. New Yorkers united and rose to the occasion. That is New York at her best - that is the New York miracle.”
In his address, Cuomo laid out seven measures the state will need to take to rebound from 2020, which he said he plans to go into more detail during speeches planned for later this week:
- Defeat COVID-19;
- Vaccinate 70 percent to 90 percent of New Yorkers;
- Address the short-term economic crisis;
- Seize the opportunity to transition to green energy;
- Become the first state to anticipate how COVID will impact lives and capitalize on opportunities;
- Address the “systemic injustice experienced during this low tide in America.”
“Time and again we have heard the voices of doubt and defeat,” Cuomo said. "The state can't do a budget on time. We can't enact common-sense gun safety, we can't pass marriage equality, we can't raise the minimum wage, we can't fix subway tunnels, we can't build a new Tappan Zee Bridge, we can't turn around the Buffalo economy, we can't end the AIDS epidemic, we can't provide free college tuition for the middle class, we can't construct a new Penn train hall.
“But they were wrong. We did.”
Cuomo also used his address to take a parting shot at President Donald Trump's federal administration, demanding that the government help close the budget deficit many states and local municipalities are facing.
"The federal government has failed to realize that this is a national crisis," he said. "This is not a state crisis. They delegated responsibility for COVID to the governors, then failed to provide the resources.
"Washington passed the buck without passing the bucks," Cuomo added. "This is a war, and like all other wars, it should be paid for by the federal government."'
During his address, Cuomo said that the COVID-19 crisis could serve as an opportunity to create jobs, improve infrastructure, complete new projects, and reimagine how the state does business.
“There are moments in life that can change a person fundamentally - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” the governor said. “Likewise, there are episodes in history that transform society and COVID is one of those moments. We see the risk and peril, but we also see the promise and potential of this moment.
“This next year we will see economies realign and reset around the world and New York will lead the way,” Cuomo said. “In a moment when nagging insecurity can either limit your potential or give way to the energy of urgency, necessity, and innovation, we know the direction we are headed - it is our state motto, Excelsior- ever upwards."
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