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Cuomo says President Biden sets a new tone and it matters

Office of the Governor
Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the 9/11 Memorial last year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a close ally of President Joe Biden, said it’s a “new day” with Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Cuomo also 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 he 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 didn’t 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 pandemic, 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 -- one each in Saratoga and Warren counties and two in Suffolk County.

For the second week in a row, New York will be receiving smaller-than-expected amounts of vaccine -- 250,000 doses instead of 300,000. About 7 million New Yorkers -- those 65 and older and essential workers -- are currently eligible for the vaccine.

“We don’t have enough supply,” said Cuomo, who added that at the current rate, it will take 7.5 months to get those on the eligible list vaccinated.  

The governor said he hopes 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 was 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 DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.