NEW YORK Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the Trump Administration as “incompetent” after the president threatened to withhold a coronavirus vaccine from the state.
President Donald Trump, during remarks from the Rose Garden providing an update on Operation Warp Speed on Friday, said that a vaccine will be available as soon as April “with the exception of places like New York State.”
“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York state, where, for political reasons, the governor decided … he wants to take his time with the vaccine,” Trump said.
He added: “He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from.”
Cuomo called into MSNBC Live with Katy Tur on Friday evening to address the president’s remarks and previous comments the governor had made.
“Katy, none of what he said is true. Surprise, surprise. We're all excited about the possibilities about a vaccine. It's not that people don't trust the vaccine companies, the pharmaceutical companies,” Cuomo said.
He added: “Pfizer is a great New York company, Regeneron is a great New York company, but an overwhelming percentage of Americans are worried about political interference in the vaccination process and the approval process by the President.”
Cuomo assured viewers that the approval process and distribution of the vaccine would be “concurrent” but handled in a way to “build confidence in people.”
The governor went on to lambast the president, who “lost in New York State in the election by a huge margin,” for his credibility.
“You have New York prosecutors who are investigating the President for tax fraud. So he has issues with New York and he likes to point to New York. But this is his issue. It's his credibility issue,” Cuomo said.
He added: “It's the fear that he politicized the health process of this nation which is a well-founded fear.”
More than 62 percent of Americans, including 35 percent of Republicans, believe political pressure from the Trump Administration would cause the approval process of a vaccine to be rushed by the US Food and Drug Administration, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Tur later asked Cuomo about the logistics of distributing a coronavirus vaccine and who would receive it first.
“Well that's my point. You know, the federal government on COVID has been very short on details and has frankly been incompetent in the administration. In New York we have many questions,” Cuomo said.
The governor said New York officials are not clear on how many doses the state would get and how quickly it would get them to create a real distribution program – particularly for the poor communities and people of color who are more susceptible to the disease.
“They talk about basically a private health institution distribution mechanism. They'll give it to hospitals, they'll give it to drug store chains, et cetera.,” Cuomo said.
He added: “That's fine for a segment of the population, but that doesn't get to the poor communities and the black and the brown communities that actually have the highest COVID mortality rate and infection rate.”
Tur later asked Cuomo to clarify on how New York State officials would work politically with the Trump Administration on logistics for distributing a vaccine.
The governor deflected, claiming he is “not confident in the competence of this federal administration” in their ability to “distribute hundreds of millions of vaccines, and cold storage.”
“But I also think it is irrelevant because I think that's really going to fall to the Joe Biden administration and I am confident in Joe Biden's capacity,” Cuomo said.
A vaccine is unlikely to be distributed before President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
On Saturday, the president continued the feud with Cuomo.
“I LOVE NEW YORK! As everyone knows, the Trump Administration has produced a great and safe VACCINE far ahead of schedule. Another Administration would have taken five years. The problem is, @NYGovCuomo said that he will delay using it, and other states WANT IT NOW,” Trump tweeted.
He continued: “We cannot waste time and can only give to those states that will use the Vaccine immediately. Therefore the New York delay. Many lives to be saved, but we are ready when they are. Stop playing politics!”
Cuomo told the New York Daily News on Saturday that Trump “has been unhappy with New York because New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly against him.”
“New Yorkers don’t back down to bullies,” he added.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating Trump for tax fraud, also slammed the president for his comments about the distribution of the vaccine in New York.
“This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to exact vengeance on those who oppose his politics,” James said.
She added: “Once there is a fully-developed COVID-19 vaccine, we are confident that a Biden-Harris Administration will provide New York with the proper number of doses so that our state’s residents can achieve immunity.”
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