ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the first part of his 2021 State of the State Monday, saying the top priority for New York is “defeating COVID.”
Cuomo provided an overview of the state’s goals on Monday, and said the State of the State address will continue in three more parts throughout the week.
"In normal times, a governor's State of the State address is issued on one day in one presentation. But these are no ordinary times and our plan is more complex and detailed," he said. "I will give an overview today and then three additional presentations of specific action plans in the coming days."
He outlined seven priorities, including:
"First, we must defeat COVID and beat back the assault as the virus rages in these next few months. It will not be easy. A high-performing hospital system as well as the diligence of New Yorkers are the keys to stop the spread," said Cuomo.
Expanding vaccine distribution
"Second, the vaccine will end the COVID crisis. We must vaccinate 70 to 90 percent of our 20 million New Yorkers and we must do it quickly, safely and fairly. We must also learn the glaring and costly lessons of America's failed public health system so we are better prepared for the next time, and as we all now should realize — there will be a next time," said Cuomo.
Dealing with the short-term economic crisis
"Third, we must deal with the short-term economic crisis: a record $15 billion state deficit that must be addressed in the next several weeks," said Cuomo.
Planning an economic resurgence
"Fourth, we must plan our economic resurgence. We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely. Also, we must energize our lagging private-sector and rebuild our economic platform, our transportation system, our infrastructure system for the next generation of growth," said Cuomo.
Making New York the global leader in green energy
"Fifth, we must seize the opportunity to make New York the global leader in the long overdue, economic shift to green energy. That is the smart thing to do. That is the right thing to do and it will create thousands of good, secure jobs," said Cuomo.
Focus on the effects of COVID on society and the economy
"Sixth, we must be the first to anticipate how COVID will transform our society and economy and we must capitalize on those coming changes," said Cuomo.
Address systemic social and racial injustices
"Seventh, we must address the systemic injustices exposed during this year's low-tide in America: the inequity, the racism and the social abuse. And my friends, if that wasn't ambitious enough, all of these plans must move forward simultaneously," said Cuomo. "It will be hard. It will be the greatest test for government since we mobilized to fight World War II. It will be the greatest opportunity for advancement since post-World World II. Today, I will address the first steps we must take."
COVID remains the top priority as the state struggles to combat a surge in cases this season.
“We need the highest level of performance from our hospitals and local governments. If the caseload threatens to overwhelm the hospital system, we will need to close that region again. That is the worst-case option,” said Cuomo. “But even more broadly, we must realize that it is time for an entirely new way of thinking of our public health system. Our nation's public health system was just not prepared for this.”
This week, Cuomo will also discuss more detail on his legislative proposals, including legalizing marijuana, enabling online sports betting, establishing the New York State Public Health Corps and facilitating police reforms.
To see the full list of 2021 proposals and initiatives, click here.