Gov. Andrew Cuomo tore into Donald Trump on Sunday after the president’s threat to hold up COVID-19 vaccine distribution to his state — and warned he’s prepared to sue for equal access for New Yorkers.
“I’ve tried to work with the Trump administration and argue morality and principle for four years,” Cuomo said in remarks in Riverside Church in Manhattan. “You’re better off trying to argue with a rock ... There can be no more fundamental right in this moment than access to the vaccine,” he added.
He said in a message to Trump: “Stop the abuse. Stop the division. Stop the anger. Stop the hatred. Stop the narcissism, and spend your last months actually trying to help people.”
On Friday, Trump said that a highly promising COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer could be released as soon as April “to the entire general population — with the exception of places like New York state.” He claimed that for “political reasons,” the governor “wants to take his time with the vaccine.”
Cuomo fired back then that Trump’s claim was absolutely “untrue” and that the state’s advisory task force would not block or hinder the distribution of any safe vaccine.
But on Sunday, the governor also accused the Trump administration of planning a vaccine distribution system heavily reliant on private companies that would poorly serve communities of color, which have borne the biggest toll of COVID-19.
The Trump administration’s plan “basically has private health care companies administer the vaccines,” Cuomo explained Sunday.
“The president talks about CVS and Walgreens and national chains ... [that] are mainly located in rich communities, not in poor communities. Let me be clear — the Black and brown communities that were first on the list of who died cannot be last on the list of who receives the vaccine, period,” he said.
If the Trump administration doesn’t address the problem of unequal access to the vaccine, New York will join the NAACP and the Urban League in a lawsuit to force changes, Cuomo declared.
“If the Trump administration does not change this plan and does not provide an equitable vaccine process, we will enforce our legal right; we will bring legal action to protect New Yorkers.” He added: “Enough people have died and enough injustice has been done during COVID. It stops now, it stops with this vaccine.”
Trump hasn’t spoken publicly about details of a distribution plan for the vaccine.
Cuomo said on Friday that “luckily” Trump will no longer be in the White House when the vaccine is likely to be distributed on a wide scale.
Trump is still refusing to concede that he lost the presidential election.
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