‘We will win the COVID war’: Gov. Cuomo delivers State of the State address

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks from Albany, New York, during the first night of the virtual Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address Monday as New Yorkers face a tumultuous and uncertain year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and political unrest.

The governor already unveiled some of his top priorities for the year prior to his speech, including his third push to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana; election reforms; and a proposal to extend the High Line to connect with the newly opened Moynihan Train Hall in Midtown.

Cuomo’s address detailed a path forward for the Empire State as it grapples with the economic and fiscal budget crises caused by the pandemic. The speech touched on key proposals and projects aimed at transforming New York’s post-COVID economy.

Watch the State of the State below or click here.

Excerpts and highlights from Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State speech:

‘We are at war’

  • The governor said the coronavirus pandemic has transformed society and caused international disruptions, but “we will win the COVID war” because we are “New York tough.”
  • In this new and different world, the audience is actually larger thanks to the emphasis of digital technology.
  • This next year we will see economies realign across the world.
  • The question to be answered is: What do we make of this moment?
  • Is America — is New York — stronger or weaker in this post-COVID world?

7 point plan

    1. Defeat the spread of COVID-19
    2. Vaccinate New Yorkers against the virus
    3. Manage short-term economic crisis — a $15 billion state budget gap
    4. Invest in the future
    5. Transition to green energy
    6. Understand long-term effects of COVID-19
    7. Address systemic injustices

    All of these plans must move forward simultaneously

    • This will be the greatest opportunity for advancement since World War II.
    • COVID fatigue is not an option.
    • We must make sure our hospitals are not overwhelmed.
    • Any region that reaches a high number of hospitalizations will have to shut down.
    • Our hospital systems were not prepared for this pandemic. That can never happen again.
    • Too many of our essential products are made in China.
    • We must do more to manufacture products in the United States and in New York.

    Medical Supplies Act

    • The proposed act would incentivize companies to manufacture supplies in New York and the state would prioritize purchasing products from those businesses.


    • “I am introducing the most comprehensive telehealth bill in the nation to ensure accessibility to all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.


    • We are expanding today our network of vaccine administrators.
    • The federal vaccine supply must increase.
    • Today we have about 1 million doses in the state for about 4 million eligible people.
    • At this rate, it will take us 14 weeks just to get enough doses for those currently eligible.
    • We will not allow politics or wealth dictate who receives the vaccine.

    New York Public Health Core

    • The core will help us deal with the pandemic and prepare us for the next public health crisis.
    • Cornell will design a free, online public health program to educate and train citizens in case of a future emergency.
    • The goal is to train 100,000 new volunteers.
    • A new network of rapid testing sites will be set up across the state.

    Federal government’s response to COVID-19

    • New York, unlike any other state, had no notice and no time to prepare for COVID-19.
    • By the time we knew COVID-19 was here it was already too late.
    • The federal government has failed to realize this is a national crisis. This is not a state-by-state crisis.
    • “Washington, as they say, passed the buck without passing the bucks,” Cuomo said.
    • New York needs the federal funding that it deserves.
    • Washington raised our taxes to benefit other states and those states then appealed to our residents to move there. But what people fail to realize is that New York subsidizes those states’ lower tax rates.

    What is our State of the State?

    • New York is suffering and we are tired of being abused.
    • We expect the salt to be removed from our wounds quickly.
    • To close our $15 billion budget gap on our own, it would be extraordinarily painful.
    • It would be devastating for all New Yorkers.
    • Our federal representatives must deliver fairness for New York, and they must do it quickly because our budget is due April 1.

    Biden administration

    • I expect the next administration to act fairly.
    • The Biden administration will hopefully increase the number of vaccine doses sent to states.

    Recreational marijuana

    • Legalization will raise revenue and deliver justice to those who were unfairly and disproportionately impacted by previous and current criminal laws.

    Reopening NY and economy

    • The testing pilot program at the Bills game was “a great success,” based on preliminary analysis.
    • We need to jump-start the economy.
    • Aggressive construction and transportation infrastructure plans will be laid out.
    • New air, road and rail systems will be created upstate and downstate.
    • More economic development to create “jobs, jobs and more jobs.”
    • New York will expand the infrastructure of the future, focusing on broadband.
    • New York will expand affordable housing and economic development to create more jobs.
    • New York will lead the nation in making broadband affordable.
    • New York will be the green economy of the world.
    • COVID-19 is the current threat, climate change is the existential threat.
    • New York will address the racial disparities that cause urban crime.

    Police reform and racial justice

    • “Last year exposed the tensions between the community and the police more starkly than ever before,” Cuomo said.
    • We need to find a balance between the absolutes of policing and needed reforms.
    • “There can be no economic revival without effective public safety,” the governor said.
    • Municipalities have until April 1 to address calls for police reforms or they will lose state funding.
    • Reforming public safety is hard, but in life we will never solve a problem for which we refuse to acknowledge. Problems just don’t go away; they mount.
    • This is a national crisis, but we will lead.
    • National incidents from the KKK marching in Charlottesville to the Capitol riot, expose the nasty underbelly of this country.
    • People do not want rhetoric they want action. It’s New York’s banner to carry.
    • This is part of our post-COVID war reconstruction.
    • Black and Latino people died of COVID-19 at a higher rate than white people. Racial disparities in education and housing were laid bare.

    Affordable health care

    • The pandemic again illustrated that health care must be affordable for all.
    • I’m proposing eliminating premiums for many more New Yorkers.

    Affordable housing

    • The state must do more to protect homeowners and tenants.
    • Commercial vacancies should be converted into affordable housing for homeless people.

    ‘We can see the future, and it is bright’

    • Over the last four years, while federal forces tried to tell us that the strongest four letter word was “hate,” New York showed that the strongest four letter word is “love.”
    • New York State is the state of aspiration
    • When fear gripped New Yorkers in the spring, they did not give up. They united and rose to the occasion.
    • “That is New York at her best. That is the New York miracle,” Cuomo said.

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