Cuomo Speaks on Covid, State Accomplishments, AG Report in Final Address to NYers

Governor Cuomo delivering his farewell address to New York over livestream. (Screenshot)

Outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the state of New York one last time in his farewell address on Monday, Aug. 23, hours before he is set to resign.

On Aug. 10, Cuomo announced that his resignation would take effect in 14 days, the announcement taking place days after state Attorney General Letitia James’ report which found accusations of sexual harassment by 11 women against Cuomo and a toxic workplace environment.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is slated to replace Cuomo as New York State’s chief executive as of midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 24, with her official swearing-in ceremony taking place at 10 a.m.

Cuomo started the 16-minute long speech by addressing the allegations against him, stating that there will be a time when the truth will be revealed, blasting the government and the media for “undermining” the justice system by politicizing allegations, and running headlines that “condemn without facts.”

“Of course, everyone has a right to come forward, and we applaud their bravery and courage in doing so,” said Cuomo. “But allegations must still be scrutinized and verified, whether made by a woman or a man, that is our basic justice system. I understand that there are moments of intense political pressure and media frenzy that cause a rush to judgment. But that is not right, it’s not fair or sustainable. Facts still matter.”

Cuomo also went on to say that the Attorney General’s report was meant to be a “political firecracker” that resulted in a media stampede, however, the governor states that he is confident that the “truth will come out.” Cuomo noted again that while his instinct is to fight these claims, it is in the best interest of New York that he step aside.

“I love New York, and I serve you, that is the oath that I took,” said Cuomo. “And in this moment, I believe the right this that my service comes first. Prolonging this situation could only cause governmental paralysis, and that is just not an option for you and not an option for this state, especially now. There is real work to be done and it will require government to function at its highest level.”

The governor stated in his address that the work New York does is more important than the work it has done in the past because it will determine New York’s future.

He cited that during his tenure, Cuomo passed some of the most progressive legislation in the state, even though he may disagree with his fellow Democrats around issues surrounding defunding the police. He called for the appeal of the SALT act and noted that New York was built on daring and competence, refusing to accept defeat and saying “no to the status quo.” He cited several projects including the rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport, the state’s green energy plan and plans to create more affordable housing.

“Somewhere along the way government lost its competence, and then people lost confidence in government,” said Cuomo. “But today is a different day. We have reason to believe in New York’s future based on what we have accomplished together.”

The outgoing governor, like in many press conferences throughout the past year and a half, once again addressed COVID-19 and the Delta Variant, citing his own fears surrounding the virus. He urged New Yorkers to remember the lessons that were learned throughout the pandemic, especially now that cases are rising in states like Florida, Texas, and Alabama, and New York will end up being affected in the long run.

“Please don’t forget what we learned together last year, and don’t forget what we accomplished. We went from the highest infection rate in the nation to the lowest, we did what no one thought could be done. Why? Because when the rest of the nation put their head in the sand, denied science and played politics, we faced up to the facts. and we made the tough but necessary decisions. While our infection rate went down, other states are going up,” said Cuomo. “So now we must realize the reality that the spread will inevitably affect us and we have to act before it becomes critical.”

Cuomo’s advice for the state was to mandate that teachers get vaccinated, putting mask mandates in high-risk areas, and having private businesses mandate vaccinations for large gatherings, but recognized that many of the mandates would not happen without a state law.

“Political procrastination is COVID collaboration. We know the choice is between the politically contentious or the medically infectious,” said Cuomo. “You decide which is worse.”

Cuomo placed his faith in the people of New York, stating that he believes that New Yorkers will do the right thing, even when there is a hard decision to be made. Cuomo said when it came to issues surrounding COVID-19, marriage equality, racism, gun safety, raising the minimum wage, and more, stating that New Yorkers made the right call every single time.

“I believe that for New York the best is yet to be because I believe you will make it so. In sum, we didn’t get everything done that we wanted to, or even everything that we should have done,” said Cuomo. “And we didn’t always get it quite right. But I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that every day I worked my hardest, I gave it my all, and I tried my best to deliver for you, and that’s the god’s honest truth.”

Cuomo concluded by thanking his team, his family, and wishing success to Hochul and Eric Adams. He thanked New Yorkers for allowing him to govern the state and for trusting him through COVID.

“Thank you for the honor of serving you. Never forget, always stay New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined, and Loving,” said Cuomo. “It’s the essence of what makes New Yorkers so special.”

Watch Cuomo’s full farewell address below.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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