Gov Hochul Gets Bills, Jets, Giants, To Join Vax Efforts

September 23, 2021

Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, and New York Jets Included In This Integrated Media Campaign and Vaccine Incentive Program to Encourage More New York Families to Get Vaccinated This Fall

Includes NYS #VaxandWin Football Sweepstakes; 5 Drawings to Win Prizes Including Game Tickets, Special In-Game Experiences, Signed Gear, and More

Governor Hochul: “As we heard about the team efforts, this truly is a team effort for all New Yorkers. And I’m very competitive. I want to win this game. I want to beat back COVID. I want to emerge victorious. To me, that’s our Superbowl, beating back COVID, winning our Superbowl as New Yorkers. And if we can get to 90, 95, 100%, there is no stopping us and we’re going to go all the way into the end zone together.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an integrated media and vaccine incentive program in partnership with all three New York professional football teams to support vaccinations among currently unvaccinated New Yorkers. The multiscale marketing effort and #VaxandWin Football Sweepstakes includes the Buffalo Bills, the New York Giants, and the New York Jets who join the State in urging all unvaccinated New York adults and eligible school-aged adolescents to get vaccinated this fall as New Yorkers return to school, work, and football.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

Good afternoon. It’s game day. I have some individuals I’m sure you’ll recognize even without their uniforms. We’re so excited here to be joined by individuals, and also on Zoom you’ll hear from a couple of individuals that I know very well, to talk about our continued concentrated effort to get more people vaccinated in the State of New York. And we’re going to start off with a few acknowledgements here. And to talk about this whole initiative, that we’re going to be having sports teams, particularly this fall, football fans, we’re going to have, we’ve enlisted the support of our teams, our New York teams, to help us get a very, very powerful message out there.

And I have long figured out that in order to get people to get vaccinated who are more hesitant, they need to hear from trusted partners. And so we have those individuals with us here today, and I want to thank the Bills, the Jets and the Giants for also not just having validators be willing to go out and do public service announcements and talk to people, but an entire integrated media campaign and a sweepstakes program, which I’m going to be talking about momentarily. We’re trying to get all people who are unvaccinated right now vaccinated, convince them with special encouragement videos and radio messages with special alumni players from each of our teams.

And so that’s what we’re doing. We’re launching our vaccine sweepstakes. So here’s the plan, teams. You can enter. If you get vaccinated between now and October 15th, you can win merchandise, football tickets. And how does that sound from our New York teams? And we’re going to have everyone who’s vaccinated, 12 and older, between the ninth of this past month.

So, if you’re already vaccinated, you’re eligible, all the way up to, I’m sorry, 10/25, October 25th. And parents can enter for their children as well for kids under 18. And prizes include sets of game day tickets, over 200 tickets. Hear that, sports fans? 200 tickets available for fans of our New York teams. FaceTime calls with alumni players, I think that sounds like a lot of fun. Special VIP in-game experiences and signed gear from favorite players. So go to ny.gov/vaxandwin to learn more. And we’re going to have drawings every single week for five weeks, and the earlier you get vaccinated, the sooner you’re going to know if you are winners. So do it early, do it often. And this is how we’re going to try and get a little excitement from our fans out there across the State of New York.

And to kick us off and have the conversation on exactly what this is all about, we’re going to have representatives and alumni from our teams for a special message. And folks, no secret to anybody where I’m from.

Go New York teams. Okay, great. Thank you so much, gentlemen, for lending your cache to this effort. I believe that there’s a lot of people out there who will be persuaded when they see people that they’ve admired of throughout your careers. As we heard about the team efforts, this truly is a team effort for all New Yorkers. And I’m very competitive. I want to win this game. I want to beat back COVID. I want to emerge victorious. To me, that’s our Superbowl, beating back COVID, winning our Superbowl as New Yorkers. And if we can get to 90, 95, 100%, there is no stopping us and we’re going to go all the way into the end zone together.

Thank you very much. Thank you gentlemen, for joining us.

All right. Well, that’s exciting. You can all run out the door and sign up now, go to our website to make sure that you are eligible for these great prizes. You know, to you have FaceTime conversations with players and sweepstakes to get lots of tickets. It’s going to be great.

Let’s go over our weekly updates to make sure you all have the data as I get it.
And our priorities continue to be kids in schools and now it’s about keeping them in schools. Returning people safely to work and also getting people vaccinated and reopening New York. So let’s just talk about some of the numbers.

Overall we’re looking at a seven day infections rate of 2.75%, which again is trending in a better direction. I’m happy to see that. We still have some high areas. I’ll be up in the North Country, I believe Friday, which is tomorrow, and the numbers are approaching 6%. That is a cause for major concern for us. I was in the Finger Lakes yesterday, you know, coming down a little bit, which is good, you know, but still in that area, we’re not satisfied.

So overall the state looks good and a lot of that’s driven by the City of New York, which is still an extraordinary story when you think about the population levels here and the people who are coming in from other states and other parts of the country and in a few, another month and a half, we’ll be having people from around the world.

These are incredible numbers. And I do believe this is part of our selling point is we’re reopening our entire state, but particularly in New York city, when I can greet people from other parts of the world. I had a chance to meet the Prime Minister of Britain and the Prime Minister of Ireland. I spoke to a couple of California residents this morning, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. All this is showing that we are coming back. We’re almost there. And these numbers help give people the confidence to know when you come to New York, you’re in a much safer place than elsewhere, and this is going to help us, but we can still do a little bit better here, team.

Hospitalization rate, watching this extremely closely to make sure that we can handle the volume of hospitalizations. We’ll talk a little more about that later, but we still lost 39 people and there’s 39 individuals no longer with us. Their families are grieving. And in many cases, it’s just a sad reminder that we’re not out of this yet.

Hospitalizations, as I mentioned, we’e having some challenges. ICU beds, 24%, hospital beds, 33, overall. We can manage this right now, we can absolutely manage this. We are watching it closely, but if we start seeing those numbers, I’m prepared to take some action to start shifting people very quickly. And we’ll have more on that later.
The daily vaccination rate, it’s getting there. 50,000, the last 24 hours. We have a few deadlines coming up. If you’re a healthcare worker, Monday’s the big day. So I’m truly optimistic and hopeful that people who’ve been waiting, you now have a major incentive because Monday is going to come and we want to have everybody safely with at least one dose.

So we are continuing to make sure people are aware of all the places, a lot of workplaces are offering vaccinations to, we can increase these numbers and get the numbers even higher. I feel that that’s going to happen. We’ve seen that happen elsewhere when deadlines loom. So we’ll be very interested to see what the numbers are on the number of people vaccinate over the next couple of days.

82, almost 83% with one dose. Both doses, 74%. Young people, I was out there this week with the van, trying to convince people to get vaccinated, mostly convincing parents to have that influence over their children. And I spoke about the fact that as a parent myself, we are hardwired to protect our children. It’s all we know how to do, protect our little ones as they get older, but certainly even as teenagers. I would not want to be a parent living with the guilt that anything happened to your child, such as getting sick with COVID or even worse, because they were not vaccinated. So I encourage all parents to, you know, look at it from that perspective, continue to do what you’re going to do as long as you’re alive and your kids are alive, you’re going to keep protecting them. And this is such an important way you can do just that. It’s a way to show love.

Breakthroughs are creeping up a little bit. This is what we’ve been watching now again, the hospitalizations are just, are still very rather minuscule, but no one wants to get it twice. And the reason people get it twice is because there are still people out there un-vaccinated, that is the only reason.

And if we can get more people vaccinated and know that people are safe, this is our way to finally come back to some sense of normal, but the vaccines have really been incredibly effective. I mean, these are more than even a flu vaccine. Those percentages are still very, very high and people should be encouraged by these numbers.

We also are going to be informing the public about a new data source available to give out the variant information to new micro sites, to expand our data and to focus on breakthroughs. Everybody wants to know what the breakthroughs are looking like. And we created this first in the nation methodology, which we regularly updated. I mean, this is going to be updated almost in real time and let the public be empowered to understand, you know, what fact-based education looks like. I’m getting this data, I don’t need to sit on it. I want to make sure everybody pays attention and has this information available to them. So these are the two sites that you’ll start getting our information so everybody can be part of this whole public health initiative.

Boosters. We are preparing for boosters as soon as they are approved by the FDA. We’re also going to be taking our steps. What we do is we’re going to, we’re waiting for the federal approval and we’re going to deploy a multifaceted approach to how we’re going to increase education, accessibility and acceptance of the vaccine. Statewide, the boosters out.

A lot of people are anxious. I mean, they’ve already done it. But we are waiting to hear, we are hearing some news that they’re encouraging after six months, which will be a large number of people. Initially it was, we were told it was eight months and we’ll simply get the information.

As soon as the CDC is done. We’ll flip it over to our advisory community, a committee on immunization practices. They met yesterday. They’re meeting again today and we’ll be making sure that our health experts monitor this closely. So, CDC approves it, get the okay for specific classifications right now and knowing that they are very likely to expand.

And I just want to make a point about people are saying, well, there’s such conflicting information coming out of the federal government and it keeps changing and you know, supposed to be eight months, it might be six months. I think everyone understands, especially the information coming out of the federal government.

Everyone’s doing the best they can. Their circumstances are evolving. We don’t have a playbook on how to deal with the global pandemic, but I do trust the CDC in this administration. I trust the FDA and we’ll also have our other additional layer of scrutiny, but this will not delay us getting those boosters out to people.

You know, this vaccine, the FDA approved Pfizer. People who are 65, immunocompromised or other high risk, high risk. They’re talking about people who are exposed, healthcare workers, people who are in grocery stores, people who really are frontline workers, and we’ll be continuing, you know, we’re ready. We know how to do this.

We know how to set up the sites. Lot of employers are making it available onsite. We know that the pharmacies are heavily engaged. We’re know we’re going to be going again into nursing homes. So we are prepared. We’ve been working with our local partners, which is a high priority of mine to continue engaging our local providers and giving them all the resources they need to be successful.

If you’re not sure if you’re considered immunocompromised, you know, the one person who knows is going to be your doctor and talk to them about whether it makes sense for you to get this shot. And we think it’s really important that more people get this just as an extra layer of protection, like putting on an extra winter coat as the weather starts getting colder.
So we’re going to want to, we let you know, there’s already 8,000 people ready to roll for our booster shots. And we want people to be participating with this, very intensely. We want everyone to get a booster as soon as you’re eligible. I mentioned the Vax to School program. I mentioned my mom guilt. It was very effective when I was raising my kids.

I still can use it once in a while. And I’m using mom guilt on moms now. Letting you know that this is really an important, step you can take to protect your children and our numbers again are not great, but I was out in Flatbush this week and we announced 120 Vax to School pop-up events, which are, everyone’s getting really excited about seeing our van come around.

So we’re going to continue on that. And I do want to thank, all the teachers and everyone who’s been engaged in this from the beginning there, you know, the teachers who are showing up, I’m so impressed with them, what they went through last year, and I said this when I was in Flatbush earliest week, they went through hell and back last year, trying to figure out how to teach remotely, you know, do they have the connectivity? How do they put together a lesson plan?

And then many times their own children were at home. Let’s not forget the stress they had to be under. And they persevered. They got the job done. And now of course everyone’s anxious about coming back into the schools, but they did. They are in our classrooms and we’re working very hard to make up for literally, over a year of lost time and the, and the education and the development of our children as they are isolated from normalcy during the early months or first year and a half of this pandemic.

So we’re going to continue focusing on that. Um, we’re also focusing on a deadline that is looming, one that has been known for many months. So there’s no surprise. And that is that our expectation is that all healthcare workers in the State of New York will be vaccinated by Monday. Again, plenty of notice, plenty of availability.
Plenty of chances for people, many times it was the work site that has provided this and what I’ve been doing. And my teams were working very closely with our healthcare unions to ensure that we have continued care. Yesterday we reached an agreement with the unions who represent the nurses at our SUNY system hospitals.

And this is what I have direct control over as state workers. And we want to make sure that we’re rewarding them for the stress and challenges they were under and continue to be under. And this is just one solution. I’ll be announcing a whole series of initiatives that we are doing to be prepared for a situation on Monday, which I hope doesn’t happen.

It does not have to happen to my friends. It does not have to happen. What is looming for Monday is completely avoidable. And there’s no excuses. And I’m asking every single healthcare worker, who at some point in their life, maybe as a child, as a teenager, decided that they wanted to do something quite extraordinary.
They wanted to dedicate their lives to helping other people, helping people when they were most in need, when they’re most vulnerable, when they are sick, whether they’re in a nursing home, whether in a hospital. These are obviously very caring people or they would not have chosen this profession. And I have utmost respect for every single one of them.

And I want to say to the 84% of healthcare workers who are vaccinated, God bless you. Thank you for doing what you know is right, because every single person who ends up in your care has the right to know that they’re as safe as they can be. That there is no chance that they will be infected by the person charged with protecting them and their health.

We can get this number higher. I’m confident of that. I’m grateful for those who have stepped up and done the right thing, and those who’ve done the right thing don’t want to be with people who are not vaccinated. It’s frightening for them to be with coworkers who are not vaccinated. If you want to think about that, they’re entitled to a safe workplace as well.

So stay tuned. We’re going to continue focusing on this very shortly and I wanted to also announce, make an announcement today. Dr. Zucker has submitted his resignation, our Commissioner of Health. I agree with his decision. He has been a dedicated public servant for over seven and a half years.

He worked hard through the pandemic and I want to thank him for his service on behalf of the people the state. And I will be saying that he has agreed to stay on until the position will be filled. He understands that I, in this time I’ve wanted to take the first 45 days to assemble a new team going forward.

That process is ongoing and he understands and he respects that and he also has an opportunity to move on to new ventures. And I appreciate again, his service.
With that we have exciting news about the Buffalo Bills, the Jets, the Giants, the tickets, the excitement surrounding that, and encouraging people to participate in our sweepstakes.

We want to make sure that all of our healthcare workers know how much I appreciate from the bottom of my heart those who’ve stepped up to be vaccinated. And the unions who are working with us to make sure that we don’t leave any facility short-staffed, but we will have a deployment program that we’re going to be announcing, possibly an anticipation, but this can be 100% averted.

I’m saying that now. I hope I don’t have to say it again because it would be phenomenally unfair to your coworkers, the people entrusted in your care. And all of New Yorkers that we will have our recovery held back by individuals who choose not to get vaccinated. When we finally have this life saving vaccine that in other parts of the world, people are clamoring for, we have it here and shame on us if we don’t take advantage of it.