New York Capital Brief:

Assembly Legislators Test Positive for COVID

With just a week until the State budget deadline, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Ron Kim both announced that they have each tested positive for COVID-19.

Both Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Kim turned to Twitter to assure their continued dedication to passing a comprehensive State budget while quarantining and working from their respective residences.

More New Yorkers Now Eligible for Vaccine

Beginning on March 23rd, New Yorkers that are 50 years old and older are now eligible for the COVID vaccine, pushing the total number of those currently eligible to over 12 million.  According to the New York State Department of Health, 80% of the State’s adults are eligible for the vaccine New York has been expanding vaccine eligibility and recent days as the federal government has promised to supply the State with 1.65 million doses each week by the end of April, a 33% increase in total supply.

To check your eligibility, click here.

Cuomo Launches “Roll Up Your Sleeve” Campaign

On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of the “Roll Up Your Sleeve” Campaign to promote houses of worship across the State to volunteer to be vaccination sites for their communities. As part of this campaign, medical providers are being asked to volunteer at these vaccination clinics. The purpose of this campaign is to further the State’s commitment to ensure fairness and equity in the vaccine distribution process by bringing the vaccine directly to underserved communities.

Over the last few weeks, Governor Cuomo has hosted a number of press conferences alongside many prominent leaders in the faith community to build trust in the vaccine and encourage community members to get vaccinated.

“That’s what ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ is all about,” Governor Cuomo said. “Ask the faith-based community, partner with the health care operator, perform the vaccines in your facility and we will provide the vaccines to any facility that participates. Invite your congregation, invite your neighborhood, use your trust, use your relationship to get past this hesitancy, etc. We still have not reached fairness and equity in the vaccines.”

Since March, over 200 houses of worship have signed up to be points of distribution for their communities.

Interested medical providers and houses of worship can sign up here.

Assembly Judiciary Committee Continues Impeachment Investigation

On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee officially launched it’s investigation into Governor Cuomo’s alleged misconduct. Officials say that the investigation will be broad in scope, with the Committee probing the sexual harassment claims, Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 deaths in state nursing homes, and alleged structural concerns about the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

Committee Chair Charles Levine said that “given the breadth and seriousness of the issues under investigation, we expect that the timing will be in terms of months, rather than weeks,” with outside counsel providing weekly updates.

This week’s meeting also served as a public introduction for the legal team from David Polk & Wardwell, LLP, the firm assisting the Assembly with the investigation. Assemblymembers and the lawyers of some of Cuomo’s accusers were able to question the attorneys on potential conflicts of interest, as it’s been reported that the husband of New York State’s Chief Judge had previously worked for the firm. Chair Lavine and the firm have concluded that there is no conflict, as the attorney-in-question will not play a role in the investigation.

The investigation is expected to conclude with recommendations, which could include advancing an impeachment trial.

Pharmacies Authorized to Vaccinate More New Yorkers

Governor Cuomo announced on Monday that vaccine providers, including pharmacies, can vaccinate all individuals with approved preexisting comorbidities and those over 50 years old. Pharmacies had previously been limited to vaccinating teachers, child care workers, and individuals over 60 years old.