New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo started his press conference, on what he described as day 342 of the coronavirus pandemic, repeating that in order to rebuild and recover from COVID-19, the state needs federal help.
Cuomo says that state and local relief looks like it is finally coming down from the federal government, after President Joe Biden's proposed $350 billion in aid passed through the House and Senate.
The governor said that now New York needs "fairness" in distribution of that relief. He was joined at his news briefing by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
Cuomo said he believes it's "factually inarguable" that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were hit harder by COVID-19. He says these states paid a higher price for the virus and the virus was coming in through airports in the tri-state area.
"Those flights landed in New York and New Jersey and they populated the tri-state region. That's why we had the explosion in the numbers early on. That's why we had deaths here before they even had COVID tests, because the virus was coming for three months and the federal government had no idea," Cuomo said.
"It was negligence by the federal government," Cuomo added.
The federal government should allocate funds in a way that is fair to the crisis, Cuomo argued. The governor compared this to a hurricane, saying states that are hit hardest by hurricanes get the most funding.
"When a state gets hit by a hurricane that state gets relief. It's not that every state gets relief. The places that paid the highest price with the emergency, and our state and our region paid the highest price for the emergency," Cuomo added.
Cuomo also called on the federal government to repeal the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT), which was passed in 2017 and went into effect in 2018. It allows tax filers to do an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 paid in state and local taxes, according to H&R Block.
Cuomo's office called SALT "unlawful and unprecedented" in a press release and Cuomo claims that daily, $34 million is taken from New York State due to SALT deductions. Governor Murphy sides with Cuomo on the call for the repeal of SALT.
"It is high time that this thing gets taken off the books. The longer it stays on, the more people are going to get hurt. I think in New Jersey alone, Governor, I believe it's been an increment of $3 billion out of the pockets of our homeowners in the state. It's high time we got this thing off the books," Murphy said.
In addition to this announcement, three other major announcements were made during this press conference.
Cuomo shared data that showed eligible African-Americans getting COVID-19 vaccine at lower rates than other groups.
NYS will open up COVID-19 vaccine to people with comorbidities starting Feb. 15, but has not released an official list of qualifying conditions.
New York State has identified COVID-19 UK strain in Allegany and Niagara counties. The state says there are 15 new cases of the UK strain, and 59 total.