NYS Launches Free Online Platform to Learn New Job Skills, Earn Certificates, Advance Career

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of a new online training platform which will enable unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers weathering the COVID-19 pandemic to learn new skills, earn certificates, and advance their careers at no cost. The new tool will provide access to nearly 4,000 online programs taught by leading professors and industry professionals on Coursera, with a focus on high-growth and in-demand sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among others.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Unemployed and Underemployed New Yorkers can Access Nearly 4,000 Online Free Courses and Certificate Programs on Coursera

Courses Focus on High-Growth and In-Demand Industries like Advanced Manufacturing, Tech, and Healthcare

Free Accounts Available Here

A new online training platform which will enable unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers weathering the COVID-19 pandemic to learn new skills, earn certificates, and advance their careers at no cost. The new tool will provide access to nearly 4,000 online programs taught by leading professors and industry professionals on Coursera, with a focus on high-growth and in-demand sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among others.  

“The war against COVID-19 is one taking place on multiple fronts, and while we are doing everything we can to protect the health of New Yorkers, we must also take the steps necessary for building back a strong economy,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “This new training platform will be key in this effort by ensuring unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers are not left behind by providing access to the resources and training they need to get back on their feet. Whether it’s taking refresher course or learning a new skill, I encourage all New Yorkers in need to consider taking advantage of this free program.”  

The new course offerings are provided through a partnership between the New York State Department of Labor and Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform. The partnership will save New York millions of dollars over the next couple of years while providing free job skills training to New Yorkers. New Yorkers can request a free account on the New York State Department of Labor website

The nearly 4,000 courses available through Coursera are taught by leading professors and industry educators and cover topics ranging from mechanical engineering and project management to technology and data science skills. Many of these programs provide a pathway to professional certificates and other certifications that can help New Yorkers elevate their careers or compete in a new industry. 

The Department of Labor is working with stakeholders across the state to curate the content catalogue to respond to industry and regional needs, so that job seekers can easily find courses that will make them the most competitive for open positions in New York State.

Examples of the wide range of courses, programs, and professional certificates available through Coursera include:

  • How to Manage a Remote Team 
  • Business Writing 
  • Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design and Manufacturing Machine Learning 
  • Motors and Motor Control Circuits 
  • Generative Design for Additive Manufacturing 
  • Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects 
  • Marketing in a Digital World 
  • Supply Chain Operations 
  • Data Science Specialization 
  • Project Management 
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate 
  • The Business of Health Care Specialization 
  • Medical Neuroscience 
  • Financial Markets 
  • Facebook Social Media Marketing 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Introduction to Game Development 
  • The Art of Negotiation 
  • Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML and CSS 
  • Introduction to HTML5 
  • Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset: First Step Towards Success 
  • Introduction to iOS App Development

The full course catalog can be viewed here.

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Training and retraining our workforce are critical when it comes to getting New Yorkers back on the job. New skills and expanded knowledge can provide more pathways to more jobs and help diversify our workforce — which is good for both workers and our businesses. The New York State Department of Labor encourages New Yorkers to take advantage of this free learning opportunity by registering on our website.” 

The state will also partner with New York-based businesses to encourage their employees to utilize this free learning opportunity. By offering additional skills and training to their employees, employers can meet the changing needs of our New York Workforce as our economy continues to build back better.  

During the pandemic, Coursera has helped more than 330 government agencies across 70 countries and 30 US states and cities support impacted workers with job-relevant skills training. Since the launch of the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative, more than 1 million workers have enrolled in over 7 million courses to gain critical skills for jobs of the future. Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative is modeled after a highly successful initiative that the company launched in March 2020, which offered free courses to over 3,700 colleges and universities that closed their campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In just six weeks, that initiative launched 6,400 programs for 2,800 colleges and universities around the world, helping enroll 475,000 displaced students in 1.1 million courses.

NYS, Google Public-Private Partnership Launches App to Help Struggling New Yorkers Locate Benefits

Back in May, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo announced collaboration with Eric Schmidt, former CEO and Executive chairman of Google, who serves as chair of a new 15 member commission to help New York  “use technology in the economy of tomorrow” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has just launched a new web application to help struggling New Yorkers locate benefits to assist them during their time of need. Developed through a public-private partnership with Google.org, the user-friendly social services discovery application will help individuals who are either new to or unfamiliar with the state’s social programs network. 

“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented demand for social services in New York, including families and individuals who have never relied on social programs before,” Governor Cuomo said.”This new web application, the result of a public-private partnership, will provide New Yorkers with a user-friendly, stigma-free resource to get the assistance and relief they need.”

The “Find Services” web application provides an easy-to-use starting point for first-time users of social programs. The web application prompts each user with a series of simple questions aimed at narrowing the field of possible services to those that are best designed to serve their needs. After answering the questions, the user is provided with a ranked list of potential services along with a description to help residents judge if the service is right for them and provide them with more information about how to apply.

The web application was developed at no cost to taxpayers during a six-month collaboration between the state Office of Information Technology Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees many of New York’s social services programs, and a team of 10 full-time pro bono Google.org fellows supporting the Governor’s COVID-19 Tech SWAT Team initiative. This unique public-private partnership has enlisted the assistance of leading technology companies and has assisted roughly four million New Yorkers since its inception. The web application’s code has been open sourced to allow other government entities the opportunity to build on this project to meet the needs of their residents.

During a three-week pilot of the application, more than 100,000 New Yorkers accessed the web application. The State will use analytics data to understand where residents need help getting connected with vital government services and refine the application over time to best serve the needs of New Yorkers. 

ITS Interim Chief Information Officer and Director Jeremy Goldberg said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has moved with urgency and resilience to tackle the coronavirus head-on. We have received unprecedented support from civic-minded technologists across the state to support our response efforts. We welcomed that support and worked hand-in-glove with this team to assist those who needed it most.”

New York’s social services programs have seen increased caseloads since the start of the global pandemic.  More low-income New Yorkers are availing themselves of critical benefits, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and temporary cash assistance.

OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said,”Now more than ever, it is critical for eligible New Yorkers to have easy access to programs designed to help them and their families in their time of need. This new web application expands our ongoing efforts to provide a stigma-free platform for individuals and families to explore and familiarize themselves with social programs that can make an enormous difference in their lives.”

President of Google.org Jacquelline Fuller said, “Seeking social services can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. The Google.org Fellows wanted to make it easy for New York residents to find and access essential programs, especially in times of crisis. In under six months and 10,000 pro bono work hours donated, the team was able to build a web application from the ground up by combining the technical expertise of Googlers with the unwavering leadership of New York State. Google has called New York home for the last 20 years and we’re proud to stand alongside Governor Cuomo and the members of the Tech SWAT Team to help ensure the health and safety of our community.”

In March, Governor Cuomo directed ITS to solicit volunteers from the technology community to help develop competent technological solutions to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, to help facilitate New York State’s coordinated, decisive, and rapidly evolving response. ITS worked with the Governor’s Office and the state Department of Financial Services to establish a team of highly trained civic-minded professionals in the technology field to assist the state’s response over 90-day periods.

The New York State COVID-19 Tech ‘SWAT’ Team  has since assisted state agencies with operations, analytics, communications, and other critical needs during the ongoing response. The team completed 21 large projects managed and led entirely by internal government teams at ITS, the New York State Digital Service Team, and state Office of General Services. An additional 19 projects were completed pro bono, involving a combined 25,000 hours of volunteer hours and saving taxpayers roughly $14 million.

Biden on COVID-19 Surge: ‘Urgent Action is Needed Today’ In Absence of Federal Response, ‘Now is a Moment for Shared Responsibility and Shared Action’

President-Elect Joe Biden urged shared responsibility and shared action in response to a horrific surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, after meeting with the co-chairs of his transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. “Urgent action is needed today,” he said.  In absence of a federal response, “now is a moment for shared responsibility and shared action.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden urged shared responsibility and shared action in response to a horrific surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, after meeting with the co-chairs of his transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. Here is his statement:

Today, I met with the co-chairs of the transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. David Kessler, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. 

They briefed me on the accelerating public health crisis. The facts they presented were alarming. Our country is experiencing surges in reported infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities all over the country, with virtually nowhere getting spared. Our doctors, nurses, and other health care workers are under enormous — and growing — strain. This week’s news on progress toward a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is positive, but it will be many months before there is widespread vaccination in this country. 

This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking. I am the president-elect, but I will not be president until next year. The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is. Resources for frontline health care workers, including personal protective equipment that is again in short supply. Surge capacity for hospitals that are at risk of running out of beds. Clear, science-based guidance for states, cities, tribal communities, businesses, and schools that are trying to manage the pandemic. Effective distribution of testing kits and supplies, as well as treatments and therapeutics. Making a priority of dealing with persistent race-based disparities in this pandemic.

Today, I renew my call for every American, regardless of where they live or who they voted for, to step up and do their part on social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing to protect themselves and to protect others. I understand it’s not easy. I know people are tired. But this will not go on forever. We are moving toward a vaccine. We are improving our ability to test. We are developing better treatments. We can get through this — and come out the other side stronger. But right now is a moment for shared responsibility and shared action. Together, we have the power to rein in this virus. And I promise you, from the moment I am sworn in on January 20, I will do everything in my power to lead this unified national effort.

President-Elect Biden Sets Mitigating COVID-19 as Top Priority, Names Task Force, Urges Mask-Wearing as Key to ‘Getting Back to Normal Life’

Victory celebration in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday, November 7 after Joe Biden crossed the 270-Electoral Vote threshold. President-Elect Joe Biden with Jill Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris with husband Douglas Emhoff. Biden has hit ground running, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as his top priority © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump, obscenely obsessive about being in the spotlight, fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in order to step on reporting of President-Elect Joe Biden’s remarks about actions he is taking to curb the potentially fatal COVID-19 pandemic, even before he takes the helm on January 20, 2021. But his remarks are crucial, and show up Trump for his most cynical failure of a remarkably failed occupation of the Oval Office: failing to develop a national strategy to mitigate the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, and bring Americans onboard in common cause and united purpose to contain the disease which has already infected 10 million and killed 240,000.

As Trump golfed over the weekend and Biden’s election totals hit the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes, there were new records in the number of infections set daily (120,000 a day) and 1,000 people a day dying so that it is forecast by Election Day another 100,000 could be dead under the Trump laissez-faire policy. Tens of thousands of lives could have been, should have been saved with a federal administration that organized PPE, ventilators, hospital beds and health personnel instead of letting states fend and even compete for themselves, and most importantly, if Trump promoted wearing masks, instead of holding super-spreader rallies and events and politicizing and demonizing mask-wearing.

Biden already has struck a dramatically different tone and taken actual actions to address the coronavirus pandemic, starting with giving a frank, science-based and realistic timetable and appointing a task force of experts to develop a plan of action. Even with the progress made toward a vaccine, it will take months before enough people can take the vaccine in order to achieve the “herd immunity” (that won’t come “magically” by washing over the general population and killing six million).

Here are President-elect Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware:  — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon, everyone.
 
As I said on Saturday, I am humbled by the trust and confidence that the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris.
 
And we are ready to get to work, addressing the needs of the American people.
 
Today that work begins. 
 
It starts by doing everything possible to get COVID-19 under control so that we can reopen our businesses safely and sustainably, resume our lives, and put this pandemic behind us.
 
We’ve just received positive news in this fight with the announcement of progress toward a successful vaccine candidate. 

Soon, the FDA will run a process of rigorous reviews and approvals.
 
That process must also be grounded in science and fully transparent, so that the American people can have confidence that any approved vaccine is safe and effective.
 
At the same time, it’s clear that this vaccine, even if it is approved, will not be widely available for many months yet to come.
 
The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing, and so is the need for bold action to fight this pandemic. 
 
We are still facing a dark winter. There are now nearly 10 million COVID-19 cases in the United States.
 
Last week — we topped 120,000 new cases on multiple days.

 
Infection rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are going up.
 
This crisis claims nearly a thousand American lives a day, nearly 240,000 deaths so far.


And projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more lives in the coming months before a vaccine can be made available to everyone.
 
So we cannot forego the important work that needs to be done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet of this pandemic.

To reduce spread. To save lives. 
 
That’s why, today I have named a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board, comprised of distinguished public health experts, to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan into an action blueprint that we can put into place as soon as Kamala and I are sworn into office on January 20, 2021.
 
And we will seek to add other members to this board who bring important perspectives and public health expertise throughout the transition.

This group will advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science, and that keep compassion, empathy, and care for every American at its core: 

Making rapid testing widely available, and building a corps of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccinations first to the most at risk populations.
 
Developing clear and detailed guidance and providing the necessary resources for small businesses, schools, and child-care centers to reopen and operate safely and effectively during the pandemic—protecting both workers and the public.

Regarding Pfizer’s vaccine progress, Biden stated:

Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.   At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away. This news follows a previously announced timeline by industry officials that forecast vaccine approval by late November. Even if that is achieved, and some Americans are vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.   This is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality.

Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact. America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions. That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.

Biden urged Americans to wear a mask. “A mask is not a political statement,” he said. The goal of wearing a mask is to “give something back to all of us: a normal life.”

Senate Democrats: Do Not Allow Trump To Undermine Nov. 3 Election Results

Senate Democrats released a report summarizing what to expect on Election Day, which may well mean not to expect a result Election Night (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, October  18 – Senate Democrats today released a report summarizing for the American people what to expect on Election Day, which may well mean in this unprecedented Election Year, not to expect a result on Election Night, They reinforced the Democrats’ call to encourage everyone to vote and to insure that every vote is counted, and is aimed at countering the months-long effort by President Trump to undermine the election and his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. With the general election already well underway in every state across the country, Senate Democrats have a clear message for the American people: Vote and cast your ballot as early as possible.

While expressing optimism that Election Day will go smoothly around the country, the report, jointly authored by Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), outlines the possibility that in some states, the outcome might not be known on November 3. 

The last message from the report is to make absolutely clear that voter intimidation is illegal and that federal law prohibits coercing or threatening anyone in order to interfere with their right to vote.

“The American people must be prepared for an election that is unprecedented in our history due to the enormous increase in mail-in ballots that have been, and will be, cast as a result of the pandemic,” said Senator Sanders. No one should have to risk their health or their lives in order to vote, and that is why many millions are voting through mail-in ballots. One of the worst lies that Donald Trump is spreading is that there is a massive amount of voter fraud in this country. That is a total lie which no election official, Republican or Democrat, can support. What we are doing with this effort is ensuring that the American people understand that if American democracy means anything, it means that every vote must be counted—no matter how long it takes.”

“President Trump has for months now been laying the foundation to undermine the election and he has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Senate Democrats want to be clear to the American people that the most powerful defense against this type of autocratic behavior in our country is the will of the American people and that is why we are encouraging every American to vote and vote early,” said Leader Schumer.

“The election is well underway, and Americans are voting in droves because they know what is at stake. We must do everything we can to protect the right to vote, and uphold the integrity of the election process. That means pushing back on President Trump’s lies about mail-in ballots and his efforts to sow chaos. It also means making sure that Americans know that a record number of people are voting by mail this year, which could slow the reporting in some states. We should be prepared to reject misinformation and be patient about results in places where counting ballots may take longer. Americans should keep making their voices heard at the ballot box, the earlier the better,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“Despite what Donald Trump wants you to believe, the integrity of our election system is strong,” said Senator Murphy. Every American must vote—and vote early—in  the upcoming presidential election, so we can make it clear to Trump and the world that America remains a democracy, the will of the people will always win out, and that any form of voter intimidation is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

“President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric threatens to further divide our country and sow real potential for violence.  The most important thing each of us can do to combat disinformation and fear is to vote and vote early. There is little doubt that this is the most important election we will participate in in our lives. Our elections are the foundation of American democracy. Protecting them should be the top priority for everyone who cares about the future of our country. Election officials, courts, and elected leaders must be accountable for upholding that principle,” said Senator Heinrich.

“Despite Donald Trump’s lies and misinformation about nonexistent widespread voter fraud, the integrity of the American election system—our entire election process from voting by mail to voting in person—is strong. If voting by mail is safe and effective for our troops overseas and good enough for Trump and his family to use, then it’s safe, effective and good enough for the rest of America too,” said Senator Duckworth. No matter what Trump says—or even what he might prefer—Senate Democrats will never allow the greatest democracy the world has ever known to descend into authoritarianism. We will always be a government of, by and for the people.”

A copy of the report can be found here .

National Governors Association Questions Trump Administration on Funding, Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, raised questions of all state governors on how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed when it becomes available. Who would be in line first? Who pays for the extraordinary storage requirements (minus 80 degrees)? Who pays for the essential workers to administer the millions of doses when states are suffering deficits forcing layoffs among essential workers? The National Governors Association raised these questions in a letter to the Trump Administration© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The National Governors Association, chaired by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today sent a list of questions to the Trump Administration seeking clarity on how to most effectively distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution and implementation of the vaccine is a massive undertaking that cannot be managed without significant logistical coordination, planning and financial assistance between states and the federal government. The list of questions — which were submitted from Republican and Democratic governors from around the country — covers funding for the administration of a vaccine, allocation and supply chain, and communication and information requirements.

“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”

In his press briefing on COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo commented, “The 36 questions from the Governors sent to the White House basically are asking, ‘How does this work. We understand the concept but how does it work?’ Some of the questions: How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula is used – in other words, are you going to allocate it by infection rate? Are you going to allocate it by number of cases of COVID? Are you going to allocate it by population? Who determines how many each state gets – what’s the basis that you using.

“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization – in other words, the federal government going to say, ‘I think nursing homes should get it first. I think nurses should get it first. I think doctors should get it first. I think anybody over 70 should get it first.’ Is the federal government going to do that prioritization? Can they tell us if they’re going to condition the release of vaccines, right? The vaccines are controlled by the federal government. Are they going to turn around and say, ‘Well we won’t give you the vaccines, New York State, California unless you do X Y Z.’ And can we know that now? Is there multi-state coordination? On our own, during COVID we coordinated with the Northeastern states to New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera. Is there a multi-state coordination piece here, or is everybody on their own? Am I my responsible for all of New York and there’s no connection to New Jersey and there’s no connection to Connecticut, there’s no connection to Pennsylvania?

“And who is going to pay to do this? New York State is already $50 billion in debt between state and local governments. And they have not passed legislation on the state and local relief. If the state has a deficit and the local governments have a deficit, we can’t fund essential workers. That’s who gets cut when you cut state and local governments. And now you’re going want undertake this vaccination program, which frankly requires more essential workers, not less? And they’re talking about a vaccine possibly in December. We’re here in October – this is just a few weeks to plan in this massive undertaking. Let’s learn the lessons from the past seven months. Otherwise, we’re going to relive the nightmares that we have lived through, right? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March, April, May….

“We can’t go through that same confusion again. It’s not a question of knowing what to do. It’s a question of knowing how to do it. We know what we need to do. We need to control the virus, we need to take more tests, now we need to do vaccines. We know what we need to do. How do you do it? How do you do it – the devil’s in the details. How do you administer 40 million vaccines in the State of New York. That’s the trick. Everybody agrees with the concept. “Yes, vaccinate everyone.” Got it. How? How?

“And that’s the art form of government by the way and that’s what separates words from action and rhetoric from results and talk from competence – how do you do it? And that’s what we have to focus on now and that’s what the governors are saying to the federal government. Why? Because the way the federal government has structured it, the states are in charge of the doing. This person got to the COVID situation, he said, ‘It’s up to the Governors. It’s up to the states’. I don’t even know how that works by the way. It’s a nationwide problem. 50 states have it. But it’s not a federal response? The federal response is, ‘It’s up to you. You take charge, Governor. But I’m right behind you -go get ’em, tiger.’ Yeah, thank you very much. So again, I’m sure what the federal government is talking about is we’ll approve the vaccines, we’ll appropriate the vaccine, we then deliver them to the state. You figure out how to do it. Who pays? Insurance companies? What happens for the uninsured people? How do I keep dosages cold, – 80-degrees? Well, those are details. No. That’s the difference between life and death in a situation like this. And that’s where we have to get.”

Cuomo added, “The State will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccines and distributing the vaccines so the State’s position is we have to wait for the federal government to provide us the vaccines, what is the schedule, how many, etcetera…

“We believe there’s going to be questions about the safety of the vaccine, so we put together a special New York task force team of experts. I’m going to ask them to review any vaccine before I recommend it to the people of the state. I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine. But, we are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get. We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary. But, we would prioritize the vaccinations. The prioritization would be based on risk and essential workers would have a priority and people at risk would be prioritized and we’d set up a matrix on that regards, by that regards, and there’d be several phases to the administration of the actual doses. We’re working with our health care partners all across the state. This is going to be a massive undertaking, hospitals, urgent care facilities , primary care facilities, pharmacies, local departments of health, mobile units, mass vaccination sites.”

Here is the list of questions NGA gathered from the nation’s governors:   

Funding for Vaccine Administration  

  • Will there be funding allocated to states to assist with distribution of the vaccine and other vaccine efforts?  
  • Without additional state and local funding to implement COVID-19 vaccine plans, we will be hampered in what we can accomplish. When can we expect more definitive information about resources related to this response?   
  • What are the plans for any federal contracts and/or additional funding to support “boots on the ground” to vaccinate in tiers 2 and beyond?  
  • How will vaccine administration costs be covered for people who are uninsured?   
  • Will the federal government be setting guidelines around allowable vaccine administration costs for those with health insurance (whether that is state insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or some other state funded health insurance)?   
  • How will funding/reimbursement for vaccines be handled?  
  • We understand that the vaccine will initially be provided at no cost, as was remdesivir. However, states now must pay for remdesivir on the commercial market. How long will the federal government commit to providing the vaccine to states cost-free?  

Allocation and Supply Chain  

  • How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula will be used?  
  • How will the vaccine be distributed? What mechanism will the federal government use?   
  • Can the administration provide more guidance on what prioritization requirements will be a condition of vaccine release and to what extent will states have latitude to guide these decisions?  
  • Are any further PREP Act changes anticipated beyond authorizations for pharmacists and interns to administer vaccine?  
  • How is CDC planning to manage vaccine distribution to Federal entities such as Federal Prisons, the VA and other Federal organizations? Will these entities receive a vaccine supply directly from the CDC or will states manage it?    
  • Similarly, when can states expect guidance from the federal government on the states’ responsibility to vaccinate federal employees (e.g., who is vaccinating National Guard, USPS employees, FBI, etc.  
  • How will tribal sovereignty be respected? The CDC sent a template asking how many vaccine doses need to be sent to each IHS/tribal health facility rather than asking states where each tribe wants their vaccine doses sent (which could be one of those facilities, a DOH public health office, a private provider that they’d like to contract with, etc.)  
  • What will be the national strategy for vaccine prioritization when supply is short?  
  • How will management of supplies (i.e. needles, syringes, alcohol pads, band aids, etc.) work?  
  • Will there be further guidance documents on handling ultra-cold vaccine (i.e. thawing, storage after thawing, reconstitution, etc.?  
  • We are aware of concerns that there is already a shortage of dry ice, which is being used to store the ultracold storage vaccines during the clinical trials.  
  • If that is true, does that shortage impact plans for shipping of ultracold storage vaccine using dry ice and containers that could store the vaccine for up to a week?   
  • If there is a shortage of dry ice, does this change the guidance to states to not purchase additional ultracold storage freezers?  
  • We also need guidance on redistribution of ultracold storage vaccines. If they will come in 1,000 dose shipments as indicated by the federal government, we likely will need to distribute them further in our rural areas.  What will the guidelines be to do that without compromising the vaccine?   
  • How long will the product be viable outside of the original packaging that the 1,000 doses will be shipped in? Can/will smaller volume packaging be provided in the shipment as well?   
  • What will the federal guidance be on sub-prioritization among the initial priority groups since there will not be enough vaccine at first for even healthcare workers as a group?   

Communication and Information Requirements  

  • There has been some indication that large pharmacy chains and possibly interstate healthcare systems will register directly with the federal government. We need the specific details since many of them are also reaching out to the states. This affects our targeted enrollment of these stakeholders to onboard as Covid-19 vaccine providers. When can we expect clarification on which stakeholders will contract directly with the federal government?  
  • Will there be coordinated multi-state process for monitoring vaccination effects (adverse effects, lack of immunity responses, etc) to ensure early warning signs are identified as quickly as possible?  
  • Will the federal government provide current/real time information about tribal nations enrolling with the CDC for direct shipments, versus enrolling through the state?   
  • Can the administration provide more information around long term care facilities? Specifically, are they planning to mandate vaccines in nursing homes through CMS? For example, will the use of vaccines be connected to continued Medicaid funding? If so, when would such requirements take effect?   
  • Is the federal government going to request that states report personally identifiable COVID vaccine data? We have concerns that this may create a lack of trust and discourage people from getting vaccinated.    
  • What is the state’s role in safety monitoring after people have been vaccinated?   
  • How many states are using VAMS as their Immunization Information System (IIS)?  
  • Will states share their micro-prioritization within Phase 1b?  
  • What communication/messaging materials have been developed?  
  • How will complex scientific data be messaged and shared publicly? What type of educational material, and in what languages, will be developed?  
  • What information will be shared publicly on each approved vaccine? How will transparency be ensured?   
  • CDC is planning to require reporting to the IIS within 24 hours of administration of the vaccine.  We know for flu vaccine there is a dramatic lag in data coming in – how will COVID-19 vaccine data reporting be any different?  

Just Hours Left to Be Counted in 2020 Census, for Federal Dollars, Votes in Congress

Representation in Congress is on the line, share of $1 trillion in federal spending for schools, roads, hospitals, police is on the line with the 2020 Census. The Trump Administration has done everything possible to make sure immigrant, minority, working-class and immigrant communities are under-counted. The deadline to be counted has been shortened to Friday, October 16 at 6 AM. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In an effort to under-funding and under-represent in Congress urban areas, minority and immigrant communities, which are disproportionately in Blue States, the Trump Administration has continually sabotaged the Census – the official count, mandated in the Constitution, of all residents that takes place only once every 10 years. Despite halting in-person census collection due to the coronavirus pandemic, then extending the deadline, then suddenly announcing a halt a full month early, the Supreme Court has again handed the Trump administration the levers to manipulate control in government. Now, the deadline is Friday, October 16 at 6 AM.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo put out an urgent call to all New Yorkers to complete the Census NOW. The Census can be completed from home in less than 10 minutes online, by phone or mail.

“The Census only happens once every 10 years and it’s one of the most important ways New Yorkers can help ensure the state gets the representation and funding we need in Washington. This process profoundly affects our state’s future, and I strongly urge every New Yorker to participate and do it now,” Governor Cuomo said. “As New York continues the fight for aid from the federal government to help us respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the time is now for New Yorkers to complete the Census.”

Once every decade, the nation conducts the Census, which is a constitutionally mandated count of every American, regardless of their citizenship status. The decennial census is one of the nation’s most important programs. New Yorkers’ fair share of federal funds for programs essential to health care, education, emergency planning, housing, economic development and transportation, as well as our congressional representation in Washington, all depends on an accurate and fully counted census response.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “I urge every New Yorker to take 10 minutes and complete the Census immediately. Completing the Census is safe and easy, and the information you provide is confidential. It has never been more important for all New Yorkers to complete the Census to ensure New York gets it fair share of federal funding.”

Below is key information on the Census counting process that all New Yorkers should keep in mind when completing the Census:

Four Ways to Respond. There are four ways to respond to the 2020 Census: online, by phone, by mail or in person (with the help of Census taker who will be visiting households which have not yet responded). Visit https://my2020census.gov/ to complete the Census online or call 1-844-330-2020 to complete the Census by phone. Additional phone numbers for a variety of languages can be found here. You can also mail in the form you should have received in March from the Census Bureau.

Questions Asked. The Census asks how many people are living in your household as of April 1, 2020. The Census asks just 10 basic questions: name; number of people living or staying in the home on April 1, 2020; whether the residence is owned or rented; telephone number (only to be used if needed for official Census Bureau business); sex; age; date of birth; Hispanic origin; race; and relationship with other household members.

When completing the Census, please note that college students should be counted where they would have been staying on April 1, 2020, even if they went home early due to a COVID-19 school closure or a shift to distance learning.

The Census will never ask for citizenship or immigration status, social security numbers, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party or for your bank or credit card account numbers.

U.S. Census Takers in your Neighborhood. You may see census takers, known as enumerators, in your neighborhood to collect responses to the 2020 Census. All census takers completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols and will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. All Census takers are required to wear a face mask and will also be equipped with hand sanitizer and gloves.

Census takers are hired from your area, and their goal is to help you and everyone in your home be counted in the 2020 Census. If the census taker who visits your home does not speak your language, you may request a return visit from a census taker who does speak your language. If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.

Below are reminders to help you identify a Census taker:

  • Census takers and field representatives will conduct their work between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm.
  • All Census takers or field representatives will present an ID badge that includes their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
  • In addition to wearing a mask, all Census takers or field representatives will have an official 2020 Census bag and Census Bureau-issued electronic device, such as a laptop or smartphone, bearing the Census Bureau logo. There will be an “official business” notice on their car.
  • Official Census takers will NEVER ask to enter your home. They will never ask for money, threaten detainment or deportation, or request additional documentation. They will only ask questions that are on the official Census questionnaire.
  • You can find additional information about Census takers by clicking here.
  • If you still have questions about a Census taker’s identity, you can call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

U.S. Census Emails. The Census Bureau has also emailed households that have not yet responded to the Census. Emails were sent to all households in low-responding areas, even to those households that have responded. The email messages came from 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov and included a link to the Census self-response page. 

Your Data is Protected. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your immigration status, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.

Avoiding Scams Online: The use of any website that mentions being affiliated with the U.S. Census should be verified. The easiest way to verify the site is to check if address includes “.gov,” as only official U.S. and state government websites can use “.gov.” Fraudulent sites purporting to be official government service providers may steal personal information.

Reporting Suspected Fraud: If you suspect fraud, call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

Official Census information can be found by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau website and by visiting New York State’s Census website.

The New York State Department of State also offers the following resources to help New Yorkers:

Office for New Americans Hotline 1-800-566-7636: The Office for New Americans’ free hotline is available from Monday through Friday from 9AM to 8PM and can help new Americans in more than 200 hundred languages. For more information on the Office for New Americans, visit the website at https://www.newamericans.ny.gov/. The Office can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans.

DCP Consumer Helpline 1-800-697-1220: The DCP Consumer Helpline offers safe, direct assistance for any New Yorker who believes they have been treated unfairly while in the marketplace. To report suspected Census fraud or scams, call the DCP Consumer Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

Evoking Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Biden Declares 2020 Election ‘A Battle for the Soul of the Nation’

Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech declaring the 2020 Election to be a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” evoked Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address during the Civil War, in calling for unity to preserve the nation: “It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden took to the sacred ground of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg to lay out his vision for the soul of America, why Charlottesville was the impetus for his run for the presidency, and set the stage for the final four weeks of the 2020 election campaign.

In stark contrast to the scowling Mussolini-esque “Covita” video stunt Trump pulled on arriving back at the White House from Walter Reed Hospital, when he immediately pulled off his face mask and summoned a photographer to come behind him for a better shot, Biden spoke to the concerns of Americans, in high anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic, economic hardship, civil unrest and climate crisis. Evoking Lincoln’s famous speech, he called for unity around the shared values of America, saying he was a proud Democrat but if elected President, he would be a President for all Americans, calling it, “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.”

Biden outlined the ways in which the nation, riven by partisan and tribal conflict, can heal, come together as Americans – indeed, after 244 years of upholding the revolutionary idea of government of, by, for the people, he declared, we must.

“It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth,” Biden declared.
 
“No. It cannot. It must not.
 
“We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
 
“And so we must.
 
“We must vote.
 
“And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.”

Biden declared, “Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear…

“You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
 
“If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.”

And Biden, acting and sounding like the president this country needs and deserves, pledged, “As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
 
“I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
 
“I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
 
“I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart….

“Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.”

Here are Vice President Biden’s highlighted remarks, as prepared for delivery — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


On July 4, 1863, America woke to the remains of perhaps the most consequential battle ever fought on American soil. It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg.
 
Three days of violence, three days of carnage. 50,000 casualties wounded, captured, missing or dead. Over three days of fighting.
 
When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat.
 
The war would go on for nearly two more years, but the back of the Confederacy had been broken.
 
The Union would be saved, slavery would be abolished. Government of, by, and for the people would not perish from the earth, and freedom would be born anew in our land.
 
There is no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division — about how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment we must come together as a nation.
 
For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes: the end of slavery, the widening of equality, the pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.
 
His words here would live ever after.
 
We hear them in our heads, we know them in our hearts, we draw on them when we seek hope in the hours of darkness.
 
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
 
Here, on this sacred ground Abraham Lincoln reimagined America itself. Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division and the meaning of sacrifice. 
He believed in the rescue, the redemption, and the rededication of the Union, all this in a time not just of ferocious division, but also widespread death, structural inequality, and fear of the future.
 
And he taught us this: A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth.
 
Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be.
 
We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.
 
As we stand here today, a century and a half after Gettysburg, we should consider again what can happen when equal justice is denied and when anger and violence and division are left unchecked.
 
As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope is elusive.
 
Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for the mediation of our differences. Rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare.
 
Instead of treating the other party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy.
 
This must end.
 
We need to revive a spirit of bipartisanship in this country, a spirit of being able to work with one another.
 
When I say that, I’m accused of being naïve.
 
I’m told maybe that’s the way things used to work, but they can’t any more.
 
Well, I’m here to say they can. And they must if we’re going to get anything done.
 
I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president.
 
I will work with Democrats and Republicans and I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do.
 
That’s the job of a president.
 
It’s a duty of care for everyone.
 
The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. A choice we make.
 
And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well.
 
That’s the choice I’ll make as president.
 
But there is something bigger going on in the nation than just our broken politics, something darker, something more dangerous.
 
I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion. Competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy.
 
No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper.
 
Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them.
 
We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to clench our fists, but to open our arms. We must seek not to tear each other apart, but to come together.
 
You don’t have to agree with me on everything — or even on most things — to see that what we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal.
 
I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville.
 
Close your eyes. Remember what you saw.
 
Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK coming out of the fields with torches lit. Veins bulging. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s.
 
It was hate on the march, in the open. In America.
 
Hate never goes away. It only hides.
 
And when it is given oxygen, when it is given the opportunity to spread, when it is treated as normal and acceptable behavior we have opened a door in this country we must move quickly to close. 
 
As President, I will do that.
 
I will send a clear, unequivocal message to the nation. There is no place for hate in America.
 
It will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It will be given no safe harbor.
 
In recent weeks and months, the country has been roiled by instances of excessive police force, by heart wrenching cases of racial injustice and lives needlessly and senselessly lost, by peaceful protests giving voice to the calls for justice, and by examples of violence and looting and burning that cannot be tolerated.
 
I believe in law and order. I have never supported defunding the police.
 
But I also believe injustice is real.

 
It’s the product of a history that goes back 400 years, to the moment when black men, women, and children were first brought here in chains.
 
I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America.
 
We can have both.

 
This nation is strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism, and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses that too often bear the brunt of this looting and burning.
 
We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets, and we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacist groups menacing our communities.
 
If you say we should trust America’s law enforcement authorities to do their jobs as I do, then let them do their job without extremist groups acting as vigilantes.
 
And if you say we have no need to face racial injustice in this country, you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America.
 
There have been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months.
 
George Floyd’s 6-year old daughter Gianna, who I met with, was one such voice when she said, “Daddy changed the world.”
 
Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another when she said violence didn’t reflect her son and that this nation needed healing.
 
And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot … We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”
 
Think about that. Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized.
 
What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together.
 
To heal. And to hope.
 
As President, that is precisely what I will do.
 
We have paid a high price for allowing the deep divisions in this country to impact how we have dealt with the coronavirus. 210,000 Americans dead and the numbers climbing. It’s estimated that nearly another 210,000 Americans could lose their lives by the end of the year.
 
Enough. No more.
 
Let’s set the partisanship aside. Let’s end the politics. Let’s follow the science.
 
Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
 
Social distancing isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
 
Testing. Tracing. The development, ultimately approval and distribution of a vaccine isn’t a political statement. These are scientific-based decisions.
 
We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. But we can do better. We can do better starting today.
 
We can have a national strategy that puts the politics aside and saves lives.
 
We can have a national strategy that will make it possible for our schools and businesses to open safely.
 
We can have a national strategy that reflects the true values of this nation.
 
The pandemic is not a red state versus blue state issue. The virus doesn’t care where you live or what political party you belong to.
 
It infects us all. It will take anyone’s life. It is a virus — not a political weapon.
 
There’s another enduring division in America that we must end: The divisions in our economic life that give opportunity only to the privileged few.
 
America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where an Abraham Lincoln – a child of the distant frontier, can rise to our highest office.
 
America has to be about the possibilities. The possibilities of prosperity.
 
Not just for the privileged few. But for the many — for all of us.
 
Working people and their kids deserve an opportunity.
 
Lincoln knew this. He said that the country had to give people “an open field and a fair chance.”
 
And that’s what we’re going to do in the America we’re going to build — together.
 
We fought a Civil War that would secure a Union that would seek to fulfill the promise of equality for all.
 
And by fits and starts — our better angels have prevailed just enough against our worst impulses to make a new and better nation.
 
And those better angels can prevail again — now. They must prevail again — now. A hundred years after Lincoln spoke here at Gettysburg then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson also came here and said: “Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg … We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.”
 
Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation.
 
The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down, and holding us back.
 
We must free ourselves of all of them.
 
As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
 
I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
 
I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
 
I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart.
 
We cannot — and will not — allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
 
To overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores.
 
To overturn the America that’s been a haven and a home for everyone no matter their background.
 
From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all.
 
We cannot and will not allow violence in the streets to threaten the people of this nation.
 
We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial justice in the country.
 
We cannot and will not continue to be stuck in a partisan politics that lets this virus thrive while the public health of this nation suffers.
 
We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who’ve already got it made.
 
Everybody deserves a shot at prosperity.
 
Duty and history call presidents to provide for the common good. And I will.
 
It won’t be easy. Our divisions today are of long standing. Economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations.
 
But I give you my word: If I am elected President, I will marshal the ingenuity and good will of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together.
 
We can disagree about how to move forward, but we must take the first step.
 
And it starts with how we treat one another, how we talk to one another, how we respect one another.
 
In his Second Inaugural, Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
 
Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.
 
And so we — you and I, together — press on, even now.
 
After hearing the Second Inaugural Address, Frederick Douglass told the president:
 
“Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.”
 
We must be dedicated now to our own sacred effort.
 
The promise of Gettysburg, that a new birth of freedom was at hand, is at risk.
 
Every generation that has followed Gettysburg has been faced with a moment — when it must answer this question — whether it will allow the sacrifices made here to be in vain.
 
This is our moment to answer this essential American question for ourselves and for our time.
 
And my answer is this:
 
It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.
 
No. It cannot. It must not.
 
We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
 
And so we must.
 
We must vote.
 
And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.
 
Lincoln said: “The nation is worth fighting for.”
 
So it was. So it is.
 
Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear.
 
Let us conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other — who love our country and who will not destroy, but will build.
 
We owe that to the dead who are buried here at Gettysburg.
 
And we owe that to the living and to future generations yet to be born.
 
You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
 
If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.
 
This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission.
 
We can end this era of division.
 
We can end the hate and the fear.
 
We can be what we are at our best:
 
The United States of America.
 
God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

NYS Gets $18 Million Federal Grant to Train Workers, Support Entrepreneurs During, After COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcing an $18 million federal grant for to train workers for in-demand jobs and support entrepreneurs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.

“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  

“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”

The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery. 

Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:

1) Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.  

2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses. 

3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.  

4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs. 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”

“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”

“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”

Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19.  This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business,  and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”

Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”

This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better. 

Biden on Supreme Court Nomination: ‘The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard’

VP Joe Biden on Trump nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court: “Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway. It defies every precedent and every expectation of a nation where the people are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden spoke out on Trump’s unprecedented nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to  the US Supreme Court in the middle of an election. Here is a highlighted transcript of his speech as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware:

On Friday, Jill and I had the honor of paying our respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first woman in the history of our nation to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. 

Though it should not have taken nearly this long to bestow that honor on a woman, it nevertheless speaks to the unique and powerful impact Justice Ginsburg made on our society and to her enduring legacy of equal rights and equal justice under law.

Shortly before Justice Ginsburg passed, she told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

It wasn’t a personal request. It wasn’t a favor being asked for. It was the last act in a long, unflinching career of standing up for American democracy.

Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway. It defies every precedent and every expectation of a nation where the people are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.

But yesterday, before Justice Ginsburg could be laid to rest, and after hundreds of thousands of Americans have already cast their ballots, the President nominated a successor to her seat.

There is no mystery about what’s happening here.

President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade. Twice already the Supreme Court has upheld the law. And the Congress, expressing the popular will of the American people, has rejected President Trump’s efforts as well.

Now, all of a sudden this Administration believes they’ve found a loophole in the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg’s death.

It doesn’t matter to them that Republicans set the precedent just four years ago when they denied even the courtesy of a hearing to President Obama’s nominee after Justice Scalia passed away nine months prior to Election Day.

It doesn’t matter to them that millions of Americans are already voting on a new President and a new Congress. They see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door.

As we speak, we are still in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century — a crisis that has already taken more than 200,000 American lives.

And yet, the Trump Administration is asking the Supreme Court right now to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Administration filed a brief with the Court that concludes: “The entire ACA thus must fall.”

President Trump can claim all he wants that he’s going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but the fact is, he’s actively fighting to take those protections away as we speak.

If he has his way, more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer could once again be denied coverage.
 
Complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of pre-existing conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions.
 
Women could once again be charged higher premiums just because they are women. 

And seniors would see their prescription drug prices go up and funding for Medicare go down.
 
It doesn’t matter what the American people want. President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission to steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, and the lives of those they love.
 
It should come as no surprise that President Trump would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
 
She has a written track record, disagreeing adamantly with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA.
 
In fact, she publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the law eight years ago.
 
The American people understand the urgency of this moment.
 
They are already voting in droves because they know that their health care hangs in the balance. They understand that if Donald Trump gets his way, they could lose their right to vote, their right to clean air and clean water, their right to equal pay for equal work.
 
Workers could lose their collective bargaining rights.
 
DREAMers could be thrown out of the only country they’ve ever known.
 
Women could lose the bedrock rights enshrined by Roe v. Wade, which has safeguarded their autonomy for nearly half a century.
 
People are voting right now because they know that the very soul of our country is at stake and because they know that the decisions of the Supreme Court affect their everyday lives.
 
Their voices may not matter to Donald Trump.
 
They may not matter to Mitch McConnell.
 
But there are Senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if you shut out the voice of the people during an election, you are closing the door on American democracy thereafter.
 
That is where the power of this nation resides: in the people, and in the rule of law, and in the precedents we abide by.
 
To subvert both so openly, so needlessly, even as Americans cast their votes would be an irreversible step toward the brink.
 
And a betrayal of the singular quality that America was born and built on—that the people decide.
 
The Senate must stand strong for our democracy.
 
They should not act on this nomination until the American people finish the process they’ve already begun of selecting their President and their Congress.
 
As I’ve said before, if the people choose Donald Trump, then the Senate should give his nominee a hearing and a vote.
 
But if the people choose me, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
 
And my nominee, chosen by the President who was chosen by the people, should get a fair hearing and a vote on confirmation.
 
The U.S. Constitution provides one chance, one for Americans to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court, who makes those big decisions about their health care, their civil rights, and so much else.
 
That chance is now.

That moment is now.
 
The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard.
 
I urge the American people to keep voting and to let your current Senators know that you want to be heard before they vote to confirm a new Justice.
 
And I urge every Senator to take a step back from the brink — to take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment — and stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold.
 
This is the time to de-escalate, to put an end to the shattering of precedents that has thrown our nation into chaos.
 
Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to do right by the American people.
 
Uphold your constitutional duty. Summon your conscience.  
 
Stand up for the people. Stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.

Americans are watching. Americans are voting. We must listen to them now.
 
We must allow them to exercise their sacred power.
 
Thank you.
 
God bless the United States of America and may God protect our troops.