Zeldin Hochul Debate Summary on COVID and Vaccines

From our friends at AUTISM ACTION NETWORK:

NY: Hochul-Zeldin debate, watch or read the whole thing or key points

If you couldn’t find a way to watch the debate between Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Lee Zeldin,  you can watch it here on CSPAN:


If you are in a hurry here is a clip and transcript of the candidates talking about Covid and vaccines:


Susan Arbetter (56:25):

Thank you. We’re going to move on to COVID. Earlier today, President Biden received his updated COVID booster ahead of a possible winter surge. The CDC is urging people to wear masks now in 10 upstate counties where COVID community levels are considered high. Yet, Mrs. Hochul, you have lifted COVID regulations from masking to vaccine requirements. Can you explain why you made that decision, and will you follow the CDCs recommendation to add COVID vaccines to children’s vaccine schedules?

Kathy Hochul (56:57):

One year ago, when I became governor, we were still experiencing the effects of the Delta variant, and it was scary. Children weren’t able to get back to school unless we directed them to make sure that they had the opportunity to wear a mask. A mask was able to get kids back into schools. That is important to me, to keep children in schools. But, at this point now, we have so many vaccines available. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when they’re in short supply, lines around the block, there was nothing at the pharmacy.

There was a real panic around this. Now, because we have plentiful vaccine supply, everybody should get their booster. I had my booster. I’m getting my flu shot tomorrow. We have this triple threat. We have seen what’s happening in other states, and I’ll be addressing it tomorrow. The respiratory illnesses for children, more COVID cases, as well as the flu. It’s all coming together. That’s when you-

Susan Arbetter (57:45):

So would you mandate a COVID vaccine for children, or no?

Kathy Hochul (57:48):

Not at this time. I’m going to talk about parental control over this. But I’d also say, it’s something that comes down the legislature anyhow. The legislature makes the determination and consultation with health experts for next year’s school year. You’re talking about this year. We’re not talking about mandating a vaccine for children in school at this time. But I’m encouraging it, highly, highly encouraging.

Susan Arbetter (58:07):

Mr. Zeldin, public school students are required to be vaccinated for everything, from chickenpox to measles. But you’ve said you will not require COVID vaccines for students, but the CDC is recommending it. Can you explain your thinking?

Lee Zeldin (58:20):

Sure. Where my opponent just said she will not mandate COVID vaccines at this time, let me be clear to all of the parents who are out there. I will not mandate COVID vaccines for your kids ever. I don’t believe that there should be COVID vaccine mandates right now for our kids at SUNY and CUNY, in community colleges, and elsewhere. Where just over a year ago, a whole bunch of heroes were turning into zeros, tens of thousands of people, because of my opponent’s healthcare worker COVID vaccine [inaudible 00:58:50] put out of a job.

Susan Arbetter (58:50):

What about polio vaccine? Would you-

Lee Zeldin (58:51):

Can I just finish the point? I believe that mandate was wrong, and that everyone who has been fired to be offered their jobs back with back pay. There shouldn’t be any special celebrity COVID vaccine mandates, like what we saw for people who play for the Mets, or the Yankees, or the Nets. If you want to have a special celebrity exemption, how about the NYPD officers? FDNY, teachers, healthcare workers? I do not support COVID vaccine mandates in any way, shape, or form. You want to deal with the healthcare worker shortage upstate in hospitals, having services impacted? Well, then offer the people their jobs back. By the way, do it with back pay.

Susan Arbetter (59:26):

Mr. Zeldin, would you mandate a polio vaccine?

Lee Zeldin (59:31):

Right now, the position of this state is that there’s a polio emergency, and there’s not. I’m not proposing any new changes. Right now, there are vaccine mandates that are out there all across the board, on all different fronts. What I’d specifically say, is that the COVID vaccine mandate is different than the polio vaccine mandate.

The COVID vaccine changed the definition of a vaccine. You could just call it a COVID shot. It’s a form of treatment, but it doesn’t prevent you from getting it. The state hasn’t recognized natural immunity. Why not? It should. We could talk about all these other vaccines. But we’re talking about other vaccines? Actually, when you took it, people were not actually getting polio.

Kathy Hochul (01:00:12):

I’m not sure I understand that one either. But, you’ve been an election denier, a climate change denier. You and Donald Trump were the masterful COVID deniers. We are dealing with a real crisis, and the more people that get vaccinated, get those shots in arms. I would do it all over again, what I did last year, that mandate for healthcare workers. Because no one, after what we went through in this state, and the loss of life, and how people didn’t survive being in a nursing home, I said, our healthcare workers, when you walk into a doctor’s office, a hospital, or nursing home, you shouldn’t contract COVID from the person charged with taking care of you. It was a tough decision. We limited to healthcare workers. But, that is something I believe saved lives.

Lee Zeldin (01:00:53):

Listen, first off, what everyone out there just heard is that she would do it again, so take notes at home. On top of that, talking about what happened in nursing homes? Where was my opponent with the deadly nursing home order and cover-up? Why is it that the numbers are still on the Department of Health website that are outdated? What about the meeting with the COVID families who lost their loved ones, who were promised the long overdue COVID investigation, and never got it? Why didn’t you speak up with regards to the deadly nursing home order and cover-up?

Why aren’t you looking into the transparency and accountability that these families of thousands of deceased New York families have? Why didn’t you stick up for the people weren’t able to see their loved ones in their final hours, and being denied? You had, time after time, after time, opportunities to stand up for these families. But you are silent, or complicit, or out to lunch every time. I don’t know what your excuse is, but these families are demanding justice, and they will not rest until they get it. On day one, I will finish what you refuse to start and end.

Errol Louis (01:01:50):

Did you want to respond really briefly?

Kathy Hochul (01:01:52):

Nursing homes has been investigated by at least three or four different entities, the legislature, different law enforcement entities. I have called for a comprehensive overhaul, and a look at what went right, what went wrong. So I can handle, when I hand off to a future governor many years from now, the blueprint for how you handle this crisis based on this, that is underway. We’re looking forward to doing a deep dive into many areas, decisions on schools being shut down, which I think was a problem. We are suffering the effects of it.

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