Northwell Health began distribution of the COVID-19 vaccinations to union workers at the Belmont Park redevelopment site on Wednesday, April 14.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 900 doses have been set aside for workers and will be administered at a rate of 50 a day, six days a week, until May 1. After that, vaccinations will be conducted three days per week and will continue on a rolling basis until all Belmont workers are vaccinated.
Cuomo made his announcement at a briefing that was once again closed to the press citing COVID restrictions, while a number of his political allies were in attendance at the racetrack’s grandstand.
“The transformative Belmont Park Redevelopment Project will revitalize the area, create new jobs and provide a permanent home for the New York Islanders, and it’s important that our local workers are safe as they build this critical project for New York’s future during a pandemic,” Cuomo said. “We’re glad to announce that workers from this site will be vaccinated, and I thank Northwell Health for its tireless efforts for these workers and so many others throughout this incredibly difficult time. The pandemic doesn’t have to hinder construction and development, but it’s vitally important to keep everyone as safe as possible as they conduct work that will be an important part of New York’s post-COVID future.”
Cuomo declared that the construction of the 19,000-seat UBS Arena, which was delayed by two months at the height of the pandemic last spring, would be completed in time for the start of the 2021-2022 season in the fall. The new home of the New York Islanders is the centerpiece of the $1.3 billion project, which includes a hotel, office space and a world-class retail village. It is expected to create 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity.
Once complete, the project is expected to sustain 3,200 full-time jobs and produce $858 million in annual economic activity while generating tens of millions of dollars in new annual tax revenue, according to the governor’s office.
“Belmont Park is the perfect metaphor for the great New York comeback,” Cuomo said, adding that New York City has come back strong after the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Superstorm Sandy. “We built back better and stronger than we were before. We learned. We progressed. We advanced to where we were ready for the next time. So, that’s our spirit, and we’re moving forward. This magnificent Islanders arena is going to be one of the best facilities in the United States of America. That’s what we’re building here.”
Cuomo did take a moment to recognize emergency workers that saved the lives of many horses during a fire Tuesday evening in Barn 60.
“Due to the extraordinary efforts by first responders, the fire department and the staff here at NYRA, 58 horses were saved but two perished,” Cuomo said. “But they did a really outstanding job.”