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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Former secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz in New York City last year. Photo: John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Larry Schwartz, who oversees New York's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, allegedly called county officials seeking support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations, per multiple reports Sunday. Schwartz and Cuomo's office deny the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post and New York Times report an unnamed Democratic county executive who claims Schwartz contacted them filed a notice of an impending ethics complaint with the N.Y. attorney general's office Friday.

  • The executive told WashPost though no specific threat was made, they were concerned their county's vaccine supply might be affected if they didn't indicate their support for Cuomo.
  • "At best, it was inappropriate. At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line," they added.
  • Democratic Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone told the New York Post: "Last Friday, I had a conversation with Larry Schwartz who reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor."
  • Bellone added that he explained to Schwartz, a longtime adviser to Cuomo, that the allegations made against the governor were serious and that he supports an independent investigation.

What they're saying: Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, said in an emailed statement: "Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to ‎help New York through" the pandemic.

  • "Any suggestion that he acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false," she added.
  • Schwartz said in a statement to news outlets, "All decisions regarding vaccines are done based on public health considerations, not politics.
"At no time has politics ever entered into the discussion or decision-making regarding vaccines. I have never discussed vaccines in a political context and anyone who thinks that is seriously mistaken."
— Schwartz
  • Representatives for Bellone and the N.Y. attorney general's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

5 mins ago - World

"I assume full responsibility," Duterte says of drugs war

Rodrigo Duterte in 2017. Photo: Linus Escandor II/AFP via Getty Images

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that he assumes full responsibility for a violent war on drugs that has killed thousands of people, Reuters reported.

Why it matters: Last month the International Criminal Court (ICC) formally authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity during Duterte's war on drugs.

CDC approves boosters for Moderna and J&J and mix-and-match

Boxes containing vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's independent advisory panel voted unanimously to recommend booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine for certain populations and allow people to mix-and-match doses.

The big picture: The agency aligns with the Food and Drug Administration authorization Wednesday night which said people could switch to whichever vaccine they wanted for their booster shot.

2 hours ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

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