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New York Moves to Ramp Up COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state will now be stepping in to assist the federal government’s program to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to nursing home residents and staff.

“We are going to supplement and expedite the federal program,” Cuomo said.

There are 611 nursing home facilities that enrolled in the Federal Nursing Home Program, which allows for CVS and Walgreens staff to come in and administer the vaccine to residents and staff.

Right now, Cuomo says that 288 facilities have completed the first dose for residents, which is approximately 47% statewide.

The governor says by the end of the week, the goal is to get that number up to 85%, and by the end of two weeks, all nursing home residents should be vaccinated.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says that 10% of nursing home residents and 15% of nursing home staff have so far refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This could be for multiple reasons, however, such as pregnancy or allergies.

The governor said they do not have a definitive breakdown of hospital staff who has so far refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Hospitals are also receiving added pressure to administer their remaining doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the week.

Cuomo announced that hospitals can face fines of up to $100,000 if they do not use all their dosages by the end of this week. Going forward, facilities must use all vaccine dosages within seven days of receipt.

Statewide, hospitals so far have only administered approximately 46% of their available vaccine dosages.

“We need them to do better … we need public officials to step in,” Cuomo said.

When it comes time for the general public to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, Cuomo says the state will be establishing driv-thrus for public distribution. The state will also use public facilities like gyms and public housing.

Cuomo says he is also proposing a law that would impose criminal penalties on any entity that does not follow the state’s guidelines on who is eligible for the vaccine.

“You will see fraud with this vaccine … it’s valuable, it’s money. I understand that this is a valuable commodity … so I want to make it criminal,” Cuomo said about entities using the vaccine in ways it is not intended or authorized by the state.

Also, Cuomo announced that schools can stay open in counties with a positive COVID-19 infection rate over 9% if school testing can show they are below the community average.

However, it will ultimately be up to the school district.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 288 New Yorkers yesterday, bringing the total to 8,251. The statewide positive COVID-19 infection rate is at 8.34%, and 170 New Yorkers passed away from COVID-19 yesterday.

Cuomo says every hospital CEO certifies daily how many staffed beds they have available. Right now, every region has more than 30% of hospital capacity available.

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