Andrew Cuomo's vaccine rollout timeline nosedived even further Tuesday, with the governor now saying it could take six months for all priority peop
Andrew Cuomo’s vaccine rollout timeline nosedived even further Tuesday, with the governor now saying it could take six months for all priority people to get an appointment.
In a conference call Tuesday, the New York governor upped his attack on the federal government over the slow vaccine distribution, saying that a change in CDC guidelines means around 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the current round of shots.
Cuomo warned that this group can now expect to wait a staggering six months for a shot if the federal government continues to send just 300,000 doses per week to the Empire state – up from the already dismal 14-week timescale he warned of Monday.
New York City endured one of the longest lockdowns during the first wave of the pandemic and many business owners such as restaurants and bars are teetering on the brink with indoor dining closed.
Vaccine distribution is being touted by the governor as the key to getting the city back up and running.
But Cuomo has been accused of ‘playing politics’ with the vaccine as he hits out at the government’s delivery of doses to the state while his distribution plan is riddled with issues including a narrow allocation of first phase doses leading to vials being unused and tossed.
As well as the Trump administration, the governor is also warring with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over the issue who on Tuesday urged him to add food delivery, deli and bodega workers to the priority list and announced he was opening the 24/7 Citi Field site to boost rollout in the Big Apple.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer pointed out Sunday that hundreds of vaccination appointments were left unfilled as ‘bewildered’ residents – many of whom are elderly – struggle to navigate the 51-question online survey and technical issues.
Outrage is building over Cuomo’s leadership amid the vaccine distribution with fellow Democrat New York Assemblyman Ron Kim slamming the governor for ‘punt[ing] this to under-funded hospitals in the first place’ and organization Voices for Seniors accusing him of viewing the elderly as ‘disposable’.
Andrew Cuomo’s vaccine rollout timeline nosedived even further Tuesday, with the governor now saying it could take six months for all priority people to get an appointment
Cuomo announced Tuesday that the CDC added people who are 65-plus and immunocompromised to its recommended priority list for people eligible to get the vaccine now.
The Democrat said the change made things ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for states and said he was looking forward to the Biden administration taking the reins.
‘The CDC made another change in vaccine policy,’ he said in the conference call.
‘Seems change is constant and to tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to the new administration because the federal policy is making things extraordinarily difficult.
‘The CDC just announced that states should open up vaccines to 65-plus. This is another major change in a very short period of time. It’s not just 65-plus, it’s 65-plus and immunocompromised and they don’t define immunocompromised.’
The addition of this group takes the number of New Yorkers currently eligible for the vaccine up to around 7 million, he said.
However, the governor said the increase in eligible people does not correspond with an increase in vaccine supply from the federal government.
At present, the state receives about 300,000 doses of the vaccine per week.
Which means, if the supply continues along the current trajectory, it will take up to six months for all those in the priority list to be able to get their hands on a dose.
‘At our current rate of supply, it will take close to six months to vaccinate everyone who’s currently eligible,’ Cuomo said.
‘Is that helpful? I don’t think so. I don’t think this creates national confidence. I think it creates national frustration.’
New York state moved into Phase 1B of its vaccination plan on Monday, allowing for residents over the age of 75, teachers, transit workers and police to begin receiving shots,
This is in addition to healthcare workers who were covered in Phase 1A.
The new phase also broadened the types of healthcare workers that can receive the vaccine to include anyone who interacts with the public, such as licensed practical nurses, pharmacists, dentists and podiatrists.
Cuomo had previously been adamant that all healthcare workers should be inoculated before the state moved on to other categories but finally bowed to pressure from medics and the likes of de Blasio to expand the category.
‘Phase 1a was 2.1 million, Phase 1b was 3.2 million, and you just added 1.8 million, plus the immunocompromised number we don’t even have yet because it depends on how you define it, but you have a population now of 7 million,’ Cuomo said Tuesday.
‘We receive 300,000 doses per week. That has not changed. The federal government hasn’t given us an additional allocation. At 300,000 per week, how do you effectively serve 7 million people?’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday urged Cuomo to add food delivery, deli and bodega workers to the priority list
He added: ‘We are going to accept the federal guidance of the 65 plus and immunocompromised. I don’t want New Yorkers to think were not doing everything we can.’
Cuomo said healthcare workers are still the priority while supply remains limited saying ‘I don’t care how old we are, we’re not walking into the emergency room dealing with COVID patients all day’.
‘Hospitals must still prioritize healthcare workers. That is everyone’s priority, and by the way, from a moral point of view, everyone celebrated the nurses and doctors,’ he said.
You and I, I don’t care how old we are, we’re not walking into the emergency room dealing with COVID patients all day.
‘And if we get COVID we’re not super spreaders. If my office closes down people won’t die, if a hospital closes down people will die.’
CDC figures as of 9 am Monday show that 579,532 New York state residents have received the shot.
This is out of 1.41 million doses that have been distributed.
De Blasio also announced he was opening the 24/7 Citi Field site to boost rollout in the Big Apple
As of Tuesday morning, New York City had administered just over a third of the doses delivered to the city.
Just 239,324 doses – including 216,014 first doses and 23,310 second doses – out of 669,175 delivered have actually gone into the arms of residents, data from the city’s health department shows.
De Blasio on Tuesday announced that Citi Field in Queens – home to the New York Mets – will be turned into a new 24/7 vaccination hub by the end of the month to ramp up rollout in the city.
‘The Mets organization has stepped up to the plate to help us out,’ the mayor said at a press conference with Mets owner Steve Cohen.
The site will be able to administer around 7,000 shots a day helping the city reach its target distribution, de Blasio said.
The mayor described the city’s rollout as ‘unbelievable’ saying ‘we are reaching thousands and thousands of people already’.
De Blasio said the Big Apple administered 26,528 doses Monday meaning it is on track for the week’s goal of 175,000 shots.
‘Freedom to vaccinate is what allowed us to do this and we’re now going to take full advantage of that and reach New Yorkers,’ he said, pointing to the expansion of Phase 1B.
He welcomed the changes but said he was now calling on Cuomo to ‘go farther’ and include food delivery workers and deli and bodega workers.
‘We want to make sure that all the delivery workers who work in these [grocery] stores get vaccinated, in fact all delivery workers of all kinds get vaccinated,’ he said.
‘They are coming into contact with so many people. They’re serving us, we depend on them – they deserve the right to be vaccinated.
‘We want the freedom to vaccinate delivery workers. We want the freedom to vaccinate folks that work in bodegas and delis.
‘They’re there again on the frontline making sure every neighborhood in New York City has the food it needs. They deserve the right to be vaccinated so we’re asking the state to help us clarify the rules in 1B.’
However, the downside of the city ramping up its rollout of the vaccine is that – if it reaches its target vaccination – it could run out of doses in just two weeks, de Blasio warned late Monday.
‘In the real world, problems could be lack of vaccine,’ de Blasio told NY1’s Inside City Hall.
De Blasio at Queens Police Academy in the Queens borough where people received the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination Monday
Vaccine distribution is being touted by the governor as the key to getting the city back up and running but is being plagued with issues
‘At the rate we’re going, we’re going to be out in two weeks or so.’
De Blasio said that New York City’s goal is to reach 400,000 doses per week by the end of January – 100,000 more than the entire state receives in a single week.
While the data shows New York state is not receiving the number of doses from the federal government it needs to hit its targets, the state is also failing in its role to distribute shots once it receives them.
Hospitals have complained of having to throw doses out because they could not find eligible people to take them – and did not want to risk hefty fines for getting a shot in the arm of someone not included in the narrow first phase of the rollout.
And, while hospitalizations top levels not seen since March, vaccines are sitting unused in hospitals and vaccination appointments are going to waste due to the cumbersome process by which eligible residents can sign up for a shot.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer highlighted glaring issues in the city’s process to sign up for a vaccine appointment in a Twitter thread late Sunday.
Stringer said when he checked the sign-up website, which can only be accessed after creating an account on a separate site, there were over 200 slots available for January 12 at one of the sites.
Stringer said when he checked the sign-up website, which can only be accessed after creating an account on a separate site, there were over 200 slots available for January 12
Stringer shared this screengrab of an issue he encountered on the sign-up website
The process for signing up for appointments in New York City is especially arduous, including a 51-question survey (pictured) on a website rife with technological issues
He pinned the large number of vacancies on both the ‘bewildering’ complexity of the sign-up process – which includes a 51-question gauntlet rife with technical issues – and on city officials’ failure to mobilize people to seek appointments.
‘The @NYCHealthy site for signing up for a COVID vaccination is complex, burdensome, and buggy,’ Stringer tweeted.
‘It will present an obstacle for too many people — particularly seniors — trying to sign up. This is a major problem.’
Stringer pointed out that the system is especially challenging given the fact those currently eligible are elderly workers who are typically less tech-savvy.
‘We should be #1 in vaccinations in the nation from day one — and we should be using every tool at our disposal to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible as quickly as possible,’ he added.
It is unclear if any of the technical issues have been ironed out.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Stringer’s office, Cuomo’s office and de Blasio’s office for comment on the issues.
On Monday, Stringer revealed the city had created an option for people to call 311 for an appointment but warned that people were on hold for almost half an hour on the line.
‘Good news: The City now has 311 as an option to make a vaccination reservation. Bad news: The current hold time is 27 minutes. We can and must do better than this,’ he tweeted.
New York Assemblyman Kim, who is also the chairman of the Aging Committee, and Voices for Seniors also hit out at Cuomo for the vaccine rollout
Meanwhile, Cuomo is also facing a backlash over his handling of the rollout from within his own party with New York Assemblyman Kim, who is also the chairman of the Aging Committee, questioning the entire process.
‘First, it should be a two-step verification process to vaccinate older adults. But fixing hospital vaccination screening process is not the issue,’ he tweeted Monday.
‘Why did the governor punt this to underfunded hospitals in the first place? Why didn’t the governor trust local protocols?’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Kim’s office for comment.
Voices for Seniors, an activist group lobbying for change for the elderly, said the vaccine distribution is just the latest sign from Cuomo that he doesn’t care about the elderly.
‘Governor Cuomo and Dr. Zucker have made it clear: They feel our seniors are disposable,’ the group tweeted Monday.
‘There’s no other explanation for their continued and criminal mismanagement of everything COVID; from nursing home policies to vaccine distribution.’
Cuomo has been blasted for releasing a book praising his own leadership during the pandemic and failing to address the thousands of patient deaths at New York nursing homes under his watch.
A senior medical professional said the fault for the slow vaccine rollout lies with Cuomo for not preparing a plan prior to shots being authorized by the federal government.
‘Getting 8.3 million New York City residents organized to do anything is going to be hard. I’m struck by the lack of preparation. They could have foreseen the need for a registration system months ago. As it is, they seem to be managing things on the fly,’ Bill Hammond, Senior Fellow for Health Policy at Empire Center, told Fox News Monday.
‘He should have been working on exactly these issues since the summer or early fall. Not involving the counties — who had already done some the prep work — seems like a major mistake,’ he told me.
COVID-weary New Yorkers are also growing frustrated with Cuomo’s handling of the vaccine rollout accusing him of playing politics with lives.
‘I hate to say that I really think Cuomo is slow-walking the vaccines so that Biden can take credit. The very fact that I’m thinking a man would be so evil as to play politics with peoples’ lives is horrifying to me,’ one person tweeted.
COVID-weary New Yorkers are also growing frustrated with Cuomo’s handling of the vaccine rollout accusing him of playing politics with lives
‘Is Cuomo going to write a book on how efficient his vaccine distribution has been?’ another wrote in reference to his memoir.
Another raged: ‘Governor’s run states. Cuomo of New York(nursing home scandal) threw loads of vaccines out through waste and total incompetence.’
While others singled out the governor for the slow distribution.
‘New York’s COVID-19 #vaccine rollout is an utter disaster, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is to blame,’ one person tweeted.
The New York Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks.
Two sites opened in New York City on Sunday, one at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and another at the Bathgate Contract Postal Station in the Bronx.
Another three will be open on Wednesday, Cuomo said, at the Jacob K Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, the Westchester County Convention Center and the State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County.