Gov. Cuomo: Federal government needs to increase the COVID-19 vaccine supply

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a coronavirus briefing Tuesday to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts.

On day 311 of the pandemic in New York state, the governor provided the following data:

  • 152,402 COVID-19 tests processed Monday statewide
  • 8.31% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 8.85% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
  • 8.12% positivity rate outside micro-cluster hotspots
  • 149 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 Monday
  • 8,590 hospitalized
  • 1,392 in ICU
  • 851 intubated

The governor reiterated the sentiment that the Finger Lakes region remains the most problematic in regards to positivity rate and hospitalization rate per regional population.

“Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes, highest percentage of hospitalization again,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This makes the point that variance is due to the behaviors of that community, so your behavior matters.”

The governor said the state continues to organize plans revolving around the supply and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There are two elements to understand about the vaccine,” Gov. Cuomo said. “One is the amount of supply we have as a nation, as a state, and one is the distribution. Two very different elements that have to be considered. The supply, the production by the drug companies, purchased by the federal government — that’s all a national responsibility. The entire supply is controlled by the federal government. We have been getting about 300,000 vaccine doses per week, that’s roughly 1.2 million per month. The state needs 20 million people vaccinated. You have to do that twice. That’s 40 million, so obviously it’s a very long timeline at this supply rate. So the supply rate has to increase and the supply rate is the limiting factor now. We hope and pray and expect the supply from the federal government will be increasing, but we need it to increase.”

The governor said nursing home residents and staff were being vaccinated by a federal program, and he added that he’d like the whole statewide nursing home population to be vaccinated within the next two weeks. He said health care workers were the next priority population.

“We need them [hospitals] to operate and we need them to operate quickly,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We put in place the ‘use it or lose it’ policy. We have 194 hospitals, we have other hospitals that can do it so I need to best hospitals with the best management and the best systems as part of this effort because its literally a matter of life and death.

The governor said after health care workers, New Yorkers over the age of 75 would be the next population to become eligible for the vaccine. After that the governor said the vaccine distribution from hospitals to a so-called “retail network.”

“Once you get essential workers, and the 75-or-older members of the public, then we’re going to shift from hospitals to the ‘retail network,’ which is a public distribution for essential workers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have 5,000 pharmacies in this state, we have enrolled 3,762 vaccine provider sites statewide.”

The governor said the state has already signed up hundreds of distribution centers in all regions across the state, including 297 in the Finger Lakes to-date. The governor said the distribution center plan will relieve hospital stress, and be capable of handling millions of vaccine doses, once the supply reaches that level.

“I’d like to reduce the burden on the hospitals whenever possible,” Gov. Cuomo said.

In a late conference call with the media on Monday, Cuomo announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 variant strain first discovered in the United Kingdom, is in New York.

“The U.K. strain is a game-changer, and it could be very problematic,” Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday. “We are in a foot race right now; vaccination vs. the infection rate and hospital capacity. This U.K. strain changes the whole footrace, because with this strain the rate of transmission goes way up.”

This strain is believed to be 70% more contagious than the origin.

“Wadsworth lab confirmed a case of the U.K. strain in Saratoga County, New York,” Gov. Cuomo said Monday. “He’s a man in his 60s who had some symptoms. He did not travel recently so evidence suggests it’s in the community.”

The state also announced the launch of a new “Am I Eligible” app Monday to help residents determine when they are eligible for the vaccine.

MORE | ‘Am I Eligible’ app helps New Yorkers determine when they can get the COVID-19 vaccine

If you are eligible, the app will connect you with where you can get the shot and allow you to schedule an appointment.

Watch the full news briefing:

Check back with News 8 WROC as we continue to update this developing story.

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