UTICA, N.Y. – Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make adjustments the state vaccine distribution plans, to reach more people as soon as possible.
Picente sent a letter to the governor Wednesday, listing his suggested changes to the vaccination strategies already set out by the state health department. He says the current plan is confusing, and the county is willing to work with the state to streamline the process.
“First, Oneida County and all counties stand ready to work hand-in-glove with the State of New York and all its pertinent agencies, hospitals, pharmacies, local doctor offices, schools and others who are in a position to administer this vaccine,” Picente wrote in the letter. “I respectfully request you consider strengthening these partnerships instead of threatening fines and other punitive measures against the very people who are trying to help end this virus.”
On Monday, Cuomo said hospitals could face fines of up to $100,000 if they did not administer all current vaccine doses by the end of the week. By Wednesday, Jan. 6, Cuomo said hospitals had tripled daily vaccination rates from just under 11,000 per day to just over 31,000 per day over the past two days.
Picente also implores Cuomo to expand the list of people eligible to receive the vaccine to those listed in Phase 1A and Phase 1B.
“Second, and most importantly it is imperative that you widen the phases for recipients even further. It is an unconscionable result of the current rollout that vaccines are sitting dormant instead of being placed in vulnerable people’s arms,” the letter reads. “I respectfully request you immediately move to your outlined Phase 1B which would include, in addition to everyone in Phase 1A, a wide variety of people including law enforcement and other first responders, teachers, 911 dispatchers and most importantly, people over the age of 75. This would allow those who need the vaccine the most to be able to get it.”
Here is the letter I have sent to @NYGovCuomo regarding adjustments I believe need to be made to the #COVID19 vaccination distribution process. @WKTV @uticaOD @cnyhomepage @WIBXnews @RomeSentinel @_talkfm @SPECNewsCNY pic.twitter.com/moUU1Jb4o8
— Anthony J. Picente Jr. (@AJPicenteJr) January 6, 2021
Currently Phase 1A includes all frontline health care workers, nursing home residents, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and other high-risk medical workers.
Picente also cited the lack of information from the state level as a source of confusion for the local community. He asks the governor to provide more specific information, so the county and local health departments can relay them to the public.
“Specifically, we need to know how many doses the federal government or the developer has delivered to New York State, how many have been distributed in Oneida County and how many remain unused,” Picente said in the letter. “This information is essential to informing the public but also making the proper decisions necessary to distribute this vaccine.”
During a news briefing on Wednesday, Cuomo said New York has receive 950,000 doses for the 2.1 million people included in Phase 1A.
According to Cuomo, the state is working on a vaccine education plan to be released when the general public start receiving vaccines, which is projected to start in March or April.