25 New Sites Open Thursday, April 1 with a Total of 70 Sites Statewide by Mid-April
New Sites Opening in New York City, Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Central New York, Western New York and on Long Island
Expansion Accompanies Reopening of Regional Sports Venues Beginning Thursday, April 1 and Event, Arts and Entertainment Venues Beginning Friday, April 2
Individuals Can Download Proof of their Negative COVID-19 Test Result on the State’s Excelsior Pass Here
Public-Private Partnership First Announced in Governor’s 2021 State of the State to Make Low-Cost Rapid Testing Available for Enhanced Economic Activity
Learn More About New York Forward Rapid Test Program and Find a Test Site Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an expansion of the New York Forward Rapid Test Program to help businesses and events safely reopen, with 25 new sites open Thursday, April 1 and 10 sites opening within the next two weeks for a total of 70 sites statewide.
This unique public-private partnership — first announced in the Governor’s 2021 State of the State: Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew and launched in February — makes low-cost rapid testing available to the public to support enhanced economic activity as the State continues to reopen sectors of the economy. New Yorkers can find a test site and make an appointment here, and download proof of their negative test result on the State’s Excelsior Pass, which launched last month.
“I have stressed many times that testing is a key part of reopening our economy and by expanding our New York Forward Rapid Test Program we can be even more confident in our metrics and tracing capabilities,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new rapid testing sites will be invaluable tools for communities and businesses because they will provide an additional layer of protection as New Yorkers return to their economic activities.”
Several of these sites will open nearby or at arenas, stadiums, and venues, complementing the State’s reopening guidance, which allows professional sports competitions with fans and other entertainment events to resume if all attendees present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or immunization, as well as follow additional health and safety protocols, including social distancing, face coverings, and health screening.
The New York Forward Rapid Test Program aims to dramatically expand access to rapid testing to allow businesses, professional sports, and entertainment venues to more safely re-open. The network accompanies State guidance that increases capacity limits contingent upon attendee proof of a recent negative test or immunization, including professional sports competitions in major stadiums and arenas, which were permitted to resume on February 23; wedding receptions and catered events, which were permitted to resume on March 15; regional sports venues that hold 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 people outdoors, which are permitted to re-open beginning Thursday, April 1; and performing arts and entertainment venues, which are permitted to reopen beginning Friday, April 2.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, “The expansion of the New York Forward Rapid Testing Program comes as more and more New Yorkers become eligible for vaccines. We still have a responsibility to be cautious and observe all recommended health guidelines, as New York State continues to support businesses by providing the tools needed for a safe and sustainable reopening of the Empire State economy.”
Testing providers participating in the network must make rapid testing available for no more than $30, provide participants with their results within 30 minutes, offer a mechanism for people to schedule in advance and report the results to the State. To reduce the cost of testing for New Yorkers and expand the number of sites, the State is providing access to Abbott BinaxNow tests at cost to some providers and working with the Real Estate Board of New York, Business Improvement Districts and other partners across the state to identify vacant spaces in commercial centers that can be donated for the testing network.
Individuals who are not experiencing COVID symptoms and that have not had a recent known exposure to COVID-19 may participate in this initiative by visiting participating locations and completing a questionnaire. Individuals must continue to comply with all New York Forward guidelines on reopening, including but not limited to the use of face coverings, social distancing, and other protocols.
Testing at the new and existing sites will be operated by BioReference Laboratories, Clarity MedHealth, Quest Diagnostics and Rapid Reliable Testing.
To find participating sites in this initiative and to make an appointment, visit the program website.
The following new test locations will be open Thursday, April 1:
· BioReference, 63 Columbia Street, Albany, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 373 Willis Avenue, Roslyn Heights, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 640 Franklin Ave, Valley Stream, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 480 Montauk Highway, Bay Shore, NY
· BioReference, 3 Times Square, New York, NY
· BioReference, Oculus; 185 Greenwich Street, Suite LL4330, New York, NY
· BioReference, 11 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 2106 Ellsworth Boulevard, Malta, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 212 Station Plaza North, Mineola, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 265 Jericho Turnpike, Floral Park, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 165 North Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 222 Rockaway Turnpike, Cedarhurst, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 534 Montauk Highway, Center Moriches, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 889 Harrison Avenue, Riverhead, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 500 West Main Street, Suite 202, Babylon, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 695 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 30 Hatfield Lane, Goshen, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 978 Route 45 Ste 202, Pomona, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 970 North Broadway, Suite 205, Yonkers, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 224-226 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 101 Broadway, Suite 302, Brooklyn, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 137 East 36th Street, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 268 3rd Avenue, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 3014 37th Street, Astoria, NY
The following new test locations will open within the next two weeks:
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 814 West Hempstead Avenue, West Hempstead, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 753 Fort Salonga Road, Northport, NY
· BioReference, 555 5th Avenue, New York, NY
· BioReference, Grand Central Station; 89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY
· BioReference, 301 East 45th Street, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, Shop City Plaza, 396 Grant Boulevard, Syracuse, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 418 3rd Street, Niagara Falls, NY
· Rapid Reliable Testing, Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY
· Rapid Reliable Testing, Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY
· Rapid Reliable Testing, Citi Field, 41 Seaver Way, Queens, NY
The following open test locations were announced previously:
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 1916 Williamsbridge Road, Bronx, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 27 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 168 Montague Street, Brooklyn, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 532 Neptune Avenue, Unit 1, Brooklyn, NY
· BioReference, 599 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
· BioReference, 6 West 52nd Street, New York, NY
· BioReference, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 2182 Broadway, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 475 6th Avenue, New York, NY
· BioReference, 231 West 40th Street, New York, NY
· BioReference, 205 West 34th Street, New York, NY
· BioReference, 200 West 57th Street, Suite 604, New York, NY
· BioReference, 352 7th Avenue, Suite 1204, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 358 5th Avenue, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 338 East 23rd Street, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 275 Third Avenue, New York, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 30-97 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY
· BioReference at CVS Pharmacy, 68-02 Myrtle Avenue, Glendale, NY
· Clarity MedHealth, New York City Police Memorial, Liberty Street and South End Avenue, New York, NY
· Clarity MedHealth, Irish Hunger Memorial, Vesey Street and North End Avenue, New York, NY
· Clarity MedHealth, Pier A, 22 Battery Place, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 2 Executive Park Drive, Albany, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 146 A Manettohill Road, Plainview, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 91 College Plaza, Selden, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 380 Washington Avenue, Kingston, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 1869A East Main Street, Beach Shopping Center, Peekskill, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 280 Dobbs Ferry Road, White Plains, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 2415A Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 331 West 57 Street, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 115 East 57 Street, Suite 1530, New York, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 8229 153rd Avenue, Queens, NY
· Quest Diagnostics, 98 John James Audubon Parkway Buffalo, NY
· Rapid Reliable Testing, 5 Times Square, New York, NY
A negative test result does not completely rule out the possibility of COVID-19 infection or mean that an individual is not at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. However, the initiative’s screening and testing is another tool — in addition to the use of face coverings, social distancing, and other protocols — that can put New York businesses on track to reopen more safely at higher capacities. To learn more about the New York Forward Rapid Test Program and view the Department of Health (DOH) guidance, visit the program’s website.
All participating testing providers have committed to rapid reporting of COVID-19 test results to DOH’s electronic clinical laboratory reporting system (ECLRS, enabling integration with Excelsior Pass — a free, voluntary platform developed in partnership with IBM, which utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with DOH guidelines.
New York has been at the forefront of developing testing capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis, conducting more than 200,000 tests per day on average. Visit the Health Department’s website to find a PCR or antigen testing site near you.
New Yorkers 30 Years of Age and Older Can Begin to Schedule Appointments and Get Vaccinated Beginning Tuesday, March 30
New Yorkers 16 Years of Age and Older Can Begin to Schedule Appointments and Get Vaccinated Beginning April 6
New York State Will Make Eligibility Universal Nearly a Month Earlier Than President Biden’s May 1 Deadline
More Than 2 Million Total Doses Administered at New York State-Run and FEMA Assisted Mass Vaccination Sites
More Than 9 Million Total Doses Administered Across All Vaccination Sites Statewide
171,419 Doses Administered Across New York State in the Last 24 Hours
More than 1.3 Million Doses Administered Over Past Seven Days
30% of New Yorkers Have Received at Least One Dose
Vaccine Dashboard Will Update Daily to Provide Updates on the State’s Vaccine Program; Go to ny.gov/vaccinetracker
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York. Beginning Tuesday, March 30 at 8 a.m., all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 6, universal eligibility goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Additionally, the Governor announced more than 2 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at New York State-run and FEMA-assisted mass vaccination sites. Statewide, more than 9 million total doses have been administered across all vaccination sites. 171,419 doses have been administered across the state’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1.3 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 16 allocation begins mid-week.
“Today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID. Beginning March 30, all New Yorkers age 30 or older will be able to be vaccinated, and all New Yorkers age 16 or older will be eligible on April 6, well ahead of the May 1 deadline set by the White House,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to expand eligibility, New York will double down on making the vaccine accessible for every community to ensure equity, particularly for communities of color who are too often left behind. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until we get there it is more important than ever for each and every New Yorker to wear a mask, socially distance and follow all safety guidelines.”
New York’s vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to limited supply, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.
The ‘Am I Eligible’ screening tool has been updated for individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions with new appointments released on a rolling basis over the next weeks. New Yorkers can use the following to show they are eligible:
· Doctor’s letter, or
· Medical information evidencing comorbidity, or
· Signed certification
Vaccination program numbers below are for doses distributed and delivered to New York for the state’s vaccination program, and do not include those reserved for the federal government’s Long Term Care Facility program. A breakdown of the data based on numbers reported to New York State as of 11 AM today is as follows.
Total doses administered – 9,056,970
Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 171,419
Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,319,740
Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 29.6%
Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 16.8%
People with at least one vaccine dose
People with complete vaccine series
Increase over past24 hours
Increase over past24 hours
Central New York
New York City
Western New York
1st doses fully delivered to New York Providers
2nd doses fully delivered to New York Providers
Week 1Doses arriving 12/14 – 12/20
Week 2Doses arriving 12/21 – 12/27
Week 3Doses arriving 12/28 – 01/03
Week 4Doses arriving 01/04 – 01/10
Week 5Doses arriving 01/11 – 01/17
Week 6Doses arriving01/18- 01/24
Week 7Doses arriving01/25 – 01/31
Week 8Doses arriving02/01 – 02/07
Week 9Doses arriving02/8 – 02/14
Week 10Doses arriving2/15 – 2/21
Week 11Doses arriving2/22 – 2/28
Week 12Doses arriving03/01 – 03/07
Week 13 Doses arriving 03/08 – 03/14
Week 14 Doses arriving 03/15 – 3/21
Week 15 Doses arriving 03/22 – 3/28
New Yorkers seeking to determine eligibility and schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, can visit the ‘Am I Eligible’ website. New Yorkers may also call their local health department, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital for additional information and to schedule appointments where vaccines are available.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker Dashboard is available to update New Yorkers on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The New York State Department of Health requires vaccinating facilities to report all COVID-19 vaccine administration data within 24 hours; the vaccine administration data on the dashboard is updated daily to reflect the most up-to-date metrics in the state’s vaccination effort.
New Yorkers who suspect fraud in the vaccine distribution process can now call 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) toll-free or email the state Department of Health at STOPVAXFRAUD@health.ny.gov. Hotline staff will route complaints to the appropriate investigative agencies to ensure New Yorkers are not being taken advantage of as the State works to vaccinate the entire eligible population.
Amidst the scandal swirling around New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo concerning statistics on nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 that has prompted an independent investigation by the New York Attorney General Leticia James and by the FBI, and led to the New York Legislature stripping the governor of his emergency public health authority, Beth Garvey, special counsel to the Governor released a synopsis of public statements which reiterated that deaths were counted in the facility where individuals died. Here is her statement:
“It has been reported that this administration did not disclose the fact that additional data existed regarding out of facility deaths. To be clear, multiple times during the time the July 6 DOH report was being developed, public statements were made during the daily briefings and in the press regarding the existence of the data, but noting that the deaths were being counted in the facility where individuals died. There were repeated public statements acknowledging the out of facility deaths were not being listed as a subset of nursing home deaths stemming from concerns related to potential for double counting and consistency and accuracy.
COVID Taskforce members, including Melissa DeRosa, Linda Lacewell, and Jim Malatras, were involved in reviewing the draft report — none of them changed any of the fatality numbers or “altered” the fatality data. After asking DOH questions as to the source of the previously unpublished data — to which there were not clear or complete answers — and probing to determine whether it was relevant to the outcome of the report, a decision was made to use the data set that was reported by the place of death with firsthand knowledge of the circumstances, which gave a higher degree of comfort in its accuracy. The Chamber concluded that given the uncertainty of one data set that had not been verified, it did not need to be included, because it did not change the ultimate conclusions, as shown in the revised report which did include that additional data. DOH has repeatedly said they support both the original and revised reports as issued.
This decision was only made after determining that it didn’t change the outcome, and that we understood that the same conclusions were supported by both data sets. The methodology used was disclosed in the report and reflected that it was specific to in-facility, as our public data had always shown as well.
The out of facility data was repeatedly discussed in public briefings and we consistently acknowledged those deaths were being counted in the total death count through the place of death data. There is no credible claim that the public or legislators did not know there was a subset of out of facility deaths that had been reported to DOH but was not yet disclosed as it had not yet been verified as this was the topic of public press briefings and inquiries (see below).
There is currently a review by the Department of Justice, and we are cooperating fully with that inquiry. Again, there was no undercount, as total deaths irrespective of location were always disclosed, and the methodology of how data was being presented was accurate.
The report was intended to detail whether the March 25 advisory memo contributed to increased deaths, and not be a full accounting of every death. We have since updated the report, and it now includes out of facility deaths, with the exception of a limited subset which cannot be confirmed to a sufficient degree of reliability, and that is clearly denoted — the updated report supports the same conclusion of the initial July report.”
EXAMPLES OF PAST STATEMENTS BELOW:
5/5/20: (Press Conference Q+A) – Reporter: Governor, can you comment on, it looks like there’s some new reporting regarding nursing homes and it would increase the total by about 1,700 in terms of total deaths. Does that count towards the official tally? Are they in a different category? How is that being reported out?
Governor Cuomo: You have, I’ll ask Jim and Melissa to explain this because I don’t know the details, frankly. You have two categories – confirmed deaths and then probable or presumed deaths, and they list numbers in both categories. Some people combine the two, confirmed deaths and presumed deaths and have one number. Some people keep them separate and then they are often reported separately or they’re reported together. But that has been going on for a while, but Jim is there, is that accurate?
Jim Malatras: That’s accurate, Governor. We reported the past, we asked the nursing homes to provide updated information. They originally provided about 3,100 total deaths. The confirmed deaths of those are actually 2,100. That gets added to the official count. We’re counting both the presumed and confirmed. But the confirmed deaths are the ones we’re running in the official tally. Other localities are submitting unconfirmed deaths but we want to confirm those things as much as we can. But now we’re putting up both categories so people can clearly see because some of the cities are reporting both together and it was difficult to tease out. So we’ve asked them the report clearly that line of both confirmed and presumed.
Question: [inaudible] Isabella Geriatric Center which is something we drew attention to this week, they issued a statement saying there have been 98 deaths but the official reporting shows less than that, something in the 60s. That does that not count hospital deaths. In other words someone goes from the facility to a hospital is that then counted differently?
Jim Malatras: Those get reported in the hospitalization deaths. The Isabella situation, they reported 60 but in actuality it’s 21 confirmed deaths and the remaining being presumed which we’ll have to officially try to confirm one way or another. So it is in line with keeping with what they were sending before, but we’ve asked those facilities to update which they have.
Governor Cuomo: In fact just to just to be clear I would take all of these numbers now with a grain of salt. We were just saying the confirmed deaths, you know what that means. What does a presumed death mean, right? We presume it. How do you presume it to be coronavirus? Also the at-home deaths, non-hospital, non-nursing-home deaths, just at-home deaths, when do you actually get all the numbers on those and how do you confirm all those deaths as attributed to coronavirus? So I would caveat with all of these. I think they’re going to change over time.
DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: — no, I was going to say, we had — we reported it as someone who’s died in the hospital. [Indiscernible] the nursing home, they went to the hospital, they died in the hospital. We reported as they came from the hospital. We then started to ask, and we tried to get information about who died in the nursing homes. And we started reporting that as getting information from the nursing homes. And we do not want — as I mentioned before, we don’t want to double-count and say this person died here and also died there.
DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: Well, and what I’m saying is, is that, that information, I want to be sure that we are not double-counting individuals, that someone didn’t die for a different reason because — so that’s what we’re trying to do. If someone goes into the hospital from a nursing home, and then they die, or, they — or — and they’re sick in the hospital, and someone says, well, they died because of COVID, well, maybe they died because of something else. I mean, this is something which I mentioned about earlier, about pneumonia. Right? The presumption by CDC was that, they died, the 27 percent of people dying in those two months, was because of pneumonia. And as the director of the CDC said, “presumed to be coronavirus.” Right? But what I want to know is exactly, when someone dies in the hospital, what did they die from?
ASSEMBLY MEMBER BRAUNSTEIN: I think a lot of us may reserve judgment about the conclusions of the report until we have an accurate view of all of the data. And we’re missing a significant amount of people who contracted COVID in a nursing home and then later died in a hospital. And I just think it would bolster the conclusions of the report if, at some point in the future, when you do have that data, maybe you can, you know, add it in the report, just to, you know, make sure that this report is accurate.
DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: I am confident about the data. I hear what you’re saying. I will also say that in that report you will see that there is a curve that shows the deaths from the nursing homes and deaths in the community, and they line up. And I suspect — not suspect — that I know that this will be the same.
GARETH RHODES: And I will just add, we’re updating this report down the road. We can include what the experience of other states has been. Then this report came out, and I quote the Mary Mayhew, the Florida Agency for Health-Care Administration: [Indiscernible] doors to keep that virus from getting to our facilities. Our staff are human beings who have lives outside of these facilities. Nursing home operator in Florida: The overwhelming majority of our staff members were testing positive or asymptomatic. An indigenous virus is very difficult to detect after the testing. So it happened in other states.
Cuomo’s Agenda is Focused on Defeating COVID-19 and Reopening the State Safely; Jumpstarting the Economy; Creating a Fairer, More Just State; Leading the Development of the Green Energy Economy; and Building and Strengthening the State’s Infrastructure
Proposals Include the Largest Off-Shore Wind Program in the Nation; Five Dedicated Port Facilities to make New York a Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse; Building a Green Energy Transmission Superhighway; Creating a new 1,000 person Public Health Corps; Safely Reopening Businesses and Bringing Back the Arts; Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis and Online Sports Betting; First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All; Expanding Early Voting; and $306 Billion Infrastructure Plan – Largest in the Nation – to Update Airports and Transportation Infrastructure and Redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West Neighborhood
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 agenda – Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew – features nation-leading proposals to not only defeat COVID-19, but also tackle critical issues facing New York and the country, including jumpstarting New York’s economic recovery; creating a fairer, more just state; reopening the state; becoming a leader in the growing green energy economy; and rebuilding and strengthening New York’s infrastructure. Proposals include legalizing adult-use cannabis and online sports betting; first-in-the-nation affordable internet for all; safely bringing back the arts with pop-up performances and events; the largest off-shore wind program in the nation; five dedicated port facilities to make New York a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse; building a green energy transmission superhighway and; The largest infrastructure plan in the nation to update the state’s airports and transportation infrastructure, including a new Port Authority bus terminal, and redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood.
“There are moments in life that can change a person fundamentally – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Likewise, there are episodes in history that transform society and COVID is one of those moments. We see the risk and peril, but we also see the promise and potential of this moment.” Governor Cuomo said. “This next year we will see economies realign and reset around the world and New York will lead the way. In a moment when nagging insecurity can either limit your potential or give way to the energy of urgency, necessity, and innovation. We know the direction we are headed – it is our state motto, Excelsior- ever upwards.”
Governor Cuomo continued, “New York is different – our DNA is different, our character is different. What COVID did to us is different and how we responded to COVID is different. We have a confidence born from accomplishment. We know what we must do and we will do it. We will win the COVID war and we will learn and grow from the experience.After the war, reconstruction begins. That is when progress is made. We must start our post COVID war reconstruction now. We can and we will build back a better and stronger New York. We have done it throughout history, we did it last year, and we will do it again. It is our legacy.”
2021 REIMAGINE | REBUILD | RENEW HIGHLIGHTS
DEFEATING COVID-19, JUMPSTARTING THE ECONOMY, AND CREATING A FAIRER, MORE JUST STATE
Passing the Medical Supplies Act: The United States was ill-prepared for a global pandemic when it came to our shores in 2020. At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, New York State, along with the rest of the country, faced a severe shortage of basic Personal Protective Equipment, leaving our frontline health care professionals vulnerable to contracting the disease that we so desperately needed them to fight. To ensure that hospitals had the supplies needed to protect their patients and workers, New York was forced to compete with other countries — and even states — to secure critical products from overseas.
To promote domestic manufacturing of critical medical equipment and to reduce dependency on overseas products, Governor Cuomo is proposing that New York pass the Medical Supplies Act to prioritize buying American-made PPE and medical supplies. As the Buy American Act, made permanent last year, did for American-made structural iron and steel, this new policy will help create and retain local jobs while ensuring the health and dependability of a crucial sector for years to come.
Comprehensive Telehealth Legislation: The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system and showed that telehealth is a critical tool to expand access and lower costs for low-income communities, especially for behavioral health support. During the crisis, the Governor took executive action to expand access to remote care. These proposals codify and build on those successful reforms.
In partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, the Governor will enact comprehensive telehealth reform to help New Yorkers take advantage of telehealth tools and address existing roadblocks. These reforms will address key issues like adjusting reimbursement incentives to encourage telehealth, eliminating outdated regulatory prohibitions on the delivery of telehealth, removing outdated location requirements, addressing technical unease among both patients and providers through training programs, and establishing other programs to incentivize innovative uses of telehealth.
Ensuring Social and Racial Justice for the Vaccination Effort: In order to ensure the vaccine is distributed equitably, especially in communities of color, Governor Cuomo created the New York Vaccine Equity Task Force. Chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang, the Governor’s Equity Task Force will assist in overcoming existing barriers to vaccination and increase access to vaccines in Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, rural, poor, and public housing communities, as well as other health care deserts.
To support the vaccine rollout, the Task Force was directed by the Governor to build trust and acknowledge the pervasive structural inequities that have contributed to existing health and social disparities, address language access issues, ensure protections of privacy and confidentiality, and develop outreach efforts and community engagements that are regionally placed, culturally responsive, and representative of all communities. As vaccine availability increases from the federal government, the State will establish in partnership with private entities and localities, public clinics to reach vulnerable and underserved communities.
New York State Public Health Corps: While working to make New York the first COVID-19-safe state in the nation through widespread vaccination, we must also prepare for future public health crises. To support New York’s massive effort to vaccinate nearly 20 million New Yorkers and support other public health emergency responses, Governor Cuomo is proposing the launch of the nation’s first public health corps. As part of the effort, up to 1,000 fellows will be recruited to assist with vaccination operations. These fellows will include students in undergraduate and graduate public health programs, nursing schools and medical schools, recent graduates, retired medical professionals, and laypeople who will receive an intensive public health training curriculum developed by Cornell University. Bloomberg Philanthropies, Northwell, and our Department of Health will manage and coordinate the Corps.
After the vaccination program is completed, New York will build on this Public Health Corps model by continuing to recruit and train public health professionals to staff State and county health agencies and this Corps will be available and prepared to serve the state in any future crisis.
Free Citizen Public Health Training: To empower and educate New Yorkers to be prepared for the next public health crises, the State will develop a free citizen public health training program with Cornell, offered online, to educate and certify thousands of New Yorkers to be prepared to volunteer to help their communities the next time there is a health emergency.
Fight for Overdue Federal Support to States Fighting COVID-19: New York was blindsided by the virus in early spring. Despite vast agencies tasked with monitoring health threats, and months of warning, the federal government failed to respond to — or even notice — the growing global pandemic. When they finally took notice, the federal government was solely focused on China such that they allowed 3 million travelers from Europe — where the virus was rapidly spreading —to enter New York City-area airports and others. This was an act of gross negligence by the federal government. New York State led the nation in its response. Left to fend for itself by the federal government, New Yorkers bent the curve and, with a science-based approach, re-opened much of the economy while maintaining some of the lowest infection rates in the nation.
However, even as portions of the economy have bounced back, many sectors have seen significant job losses and remain severely impacted, all contributing to New York’s significant fiscal challenges. The State is contending with a $15 billion budget gap created entirely by the pandemic. For too long, New York has been asked to unfairly subsidize the federal government. As the federal government’s number one donor, New York already leads the nation in sending more money to Washington than it gets back in return. On top of that, Washington has relentlessly abused this state, providing the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the nation, starving infrastructure funding, and curtailing the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which raised New Yorkers’ taxes and starved New York of $30 billion over three years. After all of this, New York cannot also afford to pay the bill for the federal government’s incompetence.
Governor Cuomo will fight to ensure that the federal government takes responsibility and delivers the fair funding New York and other states are owed.
Pass a Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program: In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety, and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.
Building on that important work, the Governor is proposing the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee a new adult-use cannabis program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented.
Enabling Online Sports Betting: The sports gambling market is evolving rapidly. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Murphy v. NCAA overturned a federal law prohibiting most states from authorizing sports wagering. Sports wagering is now legal online in 14 states, including the bordering states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while it is only legal in New York at four Upstate commercial gaming facilities and Native American gaming facilities. An industry study found that nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents, costing the State millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. The Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction.
Create a Rapid Testing Network as a Tool to Help Businesses Reopen: Over the past several months, Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward reopening plan has paved the way for many businesses to resume operations safely through a phased approach and in accordance with public health protocols. While this has unleashed the ingenuity and creativity of New York businesses — such as new outdoor dining spaces and delivery options — it has also created significant financial struggles for these industries.
New York has been at the forefront of developing testing capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis and will use that experience to help support the reopening of businesses. The State will continue to scale up the availability of testing to help businesses safely reduce capacity restrictions, as well as work with testing companies to stand up a network of convenient testing sites in city centers, starting with New York City. New York will also work with local governments to cut through any red tape to set up this critical infrastructure quickly. With this new network of rapid testing locations, a customer can stop into a new rapid testing facility, get tested, and 15 minutes later be cleared for dinner or a movie. This will provide an added layer of protection and confidence as New Yorkers resume economic activity.
Facilitating Policing Reforms: This year, Governor Cuomo took swift and aggressive action to respond to community concerns and rebuild public trust in the law enforcement profession following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and far too many others. The Governor signed the “Say Their Name” reform agenda which repealed 50-a, banned chokeholds, prohibited race-based 911 calls, and codified his 2015 Executive Order that appointed the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for police involved deaths of unarmed civilians. He also signed legislation creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Attorney General’s Office to investigate complaints of misconduct filed against law enforcement agencies.
However, unrest and distrust continued to roil communities in New York and across the nation. Maintaining public safety is imperative; it is one of the essential roles of government, and communities require mutual trust and respect between police and the communities they serve. In recognition of this, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 creating the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. This collaborative process requires all local governments and police forces to develop a plan to modernize their policing strategies and strengthen relationships with the communities they serve. Localities are required to engage their community and ratify a plan by April 1, 2021. Failure to complete this process will result in loss of State funding.
Facilitating the Creation of Statewide Childcare Options: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how a lack of access to affordable childcare can disrupt low-income families and force caregivers, primarily women, to choose between putting food on the table and caring for their children. While affordability serves as a barrier to families securing child care, there is also a lack of general accessibility of child care programs, as well as insufficient high quality provider capacity across the state which can inhibit families from accessing child care.
To make child care more affordable and equitable for our most vulnerable children and their parents, Governor Cuomo will invest $40 million to reduce the burden of parent subsidy copays to help approximately 32,000 working families. This will ensure that no New York family pays more than 20 percent of their income above the federal poverty level for a child care subsidy co-pay, with the rest of the cost of care being covered by the subsidy.
To ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care, New York State will invest $6 million for start-up grants to create programs in child care deserts; increase the value of the New York State Employer-Provided Child Care Credit by expanding the amount a business can claim for qualified child care expenditures to up to $500,000 per year; create a new toolkit to provide guidance and assistance to businesses looking to subsidize and facilitate access to child care for their employees; and establish permanent child care sector workgroups within the Regional Economic Development Councils REDCs to guide and inform council decisions. The Governor will also establish a new Excelsior Child Care Investment Tax Credit available to recipients of the Excelsior Tax Credit as a bonus incentive to create and provide child care services for employees and their families.
To ease administrative burdens and make it easier and less costly to provide child care services, Governor Cuomo will adopt the Child Care Availability Task Force recommendations to standardize and modernize the child care subsidy system to eliminate waste, duplication, and confusing rules for families. Specifically, the Governor will direct the Office of Children and Family Services and the Council on Children and Families to examine federal and state statutes and regulations to identify opportunities for reform and streamlining; eliminate redundant background checks that increase administrative burdens and costs for providers; and advance legislation to eliminate the requirement that individuals seeking employment at OCFS or in New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulated programs submit a new Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment clearance form when they move to a new program.
Streamlining and Enhancing Work to Address Gender-Based Violence: Ending domestic violence and sexual assault has been at the top of New York’s agenda since Governor Cuomo first took office. Throughout his time as Governor, Governor Cuomo has signed extensive legislation relating to ensuring safety for girls, women, and all survivors of domestic trauma and abuse, including legislation in the FY 2021 budget authorizing law enforcement to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident, and requiring judges to consider the effects of domestic violence while determining distribution of marital property. The Governor also signed the Enough is Enough law in July, 2015 to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking on college campuses.
The Governor is now proposing to take this work a step further through a comprehensive package of initiatives to combat domestic violence and gender-based violence. The package includes a proposal allowing courts to require abusers to pay for damages to housing units, moving expenses, and other housing costs related to domestic violence, as well as a proposals to create a domestic violence misdemeanor label to close the domestic violence gun-purchasing loophole to ensure abusers cannot obtain weapons who are convicted of misdemeanor assaults on a domestic partner.
Additionally, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will be transformed into a reimagined agency, the Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, and will be tasked with addressing the intersection of the many forms of intimate partner violence, including domestic violence and sexual violence, in a survivor-centered and comprehensive manner.
Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief for Tenants and Small Business Owners: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented economic dislocation across the United States, and New York is no exception. The financial hardships arising from business closures and resulting unemployment touch on every aspect of life but are perhaps most acutely felt by New Yorkers in danger of losing their homes or businesses because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage or rent.
The Governor has already signed legislation placing a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Taking this effort a step further, Governor Cuomo will codify his Executive Order banning fees for late and missed rent payments during the pandemic and allowing tenants to use their security deposit as immediate payment and repay the deposit over time, keeping those protections in place through May 1. The Governor will also codify his Executive Order to establish a statewide moratorium on commercial evictions until May 1 for commercial tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship.
Eliminating Health Care Premiums for Low-Income New Yorkers: The COVID-19 pandemic showcased the persistent, staggering healthcare disparities in this country and in New York State. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and poor communities paid the highest price for COVID-19. Higher rates of underlying conditions were a major driver of these disparities. Increasing access to affordable healthcare will help address these disparities and help ensure that New York emerges from the pandemic stronger and more equitable.
Through New York’s successful health insurance exchange, the New York State of Health, low-income families qualify for the state’s Essential Plan for free or with a maximum premium of $20 a month per person. However, families and individuals still struggle with the expense. To make coverage more affordable for low-income New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo will eliminate these monthly premiums for over 400,000 New Yorkers, saving families nearly $100 million per year in premiums and enrolling 100,000 New Yorkers who are currently uninsured.
Continuing New York’s Liberty Defense Project: Launched in 2017 under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project has provided more than 45,000 vital legal services to immigrants and communities in need — particularly those who have been targeted by federal immigration enforcement tactics, including those in Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status. The project is administered by the Office for New Americans and runs in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state. The Liberty Defense Project provides free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York, direct representation in deportation proceedings and other cases, assistance in applying for naturalization and employment authorization, and other education and support, including connection to social services and health care.
This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to support the Liberty Defense Project to keep fighting for immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. New York’s strength, character, and pride are found in the diversity and rich culture that makes us the Empire State. We will continue to support and defend all who call New York home.
Strengthening and Expanding Access to Elections: Building from New York’s previous landmark election reforms, Governor Cuomo has put forth a transformational proposal that continues to expand access to voting and improves procedures to speed up vote counting and add additional time for early voting. Specifically:
Expand Access to Early Voting:Governor Cuomo will advance legislation that extends early voting hours from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on weekends as well as on a minimum of three week days during the ten-day early voting period.
No-Excuse Absentee Voting for All New Yorkers:In 2019, Governor Cuomo celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a resolution beginning the process of amending the state constitution to make no-excuse absentee voting a reality in our state. In 2021, the Governor will call on the Legislature to act quickly to pass the resolution again so that the proposed amendment can go on the ballot to be ratified by the voters.
Allow More Time for Voters to Request Absentee Ballots: The state’s election law currently prohibits voters from requesting their absentee ballots more than 30 days prior to Election Day. Particularly in elections with large numbers of absentee voters, this timeline may make it difficult for county boards of elections to process ballot requests in a timely and efficient manner. This, in turn, provides voters with less time to receive their ballots, vote, and mail them back. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation allowing voters to request absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election, ensuring they can be mailed as soon as the ballot is finalized and approved by the Board.
Speed Up the Counting of Absentee Ballots:New York State’s election law does not facilitate the speedy counting of large numbers of absentee ballots – the law only requires that boards of elections meet to process and count ballots within two weeks of a general election and within eight days of a primary election. To ensure that New York State counts absentee votes quickly and efficiently after each election, Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation requiring county boards of elections to process absentee ballots as they are received and to begin counting and reporting those ballots on Election Day.
Creatively Repurposing Underutilized Commercial Space for Additional Housing: As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, New York, like states across the country, has seen an increase in telework and a reduction in travel. New York City must, and will, remain a global commercial hub, by ensuring that its central business district remains the paramount location for the world’s most innovative and successful businesses and their employees. Reduced demand for office and hotel space has created an opportunity to repurpose formerly commercial space that has far greater potential for use as housing, including affordable and supportive housing, to create dynamic, 24/7 walk-to-work neighborhoods.
Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to allow property owners to convert office buildings and hotels in New York to residential use. Stimulating housing conversion will create thousands of good-paying jobs, increase housing affordability, and support long-term economic growth by helping New York’s employers attract and retain talent.
Ensuring Safe Shelters and Providing Sustained Care for Homeless on the Street: Governor Cuomo has been a leader in protecting and serving homeless New Yorkers throughout his entire career, and he took action during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure they received the support and care they need. In September, Governor Cuomo directed the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to issue guidance to all social services
REOPENING SAFELY AND SMARTLY FOLLOWING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
SafelyBringing Back the Arts with Pop-Up Performances and Events: New York is the cultural capital of the world. Our unique cultural assets — Broadway, museums, film, comedy, dance, and music — are fundamental to both the economy and the spirit of New York. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $120 billion arts and cultural sector accounted for nearly eight percent of the state’s economy, and nearly 500,000 jobs. In less than a year, over two million jobs in the creative arts were lost nationally, including tens of thousands of jobs in New York.
New York State will launch a public-private partnership that will organize “pop-up” performances and arts events across the state beginning in February. More than 150 world-class artists including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, and Hugh Jackman will participate, along with arts organizations such as the Ballet Hispanico, Ars Nova, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the National Black Theatre, Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, and many others supported by New York State Council on the Arts, which works with over 2,000 arts organizations across the state.
Supporting New York Artists Through the Creatives Rebuild Initiative: The State will partner with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch a Creatives Rebuild initiative. Developed in partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, this initiative will put back to work 1,000 artists who have been impacted by the crisis and will invest in dozens of small arts organizations that make our towns and cities so dynamic. Arts have a multiplying effect on the economy. Creatives Rebuild will provide New York artists support so they can help build more vibrant communities across New York.
First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All Low-Income Families: When the COVID-19 virus first came to New York and then quickly began to spread throughout our communities, students and adults alike had to adapt to remote learning and remote work to keep each other safe. Immediately, it became clear that universal broadband was a prerequisite for success in a remote world. Currently, a basic high-speed internet plan costs, on average, more than $50 a month. Governor Cuomo will propose first-in-the-nation legislation requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high speed internet plan to all low-income households. The State will also require providers to advertise this plan to ensure programs reach underserved populations across the State. To further bridge the gap, the State will partner with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch a new hardship fund to pay for internet subscriptions for our most in need students who cannot afford $15 per month during this crisis.
After nearly $500 million dollars invested to expand broadband internet to 98 percent of the state, New York will also lead the nation in making broadband affordable. Without affordable broadband, people are not only disconnected, they are disenfranchised. The Reimagine New York Commission reported to the Governor that high-quality, affordable broadband must be available to everyone and in New York we will make sure it is.
Partner with New York Businesses to Invest in Workforce Training, Expand Apprenticeships and Mentorships, and Reform Recruitment and Promotion Policies: The COVID-19 health emergency has pushed many New Yorkers out of work, with the greatest losses impacting lower and middle-income households. Equally important is the demand side of the workforce equation: Businesses must help design programs to meet skill gaps and commit to hiring workers once training is complete.
In partnership with the Governor’s Reimagine New York Commission, New York is launching a Pathways Pledge among New York’s leading employers, both public and private, to commit to reforming their talent recruitment, investment, and promotion policies and ensure more equitable workforces post-COVID-19. To date, 16 companies have made the pledge, affecting more than 120,000 workers in New York State. In 2021, New York State plans to triple that commitment.
Participating employers have committed to at least two of the following: Investing in workforce retraining; creating apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented populations; providing additional supports for low-income trainees in the form of child care or transportation subsidies; removing high school or postsecondary degree requirements for new hires; scaling relationships with existing workforce development partners to provide adequate time off for interviews and professional development opportunities, and develop new relationships with New York State providers serving underserved communities.
Provide Scholarships to Low-Income Workers for Workforce Training Programs: While many in the New York community colleges, nonprofits, or business training providers offer workforce training, workers who do not qualify for current college subsidies must pay the full cost. This can be a barrier to entry into the training opportunities needed to achieve higher wages and break into growing industries.
As New York builds back better, Governor Cuomo is announcing nearly $5 million in scholarships to create more opportunities for low-income, working New Yorkers to enter the middle class. Like the successful Excelsior Scholarship which launched in 2017, this program will make high-quality credential programs free for low-income New Yorkers, empowering them to earn credentials that will lead to middle-class jobs in high-demand industries.
Expand SUNY’s Online Training Center to Close Skills Gaps and Fill High Demand Jobs: The COVID-19 public health crisis has led to an economic crisis across New York State and the world. The working class was particularly hard hit with leisure and hospitality, trade and logistics, and retail industries facing unprecedented revenue losses. As workers seek new job opportunities, non-degree certification credential programs can be an important way to close skills gaps and fill high demand jobs.
Governor Cuomo will expand SUNY’s free Online Training Center so New Yorkers can enroll in additional employment certification programs for quality jobs in high-demand growing industries, like health care and advanced manufacturing. The Training Center will give more New Yorkers in every region of the state — from rural communities to urban centers — another opportunity to receive free job training certifications and then automatically be admitted to any one of SUNY’s 30 community colleges for future career advancements
Convene a Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy: Governor Cuomo will establish the Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy to put forth a roadmap to address the underlying inequities exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, — including the socio-economic disparities that the crisis exacerbated — get New York back to work in jobs that pay well and continue to attract people from around the world to live and work in New York. The Commission will be composed of leading members of the nation’s academic, business, labor, and civil society leaders. NYU Wagner School of Public Service Dean Sherry Glied will serve as Executive Director of this Commission.
GROWING THE GREEN ENERGY ECONOMY
Largest Offshore Wind Program in the Nation: In 2021, New York will continue to build out its nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerate renewable energy development programs. The state will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC for the development of two new offshore wind farms more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island, in what is the largest procurement of renewable energy by a state in U.S. history. Upon completion, the two offshore wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, bring another $8.9 billion in investment, and create more than 5,200 jobs.
Once the large-scale renewable and offshore wind farms are complete, more than half of New York’s electricity will come from renewable sources, putting the state ahead of schedule toward reaching its goal of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse: New York has secured commitments from companies to manufacture wind turbine components within the state and build the nation’s largest offshore wind program. Plans to make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse include upgrades to create five dedicated port facilities, including:
The nation’s first offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility to be built at the Port of Albany.
An offshore wind turbine staging facility and operations and maintenance hub to be established at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.
Increasing the use of the Port of Coeymans for cutting-edge turbine foundation manufacturing, and
Buttressing the ongoing operations and maintenance out of Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk Harbor in Long Island.
The projects will leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities, and will ultimately yield 2,600 short- and long-term jobs in the offshore wind industry.
Construct New York’s Green Energy Transmission Superhighway: As New York builds substantial capacity to generate clean energy Upstate, the next challenge is to create a modern transmission system capable of delivering this electricity efficiently to high-demand areas Downstate. Last year, New Yorkers utility bills reflected approximately $1 billion in unnecessary “congestion costs” because of bottlenecks on our antiquated transmission grid.
In 2021, New York State will construct a new green energy superhighway of 250 miles. The $2 billion project will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for the parts of the state that still rely on polluting fossil-fuel plants. Construction has already started on the New York Power Authority’s 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan, and construction will soon start on several key projects in Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region.
New York has issued a Request for Proposals for transmission arteries to bring renewable energy from Upstate and Canada to New York City. Supercharging the new transmission superhighway will be vital to completing New York’s nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerating renewable energy development programs. Current and planned investments will result in more than 1,000 jobs and $5 billion of public and private sector investment.
Public-Private Partnership to Build Nearly 100 Renewable Energy Projects: New York’s clean energy transformation has accelerated rapidly over the past five years. During this period, the State has contracted for the construction of 68 new large-scale renewable energy facilities including solar farms, onshore wind farms, and three offshore wind farms that are among the largest in the nation. These investments in renewable energy have brought economic activity to 34 distinct counties, will add 6,100 megawatts of clean energy capacity to the state’s infrastructure, and generate investment of more than $12 billion.
To build on this remarkable progress, New York will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, to bring the State’s total clean energy build-out to nearly 100 projects. The 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility will be the most cost-efficient clean energy construction to date in New York, producing more than 2,200 megawatts of clean power, generating more than $2.9 billion of investment and creating 3,400 jobs in 16 counties Upstate.
Energy Storage Projects: New York will continue to develop and deploy state-of-the-art renewable energy storage technology and facilities to generate electricity, build the capacity for storage, and help the state achieve its ambitious climate plans. To that end, the New York Power Authority has already begun construction on a large-scale, 20-megawatt battery storage project in Northern New York, one of the largest storage projects in the State’s growing portfolio of almost 1,000 megawatts of contracted storage projects. These projects will help meet the electricity demands of 1.2 million New York homes using renewable energy. In addition, these projects will help continue propelling this fast-growing job sector.
Train the Green Energy Workforce: New York’s accelerated renewable energy development program is creating thousands of well-paying jobs. To make sure all New Yorkers benefit directly from growth in this sector, the State is investing $20 million in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute based at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College. The Institute will train at least 2,500 New Yorkers for good-paying jobs in wind and renewable. energy. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the State University of New York has issued the first solicitation for advanced technology training partners to leverage our SUNY system and train the first group of workers beginning in the summer of 2021.
New York is also investing $700 million in building electrification solutions for approximately 130,000 buildings in the state, including a variety of heat pump technologies, and the training of 14,000 workers for the new heat pump markets.. Approximately 25 percent of the workers trained will be from disadvantaged communities or priority populations.
Combined with our efforts in the buildings and transportation sectors, our entire green economy recovery will create 12,400 megawatts of green energy to power 6 million homes, directly create over 50,000 jobs, and spur more than $29 billion in public and private investment, while delivering to environmental justice communities and benefiting all New Yorkers by securing our carbon-free climate future.
BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE
Midtown West Redevelopment in New York City: New York State has long led some of New York City’s most successful and transformational macro-development projects, from Battery Park City to Roosevelt Island, to the transformation of Times Square. This year, the Governor has already announced the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall, New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, and plans to extend the High Line to Moynihan Train Hall. In 2021, New York State will build on that progress to complete the buildout and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. The multi-faceted plan includes:
Replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal:The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will replace the outdated terminal with a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve the over a quarter million daily passengers. The project will not only reduce congestion on city streets and improve air quality but will transform mass transit to and from the West Side of Manhattan. Renderings of the future bus terminal are available here.
Developing the Empire Station Complex: With the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall, which opened to the public on January 1, 2021, the State will turn its attention to the existing Penn Station, just across the street. The State will start on a comprehensive $16 billion project to reconstruct the existing station and add track capacity. By acquiring property south of Penn Station, we can expand the complex to 40 percent more train capacity and at least eight additional underground tracks to cut down on delays and improve operations for the more than 600,000 passengers it serves daily. Renderings for the reconstruction of the existing station can be found here.
The signature transportation project will create nearly 60,000 direct jobs, and New York State stands ready to work with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the federal government to share in this historic investment for the future of the region. The transformation of Penn Station also anticipates the Gateway Project, including two tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the west and the renovation of the two existing tunnels, for a total of four train tunnels from New Jersey and beyond.
Affordable Housing and Community Restoration:With the new transportation complex as a cornerstone, the Midtown West development will also include new housing and commercial development opportunities in the area. In total, the area spanning from Broadway to the Hudson will include up to 14 buildings that will yield more than 20 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential development and provide up to 1,400 much-needed units of affordable housing in a transit, job, and amenity-rich community.
New Waterfront Park at Pier 76:Located west of the Javits Center and 36th Street, the State will transform Pier 76 from an NYPD car tow pound to a 5.6-acre expansion of Hudson River Park. In the short term, it can become a magnificent public space that allows visitor access to the waterfront while the Hudson River Park Trust develops plans for the Pier’s long-term future. Renderings of Pier 76 are available here.
Javits Center Expansion: The 1.2 million-square-foot, $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center will be completed in 2021, increasing capacity of the nation’s busiest convention center by 50 percent. The expansion will include a rooftop pavilion and outdoor terrace for 1,500 people; a one-acre rooftop farm; a 54,000-square foot special event space with Hudson River views; 90,000 square feet of new exhibition space that will create 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space; and a truck marshaling facility to reduce congestion and pollution.
Modernizing New York Airports:
Continue to build the new LaGuardia Airport: New York will continue the historic $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia Airport. Upon receipt of a positive record of decision from the federal government, New York State will continue work on the $2 billion AirTrain LaGuardia. In addition, the vast majority of the roadway network will be completed this year and marks significant progress on Delta’s new state-of-the-art terminal and concourses on the east side of the airport. When complete, the new LaGuardia will be the first new major airport built in the United States since 1995. The new LaGuardia will serve more than 30 million passengers per year and will have created 14,000 jobs.
Continue the transformation of JFK Airport: New York State will continue the $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern airport built for the 21st century. When complete, the brand new JFK will safely and efficiently serve more than 75 million passengers per year. The project is also slated to create nearly 30,000 jobs. As part of the JFK Airport transformation, the State is modernizing the Kew Gardens Interchange, which serves more than 200,000 vehicles daily. The final phase of this $700 million project will be complete in 2022.
Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization: Building on a $200 million investment through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, the Governor will commit an additional $100 million in round two funding for continued renewal and modernization. Funding will include enhanced securityscreening, expanded and rehabilitated terminals, stateofthe-art boarding concourses and concession areas, and innovations in contactless technology.
Improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers:
Phase II of Second Ave Subway Extension: The MTA remains in desperate need of further federal funding so it can continue its essential role in supporting the region. That said, it is committed to implementing its historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan. Upon resolving funding uncertainty caused by COVID-19, MTA will get this program back on track with repair projects, signal modernization, and ADA accessibility projects progressing in 2021. Other projects supported include upgraded stations, thousands of new buses and train cars, and critical maintenance and upgrades for bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure. In addition, with necessary multi-year federal support, MTA will further extend the Second Avenue Subway, from 96th Street to 125th Street.
LIRR Third Track Project:The Long Island Rail Road’s historic and transformative third track project will complete a new third track along a critical 9.8-mile section of LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville to increase track capacity, improve reliability, and significantly enhance service for LIRR customers. The $2.6 billion project also includes the construction of additional parking garages, the renovation of stations, new and renovated bridges, and modern track and signal infrastructure. By the end of 2021, MTA will have completed all eight of the grade crossing eliminations on the mainline, six of which will have new vehicular underpasses.
Updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges:
Access to Hunts Point: New York State will invest $1.7 billion to create direct access to and from the Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan Boulevard for trucks serving the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. The highway redesign will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with high asthma rates. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025.
I-390/490 Interchange Improvements: In 2021, the State will complete a $150 million project to ease access and improve traffic flow along Route 31, Route 390, and the Interstate 390/490 Interchange in Monroe County. This interchange will serve as a vital connection for nearly 200,000 motorists daily.
Re-deck the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge: The State will continue work on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge to complete a full deck replacement on the north span of the bridge over the Hudson River. Re-decking will improve roadway safety, drivability, and durability. This $95 million investment will be complete in 2022, nine months ahead of schedule.
Replace the Syracuse I-81 Viaduct: The State will conduct an environmental and public review of its proposal to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse. This $1.9 billion project will connect communities and create opportunities for new residential and commercial development. The project is expected to break ground in 2022.
Governor Cuomo also announced progress on a number of major infrastructure updates across New York State that invest in communities to open new public spaces, attract tourism, and create jobs.
Buffalo Skyway: Governor Cuomo initiated a large-scale planning and design effort to maximize waterfront access and free up to 45 acres for development through the removal of the Skyway Bridge in downtown Buffalo and transform it into a spectacular park. New York State will complete the environmental review process this year and, with federal approval, will be ready to break ground this year.
Albany Skyway Conversion: Through an $11.4 million partnership with the City of Albany, the State is converting an underutilized interstate exit ramp into an iconic linear park with a landscaped promenade, event spaces, and an accessible shared-use path connecting downtown Albany with the Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods, Albany’s warehouse district, and the Corning Riverfront Park. Construction will be completed this year.
Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus: In 2021, Binghamton University will complete construction of its transformational, $287 million, 13-acre Health Sciences Campus in downtown Johnson City. This includes the 108,000 square-foot Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which will welcome hundreds of students this Spring; a new 105,000 square-foot school of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with more than 350 faculty, staff, and students; a new eldercare teaching clinic in partnership with Lourdes Hospital; and a pharmacological R&D facility. Overall this project will have created more than 225 new jobs and involved more than 200 construction jobs.
New Mohawk Valley Health System Hospital in Utica: This year, work will continue on Mohawk Valley Health System’s $548 million new state-of-the-art hospital in downtown Utica. The 672,000-square-foot, nine-story, 373-bed facility is projected to be completed by 2023.
Complete the Belmont Arena: The Belmont Park Redevelopment is replacing 43 acres of underutilized parking lots with a 19,000-seat arena that will bring the New York Islanders hockey team back home to Long Island. The arena includes a world-class retail village, and a new hotel. New York Arena Partners is leading the 350,000-square-foot development, bringing $1.3 billion in private investment to the 115-year-old horse-racing facility. The project also includes the renovation of two nearby community parks, new community space, and the first new LIRR train station in 40 years. Construction is well underway, with completion of the arena slated for the 2021-2022 NHL season; east-bound LIRR service to open in fall 2021. In total, this project will create more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and once completed.
Bay Park Reconstruction: The State has been working with Nassau County on the $439 million Bay Park Conveyance Project to reduce nitrogen pollution by more than 50 percent and to connect the plant to an existing ocean outfall. This $1.2 billion-plus investment will result in dramatic improvements in the water quality while stemming the rapid degradation of the marsh islands that provide a natural barrier for flood protection for southern Nassau County. In 2021, construction will begin on the Bay Park outflow system. Renderings of the Bay Park project are available here.
ROC the Riverway: The Riverway Rochester redevelopment project, supported by a $50 million New York State investment, will achieve several key milestones in 2021 with more than half its projects reaching completion, including the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena Exchange Expansion and the West River floodwall projects, as well as the continued construction of the major overhaul to Charles Carrol Park.
LEGOLAND: The 150-acre LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County will open this year. The $420 million investment will draw tourists back to New York after the pandemic and create approximately 1,000 jobs.
New Whiteface Mid-Station Lodge: The Whiteface Mountain rebuilt a $14 million mid-station lodge following a devastating fire in 2019. The new lodge is open for the 2020-21 ski season with limited services and will be completed this year.
The Initial Groups of Phase 1b Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Include Individuals 75 and Older, First Responders, Corrections Officers, Teachers and Other School Staff; In-Person College Instructors, Childcare Workers, Public Facing Grocery Store Workers, Transit Workers and Individuals Living and Working in Homeless Shelters
Vaccine Administrations to Begin at Hundreds of New Sites This Week As Part Of New York’s Newly Expanded Vaccine Distribution Network
Due to Limited Federal Distribution of Vaccine Supply All New Yorkers are Encouraged to Remain Patient When Scheduling Appointments
Appointments Could Take Up to 14 Weeks Due to Limited Federal Allocation
Click Here to Determine Eligibility and Schedule Appointments with Administrating Providers
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the New Yorkers within priority group 1b can now begin scheduling appointments with individual providers, including pharmacies, local health departments, and hospitals, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those now eligible to receive the vaccine include individuals 75 and older, first responders, public safety officers, teachers and other school staff; in-person college instructors, childcare workers, public-facing grocery store workers, transit workers and individuals living and working in homeless shelters. Eligibility determinations and a list of nearby providers where appointments can be scheduled can all be done through New York’s new ‘Am I Eligible ” app. New Yorkers can begin calling the New York State Vaccination Hotline at 4PM on Monday, January 11: 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829).
Since federal supply severely limits the ability to distribute vaccine, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment. New York’s vast distribution network and large population of more than 4 million eligible individuals in this priority group dwarf the vaccine supply coming from the federal government, which is arriving at a rate of approximately 300,000 doses per week. As such, eligible New Yorkers should be prepared to receive an appointment date as far as 14 weeks in the future.
“After ten long months, the expansion of eligibility for additional New Yorkers to begin making their COVID-19 vaccination plan is a light at the end of the tunnel,”said Governor Cuomo. “The vaccine is the weapon that will end the war, and as we continue to prioritize healthcare workers as hospital capacity necessitates, New York is proud to have reached this milestone and we strongly encourage all who are newly eligible to schedule their free vaccination appointment as soon as possible.”
Under New York’s expanded eligibility, the following individuals will now be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment:
Individuals Age 75 and older
First Responders and Support Staff of First Responder Agencies
State Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
Local Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
Police and Investigators
State Police, including Troopers
State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers
County Police Departments and Police Districts
City, Town, and Village Police Departments
Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments
State Field Investigators, including Department of Motor Vehicles, State Commission of Correction, Justice Center, Department of Financial Service, Inspector General, Department of Tax and Finance, Office of Children and Family Services, and State Liquor Authority
Public Safety Communications
Emergency Communication and Public Safety Answering Point Personnel, including dispatchers and technicians
Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel
Other Police or Peace Officers
Support of Civilian Staff of any of the above services, agencies or facilities
State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Personnel, including correction and parole officers
Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers
Local Probation Departments, including probation officers
State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
P-12 school or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, and support staff including bus drivers)
Contractors working in a P-12 school or school district (including contracted bus drivers)
In-Person College Instructors
Employees or Support Staff of Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Setting
Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Providers
In-Person College Instructors
Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers
Airline and airport employees
Passenger railroad employees
Subway and mass transit employees (i.e., MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, Upstate transit)
Port Authority employees
Public bus employee
Individuals living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals and families who are not part of your the same household
Individuals working (paid or unpaid) in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared by individuals and families who are not part of the same household, in a position where there is potential for interaction with shelter residents
Until this point, 2.1 million New Yorkers in priority group 1A have been eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes patient-facing health care and other critical hospital workers, seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and people with disabilities living in congregate settings. Distribution sites were established directly within hospitals, FQHCs, and urgent care clinics to provide direct access to all those eligible. To further accelerate the vaccination rate of priority health care workers, and begin the vaccination of group 1B essential workers and 75-plus year olds, New York has established a network of distribution sites that will supplement the work being done in hospitals to prevent any one hospital from becoming overburdened.
This new network will utilize doctors’ offices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, ambulatory centers and pharmacies to get doses in the arms of eligible New Yorkers. More than 1,200 pharmacies have already committed to participating in this network, with nearly 500 scheduled to come on-line this week. Providers across the state will begin accepting vaccination reservations on Monday, January 11 when a centralized state website goes online that lists nearby providers where appointments can be scheduled. Pharmacies will be provided vaccines for New Yorkers aged 75 and older, while hospitals will continue vaccinating 1a healthcare workers, and local health departments and union-organized efforts will serve essential workers in 1b.
Additionally, the Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks to support all categories of eligibility. Opening on Wednesday:
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (NYC)
Westchester County Convention Center (Westchester County – in partnership with County Health Dept. and Westchester Medical Center)
State Fairgrounds (Onondaga County – in partnership with County Health Dept.)
Additional sites will be launched in the days to come.
Under this expanded vaccination network, hospitals will continue to prioritize unvaccinated members of 1A: health care workers. Additionally, large union groups, including but not limited to police, firefighters and educators, have been asked to organize plans for vaccinating their members to the extent possible, incorporating coordination and partnership with local health departments. This will enable other providers in the network to focus on New Yorkers over the age of 75, which represents the largest group in 1B at approximately 1.4 million people.
Nassau County, Long Island, opened its second COVID-19 vaccine distribution center, in partnership between the County, Northwell Health and New York State at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury. The vaccines will be administered by Nassau County Department of Health staff, Members of Nassau County’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) with assistance from Northwell Health, which has been designated by New York State as Long Island’s vaccination HUB. The center began vaccinations on Saturday, January 9 for residents who met the criteria set by New York State.
Together with Nassau Community College site, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County Commissioner of Health, anticipates administering up to 1,000 shots a day, depending upon supply of doses.
“Nassau County is leading the way with distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as we open another vaccine POD,” said Nassau County Executive Curran. “Along with our hospital partners, we have already vaccinated tens of thousands of residents–we are not wasting any time or any doses.
“I am committed to providing equitable access to the vaccine, especially in our hardest hit communities such as the Westbury/New Cassel area,” she said. ”The County will continue to build the infrastructure to dole out this vaccine as quickly and effectively as possible as supply comes in. Thank you to all the volunteers who are the gears keeping our vaccine machine running at full speed. I encourage all residents who are eligible to roll up their sleeve and get the vaccine. We can do it, Nassau!”
The site at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury will be operating 7 days a week to vaccinate eligible residents with an appointment. The announcement comes less than a week after the first County vaccine center opened at Nassau Community College and inoculated over one thousand people.
New York State continues to expand the criteria for who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For regular updates on who is currently eligible for the vaccine under New York State’s guidance and to make an appointment, residents can visit the County’s vaccine website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine. Only those who meet the criteria can make an appointment at this time. The vaccine will be provided for free regardless of insurance or immigration status.
As of Friday, January 8, those who are eligible to be vaccinated are:
High-risk hospital staff, affiliates, volunteers and contract staff including State-operated Office of Mental Health (OMH) psychiatric centers
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel
Medical Examiners and Coroners
Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids.
Health care, other high-risk direct care essential staff and agency staff working in Long Term Care Facilities and long-term, congregate settings overseen by Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).
Residents living in Long Term Care Facilities and in long-term congregate settings overseen by OPWDD, OMH and OASAS
Urgent Care providers
Any staff administering COVID-19 vaccinations
All public facing health care workers including those who provide direct in-person patient care or other staff in a position where they have direct contact with patients.
Hospice workers and home health aides
Law Enforcement with ALS (advanced lifesaving) certification
But as of Monday, January 11, the state is expanding the list of those who are eligible to be vaccinated, to Group 1B essential workers including education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers and people 75 and older.
“A successful, equitable rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is the key to ensuring New Yorkers are protected from the coronavirus, and our community is able to reopen and recover from the pandemic era,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan. “It’s critical that every community have access to this life-saving resource, and I’m grateful to County Executive Curran and Governor Cuomo for working together to open a vaccination distribution center at the Yes We Can Center in Westbury. I encourage everyone in our community to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated as soon as they are able.”
“Residents of communities like New Cassel and Westbury have played an indispensable role in Nassau County’s pandemic response through their labor as frontline workers, medical professionals and first responders. By establishing this site at the Yes We Can Center, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead are recognizing the valiant efforts of these essential workers,” said Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe.“Most importantly, we are increasing access to the COVID-19 vaccine by embedding this life-saving service in a residential community that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.”
“The early emergence of COVID-19 vaccines has brought on much needed optimism for the future,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth.”While availability has been limited, more residents will become eligible to receive the vaccine as distribution centers continue to open and New York’s supply increases. With that said, we are proud to partner with County Executive Curran to make vaccinations available at our facility in Westbury.”
“As a Town we continue to collectively monitor and address the uphill battle of the current pandemic caused by Covid -19 and now the virus’ variant strain of B117. Having access to the newly available Moderna vaccine at a Point of Distribution location set up here at our easily accessible “Yes We Can” Community Center now provides a strong opportunity to keep this deadly virus at bay. As a heavily impacted area, this POD will greatly benefit the community and serve as a strong deterrent against the virus here in New Cassel/Westbury and the surrounding areas,” said North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell.
Curran said that wide-scale vaccination is key to returning to normalcy, reopening businesses and having kids in school, but until then, and especially with a new, more transmissible strain of the coronavirus now in Long Island, residents must continue to wear masks, keep social distance and wash hands.
How fast a critical mass of people can become vaccinated depends on the supply of the vaccines – so far Pfizer and Moderna are available. It is expected that a third and fourth vaccine, ones that require only a single dose, will also soon be on line.
“We’re putting out doses as fast as we can,” Curran said she said it is likely that by late spring, enough will be available so that anyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get one. I think we will have a relatively normal summer.”
In response to new concerns over the UK strain found in a 64-year old Massapequa man, Dr. Eisenstein said “All viruses mutate. We knew this one would mutate. People should do exactly what they have been doing to protect themselves. We’re not panicked by it. We have the weapon” – the vaccine.
State Expands Vaccine Distribution Network
On Friday, Governor Cuomo Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the expansion of the state’s vaccination distribution network to help accelerate the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to New Yorkers currently eligible under group 1A and begin the vaccination of New Yorkers eligible under group 1B. As part of this effort, thousands of new providers and distribution sites are being identified throughout the state. Essential workers and New Yorkers over the age of 75 can begin to make vaccination reservations at administration sites as early as Monday, January 11.
“Over the past week, we have seen hospitals increase their vaccination rates and I thank them for their efforts, but it’s still not enough, so we’re going to accelerate the distribution,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are establishing a network of thousands of providers statewide to both supplement the work of hospitals to vaccinate health care workers, as well as begin the vaccination of other essential workers and individuals 75 and older. The federal government controls the supply, so as we continue to receive more, New York will not only ensure doses are distributed in the most fair and socially equitable way possible, but that health care workers continue to be prioritized so our hospitals remain safe and staffed.”
Currently, 2.1 million New Yorkers in group 1A have been eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes health care and hospital workers, seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and people with disabilities living in congregate settings. Distribution sites were established directly within hospitals to provide direct access to all those eligible. While the speed of vaccinations has increased throughout the past week, further acceleration is still needed.
To further accelerate the vaccination rate of priority health care workers, and begin the vaccination of group 1B essential workers and 75-plus year olds, New York has established a network of additional distribution sites that will supplement the work being done in hospitals to prevent any one hospital from becoming overburdened. The largest group, 3.2 million New Yorkers will be eligible to receive the vaccine in 1B, including:
870,000 Education workers
207,000 first responders
100,000 public safety workers
100,000 public transit workers
1.4 million people 75 and older
This new network will utilize doctors’ offices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, ambulatory centers and pharmacies to get doses in the arms of eligible New Yorkers. More than 1,200 pharmacies have already committed to participating in this network, with nearly 500 scheduled to come on-line next week. Providers across the state will begin accepting vaccination reservations on Monday, January 11 when a centralized state website goes online.
Additionally, the Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks, with the first of those sites, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, slated to open its doors on Wednesday, January 13.
Under this expanded vaccination network, new providers will prioritize their health care workers and hospitals will continue to prioritize unvaccinated members of 1A: health care workers. Additionally, large union groups, including but not limited to police, firefighters and educators, have been asked to organize plans for vaccinating their members to the extent possible. If viable plans are established, these groups will receive weekly allocations from their local health departments. This will enable other providers in the network to focus on New Yorkers over the age of 75, which represents the largest group in 1B at approximately 1.4 million people.
New York is mandating social equity and fair distribution among the groups included in 1B to ensure fair treatment and proportionate allocations both by group and by region. For example, New Yorkers 75 years of age and older represent approximately 45 percent of the population within group 1B and as such, 45 percent of the 1B vaccine supply will be reserved for them. Similarly, 5.9 percent of New York’s 75+ population reside in the Capital District, so 5.9 percent of the allocation for New Yorkers 75+ will be directed to the Capital District. The state will open distribution sites in underserved areas to ensure social equity.
To support the increased staffing needs resulting from the establishment of this vaccination network, the Governor has signed an Executive Order to expand the eligible pool of trainees who can administer vaccinations at distribution sites to include:
Licensed Practical Nurses
Certain Dental Hygienists
Emergency Medical Technicians
Certain Eligible Students
The expanded vaccination program is welcome at a time when the county and the state are in the midst of a second-wave surge on top of a surge. As of Saturday, January 9, the seven-day positivity rate was 8.7%, 761 were hospitalized, 115 in ICU – the highest number since May – 66 on ventilators and 10 county residents died.
“Tens of thousands of Nassau residents have already received their first vaccine shots with over 1,000 just at the County’s POD (Point of Distribution) at Nassau Community College since Jan 5 alone,” Curran said.
“I have asked that the State increase eligibility and today it was announced that they are expanding beginning on Monday. Every day is crucial, and we must continue to pick up the pace. We’ve concentrated on vaccinating medical and frontline residents as fast as possible so that we can focus on groups like residents over 75, Police, Teachers, Firefighters, Corrections Officers, and more. The County will continue mobilizing its resources at full scale to expedite the vaccine distribution process, and we expect to open another POD tomorrow.
“With vaccine distribution ramping up and cases surging at the same time, my message to residents is simple: Hold fast and stay strong. Help is on the way.”
New York State announced its plan to dramatically increase vaccination efforts, approving 3,762 providers to serve as vaccination sites. Currently, 636 locations have been activated.
By the end of this week, the state would have distributed 911,000 first doses for administration to eligible New Yorkers.
In an effort to take pre-emptive steps to ensure this network of sites does not become immediately overwhelmed once the vaccine is available to the general public, Governor Andrew Cuomo is encouraging essential worker groups such as police departments, fire departments, educators, and public transit organizations to begin developing plans for their workforce if possible. The more groups of essential workers able to receive vaccines through internal distribution plans, the more availability there will be for those New Yorkers seeking the vaccine through the “retail network,” he said.
To further bolster these plans, New York is continuing to move forward on a number of special efforts to ensure resources are in place to facilitate widespread vaccination, especially in underserved communities. Pop-up vaccination centers will be established to facilitate public vaccinations. The state is also identifying public facilities and convention centers to also be used as vaccination centers. This includes the Javits Center, as well as SUNY and CUNY facilities. The state is also actively recruiting retired nurses, doctors and pharmacists to support vaccine administrations.
At the same time, the Governor renewed his call on the federal government to test all travelers from outside the United States. Despite the fact that the highly transmissible UK strain has been identified in 33 countries, as well as here in the state of New York, the federal government has yet to learn from mistakes made in the spring and mandate testing for international travelers entering the country, he said.
“The vaccine is the weapon that will win this war and we must move quickly and efficiently to get New Yorkers vaccinated as soon they become eligible,” Governor Cuomo said.”All health care workers can now receive the vaccine and the state is working around the clock to ensure resources are in place as more and more members of the general public become eligible to receive it. While these efforts are underway, the UK strain of the virus remains highly problematic – it is here and it could complicate matters further, as it is much more transmissible. Despite all of this, the federal government continues its refusal to test all international travelers entering the country. Government is supposed to be competent, government leaders are supposed to be competent. We already saw this situation play out in the spring – have we learned nothing?”
New York is working around the clock to distribute vaccines to eligible groups as fairly and expeditiously as possible, he said. Work is also under way to prepare for widespread vaccination of the general public once allowable under state guidelines. As part of this work, New York has worked with the public and private sectors across the state to develop a ‘retail network’ of vaccination provider sites. Similar to operations for the annual distribution of the influenza vaccine and ongoing COVID-19 testing, these sites will help ensure access to the vaccine through multiple locations in each of the state’s 10 regions. The network includes pharmacies, federally-qualified health centers, local health departments, private urgent care clinics, private doctor networks, and other sites capable of vaccinations. More sites continue to be added to the network every day.
A breakdown of the different types of retail vaccination sites:
Number Enrolled to Administer Vaccine
Pharmacy – Chain
Long-Term Care /Congregate Living Facility
Federally Qualified Health Center
Community/Rural/Public Health Center & Clinic
The regional breakdown of sites:
Number of Sites Enrolled to Administer Vaccine
New York City
Central New York
Western New York
Already, 636 of these sites have been activated and are administering the vaccine to eligible New Yorkers. Those include:
Federally Qualified Health Centers
Urgent Care Clinics
Local Health Departments
A regional breakdown of activated sites:
Number of Sites
New York City
Central New York
Western New York
A main focus of these efforts is ensuring vaccine access in under-served communities and health care deserts. The state has already begun building Community Vaccination Kits and working with public housing officials, churches, and community centers to support these efforts and deploy kits to the appropriate locations. Each kit includes step-by-step instructions for how to set up a site, and critical supplies and equipment such as office supplies, workstation equipment, communications equipment, cleaning supplies, lighting equipment, PPE, crowd/traffic control equipment, vials, syringes, room dividers and privacy curtains.
FDA Expected to Authorize Pfizer Vaccine This Week; New York Could Receive Initial Allocation of 170,000 Doses Beginning this Weekend
Nursing Home Residents, Nursing Home Staff and ‘High Risk’ Hospital Workers Prioritized First
90 Cold Storage Sites Identified Across the State to Receive and Store Vaccines
New York National Guard Selected by Department of Defense to Participate in One of 16 Pilot Programs Aimed at Vaccinating Military Personnel
With the FDA expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo detailed plan for distributing what is expected to be an initial allocation of 170,000 vaccines as soon as this weekend.
The state’s vaccination distribution effort will focus on battling skepticism, include outreach to Black, Brown and poor communities, as well as expedited distribution and administration.
“Distributing the vaccine is a massive undertaking. I think frankly, people have not focused enough on the extent of what this undertaking means. I can’t think of a government operation that has been commenced that is more difficult and intricate than what governments will be asked to do here,” Governor Cuomo said. “The way the vaccine is going to work is the federal government will be responsible for the procurement and the distribution. The military is doing the transportation with private companies, and they will send it where we ask them to send it. We then set the priorities for not only where it goes, but who gets it. The first allocation is for nursing home residents, nursing home staff and high-risk health care workers. We’ve identified 90 regional centers that can keep the vaccine at the required temperature and they’ll act as distribution centers for that region. Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to be approved by the FDA tomorrow. Immediately after that, our New York State panel will convene and review and approve it. They’ve already been speaking to the FDA about the process.”
As outlined in New York’s vaccination program, high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff are prioritized first to receive the vaccine, followed by other long-term and congregate care staff and residents and EMS and other health care workers. Essential workers and the general population, starting with those who are at highest risk, will be vaccinated after these initial priority groups.
New York has opted into the federal government’s nursing home vaccination program. Under the federal program, employees of CVS and Walgreens will vaccinate residents and staff in these facilities, much like the do for the flu vaccine. New York State will issue guidance for hospitals to select which patient-facing staff should be prioritized as “high-risk” in line with state rules.
If authorized by the FDA, the first delivery of Pfizer vaccines for the federal nursing home vaccination program could begin arriving next week, with the federal program slated to begin on December 21. New York is dedicating a portion of its initial allotment of 170,000 doses to this program. Portions of future state allocations will also be used to help complete the program and ensure all residents and staff are vaccinated.
‘High risk’ hospital workers eligible to receive a vaccination from the state’s initial allotment include emergency room workers, ICU staff and pulmonary department staff. As part of the effort to vaccinate ‘high risk’ hospital staff, the state has identified 90 locations across the state with requisite cold storage capabilities and those sites will receive enough doses for approximately 90,000 patient-facing hospital staff, or 40 percent of the entire patient-facing hospital workforce. The state expects all ‘high risk’ hospital staff will receive a vaccine by the end of week two. Staff at every hospital in New York State, regardless of storage capabilities, will have access to the first allocation of a vaccine.
The vaccine will be allocated on a regional basis. Regional estimated distributions are as follows:
New York City -72,000
Long Island – 26,500
Mid–Hudson – 19,200
Capital Region – 7,850
North Country – 3,700
Mohawk Valley – 4,200
Central New York – 6,400
Southern Tier – 4,500
Finger Lakes – 11,150
Western New York – 14,500
Following the vaccination of ‘high risk’ health care workers, the priority will shift to all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS and other health care workers. Essential workers and the general population will follow those groups, and those with the highest risk will be prioritized.
Additionally, the New York National Guard has been selected by the Department of Defense as one of 16 pilot programs across the nation to be part of the limited distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to military personnel. Members of the New York Army and Air National Guard who serve as part of the state’s COVID response efforts will be eligible for the vaccine.
In his daily update, Cuomo said, “New York expects the initial allocation of 170,000 doses. The federal government is doing the allocation based on state population. Again, they distribute it to the state, the state then turns around and does an allocation within the state. It could arrive as soon as this weekend. That assumes the FDA does act right away. The FDA does approve it and the military turns around and ships it immediately. It could actually be coming this weekend. Further allocations will be in the following weeks.
“Our state priority: Nursing home residents first, nursing home staff. There was a discussion about if you do the residents or do you do the staff. New York, we decided to do both residents and the nursing home staff. Then you go to high-risk hospital workers. We have about 700,000 hospital workers in this state so its’s a very large population. We’ll prioritize the high-risk hospital workers within that overall health care population. We have rules that we have established that we will send to hospitals about what is a quote, unquote high-risk health care worker. The hospitals will select the actual individuals who will get the first vaccines within that guidance. Emergency room workers, ICU staff, pulmonary department staff.
“The allocation by region, again, this is based on number of nursing home residents, number of nursing home staff and number of high-risk health care workers. The 90 locations across the state that can provide the cold storage will receive enough doses for roughly 90,000 patient-facing hospital staff. That is 40 percent of the total hospital patient-facing workforce of 225. The 225,000 is a subset of the overall 700,000, obviously. By the end of week two, if all goes well and the federal government sticks to the schedule, we expect all high-risk staff will receive the vaccination. Staff at every hospital will have access to the allocation, even if their hospital doesn’t have this cold storage capacity. They will have access to the vaccine by a hospital in their region that does have that storage capacity. After we take care of all the high-risk healthcare workers, we’ll then move to all long-term and congregate care staff and residents. NEMS and other healthcare workers and then essential workers, general population, starting with those who have the highest risk.
“The federal government offered a program that New York State opted into, whereby pharmacies will do the vaccinations in nursing homes, which will take a burden off the nursing home staff, and New York has opted into that program. It’s run by the federal government, but basically they subcontract with private companies to do the vaccinations in nursing homes. Flu vaccine we do this way. New York by participating in that program, we provide part of our allocation to that program, so we actually have enough vaccinations to cover all residents. Part of the future allocations will ensure enough doses to make sure we complete that program. Completion is all nursing home residents and staff.
“We expect deliveries to begin next week. The federal administration says they’re going to start by 12/21. New York is dedicating part of our initial allocation to the program, but we do expect to have enough to cover all residents and all staff. The staff is actually vaccinated on a rolling basis to make sure they have staff that’s receiving the vaccine and staff that’s working at all times.
We’re also pleased that the New York National Guard has been selected by the Department of Defense as a pilot program where they will vaccinate people from the National Guard who have been working on our COVID-19 task force. And New York is pleased to participate in that. And the National Guard who have been doing a phenomenal job for the past nine months as we’ve worked through this barrage, they’ll be eligible for the vaccine also.
“The fairness of the vaccine is paramount, and I mentioned it before, but we have to make sure this nation understands that we can’t make the same mistake twice. Death rate among Blacks, twice what the death rate among whites is from COVID. Death rate among Latinos, one and a half times the death rate among whites. COVID testing, fewer tests taken in the Black and Latino and poor communities. It was just a manifestation of the disparity in healthcare, and it has to be corrected during the vaccination program. we have to get into public housing. We have to partner with Black churches and Latino churches, community groups. This has to be a fair distribution, and New York will lead the way. We’ve made these concerns known to HHS, I’ve sent letters, I’ve done speeches, I’m working with civil rights groups across the state. Made these points to Congress on several occasions, we’re working with the NAACP, Mr. Johnson, we’re working with the Urban League, Mayor Marc Morial. But this is a point that we have to bring home and we have to be successful.
“We do have good news that we waged a similar effort on the rules for vaccinations for undocumented people. The way the federal government constructed the program, basically they wanted the states to collect social security numbers, passport numbers or driver’s license numbers for anybody vaccinated. These are all bells for people who are undocumented, alarm bells. And it sounded like you were trying to use the vaccination to identify undocumented people. We have gone through this with the federal government at length wit the trusted traveler program previously. If undocumented people don’t get vaccinated, it compromises their health and it compromises the whole program. again, the program only works if you hit a critical mass of the population. If you say, well, the undocumenteds we’re going to exclude practically because they don’t come in and participate, you have 50 percent of the population that’s skeptical, if we’re not going to reach out to the Black, Latino and poor communities, it’s never going to be a success. So, we raised this point again. We did letters. I did speeches. I’ve spoken out publicly and HHS has agreed. The CDC specifically has agreed that the State will not send individual data identifying a person in a way that could be used to document citizenship or deportation, et cetera.
“We insisted on that in what’s called the data-sharing agreement, data use agreement, and the CDC agreed. So, that is a better vaccination program for this country and for this state. It took a lot of work, but I want to congratulate all the advocates and people who stepped up and spoke up, because it was a good service.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called on Congress to renew and expand federal support programs for unemployed Americans — many of which have expired or will end just days after Christmas. The programs provide critical benefits for millions of American families that have faced unemployment as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including supplemental benefits for individuals and support for local and state governments. The Governor sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to act quickly as states across the country face another surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths while millions of Americans remain unemployed.
“The pandemic has not just impacted Americans’ health — it has also created an unprecedented economic crisis. As we enter the holiday season, and as states once again enact stronger measures to stop COVID, critical federal unemployment benefits are about to expire. Inaction from Washington is putting millions of Americans’ financial security at risk,” Governor Cuomo said.”Congress moved decisively this spring to address the economic impacts of the pandemic and should once again take action before the calendar year ends to bring badly needed support to millions of struggling Americans.”
Separately, Cuomo, who is also National Governors Association Chairman, and Arkansas Governor and NGA Vice Chairman Asa Hutchinson issued a statement regarding ongoing negotiations over a new coronavirus relief bill:
“Even as COVID-19 vaccine trials show remarkable results and the pandemic finish line is in sight, the danger the virus poses has never been greater. Today our country is seeing record-high cases, hospitalizations and deaths — every single state has been affected.
“It is time for Washington to step up and deliver desperately needed relief for their constituents. Governors are heartened that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers are now talking with each other to find a way forward. We encourage leadership to stay at the bargaining table and work out a deal that delivers the critical relief to the American people.
“As an interim measure to address states immediate and pressing needs, we support the bipartisan framework proposed by Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Bill Cassidy and a bipartisan group of their colleagues as a response that would bring meaningful relief to those who are struggling; situate states to quickly, effectively and equitably implement their vaccination plans; and prime the economy to allow for a faster rebound.
“Governors have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic, procuring lifesaving medical and personal protective equipment, establishing field hospitals, and providing economic relief to small businesses and workers. But this is a national crisis, cutting across geographic, economic and demographic lines, and it demands a national, bipartisan solution. Congress should not leave Washington for the holiday recess without enacting a much-needed COVID relief package. We look forward to working with Congress and the new Administration in the new year on a more comprehensive COVID relief package.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, New York State has paid more than $55 billion in unemployment benefits to 3.8 million New Yorkers — which represents more than 26 typical years’ worth of benefits. Nationwide, more than 20 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, including 12 million covered by programs that will expire on December 31, 2020. In New York, that includes 1.2 million current claims from New Yorkers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits for freelancers, self-employed workers, and others who do not typically qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, and 682,000 claims from individuals who are receiving 13 additional weeks of benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program after exhausting the 26 weeks of traditional benefits.
Here is Governor Cuomo’s full letter detailing the aid that is requested:
As you are well aware, the coronavirus has continued to spread across the country, with the United States entering what appears to be another surge of infections this fall. While disturbing, this increase is not surprising — experts told us that as temperatures fell, cases would increase, and those predictions have unfortunately come true.
The physical toll of the pandemic is well known: 12 million Americans have been infected and more than 250,000 have lost their lives.
But the pandemic has not just impacted Americans’ health — it has also created an unprecedented economic crisis with unheard of levels of unemployment across the nation. Since March, more than 68 million Americans have filed unemployment claims, representing over 42 percent of the nation’s workforce. Last week, the number of newly filed claims nationwide grew by 31,000, representing the first week-over-week increase after four weeks of decreasing claims.
Unlike the federal government’s response to the virus itself, Congress moved decisively this spring to address the economic impacts of the pandemic — supplying Americans with federally-funded stimulus checks, supplemental unemployment benefits, and benefits for freelancers, the self-employed, and others who are not typically covered by traditional unemployment insurance.
However, as we enter the holiday season — and as states once again enact stronger measures to stop the surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — Washington’s inaction is putting millions of Americans’ financial security at risk.
When the CARES Act was passed in March, roughly 10 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic — today, that number has increased by nearly 600%. At the time, the nation had only faced two weeks with unemployment claims above the pre-pandemic high of 695,000. Now, we have surpassed that level for 35 weeks straight.
Yet despite this worsening economic picture, many critical support programs that were put in place earlier this year have already expired and the few remaining ones are set to expire just days after Christmas. This is simply unacceptable and must be rectified.
The Senate and House must work to renew and expand federal unemployment benefits for Americans while supporting the state governments that are implementing these programs and disbursing the benefits.
The following programs should be extended or renewed through the end of the federal Fiscal Year 2021:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)— This program, which is set to expire on December 31, 2020, allows freelancers, self-employed individuals, and others who are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance to receive 46 weeks of federal benefits. As of the latest US DOL data, nearly 8.7 million Americans are currently receiving benefits under PUA.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)— This program, which is also set to expire on December 31, 2020, provides an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to Americans who have exhausted state unemployment insurance. As of the latest US DOL data, nearly 4.4 million Americans are currently receiving benefits under PEUC.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)— Created by the CARES Act, this program provided federal supplemental benefits of $600 per week to all unemployed Americans. After expiring in late July, this program was temporarily replaced with the Lost Wages Assistance program, which failed to adequately address the continuing needs of the American public, while causing more administrative work for states.
Federal Support for Shared Work— Shared work programs allow employers to keep staff partially-employed while still cutting costs. Rather than laying off their staff, a business is able to reduce all workers’ hours, with unemployment benefits replacing some or all of their lost wages. To encourage use of these programs, the federal government fully funded states’ shared work programs, but this support is set to expire on December 31, 2020.
Reimbursements for Local Government, Non-profit, and Tribal Employers— Recognizing the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local governments, non-profit organizations, and tribal nations, the federal government agreed to reimburse half of unemployment benefits these employers paid out. That support is due to expire on December 31, 2020, putting further strain on organizations that are already struggling to stay afloat and provide needed services during this crisis.
Support for State Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds— Due to the unprecedented surge in unemployment insurance claims, states across the country have exhausted their unemployment insurance trust funds. Earlier this year, the Federal government allowed states to borrow to replenish their trust funds interest-free. Starting next year, those loans will begin accruing interest — even as unemployment levels remain at critically high levels. All states should be allowed to continue borrowing for their unemployment insurance trust funds without accruing interest next year. Further, the federal government must recognize the impact repaying these loans will have on businesses, especially already-struggling small businesses, and fully forgive all loans.
Cost-Sharing for Unemployment Insurance Administrative Costs— Every state’s unemployment insurance system has been tested by the pandemic response, and many state departments of labor have implemented multiple new federal programs using decades-old technology. The Federal government has so far paid half of these administrative costs — that should increase to 100 percent reimbursement, but at the bare minimum this cost sharing must continue. Failing to do so will significantly harm states’ abilities to support unemployed workers.
The United States of America’s economy remains in crisis. More than 20 million of our neighbors received some form of unemployment benefits during the week ending October 31st — over thirteen times the number receiving benefits this time last year.
Not extending these programs — which can largely be accomplished by passing the unemployment and workforce provisions of H.R. 925, the HEROES Act — is akin to abandoning millions of Americans in their time of need. Congress must take action before the calendar year ends, and anything less would be an abdication of your duty.
I look forward to your immediate attention to these matters.
Andrew M. Cuomo Governor, New York State Chair, National Governors Association
The National Governors Association, chaired by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today sent a list of questions to the Trump Administration seeking clarity on how to most effectively distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution and implementation of the vaccine is a massive undertaking that cannot be managed without significant logistical coordination, planning and financial assistance between states and the federal government. The list of questions — which were submitted from Republican and Democratic governors from around the country — covers funding for the administration of a vaccine, allocation and supply chain, and communication and information requirements.
“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”
In his press briefing on COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo commented, “The 36 questions from the Governors sent to the White House basically are asking, ‘How does this work. We understand the concept but how does it work?’ Some of the questions: How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula is used – in other words, are you going to allocate it by infection rate? Are you going to allocate it by number of cases of COVID? Are you going to allocate it by population? Who determines how many each state gets – what’s the basis that you using.
“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization – in other words, the federal government going to say, ‘I think nursing homes should get it first. I think nurses should get it first. I think doctors should get it first. I think anybody over 70 should get it first.’ Is the federal government going to do that prioritization? Can they tell us if they’re going to condition the release of vaccines, right? The vaccines are controlled by the federal government. Are they going to turn around and say, ‘Well we won’t give you the vaccines, New York State, California unless you do X Y Z.’ And can we know that now? Is there multi-state coordination? On our own, during COVID we coordinated with the Northeastern states to New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera. Is there a multi-state coordination piece here, or is everybody on their own? Am I my responsible for all of New York and there’s no connection to New Jersey and there’s no connection to Connecticut, there’s no connection to Pennsylvania?
“And who is going to pay to do this? New York State is already $50 billion in debt between state and local governments. And they have not passed legislation on the state and local relief. If the state has a deficit and the local governments have a deficit, we can’t fund essential workers. That’s who gets cut when you cut state and local governments. And now you’re going want undertake this vaccination program, which frankly requires more essential workers, not less? And they’re talking about a vaccine possibly in December. We’re here in October – this is just a few weeks to plan in this massive undertaking. Let’s learn the lessons from the past seven months. Otherwise, we’re going to relive the nightmares that we have lived through, right? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March, April, May….
“We can’t go through that same confusion again. It’s not a question of knowing what to do. It’s a question of knowing how to do it. We know what we need to do. We need to control the virus, we need to take more tests, now we need to do vaccines. We know what we need to do. How do you do it? How do you do it – the devil’s in the details. How do you administer 40 million vaccines in the State of New York. That’s the trick. Everybody agrees with the concept. “Yes, vaccinate everyone.” Got it. How? How?
“And that’s the art form of government by the way and that’s what separates words from action and rhetoric from results and talk from competence – how do you do it? And that’s what we have to focus on now and that’s what the governors are saying to the federal government. Why? Because the way the federal government has structured it, the states are in charge of the doing. This person got to the COVID situation, he said, ‘It’s up to the Governors. It’s up to the states’. I don’t even know how that works by the way. It’s a nationwide problem. 50 states have it. But it’s not a federal response? The federal response is, ‘It’s up to you. You take charge, Governor. But I’m right behind you -go get ’em, tiger.’ Yeah, thank you very much. So again, I’m sure what the federal government is talking about is we’ll approve the vaccines, we’ll appropriate the vaccine, we then deliver them to the state. You figure out how to do it. Who pays? Insurance companies? What happens for the uninsured people? How do I keep dosages cold, – 80-degrees? Well, those are details. No. That’s the difference between life and death in a situation like this. And that’s where we have to get.”
Cuomo added, “The State will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccines and distributing the vaccines so the State’s position is we have to wait for the federal government to provide us the vaccines, what is the schedule, how many, etcetera…
“We believe there’s going to be questions about the safety of the vaccine, so we put together a special New York task force team of experts. I’m going to ask them to review any vaccine before I recommend it to the people of the state. I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine. But, we are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get. We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary. But, we would prioritize the vaccinations. The prioritization would be based on risk and essential workers would have a priority and people at risk would be prioritized and we’d set up a matrix on that regards, by that regards, and there’d be several phases to the administration of the actual doses. We’re working with our health care partners all across the state. This is going to be a massive undertaking, hospitals, urgent care facilities , primary care facilities, pharmacies, local departments of health, mobile units, mass vaccination sites.”
Here is the list of questions NGA gathered from the nation’s governors:
Funding for Vaccine Administration
Will there be funding allocated to states to assist with distribution of the vaccine and other vaccine efforts?
Without additional state and local funding to implement COVID-19 vaccine plans, we will be hampered in what we can accomplish. When can we expect more definitive information about resources related to this response?
What are the plans for any federal contracts and/or additional funding to support “boots on the ground” to vaccinate in tiers 2 and beyond?
How will vaccine administration costs be covered for people who are uninsured?
Will the federal government be setting guidelines around allowable vaccine administration costs for those with health insurance (whether that is state insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or some other state funded health insurance)?
How will funding/reimbursement for vaccines be handled?
We understand that the vaccine will initially be provided at no cost, as was remdesivir. However, states now must pay for remdesivir on the commercial market. How long will the federal government commit to providing the vaccine to states cost-free?
Allocation and Supply Chain
How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula will be used?
How will the vaccine be distributed? What mechanism will the federal government use?
Can the administration provide more guidance on what prioritization requirements will be a condition of vaccine release and to what extent will states have latitude to guide these decisions?
Are any further PREP Act changes anticipated beyond authorizations for pharmacists and interns to administer vaccine?
How is CDC planning to manage vaccine distribution to Federal entities such as Federal Prisons, the VA and other Federal organizations? Will these entities receive a vaccine supply directly from the CDC or will states manage it?
Similarly, when can states expect guidance from the federal government on the states’ responsibility to vaccinate federal employees (e.g., who is vaccinating National Guard, USPS employees, FBI, etc.
How will tribal sovereignty be respected? The CDC sent a template asking how many vaccine doses need to be sent to each IHS/tribal health facility rather than asking states where each tribe wants their vaccine doses sent (which could be one of those facilities, a DOH public health office, a private provider that they’d like to contract with, etc.)
What will be the national strategy for vaccine prioritization when supply is short?
How will management of supplies (i.e. needles, syringes, alcohol pads, band aids, etc.) work?
Will there be further guidance documents on handling ultra-cold vaccine (i.e. thawing, storage after thawing, reconstitution, etc.?
We are aware of concerns that there is already a shortage of dry ice, which is being used to store the ultracold storage vaccines during the clinical trials.
If that is true, does that shortage impact plans for shipping of ultracold storage vaccine using dry ice and containers that could store the vaccine for up to a week?
If there is a shortage of dry ice, does this change the guidance to states to not purchase additional ultracold storage freezers?
We also need guidance on redistribution of ultracold storage vaccines. If they will come in 1,000 dose shipments as indicated by the federal government, we likely will need to distribute them further in our rural areas. What will the guidelines be to do that without compromising the vaccine?
How long will the product be viable outside of the original packaging that the 1,000 doses will be shipped in? Can/will smaller volume packaging be provided in the shipment as well?
What will the federal guidance be on sub-prioritization among the initial priority groups since there will not be enough vaccine at first for even healthcare workers as a group?
Communication and Information Requirements
There has been some indication that large pharmacy chains and possibly interstate healthcare systems will register directly with the federal government. We need the specific details since many of them are also reaching out to the states. This affects our targeted enrollment of these stakeholders to onboard as Covid-19 vaccine providers. When can we expect clarification on which stakeholders will contract directly with the federal government?
Will there be coordinated multi-state process for monitoring vaccination effects (adverse effects, lack of immunity responses, etc) to ensure early warning signs are identified as quickly as possible?
Will the federal government provide current/real time information about tribal nations enrolling with the CDC for direct shipments, versus enrolling through the state?
Can the administration provide more information around long term care facilities? Specifically, are they planning to mandate vaccines in nursing homes through CMS? For example, will the use of vaccines be connected to continued Medicaid funding? If so, when would such requirements take effect?
Is the federal government going to request that states report personally identifiable COVID vaccine data? We have concerns that this may create a lack of trust and discourage people from getting vaccinated.
What is the state’s role in safety monitoring after people have been vaccinated?
How many states are using VAMS as their Immunization Information System (IIS)?
Will states share their micro-prioritization within Phase 1b?
What communication/messaging materials have been developed?
How will complex scientific data be messaged and shared publicly? What type of educational material, and in what languages, will be developed?
What information will be shared publicly on each approved vaccine? How will transparency be ensured?
CDC is planning to require reporting to the IIS within 24 hours of administration of the vaccine. We know for flu vaccine there is a dramatic lag in data coming in – how will COVID-19 vaccine data reporting be any different?