Category Archives: NYS Acts to Contain Coronavirus

NYS Dramatically Expands Number Eligible to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments

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

Nassau County, Long Island, just opened a second county vaccination site, at the Yes We Can center in a hard-hit community of Westbury. New York State has opened up eligibility to schedule a free COVID-19 vaccination  to 4 million New Yorkers, though supply lags. It could take up to 14 weeks to schedule an appointment due to limited federal allocation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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

Fire Service

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

SUNY Police

Sheriffs’ Offices

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

Court Officers

Other Police or Peace Officers

Support of Civilian Staff of any of the above services, agencies or facilities

Corrections

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 Schools

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

Public Transit

Airline and airport employees

Passenger railroad employees

Subway and mass transit employees (i.e., MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, Upstate transit)

Ferry employees

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 Opens Second COVID-19 Vaccination Site; New York State Expands Eligibility

At the Yes We Can Center in Westbury, which became Nassau County’s second vaccination distribution site, Alex Miller of Port Washington, a special language pathologist, is vaccinated by Dr. Kevin Glassman, a volunteer with Nassau County’s Medical Reserve Corps © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

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
  • FQHC staff
  • 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.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran discusses opening a second county COVID-19 vaccination site at the North Hempstead Yes We Can Community Center, in a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Also on hand: Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County Commissioner of Health; North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell, Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe, and State Senator Anna Kaplan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“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.

Administering the Moderna vaccination at the Yes We Can Community Center, Westbury, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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.

Prioritization

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.

Staffing

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

Pharmacists

Pharmacy Technicians

Midwives

Dentists

Certain Dental Hygienists

Podiatrists

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.”

To make an appointment for a vaccination, go to www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine.

Check if you are eligible to receive the vaccine here

Eligible residents can click here to register to be vaccinated at Nassau Community College through New York State’s system.

Eligible residents can click here to register to be vaccinated at the Yes We Can Community Center, 141 Garden Street, Westbury, NY through New York State’s system.

 _________________

© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Outlines Plan to Expedite COVID19 Vaccinations Throughout New York State

Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, part of the Northwell hospital system, was the first American to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. “I wanted to inspire people who look like me.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.

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:

Site TypeNumber Enrolled to Administer Vaccine
Medical Practice1,285
Pharmacy – Chain802
Long-Term Care /Congregate Living Facility510
Federally Qualified Health Center325
Hospital/Hospital Sites250
Urgent Care238
Community/Rural/Public Health Center & Clinic176
Other176

The regional breakdown of sites:

RegionNumber of Sites Enrolled to Administer Vaccine
New York City845
Long Island713
Mid-Hudson549
Capital Region343
North Country150
Mohawk Valley147
Southern Tier145
Central New York222
Finger Lakes297
Western New York351

Already, 636 of these sites have been activated and are administering the vaccine to eligible New Yorkers. Those include:

Site TypeNumber
Federally Qualified Health Centers244
Hospital/Hospital Sites213
Urgent Care Clinics133
Local Health Departments46

A regional breakdown of activated sites:

RegionNumber of Sites
New York City207
Long Island105
Mid-Hudson104
Capital Region37
North Country25
Mohawk Valley19
Southern Tier23
Central New York29
Finger Lakes47
Western New York40

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.

Go to https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ for more details.

Cuomo Details Plan to Distribute First Doses of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine to New Yorkers

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 the priorities for distributing what is expected to be an initial allocation of 170,000 vaccines © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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
  • MidHudson – 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 Cuomo Calls on Congress to Renew, Expand Federal COVID Relief

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, now the chair of the National Governors Association, entreated Congress to renew and expand federal support programs for unemployed Americans — many of which have expired or will end just days after Christmas. The Governor sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to act quickly as states across the country face record levels of coronavirus  infections, hospitalizations and deaths while millions of Americans remain unemployed © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

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 

National Governors Association Questions Trump Administration on Funding, Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, raised questions of all state governors on how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed when it becomes available. Who would be in line first? Who pays for the extraordinary storage requirements (minus 80 degrees)? Who pays for the essential workers to administer the millions of doses when states are suffering deficits forcing layoffs among essential workers? The National Governors Association raised these questions in a letter to the Trump Administration© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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?  

Cuomo, Whitmer Call for Congressional Investigation into Trump Administration’s Politicization of Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are  calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing this joint statement:

“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence. 

“Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results. 

“Last week’s revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time. 

“Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — over the strong objection of CDC scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.

“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts. Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward’s reporting, the question of, “What did they know and when did they know it?” cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”

Cuomo commented, “Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo – did you ever mention to the President, ‘By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.’ It just doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.”

NYS Takes Dramatic Steps to Expand Absentee and Early Voting; Launches Public Awareness Campaign

Voting will have a very different look in 2020. New York State is taking dramatic steps to expand absentee and early voting to address concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. “To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard,” Governor Cuomo said. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Voters Can Learn More About Absentee Voting And Early Voting In New York By Visiting ny.gov/earlyvote

New York State had  long been criticized for having some of the most restrictive rules for voting, resulting in some of the lowest turnout rates in the country. But that has changed with a series of reforms aimed at making it easier to vote, including making absentee voting (vote-by-mail) an option available to all, new early voting, to meet the coronavirus crisis so that casting a vote does not have to be a life-and-death choice between exercising a citizen’s most cherished right, and their health.

In addition, Cuomo issued executive orders allowing registered voters to drop off their completed absentee ballot at a Board of Elections office, early voting location or Election Day voting location without requiring them to wait in line with in-person voters. Boards of elections are required to develop and submit a plan to the State Board of Elections by September 21 and make it publicly available.

Meanwhile, the state is launching a public awareness campaign to ensure New Yorkers know all the ways they can vote in November’s election, including voting early, voting absentee, or voting in person on Election Day. 

“Because of COVID, this year New Yorkers have several options when it comes to casting their ballot. You can vote early, vote absentee, or vote in person on Election Day, and I am issuing an executive order to ensure boards of elections have plans in place to safely receive the anticipated additional volume of absentee ballots through in person return,” Governor Cuomo said.”To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard.”

Absentee ballots can be dropped to county boards of elections offices as soon as voters receive their ballot; any early voting location between October 24th and November 1st; and at polling locations on Election Day. By dropping off an absentee ballot at a county board of elections office, early voting site or polling location, New Yorkers can avoid Post Office delays and the need for a stamp.

Most New Yorkers can now request an absentee ballot for the first time under a new law the Governor signed expanding eligibility to all voters who have concerns regarding COVID-19. They should check the “temporary illness” box on their absentee ballot application. To learn more about absentee voting and early voting in New York, visit ny.gov/earlyvote.

The state has launched an absentee ballot portal where voters can directly request an absentee ballot for the upcoming November 3rd election.

Given an expected unprecedented increase in the use of absentee ballots and concerns about the reliability of the United States Postal Service, today’s executive order ensures an expedited, dedicated line for returning absentee ballots in-person, or a contactless drop box in every county.

The state made several sweeping election reform steps in advance of the November 3rd election. 

On August 20, Governor Cuomo signed into law a three-part election reform package to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November, including: allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to a board of elections immediately; expanding the necessary protections to allow a voter to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of illness including COVID-19 and; ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by a board of elections without a postmark on the day after the election will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by November 10. 

On August 24, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to further bolster and support New Yorker’s right to vote by requiring county boards of elections to take the following actions:

  1. Send a mailing outlining all deadlines for voters by Tuesday, September 8.
  2. Send staffing plans and needs to the New York State Board of Elections by September 20 so BOE can assist in ensuring adequate coverage.
  3. Adopt a uniform clarified envelope for absentee ballots and require counties to use it.
  4. Count votes faster: require all objections to be made by the county board in real time, make sure that boards are ready to count votes and reconcile affidavit and absentee ballots by 48 hours after elections. 
  5. Provide an option for New Yorkers to vote absentee in village, town and special district elections.

“All board of elections make sure they have everything in place, the staff in place, to count the ballots as soon as possible,” Cuomo said. “And the board of elections have to report staffing plans and any needs for additional staff. If they don’t have the staff. Tell us tell us before. So you can get the staff because you have to be able to count the ballots. You have to be able to tabulate the vote. We want it done and we want it done right, but we want it done timely. We don’t want to hear after-the-fact excuses for why you couldn’t do it. Tell us how you’re going to do it before-the-fact, and your staffing plan from the board of elections that will actually do that.

“This election is going to be one of the most critical in modern history. It will be controversial. You already hear the statements questioning the vote, and the accuracy of the vote, and mail-in ballots. We want to make sure that every vote is counted; every voice is heard and that it’s fair and right and accurate.”

“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Governor Cuomo said. “These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November.” 

New Laws Will Make It Easier for New Yorkers to Vote and Be Counted in November

S.8015-D/A.10833 Authorizes Voters to Request an Absentee Ballot Due to Risk of Illness, Including COVID

S.8783A/A.10807 Authorizes Voters to Request Absentee Ballots Starting Today

S.8799A/A.10808-A Allows Ballots to Be Postmarked On the Day of the Election, November 3

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Voting access is one of the core foundations of our democracy. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that no New Yorkers feel pressured to put their health and well-being at risk to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. I thank the bill sponsors for advancing this legislation, and my Senate Democratic Majority colleagues for their ongoing

commitment to empower New York voters and Governor Cuomo for signing these bills.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The Assembly Majority knows that democracy is best served when it is easier, not harder for Americans to vote. But the administration in Washington is once again proving that they do not value these critical democratic institutions, going as far as attacking the U.S. Postal Service to limit access to voting by mail. Here in New York, we will not stand for that. Earlier this year, we passed legislation to expand voters access to mail in voting, and we will continue to fight to make it easier and safer for New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and protect the integrity of our elections.”

Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests Due to Risk of Illness (S.8015-D/A.10833)

This legislation gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others.

Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “COVID has upended every aspect of our lives — but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers’ sacred right to vote. I introduced S8015D to ensure that no New Yorker will have to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility. Unfortunately, during the June election too many New Yorkers had to make that very choice because they did not receive their ballots on time. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to provide every New Yorker with the assurance that they can vote via absentee ballot come November and to give the Board of Elections the time they need to prepare. I also want to extend my gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues in the Legislature for their partnership and commitment to protecting our democracy.”

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “Today is a great day for our democracy in New York State. As we continue to work on ways to increase voter efficacy in the absentee ballot process, I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law so that New Yorkers do not have to choose between risking public health and fulfilling our civic duty to vote. I am proud that New York State can stand in contrast to our White House administration by taking steps to make it easier and safer to vote, instead of casting political dispersions that erode our core democratic institutions.”

Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests (S.8783A/A.10807)

This legislation authorizes voters to request absentee ballots immediately, 30 days before Election Day, adding almost 7 weeks to the amount of time a voter has to vote by absentee ballot. This legislation eliminates an outdated statutory provision that prevents voters from requesting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day. The legislation gives voters reassurance that they will receive and can cast their vote in a timely manner.

Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “With an increasing number of voters planning to vote by absentee ballot this year, it is important to give local boards of election sufficient time to process applications and send out ballots, and maximize the time voters have to complete and return them. This legislation is part of our continued effort to expand access to voting, during the pandemic and beyond. Voters should have full confidence that, whether they use a mailbox or a ballot box, they can exercise their rights safely, securely and without obstacles.”

Assemblymember Al Taylor said, “The COVID-19 health crisis has transformed life as we know it, including how we vote. This year we saw a tenfold increase in absentee ballot requests, with more people than ever choosing to vote by mail to protect the health of their families and community. With this new reality, we must ensure voters can exercise their rights in future elections both safely and efficiently, and that includes receiving absentee ballots in a timely fashion. I am honored to continue the fight to expand and protect voting rights in New York alongside my colleagues as we build upon the progress that’s already been made while helping our neighbors stay safe.  Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law.”

Relating to Ballots Postmarked on Day of Election (S.8799A/A.10808-A)

This legislation allows ballots to be postmarked on the day of the election, November 3. The legislation also amends election law to allow the Board of Elections to count all absentee ballots that have a time stamp showing it was delivered to the Board of Elections the day after the election but does not have a dated postmark. The Board of Elections shall deem those ballots mailed in a timely fashion.

Senator Michael Gianaris said, “It’s critical we learn the lessons of the primary election and ensure every valid vote counts in November. The bill being signed today will help insulate voters from problems caused by difficulties with the US Postal Service. I’m grateful the Governor is enacting it.”

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte said, “The legislation the governor is signing today will ensure that New Yorkers’ right to participate in the electoral process is protected. We saw unprecedented absentee voter turnout during the primary, but because of financial challenges at the United States Postal Service, many ballots did not receive timely postmarks. We must rise to the occasion and make sure that voters across the state can safely and effectively cast their votes. This legislation will help to address problems with the Post Office, by ensuring that absentee ballots that do not receive a postmark are considered timely if they are received by the Board of Elections the day after an election. This protects the integrity of votes and enfranchises the voter. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting New Yorkers by ensuring that their constitutional right to vote is protected.”

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘Trump is actively trying to kill New York City’

NY S Governor Andrew Cuomo: We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years…They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities. This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. These are the enemies from the president’s point of view.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo in his daily briefing in which noted that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days., laid out a searing attack on Donald Trump, charging that Trump is waging war on Democratic-lead cities.

“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo declared. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City…

“We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…

“The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.”

Cuomo put it into the context of Trump administration’s failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which came into New York and the Northeast from Europe, not China, causing untold emotional and economic harm, and now doing everything possible to prevent the city and state from recovering economically.

Here are his highlighted remarks –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The good news is this: reopening is proceeding and our strategy is working. New Yorkers are doing a better job than any state in the United States of America— period— and I’m proud to be a New Yorker. The bad news is we have after-effects of COVID, social after-effects. We have economic issues. we have quality-of-life issues. We have increasing crime issues. We have habitability issues.  

I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock. This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses— but you’re not going to provide funding to state local governments, who basically support police, fire, hospitals and schools is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.

There was a headline in the Daily News once: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” and the city was outraged Ford wouldn’t provide financial resources. What Ford did pales in comparison to what Trump is doing; not only did he tell New York City to “drop dead,”

Trump is actively trying to kill New York City. It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City.

He passed SALT, which was targeted just at New York City tax reform; it cost us $14 billion.

He’s refused to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th to 125th Street. Every prior administration has funded the Second Avenue Subway. It is always been a federal-state partnership. Only this President, a former New Yorker, refuses to fund the Second Avenue Subway— even after we opened it up to 96th Street and did an amazing turn-around on the construction project that everybody celebrated.

He won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia. And you want to talk about really ironic, repugnant logic? You know why he won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia? He says he has to do an Environmental Review statement. The same President who has lamented about the delay of Environmental Reviews and how they take so long, and how they stop development and how bad the SEQRA is and how the environmentalists are all full of baloney when it comes to ANWAR. Now he says, “I can’t approve the AirTrain from LaGuardia that’s been talked about for decades because I have to do an Environmental Review. Now Trump, as the environmental bureaucrat. How incredible is that? 

He won’t approve congestion pricing for the MTA. What does he have to do with congestion pricing? Nothing! It is just gratuitous. It is just gratuitous. There is no federal involvement with congestion pricing. Their approval is purely technical and it’s been over a year— we passed it in New York State. He won’t approve it.

He won’t rebuild the tunnels between New York and New Jersey that are dangerous. They’re Amtrak tunnels. Do you know who owns Amtrak? Who owns Amtrak? The federal government owns Amtrak. They’re his tunnels. They’re decaying. I went to the tunnel; I took a video of water seeping into the tunnel. I took a video of bricks crumbling. I sent them the video. He watched the video. Still, no money to fund the Amtrak tunnels.

This weekend, they stopped FEMA funding from cleaning schools and trains. “We want students to go back; we want schools to reopen.” But you don’t want to clean the schools? Students should go back to a dirty school? Is that what you want your child to do? Gratuitous and arbitrary, and now no federal funds for New York City and New York State post-COVID.  

Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and Fauci admitted. “The China Virus, the China Virus, the China Virus.” It was not the China Virus; it was the European Virus that came to New York. They missed it. They missed it. The China Virus went to Europe. It got on a plane and went to Europe. They never even thought of the possibility and then 3 million Europeans got on a plane and came to New York and they brought the virus. January: they brought the virus. February: they brought the virus. March: they brought the virus. And in mid-March, the federal government does a travel ban from Europe. Mid-March. Too little too late, Mr. President. He caused the COVID outbreak in New York. Donald Trump and his incompetent CDC and his incompetent NIH and his incompetent Department of Homeland Security.  

Department of Homeland Security- “We’re going to protect the people of this nation “We’re not going let the immigrants come across the southern border; we’re going to create a wall” Why didn’t you stop the virus? The virus killed many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. Do you hear that point?

We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created. That’s where we are.

The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.

This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. Right? These are the enemies from the president’s point of view. Look at his tweets. “These are the locations and the outposts of the enemies, so don’t provide them any funding even though we caused the COVID virus. It is an unsustainable position for the federal government.

Either this president will figure it out or the next president will figure it out. If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion. In the interim we have to be smart. We’ve gone through tough times before, New York, we had the fiscal crisis of the 70s; post 9/11 – I experienced it was a whole disruptive period – we went through the Great Recession, but we have to be smart we have to be smart we have to be financially smart and we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.  

The good news is, this is going to be a challenge, yes, but nothing like the challenge we just went through. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. I hope and pray. But compared to what we went through with COVID, dealing with the fiscal crisis is a mere bump and we’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it together because we’re New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and most of all: Loving.

The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

As schools reopen and districts, local health departments, and labs begin reporting data to the NYS Dept. of Health, the COVID-19 Report Card will be live at: https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov/

NYS, NJ, CT Issue 14-Day Quarantine for Travelers from States With High COVID-19 Rates

NYS, NJ, CT Issue 14-Day Quarantine for Travelers from States With High COVID-19 Rates
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have announced a 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from states with high COVID-19 infection rates © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont today announced a joint incoming travel advisory that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. 

This quarantine – effective midnight June 25, 2020 – applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.  

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will continually update and publish on their respective websites a list of states to which the new advisory applies. This information will be updated regularly.

The tri-state measure will use uniform parameters and messaging on highways, airports, websites and social media across the three states. The three states will also ask hotels to communicate the 14-day quarantine to guests who have traveled from one of the impacted states. 

“In New York we went from the highest number of cases to some of the lowest rates in the country – no one else had to bend the curve as much as we did and now we have to make sure that the rate continues to drop in our entire region,” Governor Cuomo said“We’ve been working with our neighbors in New Jersey and Connecticut throughout this entire pandemic, and we’re announcing a joint travel advisory that says people coming in from states with a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days. We’ve worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down and we don’t want to see it go up again because people are traveling into the state and bringing it with them.”

“Over the course of the past few months, our states have taken aggressive action to flatten the curve and beat back the coronavirus,” Governor Murphy said, “As a result of our collective efforts, we have low infection rates, falling hospitalizations, and have steadily been reopening our economies. Unfortunately many states continue to have high transmission rates. We are proud to work with our partners in New York and Connecticut on a joint incoming travel advisory to ensure continued progress against this virus and to keep residents of the tri-state area safe.”

“Working together as a region has proven to be immensely successful as our respective states are leading the country when it comes to our response with low infection and positivity rates relative to increased testing capacity,” Governor Lamont said. “We have made difficult decisions throughout this pandemic, but we have proven to make many of the right decisions. This step to inform travelers form states with hot spots to self-isolate is meant to protect our residents and maintain our incredible public health progress.”