Tag Archives: COVID-19 vaccine

Hotel Industry Offers to Provide 50,000 Sites for Public Health Officials to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine


America’s hotel industry is offering to provide sites to administer the COVID-19 vaccine © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America’s hotel industry is offering to provide up to 50,000 sites to assist in the rapid administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, in partnership with public health departments.

In a letter to the Biden Transition Team, Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association, writes, “America’s hotels stand ready to work alongside America’s governors as states continue to move forward in administrating the COVID-19 vaccine. By quickly mobilizing an existing network of sites, hotels can help strengthen the delivery and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in communities across the country to better streamline and build on current state efforts.”

The AHLA has a “Hospitality for Hope” initiative which has infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of 20,000 hotels that could be used as locations to administer the vaccine.

In the letter, which is also sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chair, National Governors Association;
Governor Asa Hutchinson, Vice Chair National Governors Association; Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Alex Azar, Secretary of Health & Human Services; and the US Conference of Mayors, he writes:

“As you know, administering the vaccine on a national level will be a significant undertaking requiring innovative solutions and collaboration. To aide in the distribution, the hotel industry is asking that hotels be considered as an option for vaccine administration sites in partnership with public health departments. 

“Hotels have existing infrastructure and operational capabilities to serve as vaccine administration sites and capacity to assist. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) under its “Hospitality for Hope” initiative has the infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of more than 20,000 hotels which could be quickly ready serve as locations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this program, the hotel industry has already successfully partnered with federal and local governments to provide assistance to those in need, including frontline and emergency workers as well as state and municipal public health departments. 

“The hotel industry is ready to step in and assist our community and alleviate the current burdens on our health systems in a time of national need and has the following capabilities:

  • Geographic reach: With more than 50,000 hotels in every state, including properties located in cities, suburbs, and rural communities, hotels have the geographic reach to support a wide distribution of the vaccine.
  • Available Capacity and Operate 24/7: Hotels have private rooms, meeting rooms, conference and ball rooms as well as outside areas, hotels are equipped for 24-hour operations to allow for round-the-clock vaccination administration. This will also ensure there is adequate space to maintain physical distancing, capacity limits and other safety protocols. Further, as hotels are currently running at less than 50 percent occupancy rates, families or individuals who might be traveling to receive the vaccine will have access to comfortable and flexible lodging options should they need
  • Comprehensive cleanliness protocols: The industry has also adopted AHLA’s Safe Stay, an enhanced cleaning initiative that builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing commitment and operations procedures to ensure the safety of guests during the ongoing public health crisis.
  • Infrastructure: Hotels also offer ample parking and are often accessible from major transportation networks, including highways and public transportation routes. Hotels also have outdoor capabilities that can provide safe, weather-proof vaccination services where parking lots could be utilized for vaccination administration, similar to drive-thru testing sites.
  • Refrigeration Capabilities: With many hotels being temperature controlled and the majority of hotels having refrigeration capabilities to store vaccines, issues concerning vaccine storage will be limited or can be quickly addressed to meet the requirements necessary for safe and effective vaccine storage.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our industry has been on the frontlines to support national public health and safety priorities. AHLA launched the “Hospitality for Hope” initiative in early 2020, identifying more than 20,000 hotels willing to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The initiative identified a total combined 2.3 million rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities for frontline workers to use as they worked around the clock to save lives and provide lodging for those exposed to COVID to quarantine safely. Additionally, as part of this effort, hotels are supporting the national guard by providing lodging to those who Washington D.C. and surrounding region to provide additional security around the inauguration. 

“With the next phases of vaccination distribution underway, hotels have the unique capability to help provide additional locations to assist with the administration of the vaccine. As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need, including early-on in the pandemic through Hospitality for Hope. The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”

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 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.”

President-Elect Biden Calls for COVID Relief Now: ‘The situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be bleak’

President-Elect Joe Biden: “To truly end this crisis, Congress will need to fund more testing as well as the equitable and free distribution of the vaccine. We’ll need more economic relief as a bridge through 2021 until both the pandemic and economic crises are over. And, then we’ll need to build back better…my Build Back Better plan will create 18.6 million jobs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The reactions could not be more stark between the ignorant, self-serving do-nothing response of Trump who is obsessively focused on overturning the free-and-fair election that deposed  him (and pardoning criminal allies and family members), and the thoughtful, insightful, methodical focus of President-Elect Joe Biden on how to combat both the coronavirus crisis and the related jobs crisis. Biden’s remarks come in response to November’s jobs report that, even before the massive skyrocketing in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, showed a disturbing slowdown in economic recovery, with only 245,000 jobs added when well over 400,000 were expected, and an unemployment rate, which while dipping to 6.7%, does not reflect the 4 million people who have dropped out of the workforce and aren’t looking for jobs. The truer unemployment rate would be over 8%. Biden, in his remarks, was optimistic about a spurt of bi-partisanship that may produce a $900 billion COVID relief package, but says that is only a “downpayment” – an emergency relief to keep people from losing their homes and the ability to feed their family – on what will be necessary.

Already, the failure of Republicans to allocate aid to states and localities has resulted in 1 million layoffs of critical workers, with many more teachers, firefighters and hospital workers who will lose their jobs when they are most needed. Moreover, though the administration is touting the near availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, it has failed to actually contemplate how to distribute it, administer shots, or who will pay for the health workers to administer the vaccinations to the general public. (Reminder, you need 70 percent of the population to get the vaccinations in order to even begin to have “herd immunity” to end the pandemic.) But actually sparking the economy again will require real stimulus spending, for much needed and neglected infrastructure. Here are President-Elect Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon.

Earlier today, the November jobs report was released.

It’s a grim report. It shows an economy that is stalling. 

We remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

If we act now, we can regain momentum and start to build for the future. There is no time to lose.

Millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed. They’ve lost their health insurance or are in danger of losing it. One in every six renters was behind on rent. One in four small businesses can’t keep their doors open. An ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains too large.

And it’s deeply troubling that last month’s drop in overall unemployment was driven by people dropping out of the labor market altogether. They’ve lost hope for finding a job, or they’ve taken on full-time caregiving responsibilities as child care centers remain closed and their children learn remotely. 

Over the last three months, 2.3 million more people are in long-term unemployment — by far the largest increase on record.

And this dire jobs report is a snapshot from mid-November before the surge in COVID cases and deaths in December as we head into a dark winter. 

For example, since October, cities are down 21,000 educators — just as schools need more help in the fight against the pandemic.

A couple of days ago I spoke with a school crossing guard, a server, a restaurant owner, and a stagehand. Good people, honorable people — decent Americans from across the country.

They remind me of my Dad who lost his job in Scranton and eventually moved our family to Claymont, Delaware, just outside of Wilmington.

He used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect it to understand my problems.”

The folks out there aren’t looking for a handout. They just need help. They’re in trouble through no fault of their own. They need us to understand.

We are in crisis.  We need to come together as a nation.

And we need Congress to act — and act now.

If Congress and President Trump fail to act by the end of December, 12 million Americans will lose the unemployment benefits they rely on to keep food on the table and pay their bills.

Emergency paid leave will end.  The moratorium on evictions will expire. States will lose the vital tools they need to pay for COVID testing and public health workers. 

It will be harder for states to keep children and educators safe in schools and to provide assistance to keep small businesses alive. 

States and cities are already facing large budget shortfalls this year.

They have already laid off more than a million workers — and even more teachers. Firefighters and cops will lose their jobs unless the federal government steps up now.  And all of this weakens our ability to control the virus.

Emergency paid leave reduces the spread of COVID, because it allows people to stay home when they are sick.

States and cities need funding to direct COVID response — which is the only way we can end this crisis and get people back to work.

The situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be bleak.

Americans need help and they need it now, and they’ll need more come early next year.

I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around a $900 billion package of relief. 

And as Congress works out the details of the relief package, we must focus on resources for the direct public health response to COVID-19.  

We need meaningful funding for vaccines now so that we don’t lose time and leave people waiting for additional months.  

We need serious funding for testing now so we can ramp up testing and allow our schools and businesses to operate safely.  

The sooner we pass this funding, the sooner we can turn the corner on COVID-19.

In the weeks since the election ended, there were questions about whether Democrats and Republicans could work together. 

Right now, they are showing they can. Congress and President Trump must get a deal done for the American people.

But any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough. It’s just the start.

Congress will need to act again in January.

Earlier today, I consulted with members of the economic team Vice President-elect Harris and I announced this week.

As we inherit the public health and economic crises, we are working on the plan that we will put forward for the next Congress — to move fast, to control the pandemic, to revive the economy, and to build back better than before.

We hope to see the same kind of spirit — of bipartisan cooperation —as we are seeing today.

And our plan is based on input from a broad range of people who Vice President-elect Harris and I have been meeting with since winning the election last month.

Labor leaders, CEOs, Mayors and Governors of both parties. Parents, educators, workers, and small business owners.

There is consensus that, as we battle COVID-19, we have to make sure that businesses and workers have the tools, resources, guidance, and health and safety standards to keep businesses and schools open safely. 

Because here’s the deal: 

The fight against COVID won’t be won in January alone.  

To truly end this crisis, Congress will need to fund more testing as well as the equitable and free distribution of the vaccine.

We’ll need more economic relief as a bridge through 2021 until both the pandemic and economic crises are over.  

And, then we’ll need to build back better. An independent analysis by Moody’s — a well-respected Wall Street firm — projects my Build Back Better plan will create 18.6 million jobs.

It’s based on a simple premise: reward work in America — not wealth.

We will invest in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing,  and so much more.

This will create millions of good-paying American jobs and get the job market back on the path toward full employment. This will raise incomes, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy, and restore the backbone of this country, the middle class.

Bottom line, it’s essential that we provide immediate relief for working families and businesses.

Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment and businesses failing.

And by acting now, even with deficit financing, we can add to growth in the near future.

In fact, economic research shows that with conditions like today’s crisis — especially with such low interest rates — not taking the actions I’m proposing, will hurt the economy, scar the workforce, reduce growth, and add to the national debt.

I know times are tough, the challenges are daunting, but I know we can do this.

We can create an economic recovery for all. We can move from crisis to recovery to resurgence.

This is the United States of America. We’ve done it before. We will do it again.

May God bless America.
May God protect our troops. 

I’ll stop there and take your questions.

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?