Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out his goal of administering one million doses of the vaccine to New Yorkers by the end of January as coronavirus cases in the city continue to increase.
Eighty-eight thousand New Yorkers have received the first of the two doses. The mayor acknowledged this work needs to be significantly sped up.
“President-elect Biden said it right—this whole country is behind the pace,” the mayor said about Biden’s remarks on Tuesday. “We’re going to need to go faster to beat the coronavirus.”
The goal includes a doubling of current vaccination sites for a total of 250 locations throughout the city. The current vaccination capacity is at 150,000 doses per week distributed mostly through the hospital system, according to Deputy Mayor of Health & Human Services Melanie Hartzog. That capacity will be doubled to 300,000 per week by the end of January by partnering with community-based organizations, establishing city-operated vaccination hubs set up at places such as school gymnasiums and utilizing Test & Trace sites.
This comes as the city reached a COVID-19 positivity rate of 8.87% on Thursday with a seven-day average of 3,259 new cases.
However, officials emphasized the city’s reliance on an adequate incoming supply of the vaccine as well as timely state guidance on expanding eligibility to meet their goal. Currently, healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff as well as those in long-term care facilities, are the first eligible groups prioritized for the vaccine.
“For us to move quickly, as is our intent, we have to be able to expand the circle of eligibility swiftly as well so we can match up the capacity that we have with that eligibility,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
The mayor also announced an official “Day of Remembrance” that will take place every March 14, starting in 2021, to honor all the lives that have been lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. March 14 was the date that the first New Yorker lost their life to the virus.