NEW YORK — The mayor announced expanded eligibility for those who can get the COVID-19 vaccine, while urging the state and federal government’s cooperation to allow the city to reach its goal of one million doses by the end of January.
Starting January 4, testing site workers, contact tracers, outpatient and ambulatory care providers, dentists, physical therapists, NYPD medical staff and workers at specialized clinics like dialysis centers will be able to receive the vaccine.
But Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized the importance of ramping up vaccination efforts across the board at his daily press briefing on Monday.
“There is so much that can be done if everyone acts in partnership,” he said.
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination has been behind schedule nationwide, including NYC, as the campaign enters its fourth week.
Plagued by logistical issues, about 391,400 coronavirus vaccines have been delivered to the city as of Jan. 3, but only 104,910 people have received their first dose.
While the vaccination effort so far has focused on first responders like EMTs and paramedics, the mayor said this needs to expand to police officers, corrections officers, teachers and school staff, and more.
“We need to move into as many of those categories as possible in the next few weeks,” he said. “Having that flexibility will allow us to speed up our effort.”
He went on to say: “If we can get into not just 1A but 1B immediately, it gives us the flexibility to use the supply we have very efficiently,” he said in reference to the vaccination phases.
The city is relying on manufacturers to produce enough doses, the federal government to allot the right amount for the city to administer, and the state government to provide expanded eligibility guidance to meet its goal.
On January 11, home care and hospice workers as well as more nursing home staff will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This has got to be a seven-day-a-week, 24/7 reality going forward,” the mayor said.
As part of its vaccination campaign, the city said it plans on doubling its current vaccination capacity. As of Monday, there are 125 vaccination sites across the city. By the end of the week, they plan on 160 sites to be available for the vaccine and 250 sites by the end of the month.
The new sites will begin accepting newly eligible individuals, such as health care providers, who don’t have employer-based access to the vaccine. This includes people like phlebotomists, dentists, coroners, physical therapists and more.
Also, the first group of health care workers who received the vaccine will be receiving their second dose this week, said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
The health commissioner also laid out the city’s demands in its ramped up vaccination efforts, including vaccinating everyone over 75 years old, increasing the federal government’s nursing home partnership with CVS and Walgreens, and urging private partners to work seven days a week and holidays.
“I know it won't be easy for us or anyone else,” said Dr. Chokshi. “I know this is going to be an intense month as we scale up capacity to meet both eligibility and supply—even as we continue fighting back the second wave.”
At a press briefing later on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will step in to assist the federal government’s program to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to nursing home residents and staff.
“We are going to supplement and expedite the federal program," Cuomo said.
Currently, 611 nursing home facilities have enrolled in the Federal Nursing Home program which allows for CVS and Walgreens staff to come in and administer the vaccine to residents and staff. Approximately 47% of facilities statewide have completed the first dose for residents, according to Gov. Cuomo.
He said by the end of the week, the goal is to get that number up to 85% and by the end of two weeks all nursing home residents should be vaccinated.
Hospitals are also receiving added pressure to administer their remaining doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the week. They can face fines of up to $100,000 if they do not use all their dosages by the end of this week, according to the governor.
Moving forward, facilities must use all vaccine dosages within seven days of receipt.
Statewide, hospitals so far have only administered approximately 46% of their available vaccine dosages.
"We need them to do better...we need public officials to step in,” Cuomo said.
On Monday, the hospital admissions rate per 100,000 people in New York City was 4.07%, and the number of reported COVID-19 cases reached 3,976. The percentage of people testing positive over a seven-day average in the city was 9.08%.
Statewide, 11,209 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed Sunday out of 134,360 tests conducted.
The state's positivity rate stands at 8.34%.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state now stand at 8,251. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, 1,357 patients are now in the ICU, 843 of whom are intubated.
One hundred seventy people in New York state died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The state's confirmed death toll is now 30,648.
Additional reporting by Morgan McKay.
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