NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called on the federal government to increase its support in the city’s efforts to speed up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence, the mayor outlined demands including increased speed of manufacturing, advance notice of allocation, flexibility with distribution populations, faster speed of vaccination in nursing homes, and FDA approval to pre-fill syringes.
He also called on the federal government to maximize its use of the Defense Production Act for the city to ramp up its distribution of the vaccine.
Though the city committed to distributing one million doses of the vaccine by the end of January, the mayor said they still don’t know when they’re getting more shipments and where they’ll be coming from to meet that number.
He also spoke out against the state’s announcement of potential fines for hospitals if they don’t distribute the vaccine in a timely manner.
Speaking about healthcare providers, the mayor said: “What they don’t need is to be shamed. What they don’t need is more bureaucracy. What they don’t need is the threat of fines.”
In a segment for NY1’s “Inside City Hall” on Monday, the mayor had said “that’s just arrogance,” when referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to issue fines. Tuesday, the mayor said he had “let the emotions get the best of him” the night before on NY1.
Yet in his daily press briefing Tuesday, he doubled down on his criticism of fines: “That doesn't get anyone anywhere. That just paralyzes people.”
The mayor also announced the creation of “mass vaccination sites” that will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The first three locations will open at Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx, Brooklyn Army Terminal Annex Building in Brooklyn, and La Marqueta in East Harlem. Locations in Queens and Staten Island are scheduled to open shortly.
The goal for these sites is to distribute a combined 100,000 doses each week.
On Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the city reached 4,064 and the hospital admissions rate per 100,000 people on a seven-day average hit 4.07%. The current rate of coronavirus in NYC is at 9.03%. There were 210 new hospitalizations in the past 24 hours, according to the city.
At the governor's press briefing shortly after the mayor's on Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo shared details on the state's vaccination plan for 2021 that will impact millions of New Yorkers in its mass distribution strategy.
The state has identified 3,762 provider sites for vaccine distribution including long-term care facilities, pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care facilities, and community centers. Of those, 636 sites have access to the vaccine now.
There will also be drive-through vaccine operations at public college and university campuses similar to the testing program underway in the state.
In addition, police, fire and transit agencies, as well as teachers unions, are being asked to "operationalize" their own vaccine distribution for their workers.
The governor also said all health care workers in New York are now eligible to receive the vaccine. There are 900,000 available doses and more than two million workers who qualify.
Statewide, 12,666 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed Monday out of 152,402 tests conducted.
The state's positivity rate stands at 8.31%, essentially the same as the day before (8.34%).
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state now stand at 8,590, up from 8,251 on Sunday.
According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, 1,392 patients are now in the ICU, 851 of whom are intubated. On Sunday, 1,357 patients in New York state were in the ICU.
One hundred forty-nine people in New York state died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. On Sunday, 170 people in the state died from the disease. The state's confirmed death toll is now 30,802.
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