New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is drawing fresh ire amid new reports revealing Covid-19 doses are sitting idle and even being thrown out, despite calls from Bill de Blasio and others to widen eligibility requirements.
Under Cuomo’s vaccination rollout plan, healthcare workers and the residents and staff of nursing homes are being prioritized for the jab. The governor has said the state “ethically” owes it to these groups to vaccinate them first, but the effort has led to thousands of vaccine doses lying dormant in freezers, and some even being thrown out due to a lack of recipients who meet the criteria.
“It’s stressful and frustrating to have [a] vaccine and to be unable to start giving it to our patients as quickly as we would like,” Dr. Peter Meacher, chief medical officer for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Manhattan, told the New York Times in a report highlighting the downfalls to Cuomo’s plan.
Meacher’s clinic received over 600 doses last month, far more than they needed for the priority round, and many of them have lain dormant because he cannot issue them to patients who do not belong to the initial groups. Medics’ reluctance to administer the jab to other recipients is understandable, given Cuomo has threatened a massive $1 million fine for those who break the rules.
As of Friday, according to the report, only about 34 percent of received vaccine doses had been administered. Hundreds of thousands have yet to be used.
The turtle-like speed with which doses are being administered has led to intense criticism of Cuomo, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has publicly voiced his frustrations with the limited eligibility requirements. “Give us the freedom to vaccinate,” the mayor pleaded with Cuomo this week.
De Blasio has wanted to expand eligibility to use up idle vaccine doses on essential workers, such as law enforcement, or to seniors. Thousands of officers were set to be vaccinated this week, but that plan was shot down by the governor just hours before it was set to kick off.
“We are not allowed by state law to give a single shot to a single New Yorker over 75,” the mayor added, revealing that there are over 270,000 vaccine doses which could be released “right this minute” if not for the current rules.
“Right this minute we have 270,000 (vaccine) doses that we could be giving right now to New Yorkers over 75”That includes my fatherGovernor Cuomo, please allow NYC the freedom to vaccinate people over 75 NOW pic.twitter.com/RNOvrAu4Dt
To make matters worse, a hospital in New Rochelle is being investigated by the health department for vaccinating residents ineligible under the current guidelines. They could face penalties for attempting to vaccinate thousands of public employees.
Revelations from the new reports and de Blasio have motivated many to blast Cuomo on social media, something he is likely used to at this point after a year of numerous controversies.
“I look forward to the coming Cuomo bestseller on how flushing vaccines was visionary leadership,” CNN contributor Scott Jennings tweeted.
“This is what’s happening. Instead of giving it to our most vulnerable, the vaccine [is] being tossed in the garbage. Where is the outage?”added Fox News’ Janice Dean, who lost both of her in-laws to Covid-19 while they were in a New York nursing home.
This is @NYGovCuomo.Again, someone want to explain to me why he isn’t, right now, THE WORST GOVERNOR IN AMERICA???@jaketapper@ChrisCuomo@drsanjayguptahttps://t.co/EMeSh8n8vh
Andrew Cuomo is a genuinely terrible governor. https://t.co/h45hhGU6RM
My dad is in NY 84. @NYGovCuomo would rather see vaccines thrown out than given to my dad or other elderly New Yorkers. https://t.co/zZaME4xN5w
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