New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the outline of a vaccine administration program that will be utilized by New York State when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available to the public at his press conference on Sunday.
As there has been some concern that the vaccine development has been politicized, Gov. Cuomo said the state will assemble a task force of medical and scientific experts who will independently determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
Essential workers and those at higher risk will be prioritized in the vaccination distribution.
Until then, Cuomo urged New Yorkers to not succumb to COVID fatigue and loosen personal conduct, but to remain cautious and to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. It is especially imperative to stay vigilant as the weather chills, as virus cases tend to rise as it gets colder.
In preparing for the expected increase in coronavirus cases in New York, the Governor said the strategy of handling outbreaks will become very focused and will target clusters by neighborhood rather than region. He noted that infection rates have gone down in areas that had been struggling to contain outbreaks, a positive sign that New York is succeeding in responding to cases quickly.
When asked about his administration’s controversial nursing home policy, in which COVID-positive patients were kept with uninfected neighbors in nursing homes, Cuomo said those criticisms were politically charged and pointed out that all states currently struggling to contain outbreaks in the South and the West are seeing heavy death tolls in nursing homes. Cuomo said the situation was tragic but unavoidable, as nursing home workers travel daily, surrounded by potentially ill strangers, and arrive in a place full of medically vulnerable elderly residents.
A reporter asked about the recent preemptive shutdown of a large wedding in Williamsburg. In his response, Cuomo did not mention any specific community and instead pointed to the broader trend of people becoming increasingly tired and frustrated by coronavirus restrictions, defending the shut down as necessary compliance of health measures.
“I understand, they planned a large wedding, everyone was so excited, [and] the government canceled it,” Cuomo said. “I understand we’re tired of the sacrifice … but that’s something we do as a community, as a collective, as a social responsibility to one another. That’s the only way we stop the virus.”
He suggested that people instead have small weddings with only family for now and have large celebrations with friends and community when the pandemic has passed.
“Invite me,” he joked. “I’ll come.”
Updated Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 2:06 pm .