Amidst mounting criticism for the state’s slow vaccination pace as cases rise, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that hospitals will be expected to use their allocation of vaccine vials within 7 days, or face a fine starting at a hundred thousand dollars.
“You have the allocation, we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible,” said Cuomo at his Monday press conference. “New York State Department of Health sent out a letter yesterday to all hospitals that said if you don’t use the allocation by the end of this week, the allocation you’ve received, by the end of this week, you can be fined and you won’t receive further allocations, we’ll use other hospitals who can administer it better.”
He stressed his point by publicly listing New York’s 24 public and 170 private hospitals according to how speedily they distributed the vaccines.
New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System ranked highest, with 99% of vaccines distributed within 7 days, while New York City’s Health + Hospitals system was one of the lowest, at 31%.
“I don’t mean to embarrass any hospital, but I want them to be held accountable,” said Cuomo, as he pulled up a slide of highest performing ten and the lowest performing ten hospitals.
He underscored his criticism of New York City’s mismanagement by pulling up a large photo of Mayor Bill de Blasio with a bright red banner that said “MUST MANAGE” as Cuomo said, “we need public officials to manage those hospitals…I need them to take personal responsibility for their hospitals.”
Dr. Howard Zucker, the State’s Commissioner of Health, added that “There needs to be a sense of urgency” in New York City, noting that of 38,000 vaccines allocated for healthcare workers, only 12,000 were distributed.
Cuomo did note that the burden of vaccination was heavy on a local level, and said that the state would be stepping in where federal programs and local initiatives were overstretched.
The state will now be stepping in to vaccinate nursing homes, as a federal program in conjunction with pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS have not been vaccinating speedily enough.
“[The] goal is, over the next two weeks, all the nursing home residents vaccinated, and simultaneously we’re doing the staff” said Cuomo. “The federal program has not worked as quickly as we would have liked. We’re going to step in and make it work.”
The state is speeding up the vaccination process in a race against the virus. Since Thanksgiving and winter travel and family gatherings, cases have soared throughout the country.
The state currently has 8,251 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, the statewide positivity rate is 8.43%. “Number of statewide deaths is up to 170,” said Cuomo. “That is a terrible way to start the New Year.”