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‘The largest government operation since WWII’: Cuomo says vaccines coming Dec. 15

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at Riverside Church on Nov. 15. (Photo courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo's office via Flickr)

Mark your calendars, Governor Andrew Cuomo says there is now a date for when New York will get its first supply of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine which will be 170,000 doses by Dec. 15.

This will be part of an allocation from the federal government that nationwide will possibly vaccinate 20 million people with 40 million doses, but the hurdles of funding for deployment of the vaccine and public trust remain, according to Cuomo.

“You have local governments who are starting to lay off essential workers, those are the central workers you need to do the vaccine program, this vaccine administration will cost the state of billion dollars. The federal government is not provided funding to states anywhere near the amount. I’ve also been speaking to congressional leaders across the board Senate leaders across the board, if they do a package, there has to be funding to administer the vaccines it’s not enough to say, we’ll deliver them to your state,” Cuomo said.”We need a real aggressive outreach effort, we need social acceptance and confidence to take the vaccine. This is going to be the largest governmental operation, not just through COVID, this will be the largest governmental operation undertaking since World War Two, in my opinion.”

In terms of whether or not the state will get the Moderna vaccine, the Cuomo administration expects an allocation but was not certain as to how many doses or when it would come through, but that it could be two weeks after the Pfizer vaccine comes. The governor said he aspires for New York to have the fastest deployment of the vaccine in the country.

Cuomo will be bringing former aide Larry Schwartz back into state service in order to lead the vaccine distribution effort.

On Tuesday, 69 New Yorkers dies from the illness while a total of 3,900 were hospitalized and there were 373 put on ventilators, the state reported.

The state is still short on funds and expects that CARES Act funding delivered in March will be fully exhausted by the end of December, according to state Budget Director Robert Mujica, who said the Cuomo administration is on the hunt for options to close the budget gap.

“So on the, on the budget we, as you know, we had a $14 billion revenue shortfall. We still have a $10 billion budget gap, which we released in the last financial plan update. On spending of the CARES Act funds, the federal government gave us proximately $5.1 billion,” Mujica said. “We’re spending right now close to $7 billion, so we’re allocating those funds throughout the year. The CARES Act funds expire on Dec. 30, so we’ll fully allocate the full 5.1, and then the additional funds, we’re looking for other federal revenue streams such as FEMA reimbursements. And if not, they’ll just add to our gap, which currently we’re waiting for the federal government to provide additional resources to deal with that revenue gap, so that’s presently where we are. We still have over a $10 billion revenue gap and we will fully expend all of the CARES Act funds.”

According to Cuomo, this effort will be a dual effort to not only deploy the vaccine but deal with a wave of new infections that are expected to test the hospital capacity once again as well as a new plan released by the governor yesterday in which hospitals would be expected share caseloads and resources.

Nursing homes, nursing home workers, congregate care facilities and healthcare workers will have priority, according to Cuomo.

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