With vaccine deliveries come questions of layoffs, raising taxes, Cuomo says

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Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office via Flickr).

Governor Andrew Cuomo has released his plan to allocate 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine that is expected to be delivered by this weekend, and New York City will get up to 72,000 of them. 

Prioritizing two doses for at-risk healthcare workers and nursing home residents, Cuomo said facilities with the ability to store the vaccine at the low temperature are required.

By February, Cuomo expects the vaccine to be available to the general public.

“Not every facility can do it not every hospital can do it, but we’ve identified 90 regional centers that can keep the vaccine at the required temperature, and they’ll act as distribution centers for that region,” Cuomo said. “Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to be approved by the FDA tomorrow. Immediately after that our New York State panel will convene and review and approve it, they’ve already been speaking for the FDA about the process. I think the New York panel as a second panel to approve is going to go a long way towards battling that skepticism about the approval process.”

While New York has opted into the federal vaccination plan in partnership with CVS and Walgreens, who will help distribute the vaccine, the overall effort with over $60 billion in lost revenue from the state raises the question of whether or not the governor will reconsider tax increases in order to avoid government worker layoffs.

Who those taxes will be levied from will be decided in the budget, he said.

Without federal aid through stimulus, Cuomo expects “several thousand” government workers to take the fall as well as 7,000 MTA layoffs along with fare and toll increases.

“You want this economy picking up not slowing down. Every economist from every ideology says if they starve states and local governments and make states and local governments lay off workers, you will hurt the economy and you could cause a recession. Why you would want to lay off essential workers now when you’re just starting this ambitious vaccination program, I have no idea. I mean, a more obnoxious coincidence of facts, you could not have,” Cuomo vexed. “Oh, now we’re going to starve state and local government so they have to lay off the people who do the vaccination. I mean, it’s a level of idiocy that is unparalleled.”

According to Cuomo, despite the state’s cooperation with the federal government on distributing through private pharmacies will not follow the demand for subjects to provide a passport, driver’s license, or passport information for fear of exposing them to immigration enforcement.

As for where the five boroughs stand in the scheme of things, Staten Islanders represents 25% of all COVID-19 fatalities despite only accounting for 5% of the population, which the governor attributed to a culture of resistance to mask-wearing and social distancing.

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