Tensions are running high in New York, as Mayor Bill de Blasio rebuffed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s threat to fine hospitals that fail to administer allocations of COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner.
This week, Cuomo called out some New York hospitals for their slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, with some administering less than a third of the doses allocated to them, while less than half of the doses distributed statewide have been utilized.
In response, Cuomo implemented a “seven-day use it or lose it” mandate for hospitals while threatening hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines for those that don't act expeditiously. Hospitals in violation could also be removed from the distribution list for further allocations down the road.
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“This is a very serious public health issue, and we’re firm about making sure that hospitals step up and deliver here,” Cuomo said during a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Jan. 4.
“So any provider who doesn’t use their vaccines can be fined, and they have to use it within seven days, otherwise you can be removed from future distribution,” he added. “If one hospital isn’t performing, others can use (the vaccines).”
During an interview on NY1 following Cuomo’s threat of fines, de Blasio called the measure “arrogant,” and stated that monetary punishment wouldn’t speed up the process.
“Does he think that our health care professionals are uninterested in vaccinating people?” the mayor questioned.
“How about trusting the people who have been our heroes? Help them, support them, don’t fine them, don’t threaten them. ... Respect them, and help them.”
The mayor also made note that some of the figures may not have been accurate, and that some hospitals had just received new allocations and hadn’t had a chance to administer any doses.
Cuomo acknowledged that fact during a second COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 5 in Albany, when he made note that the numbers represented the preceding three weeks.
“What he said about Health and Hospitals was just blatantly inaccurate,” de Blasio said. “A lot of that delivery to Health and Hospitals came in in the last 24 hours, they weren’t even in the position to turn around and use it. It’d just got there.”
Rather than issuing fines, de Blasio said that the state should work to install new rules that will expedite the dissemination of the vaccine.
“We need rules that maximize the pace, that help us speed up and reach the people who are available, who are a priority and who are ready, willing and able, it’s common sense,’ he said. “So the state can help us here. Stop threatening people.”
Cuomo said that so far, 900,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, though there are 2.1 million healthcare workers in New York, with approximately 300,000 vaccines being distributed weekly.
New York will need a total of approximately 40 million doses to reach “crucial mass” in vaccinations across the state.
“We have 194 hospitals (in New York), so I need the best hospitals with the best management and the best systems to be a part of this effort …. it’s literally. matter of life and death,” Cuomo said. “Some are better at certain things than others, so here we need the best hospitals with the best management, because the stakes are so high.”
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