(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would be talking with members of presumed President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory team to discuss strategies on distributing vaccines.
That conversation was scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon, the governor told reporters during a morning briefing in Rochester.
Cuomo raised concerns previously about the logistical challenges vaccines will present, especially if they require special storage needs or individuals to take multiple doses.
“If it took you nine months to do 183 million COVID tests, how long is it going to take you to do 330 million vaccinations?” Cuomo said. “You do the math, but it's not an easy process at all.”
Among the steps Cuomo said the federal government needs to take include providing states with sufficient funding if they’re going to be the ones responsible for administering the vaccine. He said that estimates claim states need $8 billion for deploying National Guard troops, securing refrigeration and trucks as well as disseminating information to the public.
That last piece will include winning over people who may be skeptical about the vaccines' effectiveness because of how politicized the government’s response has become, he added.
The governor said he also planned to stress that a Biden administration distribution plan needs to consider the needs of minority communities that have been hit hard by the virus. Black people have died from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites, and Hispanic people have a 150 percent greater chance of dying than whites.
“They don't have the same access to health care,” he said. “And now we're going to go to that same health care apparatus to do the vaccinations? After you know that it is uneven and discriminatory in this nation, it makes no sense.”
Cuomo also told reporters that health officials have advised a need for a “winter plan” against the virus after the holiday season. He said that the state will be watching hospitalization rates, which are already going up in certain areas, like Staten Island.
New York reported 2,982 people were hospitalized Tuesday due to the virus. That number has been steadily rising over the last two months. On Oct. 24, New York reported 1,015 hospitalizations. On Sept. 24, it was 511.
“We have to prioritize hospital beds,” he said. “We have to make sure we don't overwhelm hospitals, and we don't go back into the emergency field hospitals.”