COVID-19 Rates Around 9%, Pathetic Vaccine Rollout, Schools Remain Open

The news this Monday morning could be better.

January 3 numbers reported by NYS.

Instead, New York state is approaching 9% infection rates (8.34%), City is at 9% by its own count, and the curve looks awfully close to exceeding the peak of what we saw in the spring. According to state data of the 16,433 tests in Brooklyn, 1,028 or 6.3 % came back positive, higher than the 7-day average rate of 6.1%. (You can look up more state data here and city data here, NYT data is here. Since the State data determines what happens when it comes to restrictions and responses, we focus on that in our reporting).

The city’s public hospitals (H+H) have distributed just 31% of the vaccines they have on hand, inoculating just 12 thousand of their staff of 23 thousand, the Governor announced, placing them among the least well-performing institutions when it comes to vaccinations. Private hospitals in the city have distributed almost all of the allocated vaccines.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are also slow to be vaccinated – of the 611 nursing homes statewide, just 288 had administered the 1st dose of the vaccine to those eligible. Governor Cuomo was hopeful with some help from the state, all nursing home patients and staff would have received a dose by the end of the next two weeks. We are looking to bring you Brooklyn specific numbers but did not get them before press time.

Schools

While the schools were expected to be closed in areas where infection rates exceed 9%, additional pandemic restrictions will be implemented in areas where their hospital capacity to manage the surge in cases gets compromised regardless of the infection rate in the community.

“Right now, no region has less than 30% capacity. If you remember, when any region gets to within striking distance of 15% capacity, that’s going to be a red zone closedown for that region,” Governor informed.

“For counties that are over 9% [based on State numbers], they’re doing school testing. If their schools are below the level of positivity in the community, then they can keep the schools open. It is up to the local school district to make that decision.”

“It’s a real problem when the state and city use different measures to determine the rate of coronavirus infection. Given the fact that all the other communities in the state use the state methodology, New York City should adopt it also,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew in an emailed statement.

“The real answer for New York is making the vaccine immediately available to all school personnel.  We can’t let bureaucratic snarls and procedural delays endanger the safety of students, school staff and their families.”

Vaccination Efforts at Hospitals

With only 46% of vaccines allocated to Hospitals distributed, Governor called names at the press conference, especially pointing fingers at State’s 24 public hospitals who are failing at efficiently distributing the vaccine while caring for their patients, threatening fines and potential removal from the vaccination effort.

“We need the public officials to manage those public hospitals. [..] This is a management issue of the hospitals. They have to move the vaccine, and they have to move the vaccine faster,” Governor urged.

The highest performing hospital, New York-Presbyterian hospital healthcare system, administered 99% of their allocation.

“I need those public officials to step in and manage those systems. You have the allocation; we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible. 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,” Governor Cuomo warned. He added that any provider who does not use the vaccine could be fined up to $100,000. Going forward, they have to use the allocation within seven days otherwise they can be to be removed from future distribution.

Once the nursing home residents, healthcare facilities, and their staff have been vaccinated to roll the vaccine out to the general public, Cuomo said:

“The State is going to be establishing drive-throughs for public distribution. We’re going to be using public facilities, convention centers, field hospitals, et cetera, for distribution and we’re going to be using additional retired personnel, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, et cetera to staff those facilities. So, we want to finish the nursing homes. Hospitals are doing health care workers. Hospitals will then be doing members of the general public and essential workers, but the State will also be opening its own distribution effort to accelerate those vaccines.”

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Liena Zagare

Editor of Bklyner.com. Tips? Complaints? Suggestions? Email me at Liena@bklyner.com.

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