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COVID-19

Gov. Cuomo talks VAP as he urges feds to prepare for COVID vaccine distribution

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 18, 2020

By Shant Shahrigian New York Daily News

NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday gushed about the state’s forthcoming program to dole out a coronavirus vaccine – or VAP for short.

He called on the feds to provide basic answers about distribution so states can start to plan for the eagerly-awaited remedy.

“This is a larger operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date,” Cuomo said at a Manhattan press conference. “We need the federal government to be a competent partner with this state and with every state.”

With the feds overseeing development of the vaccine – which Cuomo predicted could come as soon as December – he said they are yet to provide info on how to distribute it.

“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization?” Cuomo said. “Is there a multi-state coordination here, or is everybody on their own? … And who is going to pay to do this?

“We know what we need to do,” he added. “How do you do it? The devil is in the details.”

He predicted the state will need 40 million doses of the vaccine, noting 20 million New Yorkers would require two doses each over the course of three to four weeks.

The vaccine will be distributed at sites such as hospitals and urgent-care centers. Asked whether New Yorkers can expect to see people lining up for vaccines at sites like the Javits Center in Manhattan – which the Army helped convert to an emergency care facility in the spring – Cuomo said, “We will do what we have to do.”

The state has sent a draft distribution plan to the federal government, Cuomo said, and a state task force will review the vaccine before he approves it for use by New Yorkers.

The National Association of Governors submitted detailed questions about funding, the supply chain and other issues on Sunday.

Cuomo, who often has played a lead role on the national stage during the pandemic, sought to raise the issue after the feds let down many states during the early stages of the outbreak.

Looking back to the spring, when President Trump inexcusably dithered on the manufacturer of COVID tests and distribution of personal protective equipment, Cuomo said, “We can’t go through that same confusion again.”

Since contracting the virus earlier this month, Trump has made a series of bewildering statements related to vaccine research, including falsely saying a treatment he received while hospitalized was a “cure.”

“There’s going to be trust issues about the vaccination,” Cuomo said, adding that the state task force to review the vaccine “will give people added surety in the vaccine.”

He also announced New York ski resorts will be allowed to operate at 50% of their usual indoor capacity starting Nov. 6.

Last week, he gave the green light for movie theaters outside New York City to reopen at 25% capacity.

The announcement came as the city and state are trying to contain an alarming uptick in COVID cases in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The positivity rate in those “red zones” was 3.19% as of Saturday, said Cuomo. with the rest of the state’s rate coming at 1%. That compared to rates of 6.91% and 1.02%, respectively, as of the week ending Oct. 3.

Seven New Yorkers died on Saturday, bringing the state’s death toll to 25,644, the highest in the country.

Along with VAP, Cuomo unveiled a handful of terms for the era in a tongue-in-cheek “Semi-Official Post COVID-19 Dictionary of the State of New York.”

The jargon included “Blursday”: “When all the days of the week start to blur together.”

Citing predictions that the outbreak could surge during the fall, Cuomo said, “COVID fatigue can lead to less discipline, less compliance – bad time for that to happen when the virus is increasing.”

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