UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says he is moving quickly to hire people licensed in New York State to give injections for positions at COVID-19 vaccination events.
In a Facebook Live update Thursday afternoon, Picente says the county has already received 30 applications for the position.
The county earlier this week set up a point of distribution for the vaccine at Mohawk Valley Community College for those in the Phase 1a group ONLY. That site is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. He expects by the weekend the county will have provided one thousand of the three thousand doses of vaccine it has on hand.
Picente also renewed his call to let the county use the vaccine on hand for people in the phase 1b group, which includes law enforcement, teachers and other essential workers.
“With cases continuing to rise and hospitals struggling to maintain care, we need to be getting shots in arms as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Picente said. “Our Health Department, which is trained and tested in vaccination distribution, is best equipped to handle this. We are moving forward with our efforts and stand ready to do even more when the state removes the barriers holding us back.”
Picente sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo with his concerns.
Picente is not alone, earlier this week the New York Association of Counties made a similar pitch to open the vaccine distribution to more groups and to allow the counties to handle distribution.
Late Thursday, Cuomo’s Director of Communications, Peter Ajemian, responded to the counties in a release sent to media outlets across the state.
“The rules of the COVID vaccine distribution have been clear for many weeks and agreed to by virtually all credible federal and state leaders. The first priority is “1A,” healthcare workers who are on the front lines. With the increasing hospitalization rates, the new UK strain spread and hospital staff shortages, keeping hospitals functioning is essential to avoid another shutdown,” Ajememian’s statement said.
“Once those healthcare workers who want to accept a vaccine are afforded the opportunity, vaccinations go to the “1B” category which includes essential workers including police, firefighters and 75+ year old New Yorkers (who have the highest death rate from COVID). Police are not “healthcare workers” for 1A purposes except those who are EMS or EMT. As everyone knows, virtually every police officer is trained in CPR, but that does not make them a ‘healthcare worker’ for the purpose of vaccine distribution.”
During his Thursday briefing Picente reported the county now has its highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases on record, 191.
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