ALBANY — There needs to be a rapid increase in production of COVID-19 vaccines if the country is going to get a better handle on the virus, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With that in mind, he encouraged President Joe Biden to implement the War Production Act to mandate an increase in production.
While infection rates seem to be in decline, Cuomo says there is not enough vaccine being produced to meet the demand. He said New York State receives 300,000 vaccines a week, but have more than 7 Million people who qualify as priority to be vaccinated.
“We’ve used all of the allocation that we received for weeks one through six,” Cuomo said.
One of the problems, until recently, is that states only knew a week in advance how many vaccines would be allocated. Now, the federal government has given states a three-week list of allocations.
Hospital workers remain the priority for vaccinations because vaccinating hospital staff protects hospital capacity for COVID patients. He said 73 percent of all hospital staff in New York has been vaccinated.
Cuomo’s decision are, he said, based on facts, not politics.
“You watch those numbers and you react to the numbers,” he said.
“We make decisions based on facts, based on the numbers, but facts change. It sounds inconsistent, we like to think a fact is always a fact,” he said.
Cuomo said he, and all leaders, are anxious about the unknown future of the virus/
“I feel the anxiety. I don’t like knowing what is going to happen in three weeks, or four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. I don’t like being out of control. This virus is mutating all the time, there are hundreds and hundreds of mutations,” Cuomo said. “I feel the anxiety and i feel we are not in control and yes I like to be ion control. This is a situation where nobody knows what’s coming down the road. You deal with the facts when you know them, if the numbers change, we change, if the enemy changes, we change.”
He went on to say everyone wants more vaccine than is available.
“The vaccine is scarce, everybody wants more. We are rationing the vaccine and we’re rationing it fairly. We’re doing it by population because every life is as valuable as every other life,” he said.
Cuomo said distributing the vaccine by percentage of the population is the fairest way. He said if you favor one group over another, how do you decide who doesn’t get vaccinated.
“Who on the list would you take it from. You can’t stand up and play hero to any one group on that list. If you want to say ‘They’re not getting their fair share,’ say at the same time who you would take it from on that list, otherwise you’re playing politics.”
Cuomo said he remains confident that the state can handle whatever the unknown future brings.
“We have proven multiple times that we can manage changes that develop. I believe whatever happens, we can manage it because we have already managed the worst that has happened in this country,” Cuomo said. “All of this is subject now to the production capacity of drug companies. It’s not about distribution capacity, we have far more distribution than we have supply. The faucet is production. We’ll distribute all that we receive.”