Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned that New York City is on track to run out of COVID-19 vaccines next week, as he begged the federal government to send more doses and announced the Big Apple is on target to reach its goal of one million shots in arms by the end of the month.
Speaking at his daily press briefing, de Blasio said Wednesday he has ‘no patience’ for the federal government and the vaccine manufacturers for the slow rollout of shots and demanded the Trump administration releases the second doses currently being held back from states.
The mayor revealed that the New York Yankees has followed the Mets in agreeing to work with the city to turn its stadium into a 24/7 mass vaccination site, while new round the clock sites are springing up across the five boroughs.
Another 28,599 doses were administered to New Yorkers Tuesday, taking the total number of shots in arms to 267,923, with 237,991 people having got the first dose and 29,932 the second, the city’s health department data shows Wednesday.
With an estimated population of 8.34 million according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau, this means just around 2.85 percent of New York City residents have been given the first dose almost exactly one month since the vaccine was given to the first American back on December 14.
Statewide, 3.42 percent of the population have been vaccinated with at least the first dose, Bloomberg data shows, with Governor Andrew Cuomo reporting that 665,172 doses had been administered by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
While the state and the city has ramped up vaccinations in the last couple of days, following the expansion of eligibility – first to those aged 75 and over and then to those aged 65 and over and the immunocompromised – pressure is building to up the pace of rollout.
New York City has received 793,675 doses from the federal government to date, meaning only around a third – 33.7 percent – of doses have been given to New Yorkers with the remaining two-thirds still sitting waiting to be used.
Similarly, the state has administered just 41 percent of its available 1.62 million doses so far, according to Bloomberg.
Though New York state is doing better than the national average of 35.9 percent of the population, the slow rollout comes as the statewide positivity rate reached 7.73 percent Tuesday and another 164 people died.
Fears over the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the UK are also increasing, with two New York City residents confirmed to have contracted the strain Wednesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned that New York City is on track to run out of COVID-19 vaccines next week, as he begged the federal government to send more doses and announced the Big Apple is on target to reach its goal of one million shots in arms by the end of the month
Despite doses sitting unused in the city, de Blasio insisted Wednesday that the rollout is accelerating and the city will hit its target for doses administered this week.
‘We’re speeding up the pace of giving the vaccines all the time,’ he said.
De Blasio blamed a holdup in getting shots in arms on the federal government saying the city is now ramping up appointments with 24/7 vaccination sites but the supply isn’t going to keep up.
‘The key thing here is we need more vaccine,’ he said.
‘As we have set up the system and finally won the battle for the freedom to vaccinate New Yorkers the inevitable has happened.
‘Tens of thousands of folks have come forward wanting the vaccine – rightly – and we’re going to provide it to them over the next few weeks and then we’re going to run out of the vaccine.’
New York City will run out of doses as soon as next week if the city continues accelerating the rollout and the government continues with its current supply, he said.
‘I confirmed with our healthcare team yesterday that even with normal supplies that we expect to have delivered next week we will run out of vaccines at some point next week unless we get a major new resupply because so many New Yorkers want the vaccine and we have the ability to give it to them,’ he said.
‘What do we need? The federal government, the state government and the manufacturers to step up and give us more supply immediately.’
De Blasio hit out at the current administration for holding back the second dose of the vaccine.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses taken 21 and 28 days apart respectively.
However, the vaccine also offers some protection after just the first dose and some countries such as the UK are focusing on getting as many people the first dose as possible – whereas the US is holding onto the second dose.
‘Now look, one question here – and this is the place again where President-elect Biden has been a strong voice and I thank him – he is pushing hard on the current administration to release more vaccines,’ de Blasio said.
‘He is calling for the release of the vaccine that was held back for the second doses. I want to affirm President-elect Biden he’s right.
‘All doses being held back by the federal government need to be released now, right now. We can use them right now.’
He continued: ‘The same doses can be used for the first dose or a second. It doesn’t matter but holding back vaccines when we have tens of thousands of New Yorkers ready to be given the vaccine now makes no sense at all.
‘So I’m calling on the federal government to release everything you can… we need it and we need to speed up this system going forward as we are going to continue to build.’
The mayor revealed that the New York Yankees has followed the Mets in agreeing to work with the city to turn its stadium into a 24/7 mass vaccination site. Pictured the Yankee stadium
New round the clock sites are springing up across the five boroughs. The Mets Citi Field is being turned into a 24/7 site
Who can get vaccinated under the current Phase 1B?
- Individuals 65 and older
- Immunocompromised people
- First responders
- Public safety officers
- Teachers and other school staff
- In-person college instructors
- Childcare workers
- Grocery store workers
- Transit workers
- Individuals living and working in homeless shelters
- Corrections officers
The Big Apple has a goal to administer 175,000 doses this week and one million doses in total by the end of January.
De Blasio said the city is on target to reach those goals.
‘Our goal of 175,000 doses this week – we’re going to hit that goal,’ he said.
‘And then we’re going to have a higher goal next week and a higher goal the week after that. We won’t be able to meet those goals if we don’t have the vaccines.’
De Blasio hit out at the federal government and the vaccine companies saying: ‘I have no patience for the federal government and the manufacturers.
‘We need them to deliver a lot more. We need a lot more quickly as we can use it right now.’
Several 24/7 vaccination sites are being set up across the city with de Blasio announcing that the Yankees stadium in the Bronx is the latest confirmed site – one day after the Mets revealed a site will open at its Citi Field facility.
‘Thanks to the New York Mets for stepping up,’ said de Blasio.
‘We’ve heard back from the New York Yankees and we welcome them into the fold too.
‘And we’re working with them now to work out a plan to use their stadium too.’
A 24/7 site opened at 125 Worth Street in Lower Manhattan Tuesday and the 24/7 Gotham Health at the Vanderbilt clinic in Staten Island opened Wednesday.
On Saturday, NYC Health and Hospitals Corona in Queens will also shift to a 24/7 operation.
De Blasio said vaccine appointments are filling up fast in the city and they are adding new appointments all the time as these facilities are set up.
The phone reservation system will go to 24/7 at the weekend to make it easier for eligible people to make appointments.
This comes after the city came under fire for its cumbersome online appointment system which left hundreds of appointments unfilled as elderly residents struggled to navigate the website and its 51-question form.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer criticized the online system Sunday saying seniors were ‘bewildered’ by the system meaning they were missing valuable opportunities to get their hands on a shot.
People line up for doses in Queens. Another 28,599 doses were administered to New Yorkers Tuesday, taking the total number of shots in arms to 267,923, with 237,991 people having got the first dose and 29,932 the second, the city’s health department data shows Wednesday
New Yorkers at the new 24/7 site at 125 Worth Street in Lower Manhattan. Around 2.85 percent of New York City residents have been given the first dose almost exactly one month since the vaccine was given to the first American back on December 14
The city responded by creating an option for people to call 311 for an appointment,
But this system was also racked with flaws as people were on hold for almost half an hour on the line.
De Blasio said the city is waiting for guidance from the state over vaccinating immunocompromised people after the group was added to the current rollout phase Tuesday.
On Monday, Cuomo bowed to pressure to add people aged 75 and older to the current phase – phase 1B – of the vaccine rollout after previously insisting the elderly come after healthcare workers.
Phase 1B includes residents over the age of 75, teachers, transit workers and police, in addition to healthcare workers who were covered in Phase 1A.
The new phase also broadened the types of healthcare workers that can receive the vaccine to include anyone who interacts with the public, such as licensed practical nurses, pharmacists, dentists and podiatrists.
On Tuesday, the CDC then recommended expanding eligibility to people aged 65 and over, as well as people who are immunocompromised – a recommendation Cuomo took on.
Cuomo said the expansion means seven million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine but the state is still only receiving 300,000 doses each week.
The governor also blasted the federal government’s allocation of the vaccine, saying that with the expanded eligibility, people can now expect to wait a staggering six months for a shot.
‘At our current rate of supply, it will take close to six months to vaccinate everyone who’s currently eligible,’ Cuomo said Tuesday.
‘Is that helpful? I don’t think so. I don’t think this creates national confidence. I think it creates national frustration.’
The pressure to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible comes as the US continues to record more strains of the more contagious variant of the virus.
De Blasio announced Wednesday that two New York City residents – one in Manhattan and one in Queens – have tested positive for the new strain, taking the state’s number up to 12.
One of the individuals had recently traveled to the UK sparking de Blasio to once again call for a complete travel ban from the UK.
‘Although I appreciate the federal government is finally acting to restrict who can get on an internal flight and require them to have a negative coronavirus test, that’s not good enough,’ he said.
‘There should be an immediate travel ban from the United Kingdom to the United States.
‘Here’s proof positive: Someone who was in the UK has brought the variant back here.’
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, on January 26, it began requiring all international travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the U.S.
This is in addition to the Trump administration’s policy, which barred travelers from entering if they have been in the UK within the last 14 days.
However, US citizens or people with travel exemptions have still been able to enter the US directly from the UK.