The COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to residents of New York State over the age of 50 beginning Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference Monday.
The governor followed up the brief announcement, which was made at an event aimed at encouraging Black New Yorkers to take the vaccine and to get churches to partner in distribution, with a tweet saying that beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday “all New Yorkers age 50+ will be eligible for the vaccine.”
Mr. Cuomo did not discuss the eligibility expansion further and, as has been the case since media reports of inappropriate sexual conduct by the governor have continued to mount, the governor ended his live stream of the event without fielding questions from reporters.
New York joins other states, including Florida, Nebraska and Delaware to expand its eligibility to Gen Xers this week. The vaccine was previously only available to people over 60 or younger New Yorkers who had a disability or essential workers in occupations deemed eligible, including health care workers, educators and first responders.
The governor also said 26.1% of New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 13.4% have completed their vaccine series to date.
In a conference call with reporters later Monday afternoon, Mr. Cuomo said the expanded eligibility is in anticipation of the federal allocation to the state increasing by as much as double within the next couple of weeks.
The weekly allocation has already climbed in the last three weeks, according to the data published by the State Department of Health. About 1.2 million doses have been delivered each week this month, up from around 500-600K for the prior six weeks. Those figures include both first and second doses for the vaccines that require two shots.
“We’re anticipating the increase and we’re now scheduling appointments for the increase,” Mr. Cuomo said. “In other words, I don’t want to wait to get the increase of the vaccine and then start to schedule people.”
The state is now receiving vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which is the most recent single-shot vaccine to be approved.
The governor said the problem so far has been with supply of the vaccine.
“What you will see in the next couple of weeks is a dramatic increase in the allocation,” he said. “You will see a spike in the allocation. That spike in the allocation will then flip the challenge to the distribution side.”
He said the state is actively recruiting “distribution mechanisms,” such as the faith-based organizations to partner with a local health provider to host vaccination events. Local churches have already hosted some pop-up events. Northwell Health ran a one-day, pop-up vaccine center at the elementary school at St. Agnes R.C. Church in Greenport and the First Baptist Church of Riverhead partnered with Stony Brook Medicine earlier this month for a pop-up vaccine event.
The governor noted that 46 fatalities were reported due to COVID in the prior 24 hours, which is the lowest single-day figure since Nov. 27.
The daily positivity rate for Long Island stands at 4.4%, which is the second highest of any region in the state, second behind only Mid-Hudson. New York City, at 4%, is third.