Worries about vaccine rollout rise as New York finds virus variant
In an effort to speed up what has been a sluggish rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Monday to fine hospitals up to $100,000 if they don’t finish their first round of inoculations by the end of the week.
Gov. Cuomo made the threat hours before announcing the discovery of the state’s first known case of a new, more contagious variant of the virus.
A man in his 60s who is affiliated with a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs tested positive for the variant, the governor said. The man has COVID-19 symptoms but is “on the mend,” Cuomo said.
The discovery seemed to underscore the need for more urgency in a vaccination campaign that has, so far, moved at a snail’s pace.
Hospitals have been receiving vaccines over the past three weeks as part of a program prioritizing frontline medical workers. About 2.1 million New Yorkers are now eligible for vaccination under New York’s priority list, which expanded this week to include all health care staff — including receptionists — who come into contact with the public.
But Cuomo said that as of early Monday, hospitals had only administered the first dose of 46% of their allocated vaccines.
That amounts to roughly 300,000 out of roughly 650,000 allocated doses so far, according to Cuomo.