HUDSON—“This situation has gone beyond crazy,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell in his January 12 Covid-19 update press release.
Every day more categories of people become eligible to receive their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vaccine administration plan, yet the supply of vaccine is limited.
In a January 12 press release the Governor announced that five state-run vaccination sites have begun accepting appointments and are scheduled to open this week. One at SUNY Albany opens January 15. Getting an appointment for a vaccine could take up to 14 weeks due to limited federal allocation.
But the available vaccine to eligible people ratio reality seems to leave the governor unfazed as he noted in the release: “We have come too far to be held back in our efforts by the inadequate vaccine supply from the federal government. I encourage New Yorkers to be patient throughout this process and urge our federal government to increase the supply to states.”
The state website https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ says that as of January 11, New Yorkers in Phase 1a and segments of Phase 1b are eligible for the vaccines—all of which are given by appointment only.
“Eligible groups include doctors, nurses and health care workers, people age 65 and over, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers and public safety workers. Residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will continue to be vaccinated through a federal program, which the state is providing resources to accelerate.”
Health care workers who are part of Phase 1a will continue to be vaccinated at hospitals and other clinical settings.
People age 65 and over will primarily be vaccinated at pharmacies and other sites that are part of the “retail network.” Use an online tool: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ to find a location.
A Covid-19 Vaccination Hotline is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week, for scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible New Yorkers: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
Public employees such as, police departments, public school teachers and MTA employees, will primarily be vaccinated through their groups’ relevant health programs or as organized by their unions.
‘Governor Cuomo’s vaccination distribution ‘plan’ has done nothing but sow confusion…’
Supv. Matt Murell (R-Stockport)
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
On the Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) website (www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/), the “Official Place for the Covid-19 Vaccine Information in Columbia County,” an “Available Clinic Registration” link: (https://apps.health.ny.gov/doh2/applinks/cdmspr/2/counties?OpID=50502560) says a Covid-19 vaccine clinic will take place in the Columbia-Greene Community College Gym for people in priority group 1b, who need their first vaccine, January 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The deadline for people to register is January 14, but it says “0” appointments are available
The site says, the state Covid-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-833-697-4829 can also be contacted. But people should understand that by calling the state number and registering to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, they may have to travel somewhere outside of Columbia County to receive it.
Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said January 11 that his department was allotted 300 doses of the vaccine this week. “That allows us to reach only a tiny portion of those eligible,” according to the county’s January 12 release.
“Governor Cuomo’s vaccination distribution ‘plan’ has done nothing but sow confusion in the state and Columbia County. Every day seems to bring another random announcement that does nothing to further the cause of getting the vaccine in the arms of our residents,” Chairman Murell said in the county’s January 12 release.
The governor’s announcement January 8 that vaccine distribution was being expanded to include the 1b and now 1c categories caused an avalanche of telephone calls to the county Department of Health, said the chairman. That barrage of calls continues as county residents seek to determine their eligibility, and, if possible, to sign up for their vaccine.
“As soon as someone hung up the phone, another call comes in, which has only been exacerbated by the state’s hot line being overwhelmed. The system, such as it is, is broken. There are now millions of more people eligible—under the state plan—for the vaccine than there are available vaccines. It’s beyond unreasonable to expect the county Department of Health to conduct vaccination PODS, test for the coronavirus, answer a barrage of telephone calls, contact trace, and conduct normal business under these conditions, among other daily tasks. This has all been caused by the State’s haphazard approach to managing the vaccine distribution program,” said Chairman Murell.
“It makes no sense at all. I may be painting with a broad brush here, but basic math tells me if we continue to receive but 300 doses per week, in a county of 62,000 residents, it will take months for individuals to get their first doses,” said the chairman.
He further noted that, “At a time when county personnel are already hamstrung by Covid-19 infections, mandatory quarantines, and other Covid-related issues, county workers are being diverted into assisting the Department of Health. That’s one thing, but to attempt to keep up with the governor’s whims and conduct county business at the same time is a near-superhuman chore.”
Columbia County Covid-19 numbers posted on the County DOH website for January 12 indicate: 37 new coronavirus cases; 329 active cases; 549 people under mandatory quarantine; 24 currently hospitalized; 1 person in the ICU and 54 deaths in the county to date.
LabCorp currently offers an at-home Covid-19 test at https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/at-home-test-kits/covid-19-test-home-collection-kit
This test does not detect antibodies or immunity. It is designed to determine active infection with the virus that causes Covid-19.
After completing a short eligibility survey, choose a billing option, such as personal insurance, the use of federal funds to cover the cost of this test for those uninsured, or with a credit card. The test kit will arrive via FedEx. After collecting and returning a sample, the average time to deliver results is one-two days from when the sample is received at the lab, according to LabCorp.