CHAIRMAN BLASTS STATE'S ABSURD VAX DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM
"This situation has gone beyond crazy," said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell on Tuesday.
"Governor Cuomo's vaccination distribution quote-plan-unquote has done nothing but sow confusion in the state and Columbia County," Chairman Murell continued. "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."
The governor's announcement last Friday that vaccine distribution was being expanded to include the 1B and now 1C categories caused an avalanche of telephone calls into the county Department of Health, Chairman Murell said. 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 hotline being overwhelmed," said Chairman Murell. "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 process."
On Monday, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said that his department was allotted 300 doses of the vaccine this week. "That allows us to reach only a tiny portion of those eligible," he noted.
"It makes no sense at all," said Chairman Murell. "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."
Further, he said, "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."
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said New York is getting 300,000 doses a week. One-thousandth of that amount is coming to Columbia County.