In his press briefing today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that hospitals will have one more week to vaccinate their staffs. Starting on February 15, vaccine that had been distributed to hospitals for hospital workers will be sent to local health departments and reallocated for people with pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. When asked by a reporter what those pre-existing conditions were, Cuomo referenced the CDC list. The following is quoted from the CDC website.
Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2 )
- Severe Obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m2 )
- Sickle cell disease
Cuomo also announced that Johnson & Johnson has filed for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine. If granted, 100 million doses of the vaccine could be available by June. The advantages of this vaccine are that only one dose is needed and it does not require extraordinary cold storage. Only normal refrigeration is necessary.
On a less optimistic note, Cuomo said there were now fifteen variant strains of the virus that are being monitored. He spoke in particular of the UK strain, which is believed to be 70 percent more transmittable than the strain we have been dealing with up until now. There are now 59 cases of the UK strain in New York State. Fortunately, there are no cases of the UK stain in Columbia County, at least not yet.