BUFFALO, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that New York State has released a draft of its COVID-19 vaccination administration program. According to the governor's office, the draft serves as initial framework for "ensuring the safe and effective distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in New York."
The governor also announced that New York State has created an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force, which will review every COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government. Cuomo says the task force will also advise New Yorkers on the vaccines' safety and effectiveness in fighting COVID-19.
Cuomo says New York State will administer a statewide vaccination plan, adding that local governments will participate through New York State.
In terms of vaccine distribution, Cuomo says once the vaccine is determined to be safe and effective, the priority would be given to those who are most at risk for catching COVID-19 and essential workers. The draft plan also proposes additional prioritization phases based on the availability of the vaccine.
So far, New York State has conducted 12.9 million COVID-19 tests over seven months. Cuomo did express concern over how long will take to vaccinate New Yorkers. If a vaccine requires two doses, that's 40 million vaccinations.
"We are coming up with a plan on many presumptions," Cuomo said. "We don't know how many doses we're going to get. We don't know what vaccine we're going to get. We don't know when we're going to get it. The state will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government.
"The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccine and distributing the vaccines. States cannot do this on their own. Period. This is a massive undertaking. This is a larger operational undertaking than anything we have done under COVID to date. This is a more complicated undertaking and task. And we need the federal government to be a competent partner with this state and with every state."
Cuomo says the National Governors Association, which he is chair of, has sent a letter to the president with 36 questions. Some of the questions Cuomo shared were in regards to a national strategy for prioritization when supply is short and how vaccines will be allocated to the states.
Cuomo also expressed his own fatigue over the virus, but offered encouragement to New Yorkers feeling fatigue.
"We had the worst problem on the globe at one time, and we are now managing the virus," Cuomo said.
The governor also provided an update in regards to the virus statistics on Saturday. Across New York, with red zones included, the state's daily percent of COVID-19 tests that came back positive was 1.08 percent on Saturday.
On Saturday, there were 913 people hospitalized across the state, with 200 of those people in the ICU. Of the people in the ICU, 102 required intubation.
There were seven deaths in New York State due to the virus on Saturday, including one person from Erie County. In New York, 25,644 people have died from the virus so far.