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Borrello: Cuomo administration ignoring rural New Yorkers during COVID-19 vaccination process

According to a report by NBC News, when the Biden administration started looking for small vaccination sites across the state, it initially looked at Chautauqua Co.
Credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor An
February 4, 2021 - Albany, NY - A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and syringes are pictured at a New York State-run COVID-19 vaccination site at Westview Homes in Albany.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With four mass COVID-19 vaccination site only a few days away from opening across New York State, NBC News reports that the federal government originally had its eye on another location.

According to the report by Jonathan Allen, when the Biden administration started looking for small vaccination sites across the state, it initially looked toward Chautauqua County. NBC News says federal officials used a "social vulnerability index," ranking locations across the state based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, income, unemployment and race.

Based on this index, one of the top contenders for a vaccination center was Chautauqua County; however, officials from New York State reportedly said no. Instead locations were selected in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers, areas that NBC News reports are "more heavily populated, more heavily minority and more politically crucial to Democrats than Chautauqua County."

Following this report, New York State Senator George Borrello spoke out saying the Cuomo administration was "playing politics" and chose to ignore rural New Yorkers, calling it a "slap in the face."

Borrello says the governor put politics over public health with this decision. He went on to say that he plans on working with Congressman Tom Reed and the federal delegation to reverse this decision.

You can read the full statement from Borrello below:

“I am outraged by today’s NBC News report that plans by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to locate a vaccination center in Chautauqua County have fallen victim to the Cuomo administration’s brazen political maneuvering. 

“While the CDC’s data found that our county’s demographics met their benchmarks for an underserved population, they apparently didn’t mesh with the Governor’s political priorities, who diverted the planned vaccination site to another location. His actions are another slap in the face to rural New Yorkers, whose needs have been consistently ignored by this administration. 

“Throughout the COVID crisis, the Governor’s ‘follow the science,’ ‘look at the data’ mantra has been a hallmark of his briefings. He has decried others whom he has accused of putting politics over public health. However, his cold political calculations towards a group of New Yorkers he is supposed to represent is the ultimate hypocrisy. 

“I will be working with Congressman Reed and our federal delegation to get this unfair decision reversed.  Today is just one more reminder of why the Senate needs to vote to remove the Governor’s emergency powers, immediately."