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NYC asks state for freedom to vaccinate anyone in high priority

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Moses Kuwema

Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked the state authorities to give the city the freedom to vaccinate people who are ready, willing and in a high priority category.

And 12 people died from COVID-19 in the Bronx on Wednesday, with a total of 197 deaths being recorded across New York State.

During his daily press briefing at City Hall Thursday, Mayor de Blasio it made no sense to hold back the vaccine from senior citizens simply because they were not categorized as high priority according to the state's rules.

"What I am saying is the same thing that county executives and county public health officials are saying all over the State of New York, Democrat and Republican, upstate, and downstate," Mayor de Blasio said. 

When you see people agree who don't agree philosophically, don't share a party, don't share a region, but are all saying the same thing that tells you something. 

Everyone is saying, we need the freedom to vaccinate because in the real world, what helps is to be able to reach anyone who's ready, willing, and able right now, and is high priority. 

It makes no sense if I've got someone over 75, who's vulnerable and is ready right now to be vaccinated, and I could be vaccinating them, there's no reason I shouldn't be doing that right now." 

Mayor de Blasio said in places like Health + Hospitals, they almost have no one left to vaccinate at this point within their own employee base. 

"Now they're working with unaffiliated health care organizations. But we could be reaching folks right this minute who are really vulnerable, 75 years old, 80 years old, 85 years old right now. Essential workers right now," he said. 

"And that's the best way to constantly use the supply of vaccine we have. It's the much saner way to maximize people being ready, willing, and able at all times, get the vaccine. 

"A single vaccinator can do 30 or 40 people in an hour, but it takes having a pool of people ready, willing, and able at any given moment to get that vaccine. We have got to expand that pool to do this efficiently." 

And Health + Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Katz said the demand for people in his organization wanting to get the vaccine has been decreasing.

"And we spent a lot of time walking through the hospital, encouraging people individually to come and get the vaccine on work time. We would take care of their patients, come with us. There's an appointment now," Dr Katz said. 

"And what we learned is that a lot of people who've been doing this work for ten months felt, you know what? I have been a nurse taking care of COVID patients for ten months and I've either had COVID because of it. 

"Or I feel that because I haven't gotten COVID, I must in some way be immune to it. And I'm just not ready. This vaccine has been rushed through. I'm worried about it. 

"I would like some additional time. And so all of a sudden we now have appointments available and we don't have arms to give that injection to. We have posted all over all of our hospitals, the available times. 

"Again, we have it on the website. We've talked to people individually. We've encouraged everyone. Everyone at Health + Hospitals who is eligible has been offered an appointment."

Dr Katz said if granted permission, Health + Hospitals would like to vaccinate its patients who are older than 75 years. 

And during his own briefing Thursday, Governor Cuomo announced that the State recorded a total of 8,548 patient hospitalizations with 1,424 of those patients in the ICU while 859 were intubated adding that the statewide positivity rate stood at 7.39 percent.

"The holiday COVID hangover is here which is problematic enough, but with the introduction of the U.K. strain and the federal government's refusal to help contain it with common-sense testing requirements for international travelers, our work has become that much more complicated," Governor Cuomo said. 

"Despite this new challenge, New York is staying tough, and working with the health care community to ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed. With those efforts ongoing, it's as important as ever that we collectively stay smart and commit ourselves to taking the steps necessary for stopping the spread."

Governor Cuomo said a total of 238,550 COVID-19 test results were reported out of which 17,636 came out positive, with the state's death toll at 197 on Wednesday, the state now has a total of 31,164 COVID-19 deaths.

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