Health & Fitness

New York governor Cuomo says "states are broke" and want federal funding to distribute Covid vaccines


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manhattan in New York City, New York on July 13, 2020.

Mike Segar | Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called on the federal government to allocate funds to distribute a coronavirus vaccine. The states currently have no money.

"The states are broke," Cuomo said during a press conference in Rochester, New York. "Washington never approved state and local funding. They estimate the cost of distributing a vaccine to the states … US $ 8 billion. To date, the government has allocated US $ 200 million."

He said distributing a vaccine would be much more difficult than expected, citing the early difficulties states had in running Covid tests.

"A Covid test is relatively easy, isn't it? Nose swabs, that's a Covid test," he said. "With everyone doing everything they can in nine months, the nation has 180 million Covid tests nationwide. … To have vaccinations, you have to have 330 million vaccinations, and you have to do them twice. Twice."

Cuomo's comments come as states prepare to distribute a vaccine as early as next month. Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech filed with the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval for their vaccine. The FDA review process is expected to take a few weeks. An advisory committee meeting is scheduled for early December to review the vaccine.

Each state has presented a plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they intend to vaccinate around 331 million Americans against Covid-19 once that vaccine is approved. The CDC has allocated US $ 200 million to the jurisdictions for vaccine preparation, although much of that funding has not reached the local level.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services told CNBC that the agency is working to "secure and distribute additional funds to the jurisdictions for the calendar year 2021 and beyond."

Associations representing state and local health departments have called for more than $ 8 billion to fund the plans. That money would help increase health workers, improve data systems, pay for the ultra-cold freezers needed to store some vaccines, and prepare educational materials to allay people's potential safety concerns.

Cuomo said he would meet with President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory team later on Wednesday to discuss what states need to distribute a vaccine.

Biden's plan puts $ 25 billion in vaccine development and distribution and guarantees "every American gets there free."

This isn't the first time Cuomo has asked for more funding.

As chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association, he sent a letter from the group to the Trump administration last month with a number of questions about funding, including: B. How long the vaccine will be made available to states for free and whether the federal government will help with paying for "boots on the ground".

Cuomo has repeatedly said it would take "months and months" to vaccinate enough people before Covid "is no longer a problem".

New York is currently battling a new surge in Covid-19 cases. On Monday, Cuomo announced that the state would reopen a temporary field hospital on Staten Island to treat an influx of coronavirus patients. The 100-bed field hospital was one of many New York City hospitals to open in the spring as it battled a wave of Covid infections that overwhelmed the hospital system, killing around 800 people a day.


Katherine Clark