Counties tell state they want a more active role with vaccine distribution

Posted 6 January 2021 at 11:31 am

Press Release, New York State Association of Counties

With New York State reaching grim milestones in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, county executives from around the state held a press briefing on Tuesday where they pledged to help the state increase their vaccine distribution efforts.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, county leaders have been the onsite generals in this battle against the novel coronavirus,” said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties. “Now, they are sitting on the bench waiting to get into the vaccine game so that they can do their part in the next phase of this pandemic. To be successful in this vital task, county leaders are now looking for information and data so that they can answer questions and help coordinate the distribution of the vaccine in their communities.”

“At the end of the day, the response to a public health concern begins and ends with local health departments. We have the plans in place, we just need to be empowered to activate them and implement them. We also need access to data so that we can track who is accessing vaccines and where we need to direct resources,” said NYSCEA President and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro. “This will be the most important role we’ve ever undertaken. As someone who’s lost a loved one to this, I think it’s my mission as a local elected official to make sure we have the most robust, aggressive and efficient vaccination program in America, and I strongly believe we can achieve that if all levels of government work together.”

“We’re on the front lines with the on-the-ground knowledge. We see the people critical to the function of county government who are getting sick and need the vaccine now – police, firefighters, emergency management, 911 dispatchers,” said Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus. “We’re ready and able, we just need the green light to do what we need to do to start making a difference.”

“Our hospital network was not set up for what is going on here, that’s why the county health department should have been used. They’re making the best of a bad situation, but the fact of the matter is we’re wasting resources by duplicating efforts,” said Chemung County Executive Chris Moss. “If we don’t have better data sharing and coordination with the state, this just isn’t going to work.”