ALBANY — Vaccine for COVID-19 remains in short supply in New York, and the campaign to get it into people’s arms continues to have its difficulties.
The number of first doses administered in week 5 was nearly 10 times higher than in week 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Monday. But there are widespread disparities among the state’s 10 regions: The Capital Region, for example, has one of lowest rates of using the vaccine allocated to it (68%) but one of the highest rates of vaccinating its health care workers (also 68%).
Cuomo noted the huge variation in staff vaccination among the state’s hospitals. “I do believe there’s a management component and a performance component to what we’re seeing,” he said.
Cuomo also said:
- In the Capital Region, hospital staff vaccination percentages included Glens Falls Hospital, 85.5%; Albany Med, 81.1%; Columbia Memorial Hospital, 73.4%; Saratoga Hospital, 69.3%; St. Peter’s Hospital, 65.4%; Ellis Hospital 64.6%; and Samaritan Hospital, 45.9%.
- Hospitals in the eastern Mohawk Valley are all near the top of the range in that region: Cobleskill Regional, 65.2%; St. Mary’s Healthcare, 62.2%; Nathan Littauer, 61.6%.
- There are 120,335 doses reserved statewide for long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Every nursing home in New York state has now received first-round vaccination but not every resident at every facility was vaccinated, for various reasons. The Capital Region was highest among the 10 regions for resident vaccination, at 80%. The Mohawk Valley was second-lowest at 66%.
- Capital Region hospitals did well on using the vaccine allotted to them — the lowest, Ellis Hospital, was 86%. In the eastern Mohawk Valley, St. Mary’s Healthcare and Nathan Littauer were both at 100% but Cobleskill Regional was only 41%.
- Asked by a reporter about his earlier threat to fine hospitals that didn’t use their vaccine within a week of receiving it, Cuomo said there would be no fines, just a cutoff of vaccine supply in the future. “We have no evidence of misappropriation by these facilities,” he added.
- The five new mass-vaccination sites operated by the state are off to a good start, so far administering 21,807 doses. The state will open eight more mass-vaccination sites this week, apparently intending to reserve a significant portion of the scarce vaccine for its own sites at the expense of the thousands of other vaccination sites it is setting up across the state. Of the five now open, one is in the Capital Region — at the University at Albany, which has administered 3,174 shots.
- Cuomo reached out directly to Pfizer, producer of one of the two U.S.-authorized COVID vaccines, and asked it to sell doses directly to New York state, rather than to the federal government, which allocates it to states.
Cuomo said now that the holidays are more than two weeks behind us, all regions of the state continue to show a decline in COVID activity, some more than others.
Long Island’s 7.84% seven-day positive test rate, for example, is now highest in the state because the Mohawk Valley’s rate (7.78%) fell faster. The Capital Region (7.45%) is third behind the Mohawk Valley.
“A major component of this is how people react to COVID and their behavior,” Cuomo said.
In other COVID-related news Monday:
- Of the 7,800 Bills fans watching the football game at Rich Stadium, 1.8% tested positive for COVID, Cuomo said. This compares to 6.5% over seven days in the Western New York region.
- Seven-day positive test rates in local counties Sunday were: Albany 8.5%, Fulton 10.9%, Montgomery 8.4%, Rensselaer 7.2%, Saratoga 8.1%, Schenectady 6.4% and Schoharie 9.7%.
- There were 153 new COVID-related deaths in 46 of New York’s 62 counties, including four in Fulton County, three in Albany County, two each in Montgomery, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties, and one each in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.