© Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) speaks at a press conference in September. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
- Hospitals in New York face a $100,000 fine if they don't use their COVID-19 vaccine doses quickly enough, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
- Some of the state's hospitals have used less than a fifth of their current doses, he added.
- "I don't want the vaccine in a fridge or a freezer, I want it in somebody's arm," Cuomo said.
- If they don't use up their current supply by Friday, hospitals may not get more doses, new regulations say.
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New York hospitals could be fined and denied access to further COVID-19 vaccine doses if they don't use up their supplies within a week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Monday.
Hospitals could be hit with a $100,000 fine if they don't use their current doses by Friday, and in the future will be given seven days to administer fresh batches of doses, he said.
Some of the state's hospitals have used less than a fifth of their current doses, he said.
"I don't want the vaccine in a fridge or a freezer, I want it in somebody's arm," Cuomo said.
The warning comes as the US struggles with the early rollout of COVID-19 shots - it fell far short of the White House goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. In the absence of clear federal guidance, the vaccine rollout has devolved into a patchwork response that varies by state, experts say.
In new regulations called "Use It Or Lose It," the New York Department of Health told hospitals on Sunday they could be refused access to further vaccine doses if they don't speed up administering their current supply.
"All vaccine in inventory prior to January 4, including prior set asides, must be fully administered to eligible priority populations by end of day on January 7, 2021," the letter to hospitals said.
"Future allocations to such facilities will be limited, and possibly eliminated."
Samaritan Hospital, AO Fox Hospital, and Nassau University Medical Center have all administered less than a fifth of their current vaccine supplies, Cuomo said.
As of Monday morning, 895,925 doses had been distributed across New York, per CDC data, and nearly 275,000 of these doses had been administered.
At the news conference, Cuomo also detailed other measures to speed up the distribution of vaccines in the state. The state will offer drive-through vaccine services, and will convert some public facilities, convention centers, and churches into temporary vaccination centers, Cuomo said. Retired healthcare workers will also be brought back to give out the shots, he added.
He will also propose a law that would make it a crime to falsify records to get earlier access to a shot, give vaccines to family, and sell the vaccine, he added.
"This vaccine can be like gold to some people," he said.
The state is also rolling out the vaccine to more groups of frontline workers, including workers who conduct COVID-19 tests and handle lab specimens.
The state expects 85% of nursing home residents to have received their first dose by the end of this week, Cuomo added on Twitter.
Cuomo acknowledged nationwide issues with the rollout of the vaccine, saying this came as "no surprise." He also noted that some Americans have been hesitant to get a vaccine.
On Monday morning, New York State recorded a further 11,209 new positive COVID-19 cases alongside 170 deaths, bringing its death toll to 30,648 from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.
Later than day, the state confirmed its first case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant that has been rapidly spreading across the UK and Europe.