Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday vowed a robust vaccination distribution plan in New York amid a dispute with the Trump administration over how to do so, while also raising concerns the state needs the resources for the undertaking in the coming weeks.
So far, federal resources have amount to $140 million; the Centers for Disease Control believe it will cost more than $6.6 billion.
"We will do a better job than any state in the nation," Cuomo said at Riverside Church on Sunday morning. "That is our promise. But we need the federal resources to do it. New York State already has a $15 billion deficit. The federal government has been starving state and local governments and they know it."
Cuomo's comments come as he continues to criticize President Donald Trump for a vaccination plan that leans heavily on private-sector pharmacies. Trump has said New York won't receive vaccinations until Cuomo approves of it; Cuomo has said his review plan is meant to assess the Food and Drug Administration's own review of a vaccine and will distribute it quickly.
But Cuomo on Sunday also turned to the specifics of how to vaccinate a population that may be skeptical of its safety. The governor has raised concerns in recent months a vaccine would be rushed for political purposes.
Pfizer, Inc. announced a week after Election Day that its vaccine had a 90% effective rate in late-stage trials. It is likely to be ready for distribution by the end of the year.
"We need to enlist community groups to distribute the vaccine in their community," Cuomo said. "We need faith-based groups that the community trusts to distribute the vaccine. We need medical teams and outreach teams going into public housing projects and low-income communities. New York State will mobilize an army to vaccinate all New Yorkers fairly, equitably."
But New York also faces a budget gap due to the COVID-19 pandemic as tax revenue declined swiftly due to the crisis. The state is seeking tens of billions of dollars in aid, potentially from either a lame-duck session of Congress or more likely the incoming Biden administration.
"All this federal government does is point fingers," Cuomo said. "It's about time they look in the mirror. Don't tell us it's a state's responsibility without giving the state the resources to do the job. You fool no one. We call that in New York passing the buck without passing the bucks. You're not going to get away with it anymore."