Quipping that he was going to add a little New York Clean hand sanitizer to Pfizer’s new vaccine to clear his arteries, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the home stretch is coming for New Yorkers in the COVID-19 struggle.
In the meantime, hospital capacity federal funding for state and local governments as well as overcoming skepticism shared by a hefty percentage of the population remain his administration’s radar with officials in Washington offering stepping stones in which Cuomo found some optimism.
One reason for hope was a $908 billion bill announced on Wednesday that would provide financially struggling governments with $160 billion nationwide.
“It would be a short term bill until March. I would urge them to get this first down payment bill passed before they leave just so families have funding for the holiday season, and it takes some pressure off state and local governments. They would then have to come back and do a real bill next year,” Cuomo said. “National Governors Association as Democrats and Republicans, we sent the letter supporting a $500 billion state and local package. This bill has $160 billion in state and local funding. So it’s, it’s not nearly what the governor’s asked for of this country. But again, something is better than nothing.”
According to Cuomo, the period between when or if this bill is passed and when the vaccine will be widely available means New Yorkers may have to buckle down again. With 53,000 bed in hospitals across the state, ending elective surgeries will bring the total hospital capacity to 75,000.
While vaccines will begin distribution to 170,000 New Yorkers beginning on Dec. 15, Cuomo expects about 50% of the population to be skeptical of the vaccines being produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Reaching a 75% vaccination rate in New York may require more than funds and time, but persuasion.
The governor plans to take the vaccine himself publicly, much like when he allowed himself to be swabbed for COVID-19 in the middle of a press conference over the spring.
“We are working very hard to be ready for the distribution and training people on the distribution to make sure it’s all done correctly. But this is the weapon. That is going to win the war. And that is the light at the end of the tunnel, right. So, it’s not tomorrow. it’s not a short tunnel. But we know the way through this, we just have to get there. And we have to get there with as little loss of life as possible,” Cuomo added. “There is no justification, not to have a very aggressive outreach program for the black and brown community, but government is going to have to do its part. People are also going to have to do their part, they’re going to have to accept this vaccine.”
The governor illustrated how complicated administering the vaccine will be by opening a box filled with empty vials along with all the necessary accessories to track and keep the bottles cold. One small vial will be able to administer six doses with two being needed for one individual 21 days apart.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.