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New York's Vaccine Plan Prioritizes Essential Workers, High-Risk People

NEW YORK NOW - New details emerged Sunday on how health officials in New York could administer a future vaccine for COVID-19, with essential workers and high-risk individuals slated to receive the injection first, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Individuals living in areas with a high prevalence of the virus would receive the vaccine first, according to a draft plan shown by Cuomo during a press conference in New York City.

But he also said that plan will largely depend on guidance from the federal government. Cuomo, along with other governors, has asked the Trump administration to provide details on the federal government’s plans for the vaccine.

"This is a larger operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date," Cuomo said. "And we need the federal government to be a competent partner with this state and every state."

Cuomo is seeking a detailed response from the Trump administration, like how the vaccine will be distributed to different states, how the federal government plans to store it, and who will be responsible for covering the costs.

He said Sunday that he wants to avoid a repeat situation of what happened in March and April, when states were competing with each other to buy medical supplies and equipment, like ventilators and face coverings for health care workers.

Under the draft plan releasedby Cuomo Sunday, health care workers, nursing home staff, and nursing home residents in areas where the virus is prevalent would receive the vaccine first. The same people in low-risk areas would receive the injection next.

Other essential workers, like first responders, teachers, and other public-facing employees, would then receive the vaccine. High-risk individuals in the general population and others living in congregate settings would also be inoculated during this phase.

The vaccine would then be given to people over the age of 65 and individuals under the age of 65 with underlying health conditions. All other essential workers would then receive the vaccine.

The general population would be last to receive the vaccine, according to the plan. The injection would, again, be made available first to those in high-risk areas. The general population in low-risk areas would receive the vaccination last.

It’s still unclear when a vaccine for the virus will be made available for the public. Some vaccine trials have been delayed because of problems with individuals involved. Johnson & Johnson recently had to pause their vaccine trial because of complications.

President Donald Trump had previously predicted that a vaccine could be ready in a matter of weeks, and pharmaceutical company Pfizer has said it could have millions of doses by the end of the year.

Cuomo also announced Sunday that ski resorts in New York will be allowed to open next month at half their indoor capacity with restrictions on sharing gondolas and face coverings required off the slopes.

The governor said ski resorts can open Nov. 6 under a series of restrictions consistent with rules for other entertainment venues. Masks will be required at all times except when eating, drinking or skiing. Gondolas and lifts will be restricted to members of the same party and shared or rented equipment must be disinfected between uses.

“You have to socially distance when you ski,” Cuomo said Sunday at a briefing.

Also, capacity on the mountain must be reduced by 25% during “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed due to unseasonable conditions. Ski lessons will be limited to 10 or fewer people, he said.

New York reported 1,390 new positive cases and seven deaths. There were 913 people hospitalized with the virus.