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Gov. Cuomo threatens to stop distribution of COVID vaccine under Trump

Cuomo said that he'd rather stop the distribution of the vaccine than allow the Trump administration to roll it out, and advocated for a nation-wide "mask mandate."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he'd rather stop the distribution of the vaccine than allow the Trump administration to roll it out, and advocated for a nation-wide "mask mandate," something that Joe Biden has already said would be a top priority for his administration.

"It's good news/bad news, George," he told ABC's George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America. "The good news is these Pfizer tests look good and we'll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it's about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan."

"The vaccine plan is very important, and it's probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began. Just to put it in focus, we did 120 million COVID tests in this nation over seven months, scrambling, doing everything we can. We now have to do 330 million vaccinations, maybe twice."

Despite Cuomo's insistence that the vaccine would not be available without drastic overreach from the federal government, Pfizer, in accordance with an agreement already in place with the Trump administration, has already promised that it would be free.

"My state does more testing than any state in the United States," Cuomo said. "We did 12 million tests. We have to do 20 million vaccines. And the Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan, and I believe it's flawed, I believe it learns nothing from the past. They're basically going to have the private providers do it. And that's going to leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when COVID ravaged them."

When asked what Biden will do differently, Cuomo went back to philosopher mode, claiming that when you "deny a problem, you can never solve it, and that's true in life."

"The Trump administration denied COVID, so they were never ready for it," Cuomo said, "so there was no mobilization of the government."

In July, however, Pfizer, the drug company that released the news on Monday of a 90 percent effective rate for their new vaccine, announced a partnership with the Trump administration to deliver the vaccine to millions of Americans, at no cost.

Cuomo said "And they're still doing the same thing. They're going to take this vaccine and go through the private mechanism, through hospitals, through drug market chains, etc., that's going to be slow, and that's going to bypass the communities that we call 'health care deserts.'"

Biden's plan, announced on his transition website, advocates instead for the opening of new, federal government agencies, and the mobilization of an entirely new workforce, to deal with vaccine distribution, instead of making use of the existing medical infrastructure.

Cuomo said that communities that don't have drug stores will have trouble gaining access to the vaccine. Walgreens alone has nearly 10,000 stores in the US, as does CVS. Rite Aid has 2,500.

Cuomo is concerned that Biden won't be able to "undo" the Trump vaccine distribution plan, and stated that he's been talking to other governors as to how to "stop it before it does damage."

Stephanopolous noted that New York's coronavirus case count is rising. Cuomo defended his approach, and said "you have to control the virus." He said that "we all know how to deal with it, you isolate people who have a virus, you do the testing, you follow the data, and you put in restrictions, and government has to step up. You need a national mask mandate."

He said that the testing should be used to show where there are "micro-clusters" so that the government can "bring in restrictions to close down activity in that neighbourhood."

Cuomo said "you see a little flame, you stamp it out."

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