By Lois Weiss
Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Barclay’s Center and the Empire Outlets are turning into mass COVID-19 vaccination sites as the city desperately tries to control the pandemic.
“This is really moving to me,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a Zoom call announcing the days stats. “[It’s] not opening day for baseball yet, but opening day for vaccination at Citi Field.”
The good news for the mayor and other sport fans and concert lovers is that these large venues can all open soon at 10 percent capacity — and patrons having negative PCR tests — with a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclay’s already on the books for February 23.
Around the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 176,750 covid tests were given with 7,101 of those positive for the virus. Another 136 deaths occurred, bringing the state’s total to 36,619. Most of the recent deaths occurred in the four boroughs, Long Island and Westchester, with over 10 in each.
On Tuesday, New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane de Blasio, sat for her coronavirus shot at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. ”She wanted to send a message that it is something you can trust,” her husband, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday. “It was an incredible feeling of relief.”
Earlier, sporting a Mets ballcap and a Vote face mask, Hizzoner traveled by subway to Citi Field to announce the opening of the facility as a 24-hour vaccination site. It’s scheduled to run from Wednesdays to Saturdays starting next week but is targeted to serve only Queens residents, taxi drivers and food service workers.
The problem now is that just 200 vaccines were available for each day and those appointments were gone in nanoseconds.
“We need a direct supply,” the mayor complained, saying they could provide 35,000 vaccines a week at Citi Field alone. “New York City is not only covering our people but people are coming in from other states,” he noted, as New Jersey and Connecticut residents are grabbing appointments in the five boroughs.
“It can do 5,000 a day, but we have to have the supply,” the mayor stressed. He expects to get more doses allocated by the state starting Presidents Week.
In a competing press Zoom, Governor Andrew Cuomo said between the Barclay’s Center location for Brooklyn residents and Citi Field for Queens, they will be able to provide 15,000 shots a day “That’s a massive impact and [will only happen if] the federal government provides the doses, which are above our allocation,” the governor observed.
“While all of us continue to practice the safe behaviors we know work on the individual level, the state will continue its mission to fairly and equitably get as many shots in arms as possible,” Cuomo added.
Yankee Stadium has already begun appointments for Bronx residents with 15,000 doses being doled out by the state.
Those from Staten Island will eventually be able to get vaccinated at the Empire Outlets. The latter site was to open in January but is still delayed due to a lack of supply. The mayor says he wants to have enough doses on hand to meet the city’s weekly “goals” before opening the mass vaccination site in that borough.
There are about 100 smaller vaccination sites throughout the five boroughs run by a patchwork of organizations that include the city’s Department of Health and Health + Hospitals, private companies and the state, but all appointments are accessed through different websites and programs, which is another sore point for the mayor.
“I would love it if we could take all the networks and providers and put them under the sponsorship of the city but that’s not how it works. We are working all the time to try to simplify,” he added.
Pointing to the 1,710,293 vaccine doses already in residents’ arms, he said, “We need to give so many more. Everyone is frustrated there isn’t more.”
Instead of relying on the state’s allocation, since the city is also vaccinating people from other states, the mayor wants a direct supply from the federal government that can be depended upon with “fewer rules, fewer red tape…more flexibility. We could be doing so much more.”
With all 50 states and their many cities all competing for vaccines that are being pumped out as fast as possible, and second doses that need to be held back — three weeks for Pfizer vaccines and four weeks for Moderna — it could be months until the supply chain catches up with all the city’s arms. #