New York Governor Cuomo says states are broken and need federal funding for distribution

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a daily briefing in Manhattan, New York, on July 13, 2020, following an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mike Segar | Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday urged the federal government to provide funding to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, saying states currently have no money.

“The states are broken,” Cuomo said at a news conference in Rochester, New York. “Washington has never approved state and local funding. They estimate the cost of vaccine distribution to states … $ 8 billion. So far, the government has provided $ 200 million.”

He said distributing a vaccine would be much more difficult than expected, citing the early difficulties in which states passed Covid tests.

“The Covid test is relatively simple, isn’t it? A nostril to the nose, it’s a Covid test,” he said. “If everyone does everything in nine months, the nation has done 180 million Covid tests nationwide. … To get vaccinations, you have to do 330 million vaccinations and do them twice. Twice.”

Cuomo’s comments come as states prepare to distribute a vaccine as early as next month. Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval for the vaccination. The FDA review process is expected to take a few weeks. The Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet in early December to review the vaccine.

Each state has submitted a plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of how it intends to vaccinate some 331 million Americans against Covid-19 once this vaccination has been approved. The CDC has set aside $ 200 million for jurisdictions to prepare for vaccinations, although much of that funding has not yet dripped to the local level.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Rights told CNBC that the agency was working to “provide and allocate additional resources to jurisdictions for the calendar year 2021 and beyond.”

Associations representing state and local public health departments have asked for more than $ 8 billion to fund the plans. This money would help build their medical staff, improve their data systems, pay for ultra-cold freezers to store some of the vaccines, and prepare educational materials to alleviate people’s potential safety concerns.

Cuomo said he planned to meet later on Wednesday with President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory group to discuss which states should distribute the vaccine.

Biden’s plan calls for $ 25 billion to develop and distribute the vaccines, guaranteeing “it will reach all Americans, free of charge.”

This is not the first time the Cuomo has asked for more support.

As president of the bipartisan National Governing Association, he sent a letter from the group to the Trump administration last month addressing a number of questions about funding, such as how long the vaccine will be given to states at no cost and the federal government helping pay for “boots on the ground. “

Cuomo has repeatedly said it takes “months and months” to vaccinate enough people before Covid “is no longer a problem.”

New York is currently struggling with a new influx of Covid-19 cases. On Monday, the Cuomo announced that the state will reopen a temporary field hospital on Staten Island to help manage the influx of coronavirus patients. The 100-bed field hospital was one of many in New York that opened in the spring when it cut back on a wave of Covid infections that overloaded its hospital system and killed roughly 800 people a day.