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‘We will run out on Thursday’: NYC to begin closing vaccine sites without resupply

January 19, 2021, 4:44 PM UTC
Updated January 19, 2021, 5:07 PM UTC

New York City will have to close vaccination sites after Thursday if it doesn’t get a major resupply, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The city wants to vaccinate 300,000 people this week but has only about 92,000 doses, de Blasio said in a Tuesday briefing. More than 450,000 doses have been in administered in New York.

The mayor said official tallies that show more ample supplies are flawed, and that in fact a crisis impends.

“At this rate, we will run out on Thursday and hit zero on Friday,” de Blasio said. “We will not be able to give shots at a lot of our sites. We won’t get shots until next week.”

De Blasio joins a chorus of local and state officials calling on the federal government to disburse more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to speed up the vaccine rollout and inoculate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he asked Pfizer Inc. whether the state could buy vaccines directly from the company because the U.S. government has failed to increase supply.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended expanding eligibility to more than 7 million New Yorkers from 5 million “practically overnight,” Cuomo said Monday in a letter to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla. At the same time, the CDC hasn’t increased — and in some cases reduced — the supply to states. New York will get 250,000 doses this week, 50,000 fewer than last week. At that rate, inoculating those eligible would take seven months, Cuomo said.

Pfizer is supplying the federal government with 200 million doses. The company said it hasn’t considered direct sales to state governments and would need approval from the federal government to do so.

Meanwhile, the virus rages on. New York City had 3,449 hospitalized Covid-19 patients Sunday, the highest level since mid-May, according to state data. The seven-day average of newly reported Covid-19 cases fell for the 10th consecutive day, to 5,009 cases, down from a peak of 6,372 on Jan. 8. The rate of positive test results dropped to 8.23%, the lowest since Dec. 27. That level is still above the public-health safety threshold of 5%.

New York City is bringing on massive vaccination sites that will be operating around the clock, seven days a week at Citi Field in Queens and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. “Capacity is growing every day, but it won’t work without the vaccine,” de Blasio said.

The warnings about dwindling supplies stand in contrast to city data that says about half of New York City’s stock remains unused. New York has administered 455,737 out of 876,550 doses delivered, according to its immunization registry. In television appearances over the weekend, de Blasio attributed the discrepancy to reporting delays and a lag in administering doses reserved for nursing home facilities by a program run by the federal government.

New York state data, which strips out shots reserved for nursing homes, said New York City has administered 69% of the doses it’s received.