Local health departments to receive $ 65 million for COVID-19 boosters, Governor Hochul says

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New York State will allocate a total of $ 65 million to local health departments, including Nassau and Suffolk, to support the distribution of COVID-19 booster vaccines for those vaccinated, the governor said on Tuesday. Kathy Hochul.

And Hochul, who announced last week that all staff at state health facilities should be vaccinated, says she is seeking to extend that mandate to all state-regulated facilities and assembly places. Such a mandate would likely include nursing homes, group homes for the disabled, and prisons.

“We need to let people know when they enter our facilities that the people looking after them… are themselves safe and will not spread this,” Hochul said in his first COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday. at the University of Buffalo. “

Hochul, who took office last week after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, said funding for the recall would go directly to municipalities to set up vaccination sites in their communities.

“We all thought we would definitely turn the page on anything pandemic-related at that point. We didn’t,” Hochul said. “The battle is raging. We must fight.”

It was not clear how much money would be donated to Nassau or Suffolk and Hochul did not respond to questions from the media during the briefing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a third injection for people who are immunocompromised as the vaccine wears off and should allow it for all Americans at least eight months after their first injection. The Biden administration has set September 20 as the launch date for the booster injections, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

“Compromise” on school vaccinations

Hochul said she was “in the process of obtaining legal permission” to require staff and teachers at all state and charter schools to be vaccinated or tested weekly. She called the plan a “compromise” adding that her office no longer had the power to demand the vaccine without an option to opt out of testing.

She announced last week that masking would be mandatory inside state public and private preschools through grade 12 for 2021-2022, including for adults and anyone who had previously been vaccinated.

But Hochul said she would be “flexible” in reassessing those measures, potentially allowing some areas to lift warrants based on the number of local infections and vaccination rates.

“Children are resilient. They can manipulate a mask on their face,” she said. “… But one thing I’m going to tell you, I’m not leaving open-ended terms. We will do that now and we will assess because there will be parts of our state where the numbers go down, you get vaccinated nods your head, and we distribute the vaccine to children. ”

Alicia Ouellette, president and dean of Albany Law School, said that although the state has broad powers to legislate in emergencies, Hochul could face legal challenges if she imposed a vaccination mandate. school – even with the exclusion of testing – because the state legislature rescinded the governor’s emergency powers in March.

Ouellette argues that the state’s Department of Health has the power to implement a vaccination mandate, but there are collective bargaining and other union contractual considerations that could hamper such a decision.

She suggests that Hochul work with the state legislature to grant him the power of a school vaccine mandate or to urge lawmakers to pass legislation allowing the policy.

“The Ministry of Health has very broad powers to take action regarding public health,” she said. “It would be broad enough” to implement a vaccination mandate for staff and students, she said.

Last week, Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, introduced legislation that would add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of vaccines children must receive to attend school in the state.

“New York law currently requires students to receive vaccines against 12 different diseases,” Hoylman said. “It’s a no-brainer to add COVID-19 to this list.”

Ouellette noted that the courts have repeatedly upheld the state’s right to impose vaccination warrants in schools. If a parent does not agree and cannot get an exemption, they must remove their child from school, she said.

School district reversal on mask policy

The statewide COVID-19 positivity rate on Monday was 3.96% while the seven-day moving average was 3.35%, according to data from the Department of Health. There have been 22 deaths from the virus – including three in Nassau and two in Suffolk – and 2,234 patients have been hospitalized with it.

Long Island’s positivity rate continued to rise steadily to 4.38%, with Suffolk County reporting 382 new cases and 311 in Nassau, the data showed.

Both counties continue to exceed the state’s adult immunization rate. In Nassau, 87.7% of adults have received at least one injection and just over 80% are fully immunized while in Suffolk 80.3% of residents have received their first dose and about 73% have completed their series of vaccination.

Meanwhile, the Locust Valley School Board repealed its optional mask policy on Tuesday afternoon in a 5-1 vote with one abstention, instead deciding to comply with a statewide mandate requiring that all students and staff wear masks inside school buildings.

To explain the overthrow, district officials cited state pressure, including a letter from Education Commissioner Betty Rosa warning that failure to comply with the mask’s mandate could result in criminal and civil penalties, as well. that the suspension of state financial aid to districts violating state rules.

Before the vote, Locust Valley gave parents the option of sending their children to school with or without masks. Locust Valley schools are scheduled to open Wednesday along with dozens of other Long Island districts.

The only ‘no’ voter, vice-chairwoman of the board of trustees Margaret Marchand, drew cheers from most of the 100 or so parents, students and other spectators in the auditorium of the district high school / college complex.

With Craig Schneider and John Hildebrand

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