A report from NBC News on Monday claimed the Biden Administration wanted to place four small vaccination centers in New York State, with Chautauqua county selected as one of the locations.
A federal social vulnerability index by the Centers for Disease Control showed Chautauqua County was a good fit for the clinic due to high poverty, lower income levels, and a high percentage of people over 65, along with other socio-economic factors. However, the NBC report says state officials had other ideas:
But state officials said no. There were better places than Chautauqua to achieve the White House goal of vaccinating more Black and brown people, they said. They pushed back against the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are expanding the federal footprint in the country’s race to vaccinate, a Biden administration official familiar with the fight said.
Because New York’s logic fit President Joe Biden’s mandate better than the CDC’s data did, the White House backed off.
“The state prevailed,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The news has led to even more criticism of the governor, especially from officials who represent Chautauqua County in Albany and Washington.
State Sen. George Borrello (R-Irving) said the decision to relocate the federal clinics was political.
“While the CDC’s data found that our county’s demographics met their benchmarks for an under-served population, they apparently didn’t mesh with the Governor’s political priorities, who diverted the planned vaccination site to another location. His actions are another slap in the face to rural New Yorkers, whose needs have been consistently ignored by this administration,” Borrello said in a press release.
Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) also said the Governor’s decision to unilaterally deny Chautauqua County a center has left an entire swath of Western New York without direct access to a federal or state vaccination site.
Both Reed and Borrello said they will work to reverse the decision.
“Throughout the COVID crisis, the Governor’s ‘follow the science,’ ‘look at the data’ mantra has been a hallmark of his briefings. He has decried others whom he has accused of putting politics over public health. However, his cold political calculations towards a group of New Yorkers he is supposed to represent is the ultimate hypocrisy,” Borrello said.