ITHACA, N.Y.—Cayuga Medical Center received a shout-out during one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press briefings last week, one of several hospitals in the state that was commended for having distributed 100 percent of its COVID-19 vaccination allotment.

The acknowledgement came as Cuomo congratulated a list of nine hospitals around the state that had exhausted their entire supply of COVID-19 vaccines. He reiterated the logic that hospitals handle early vaccine distribution so that healthcare workers would have the most immediate access to vaccinations—frontline medical workers were part of the first phase, Phase 1A, of vaccine distribution.

CMC posted audio of the mention, which came during a press call, not one of Cuomo’s three weekly COVID-19 press conferences, which are normally televised.

Fast, efficient administration of the vaccine has been an emphasis of Cuomo’s so far: he has threatened fines if hospitals don’t use their allocations of vaccination doses, though these may only apply to public hospitals (which CMC is not). Beyond that, hospitals would not receive their weekly deliveries of vaccine doses if they are not being fully used. Though Cuomo has claimed this is the most effective way to ensure that “shots go in arms” as quickly as possible, the policy has been criticized by those who say it is unnecessarily punitive and counterproductive to the overall effort.

According to the Tompkins County Health Department, 2,100 people have received at least the first dose of their vaccine in Tompkins County, an effort that is being overseen by the Cayuga Health System. Phase 1B has started as of Jan. 11, but according to the county, after vaccine distribution after Jan. 11 is going to require another delivery from New York State.

“I am encouraged by the dedication of our health system, the compassion and endurance of the team who is operating the vaccination site, and the eagerness of our community to sign up and get vaccinated when it is your turn,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “It’s on all of us to use the tools we have to stop this pandemic. Please continue to wear a mask, wash hands, and maintain distance from others as we get everyone up to date with a vaccination.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com