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Critics pan New York’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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New York’s slow-footed COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been a mismanaged mess, critics said Friday, with recent data showing that even Florida has doled out shots at a faster clip than the Empire State.

The harsh words come a day after The Post reported that New York State has injected less than a third of the vaccines it has — casting doubt on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s dream of jabbing a million city residents in January.

“It’s chaos out there. The state has no idea what it’s doing,” said Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, particularly taking aim at the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The Cuomo handling of the vaccine is blithering incompetence.”

McLaughlin said that county governments like his have been largely sidelined during the vaccine’s launch, with Cuomo and his team micromanaging the process from Albany, getting bogged down in details rather than putting the jabs into the arms of those who need them.

“This administration can’t administer the vaccines that are in its hands,” he said.

Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention current as of Dec. 30 — due to a reporting lag over the holidays — shows New York lagging behind Florida in its vaccine administration efforts.

As of the data’s last update, the Sunshine State had administered vaccines at a rate of 823 per 100,000 residents.

New York had administered the shots at a rate of 723 per 100,000 residents, about 14 percent off Florida’s pace.

Larry Schwartz, a former top aide to Cuomo now handling the state’s vaccine program, said Friday that 266,000 of New York’s 630,000 doses have now been administered, about 42 percent.

But some still felt that other states might be on to something New York isn’t.

“Perhaps Florida Gov. [Ron] DeSantis can come to New York and explain all this,” cracked New York City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island). “This is not the well-oiled machine Cuomo’s PowerPoint presentation says it is.”

Among the cases highlighting the disparity is that of Nathan Burkan Jr. and Greg Heinrich.

Burkan Jr., an 89-year-old Manhattanite who has suffered congestive heart failure and a stroke, told The Post he has been unable to get the vaccine despite being at an advanced risk for the disease.

“Obviously I and my wife [who is 83] would like to get the vaccine now,” he said.

But his daughter-in-law’s dad, Heinrich, simply drove to his local library in Clermont, Fla., to get the vaccine recently — without getting out of his car.

“I rolled down the car window and got my shot,” Heinrich, 72, told The Post of his experience getting the drive-thru shot. “It was painless.”

Though the wait was long — about three hours — he just had to relax in his car until a nurse gave him the jab.

“If seniors like me can get the vaccine in Florida, why can’t they get it in New York?” he asked.

Borelli said that the state’s overly cautious rollout is a disservice to seniors and frontline workers in need of the shot.

“New York is overemphasizing the safety protocols rather than the need to get vaccines out the door and into people’s arms,” he said.

Schwartz, the state’s vaccine rollout czar, defended the progress made so far.

“We have a systematic plan in reaching out to our frontline workers and vulnerable population,” said Schwartz, who said that part of the problem is that the federal government hasn’t procured New York enough vaccines.

Critics pan New York's COVID vaccine rollout
A Florida Department of Health worker prepares to give a COVID vaccine in New Port Richey on Dec. 31.
Reuters

“It’s the fault of the federal government,” he said. “We’re distributing allocations.”

Congressional Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose upstate district includes several rural counties, said that the governor should be more focused on rolling out the vaccine than his recent effort to get fans out to the upcoming Buffalo Bills playoff game.

Cuomo “is selfishly preoccupied with his playoff planning for the Buffalo Bills rather than focusing on lifesaving vaccine distribution,” Stefanik, a Republican, said. “That New York has administered less than a third of the COVID vaccine is an embarrassment to the Empire State.”

In one notable overseas success story, Israel on Friday delivered its millionth vaccine, becoming the first nation to inoculate 10 percent of its population.

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