Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Senator James Skoufis, and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced on Monday morning they have introduced new legislation that would require the state Department of Health to open state-run vaccine clinics in Rockland and Orange counties. Specifically, the bill would require the Department of Health to open vaccination centers in any county outside of New York City with a population of 300,000 or more within 30 days. At this time, Rockland and Orange are the only counties with populations over 300,000 that do not have state-run vaccination centers.
“The lack of access to vaccines in Rockland and Orange Counties is beyond shameful. Hundreds of constituents, many of whom are seniors - the most vulnerable to this virus - are reaching out to my office every single day for help in navigating the system. I have been having productive conversations with the Department of Health in establishing a state-run vaccination site in Rockland and Orange counties and, alongside my colleagues Senator Reichlin-Melnick and Assemblymember Zebrowski, I won’t stop fighting until our residents are prioritized.”
Skoufis followed up the legislation with a letter to New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in which he noted that the city is still in a Yellow COVID zone. and that his constituents are “done waiting” for a permanent site.
“Currently, the City of Newburgh and neighboring Town of New Windsor are the only two municipalities in the Hudson Valley that have continued to be a “yellow zone” under the Micro-Cluster Strategy established by your department. After almost five months of continued restrictions on small businesses and uncertainty within the community, the time for action is now,” Skoufis wrote in his letter to Zucker.
“The City of Newburgh had some of the highest rates of infection throughout the duration of the pandemic, and continues to have one of the lowest percentages of vaccinated residents in the state, making it an obvious choice for a permanent, state-run vaccine site.
Furthermore, a location in Newburgh would serve as an easy access point for most of the west-of-Hudson region.”