NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- New York State on Thursday once again clarified that healthcare workers on the front lines should be the priority group, classified as "1A" in its distribution plan to receive COVID-19 vaccination, according to an official statement.
"The rules of the COVID vaccine distribution have been clear for many weeks and agreed to by virtually all credible federal and state leaders. The first priority is '1A,' healthcare workers who are on the front lines," said the state government's Communications Director Peter Ajemian in the statement.
"With the increasing hospitalization rates, the new UK strain spread and hospital staff shortages, keeping hospitals functioning is essential to avoid another shutdown," he added.
New York City has 917,000 eligible healthcare workers in 1A and has only administered 144,000 vaccines. Many more healthcare workers are anxiously awaiting the vaccine. The city has received 304,000 dosages beginning in December through last week and administered less than 50 percent, according to the statement.
"We urge New York City and other local governments to get needles in the arms of the healthcare workers to avoid our frontline heroes from getting sick and our hospitals from collapsing due to increasing staff shortages," said Ajemian.
Once those healthcare workers who want to accept a vaccine are afforded the opportunity, vaccinations go to the "1B" category which includes essential workers including police, firefighters and 75-plus year old New Yorkers who have the highest death rate from COVID-19, according to the statement.
The 1B category includes approximately 3 million people statewide and the state will utilize a variety of non-governmental agencies to administer those vaccines including pharmacies, private doctor networks, and community groups serving underserved communities, it said.
NYS is all anxious to get the vaccination to 1B. Competent administration must be established to guarantee the success of 1A vaccination and therefore lay the ground for 1B administration, it added.
On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that "NY hospitals went from averaging ~10K doses/day to ~30k/day earlier this week. Yesterday they administered ~50k doses."
"Good to see, but we must accelerate this even more to vaccinate all our health care heroes. We will rapidly ramp up vaccination sites as we move forward," he added.
Earlier Thursday, he announced that total COVID-19 hospitalizations were 8,548 on Wednesday in the state, down from 8,665 on Tuesday; of the 238,550 COVID-19 tests reported on Wednesday in the state, 17,636 were positive, or 7.39 percent of the total, down from 8.41 percent one day earlier.
"The holiday COVID hangover is here which is problematic enough, but with the introduction of the U.K. strain and the federal government's refusal to help contain it with common-sense testing requirements for international travelers, our work has become that much more complicated," he was quoted as saying in an official release.
Cuomo once warned that a post-holiday hike of the coronavirus hospitalizations was expected, because people would usually travel and gather during this time, which could fuel the spread of the virus.
"Despite this new challenge, New York is staying tough, and working with the health care community to ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed. With those efforts ongoing, it's as important as ever that we collectively stay smart and commit ourselves to taking the steps necessary for stopping the spread," said the governor.
As of Thursday evening, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 39,103 coronavirus deaths in New York State, the worst in the country.