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Albany’s choice to harm county

Chautauqua County residents who have struggled to get a COVID-19 vaccine nearly had powerful Democrat on their side.

Of course, that powerful Democrat was President Joe Biden, whose Federal Emergency Management Agency and Centers for Disease Control had identified Chautauqua County as a worthy site for one of four federal COVID-19 vaccine clinics in New York state. A federal social vulnerability index showed federal officials that Chautauqua County needs such a clinic for several reasons — high poverty, lower income levels, number of people over the age of 65, single-parent households and lack of access to transportation are among the factors the federal government was using.

Chautauqua County fits the bill in many ways.

What one powerful Democrat giveth, a Democrat who apparently has more sway than the president taketh away. Of course, we’re referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo and his appointed officials fought the CDC and FEMA because there are better places in New York state to achieve the federal government’s goal of vaccinating more Black and Hispanic residents. In late January, during an appearance in Brooklyn, Cuomo said he would push for pop-up vaccine clinics at public housing complexes, churches and community groups to “to make sure it is accessible to the hardest hit communities of color.” Cuomo’s focus on making sure Black, brown or other groups is laudable, particularly for those in cities where COVID-19 has been shown to spread quickly. His attempt at equal distribution of vaccines is laudable on its face, but ultimately clumsy in its execution.

Think about that, Chautauqua County residents, when you struggle to get through the state’s vaccine website to get one of the whopping 300 doses the county is able to procure every week. Your governor, the man who is supposed to govern all New Yorkers regardless of color, religious creed or political affiliation, steered federal government help away from you because you didn’t meet his social criteria. The fact of the matter is everyone in New York state needs greater access to a vaccine regardless of skin color, gender, religious preference or any other criteria that shows up on a Census form. And for Cuomo to say he knows better than the federal government’s own criteria with no justification or rationale is a slap in the face to Chautauqua County residents.

Chautauqua County made the federal vaccine site list for a reason — it needs help. Our county orders 2,000 doses a week and receives about 300 a week. People in Chautauqua County are going to Pennsylvania to get COVID-19 vaccines because they can’t schedule one in New York. Family members who live out of state are doing all they can to help their older relatives schedule a vaccine because their loved ones can’t navigate the state’s websites.

Cuomo has spent months blaming the federal government for not doing enough to help New York state through the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Chautauqua County, the federal government offered help. There is no guarantee that help will be offered again.

And Cuomo turned it away. Even worse, he did it without giving you a reason.

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