As we continue to distribute the vaccine throughout New York, we've come across a new issue—possible fraud by a health care provider. The State Department of Health was made aware of reports that an Orange County health provider may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccines and diverted them to members of the public, contrary to the state's guidance to administer the vaccine first to frontline health care workers, as well as nursing home residents and staff. The State Department of Health is assisting the State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter.
Today I signed an Executive Order that states that a provider can be fined up to $1 million and lose all State licenses if they are found to have committed fraud or intentionally administered a vaccine to a person who is not eligible. We are very serious about this and we will not tolerate any fraud in the vaccination process. Those who do engage in fraud will be held accountable.
Photo: Highway signs outside LaGuardia remind New Yorkers to celebrate the holidays smart.
Here's what else you need to know:
1. Approximately 140,000 New Yorkers to date have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose. New York expects to receive an additional 259,000 doses this week, with 139,400 coming from Pfizer and 119,600 coming from Moderna.
2. The State is expanding the priority groups of individuals eligible to receive a vaccine. The expanded group includes urgent care center employees, individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines (including local health department staff) and residents of NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) facilities. Next week, the state expects to further expand the group eligible for vaccination to ambulatory care workers and public-facing public health workers.
3. Total hospitalizations rose to 7,559. Of the 124,866 tests reported yesterday, 10,407, or 8.33 percent, were positive. There were 1,222 patients in ICU yesterday, up 35 from the previous day. Of them, 717 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 114 New Yorkers to the virus.
4. Western NY now has the fourth-lowest positive infection rate in the state. The region had the highest positivity rate in the state and I commend Western New York residents for getting ahead of the infection rate.
5. I am signing an Executive Order that extends the housing eviction moratorium. I will be working with the New York State Legislature this week to extend the moratorium to May 1st. No New Yorker should be evicted due to hardship related to this pandemic.
"Deep Breath Moment": Every year Santa makes an appearance at the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side of Manhattan—but this year, the traditional event was considered too risky, as many of the children staying there have compromised immune systems. Fortunately, the children did not miss out on the holiday cheer. With the help of the NYPD and FDNY, Santa was able to greet the kids from a safe distance. To make this happen, firefighters lifted Santa up several stories high in the "bucket" of a firetruck so that he could wave from right outside of the children's windows, bringing smiles to their faces.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo