Frustration Grows Over State’s Failure to Open Mass-Vaccination Facility in Rockland

As the infection rate in Rockland remains one of the highest in the state, the demand for a mass-vaccination site in the county is reaching a fever pitch. Several local leaders have expressed frustration over the state previously criticizing Rockland for its notably high infection rate, yet not prioritizing a state-run facility in the county.

On March 17, Rockland County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Ruppert and County Executive Ed Day sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, urging them to approve a state-run site.

“Though we have proven ourselves very capable of investigating cases, providing clinical and medical decision making, establishing the necessary isolation and quarantine, and now administering vaccine at our PODs (with a throughput of 1,000 doses daily) all as our teams are simultaneously vaccinating directly in our communities to those most vulnerable, these efforts are insufficient for the vaccination timeline as outlined by President Biden,” reads a portion of the letter.

In a statement Congressman Mondaire Jones released on Friday calling for Cuomo’s resignation, he listed “his refusal to establish a mass vaccination site in Rockland County despite it having the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in New York State,” as one of the governor’s  transgressions.

The state has announced plans to establish state-run facilities in other counties with lower infection rates and smaller populations, such as Orange County and Ulster County. The state already set up a site in Albany County, which is smaller than Rockland.

New York Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick told the HuffPost that it’s difficult to justify why Rockland County does not have a state-run mass vaccination site. “I think it’s enough to simply look at the reasons why we need to have one in this county and every other similarly situated county in the state does at this point and ask the question why it’s the case that Rockland’s been left out,” Reichlin-Melnick said.

County residents have had to travel to other areas in the state to access the Covid-19 vaccine. Rocklanders who do not own computers, are not tech savvy, or do not drive personal vehicles are particularly struggling to get vaccinated. A mass-vaccination facility in the county would give underprivileged residents access to the shot.

Rockland leaders have requested the state-run facility to be established multiple times over the last few months with no success.