Yesterday the New York State Health Department updated the information on scheduling for and receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Starting today people in phase 1B are eligible to register for COVID-19 vaccinations. That group includes education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers and people aged 75 and older.

Continuing to be eligible are the previous defined populations for 1A, including High risk hospital staff and many other healthcare workers, EMS personnel, congregant living staff and residents, urgent care providers and 20 other categories detailed on the website.

Tompkins County’s clinic was fully scheduled for today, and the available vaccine in the county will be fully used.  People in the 1A or 1B phase will be able to schedule a vaccination when the vaccine supply arrives from the New York State department of health.  The Tompkins County Health department will announce the schedule on their website.

In Schuyler County, the following dates and times have been set for Vaccination Clinics for Phase 1A and 1B. One is taking place on Wednesday, January 13th, from 1:00 PM to 03:00 PM at the Odessa-Montour High School Gym. The second clinic this week is on Friday, January 15th, 10:00 AM to 01:15 PM at the Watkins Glen Elementary School Cafeteria. Residents must register online ahead of time for the Wednesday clinic or the Friday clinic.

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In other vaccine news, Governor Cuomo announced late Friday that he is authorizing thousands of new organizations to administer coronavirus vaccinations.  The Albany Times union reports that organizations will include 500 more pharmacies, medical offices, police departments and labor unions.

Cuomo added that the federal government controls the supply chain and that New York is currently receiving 300,000 doses weekly.  At this rate, New York will be able to vaccinate the currently eligible populations, including the elderly, in about three months.

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Now we’ll take a look at the local COVID-19 caseload. The number of hospitalizations in Tompkins due to complications from the virus are at 21 as of yesterday. According to the Tompkins County health department, as of the time of our 6 p.m. broadcast there are 293 active cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were an additional 17 positive cases and 40 people released from quarantine.

In Schuyler County, today there were 36 new cases to report since our last evening broadcast: 24 on Friday, 6 on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday. According to the county health department, a lot of cases are linked to gatherings of family and friends. 24 of the cases had known contact with someone who tested positive. 74 active cases remain, according to their Health Department. 4 people are hospitalized due to the virus.

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Governor Cuomo announced his 2021 “State of the State” Agenda this morning, dubbed “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew.” In this plan, the Governor has reimagined his viewpoints on critical issues like COVID-19 and the recreational use of marijuana.

Cuomo said that the state’s main priority now is to reopen the economy in a smart and safe manner. His proposal also encourages New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even if they’ve already had the virus.

Another highlight from the agenda includes the Governor’s plan to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York.

Cuomo plans on expanding access to early voting, allowing more time for absentee voting and improving procedures to speed up vote counting. The “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” plan also includes the reinforcement of more affordable child care options for families, eliminating health care premiums for low-income New Yorkers, and providing sustained care for the homeless.

Lastly, Cuomo’s plan notes the most important issue is the existential threat of climate change. Cuomo says that New York will launch the most aggressive green economy program in the country.

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The administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a report in July where they did not take responsibility for the thousands of COVID-19-related deaths at nursing homes in New York. In response to a written request from the Times Union, the administration cited exemptions in the state Freedom of Information Law last week. The Department of Health contends that this allows the agency to keep the records secret.

The Justice Department's request identified New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan as states which "required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing." Many governors cited that they were following orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is still unclear where the federal investigation stands.

The Department of Health has gained a particular reputation for lack of transparency. The report on nursing homes concluded that the Department of Health was not to blame for New York having among the nation's highest nursing home fatalities from the virus. Under the memo, facilities could not deny admission or readmission to residents based solely on a positive or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis.

If a COVID-19-positive patient at a hospital was medically stable and needed nursing home care, many nursing homes believed the directive required them to accept that person. The policy has been criticized by Cuomo's critics, as well as in media reports, as the cause of the widespread infection rate among a highly vulnerable elderly population. At the time the July report was issued, the death toll stood at more than 6,000.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Fred Balfour and Antonio Ferme