ASSEMBLYMAN COLIN SCHMITT JOINS WITH ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE TO CALL FOR JOINT OVERSIGHT HEARING OF COVID-19 VACCINE DISTRIBUTION
Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (R,C,I,LBT,SAM-New Windsor) today joined with Assemblyman Kevin Byrne to seek a joint legislative hearing of the Local Governments Committee and Health Committee on the ongoing failures of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the decision to not utilize existing distribution systems in place with county governments that have long trained for and had in place vaccine distribution processes through local departments of health.
Assemblyman Schmitt who serves as Ranking Member of the Local Governments Committee and Assemblyman Byrne who serves as Health Committee Ranking Member made the request via formal letter to the Chair’s of both committees and the Speaker and Minority Leader of the Assembly.
Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt stated, “We have an obligation to convene Assembly oversight hearings to get to the bottom of what is happening here and help reverse course. We need shots in arms and we need systems in place that accomplishes that. Right now, concern, confusion, and uncertainty has gripped thousands of New Yorkers who are seeking to get shots but simply cannot. This is in large part due to the Governor’s decision to not use the long standing system of vaccine distribution through the county departments of health.”
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne stated, “The development of multiple life-saving vaccines at such speed is nothing short of miraculous. Still, that alone won’t get the actual shot in the arm. The distribution of the vaccine has been an absolute disaster. Politicians can try to finger point their way out of anything and avoid taking responsibility, but it’s part of our job as legislators to get to the bottom of it and ensure better policies are adopted moving forward. The Legislature holds dozens of hearings every year on important subjects that affect our fellow New Yorkers. This should be one of them.”
Dear Chair members Thiele and Gottfried:
The mere fact that we presently have multiple vaccines to inoculate New Yorkers and protect them from COVID-19 is a medical marvel. While many New Yorkers across our state have expressed an eagerness to receive the vaccine, the distribution has been nothing short of a disaster and has delayed inoculation. The primary cause of these issues lay with the Governor’s administration, and the lack of proper congressional oversight and support for the efforts have been noticeable.
The immense frustration experienced by our fellow New Yorkers who attempted to sign up for the vaccine and the state’s failure to effectively distribute it is having direct negative impacts on people across the state. It is our understanding that the governor replaced an existing process for vaccine distribution using county governments and their departments of health and created a new system that has resulted in confusion, lack of accountability and limited success. New issues are compounding on a daily basis— exasperating those who are in need of the vaccine and leaving them with little to no answers. Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health have rightfully promoted a campaign labeled #VaccinateNY. Sadly, this campaign will do little to advance inoculation efforts so long as distribution is not managed effectively.
We all know and understand that this scale of inoculation effort is largely unprecedented. We realize that a large-level distribution plan is likely to have some issues at the onset of its first roll out. That said, that does not mean we should simply allow the status quo to continue without doing our due diligence to receive testimony and promote policies that would improve distribution efforts moving forward.
The Assembly has a proud tradition of hosting legislative hearings on matters of importance to our fellow New Yorkers. It is our belief that a joint legislative hearing with both the Local Governments and Health Committee is warranted to review distribution efforts and better understand the executive’s decision to not utilize existing distribution systems that were in place by county governments.
The State Assembly’s oversight authority could help save lives and reverse the failures we are currently experiencing. We have an obligation to restore trust for our constituents and ensure systems that are known to work are being used. Therefore, we respectfully ask you, as chairs of both Local Governments and Health committees, strongly consider scheduling a hearing on this matter.
We look forward to collaboratively working with you during this process. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.
Members of Assembly Schmitt and Byrne
Colin Schmitt is committed to public service. Colin is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and Assemblyman for the 99th NYS Assembly District which includes the Town of Stony Point in Rockland County and The Towns of Wawayanda, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Blooming Grove, New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands, and Woodbury in Orange County. Colin lives in the Town of New Windsor with his wife Nikki and their beloved adopted Catahoula Quincy!