Gov. Cuomo wants to give recovering drugs addicts who live in crowded housing COVID-19 vaccine priority, and Republicans are furious

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that recovering drug addicts in New York will get vaccinated this week.
  • He explained that they would be prioritized because many of them live in "problematic" shared accommodation.
  • Republican lawmakers expressed their outrage that recovering drug addicts are being prioritized over some senior citizens and healthcare workers.
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik called Cuomo "an absolute disgrace."
  • Sen. Rick Scott followed suit by accusing the governor of "failing the people of New York."
  • The Office of Addiction Services and Supports said drug users were being stigmatized. "Those at high risk of COVID should be vaccinated in line with other high-risk populations," it said.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed in a press conference that recovering drug addicts would be among those in New York vaccinated against COVID-19 this week.

The announcement, however, sparked fury from Republican lawmakers.

On Monday, Cuomo told reporters that a batch of the 259,000 expected vaccine doses would go, as a matter of priority, to people served by OASAS — the Office of Addiction Services and Supports.

Cuomo explained that recovering drug addicts will be prioritized because they are living in 'congregate facilities.'  These are "problematic" because of how densely populated they are, the governor said.

He outlined that, in addition to those at OASAS facilities, people living in nursing homes, and individuals who are administering coronavirus vaccines would also be vaccinated in the upcoming seven days.

"We'll then continue with high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS workers," Cuomo said.

"Who's getting the vaccines next week? We expect to open to ambulatory care health workers, public-facing public health workers," he continued.

The vaccine roll-out plans mean that residents and staffers in state-run and privately-operated rehab across New York will get jabs this week.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York congresswoman and Trump favorite, dismissed the plans as "an absolute disgrace."

In a tweet, she expressed her fury that recovering drug addicts would get the jab before some senior citizens.

Stefanik called Cuomo "the worst governor in America."

She then continued: "This time prioritizing vaccines for drug addicts over tens of thousands of seniors who have been homebound since the start of the pandemic. An absolute disgrace."

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida also tweeted criticism of Cuomo. He accused the governor of "once again failing the people of New York."

Scott added: "We should be making sure senior citizens, those most vulnerable, and Americans on the front lines combating this virus get priority for the vaccine."

OASAS, the agency that will oversee the vaccination of their residents, responded to the backlash in a statement made to CBS Albany News. 

A spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma against those in recovery when it comes to equal access to health care. These individuals deserve the same access to medical care as everyone else, and those at high risk of COVID should be vaccinated in line with other high-risk populations."

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