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January 22nd, 2021
Andrew Yang Releases NYC Public Health Plan, Calling for ‘Marshall Plan’ to Increase Access to COVID Vaccine
**RELEASE** January 22nd, 2021
Yang’s plan also includes ensuring homebound New Yorkers get vaccinated, building a vaccine verification system, creating a program for direct payments to shuttered venues and restaurants that work with the City as vaccine distribution sites, and addressing the pandemic’s long-term mental health effects on healthcare workers.
New York, NY—Today, Democratic Candidate for Mayor of NYC Andrew Yang released his first proposal for public health policy in New York City.
The policy proposal includes drastically ramping up the City’s vaccine distribution efforts, ensuring vaccinations can be done 24/7 by trusted providers, creating a singular integrated web portal bridging the divide between state-run facilities like the Javits Center, H+H and private hospitals, and repurposing shuttered large venues like bars, music venues and restaurants in neighborhoods across the City to increase vaccine access in communities hit hardest by the pandemic, and to make it easier to reach vulnerable homebound populations.
Yang also called for more transparency and accountability in the vaccination process, urging the City to begin issuing real-time data on vaccination updates, including daily figures broken down by neighborhood, demographic, and occupational information of those who have received the vaccine. The policy also includes a vaccine verification app that would be essential to reopening business, restaurants and other public spaces, in addition to a commitment that a Yang Administration would create a Public Health Playbook for NYC in the first hundred days on preventing and responding to future health crises.
“We need to fuse the resources and access that the federal government is now finally providing under President Biden with the entrepreneurship and energy of New Yorkers to bring NYC back,” said Andrew Yang. “The simple fact is, our vaccine operations to this point have been woefully inadequate and we must do better. Vaccination distribution is the key not only to protecting millions of lives, but also to reopening our economy. Now is not the time for timidity in governance. As a City we need to move quickly and decisively in enacting a Marshall Plan that utilizes every available resource at our disposal to get New Yorkers vaccinated — beginning with the most vulnerable and those whose communities were hit the hardest. We live in the City that never sleeps, let’s leverage that and keep up vaccination efforts twenty four-seven. We have literally countless venues shuttered — let’s pay them to function as vaccination distribution sites in neighborhoods currently lacking access. The federal government is finally prepared to give us the tools we need, but it’s up to us to use those resources to the best of our ability to get New Yorkers and our economy back on track.”
Said Dr. Dara Kass, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, “the past two weeks have shown us that New Yorkers are ready, willing and eager to get vaccinated, but until two days ago the federal government was completely failing to provide the resources and support we need to run an effective vaccine operation. Last spring, New Yorkers showed we’re tough enough to get through anything. Now, under the right City leadership, New York can be the North Star — a guiding light for the rest of the country to follow that leads us out of this pandemic and towards recovery. For the past year, the healthcare workforce across the country has faced an unprecedented uphill battle. As we begin making progress in vaccinating as many New Yorkers as possible, some of the physical and mental weight will be lifted off our shoulders. But we also need a plan to make sure that every healthcare worker has access to the vital mental health services they need to take care of themselves and their families, and I’m incredibly grateful to Andrew Yang for putting forward a plan that does just that.”
Said Assembly Member Ron Kim (D-Queens), “with President Biden now in office, we now finally have the resources at our disposal which can be expeditiously ramped up to distribute COVID vaccines. We need to put politics aside and have an all-hands-on-deck mindset to inoculate as many New Yorkers as soon as possible because people are dying with every single day of delay. Andrew Yang’s plan involves clear coordination with public officials and maximizes the resources available to New York City and New York State. His plan calls for transparency and accountability to all of us and rightfully centers on our hardest hit communities and most vulnerable members, including New York City’s 1.2 million older adults. As Chair of the Committee on Aging in the State Assembly, I look forward to working with him on this monumental task.”
Said Congress Member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), “I commend Andrew Yang for putting forward this sweeping plan that would extend vaccination to the most vulnerable New Yorkers, develop a vaccine verification app that would accelerate economic recovery, pay struggling small businesses to serve as vaccine distribution sites, and address the often overlooked mental health impact that will linger long after COVID-19 is gone. Andrew’s Marshal Plan is the most comprehensive response to COVID-19 that has been presented so far in the 2021 Mayor’s race.”
Establishing NYC as the Model for Vaccine Distribution
- The City That Never Sleeps. A Yang Administration will ensure that the City has 24/7 citywide availability of the vaccine, administered by trusted providers, along with associated counseling, in the languages that New Yorkers speak.
- Engaging Healthcare Providers at Every Level. Make vaccines available at local doctors offices, safety net providers, and pharmacies to reach people in communities beyond hospitals and vaccination sites, including shelters and jails.
- Bringing Agencies Together to Increase Vaccine Access. Build a singular, seamless web portal and by phone on one integrated platform that coordinates the efforts of all healthcare facilities that are distributing the vaccine, rather than multiple portals.
- Reaching the Hardest Hit Communities and the Homebound. We must bring the vaccine to New Yorkers who are otherwise unable to go get it — to increase distribution and access, we should be paying shuttered businesses — including large venues, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more — to use their spaces as part of an on-the-ground vaccination effort. Going even further, the City should radically rethink the use of mobile facilities — including existing resources like mobile medical units that non-profit providers make use of regularly — and even more creative solutions like retrofitted mobile food vending trucks for safe vaccine distribution, staffed by trained health professionals.
- Building Trust. As countless neighborhoods — especially communities of color — are wary of the vaccine, we must continue to ensure that healthcare providers of color are able to amplify their trust in the vaccine across the City and begin an aggressive citywide outreach campaign to reach all New Yorkers — especially New Yorkers of color, seniors, New Yorkers who speak languages other than English and undocumented New Yorkers. We will also follow the example of healthcare providers in Philadelphia to build on existing efforts to amplify the leadership of trusted providers of color to serve as the best messengers to communities of color to build trust in the vaccine.
- Accountability Through Transparency. A Yang administration will ensure real-time accountability for vaccination updates, including daily postings by neighborhood and demographic information of those who have received vaccines. We must ensure that information is as transparent as possible so that our efforts to get all communities the vaccine is reaching all New Yorkers, especially communities who are at greatest risk.
- Vaccine Verification. All New Yorkers would be able to receive a vaccine verification on the NYC App, which will serve as every New Yorker’s singular portal for all city services. Like scanning a ticket for entry into a concert or public event, every New Yorker will have the opportunity to scan their NYC App, offering the guarantee that they received a vaccine and are not putting others at risk by gathering in public.
Making Mental Health a Priority Beyond the Pandemic
As COVID has had a devastating mental health impact on countless New Yorkers, Andrew Yang is also proposing a holistic approach to our City’s recovery that includes ramping up investment in mental health services, with a focus on the needs of young people and improving the City’s crisis response system.
- Expand Social Work and Mental Health Services in City Schools. Young people will return to New York City schools forever impacted by the pandemic. Some students have gone without the mental health and wraparound services that schools uniquely provide. Before the pandemic, and even with a recent commitment to expand the number of school-based mental health providers, on average there was just one social worker per 716 students. We must dramatically expand the number of social workers and mental health providers who provide services in schools. School-based health centers (SBHCs) are proven to provide much-needed healthcare for young people, including mental health care. A Yang administration will expand SBHCs so all young people receive the critical care they need.
- Create 21st Century Mental Health Rapid Response Service. As more New Yorkers struggle with the lingering economic and social impacts of COVID-19, rapid response to mental health emergencies is paramount. While the NYPD are often called upon when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, a police response is oftentimes not appropriate, not what is warranted. Our City has already piloted Co-Response Teams which add behavioral health specialists to police response teams when New Yorkers are in distress. This effort is already promised to scale up in 2021. A Yang administration will dramatically expand non-police responses to those in distress by expanding HOME-STAT, investing in community safety efforts at the local level, and empowering neighborhood networks of rapid response providers to get people in distress the care that they need.
- Investing in the Mental Health of Healthcare Providers and Staff. A Yang administration will expand efforts to expand mental health support to healthcare providers, starting at H+H, while supporting federal legislation to promote mental and behavioral health among those working on the frontlines of the pandemic.