Riverhead School District

Cuomo says state will follow own lead on COVID-19 vaccine rollout; school reporting now includes lab data

New York State is creating a pair of advisory task forces to oversee its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

The governor said the first task force would study the efficacy of any potential vaccine while the other oversees its distribution. He cited a lack of trust in the federal government, which he accused of politicizing the vaccine, as the reason for the “massive undertaking.”

“New York State will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The 15-member distribution task force includes state officials, along with pharmaceutical, legal and medical executives, including Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling.  

The governor said New York will prepare for distribution of nearly 40 million doses of a potential vaccine, saying it’s possible two doses will be required for 19.5 million state residents.

Members of the other task force have not yet been announced.

Lab data added to school report cards

In the interest of “full transparency,” Mr. Cuomo also said Thursday that lab data has been added to the New York State Schools COVID-19 Report Card database.

The governor said he hopes the broader set of data gives parents a more clear picture of the number of school-aged children who have tested positive for the coronavirus, by not simply relying on what schools report.

“If the school district isn’t reporting all the cases they should, you’ll at least have it from the labs,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The lab data includes all children aged 5 to 17 who live in the district and tested positive, it does not consider if that child is a student in the district.

The new data caused an immediate discrepancy in what has been reported by the Riverhead School District, showing that five school-aged children living within district boundaries have tested positive through lab reporting, while the district has reported to the state two student positives — one on-site at Aquebogue Elementary School and another student at Riverhead High School who was not on-site. A middle school staff member also tested positive.

No other North Fork school district has reported cases among students or staff since the data reporting began Sept. 8 and the lab data from those communities also shows zero positive tests.