MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long Island is leading the state in COVID-19 positivity. Its seven-day average is more than 7.6%, but that’s significantly down from earlier in the month when it was in double digits.
Despite the numbers, essential workers are still waiting to find out when it’s going to be their turn to get the vaccine, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.READ MORE: COVID 1 Year: 'Long Haulers' Still On Long Road To Recovery, 'A Complete Lifestyle Change'
They restored power during Tropical Storm Isaias and keep gas and electric, and the internet and cable running.
“It’s hard to imagine anything more essential to our daily lives than electric and gas power,” said Roger Clayman of the Long Island Federation of Labor.
Yet, those utility workers are not considered essential enough to be vaccine eligible. They’re asking to be included in the 1B category of public-facing jobs.
“If we wind up getting infected, we can infect others as well. We enter into people’s homes to fix appliances, hot water, their gas systems,” said Patrick Guidice of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
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They are workers who fix gas leaks and operate power plants, and with COVID numbers rising, so is their anxiety.
“We don’t know if we are coming against someone that has had COVID, had just been exposed, is asymptomatic,” PSEG employee John Dotzler said.
“We do not wish to be put over others, but we need equal footing,” added James Shillitto, president of the Utility Workers of America Local 1-2.
New York’s vaccine eligibility is based on Centers for Disease Control guidance. Many categories of workers who were deemed essential during the shutdown are in 1C, not yet vaccine eligible.READ MORE: Wife Of Top Cuomo Aide Shows Support On Social Media For Governor's Latest Sexual Harassment Accuser
That includes gas stations, too.
Andrew Harris and his staff contracted COVID from serving the motoring public.
“We are like the grocery store. We take care of the public just the same way. We are out there filling the tanks,” Harris said.
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Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the administration wants to expand eligibility.
“Our singular goal is to get as many New Yorkers vaccinated as quickly as possible. But due to a lack of supply from the federal government, we have been forced to limit eligibility. Currently, over 7 million New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine, but our weekly allocation of doses from the federal government was cut without any explanation. While we understand these groups’ concerns and are sensitive to their requests, we are constrained until the federal government steps up and provides more doses,” Sterne said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a former journalist, said it’s all about supply.
People who are out there in the world, you think about reporters, you think about other folks who are out there, there are a lot of people who in a perfect world would be getting this vaccine. We do not have the supply to meet the demand,” Curran said.
So when can those in 1C expect to get their turn? That is anyone’s guess. If there was a sudden influx of doses, state officials say they are ready to open up much more eligibility immediately.
The numbers are trending down in Nassau County. On Tuesday, its positivity rate was 6.2%.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff contributed to this reportMORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Competitors Johnson & Johnson And Merck & Co. Teaming Up To Increase Supply
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