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Cuomo is shamefully fumbling nursing-home vaccinations



Cuomo is shamefully fumbling nursing-home vaccinations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Health has once again put the needs of nursing-home residents last.

Just as the department under Commissioner Howard Zucker neglected to make sure that the homes had testing and personal protective equipment during the deadly early months of the pandemic, now it is turning away vulnerable New Yorkers from the third and final federal vaccination clinics that are taking place in these facilities.

Worse, the DOH still hasn’t made any clear-cut plans to continue vaccinating nursing-home residents once the federal program is over.

A bit of recent history is in order: The department shelved its plan for vaccinating nursing-home residents back in December, electing instead to participate in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. Part of Operation Warp Speed, the FPP program was designed to rapidly vaccinate all of the nation’s long-term-care residents at no cost to the residents or the facilities.

The feds contracted with CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacy providers to administer the two required vaccine doses to all residents over the course of three clinic sessions scheduled three weeks apart; the federal program ends after the third session, after which the states are supposed to carry the ball.

Like the rest of Operation Warp Speed, the FPP has proved an astonishing success; shots started going into the arms of nursing-home residents within days of the Pfizer vaccine receiving Food and Drug Administration authorization for emergency use in December.

Executing a well-designed offensive strategy, FPP professionals arrived at the homes right on schedule, equipped with the exact number of thawed-out vaccines, syringes and needles to inoculate everyone in the facility. Three weeks later, they were back for Session No. 2, giving the second shot to those who had received the first one and the first to anyone who had been newly admitted in the interval.

Now the feds are executing their final play, finishing up giving the second shots before they leave the game for good.

Unfortunately, just as it didn’t prepare for the vaccine rollout to the state’s general population, the Cuomo administration is now scrambling to figure out how to vaccinate nursing-home residents once the federal program ends.

Even worse, in yet another shocking and almost sadistic example of disregard for this population, the department isn’t allowing new residents to get the first dose of the vaccine during the third FPP session. But why? How can this be? COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths are still occurring in these facilities in significant numbers, even though you never hear about them during the governor’s regular news conferences.

Instead, when he isn’t patting himself on the back, Cuomo subjects us to endless gushing over the Biden administration’s federalized approach to COVID-19 vaccinations. Well, if he is so enamored of this, why is he ignoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s explicit recommendation that first shots be given at the final FPP clinic?

Every day that passes is another missed opportunity to vaccinate new nursing-home residents as the FPP teams prepare to finish their work.

This should never have been allowed to happen. From the time it was announced in October, it’s been well known that the federal program would cease to exist after the third session. The state had months to design a plan to vaccinate future residents. But as we are so tragically aware, nursing homes have never been a priority for this administration.

The Department of Health must immediately announce that newly admitted nursing-home residents should get their first vaccine shots at the final FPP clinics; it can figure out later how to make sure that the second shots are given.

The CDC has indicated that it is safe to wait as long six weeks between shots, if need be, so there is still plenty time on the clock. CVS, Walgreens and other FPP participants must be given the signal to stay in the game for now until the nursing homes’ usual pharmacy vendors or other suppliers can step in.

Whatever happens, we mustn’t leave our nursing-home residents defenseless again.

Elaine Healy, MD, is a practicing geriatrician, nursing-home medical director and member of the Infection Control Subcommittee of the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

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A society that can’t debate trans ideology’s effects on kids isn’t a democracy




A society that can't debate trans ideology's effects on kids isn't a democracy

Should children be given life-altering treatments to help them transition from one gender to another, including puberty blockers and body-mutilating surgeries? Should doctors be encouraged to allow minors to make a choice that will block their physical development and ability to have children when they get older? Is there evidence that doing so might do more harm than good?

These are weighty medical and ethical questions that a responsible and compassionate society would vigorously debate. After all, what’s at stake isn’t the right of adults to live as they please, but the well-being of children, something that ought to transcend ideologies and political agendas.

But America in 2021 isn’t such a society.

In recent years, acceptance of those who define themselves as transgendered has become widespread. That’s something that’s compatible with the basically libertarian instincts of most Americans.

Other demands — for example, to alter language and replace biological sex with subjective gender identity in public accommodations — have met with greater resistance. Pronouns have become a linguistic minefield of political correctness. Asserting the commonplace reality that only women menstruate is enough to get you canceled as a “transphobe,” even if you are the author of one of the most beloved book series of all time, as J.K. Rowling knows. Activists and online mobs denounce as bigots those who dare defend the right of female athletes to compete against each other, rather than against biological males.

But pushing youngsters to accept treatments that will forever change their bodies and their lives before they are old enough to make such a choice is another thing entirely.

Dr. Rachel Levine, President Biden’s choice for assistant secretary of health, argues that transgender identity is something that is set in stone at a young age. Early interventions, Levine says, can prevent them going through the “wrong puberty,” as well as lower their chances of suicide.

But there is also a considerable body of thought — and anecdotal evidence from some who have undergone such treatments and lived to regret it — that this is wrong. And given we don’t believe minors have a right to legally consent to sexual intercourse and much else, it’s madness to encourage kids to undergo such treatments. At least, not without parental consent; at a confirmation hearing, Levine notably refused to answer whether parents should be permitted to refuse their kids’ gender transition.

In our woke culture, however, criticizing or even asking questions about Levine’s position is absolutely forbidden.

Last week, Amazon, the venue for the vast majority of books sales, removed Ryan T. Anderson’s 2018 book, “When Harry Became Sally,” from its digital shelves. A Web site that will happily sell you Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” or the anti-Semitic ravings of Louis Farrakhan thinks Anderson’s scholarly treatise about transgenderism crosses a line that even the advocacy of mass murder doesn’t transgress.

Similarly, many publications wouldn’t review, and Amazon banned advertising for, author Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” because of the author’s sober warning that many young women seeking to become men are falling for a mass craze.

Even elected lawmakers are barred from questioning gender ideology. At the confirmation hearing, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), himself a medical doctor, had the temerity to ask Levine what the would-be assistant health secretary thinks of using drugs or surgery to mutilate or prevent puberty of children in the name of easing their transition to another gender.

Levine, the first transgendered person to be nominated for such a high office, has spoken out on in favor of such controversial treatments. Democrats and their liberal media allies denounced Paul as a mean-spirited hater for merely posing the query.

If having a free society should mean anything, it ought to mean it’s possible to debate contentious issues on which reasonable people (and the experts) can disagree. But we’ve gotten to the point where any debate about the treatment of children is shut down. That’s not only unethical and harmful to our kids — but incompatible with democracy and American ideals.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of

Twitter: @JonathanS_Tobin

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Team Biden’s utter bull on its disastrous border policies




Team Biden’s utter bull on its disastrous border policies

Oooh, boy: Team Biden on Monday wheeled out its line on the border crisis, and it’s a doozy. There is no crisis, but if there is, it’s all Trump’s fault.

Seriously: Thousands of minors, mostly from Central America, are traveling for weeks without their parents to enter the United States illegally and then request asylum, and Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas insists that’s not a “crisis” but simply a “challenge.”

No matter that the migration leaves the kids vulnerable to rapists and human traffickers all along the 1,000-plus-mile journey — and then overwhelms US border communities and forces detention of kids in so-called “cages.” It’s no crisis, Mayorkas insists.

After all, it’s “loving parents” who are sending 9-year-olds off into this madness, he says as he rejects the Trump “remain in Mexico” policy on asylum claimants: “We are not apprehending a 9-year-old child who’s come alone, who has traversed Mexico, whose parents — whose loving parents — had sent that child alone, we are not expelling that 9-year-old child to Mexico” when the kid is from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

With that, he’s telling the “coyote” smugglers and everyone else in the sordid chain that the doors are wide open: Come on in, we won’t stop you.

This summer’s surge was already expected to exceed the similar nightmare seen under President Barack Obama and after, until then-President Donald Trump found ways to greatly mitigate it by working with Mexican and Central American governments. With the secretary of Homeland Security spouting this nonsense, those expectations look conservative.

Mayorkas claims it’s all on Trump, because he “dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety.” Bull: Trump boosted border resources while using diplomacy to stem the tide. All he dismantled were the Obama policies that triggered the mess in the first place. And it’s President Biden who has dismantled Trump’s solutions.

How much suffering will have to occur before Team Biden drops the clueless ideology and starts facing facts about this horrific self-imposed “challenge”?

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Moving ahead with Rikers closure is NYC elites’ latest harebrained, pro-crime plan




Moving ahead with Rikers closure is NYC elites’ latest harebrained, pro-crime plan

If you had any doubt that the City Council has lost touch with reality, its recent decision to proceed with the shuttering of Rikers should lay them to rest. 

Last month, the council reaffirmed that it would move to close the Rikers jail and create a “renewable-energy hub” on the island. Local lawmakers are still planning to release another 1,200 inmates onto the street and to spend nearly $9 billion to build four jails in neighborhoods that don’t want them.

With murders and shooting victims skyrocketing, rising crime in almost every major violent category and historic budget deficits, this is irresponsibility verging on madness.

In April 2019, Rikers Island held about 7,500 inmates, and the city continued to enjoy a years-long decline in crime. Then, the state Legislature enacted its misguided bail “reform,” requiring judges to release without bail all defendants charged with burglary, car theft, drug dealing, grand larceny and almost all misdemeanors, effective Jan. 1, 2020. 

But judges started reviewing the bail conditions of incarcerated defendants in September 2019, to see if any of them could be preemptively sprung under the new law. Early release would avoid the unseemly spectacle of thousands of career criminals walking out of city jails on Jan. 1. Judges started lowering or eliminating bail for hundreds of inmates, thereby releasing them back onto the streets. As a result of all this, the population on Rikers fell to 5,721 inmates by Jan. 1, 2020.

In January 2020, hundreds more burglars, car thieves, drug dealers and robbers were released from Rikers under the new laws, and the courts were prohibited from setting bail on new arrests for these crimes. By March 30, the population of city jails had fallen to just 4,637, a reduction of almost 3,000 inmates from a year earlier.

What was the effect of these releases? It was as if 3,000 inmates had escaped from city jails all at once.  By March 15, 2020, robberies had spiked 34 percent, burglaries by 27 percent, grand larcenies by 16 percent and auto theft by 68 percent over the same period in 2019.  These numbers represented the highest increase in crime in more than 30 years. And this was before the pandemic gripped the city and nation.

Once the coronavirus struck, a panicked city began to spring violent criminals to stop the spread in the jail system. By April 30, the city’s jail population was 3,824 inmates. Mayor de Blasio bragged about the reduced jail population, but he said nothing about the rising crime rate.

By June 14, the number of people shot in the Big Apple jumped 29 percent, and murders were up 25 percent. But city elites weren’t done with their anti-anti-crime efforts.

On June 15, 2020, a police-involved death in distant Minneapolis led the city to disband its anti-crime unit, the only non-uniformed street-enforcement operation in the NYPD tasked with getting guns off the street. Two weeks later, shooting victims in the city had risen 52 percent, homicides by 23 percent. By the end of 2020, murder had increased 47 percent, shooting victims by 102 percent.

Yet the mayor and City Council are consumed with reducing the jail population even further, the centerpiece of their effort being the plan to abandon Rikers — a solution in search of a problem.

Whatever the merits of releasing criminals from jail to reduce the spread of the virus, the city has proved once again the irrefutable proposition that permitting more criminals to roam the streets produces more crime. 

To close Rikers — for purely ideological and political reasons — our elites are prepared to keep those criminals on the streets and to prohibit the city from ever incarcerating more than 3,300 individuals, no matter how many people are murdered and shot.

More people are dying and more people will continue to die because of their decisions. 

Releasing criminals from jail, preventing judges from considering a defendant’s dangerousness when setting bail, discovery laws that make it extremely difficult to prosecute defendants and increasingly political attacks on the courageous men and women of the NYPD are contributing to criminality rates unseen in decades.

New York City, which as recently as a year ago was the safest large city in America, is steadily losing that title. For no good reason.

Jim Quinn was executive district attorney in Queens DA’s office, where he served for 42 years.

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