© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schumer pushes federal government to prioritize New York for COVID pill distribution

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Before the New Year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for two new pills to fight the effects of COVID-19: Paxlovid by Pfizer and Molnupiravir by Merck. New York Senator Chuck Schumer wants the federal government to prioritize sending the medication to the state after it set a record number of coronavirus cases entering 2022.

“We are number one in terms of COVID cases,” Schumer said. “We are number one in terms of density. We are number one in terms of per capita. So we deserve to get as many as these antivirals as quickly as possible and as many as possible.”

Even though the state has received a limited supply of both medications from the federal government, Schumer said New York won’t have enough supply to meet the current need. He believes that the federal government should be looking at states with the highest COVID-19 cases and put them first.

“The federal government should not distribute them across the board. They should look at where is the greatest need,” he said. “New York is at the greatest need. Feds should put us at the top of the list.”

New York started 2022 with over 85,000 people testing positive for COVID-19. The state also announced over 9,500 New Yorkers are hospitalized with the virus.

Schumer said doses will be delivered to a few pharmacies in each county based on population density, as well as Medicaid enrollment.

The pills are intended for those with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill, which includes older people and those with other health conditions — such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes — that make them more vulnerable. They should be taken as soon as possible once symptoms appear.

Patients will require a prescription for both antiviral drugs.

Natalie Discenza is a Sacred Heart News Fellow at WSHU. She is a native of Syracuse, New York.