State Senator Peter Oberacker (R/C-Schenevus) today questioned New York State Health Commissioner Dr, Howard Zucker during the joint legislative public hearing on the governor’s budget proposal.

Senator Peter Oberacker said, “In the midst of the COVID pandemic there are almost unlimited questions that need to be addressed under the health budget heading. The lack of information surrounding nursing home deaths, distribution of the COVID vaccine, increased mental health issues, and lack of funding for rural health care are just a few of my leading concerns.”

While questioning New York State Department of Health Commissioner Doctor Howard Zucker, Senator Oberacker relayed a question from a Delaware County resident which asked specifically about the lack of COVID vaccine sites in rural upstate areas.

Senator Oberacker asked, “We are one state – I have heard that throughout the pandemic from the governor. The rural region I represent was forced to shut down – even when most counties had an extremely low number of cases – if any. Now, with the vaccine being distributed, my district is completely forgotten. What am I supposed to tell my constituents?”

Commissioner Zucker responded in part that the focus has been on the elderly and that rural areas present difficulties. Additionally, Commissioner Zucker said, “I know we are working with the communities on this and let’s see where we are after the end of this weekend when more vaccines are out there.”

The complete exchange between Senator Oberacker and Commissioner Zucker is available at:

“I appreciate Commissioner Zucker’s response. However, the lack of attention to our rural region must be addressed immediately. Our county health departments along with fire and EMS departments stand ready to assist with vaccine distribution and the state should utilize these beneficial resources,” concluded Senator Oberacker.

Senator Oberacker serves as a member of the Senate Health Committee.

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