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PA Coronavirus Update: Vaccine Distribution Is ‘Going-To-War Level Of Complexity’

Mark Lennihan
Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are teaming up to call on Congress to pass another coronavirus stimulus bill.

At a virtual joint press conference hosted by the progressive health advocacy group Protect Our Care Monday morning, the governors said their small businesses desperately need more federal funding to survive until the coronavirus vaccine can be widely distributed.

“The nature of this disease cuts right at the heart of the restaurant and bar industry, no matter how many safety precautions [they] take,” Wolf said. “The federal government can and should give them a lifeline.”

Congress has been deadlocked on a new stimulus bill for months, with Republicans balking at Democrat proposals to provide billions in funding to city and state governments, and Democrats resisting Republican efforts to include a liability shield for businesses as part of the aid package. A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing a $908 billion dollar stimulus bill now face a ‘make-or-break’ week to get it passed.

Wolf and Murphy said Monday that more aid is crucial not only for the economies of their states, but also to be able to distribute the COVID vaccine effectively.

“This is going-to-war level of complexity,” Murphy said. “We need money to help us distribute the vaccine … and we need a national testing strategy.”

Murphy said the state plans to begin vaccinating people Tuesday in Newark. Hospitals in Philadelphia are currently finalizing plans for how they’ll distribute vaccine doses to frontline workers.

Murphy also acknowledged his fellow governor’s personal experience with the pandemic: last Wednesday, Wolf announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. He has since tested negative, and said he never displayed any symptoms.

“It is good to see you looking so well … having come through testing positive,” Murphy said.

Read more from our partners, WHYY.