Officials celebrated the 50,000 vaccinations administered in Tompkins County on April 29 with a ceremony outside of the mall vaccination clinic.
“Congratulations to the Tompkins County Health Department, who has demonstrated through their collaboration with Cayuga Medical Systems what true partnership looks like,” said RoAnn Destito, commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services. “50,000 arms is a remarkable accomplishment.”
Dr. Marty Stallone, president and CEO of Cayuga Health Systems, said that the operation would not have been possible without the full partnership between Cayuga Health and the county, which have worked together to provide free testing throughout the pandemic to all residents, as well as operating the mass vaccination site.
“In all, we are approaching 60% of our residents being vaccinated,” he said. “The results speak for themselves. It’s been a lesson in cooperation and trust.”
The talk of partnerships continued, as County Legislature Chair Leslyn McBean-Clairborne commended the “historic collaboration of leaders” that led to the accomplishment.
“It’s been a community effort,” she said. “It hasn’t been Tompkins County. It hasn’t been Cayuga Health Systems. It’s truly a community effort.”
She also touched upon the importance of making sure the vaccine is available to everyone, especially people of color, who she said are more likely to succumb to the illness.
“We must do everything in our power to reach everyone and make the vaccine accessible to all,” she said. “[…] Reflecting on the past year, I have the utmost confidence that we will continue to get vaccines to everyone who wants one.”
County Administrator Jason Molino also reflected on the past year, telling the story of the day he and the county schools’ superintendents decided to declare a state of emergency and shut down schools for an undetermined amount of time.
“It was a decision made collectively, and that’s how we’ve continued in terms of our approach,” he said. “Whether it was partnering with our three higher ed institutions, community groups, Cayuga Health Systems […] it was the community that came together to make it work.”
Molino also lauded the work of his staff, stating that if he had to do it all over again, there’s not a different team he would pick.
Public Health Director Frank Kruppa, who Stallone called the “secret sauce of making this happen,” gave his gratitude for the work done by his staff and partners throughout the past year.
“This didn’t happen by accident,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”
He also encouraged the remaining 40% or so of unvaccinated residents in Tompkins County to make their appointments.
“I’ve been joking about when I’m finally going to get a vacation here, so if those last 40% would get on board and get vaccinated I’d really appreciate it,” he laughed.