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Saratoga County Leaders Push For Vaccination Site At City Center

The Saratoga Springs City Center
Lucas Willard
The Saratoga Springs City Center

With limited COVID-19 mass vaccination sites around the state, Saratoga County leaders say they are developing a plan to locate one in the City of Saratoga Springs.

Three mass vaccination sites were opening in New York Wednesday to curb the spread of the coronavirus – in New York City, Syracuse, and in White Plains in Westchester County. On Friday, the University at Albany will also begin hosting a mass vaccination site.

On Tuesday, leaders in Saratoga County announced they want to locate one in Saratoga Springs.

Board of Supervisors Chair Todd Kusnierz, a Republican, said the county’s existing mass-vaccination plan includes over a dozen locations throughout the county. But the discussion underway now is to establish a centrally-located site that can handle a large number of people.

“As a matter of fact, I’ve directed the county administrator to enter an agreement with the City of Saratoga Springs to use their city center to help us in that effort,” said Kusnierz.

The quasi-public Saratoga Springs City Center sits in the heart of downtown, and features thousands of square feet of event space.

Saratoga Springs county supervisor Tara Gaston was recently named chair of the county board’s Health and Human Services committee. Gaston, a Democrat, acknowledged the limited availability of vaccines being distributed to counties by the state, which receives the vaccines from the federal government.

“However, this is yet another sign in moving forward – and the chairman authorizing this – to move forward to prove to the governor that we are ready, willing and available,” said Gaston.

The governor’s office said Tuesday that about 62 percent of doses had been distributed to counties – as some counties pressure the Cuomo administration to accelerate the delivery of vaccine.  

On Tuesday afternoon, Saratoga County had reported 9,600 county residents were vaccinated with the first dose of COVID vaccine. More than 600 had received the second dose. The total number of those who have received at least one shot accounts for about 4.5 percent of county residents. With the announcement that those 65 and up would now be eligible for a vaccine in category 1B, the county says more than 43,000 residents now qualify.

But the county’s new public health director, Dr. Daniel Kuhles, is asking for patience as “demand far outstrips the supply.”

Dr. Kuhles adds the vaccine is expected be effective in combatting the UK-variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. To date, three cases of the new variant have been detected in Saratoga County – two additional cases connected to the first case traced to a Saratoga Springs jewelry store. Another case was detected on Long Island.

Kuhles said he anticipated more cases of the novel strain to be detected as time goes on.

“Our country’s ability to sequence viruses lags behind some of the other western European countries, for example, and so I think when you look for it, you’re bound to find it,” said Kuhles.

Kusnierz promised future updates to keep the public informed and said he is communicating with the leadership of neighboring Schenectady, Albany, and Rensselaer Counties.  

“We’ve all committed to working together, as a matter of fact we will be assembling in the immediate to near future, where we will sit down, talk, and answer questions with members of the public,” said Kusnierz.


Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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