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EXCLUSIVE: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Young Kim led the GOP California members of Congress in demanding answers from Gov. Gavin Newsom on the “failures” of the state’s coronavirus vaccination rollout.
They sent a letter to Newsom on Tuesday, obtained first by Fox News, asking the embattled governor to respond to questions on the number of unused vaccinations and why counties and local healthcare providers can’t get a better heads-up on the number of vaccines they’ll be receiving.
“The state of California should explain to Californians why the vaccine distribution has had such failures, despite having months to prepare prior to the development of the vaccine,” the 11 GOP members of Congress from California wrote.
The members of Congress point to technical issues, data lags, and a lack of transparency for the setbacks in vaccination distribution that have frustrated their constituents.
“We write to express our serious concerns regarding the State of California’s slow, opaque decision-making process, and ever-changing approach to distributing COVID vaccines, which has been met with confusion and frustration by our constituents, local public health officials, and front-line health care providers,” the members of Congress wrote.
“With the remarkable success of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed in producing safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics to aid in the fight against the coronavirus, the State’s vaccine distribution plan must be coherent, efficient, and transparent, otherwise we fear more Californians may die as the result of COVID.”
McCarthy and Kim were the lead authors of the letter. Joining them were Republican Reps. David Valadao, Darrell Issa, Michelle Steel, Mike Garcia, Doug LaMalfa, Devin Nunes, Tom McClintock, Ken Calvert, and Jay Obernolte.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The lawmakers want answers as to why the Golden State is falling behind other states for the number of vaccines administered per capita. They cite Feb. 11 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found California has received a total of 7.822 million vaccines, yet only 5.134 million of these vaccines have been administered.
“This means that roughly 35 percent of the total vaccines distributed to the Golden State remain to be administered and places California behind Florida, New York, and Washington State in vaccines administered per capita,” the lawmakers wrote to Newsom.
Newsom, who is facing a serious recall effort for his coronavirus response, said he’s working with the Biden Administration to improve the efficiency and equity of the vaccine rollout.
Gov. Gavin Newsom leans over to talk with a person waiting to get a COVID-19 vaccination at a drive-thru vaccination center at Natomas High School in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Appointments were needed for the 1,000 vaccinations to be administered for those 65 and over, first responders, health workers, teachers, food and agricultural employers. Called an equitable distribution site, it prioritized those disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, was collaboration between the Natomas’ Unified School District, Sacramento County Public Health Department and Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby, behind Newsom, who represents the area. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
At a news conference Tuesday with various officials, Newsom announced the opening of two federally supported mass vaccination sites in Los Angeles and Oakland that are intended to bring inoculations to communities especially hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each is expected to be able to administer 6,000 vaccinations a day by the end of the week. Each will also have mobile units to head out into communities.
“It’s proximate to a community that has been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic,” Newsom said Tuesday in praising the partnership with FEMA. “The effort here is to address that issue forthrightly.”
The vast majority of Californians have not yet been vaccinated. As of Tuesday afternoon, just under 6.3 million doses have been administered in a state that has nearly 40 million people, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.
“We recognize we have more work to do. The issue at the end of the day is supply,” Newsom said Tuesday. “We need to manufacture more Moderna vaccine, more Pfizer vaccine. We need to get the federal approval of the J&J vaccine. We need to provide ample supply so we can plan, not just two to three weeks out, but over the course of the next few months.”
The GOP members of Congress, however, say the Newsom administration has not publicly disclosed its formulas to determine county vaccine allotments, which has “made it incredibly difficult for local officials to develop and implement vaccination plans.”
BUENA PARK, CA – DECEMBER 18 2020: Young Kim was elected to U.S. House of Representatives in November 2020. Kim represents the 39th congressional district. Kim and GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy were the lead authors of a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Feb. 16, 2021, that demanded answers on California’s vaccine rollout. (Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
They also point to a string of technical problems and bad data, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, that has hampered the accuracy and transparency of the vaccine rollout.
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“With California being a beacon of technological innovation, this is particularly disconcerting,” the members of Congress wrote.
Newsom’s office referred to the governor’s comments earlier Tuesday at the vaccine site opening event when asked for comment from Fox News about the letter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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