Local business expansion halted as Phase 1B eligibility is delayed for some

Emily Burkhard
Updated: January 12, 2021 11:48 PM
Created: January 12, 2021 10:51 PM

ROTTERDAM - Initially, over 4 million people were eligible for vaccinations statewide under Phase 1B. That number jumped to over 11 million when Governor Cuomo announced those 65 and older would be included.

As a result, some New Yorkers have been told they're now designated in a "later rollout" of Phase 1B.

A local official in the food industry told NewsChannel 13 their expansion plans are on hold as they wait for the green light.

"I am turning away two to three clients a week at this point,” said Jesse Conti, Operations Manager for Gatherer’s Granola said.

Conti said demand is up over 500 percent from this time last year. To keep up, they built new a new production space and planned to hire five or six new employees at their facility in Rotterdam.

It was perfect timing, as the New York State Agriculture and Markets Department delivered good news last week.

"The email said this coming Monday you as an agriculture and food worker are designated in Phase 1B, on Monday you'll get more information about how to sign up for vaccination,” Conti said.

However, this week that news changed.

“Then we got the follow up email it just said you know in this phase is teachers, essential front facing workers, there just wasn't information about agriculture or food workers anymore,” he said.

Conti said he understands there are many people that need to be vaccinated, but he also pointed out the strains we saw on the pork and poultry industries in 2020, which were caused by COVID-19 outbreaks at processing facilities.

He said he’s frustrated because the information coming directly from the state changes day-to-day. He's now hoping to have his staff vaccinated by mid-April.

"Now we just don't have any indication of when will be able to get our people the vaccine,” Conti said. “Not to say that anyone getting it now is any less deserving than us, but we just have to guess what our next move is until we know when we can make sure that our people will be safe."

NewsChannel 13 asked the state health department about who else may now be included in later "rollouts" of Phase 1B, but we didn’t get an answer.

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