‘Too rare to be wasted’: NC GOP leaders questioning Gov. Cooper’s vaccine rollout plan

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republican state legislative leaders say they plan to question officials in Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration next week about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the CDC reports the state has administered about 22 percent of the shots distributed to North Carolina.

The state recently moved to Phase 1B of distribution, allowing people 75 and older to get the vaccine. However, supplies are limited and some counties are unable to move to that phase at this point.

“Those vaccines are too rare to be wasted in any way whatsoever,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R). “Why is it taking so long to get these vaccines out?”

Nationally, about 28 percent of doses distributed have been administered, according to the CDC.

This week, Gov. Cooper activated the National Guard to help with the vaccine rollout, saying planning for the Guard’s involvement had been underway in the lead-up to the vaccine becoming available.

“These things have been planned ahead of time and now we are providing the assistance to the different health departments and facilities that need the help,” Cooper said Wednesday.

This is happening as the state continues to set records on some of the key COVID-19 metrics. On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 10,000 new daily cases for the first time since the pandemic began. There was also a new high of 3,960 people in the hospital due to COVID-19.

“The folks who are calling us back home are saying do all you can to make sure those vaccines are getting out there. So, I do think the executive branch is under some pressure right now,” said Moore. “That needs to happen because the resources are there. We’ve appropriated enough money to do it. It just needs to happen.”

A legislative oversight committee will meet Tuesday afternoon to take a closer look at the issue. The next day, the General Assembly will convene for the first time since the November election. Republicans continue to control the House and Senate but do not have veto-proof majorities.

Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) said, “The governor is doing all he can. He just activated the National Guard to help with vaccine distribution. The governor and all of his staff are virtually singularly focused on vaccine distribution.”

The pandemic is expected to impact much of the legislative session. Last year, Republicans attempted to pass a variety of bills aimed at curbing Gov. Cooper’s executive authority and lifting some of the restrictions he put in place in response to the pandemic. Cooper vetoed those bills and Republicans failed to get enough Democrats to join them in overriding Cooper’s vetoes.

Moore said he wants to revisit that issue, saying the law should be clear that the Governor needs the concurrence of the Council of State to implement his emergency orders. The council is a group of ten statewide elected officials, including the governor. It’s comprised of six Republicans and four Democrats.

“No one person, no one governor, Republican, Democrat, whatever, should have the power to shut the economy down to such an extent as what we saw in the past,” Moore said. “Restrictions may make sense. There are things that need to be done. But, it’s a matter of how you do it and making sure there’s transparency to it and more buy-in than just the opinion of one person.”

Sen. Nickel voted to sustain the governor’s vetoes last year.

“I hope and pray that Republicans understand that this is not a one-party system. They need to work with Senate Democrats and the need to work with Gov. Cooper,” he said.

Moore also said he thinks the vaccine distribution plan needs to be “more nuanced” to potentially allow more seniors and those with underlying health conditions to move up the line faster.

He said he intends to get the vaccine when it’s his turn. He does not think the vaccine should be mandated for the broad population, but he noted there could be some exceptions such as in congregate living facilities and public schools as long as the vaccines are shown to be safe and effective for children following clinical trials.

“We require vaccinations for those already and children have to be vaccinated for a number of things, so I think it should fall in line with that,” Moore said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories