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New York Attorney General Opens Investigation Into ParCare's COVID Vaccine Distribution As State's Positivity Rate Climbs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A post-Christmas spike in COVID cases is raising concern.

New York's statewide positivity rate is 8.3% - an increase from the 5.9% seven day average.

"For it to go up in two days is dramatic and very, very fast." said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

While the state is trying to figure out if the uptick is the result of a holiday surge or an increase in testing over the long weekend, Cuomo touted that New York is leading the country in vaccination rates: 140,000 New Yorkers have received the first dose, and 259,000 more vaccines are expected this week.

The priority population is expanding to urgent care center employees, individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines along with high-risk hospital healthcare workers.

Watch Hazel Sanchez's Report:

"Next week we expect to open to ambulatory care health care workers, including those administering COVID-19 tests," Cuomo said.

Monday, the governor announced an executive order cracking down on providers not following the priority population process in administering the vaccine, fining violators up to $1 million and revoking all licenses.

State Attorney General Letitia James has taken over the criminal investigation into ParCare Community Health Network over allegations it, "wrongfully distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines."


The state is actively investigating ParCare, and has ordered the company to return 2,300 doses of the vaccine. An email and packing slip from the Department of Health shows the state approved sending doses to ParCare's Monroe location.

ParCare has six locations from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Orange County.

A Dec. 16th post on the ParCare Facebook page said the vaccine is available "on a first come first serve basis."

"If you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out and you will be prosecuted," Cuomo said. "A provider could be fined up to $1 million and revocation of all state licenses."

MoreNYS Investigating ParCare Community Health Network Over Its Handling Of First Round Of COVID-19 Vaccine

The state health commissioner says "ParCare may have fraudulently obtained the vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state, in violation of state guidelines, and diverted it to members of the public.

ParCare released a statement Monday saying it is cooperating with the state.

Cuomo says people who received the vaccine knowing they weren't supposed to can also be busted for fraud.

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CBS2's Hazel Sanchez and Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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