The slower-than-expected U.S. rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine drew harsh scrutiny this week as President Joe Biden took over from Donald Trump, who left the incoming administration with “nothing” to help guide distribution of available doses, White House sources told CNN.
Similar frustration erupted in the nation’s largest city, where New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that 23,000 vaccination appointments scheduled for this week would be postponed due to a shipping backup.
In a new interview, Democratic New York City mayoral candidate and former Citigroup vice chairman Ray McGuire sharply criticized the “poor management” of vaccine distribution in New York, calling it a failure of both logistical preparation and communication with the public.
If elected this fall, he will draw on his private sector managerial experience to ensure the city avoids such administrative miscues, he said.
“We knew the vaccine was coming,” McGuire says. “We should have spent endless days planning for how we were going to distribute it.”
“I would have over-planned for this and communicated it with New Yorkers in a way that didn't actually happen,” he adds. “Which is why we're managing today through through the poor management of the distribution of this, and the poor management of how we inform New Yorkers.”
The announcement of thousands of postponed vaccination appointments in New York City on Wednesday came a day after de Blasio said the city would soon run out of its vaccine supply.
Challenges have also plagued the vaccine rollout at the state level, where earlier this month Gov. Andrew Cuomo loosened eligibility restrictions twice in two days after facilities trashed unused vaccines because they could not find patients.
“What I've been able to do for four decades is plan,” McGuire says, in reference to his career in the financial industry. “You have to plan for worst-case scenarios, and you have to not only plan, you have to go through scenarios and you’ve got to get the right team in place.”
So far, more than 30 candidates have filed to run for New York City mayor, including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and MSNBC contributor Maya Wiley. Earlier this month, McGuire said his campaign had raised more than $5 million, putting him among the race’s top fundraisers.
McGuire spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
McGuire entered the New York City mayoral race after 15 years at Citigroup, where he served most recently as the global head of corporate and investment banking. Before that, he climbed through the ranks in banking over stints at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.
He was raised by a single mother in a modest home in Dayton, Ohio, and went on to Harvard University, where he earned law and business degrees.
Speaking with Yahoo Finance, McGuire praised Cuomo and vowed to work cooperatively with him if elected mayor. Such comity would mark a shift from the longstanding feud between Cuomo and de Blasio, which hampered the city’s response to the coronavirus.
McGuire summed up his prior interactions with Cuomo as “a relationship of respect and admiration.”
“Governor Cuomo, the two [New York] senators I’ve known for a long time — I’m supporting them and will continue to,” he says. “So it is not only the governance in the state, but also the governance in the capital, where we have relationships.”
“We all have to come together,” he adds. “This divisiveness — these ad hominem attacks — we’ve got to rise above this.”