PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For hours Friday, Philadelphia elected officials discussed what led to the botched rollout of the city’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. Coming under heavy scrutiny by City Council, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley addressed whether or not he should resign.
Multiple officials took questions from City Council during Friday’s hearing, but it was Philadelphia’s health commissioner on the hot seat.
“One week ago, Mayor [Jim] Kenney sent me a letter to rectify that mistake,” Farley said.
Farley went on the defensive during a hearing Friday, where City Council fired questions as to why the group Philly Fighting COVID was selected to set up the city’s mass COVID vaccine clinic.
“I know you said earlier that the CDC basically made the selection. Are you saying that the administration had no involvement at all in the selection of this organization?” Councilmember Cindy Bass asked.
“No, not at all,” Farley responded.
“It would be appearance of corruption if it wasn’t for such incompetence,” Councilmember David Oh said.
“The letter the mayor sent last week requested that we do a review of the decision-making process,” Farley said.
Philly Fighting COVID administered nearly 7,000 vaccines at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in its first few weeks before the health department cut ties with the group.
City officials say the group changed its terms of service, which would have allowed it to sell patients’ data. The group also did not have a written contract with the city to distribute vaccines, but it instead appears to have done so from a verbal agreement.
“We passed this information on directly to the CDC and they took our word for it. They took our word that we did our due diligence and clearly that was not the case,” Bass said during the hearing.
“I don’t know whether the CDC took our word for it, how they reviewed those documents I can’t speak to that,” said Jim Engler, Kenney’s Chief of Staff.
Philadelphia City Council also asked Kenney to testify at Friday’s hearing. He declined but promised he would answer any questions the council has.
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