ALBANY — The state on Wednesday further expanded its efforts to vaccinate Black and Hispanic New Yorkers against COVID, announcing two new mass vaccination sites in socially vulnerable communities in New York City.
These will be jointly run state-federal clinics able to provide up to 3,000 shots per day starting in the last week of February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and several more will open later in upstate New York.
Cuomo has long made the point that COVID-19 has infected and killed Black and Hispanic people at a substantially higher rate than White people, and has said reaching these communities would be a priority for his administration.
It is now a priority for the Biden administration, as well, and Jeffrey Zients, the head of President Biden’s COVID response team, joined Cuomo at his news conference Wednesday.
“We’re putting equity front and center in this effort, partnering with states to increase vaccinations in the hardest-hit and hard-to-reach communities,” Zients said. “At the governor’s request, we’re working with the state to identify additional locations throughout the state to get more shots in arms. We’re meeting communities where they are, in places they know and trust.”
Trust is critical: Some Black people are simply disconnected from the medical community but others don’t trust it.
Cuomo also was joined by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
“At the end of the day, we must overcome the hesitancy [by Blacks to be vaccinated] because of the lack of trust,” he said. “This government has not always provided trust that African-Americans can run towards, but the reality is the reality right now. We are facing a global health crisis that because of the neglect of the previous administration we lacked a federal response.”
The state’s COVID vaccine dashboard indicates that as of Feb. 4, Blacks make up 17% of 1A-eligible hospital workers but only 10% of those vaccinated; 17% of 1B-eligible essential workers but only 5% of those vaccinated; and 13% of 1B-eligible elderly but only 4% of those vaccinated.
In other COVID-related news Wednesday:
- The seven-day positive COVID test rate stood at 4.3% statewide, 3.3% in the Capital Region and 2.9% in the Mohawk Valley. At the county level, the rate was Albany 3.6%, Fulton 7.3%, Montgomery 6.2%, Rensselaer 2.6%, Saratoga 2.9%, Schenectady 3.2% and Schoharie 2.6%.
- Statewide, 7,593 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 313 in the Capital Region and 166 in the Mohawk Valley.
- The official statewide COVID death toll increased by 136 to 36,619, including five deaths in Saratoga County, two in Albany County and one each in Montgomery, Schenectady and Washington counties.
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