Cuomo pitches minorities on vaccine after 1 million shots administered in a week

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to some of the National Guard members operating a mass vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan on Monday. - Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to some of the National Guard members operating a mass vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan on Monday. - Governor's Office

NEW YORK — More than 1 million New Yorkers have received the COVID-19 vaccine in their arms in the past week, with 19% of the population now at least partly vaccinated.

The big jump — 4.58 million shots administered as of March 1 and 5.54 million as of March 8 reflects the increasing supply of vaccine, the large number of people now receiving the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and arrival of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which began shipping last week.

By contrast, the first million doses in New York state took more than five weeks to complete — from Dec. 14 to Jan. 20.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the 24-hour-a-day mass-vaccination operation in the cavernous Javits convention center in Manhattan was the busiest clinic in the nation this past weekend — 27,144 shots given in 48 hours.

After thanking all the nurses, technician and National Guardsmen who make the Javits site work, Cuomo lamented that Hispanic and Black people still aren’t getting the vaccine at a rate as great as white and Asian people in New York state.

Flanked by a cluster of Black clergy , Cuomo recited a now familiar list of potential contributing factors for this and solemnly stated “two times as many Blacks died as whites,” then repeated himself.

Whether this was an inadvertent error or loose wording to make his point is unclear.

By the state’s own data, Black and white COVID victims have died in roughly equal numbers in New York City. In the rest of New York state, the white death toll is 5.4 times higher than the Black death toll.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that Black Americans are at roughly twice the risk of COVID death as White Americans. But in actual number of deaths, deaths of white people exceed deaths of Black people by a ratio of more than 4 to 1 nationwide.

Cuomo has been railing about the historic and contemporary injustices Black and Hispanic people have suffered in the medical system since before the vaccine rolled out, and has been ordering creation of vaccine clinics carefully targeted to Black and brown New Yorkers ever since.

After nearly three months of this, 79% of recipients statewide have been white, 10.5% Asian and 9.2% Black. These groups comprise 70.4%, 9.2%, and 17.3% of the population, respectively.

Along with all his efforts to make vaccine available to Black and brown New Yorkers, Cuomo must overcome the hesitation by some people, particularly by Black people, to receive it.

He said hesitancy is a “baloney” word.

“Call it what it is — it’s a lack of trust,” Cuomo said.

“We need people to come forward and we need the Black population to come forward. We need the Hispanic community to come forward. They have to go first. We can’t put the needle in your arm if you don’t bring your arm forward. That’s what we’re asking you to do today.”

One of the state’s efforts has been through churches — more than 40,000 shots have been administered in 48 popup clinics in churches statewide.

The clergy who stood with Cuomo are among those who’ve helped make the case. One rolled up his sleeve and got the shot when Cuomo was done speaking.

“Some of my colleagues have already taken the vaccine, and we are a living testament to the fact that it works and it is safe,” the Rev. Gilbert Pickett said. “The virus may be race blind, but it’s not affecting anyone equally, it’s hurting Black and Brown communities disproportionately.”


Some vaccination statistics in the Capital Region:

  • 86.2% of the population is white, as are 93.5% of the residents vaccinated.
  • 7.7% of the population is Black, as are 3.3% of those vaccinated.
  • 89% of hospital workers have received at least one dose of vaccine.
  • 80% of residents and 58% of employees at nursing homes have been vaccinated.
  • 94% of residents and 75% of employees at other adult-care facilities have been vaccinated.
  • 349,438 doses of vaccine have been administered in the Capital Region and 158,919 in the Mohawk Valley Region.
  • Percentage of county population to receive at least one dose – Albany 23.7%, Fulton 16.1%, Montgomery 20.0%, Rensselaer 20.9%, Saratoga 23.6%, Schenectady 22.5%, Schoharie 15.1%. These compare to 18.8% statewide.

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