Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and two Black members of Congress traveled Saturday to a public-housing residence in Brooklyn to urge Black New Yorkers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, amid polls showing Black Americans are among the most reluctant to obtain a vaccine and COVID-19 death rates far higher for Blacks than whites.
“We are urging everyone to trust science and get vaccinated,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), speaking inside the New York City Housing Authority’s William Reid Apartments for seniors. “COVID-19 will kill you, and we have seen that, particularly with devastating consequence in Black communities, in low-income communities, and in traditionally underserved communities.”
Black and Latino Americans are 2.8 times more likely than whites to die from COVID-19, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis, from Nov. 30.
Before speaking about vaccinations, Cuomo said the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate Friday was 5.26% and that 144 New Yorkers had died of the virus. A total of 8,802 people were hospitalized, a decrease of 44 from the previous day.
The Manhattan-based nonprofit health organization SOMOS Saturday set up a vaccination site at the Reid Apartments. Cuomo said vaccinations will be given at all 33 NYCHA senior communities, as well as at 300 churches, to help ensure equity in vaccine distribution.
“We will get the access,” he said. “Our bigger problem is the acceptance, especially among the Black and Latino community. Why? Because they’re skeptical. They’re skeptical of a vaccine approved by the Trump administration.”
Cuomo emphasized that a state-convened panel of expert physicians reviewed the two federally authorized vaccines — from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — and determined they are safe.
The governor said he understood the hesitancy of some — particularly Black Americans — to get the vaccine, because of discrimination, and because of a tragic history of racism in health care that includes the infamous Tuskegee experiment, in which the federal government let Black men unknowingly go untreated for syphilis for 40 years as part of a study of its long-term effects.
But Cuomo said he, his mother and his daughters will get the vaccine.
“There’s no politics here,” he said. “My mother and my daughters I would not let take the vaccine if I didn’t believe it was safe. It is safe.”
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), who represents the district that includes the Reid Apartments, said she has “personally taken the vaccine, and I’m here to tell you, as you can see, I am fine.”
Clarke urged New Yorkers to tell anyone they know who is at high risk for COVID-19 to get the vaccine.
“Call grandma, grandpa, auntie, uncle and let them know we have to get vaccinated,” she said. “It will save their lives.”
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