Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted a COVID-19 vaccination site at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn on Monday as part of a broader effort to vaccinate communities of color during the pandemic.
The event, highlighting support from Black lawmakers as well as Black clery in the area for the vaccine, also highlight transportation options, as an effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy among people of color.
"It's the largest. It's a model of social equity," Cuomo said.
The site and several others like it in New York City, Buffalo, Albany and Yonkers will first open to New Yorkers in specific zip codes. The Brooklyn mass vaccination site will have the capacity to conduct 3,000 vaccinations a day.
So far, more than 1 million people have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 2 million people have received one dose. But statistics, including among workers in the health care field, show Black and Latino people lagging behind White and Asian residents.
Roughly 10 million New Yorkers now qualify for the vaccine after the state added people with underlying health conditions. Supply, however, has continued to lag behind demand.
"Literally this vaccine can save your life and it can save the lives of others," Cuomo said, adding the vaccinations can help put an end to the pandemic.
But the event also served as an early week re-set for Cuomo, who has faced growing criticism over his handling of nursing homes over the last several weeks. Lawmakers are discussing scaling back Cuomo's authority to respond to the pandemic.
“I do not accept his explanation," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said during a news conference. "There needs to be a full investigation. Thousands of lives were lost. Families deserve answers.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim, who said he received a threatening phone call from the governor this month amid his criticism of handling nursing homes during the crisis, backed impeaching him in a Newsweek op/ed.
But there are signs in the Legislature that Cuomo's support is yet to truly buckle. Cuomo on Monday was flanked by Black clergy members and lawmakers at the Brooklyn site, including Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, Assemblyman Nick Perry and Assemblyman Erik Dilan.
Cuomo pointed to the far higher rates of COVID mortality among Black New Yorkers when urging people to get vaccinated.
"COVID discriminates," he said. "COVID highlighted the racism in society."