Coronavirus NY: Cuomo says getting COVID vaccine is 'community obligation'

Coronavirus Update for New York
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed on Sunday that he will not take the COVID-19 vaccine until it is available for his group in Black, Hispanic and poor communities around New York.

Cuomo made the announcement during remarks to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on Sunday morning.

The governor touched on the importance of not giving into COVID fatigue and urged New Yorkers to maintain their diligence in stopping the spread of the virus.

Cuomo said preparations for a massive vaccination program are underway and it is believed that 70% to 90% of all New Yorkers must be vaccinated for it to be effective.

"That is an enormous number, think of it -- 90 percent of New Yorkers don't agree to do anything, let alone take a vaccine," he said. "This is not only an individual responsibility; it is a community obligation."

The governor said one of the pressing challenges facing the state is to make sure the vaccine is available fairly.

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"COVID exposed many existing injustices in our society," Cuomo said. "It showed us the health disparities that exist, and how many communities don't have fair access to healthcare. COVID showed that racism is a public health crisis also. COVID killed Black people in this country at 2 times the rate of white people, and Hispanic people at 1.5 times the rate of white people."

He explained that COVID testing was made more available in richer, whiter communities and the infection rate was higher in Black, Hispanic and poor communities.

"I am committed to social and racial justice in the distribution of this vaccine," Cuomo said. "Race or income will not determine who lives and who dies. And I mean it. And that's why I say to you today that I want to take the vaccine. I move around a lot and come into contact with many people and I would feel much safer if I took the vaccine, but I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities around the state."

A special task force has been designated to make sure the same thing doesn't happen with the vaccine. The state is also designing special portable units that can be pop-up vaccination sites and brought to public housing sites, churches and community centers across the state.

"Until the vaccine is available in the South Bronx, and the East Side of Buffalo, and Wyandanch, and South Jamaica, and Edgerton and East Utica, our health care deserts, our job is not done," Cuomo said. "I'll do my part, but you have to do your part."

Meanwhile, New York reported a statewide positivity rate of 7.98% on Sunday, as well as 11,368 positive cases and 138 deaths. Hospitalizations also increased to 7,963, marking an increase of 149.

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