Beginning on Tuesday at 8 a.m., New Yorkers older than 50 will be eligible to make appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York on Monday morning. The event at the historically Black church featured Westchester county public officials, clergy members, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who appeared over videoconference.
"We still have not reached fairness and equity in the number of vaccines," Cuomo told the audience. While white people make up 70% of New York's adult population, white people have received 77% of the 7.6 million COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state as of Monday morning. Statewide, Black New Yorkers make up 17.3% of the population, but have received just 9.9% of those vaccine doses; 11.9% have been administered to Hispanic or Latino New Yorkers, who represent 18% of the state's population. That said, disparities have narrowed among city residents by a few percentage points since the de Blasio administration released its first data on January 31st.
New York has been ramping up vaccine eligibility in recent days as federal officials promised to supply the state with 1.65 million doses each week by the end of April, a 33% increase over the current supply. 80% of the state's adults are currently eligible to receive a shot. According to the State Department of Health, 12.2 million out of 15 million New Yorkers 16 or older will be eligible for vaccination on Tuesday morning.
(You can check your vaccine eligibility and make an appointment at a state vaccine site here; to make an appointment at a city-run site you can go here, or check TurboVax for a constantly-refreshed list of new appointments.)
Cuomo was ostensibly at Grace Baptist Church to announce a campaign to use houses of worship as vaccine centers. "Use your trust, use your relationship, to get past this hesitancy, et cetera," Cuomo said.
The governor has surrounded himself in recent days with Black leaders who have defended him, while many Democrats in Albany are calling for his resignation. Cuomo faces federal and state investigations into numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and his handling of nursing home patients during the height of the pandemic.
Reporters were barred from attending Monday's event in Mount Vernon, so the governor did not take questions about why certain groups of New Yorkers—retail workers or construction workers to name a few—are still excluded from vaccine eligibility. It was the latest in a string of televised appearances that lacked questions from the press. The governor also did not address the latest allegations of sexual harassment against him from a current member of his staff.
"Let me say this to the governor...that we will never forget that in the later part of last year, when people were looking at the racial inequity of how COVD-19 was impacting the country and the state you stepped up and raised that issue first and made it a national issue," Sharpton said. "And therefore we will always remember that you had the courage to stand up."
With reporting from Nsikan Akpan.