White New Yorkers descended on a COVID-19 vaccination site set up in a Latino community, taking vaccines from people of color living in the neighborhood.
According to a report from CNN, the clinic launched on Jan. 14 at the Armory Track & Field Center in Washington Heights, a neighborhood that was hit hard by the pandemic. After its opening, the community saw an overwhelming number of white people travel to the Armory from other parts of the city and state to get the vaccine.
"The more I learn about this, the angrier I get," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a virtual press briefing on Friday. "Somehow instead of focusing on the Latino community of Washington Heights, a place that really was hit hard by COVID, instead the approach was somehow conducive to folks from outside the community coming and getting vaccinated but not folks who live right there in Washington Heights. Totally backwards."
CNN’s report follows dozens of stories about the unequal distribution of the vaccine, exposing another nationwide example of racial inequity. New York City Councilman Mark Levine explained how the sign-up process limited access for neighborhood residents who don't speak English or who are not tech savvy.
"It's like The Hunger Games," Levine said. "People who don't have a computer, don't have good internet, aren't comfortable with technology, maybe have limited English language skills, they are not getting through. And that's reflected in who is showing up at these sites."
Appointments were initially available to anyone over the age of 65 living in New York state, but the clinic run by New York-Presbyterian Hospital will now dedicate all of the vaccines to New York City residents and 60 percent to people who live in Washington Heights, Inwood, North and Central Harlem, and South Bronx communities.
"An ongoing engagement initiative is focused on reaching eligible Northern Manhattan residents and getting them registered for appointments," the hospital said in its statement Wednesday. "This process is being undertaken in partnership with more than 40 community-based and faith-based organizations and other partners, and is focused on providing access, overcoming hesitancy and addressing persistent inequities."