For Vaccine Priority, Mayor Favors Neighborhoods with High Poverty Rates: Boro Park Not on the List
by Yehudit Garmaise
Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that he and his Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity have updated and expanded his original list from June that listed 27 neighborhoods that were “hardest hit” by coronavirus and should therefore receive priority in the vaccination rollout.
Despite the mayor’s consistent rebukes to Jewish neighborhoods for having high COVID rates, not one Jewish neighborhood was on the mayor’s list from June, nor on today’s list of now 33 neighborhoods to receive vaccination priority.
Although originally, the number of fatalities in each neighborhood was the determining factor in deciding which neighborhoods were “hardest hit,” this morning the mayor said that to update June’s list of prioritized neighborhoods, the taskforce wanted to consider “more information beyond just fatalities.”
Beside “a disproportionate loss of life,” the mayor said his taskforce considered “the amount of healthcare people have historically received and the kinds of factors that affect whether people are going to be vulnerable to disease.
“We know, and we have seen it, not just during the coronavirus, but previously, very consistent indicators of vulnerability because of poverty and other factors. So, this list is where people are in the greatest danger, proportionally: where people are in greatest danger in the city that we need to focus on to save lives.”
What the mayor said “was sad to see,” in the data collected by the New York City Health Department, was that the areas that showed the greatest extent of poverty similarly reflected their historical lack of access to healthcare.”
Torian Easterling, MD, who is the health department’s first deputy commissioner and chief equity officer explained that social inequities strongly figure into City Hall’s selection of the 33 prioritized neighborhoods for the COVID vaccine.
“We need to look at social inequities, housing conditions,” said Dr. Easterling. “We are also going to look at demographic information.”
“Our data really allowed us to double-down on our efforts to make sure that we are getting to those who are most vulnerable as the roll-out of the vaccine distribution plan.”
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office