NYC Public Advocate and Others Ask DOJ to Investigate COVID-19 Racial Disparities
“The zip codes in our city who have seen the highest rates of infection now have the lowest rates of injection. From infection to injection we see these disparities,” says Mr. Williams.
Today, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced a request for a Department of Justice investigation into the NYC and State response to the COVID-19 pandemic; which in turn has brought about racial disparities since the onset of the crisis.
“We ask the Department of Justice, under new leadership and with a new mandate, investigate the systemic failures and misguided decisions that have lead to disparate harm in communities of more color throughout the city and state,” said Mr. Williams. “Failures that began last year persist today and we fear they will continue if there’s no accountability.”
During today’s press briefing, the Public Advocate, joined by Council Members Adrienne Adams and Daneek Miller spoke of how the failures at multiple levels of governance have led to the disparities amongst such communities. From the dispensation of PPE and access to Coronavirus testing during the worst of the pandemic to the present day wherein New Yorkers who’ve suffered most are in the minority of those who’ve been vaccinated thus far.
It’s a subject which NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have spoken to over the course of months. More recently, there’ve been attempts at expanding upon the number of vaccination sites available.
Yet, as was summed up today, such efforts fail if those affected are without the means to obtain the help offered. As Mr. Miller pointed out, there are instances wherein people from beyond our borders are coming into our city for vaccines.
“I think that most communities of color had the vaccines distributed to those zip codes but the cruel irony is that in the first two week rollout nearly a third of the folk had come from outside NYC,” said Council Member Miller. “Less than 12% of the Black community and Latino community had been vaccinated and so that was disturbing.”
“The crueler irony is that when you step out your door and you see these lines you see people going in to be vaccinated and they aren’t your neighbors and they don’t look like you. So, just because there’s a vaccine available in a community does not guarantee that the community have access to that vaccine. Doesn’t mean that they can go online in a very sophisticated way and gain access and be able to register as others.”
I’d be remiss to not mention how, in registering a loved one for a vaccine, no proof of residence was ever requested or required; neither online nor in person. My relative could’ve been from anywhere obtaining a vaccine within one of NYC’s boroughs.
To highlight how unfortunate these circumstances are, Mr. Williams posted a comparison on Twitter recently. Side by side were maps showing how those regions of NYC most affected by COVID-19 are as well those least amount of vaccinations.
His Tweet on February 16: “This data is as unsurprising as it is damning. The zip codes in our city who have seen the highest rates of infection now have the lowest rates of injection.”
This data is as unsurprising as it is damning.
The zip codes in our city who have seen the highest rates of infection now have the lowest rates of injection. pic.twitter.com/gkBNsOm810
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) February 16, 2021
One might consider this latest letter a continuation of one sent 9 months ago by Mr. Williams and other leaders.
On May 6, 2020, the Public Advocate sent a letter to the DOJ requesting an investigation into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. That letter was not only cosigned by many local city leaders but, as well, by other leaders of other American cities (Chicago, Detroit, Austin City, Syracuse, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia and others).