The Armory Athletics and Field Center in Washington Heights was officially opened on January 14 by New York Presbyterian Hospital and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The vaccination was initially offered to people 65 and older who live in New York State.

Lawmakers representing Washington Heights and a doctor who was there last week said the first wave of vaccinations affected many white New Yorkers over 65 who came to the Armory from other parts of the city and state.

“The more I learn about the issue, the angrier I get,” de Blasio said at a virtual press briefing. “Instead of targeting the Latino community in Washington Heights – a place that has been hit very hard by Covid – this approach has, so to speak, encouraged outsiders to come here and get vaccinated, but not the people who live there in Washington Heights,” de Blasio said. Completely untrue”.

“Colored New Yorkers should take photos… ….

The problem in Washington Heights is a prime example of unequal access to vaccines across the country.

In a press release announcing the launch, Cuomo said the goal of the partnership with New York-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Irving Medical Center is to “ensure that New Yorkers of color are not left behind.

On Wednesday, CNN asked New Yorkers and Presbyterians about the discrepancy, and a hospital spokesman issued a statement saying that “from now on” all space on the property will be given to New Yorkers, with at least 60 percent of the property being given to eligible residents of Washington Heights, Inwood, North and Central Harlem, and the South Bronx.

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The New York-Presbyterian said Friday in an email to CNN that more than 80 percent of those vaccinated in the past two days are residents of these communities.

“The current engagement initiative is focused on working with and registering eligible residents in northern Manhattan,” the hospital said Wednesday in a statement. “The process is being carried out in collaboration with more than 40 community and faith-based organizations and other partners and is designed to ensure access, overcome indecision and address persistent inequities.”

According to the hospital, more than 25,000 people have been vaccinated at the facility since it opened. There has been no racial distribution of those vaccinated at New York State-Presbyterian.

Washington Heights and the nearby city of Inwood, which is 72 percent Latino, according to the 2018 New York City Health Report, has become a home for Covid 19 patients. 30 percent of deaths in New York are Latino.

“It’s like the Hunger Games.

Mark Levine, New York City Councilman, told CNN that the registration process on the Armory’s website requires several steps of registration and verification of eligibility and is not intended for Washington Heights residents who do not speak English and are not tech-savvy.

In Washington Heights/Inwood, 37% of residents have “limited English proficiency,” according to the 2018 New York State Health Report.

A January 14 statement on the New York State website states that people who are eligible for the vaccine can register on the Columbia, New York and Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine patient portal website or create a new account on a separate page.

“It’s like the Hunger Games,” Levin said. “People who don’t have computers, who don’t have good Internet connections, who don’t like technology, who maybe have limited English skills, they can’t get along. And this is reflected in the people who come to these sites.”

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Dr. Susana Bejar of Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center said she saw the inequity in Washington Heights firsthand when she volunteered at the Armory on January 23 to check in for an appointment.

Bejar said that of the 2,400 people who received the vaccine that day, most were not from the local community. “To put it simply, I’ve never seen so many white people in Washington Heights,” Bejar tweeted on Sunday.

Bejar said the website should prioritize Washington Heights residents by allowing same-day and walk-in appointments, reserving vaccines for those who live in the community, providing support for those who have difficulty registering for the smartphone application and ensuring residents have time to make appointments.

“It is difficult to combine both speed and fairness,” Bejar told CNN. “If vaccines are distributed primarily through an English-language smartphone application for those who first update the application, long-standing structural inequities will be reproduced unless the medical community makes a conscious and sustained effort to address them.

The need for a public partnership

Inequality among those receiving the Covid 19 vaccine is a national problem.

A CNN analysis of 14 states found that vaccination rates for whites averaged twice those for blacks and Hispanics.

The analysis showed that, on average, more than 4% of the white population received the Covid 19 vaccine, which is about 2.3 times more than in the black population (1.9% coverage) and 2.6 times more than in the Hispanic population (1.8% coverage).

De Blasio said vaccine providers should work with community groups, local health care providers, clergy and trusted community leaders to ensure equitable access for people of color.

To make matters worse, there is a shortage of vaccines in New York. Cuomo said this week that there are not enough doses for the 7 million people who are eligible for vaccination under federal guidelines.

“We are no closer to getting the care we need,” De Blasio said at Friday’s press conference.

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Congressman Adriano Espaia (NY) said his office had received several complaints that the local Armory Church had not been vaccinated. Adriano Espaillat said he thought it was a test and that cooperation with local churches and senior centers would be essential to get vaccinations into the Washington Heights.

“From the first day, I was concerned that the distribution of the vaccine would prevent the rich from coming in and crowding our people out so they could get ahead of the queue and be vaccinated first,” Espaillat said. “I think it’s resolved now, but we’ll keep an eye on it in the coming days.”

Community groups in Washington Heights say they need to be involved in the distribution if health officials want to reach communities of color.

Jon-Paul Dyson, program director of the Community League of the Heights, or CLOTH, said many residents don’t have access to Wi-Fi or email, so they rely on word of mouth, mail order literature or their social service providers for information.

Dyson said he is working with the medical community to help residents get vaccinated.

“Education is the biggest piece that’s missing right now,” Dyson said Thursday. “Places to go, transportation for our seniors to get there, all of that.”

Priya Krishnakumar and Deirdre McPhillips of CNN contributed.

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