Cuomo threatens legal action to ensure COVID vaccine reaches communities of color equitably


(NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave remarks on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic from New York City on Sunday.

“2020 will go down in the books as a truly bad year,” he said. Cuomo described that over the last eight months, 120 million coronavirus tests have been administered nationwide. “How long will it take us to administer 330 million vaccines?”

The governor of New York invited President Donald Trump and his administration to learn from past missteps and engage in an equitable vaccine distribution process. According to Cuomo, not only would denying the vaccine to New Yorkers violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, but doing so would compound the racial aspects of the pandemic.

“The truth is, COVID killed Black people in this country at twice the rate of white people. The truth is, COVID killed Hispanic people at one-and-a-half times the rate of white people. Those are ugly facts,” Cuomo said. “The COVID infection rate was two-and-a-half times higher among Black and Hispanic people. And the hospitalization rate for Black and Hispanic people was over three times higher compared to white patients.”

Cuomo said that the Trump Administration’s vaccine distribution plan, which relies on health care entities like traditional institutions like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and private companies. The governor argues that the traditional approach will not prioritize minority communities.

“The Black and Brown communities that were first on the list who died cannot be last on the list who receives the vaccine. Period,” Cuomo said. He pointed to statistics that illustrate the racial disparities among the victims of the virus. “Their communities are often health care deserts.”

Cuomo voiced the need for community groups and outreach programs to ensure that vital treatments reach low-income communities which are consistently underserved, with less access to health care and fewer health care options in general.

“The Supreme Court held ni Plier v. Doe, 1982, denial of certain basic rights to ‘an isolated group’ poses an affront to one of the goals of the Equal Protection Clause. The Trump Administration’s proposed plan is such an affront,” Cuomo said. “I tell you today, if the Trump Administration does not change this plan and does not provide an equitable vaccine process, we will enforce our legal rights. We will bring legal action to protect New Yorkers.”

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