NY touts high COVID vaccinations, Black neighborhoods still lagging behind

Cyril Josh Barker | 6/24/2021, midnight
New Yorkers are living in a somewhat post-COVID world as 70% of state residents have either received their first vaccine ...
Mobile vaccine unit in Fordham Plaza in the Bronx Cyril Josh Barker photo

New Yorkers are living in a somewhat post-COVID world as 70% of state residents have either received their first vaccine dose or are fully vaccinated and restrictions were lifted. However, many neighborhoods in New York City are still lagging behind in vaccinations.

During the first full week since Cuomo lifted several COVID restrictions, including capacity limits, mask mandates and social distancing, things seem to be on the path of getting back to normal. Statewide COVID-19 rates have been going down for 76 consecutive days.

Last weekend, Madison Square Garden held its first full-capacity concert since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when rock band Foo Fighters performed before a crowd of 15,000. Masks were not required. Barclays Center in Brooklyn hosted a large number of fans for the Nets final game.

During his daily press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blaiso said over 9 million COVID vaccines have been administered in the city. The seven-day rolling average of people testing positive for COVID-19 is 0.53%. Only 80 people on Monday were admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19.

“We’re going to keep going, going, going,” de Blasio said. “This is how we build an amazing summer for this city and a recovery for all of us.”

While the mayor is touting good news about the city’s vaccination rate, a different story continues to play out in several neighborhoods. Zip codes in Black neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx are seeing less than half of residents fully vaccinated.

The neighborhood with the lowest number of people vaccinated is Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Queens where only 29% of the residents are fully vaccinated and 34% have received their first dose. The neighborhood is nearly 50% Black.

On Juneteenth (June 19) State Sen. James Sanders partnered with the Community Serenity Garden for a men’s health fair at O’Donohue Park where COVID-19 vaccines were given. Last week, there was a vaccine pop-up site at Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway and next week a mobile vaccine bus is coming.

Officials say the low vaccination rates are a combination of a lack of access and hesitancy over the vaccine.

Other areas of the city seeing low numbers of fully vaccinated people are Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn (32%), Crown Heights, Brooklyn (32%), Rosedale, Queens (35%) and Hunts Point, Bronx (33%).

Meanwhile, nationally, President Joe Biden’s administration this week admitted that it won’t reach its goal of having 70% of the US population vaccinated by the 4th of July holiday. Several states continue to lag behind in getting residents vaccinated, particulary in the South. In Mississippi, for example, only 28.9% of the residents are fully vaccinated.

“For all the progress we’re making as a country, too many communities remain at risk because of low vaccination levels,” said White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. “In fact, we’re seeing the communities with the highest vaccination rates have lower rates of new cases and hospitalizations, and communities with the lowest vaccination rates have higher new cases and hospitalizations.”

A Long Island University Hornstein Center National Poll shows that 53% of Americans believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is over. However, 57% are somewhat or seriously concerned about someone in their family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus. As of June 16, 54.6% of Americans over age 18 are fully vaccinated.