KEY POINTS

  • Cuomo wants Black, Hispanic, and poor communities vaccinated
  • New York is preparing for a massive vaccination program to inoculate 90% of the state's population
  • New York state has surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Sunday refused to take a coronavirus vaccine until members of the Black, Hispanic, and poor communities in his state are inoculated. 

Cuomo visited the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where he said that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed “injustices” in society and “racism in a public health crisis.” He announced his decision to fight racial injustice and refuse a vaccine until specific communities are inoculated.

“Race or income will not determine who lives and who dies. And I mean it. And that's why I say to you today that I want to take the vaccine. I move around a lot and come into contact with many people and I would feel much safer if I took the vaccine, but I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities around the state,” Cuomo said

The governor also urged New Yorkers to help in curbing the spread of the virus. He announced that the state is preparing for a massive vaccination program to protect 70% to 90% of all New Yorkers. 

“That is an enormous number, think of it -- 90 percent of New Yorkers don't agree to do anything, let alone take a vaccine. This is not only an individual responsibility; it is a community obligation," Cuomo said. 

The state government has designated a special task force to oversee the vaccinations. New York state will also have portable vaccination units brought to public housing areas and community centers statewide. 

On Friday, New York health officials reported 15,000 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state to more than 1 million. The state also recorded 128 additional deaths. New York is the fourth state to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University

Of the 15,000 new cases reported Friday, 3,600 are in New York City. At least 49 zip codes in New York City have reported a coronavirus positivity rate of 9.39%. 

“Here’s a look at our #COVID19 indicators for Saturday. 201 new hospitalizations. 3,648 new cases. 9.39% positivity rate (7-day avg.),” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Start 2021 off right. Practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, wear a mask and get tested.”

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a March 27, 2020 file image, said 540 people had died in his state of 20 million inhabitants in the preceding 24 hours NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a March 27, 2020 file image, said 540 people had died in his state of 20 million inhabitants in the preceding 24 hours Photo: AFP / Bryan R. Smith