Recap of April 30, 2021 Town Hall with Dr. Dave A. Chokshi and Dr. Torian Easterling
On April 30, we hosted a Town Hall with New York City’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Dave A Chokshi and First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer, Dr. Torian Easterling. Watch the recording of the Town Hall below, or read on for our top takeaways:
For the latest COVID-19 data broken down by zip code demographics visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page
The numbers make us hopeful
As more New Yorkers are getting vaccinated, we are seeing a decreasing trend of hospitalizations, deaths, and confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Over 7.5 million doses have been administered and nearly 50% of New York City residents over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated. However, when you break this data down by zip code and demographic, it becomes clear that we still have a long way to go with our COVID-19 response and ensuring equitable access to vaccines.
We cannot mistake this progress for victory
Those New Yorkers who have struggled the most over the course of this pandemic, our Black and Latino communities, and people ages 85+, have some of the lowest rates of vaccination. The Bronx has the lowest vaccination rates of all the boroughs, but parts of southeastern Queens and east Brooklyn are not much better. A myriad of factors are contributing to these low rates, chief among them being historic injustice towards Black and Brown populations.
Vaccine Equity is our top priority
We have a four-pronged strategy, grounded in the data highlighted above on age, race, and place, to ensure that the vaccine is reaching those that have suffered the most:
- Access – ensure that getting the vaccine is as easy and convenient as possible, focusing on the neighborhoods identified by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, systemic racism, and disinvestment
- Uptake – strengthen confidence in the vaccine with clear messages and trusted messengers that address concerns, answer questions with empathy, and acknowledge people’s distrust of government and healthcare institutions
- Outcomes – hold ourselves accountable by continually looking at the data and making sure that we are preventing further harm in marginalized communities
- Dismantle – understand the underlying systems of oppression that have brought about the troubling data we are collecting and take steps to dismantle those systems so we make strides forward in health equity beyond the current public health crisis
How you can help
Dr. Chokshi closed the presentation by emphasizing the actions you can take to help us accomplish our shared goal of a healthier NYC:
- Support our Vaccine Equity Initiative to ensure vaccine access and uptake among New Yorkers who need it most.
- Share our recently released a request for proposals with community organizations. We released this RFP on behalf of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to identify community partners to lead outreach, engagement and navigation in the 33 TRIE neighborhoods.
- Help us boost vaccine confidence by sharing your experience with friends, neighbors and loved ones. Here are some talking points for clinicians and healers that can also be used when talking to your own network: nyc.gov/VaccineTalks
- Request an in-home vaccination for a homebound community member: nyc.gov/vcc
We remain cautiously optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that together we can build a new system that is more equitable and just for those most vulnerable among us.
If you’d like to support the Health Department’s work, consider making a donation to the Fund for Public Health in NYC.