He couldn’t immunize himself against the controversies currently surrounding him, but on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo did get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Joined by friends and supporters on Wednesday, March 17, Cuomo received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, a pop-up site opened this week to address the racial and ethnic health disparities laid bare by the virus and the vaccine roll out.
“COVID may be race-blind, ethnic-blind, but COVID found the inequity in our society and it exploited the inequity,” Cuomo said. “When it now comes to doing the vaccines, we have to correct for that.”
Quoting the bible, the embattled governor said that now was the season to “rebuild.”
Cuomo is playing catch up after it was revealed that several state-run mass vaccination sites in New York City were primarily serving non-city residents. Additionally, the racial breakdown of vaccines given in the city have not corresponded with the racial breakdown of the city, with a disproportionate number of the shots going to the city’s white population, according to state data.
The Harlem pop-up site aims to battle some of that inequity.
Despite the narrative that communities of color – who have been the victims of countless medical tragedies at the hands of the government and scientific community throughout the county’s history – have not been getting inoculated because of a lack of trust, polling suggests the biggest impediment is access, according to a poll from the National Urban League.
“Access is the main issue,” said Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, adding that nearly 70 percent of Black, Latinx and Asian Americans polled said they were prepared to take the vaccine. “A lot of the distrust in the vaccine was driven by [former President Donald Trump]. And the numbers have changed and confidence has grown so that people are now prepared.”
The governor is protected
A slew of supporters, including Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, former Congressman Charles Rangel and Dr. Hazel Dukes, the president of the NAACP, praised Cuomo for his leadership throughout the pandemic on Wednesday.
“We have had the best of leadership under Governor Cuomo during this time of pandemic crisis,” said Reverend Dr. Johnnie Green, the senior pastor at Mount Neboh.
At least six women have accused the governor of sexual harassment and assault over the past several weeks. Despite the governor’s repeated denials of any wrongdoing and refusal to step down, state Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation into the allegations and the state Assembly is weighing the possibility of impeachment.
The allegations were alluded to only once Wednesday, when Rangel urged people to respect “due process.”
“Now why would the governor pick a time like this to come to Harlem to get his shot?” Rangel said. “You go to your family and you go to your friends [during a crisis] because you know that they’re going to be with you.”
On Tuesday, audio from a conversation between Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and his Democratic colleagues was leaked, Yahoo News reported.
During the conversation, Heastie expressed his desire to start an investigation before beginning the impeachment process.
Several assembly members, including some newer members like Queens assembly members Zohran Mamdani, Jessica González-Rojas and Khaleel Anderson, said impeachment must begin right away.