With the more transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly across the country, state health officials are urging New Yorkers to ignore the rhetoric and go get the vaccine.
During a COVID-19 briefing this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that nearly 75 percent of New Yorkers had been vaccinated, however, approximately 3.5 million people remain unvaccinated as the state contends with vaccine hesitancy among some communities.
“Those who are vaccinated reduce the risk of hospitalization by 94 percent, so if you're vaccinated, you’re much less likely to get COVID to begin with, and if you get it, it’s not as severe and you’re not hospitalized,” he said during a briefing on Monday. “Those are the facts.
“The problem now is vaccine hesitancy. There are a lot of problems to overcome after the past year.”
In response, the state announced it will be pledging $15 million for a COVID-19 vaccine outreach program that will be targeting ZIP codes with the lowest vaccine rates and rising infections.
“Denial does not work as a strategy. It does not work in life,” Cuomo said. "If you deny a problem, you are never going to solve it. If you deny that you have an issue, whatever it is, you're never going to solve it and you're condemned to living with it.”
According to the latest data from the state, the Delta variant accounts for more than 70 percent of new infections, particularly among the unvaccinated populations in New York.
“We're going to be smart, we’re going to look at the data, and we're looking at the 25 percent of the population that is unvaccinated, and we're going to target those areas,” Cuomo added. “That’s what we have to target. We know where this is happening and spreading.”
In all, Cuomo said that the state will be targeting 117 ZIP codes where vaccination rates trail the state average and are seeing increasing infection rates.
Of the communities being targeted, nearly 80 percent are on Long Island and in New York City, with more than a dozen ZIP codes in the Hudson Valley also identified as areas of concern.
The funds will be provided to:
- The Hispanic Federation ($5.5 million);
- Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies ($5.5 million);
- New York Immigration Coalition ($1 million);
- Asian American Federation ($1 million);
- Charles B. Wang Community Center ($1 million);
- APICHA Community Health Center: ($1 million).
“COVID-19 exposed longstanding inequities in our society, and we've seen evidence of that in both the positivity rate and the vaccination rate in communities that were hardest hit by the virus," Cuomo said.
"New York is pulling out all the stops to get shots in arms, and this budget funding will help us target outreach efforts in the state's most vulnerable communities to make sure that everyone is able to get vaccinated.
“We've made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, but there's more work to do, and this will help us protect communities across the state."
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