December 10, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Issues Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Urging Equity and Expeditious Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Governor Cuomo Issues Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Urging Equity and Expeditious Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and a coalition of groups today issued a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for a fair and equitable federal vaccination program. The current federal distribution program still remains focused on a misguided distribution plan which ignores Black, Brown, Asian and poor communities. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York has fought to modify the plan to engage community and faith-based leaders to instill confidence in the vaccine, and assist with its distribution to these historically underserved communities.

"As we approach the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program, I continue to urge the federal government to amend their plans to include equitable distribution in the communities hardest hit by the pandemic," Governor Cuomo said. "Black, Hispanic, Asian and low-income communities paid the highest price during COVID-19. Historically underserved by healthcare institutions, it is up to the federal government to rectify their program to focus on providing these communities with the highest quality care and access to the vaccine. With the first round of vaccines being distributed as soon as next week, there is no time to waste. I urge the administration to act and provide solutions quickly."

The full text of the letter is below:

December 10, 2020

Dear Secretary Azar:

We stand together in expressing serious concern with the Trump administration's vaccine distribution plan. While we are encouraged by recent reports regarding the vaccines' efficacy, there is urgent work to be done to ensure vaccination efforts are both expeditious and fair.

Governors need federal funding in order to execute comprehensive distribution plans to guarantee that all communities have access to the vaccine. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials estimates that a comprehensive vaccine distribution program would cost approximately $8 billion. To date, the Trump Administration has administered a mere $200 million to the states.

Without adequate funding, distribution will not be equitable. COVID-19 has laid bare chronic health disparities in our country that led communities of color to suffer disproportionately from this virus. Communities of color disproportionately suffer from pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, obesity and hypertension, that compound the harm the virus can cause -- Black Americans died at twice the rate of white Americans due to COVID, and Latinos died at one and a half times the rate of whites. The underlying reality is that communities of color lack access to healthcare institutions and services. But in its current form, the Trump Administration's vaccine plan relies on private health facilities that have historically excluded Black and brown communities. By relying on a flawed, biased system, the administration's approach will only serve to further widen existing disparities in health outcomes.

The essential workers who carried this nation through the worst of this pandemic are predominately people of color. They especially deserve a national vaccine plan designed to ensure they are protected.

Marc Morial, undersigned and the President and CEO of the National Urban League, has said the Trump Administration's plan is, "thoughtless, careless and needs to be taken back to the drawing board." Derrick Johnson, undersigned and President and CEO of the NAACP, has said that, "any introduction of a vaccine plan devoid of the infrastructure we know is effective within the Black community reinforces the same incompetence that has affected far too many communities that have been neglected in the midst of this global pandemic." The Reverend Al Sharpton, undersigned and the President and Founder of National Action Network said, "I've seen this movie before. Many Black Americans live in healthcare deserts, where there are no hospitals or healthcare centers in our area. This has hurt us badly during the COVID crisis. This unfair treatment is about to happen again. I don't see how we will see equal distribution of the vaccine based on the federal plan. That must be fixed immediately."

The Black and brown communities that were first on the list of who died from COVID cannot be last on the list of who receives the vaccine. Our federal government needs to stand up and deliver a world-class vaccination program that quickly and comprehensively reaches underserved communities of color. The private market alone is incapable. We need to enlist faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups and local non-profits with deep roots in Black, brown and poor communities to get this done. And we need the funding to do so.

This pandemic cannot end, and our country will not truly be safe, until everyone has access to a vaccine. The Trump Administration must implement a national vaccine plan that does not leave any community behind, and it must do so now. Time is short. We stand prepared to work with your team and the federal government to execute a vaccination program worthy of these United States.


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Derrick Johnson
President & CEO

Marc Morial
President & CEO
National Urban League

Reverend Al Sharpton
President & Founder
National Action Network

Wilbur Aldridge
Mid Hudson/Westchester Regional Director
NAACP New York State Conference

Kevin W. Alexander
President & CEO
Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation

Gregory Anderson
President & CEO
Bridge Street Development Corporation

Phillip Andrews
Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

Bishop Dr. Roger Ball
Founding Pastor
Family Worship Center

Mark Barbee
International Representative
UAW Region 9

Daniel Barber
CCOP President
NYCHA Citywide Council of Presidents

Thomas Beauford, Jr.
President & CEO
Buffalo Urban League

Reverend Dr. A. R. Bernard
Senior Pastor
Christian Cultural Center

Twiggy Billue
National Action Network Syracuse Chapter

Reverend Mark E. Blue
Buffalo Branch NAACP

Kyle Bragg

Bishop Victor A. Brown
Senior Pastor
Mount Sinai United Christian Church, Inc.

Linda Brown-Robinson
Syracuse Onondaga NAACP

Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts
Senior Pastor
Abyssinian Baptist Church

Joy D. Calloway
Interim CEO
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York

Reverend Dr. Demetrius S. Carolina, Sr.
Pastor & Executive Director
First Central Baptist Church, The Central Family Life Center

Robin Chappelle Golston
President & CEO
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts

Dr. Isma H. Chaudhry
Chair, Board of Trustees
Islamic Center of Long Island

Dr. Linda Clark
President & Co-Founder
Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester

Bishop Dr. Ismael Claudio
Senior Pastor
Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ, Inc.

Claudia Coger
Tenant Association President
Astoria Houses

Annie Cotton-Morris
Queens District Chair

Reverend Charles A. Coverdale
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Riverhead

Shirley E. Coverdale
President & CEO
Family Community Life Center, Inc.

Reverend Dr. Phil Craig
The Greater Springfield Community Church

Robert Darby
Bakery Confectionary Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 36G

Reverend Troy DeCohen
United Black Clergy of Westchester

Walter Dixie
Executive Director
Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, Inc.

George R. Dixon
NAACP Corona East Elmhurst Chapter

Jacob Dixon
Choice for All

Hazel Dukes
NAACP New York State Conference

Tracey Edwards
Long Island Regional Director
NAACP New York State Conference

Archbishop Eric Figueroa, Sr.
Sentior Pastor, New Life Tabernacle
Metropolitan Archbishop of New Life Covenant Archdiocese

Bishop Orlando Findlayter
Senior Pastor
New Hope Christian Fellowship

Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake
Greater Allen AME Cathedral

Reverend Dr. Floyd Flake
Senior Pastor
Greater Allen AME Cathedral

Richard Flateau
Brooklyn Community Planning Board #3

Gregory Floyd
President, Teamsters Local 237
Vice President-At Large, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Board

Pastor James Giles
President & CEO
Back To Basics Outreach Ministries, Inc.

Reverend Dr. Johnnie Green
Senior Pastor
Mount Neboh Baptist Church

George Gresham
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Elaine Gross
Founder & President
ERASE Racism

Dr. Janice Harbin
President & CEO
Anthony Jordan Medical Center

Bishop Lionel Harvey
Senior Pastor/Teacher, First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury
Presiding Bishop, Sword of the Spirit Christian Fellowship, Inc.

Mark Henry
Amalgamated Transit Local #1056

Nicky Hylton-Patterson
Executive Director
Adirondack Diversity Initiative

Reverend Daren C. Jaime
People's African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Reverend Larry Jennings, Sr.
NAACP Huntington Branch

Dr. Berenecea Johnson-Eanes
York College

Bishop George Max Jones
Senior Pastor
Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, Syracuse

Dominique Jones
Executive Director
Boys & Girls Club of Harlem

Vira Lynn Jones
Executive Director
Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art

Jennifer Jones Austin
CEO & Executive Director
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies

Hope Knight
President & CEO
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation

Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi
Vice President
Albanian Islamic Cultural Center

Reverend Dr. Adolphus Lacey
Senior Pastor
Bethany Baptist Church

Maggie Larkins
Community Leader
Far Rockaway

H. Carl McCall
Chairman Emeritus
State University of New York

Wendy McClinton
President & CEO
Black Veterans for Social Justice, Inc.

Bishop Isaac Melton
Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church of Long Beach

Terrence L. Melvin
New York State AFL-CIO

Reverend Greg Merriweather
Calvary Baptist Church

William King Moss III
NAACP Islip Town Branch

Reverend Dr. Les Mullings
Senior Pastor
Community Church of the Nazarene, Far Rockaway

Jacqueline Nelson

Wade Norwood
Common Ground Health

Dr. Philip Ozuah
President & CEO
Montefiore Medical Center

Angelica Perez-Delgado
President & CEO
Ibero American Action League

Marques Phillips
Director of City Initiatives
City of Utica

Reverend Gilbert Pickett, Sr.
Senior Pastor, Mount Horeb Baptist Church
Moderator, Eastern Baptist Association of New York, Inc.

Mimi Pierre Johnson
President & CEO
Elmont Cultural Center

Barbara Powell
NAACP Hempstead Branch

Dr. Frances E. Pratt
Nyack Branch NAACP

Candace Prince-Modeste
NAACP Jamaica Branch

Jonelle Procope
President and CEO
Apollo Theater

Charles Rangel
Former Congressman
New York 13th Congressional District

Jawwaad Rasheed
Mohawk Valley Frontiers

Arva Rice
President & CEO
New York Urban League

Bishop Calvin Rice
Senior Pastor
New Jerusalem Worship Center

Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson
Senior Pastor, Grace Baptist Church
Chairman, National Action Network

Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney
Chief of Staff & Chief Diversity Officer
Buffalo State, State University of New York

Me'Shae Rolling
Executive Director
Upstate Minority Economic Alliance

Steven Rubenstein
Association for a Better New York

Davon Russell

Theresa Sanders
President & CEO
Urban League of Long Island

Dr. Claudia V. Schrader
Kingsborough Community College

Clifford Scott
Executive Director
Niagara Falls Housing Authority

Larry Scott Blackmon
New York Association of Chapters of Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
100 Black Men

Iesha Sekou
CEO & Founder
Street Corner Resources

William Simmons
Executive Director
Syracuse Housing Authority

April Simpson
Former Tenant Association President
Queensbridge Houses

Joanne N. Smith
President & CEO
Girls for Gender Equity

Dr. Ty Stone
Jefferson Community College

Lawrence Street
NAACP Eastern Long Island Branch

Farah Tanis
Co-Executive Director
Black Women's BluePrint

Reverend Dr. Elgin Joseph Taylor
Vice President At-Large
Empire Baptist Missionary Convention of NY, Inc.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor
Urban Upbound

William C. Thompson, Jr.
CUNY Board of Trustees

Djounedou Titikpina
African People Alliance, Inc.

Pastor David Traynham
Chairman & Executive Director
ALERT Partnership, Inc.

Steven Tucker
President & CEO
Northland Workforce Traning Center

Reverend Dr. Carl Washington, Jr.
Convention President
Empire Baptist Missionary Convention of NY, Inc.

Carol Wilkins
Resident Association President
Ravenswood Houses

Tamika Williams-Moore
Tenant Association President
Pomonok Houses

Imam Abdul-Rahman Yaki
Islamic Center of the Capital District

Reverend Patrick H. Young
First Baptist Church of Corona

Rahsmia Zatar
Executive Director

Ny Whitaker
East Harlem Community Alliance


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