In an effort to help save lives of Black and Brown Californians who have been hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a new pledge to allocate up to 40% of existing vaccine doses to the state’s underserved communities. Health officials in the state hope the move will help to reduce deaths, slow the spread of the virus and also allow for a faster overall reopening of the economy.
California remains the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. According to CNN’s Stella Chan, it’s also the state with some of the largest disparities between individuals who have been impacted by the coronavirus and those who have been vaccinated against it.
“The largest disparities are present among Latinos in California — only 17% of doses administered have been given to Latinos, who make up 55% of all cases in the state,” Chan reported. “The largest share of doses — 32% — have been administered to white residents, who make up 20% of statewide cases.”
Special focus will also be placed on increasing distribution of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines in Los Angeles and the Central Valley — areas where income tends to be lower and disease rates are highest.
“This is gonna be stubborn, this is gonna be challenging,” Newsom said of the revised vaccine distribution plans in the state. “But we are doing something that is necessary at this moment. Not only to do the right thing to communities that have been disproportionately impacted, but also to safely reopen our economy.”
He then added to that sentiment, saying, “We will not mark real and demonstrable progress to address the issue of the hardest hit communities that have been underserved across the spectrum and currently are being underserved in terms of access to vaccinations.”
According to Chan, “California Public Health data shows the state’s Latino community has borne the greatest impact due to the pandemic. Around 46% of fatalities of those who’ve tested positive in the state are Latino.”
A total of 9.5 million vaccines have currently been administered across California. Of those, 1.6 million have currently been given in underserved areas. Newsom’s new pledge is intended to ramp up and equalize that distribution, making accessibility easier for all of California’s most at-risk citizens.