REP. MONDAIRE JONES REITERATES CALLS FOR MASS VACCINATION SITE IN ROCKLAND COUNTY
“As Governor Cuomo opens more mass vaccination sites across the state, it is unacceptable that Rockland County is being left behind.”
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY), sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker reiterating a months-long request to open a state-run mass vaccination site in Rockland County, one of the counties hardest hit by COVID-19 in the state.
Since the pandemic began, Rockland has recorded more than 39,000 positive cases of COVID-19, and as of March 4, 2021, 689 Rocklanders have died due to the pandemic. Over 12% of county residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the highest positivity rate of any county in all of New York State.
“As Governor Cuomo opens more mass vaccination sites across the state, it is unacceptable that Rockland County is being left behind,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones. “Rockland has had the highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 in the state, and it must be prioritized for vaccine distribution. We need to be making it easier, not harder, to get vaccinated, and that starts by opening a mass site in Rockland. If Governor Cuomo is to get serious about vaccinating every New Yorker, he will do so.”
Text of the letter can be found below and here.
Dear Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Zucker,
I write to reiterate and formalize the concerns I have shared with you and your staff over the past two months regarding the lack of a COVID-19 vaccination center in Rockland County. As you are aware, Rockland County has been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, there have been over 39,800 positive cases of COVID-19 in the County, and as of March 9, 2021, 694 Rocklanders have died due to the pandemic. The public health emergency in Rockland County has been particularly acute since the pandemic began and remains so today. Over 12% of county residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the highest positivity rate of any county in all of New York State. Despite the high concentration of COVID-19 cases in the county and the announcement this week of 10 new vaccination sites being added across the state, Rockland inexplicably remains without a mass vaccination site.
While Rockland County residents are able to make appointments at some of the mass vaccination sites located in surrounding counties, and many residents have done so, the lack of a Rockland County vaccination site creates an additional barrier for those residents already suffering the most as a result of the pandemic. Black, brown, low-income, elderly, and disabled residents of Rockland County are most in need of COVID-19 vaccinations and the least likely to access a vaccination site located in another county. Rockland County, for example, is 63% white, 18% Hispanic, 11% Black, and 6% Asian, yet 84% of individuals in the County who have received the vaccine are white.
I have heard from constituents across Rockland County who have been eligible for a vaccine since Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, but who cannot make or access a vaccination appointment. As one resident shared, “I am a 67 years old senior living in Rockland County, N.Y. who has been ‘left behind’ in the effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine distribution center which is open, granting appointments, and not restricted by zip code.” This sentiment has been shared time and again by residents of Rockland County, particularly by seniors with limited transportation options as a result of the pandemic or other factors outside of their control.
Members of our community should not have to jump through hoops or travel long distances to keep themselves and their families safe. As vaccine supply increases due to assistance from the federal government and we have the opportunity to vaccinate more New Yorkers, accessible vaccination sites in communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 become all the more important. Thank you in advance for your help. I am grateful for your attention to this matter as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and work to keep our communities safe and healthy.
About Mondaire: Mondaire Jones is the 33-year-old Congressman from New York’s 17th District, serving Westchester and Rockland Counties. He serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees and is the first openly gay, Black member of Congress. A product of East Ramapo public schools, Mondaire was raised in Section 8 housing and on food stamps in the Village of Spring Valley by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for their family. He later graduated from Stanford University, worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders, Inc. and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Most recently, Mondaire worked as a litigator in the Westchester County Law Department. In November, Mondaire was unanimously elected by his colleagues to be the Freshman Representative to Leadership, making him the youngest member of the Democratic House leadership team. In December, Jones was appointed a Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and became a Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. Mondaire was born and raised in Rockland, and resides in Westchester.