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Tri-State Area Leaders Trying To Bridge Racial Divide In COVID Vaccine Distribution

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New York and New Jersey political and religious leaders are coming together to ensure everyone gets the COVID vaccine, and they're getting help from President Joe Biden's COVID response team; CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer has the story.

Video Transcript

- And now to the multipronged efforts to breach the racial divide in vaccine distribution in our area.

- New York and New Jersey political and religious leaders are coming together to ensure everyone gets vaccinated. And they're getting help from the White House. CBS 2 political reporter Marcia Kramer has the story.

MARCIA KRAMER: Reverend Joe Carter of New Hope Baptist church in Newark was one of a number of black leaders bearing their arms for the COVID vaccine, hoping to demonstrate to members of their community that if they can overcome their own skepticism and distrust, they can too.

JOE CARTER: I'm not here just for me. I'm here for those who are watching me and influenced by me.

- Let us pray.

MARCIA KRAMER: Members of the Newark faith community forming a partnership with Essex County executives to roll up their sleeves and get the shot. The county has had the most COVID deaths in New Jersey, 55% in the Black and Brown community.

JOSEPH DIVINCENZO, JR: We have to touch everyone from one end of the county to the other end of the county.

MARCIA KRAMER: In New York, Governor Cuomo announcing his own partnership with the federal government to open two mass vaccination sites in New York City in communities of color. One will be at York College in Jamaica, Queens, the other at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Both will have the capacity to vaccinate 15,000 people a week, double the capacity of sites already up at the Javits Center and Yankee Stadium. The big news, that the federal government will supply the vaccine over and above New York's regular allotment.

JEFF ZIENTS: These new centers will focus on serving the hardest-hit, hardest to reach populations.

MARCIA KRAMER: Also joining Governor Cuomo was Marc Morial of the Urban League, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, and the Reverend Al Sharpton, all urging minority communities to overcome government distrust.

AL SHARPTON: Many in the African-American community don't trust vaccines because of the past abuses. But this vaccine is different. And we have to get out there and say that.

MARCIA KRAMER: The Reverend Sharpton says he intends to go to one of the new vaccination sites and get a shot as a symbol to others. The governor was appreciative.

ANDREW CUOMO: Your voice, the ministers' voices, I think, are very, very important here.

MARCIA KRAMER: The new mass vaccination sites will be in addition to those currently being held at public housing sites and churches in the minority communities. I'm Marcia Kramer, CBS 2 News.