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Coronavirus pandemic | 2 hard-hit cities and the diverging fates in vaccine rollout

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, public health experts, civil rights groups and immigrant activists have been complaining for months that the state isn't doing nearly enough to make sure its Black and Latino residents are inoculated.

February 26, 2021 / 07:30 PM IST
Mario Valdez, his wife and their 18-year-old son were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 this month as part of a special effort to inoculate every resident of Central Falls, the Rhode Island community hit hardest by the pandemic. “I feel happy,” the 62-year-old school bus driver said shortly after receiving his second and final dose. “Too many people here have COVID. It’s better to be safe.” (Image: AP)
Mario Valdez, his wife and their 18-year-old son were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 this month as part of a special effort to inoculate every resident of Central Falls, the Rhode Island community hit hardest by the pandemic. “I feel happy,” the 62-year-old school bus driver said shortly after receiving his second and final dose. “Too many people here have COVID. It’s better to be safe.” (Image: AP)
Roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) across the state line is Chelsea, a Massachusetts city that was an early epicenter of the virus. Like Central Falls, it’s a tiny former industrial city that is overwhelmingly Latino. Residents of both cities live in dense rows of triple-decker homes and apartment complexes, providing the workforce for their respective state capitals of Providence and Boston. (Image: AP)
Roughly 50 miles (80 kilometres) across the state line is Chelsea, a Massachusetts city that was an early epicentre of the virus. Like Central Falls, it’s a tiny former industrial city that is overwhelmingly Latino. Residents of both cities live in dense rows of triple-decker homes and apartment complexes, providing the workforce for their respective state capitals of Providence and Boston. (Image: AP)
But the two cities’ fortunes could not be more different during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Chelsea high school sophomore Mannix Resto fears that Massachusetts’ slow pace of vaccinations will continue to prevent students from attending classes in person. The 15-year-old says no one in his family has been vaccinated yet as the state focuses on front-line workers and residents who are older or have serious health conditions. (Image: AP)
But the two cities’ fortunes could not be more different during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Chelsea high school sophomore Mannix Resto fears that Massachusetts’ slow pace of vaccinations will continue to prevent students from attending classes in person. The 15-year-old says no one in his family has been vaccinated yet as the state focuses on front-line workers and residents who are older or have serious health conditions. (Image: AP)
Rhode Island began offering vaccinations to elderly Central Falls residents in late December and gradually expanded it so that anyone 18 or older who lives or works in the city is now eligible. (Image: AP)
Rhode Island began offering vaccinations to elderly Central Falls residents in late December and gradually expanded it so that anyone 18 or older who lives or works in the city is now eligible. (Image: AP)
Nearly a third of adults in the city have received at least one dose of vaccine and about 16 percent are fully vaccinated, according to state data. Health officials say the city of about 20,000 has seen a marked drop in COVID-19 cases as a result. (Image: AP)
Nearly a third of adults in the city have received at least one dose of vaccine and about 16 percent are fully vaccinated, according to state data. Health officials say the city of about 20,000 has seen a marked drop in COVID-19 cases as a result. (Image: AP)
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, public health experts, civil rights groups and immigrant activists have been complaining for months that the state isn't doing nearly enough to make sure Black and Latino residents are inoculated. (Image: AP)
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, public health experts, civil rights groups and immigrant activists have been complaining for months that the state isn't doing nearly enough to make sure Black and Latino residents are inoculated. (Image: AP)
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, public health experts, civil rights groups and immigrant activists have been complaining for months that the state isn't doing nearly enough to make sure Black and Latino residents are inoculated. (Image: AP)
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, public health experts, civil rights groups and immigrant activists have been complaining for months that the state isn't doing nearly enough to make sure Black and Latino residents are inoculated. (Image: AP)
White residents have so far received 66 percent of all doses in the state while Black residents have received about 5 percent and Latino residents 4 percent, according to state data. Meanwhile, Black and Latino residents are dying from the virus at three times the rate of whites in the state by some measures, and Chelsea remains one of the state's hardest hit communities, with a COVID-19 positivity rate higher than the state's. (Image: AP)
White residents have so far received 66 percent of all doses in the state while Black residents have received about 5 percent and Latino residents 4 percent, according to state data. Meanwhile, Black and Latino residents are dying from the virus at three times the rate of whites in the state by some measures, and Chelsea remains one of the state's hardest hit communities, with a COVID-19 positivity rate higher than the state's. (Image: AP)
Some states and counties have taken different approaches to ensuring vaccines are fairly distributed to communities of color, but too many government leaders are reluctant to fully embrace the strategies as a necessity, says Dr. Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of the public health program at the University of California, Irvine. (Image: AP)
Some states and counties have taken different approaches to ensure vaccines are fairly distributed to communities of colour, but too many government leaders are reluctant to fully embrace the strategies as a necessity, says Dr. Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of the public health program at the University of California, Irvine. (Image: AP)
Until hard-hit communities are properly addressed, their residents will continue to spread the infection, ensuring the virus persists, she and other experts say. “If the pandemic is a fire, the vaccination is the water," Boden-Albala said. "You need to bring it to where the fire is burning the most, or you’ll never put it out.” (Image: AP)
Until hard-hit communities are properly addressed, their residents will continue to spread the infection, ensuring the virus persists, she and other experts say. “If the pandemic is a fire, the vaccination is the water," Boden-Albala said. "You need to bring it to where the fire is burning the most, or you’ll never put it out.” (Image: AP)
To be sure, Rhode Island and Massachusetts leaders have both faced withering criticism about the slow pace of vaccinations overall in their states. And the vaccine rollout hasn’t been all smooth sailing in Central Falls. (Image: AP)
To be sure, Rhode Island and Massachusetts leaders have both faced withering criticism about the slow pace of vaccinations overall in their states. And the vaccine rollout hasn’t been all smooth sailing in Central Falls. (Image: AP)
Mayor Maria Rivera, who took office in January, says the state hasn’t provided additional resources or manpower for the rollout in Central Falls, which went bankrupt during the 2008 recession and emerged from state receivership in 2013. The city’s main vaccination site, held every Saturday at the high school gymnasium, is an almost entirely volunteer operation. (Image: AP)
Mayor Maria Rivera, who took office in January, says the state hasn’t provided additional resources or manpower for the rollout in Central Falls, which went bankrupt during the 2008 recession and emerged from state receivership in 2013. The city’s main vaccination site, held every Saturday at the high school gymnasium, is an almost entirely volunteer operation. (Image: AP)
Rivera says city volunteers have been going door-to-door registering residents unwilling or unable to sign up for appointments online or by phone. They've also had to reassure residents living in the country illegally that they won’t be targeted by immigrant enforcement officials for seeking a shot, she says. (Image: AP)
Rivera says city volunteers have been going door-to-door registering residents unwilling or unable to sign up for appointments online or by phone. They've also had to reassure residents living in the country illegally that they won’t be targeted by immigration enforcement officials for seeking a shot, she says. (Image: AP)
According to data provided by Rivera’s office this week, nearly 40 percent of doses have gone to Latinos and 27 percent to whites at three of the city’s main vaccination sites. Another 23 percent of vaccine recipients didn't provide their race or ethnicity, and demographic data wasn’t available for other vaccine locations, the office said. (Image: AP)
According to data provided by Rivera’s office this week, nearly 40 percent of doses have gone to Latinos and 27 percent to whites at three of the city’s main vaccination sites. Another 23 percent of vaccine recipients didn't provide their race or ethnicity, and demographic data wasn’t available for other vaccine locations, the office said. (Image: AP)
Across the state line in Chelsea, Vega's organization has partnered with a community health center to launch a public vaccination site at its office on Broadway. Vega says bringing the site to the city was a hard-fought achievement by local advocates. The only mass vaccination site the state has so far opened in a Boston-area community of color is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Chelsea, in Boston’s historically Black Roxbury neighborhood, she and other advocates say. (Image: AP)
Across the state line in Chelsea, Vega's organization has partnered with a community health centre to launch a public vaccination site at its office on Broadway. Vega says bringing the site to the city was a hard-fought achievement by local advocates. The only mass vaccination site the state has so far opened in a Boston-area community of color is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Chelsea, in Boston’s historically Black Roxbury neighbourhood, she and other advocates say. (Image: AP)
Across the state line in Chelsea, Vega's organization has partnered with a community health center to launch a public vaccination site at its office on Broadway. Vega says bringing the site to the city was a hard-fought achievement by local advocates. The only mass vaccination site the state has so far opened in a Boston-area community of color is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Chelsea, in Boston’s historically Black Roxbury neighborhood, she and other advocates say. (Image: AP)
Across the state line in Chelsea, Vega's organization has partnered with a community health centre to launch a public vaccination site at its office on Broadway. Vega says bringing the site to the city was a hard-fought achievement by local advocates. The only mass vaccination site the state has so far opened in a Boston-area community of colour is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from Chelsea, in Boston’s historically Black Roxbury neighbourhood, she and other advocates say. (Image: AP)
The clinic has vaccinated more than 900 since opening February 4, but the numbers are expected to rise this week as more people in the state now qualify, according to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, which operates the site. (Image: AP)
The clinic has vaccinated more than 900 since opening February 4, but the numbers are expected to rise this week as more people in the state now qualify, according to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, which operates the site. (Image: AP)
Out on Broadway that same day, the opening of the clinic was largely met with shrugs and indifference, suggesting officials have a long road ahead to win over skeptical residents. (Image: AP)
Out on Broadway that same day, the opening of the clinic was largely met with shrugs and indifference, suggesting officials have a long road ahead to win over sceptical residents. (Image: AP)
Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera is already dreaming of the return of beloved community events, like the city’s summertime salsa nights. She says the city is on pace to inoculate most residents by the summer. “I’m looking forward to the day we don’t have to wear face masks," Rivera said while volunteering recently at the high school site.
Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera is already dreaming of the return of beloved community events, like the city’s summertime salsa nights. She says the city is on pace to inoculate most residents by the summer. “I’m looking forward to the day we don’t have to wear face masks," Rivera said while volunteering recently at the high school site.
Resident Mario Valdez has equally modest hopes. Now that he and his family are fully inoculated, they’re making plans to fly to his native Guatemala in July, a trip they make nearly every year to visit relatives. “It’s going to be great,” he said. “We love it down there.” (Image: AP)
Resident Mario Valdez has equally modest hopes. Now that he and his family are fully inoculated, they’re making plans to fly to his native Guatemala in July, a trip they make nearly every year to visit relatives. “It’s going to be great,” he said. “We love it down there.” (Image: AP)
Associated Press

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