D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser continues to call on the federal government to provide more doses of coronavirus vaccines for the nation’s capital. At the same time, she's also defending the District's allocation process that has some concerned about the gap between affluent white residents getting the shots compared to poorer Black residents.
As millions of Americans have already received the vaccine, District leaders continue to point out that D.C. isn't getting its fair share, despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to increase shipments by 15%.
"While that is welcome news, we know, too, that we will continue to have less vaccine than we need to meet the demand for D.C. residents," Bowser said.
Bowser has been distributing face masks printed with the message, "DC needs more vaccine."
With an increase in the number of doses coming to the District starting next week, the mayor still could not say when more people would be eligible. Private school teachers, child care workers and grocery store employees would be next in line.
"Soon. I don’t know exactly when," Bowser said. "It depends on availability."
The District’s health director addressed a graphic on the health department's website that illustrates that nearly 6,000 residents over age 65 in the more affluent Wards 3 and 4 have received their shots, compared to fewer than 1,400 residents in Wards 7 and 8.
"When we polled in the District of Columbia, 96% of white non-Hispanic D.C. residents were willing to accept the vaccine ... compared to 61% of those who identified as Black non-Hispanic or African American," said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health.
"Sixty-five-year-olds are not equitably distributed across the District of Columbia," she said. "... The highest proportion of the District's 65-and-older residents live in Wards 3 and 4; the lowest percentage [live] in Ward 7 and 8. Every ward doesn’t have the same number of senior citizens."
The District plans to start releasing data that will show vaccine distribution by race starting next week.
There is good news when it comes to the spread of the virus in D.C.: The daily case rate is slowly decreasing.