(CNN)A Covid-19 vaccination site in a Latino neighborhood in New York City hard hit by the pandemic saw an overwhelming number of White people from outside the community show up to get the shot this month, city leaders say, laying bare a national disparity that shows people of color are being vaccinated at dramatically lower rates.
A vaccination site meant to serve a hard-hit Latino neighborhood in New York instead serviced more Whites from other areas
The site at the Armory Track & Field Center in Washington Heights was launched Jan. 14 by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Vaccine appointments were initially offered to people age 65 and older who live in New York state.
Lawmakers who represent Washington Heights and a doctor who staffed the site last week said the first wave of vaccinations went to many White New Yorkers over 65 who traveled to the Armory from other parts of the city and state.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called it "outrageous."
"The more I learn about this, the angrier I get," de Blasio said during a virtual press briefing. "Somehow instead of focusing on the Latino community of Washington Heights, a place that really was hit hard by Covid, instead the approach was somehow conducive to folks from outside the community coming and getting vaccinated but not folks who live right there in Washington Heights. Totally backwards."
The issue at the Washington Heights site is a glaring example of the inequity in vaccine access across the country.
In a news release announcing the launch, Cuomo said the goal of the partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Irving Medical Center was "making sure New Yorkers of color aren't left behind."
CNN reached out to NewYork-Presbyterian on Wednesday to ask about the disparity and a hospital spokeswoman provided a statement saying "effective immediately" the site would dedicate all appointment slots to New York City residents, with at least 60% reserved for eligible residents in the Washington Heights, Inwood, North and Central Harlem, and South Bronx communities.