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Brooklyn Officials, Residents Say Hardest Hit Neighborhoods Need More Vaccine Outreach: 'We're Still In Mourning'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- CBS2 is continuing its look at the communities hardest hit by the COVID pandemic.

As the infection rate keeps increasing, the race is on to ramp up vaccination efforts.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports on why Brooklyn City Council members say more outreach is needed in their community.

Clay Williams stood in line for a rapid COVID test in Sunset Park.

There in the 11220 zip code, the infection rate is at an alarming 13.72%

"It's not like neighborhoods in Manhattan or even Park Slope," Williams told CBS2. "The folks here don't have country houses. They're not leaving town. The neighborhood has really been here."

MORE: High COVID-19 Positivity Rates In Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park And Corona Queens Have Officials Searching For Answers

The neighborhood, like so many in Brooklyn, is home to essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

"People talk about the neighborhood that died, and that is no longer here," City Council member Carlos Mechaca, of District 38, said. "So we're still in mourning right now."

Not far away in the 11204 zip code of Bensonhurst and Mapleton there's a similar somber reality as the infection rate has soared to 13.34%

"My district has the fifth highest death rate per capita in the entire city of New York," said City Council member Mark Treyger, of District 47.

That's why the vaccine rollout is so dire there, but council members say it comes with too many barriers.

"What we're struggling with is to get good information, timely information, translated information to our neighbors," Mechaca said.

MORE: City Officials Searching For Answers For High COVID-19 Positivity Rates In Manhattan's Washington Heights And Inwood

According to the Census Bureau, 45% of Brooklyn residents speak a language other than English. Council members say the city needs to do far more to communicate with every resident and streamline the process to get the healthcare they need -- especially when it comes to vaccine.

"If you're a senior that's not very apt and technology savvy, if you're an immigrant family whose primary language is not English, this rollout was not for you," said Treyger.

Ten months into the pandemic, there continues to be an uphill battle.

"Where is that sense of urgency? Where is that fire?" Treyger added.


"So when the vaccine rollout comes out, it's on top of so much distrust," said Mechaca.

Now more than ever, efforts are crucial to bridge the divide as the pandemic rages on.

The New York City health commissioner told City Council there's a plan to work with community groups with credibility in hard hit communities.

There's also a plan to provide more information in different languages.


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