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The Black Equity Coalition Wants To Know More About Who’s Not Getting Vaccinated

Rogelio V. Solis
The Black Equity Coalition wants the state to release geographic data about who's been vaccinated so the coalition and other organizations can make plans to reach those who have yet to get the jab.

On today’s program: The Pittsburgh-based Black Equity Coalition tracks the rate of vaccinations among Black and white residents and wants the state to release more detailed data about who is and isn’t vaccinated; Heather McGhee discusses her book, “The Sum of Us,” about how racially motivated economic and policy decisions hurts everyone; and the commonwealth’s long history of voting by mail.

Black Equity Coalition report finds Black residents are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19
(0:00 — 7:02)

The COVID-19 vaccine has been available to all adults in Pennsylvania for three weeks now, but the distribution across the community has been uneven. According to state Department of Health data only about 18% of Black people have gotten one or both vaccine doses, but 44% of White people are partially or fully vaccinated.

The Black Equity Coalition highlighted this disparity in their report, “Missing Our Shot,” published last month. In it, they call on the state Health Department to release more detailed vaccination data by geography, perhaps even as granular as by census tracts, and age.

“We think this is vital information for local leaders and community organizations, groups the Black Equity Coalition partners with to run vaccine events and so forth, so that those public health responses to this crisis can be more effective in getting the vaccine to the population that hasn’t received it,” says report co-author Mickey McGlasson.

McGlasson says although vaccine hesitancy remains a problem in the U.S., studies suggest it’s more prevalent among white residents than Black.

“There will always probably be some people who are resistant to the idea of getting the vaccine,” explains co-author Jason Beery. “But there might be some people who are a little more willing to receive the vaccine with some more intentional efforts in reaching out to them.”

Beery says the Black Equity Coalition has been working to coordinate vaccination drives with other organizations.

McGlasson says despite these efforts and widening vaccine eligibility, “the rate of vaccination among Black residents in Allegheny County has gone down in that time.”

Author Heather McGhee’s new book explores how racially motivated economic policies are detrimental to the nation
(7:04 — 13:10)

Racially motivated policies and systems hurt communities of color, but not exclusively. In her new book, “The Sum of Us,” Heather McGhee writes how this racial hierarchy hurts everyone, including white Americans.

“There’s this view that...there’s not just one team: there’s an us and a them, and that progress for your opponents must mean that you are falling behind — progress for people of color in the racial sense has to come at the expense of white people,” says McGhee about the zero-sum attitude in American society that is explored in the book. “That’s not true in so many different ways.”

McGhee says policies that have excluded people of color have been detrimental to the overall growth of the nation's economy.

“It’s obviously costing us, and yet that zero-sum worldview makes so many white Americans resent policies that could help everyone.”

McGhee is speaking virtually today for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ “New and Noted” series.

Voting by mail has a long history in the Commonwealth
(13:12 — 18:00)

About 2.6 million Pennsylvanians cast their vote by mail in the November presidential election. So far about 750,000 voters have requested mail ballots for the May 18 primary for off-year elections.

Vote-by-mail was expanded in Pennsylvania by a 2019 law but as WLVR’s Megan Frank reports, that option is not necessarily new. It’s been around since the early days of our nation.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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