Hempstead mayor calls for vaccine equality

Crowds wearing masks gathered in the Village of Hempstead on Monday for the swearing-in of Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. The public show of support for Hobbs was a slew of elected officials, including members of Congress and former New York Gov. David Paterson. They came together in one of the state's largest African American and Latino communities. 

"Our community was affected the most with this coronavirus," Hobbs said. 

Born and raised in Hempstead, Hobbs, who is a bishop, is calling for vaccine equality in his community, which has some of the highest COVID rates on Long Island.

FOX 5 NY asked Hobbs about his plans to get more shots in the arms of his residents. 

"We are grateful for the pop-up locations [Gov. Cuomo] has brought but we haven't had enough notice so we can make sure that Hempstead residents are the first to receive the vaccination," he said. 

Hobbs said Long Islanders from other towns come to Hempstead to get shots. He said he is working with Cuomo to guarantee that the village will get more notice before a vaccine site comes to the area. This way, the village will have more time to notify community members.

Belinda Watkins of the Hempstead Chamber of Commerce said communication is the real problem. 

"When they tell us the vaccine is coming, they tell us [at the] last minute," Watkins said. "We know this is a working community. Most people are working two jobs so by the time 5 o'clock hits they are either tired and already home and they're not going to come back out." 

This push for more vaccines and better communication in Hempstead comes after President Biden announced that 90% of Americans will have a vaccination site within five miles of their homes by April 19.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 5 NY News app. Download for FREE!