NYC’S Largest Network Of Latino Doctors SOMOS React To Washington Heights Variant

March 2, 2021

Today, the country’s largest network of Latino doctors, SOMOS Community Care, reacted to confirmation of a fast-spreading COVID-19 variant in Washington Heights.

This is with a strong push for the city, state, and federal officials to immediately partner with local community doctors to build and equip a vaccination mega-site in the hard-hit neighborhood and give doctors supplies to immunize 10,000 neighborhood residents per day, and to give community doctors additional supplies from the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine so that patients can be immunized directly in their family doctor’s office, which would be a first.

Physicians, led by Dr. Ramon Tallaj and Henry R. Muñoz, III, emphasized that knowledge of the variant going back to late 2020 made this demand that much more urgent – and stressed that all procedural barriers must be lifted to immediately facilitate a new mega-site staffed by Spanish-speaking doctors who can build trust with diverse local residents and get shots in arms before the variant spreads further and threatens hard-won progress against the virus that has been gained in recent weeks.

Dr. Tallaj and Mr. Muñoz issued the following statement:

“Our community is among the hardest-hit in the country and it is entirely unacceptable that the government knew of a dangerous variant in our neighborhood since November and there’s still no mega-site to vaccinate a community that has lost thousands of residents to COVID-19. To protect vulnerable residents, we are calling on the city, state, and federal officials to work with Dr. Anthony Fauci to immediately address this crisis by working with local, Spanish-speaking doctors to build a mega-site by March 10th that can vaccinate 10,000 residents per day and to ensure that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also given directly to community doctors for in-office use. That’s the only way we get shots in the arms that need them – by giving doctors doses directly.”

SOMOS Community care is vaccinating about 20,000 New Yorkers per week at a range of immunization sites, including Yankee Stadium, Aqueduct Race Track, and sites at NYC public schools, NYCHA housing, and community and senior centers.

Doctors have the capacity if given doses directly to significantly ramp up vaccines, with the possibility of leveraging their 3,000-doctor-strong network to vaccinate 1 million New Yorkers in the next month.

SOMOS physicians ran over 50 trilingual testing sites during the first wave of the pandemic in New York, Georgia, Texas, and Florida and are currently testing in over 450 New York City public schools.

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