On Sunday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — a member of the so-called “Squad” of left-wing House Democrats along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — stated that she wanted to prioritize prisoners who have been incarcerated in the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines that are beginning to be doled out. Pressley also stated that President Trump and the GOP-led Senate had exhibited “willful criminality” and that the medical community had exacted “ostensibly medical apartheid on black Americans, on indigenous people … on our most marginalized communities.”
CNN host Abby Phillip prompted Pressley’s remarks by stating, “According to the CDC, black Americans are almost three times as likely to die from the coronavirus as white people. And yet, this poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 20 percent of blacks want to get the vaccine as soon as possible versus 40 percent of whites. You were vaccinated yesterday. You tweeted about it. What do you say to the majority of black people that say they’re not rushing to do what you did just yesterday?”
Yes, I did have the vaccine administered yesterday in order to maintain the continuity of government, but also because, you know, I live with like millions of Americans, two preexisting conditions, and doing my part both to keep myself safe so that I can continue to do my job to fight for my district and the American people, keeping my family safe but also stopping the spread of this virus which has raged out of control — which has everything to do with the willful criminality of Donald Trump and I would add even the GOP-led Senate because they have dragged their feet on making the investments necessary to meet the scale and scope of this hurt, and to invest in contact tracing and things like that.
So I do want to acknowledge that I had to overcome, you know, some of those distrust issues myself — the medical community exacting ostensibly medical apartheid on black Americans, on indigenous people … on our most marginalized communities. They have violated the trust, and that’s very real. And so I wanted to set an example. I trust Dr. Kenzie. I consulted with my husband and my health care provider, which is what I encourage others to do when making their own very personal decision.
But, you know, at the end of the day, I think this is what is in the best interest of our public health. I trust Dr. Kenzie, I trust the vaccine and that’s why I had it administered. And I want to say thank you to all the scientists and all the researchers.
And I’m going to continue to fight for our most vulnerable — communities who have been disproportionally impacted by the virus, for our health care workers, for our essential workers, for incarcerated men and women to be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine.