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COVID-19 metrics improving overall, but minority communities still ‘on fire,’ advocate says

Pharmacist Kathie McDonough reconstitutes the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as she fills syringes with the vaccine for the incoming public at the UMass Memorial Health Care Covid-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22, 2021.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Although rates of coronavirus have been declining statewide, the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition said Sunday that Black and Latino communities remain at critical risk.

While attention and resources slowly turn away from combating the pandemic, “we’re left with a community on fire,” said Dianne Wilkerson, cofounder of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition.

“Our fear — and I don’t use that lightly — we are scared to death that we are in the process we knew was coming when America and Boston moves on and the world opens up, and 65 and 70 percent of our respective population is unvaccinated with the delta variant from overseas on shore and coming for us,” said Wilkerson, a former state senator, in a phone interview Sunday.


“We are running to save lives,” she said.

Wilkerson said that about 65 percent of Black and 70 percent of Latino Bostonians remain unvaccinated and that accessibility is no longer the issue, citing a sudden drop-off in vaccination numbers in mid-May.

“Now what’s left are the people that need more information, who need hand-holding and were never going to come to a Reggie Lewis vaccination center,” she said.

Her organization has entered what Wilkerson called the “second phase” of their efforts, debuting a vaccination van over the weekend, and deploying a “whole army of outreach workers from this community” to knock on doors, put up flyers, and answer questions in a range of languages, she said.

The van will run three days a week through at least August, she said.

On Sunday, the state reported that there had been no additional deaths from the virus. It reported 33 new confirmed cases, raising the estimated active cases statewide to 2,695, with 133 people hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Vaccination numbers were lower than the previous two days, with the Department of Public Health reporting 15,438 more shots in arms.


The number of people fully vaccinated rose to 3,962,956, or about 56 percent of the state’s population.

Still, Wilkerson warned that remaining large disparities in vaccination rates between Boston’s Black and Latino neighborhoods and largely white areas like Newton could lead to a “musical chairs” situation as resources go away.

“The music stops, and all the people left standing are Black and Latino,” she said.

Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.