Baton Rouge, La. – February 5, 2021 – Today National Public Radio released an article that discusses the inequity of COVID-19 vaccine sites across the South. East Baton Rouge Parish was mentioned as one of these cities. As your Mayor-President I want you to know this weighs heavy on my heart. Access to healthcare has been a priority for my administration since day one. Since taking office we’ve helped expand access to primary care, urgent care, specialty care and emergency care across North Baton Rouge. We know these issues were not created overnight and it will not be solved overnight, but I want you to know this is a top priority for my administration, and we will continue to work with partners in addressing these gaps in access through my Healthy BR initiative.
When the pandemic hit East Baton Rouge Parish almost one year ago, access to testing was a challenge. That is why we stood up the first community testing site in the state in Mid City and then opened our second community testing site in North Baton Rouge at OLOL North Clinic. We’ve also consistently worked with our local Federally Qualified Health Centers to expand access and testing in underserved communities. We have taken great strides to partner with community organizations such as the Council on Aging to help fill the gap to access in our most underserved communities. We continue to work and expand access to testing, like with the relaunch of our Geaux Get Tested program announced yesterday, which specifically looks at more equitable testing in underserved communities.
This now brings us to vaccines. As you’ve heard me say before, we do not have a local health department in East Baton Rouge and city budgets were not designed for pandemics like this, but I want you to know I work every day to advocate for more access, more testing and more vaccines in our community. That is why in addition to continuing to engage our medical community on our weekly calls, we will be launching a community task force to look at how we can be more equitable with our vaccine distribution and better message the importance of getting the vaccine to our under-represented communities.
Again, I want you to know as your Mayor-President I hear your concerns and share your passion for addressing this issue. I will do everything within my power to make our community a healthier and more equitable place for ALL residents.