Although the COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives, we know that this disease has not affected everyone equally. Black and Latino District residents—who are more likely than white residents to work frontline jobs, rely on public transit, and live in multi-generational households—have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at two to three times the rate of white residents. And, tragically, people of color have accounted for 89% of the District’s COVID-19 deaths.
This undisputed reality must inform our vaccine distribution strategy. We must ensure that those already most at-risk of illness and death are not further disadvantaged by this process. We are fortunate to have effective vaccines that will hopefully bring this crisis to an end. We expect millions of doses to become available across the country in the coming months. They will be delivered through national pharmacy chains that have years of experience in delivering vaccinations at a mass scale. But for now, while supplies remain scarce, it is critical that every available dose is allocated fairly and equitably.
That is why I am advocating for changes to the vaccine distribution process that will help to address the racial and income-related disparities in access we have already seen. To that end, OAG testified before the Council this week to advocate for policies that will break down barriers vulnerable residents face when trying to get vaccinated, including:
- More offline registration options to offset the digital divide.
- More vaccination sites and more varied appointment times to account for mobility barriers and working families' schedules.
- Better data on race and ethnicity to promote transparency, accountability, and, importantly, to inform future targeting decisions.
- Better outreach plans to promote access for special populations, such as those receiving home healthcare.
- More robust communication to overcome misinformation and understandable misgivings due to historical discrimination on the part of the medical services and research community.
While we push for these reforms, I urge eligible District residents to speak with their doctors and do everything they can to get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to healthcare workers and those aged 65 and older, child care professionals, teachers and school staff, first responders, as well essential workers, including a limited number of government employees essential to the continuity of government. For more information or to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, visit coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccinatedc. This site also offers links to schedule appointments directly through the District’s hospital systems and health centers for current and recent patients who are 65 and older—but appointments are limited.
We know that beyond access, there is fear and uncertainty in many communities regarding the vaccine. If you have been fortunate enough to receive the vaccine—as I was last week—I encourage you to share your story with your friends, family, and neighbors to combat this fear. It’s been five days since my first shot, and I have felt great. I’m looking forward to getting my second shot later this month.
Karl A. Racine
WIN: Ward 5 Property Owners Charged $350k for Toxic Oil Leaks and Spills
AG Racine secured a settlement with the owners of a Ward 5 commercial property for improperly storing hazardous waste and allowing used oil to spill and leak into District storm sewers and other public spaces. As part of the settlement, the property owner will have to pay the District $350,000 in civil penalties.
District residents should report suspected violations of environmental law to the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) through a smartphone app available here.
Fighting for Environmental Justice in the District
AG Racine sued a trash transfer facility in Northeast D.C. for repeatedly discharging petroleum and construction waste into District waters, including the Anacostia River. Despite repeated citations by the DOEE for water and air quality violations, the facility continued its illegal activity. OAG is seeking an injunction to stop future discharges by the facility and civil penalties. Read more about the case here.
Defending District Law That Protects Residents from Eviction Filings
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented financial hardship for District families; they don’t need the added threat of an eviction filing looming over them too. After a D.C. Superior Court judge struck down the moratorium on eviction filings enacted during the public health emergency, AG Racine announced his plan to appeal. To read the full statement from the Attorney General on why OAG is fighting this in court, click here. To learn more about tenants’ rights, click here.
Condemning the Violent Attack on the U.S. Capitol
In collaboration with Colorado AG Weiser, Idaho AG Wasden, and Nebraska AG Peterson, AG Racine co-led a bipartisan coalition of Attorneys General condemning the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The group urged former-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen to hold lawbreakers accountable.
OAG continues to work closely with local and federal law enforcement to ensure the individuals responsible for the attack are held accountable. Submit a tip to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by filling out a complaint online at FBI.gov/uscapitol. Submit a tip to Metropolitan Police Department by calling (202) 727-9099 or texting 50411.
Protecting Voters from Discrimination
AG Racine led a coalition of 18 Attorneys General by filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to protect a key component of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Section 2 of the VRA prohibits policies that interfere with someone’s right to vote based on their race. The amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to preserve a robust application of this provision of the VRA. To learn more about how the OAG is protecting the right to vote, click here.
Fighting Corruption and Making History
Over three years ago. Maryland AG Frosh and AG Racine filed suit against Donald Trump alleging that he had violated the Emoluments Clauses—the Constitution’s original anti-corruption laws—by receiving unlawful payments from foreign and domestic governments through the Trump International Hotel. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled the case moot because of Trump’s electoral defeat—marking the end of an historic case against a president who put his personal profit above his duty and service to the American people. In a joint statement, AG Racine and AG Frosh explain what the case means for the future.
WIN: Facebook Agrees to Halt Weapon Accessory Ads
AG Racine and three of his colleagues issued a letter urging Facebook to halt their weapon accessory and military tactical gear ads in the lead up to the Presidential Inauguration. Following the letter, the company agreed to temporarily stop these advertisements that targeted users who follow extremist content. To learn more about the letter to Facebook, click here.
Submitting a Consumer Complaint Now Even Easier
OAG has launched a new feature that makes filing your consumer complaint even easier. If you’ve been scammed or deceived by a business, report it to OAG so we can investigate.
- Direct message us at oag.dc.gov/consumer (new!)
- Text us at (202) 738-5212 (new!)
- Call us at (202) 442-9828
- Fill out a complaint form
Congratulating Former OAG Leadership’s Appointments to Biden White House
OAG congratulates David Mayorga, former Communications Director for the Office of the Attorney General, and Todd Kim, the first Solicitor General for the District of Columbia, for their appointments to the Biden Administration. Mr. Mayorga, who led the communications team nearly three years, is now the Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Energy (DOE). Mr. Kim, who served as Solicitor General for the District of Columbia from 2006-2017, now serves as DOE’s Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement. To read AG Racine’s full statement, click here.
Countering Hate through Art, and Winning Cash Prizes
We're in the final stretch of our Artists v. Hate competition where D.C. youth ages 11-19 are invited to submit artwork of any kind that counters hate, promotes social justice, and inspires change for the chance to win cash prizes! Submit a design no later than Feb. 5 at oag.dc.gov/art-v-hate. And learn more about AG Racine’s initiative on countering hate at oag.dc.gov/people-v-hate.