If the state lacks the proper funding and planning to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine to all New Yorkers, we’re still batting zero, despite the letter Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent Tuesday to federal leaders demanding they bolster preparations to properly immunize minority and low-income communities.

Since “bolster,” in the governor’s argot, means “fund,” it may be a long time until we see assistance from a Republican-controlled Senate in Washington.

It’s important for us to understand that Cuomo’s relations with the federal government in 2020 have been – shall we say – hostile, almost since the coronavirus outbreak began. The governor and President Donald Trump have locked horns over aid to the state, the politics of pandemic, safety equipment for health care workers on the front line and, astonishingly, the value of wearing face coverings, which health experts say will tamp down the spread of COVID-19.

The governor sent a letter with 54 activist groups to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging President Donald Trump and his administration to focus on outreach to Black, brown, Asian and low-income communities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans.

Given that Trump has exemplified the politics of division and bigotry for the last four years, this is unlikely to happen with him in the White House.

It should be noted that Black Americans have died from the novel coronavirus at double the rate, and brown Americans one-and-a-half times more frequently than whites as minority and low-income neighborhoods remain underserved by private health care facilities.

In fact, Black, brown, poor and rual communities are described as vulnerable. And the more people who receive the vaccine, the more protected everybody will be

In this case, taking the steps to protect the most vulnerable Americans from the agonies of COVID-19 clearly seems the right thing to do, and the impending change of administrations the right time to do it. To coin an old adage, New York state has to strike while the iron is hot.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1