Two White New Yorkers file suit challenging race-based policy for COVID-19 treatments

Two White men from New York City have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the city and state from giving priority to non-Whites for potentially life-saving treatments for COVID-19.

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Jonathan Roberts, 61, of Manhattan, and Charles Vavruska, 55, of Queens, said in their complaints that New York’s designation of race as a risk factor “has no basis in science.”

“New York’s designation of race as an independent risk factor deprives deserving individuals of much-needed medical treatments solely due to their race,” their lawsuits said.

The complaints were filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against State Health Commissioner Mary Basset and New York City’s health department. The plaintiffs are represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The city and state issued the race-based directives late last year for the administering of oral antivirals Paxlovi and Molnupiravir, as well as monoclonal antibodies. The directives require healthcare providers to prioritize treatment based on age, vaccination status and several risk factors, including race.

“We eagerly await the day on which the supplies for these medical treatments can match demand,” said PLF attorney Wen Fa. “But until that time, treatments should be allocated on the basis of need and scientific criteria, not on the basis of arbitrary racial classifications.”

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A few other states issued similar race-based orders, although Minnesota recently rescinded its policy under threat of legal action.

Mr. Vavruska’s lawsuit said he contracted COVID-19 in March 2020 and spent 10 days in the hospital. He said he “wishes not to repeat his experience.” He has since been vaccinated but has the risk factor of being overweight.

“Both plaintiffs want the ability to access oral antiviral or monoclonal antibody treatments on an equal basis, without regard to their race, if they contract COVID-19,” their complaints stated.

PLF said in a statement that “although race can be associated with other factors that may increase a person’s chances of suffering severe symptoms from COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic found that there is nothing inherent about race that puts anyone at a higher risk of suffering severe symptoms.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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