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Gov. Jared Polis, front, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, left, announce COVID-19 restrictions in November. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver is preparing to play a bigger role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and is setting its own priority list rather than follow the dictates from Gov. Jared Polis.

The big picture: Mayors across the country are demanding a direct supply of the vaccine, which currently is being allocated through states. Hancock raised the issue on a recent call with Vice President Kamala Harris and again in a letter Thursday to the Biden administration.

The city's goal is to reach populations hit hard by the pandemic, including racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and the homeless, as well as other groups having trouble accessing the vaccine.

"We have a better perspective on the challenges that those communities are [facing] every day ... and we know for a fact they are being overlooked," Hancock told Axios.

Why it matters: Hancock's push represents the most high-profile challenge to Polis' pandemic response and comes after weeks of feuding between the two Democrats.

  • He's not alone: Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers has argued his city is being shortchanged, too.
  • Hancock is careful to not directly criticize Polis. When it comes to the difference in the vaccine priorities, he said that "neither one is wrong — we just need to dig a little deeper with regards to our demographics."

The other side: Polis doesn't want to relinquish control. He recently said Denver's plan to inoculate the homeless would "cost lives" and take vaccines from people over age 70, The Denver Post reports.

What to watch: The first of four new sites managed by Denver Health opened Thursday in Montbello, a historically underserved neighborhood predominantly home to people of color. The other three are planned for similar communities in northeast, west and south Denver.

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Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden backs Gaza ceasefire for first time in call with Netanyahu

Biden with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Debbi Hill/Pool/ Getty Images

President Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call on Thursday evening with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.

Why it matters: This is the first time since the beginning of the crisis last Monday that Biden or anyone in his administration has publicly backed a ceasefire. It will increase pressure on Israel to seek an end to the conflict, which Netanyahu has insisted will continue until Hamas' ability to attack Israel is further degraded.

3 hours ago - World

Schumer: "I want to see a ceasefire"

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Monday he wants to "see a ceasefire reach quickly and mourn the loss of life."

Why it matters: Schumer is a staunch defender of Israel and has maintained that Israel should be able to defend itself.

6 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad

Photo: Ole Spata/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

President Biden will send an additional 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to other countries by the end of June, including shots authorized by the FDA for use in the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Why it matters: It will be the first time the U.S. has sent Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses abroad. The administration previously announced plans to export 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been authorized domestically.