On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.
1199SEIU President George Gresham on Wednesday led a three-borough caravan of more than 100 horn-honking cars decked out with signs of support and gratitude for frontline health professionals. The cars, bearing signs that read “All Healthcare Workers are Essential,” and “Thank You Healthcare Professionals for All that you Do,” travelled through Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, making about three dozen stops at hospitals and nursing homes. “We are here today to honor the brave and courageous healthcare workers who have been putting their health — and their lives — on the line every day to care for others,” Gresham said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that any person with COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible to receive a test in New York City. Those who have been exposed to a positive case or work in a congregate residential setting are also eligible for testing regardless of symptoms. This comes as the city continues to expand its testing capacity with the aim to test 20,000 New Yorkers by the week of May 25th. “Lack of widespread testing was our achilles heel from day one, but we’re rewriting that story every day,” said de Blasio. “Our effort to test and trace every New Yorker in need of a test is coming together at lightning speed, giving us the tools we need to defeat the virus once and for all.”
On Thursday, Comptroller Scott Stringer launched an investigation into the City’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a request for documents received, created, or issued by city government officials and agencies related to the public emergency in advance of the March 22nd statewide stay-at-home order. Stringer’s will determine how the city made consequential public health decisions between November and March, in order to improve weaknesses in future emergency response efforts. “Every single New Yorker deserves to know what City government did to prepare and prevent the worst,” said Stringer. “My office is examining City government’s response because New Yorkers deserve an objective assessment of what we did right and what we can do better going forward.”
U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez is pressing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for an explanation on how the agency has distributed donated doses of “remdesivir,” a drug that has shown promise in shortening recovery time for patients suffering from COVID-19. In a letter to the Secretary of HHS and the agency’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Velázquez asks for a better explanation as to how the agency is prioritizing the medicine’s distribution. Her letter follows conversations with personnel at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center who expressed that the hospital, which has been a coronavirus hotspot, was denied the drug.
Citizens Committee for New York City, whose mission is to help New Yorkers — especially those in low-income areas — improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods, has announced a new fund focusing on community groups responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Under its new Neighborhood Grants program, Citizens Committee has awarded $250,800 in grants to 64 resident-led organizations that are addressing critical community needs in all five boroughs of the city.
Charles Rockefeller and Emily Shippee have provided, through the EMS FDNY Help Fund, a grant of $25,700 in honor of New York City’s FDNY Local 2507 EMS members who are battling Covid-19 in the hardest hit area of the country. The fund is a nonprofit that offers critical economic support to the families of all EMS workers sickened, injured or financially struggling. The pledge was made in honor of #GivingTuesday.
On Thursday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted a virtual vigil for members of clergy who have passed due to COVID-19. Reports indicate that more than 70 faith leaders, including ministers, priests, and rabbis throughout the city have succumbed to the illness since the start of the pandemic. Adams, who has called for the city to engage the faith community to help New York heal from the destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus, joined loved ones of the deceased and fellow clergy members in a virtual meeting to pay tribute to the lives lost.
A coalition of over 40 leading owners of market-rate and affordable apartment buildings, nonprofits, and service providers have come together to launch Project Parachute to help keep vulnerable New Yorkers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in their homes. The fund will be independently coordinated and managed by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit organization focused on affordable housing. The project aims specifically to reach those who have limited or no access to government resources, including undocumented immigrants and shadow economy workers.