The COVID-19 pandemic has been horrible, to say the least. People are dying, there is a shortage of PPE, social distancing guidelines are not uniform, people are frustrated. The pandemic has disrupted the world order and is shining a spotlight on the American healthcare system, groaning under immense pressure, but is holding due to the valiant efforts of doctors, nurses, PAs, janitors, paramedics, and all healthcare workers.
New York is the epicenter of the virus in the country, to date. But more specifically, New York City, in the borough of Queens, there are more cases than any other place in the entire nation.
I live in Queens. People around the country and around the world are wondering what New York is doing wrong. But, the sad reality is that there wasn't much else that we could have done right. There was a slow federal response for hospital supplies and testing.
This pandemic shouldn't be political.But it has been made political due to the disparity in federal aid.
New York City is densely populated. Within Queens, the neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19, as of mid-April, are Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights.
These are working-class neighborhoods, with many people working for the transit system, in food preparation, or in hospitals. They are essential workers and they have to go out. In addition, these neighborhoods are densely populated, which makes social distancing tricky.
These neighborhoods also have a high concentration of African American and Latinx people.
People are dying, but they are poor people of color. And I believe for this reason, and for this reason alone, is why there is a shortage of federal help. Elmhurst hospital is on the verge of collapse. People are being buried in mass graves in New York. Oregon had to send ventilators because the federal government claims that New York has "everything they need."
If New York were a red state or had prominent Republican politicians, would we get access to more federal resources?
This is why the federal government does not care. This is why Donald Trump does not care. His federal response was slow, he is not a leader. He is a demagogue in a toupee. He is already talking about opening up the country and relaxing social distancing rules. We all want life to return to normal, but I am telling you firsthand, that normal life is still far away.
When this pandemic is over, let us all remember who saved us, who did their part, who stepped up and was a real leader. And let us never ever forget the racial and socioeconomic disparities it has brought to light. Healthcare is a right. Being safe and feeling safe is your right. Remember who really pulled us out of this crisis. Remember the healthcare workers.
But, remember who did nothing. Remember who politicized the virus. Remember who stealthily tries the push their own agenda while the nation is hurting. Remember who was a failure of a leader.