Queens city and state politicians came together in East Elmhurst last weekend to mitigate coronavirus concerns in Asian Communities. As fear rises across the world, New York City businesses, especially those in Asian communities, have taken a hit.
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Central Queens) teamed up with local business owner Andy Chen in a walk through the community. In a show of support they ate at a local restaurant and walked through a supermarket, showing that it is safe to go out and to businesses.
This event comes before the outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19, arrived in the city. The virus has spread around the world, even recently resulting in deaths in Washington state.
Across the city face masks and other supplies have been sold out, Chen has been promised from local businesses that they will not increase the price of their goods, not even one cent.
“The immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low,” according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). So long as you are not in a group that is at a higher risk of complications, children, pregnant women and seniors, or have a preexisting condition you should be fine.
The hosts of the event want to express that message, New York City is prepared and it is safe to go out, the main idea is that residents should not give into the hysteria.
“It’s safe to come out,” said Dromm, “businesses, restaurants I understand are down in supplies and down in people coming out.”
For restaurants the news of the first case only stands to hurt their business more.
“We’re being told by our clients that they’re suffering from like 40%-70% decline in business traffic,” explained Thomas Yu, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “They’re at the cusp of going out of business.”
These statistics come before the first infection in the city, they may no longer be accurate.
Yu is working with the city to create an emergency loan pool to keep these businesses from going under. Due to the country of origin of the virus, Asian communities have been stigmatized, as each participant explained.
“We want you to walk the streets in our neighborhoods because things here are open, we are open,” stated Cruz. “If you don’t think that they are, is a little bit of racism in that.”
She claims that it is a “racist aftermath,” that the segment of the immigrant population affected is predominantly Asian.
As a result many businesses face possible closure and have resorted to cutting employees hours and expenses. In Seafood Restaurant Broadway most of its employees have kids in college and they need this job to afford tuition according to Chen.
When asked if this changes his stance Dromm replied that practicing general hygiene should be fine. He also made a comparison to the Ebola crisis, showing that the city is well prepared to handle this.
When asked if he stands by the message of the walk he replied “yes, absolutely.”
“From the beginning, we have said it was a matter of when, not if, there would be a positive case of coronavirus in New York. Now our first case has been confirmed. The patient contracted the virus during recent travel and is isolated in her home under close monitoring,” it read in a Tweet from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Whether or not the city is ready is no longer important, the virus is here and the city will respond.