Queens COVID-19 Daily Update March 20, 2020

New York-Presbyterian Hospital sent a 76-year old man home after being tested for the coronavirus and did not re-admit him after his condition worsened. Credit: Google Maps

Elderly Queens man dies from COVID-19 after the hospital sent him home

A 76-year old man from Jackson Heights, Queens died on Wednesday after New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital sent him home the same day he came in for a COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, test.

Teodosio Torres went to the hospital on March 13 for showing potential symptoms of the virus, where he was tested for the disease. Torres was then immediately sent home and told to self-isolate while he waited to hear back the results.

His test results eventually came back positive for COVID-19. Torres’s condition worsened over the following days, and his wife called the hospital on Sunday when his health hit a low point. 

He died just after 5:45 p.m. in his apartment with his wife. The hospital had not readmitted him after being called on Sunday, for reasons unclear.

Before coming down with the virus, Torres had been staying at Regal Heights Rehabilitation for two months for a broken hip. He also suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Read more about this in this article: The New York Post

Appointment-only COVID-19 testing site opened in Elmhurst

Elmhurst Hospital Center is the location of just one of 21 new coronavirus testing sites across the city. Credit: Tdorante10, Wikimedia Commons

A new appointment-only COVID-19 testing site opened up on Thursday next to the Elmhurst Hospital to increase access to tests for those who may have been infected.

The site, opened up by the Mayor’s office, is just one of 21 new testing facilities across the city, including inside of hospitals and in mobile set-ups — the Elmhurst site, for example, is a blue tent outside of the hospital.

“If we’re going to curb this epidemic, we need fast and expansive testing for those most at risk for serious illness,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Now we can get more New Yorkers the care they need at the right time—helping save lives, one test at a time.”

People who believe they may have the virus are instructed to first call the Health + Hospitals Corporation hotline at 844-NYC-4NYC so that clinicians can determine if the person is in the high-risk category, such as the elderly or immunocompromised and to see if they have the right symptoms to be diagnosed with coronavirus.

They will then be able to come in for a consultation to establish their medical history and get tested. Patients who come in are asked to wear a face mask, whether or not they’ve tested positive.

The news of the new testing site was announced in a HHC newsletter on March 16 among staff.

“To create and increase capacity for evaluating and testing patients for COVID-19, NYC Health + Hospitals is setting up by-appointment-only COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Centers in every borough to help accommodate New Yorkers who are referred for testing,” it read in part.

Read more about this in this article: The Queens Daily Eagle

Woodside school safety agent tested positive for COVID-19 while still working

A P.S. 306 school safety agent was confirmed to have the coronavirus — and the school still stayed open. Credit: Google Maps

A school safety agent at Woodside elementary school P.S. 306 New York City Academy for Discovery tested positive for COVID-19 after being at work and interacting with students, staff and families.

“The school is being cleaned right now and we will hopefully have it up and running tomorrow,” Freddi Goldstein, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said.

The agent had apparently been visibly sick the week of March 2 but still came into work until March 6, when she began to stay home. 

In fact, March 5 had been parent-teacher conference night, when many people who do not usually enter the building, such as parents and older siblings, come in, and the agent was present during this.

It wasn’t until Sunday, March 8 that the parents found out via the school’s messaging app that the security guard’s test result came back positive. The school still opened the next day for classes.

P.S. 306 Parent’s Association co-President and mother of a second grader at the school Maribell Perez-McDaniel was very vocal about her thoughts on the situation and schools being kept open.

“She came into contact with many, many people during that week. If you clean the school and bring sick people back into the school who may not know it yet, you’re contaminating more people and more people and more people,” she said. “I don’t understand how they’re planning to open the school again. If this is happening in my little school in Woodhaven, how many schools is this happening in across the city? I think it’s time to close the schools.”

Read more about this in these articles: Pix11 News, New York Daily News

Queens DA’s Office contemplates early releases

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz Cedit:  Queens Borough President’s Office, Wikimedia Commons

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz sent out an email update about her office’s response to COVID-19 yesterday, and it looks like some Rikers may be getting a little emptier.

Among other things, Katz’s statement said that the DA’s office is reviewing inmates whose sentences are nearly up, as well as people who are pending trial, to determine if there may be people whose health would benefit from not remaining in jail.

“We are mindful of the population that is currently being housed at Rikers,” she said. “We are currently reviewing the bail status of defendants who are being held pending trial. We are looking at individuals who have little time left on their sentences to see if the interests of justice would be served by their release. We are also looking at those who have been identified by the DOCHS as exceedingly high risk individuals due to their medical conditions.”

Additionally, Katz also said that while trials that were already opened will still be tried, the office is operating with a “skeletal crew” and they are taking into account how being sent to Rikers would impact the defendant’s health.

“In the coming weeks, the Queens DA’s Office will continue to provide the essential services necessary to keep Queens County’s residents safe while we do everything possible to avoid COVID-19. Therefore, we are operating within the office with a skeletal crew while most of our employees work remotely from home,” Katz said. “And in light of the new circumstances that we find ourselves in, we will make every effort to consider the impact of each prosecution on both the health and safety of the defendant and the community at large. Applications to the Courts to send arrestees to Rikers will not be made without consideration of the risk that poses to defendants.”

This comes after recent outcry from inmates over how close together prisoners are kept, which makes it difficult for them to practice social distancing.

Read more about this in this article: Queens Chronicle

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