Lawmakers from Forest Hills and Rego Park, two neighborhoods came together virtually on Monday evening with members of the community to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in positive cases citywide.
Hosted by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the virtual town hall was a chance for the lawmakers –– U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Central Queens) and Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways), State Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Kew Gardens, Pomonok, Electchester, College Point and parts of Whitestone, Richmond Hill, Briarwood and Forest Hills) and New York City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D-Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill) –– and Queens Community Board 6 to update the community on how their offices are responding to the coronavirus pandemic and what available resources there are for the community.
“We are here for you!” said Stringer to the constituents who’d tuned in.
Forest Hills and Rego Park were two of the neighborhoods that faced an uptick in COVID-19 cases earlier this fall and went through increased restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
The lawmakers and civic leaders also field concerns from the community.
Education was a main concern raised during the virtual town hall. Constituents were worried about the current state of the blended learning model being used by the Department of Education.
The Department of Education doesn’t have a clear direction and it frustrates him, said Stringer. He’s not pleased with the way the mayor is handling the situation.
“What is he doing?” said Stringer. “Does he understand what it’s like to have young children in the household?”
Parents have a lot to consider with a child learning at home, he said, such as who is working one day and who is babysitting the next.
“It is simply mind boggling to me,” he said. “The Department of Education continues to work for everyone, except for the people the education department is supposed to serve.”
Community members raised concerns about the effect of the pandemic restrictions on local businesses. Rosenthal said that he’s received multiple calls on the issue and that his main concern is whether or not businesses can survive another shut down.
Food security and food waste were brought up as well.
Addabbo said that it bothers him that food is being wasted, especially during these hard times.
“Nobody should go hungry these days,” said Addabbo. “We should not have an issue with food waste.”
He said he continues to work with his office to help people in need. Nobody should hesitate to reach out for help, he said.
One of the final questions was about federal aid and the upcoming Joseph Biden presidency. How will the new presidency change things and what could it mean for New York, the resident asked.
“This is funding that New Yorkers desperately need,” said Meng about the prospect of federal funding under a new administration.
Stringer agreed and brought up the MTA as an example. The aid needed for the MTA is a lot, he said. It’s difficult for a city or state to tackle it on its own.
“There’s no way a state or city can even approach that,” he said. “We are New York, the epicenter of the economy.”
He’s hopeful the city will receive financial help from the federal government, he said.