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On Monday, the Commission on the Public Health System and People’s Health – a group of activists based in the Bronx – led a march from the state health department offices at 90 Church Street in the financial district, to the park of the town hall.
The group joined the Communities Driving Recovery (CDR) coalition and came together in the scorching heat of Lower Manhattan to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo invest in the black and brown communities that have been hit hardest. affected by the novel coronavirus, featuring a race and economic divide, even at a time when the common mantra of politicians was: ‘We are all in the same boat’.
“While we were on the Community Testing and Traceability Advisory Council, the Vaccine Council, and were allowed to sit at the table, what happened was that the state and the city put their fingers and ears. While we were talking they weren’t listening, ”said Denean Ferguson, Co-Chair of the Queens Recovery & Resiliency Committee. He described how areas, like the Rockaways, have received little attention from the city and state government despite the decimation of COVID-19.
“Our city and our state government did not engage local indigenous organizations to help save the lives of our people, so this morning we implore the state and the city to help us save the lives of our citizens. in communities like the Rockaways. We need to increase our capacity so that we can save lives in our community, ”Ferguson added.
Vulnerable communities are still feeling the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many neighborhoods still struggling to make ends meet. Activists are calling on city and state to partner with local groups instead of bypassing funding from outside agencies that do not focus on those most affected by the novel coronavirus.
The CDR coalition says their community organizations have been at the forefront of underserved communities since the COVID-19 onslaught, providing testing, tracing and access to immunization. Instead of providing clawback funds for the creation of new agencies, CDR calls on the state and city to use existing groups that know both the communities inside and outside and are already on the ground to build relationships with residents. In addition to calling for help, the march also urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to save lives.
“Far Rockaway was the zero point of the COVID-19 pandemic. Black and brown communities across town were ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic. We are here today not to ask, not to beg, but to demand that New York City and New York State come together and start serving our community by including CBOs (community organizations) at the table. , ”Said Khaleel M. Anderson, member of the Queen’s Assembly.
In March, Senator Chuck Schumer announced that as part of the US bailout, about $ 12.5 billion in aid would go directly to New York State, of which about $ 6 billion would go to the city. from New York.
CDR members say the neighborhoods they represent have experienced the most trauma and illness; however, these organizations are not included in recovery planning and programming.
While they say they are grateful for the community-rooted responses with Test & Trace and Vaccination Community Group Coalition and Advisory Board, the CDR believes that if the federal and state governments were working with community health services, they could together provide effective programming. , which in turn would increase immunization rates, promote the long-term health of vulnerable communities and promote sustainable recovery.
“Why are they reinventing the wheel when there have been so many groups on the ground throughout the pandemic, saving lives and directing vulnerable residents to proper testing and vaccination,” said Anthony Feliciano, director of the Commission on the Public Health System in a press release. Release. “It is a basic principle of public health that you have to be in a community to encourage vulnerable residents to take the necessary steps to combat this pandemic. To act otherwise is unimaginable. This is one more example of the failure of the city and the state to work with communities, ”he added.