Open Letter to New York City and State Representatives and Lawmakers
***See media coverage below***
We want answers: How is mass testing and contact tracing going to be done by May 15th according to the Governor’s blueprint, when large swaths of the city’s population are unaccountable, undocumented, homeless, and living in the shadows?
Queens Village, NY – Governor Cuomo announced that New York State will be on lockdown until May 15 in order to diminish the spread of the deadly virus and to insure there will be no renewed outbreak, and then will re-evaluate when to “Un-Pause NY.” In other words, after May 15th the Governor would assess whether or not New York could even move to Phase One, which is a gradual lifting of restrictions.
When asked when the lockdown will be over, he said: “It’s over when you have a vaccine. And that’s 12 to 18 months away.” Also, de Blasio recently announced that the city is canceling all non-essential events including concerts, festivals, and parades, through June to slow the spread of the virus.
At this point no one, not the governor or any other elected official knows when New York will be safe to open for business and people can return to their jobs and normal lives, whether it will take weeks, months or over a year as he has intimated. It’s common sense that New York City cannot survive a lockdown of 12 to 18 months. It may not even survive more than a month of the current economic shutdown, with the concurrent outbreak of business bankruptcies, crime, mental illness, domestic violence, drug overdoses, and general breakdown of law and order and civil society. A lockdown going into June will be disaster for the city.
Many important measures in the governor’s blueprint to get back to a “new normal” are practicing social distancing, staying home, keeping non-essential business establishments closed, stockpiling PPE, and other measures. But the key element is mass testing and contact tracing. Cuomo said “Why is testing so important? Testing is how you monitor the rate of infection. Testing is how we find people with the virus and trace their contacts. The challenge is to bring testing up to scale.”
The big question is how is this mass testing and tracking going to occur by May 15th when large swaths of the city’s population are unaccountable, undocumented, and living in the shadows? This includes the city’s most virus-prone populations: over one million illegal immigrants, more than 78,000 homeless, and 1500 inmates recently released from city jails.
This is not a partisan issue. This is about protecting all New Yorkers and getting NYC back to work safely and securely. It is well known that many immigrants here illegally are scared to visit a doctor or hospital to seek treatment for fear of being arrested and deported. How much more unlikely will it be that they would divulge their name, address and personal information for testing or submit to interviews for their contacts?
Now that everyone must be identified, tested, and traced, how are we supposed to identify and do the same to the illegal immigrant population of the city? The hardest hit pandemic hotspots in NYC are Elmhurst, the epicenter of the virus, Corona, Jackson Heights and Flushing, and other towns, home to vast proportions of the city’s illegal immigrants. Shouldn’t these hotspots of the disease be the first zip codes tested rather than Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Douglaston, for example and other zip codes with a significantly lower number of cases?
Will the DMV release the information on the data-protected Driver’s Licenses issued to illegal aliens? Will the IRS release their Tax ID data? How will public health personnel locate and verify that they are tested and document the results? Can churches and community associations be relied upon to gather and turn over data to health officials?
Since the virus hit, the undocumented and homeless populations have taken over our subway system, which is a big contributing factor to New York’s excessive number of infections and fatalities. In contrast, cities without massive underground public subway systems, such as California’s municipalities, have much lower rates of infection. How will the MTA clean and disinfect our subways and prevent another massive outbreak from homeless and undocumented riders when the city comes out of lockdown?
These questions are just the beginnings of an issue that no one is talking about. This is the tip of the iceberg of a momentous task to implement the guidelines in order to safely move the city to lifting the restrictions and getting back to work. No one is addressing it. We want answers, otherwise it is not out of the question to fear the worst consequences for our city. Can we see a repeat of the history we never learned from, the real chaos and disaster, on the level of the Great Depression, the Black Plague, or the Spanish Flu? We want answers to our questions from our city and state representatives and lawmakers!
Members of the Queens Village Republican Club
April 21, 2020
Additional Media Coverage
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