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New COVID-19 testing, vaccine site opens at Astoria Houses

Residents of Western Queens and Astoria Houses now have a new and closer COVID-19 vaccination and testing site made out of repurposed shipping containers.

The temporary medical care unit located just steps from the Astoria Houses Community Center will be operated by NYC-based charity hospital, The Floating Hospital, and will provide free vaccines and tests. The site will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NYS Gov. Hochul shakes hands with residents of the Astoria Houses

With only a single permanent vaccination site located within a half-mile of Astoria Houses, and just two permanent vaccination sites in the 11102 area code, the lack of access to vaccines has shown higher case and death rates in the area compared to other parts of Queens and New York City.

In the area code 11102, there is a case rate of 30,300 per 100,000 individuals, compared to 13,350 and 12,600 in Queens and New York City, respectively. The death rate within the same zip code is approximately 616 per 100,000, compared to 448 and 408 to the borough and city, respectively.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was joined by NYS Governor Kathy Hochul, NYC Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, and other community leaders to unveil the new 40-foot-long medical care center in the courtyard of the housing complex.

“We learned during COVID that there are great inequities in health care, there are great needs, and that we have to do a better job to support and provide health care, equally, to all people,” Maloney said.

The temporary medical care unit was designed by a research and development consortium composed of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and The Tuchman Foundation. Maloney worked with the aforementioned agencies, as well as the New York City Housing Authority, to secure the placement for the temporary healthcare unit.

Hochul praised the leadership of Maloney, as well as echoing similar sentiments about unequal access to healthcare.

“Today, we begin to right the wrongs of the past. If anything, this pandemic demonstrates that there are systemic disparities in healthcare access and therefore healthcare outcomes,” Hochul said. “Nowhere do we see that more intensely than in this neighborhood and in this community.”

Claudia Coger, the former Astoria Houses Tenants Association President, said that a high number of unvaccinated individuals live in the neighborhood. She says access is key when it comes to providing knowledge to the place she has called home for her entire life.

“Let’s get rid of some of the excuses,” Coger said.

Hochul in control

At this point, it looks like it’s Kathy Hochul’s job to lose.
According to a Siena College poll released this week, the current governor holds a double-digit lead over her next closest challenger, Attorney General Letitia James.
In a survey of registered Democrats, if the primary were held today, 36 percent said they would vote for Hochul to represent the party in next year’s general election, while 18 percent said they backed James.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams would get 10 percent of the vote, while Mayor Bill de Blasio and Congressman Tom Suozzi would each get 6 percent of the vote. Twenty-four percent said they are undecided or back another candidate, which means there’s still plenty of undecided voters out there for the candidates to sway.
Suozzi announced his intent to run last week, turning down an offer by mayor-elect Eric Adams to join him at City Hall and serve as deputy mayor.
Suozzi’s decision reportedly upset some in the Democratic Party, who would prefer that he focus on re-election to Congress, especially after the GOP did much better than expected in local races in Suozzi’s current congressional district, which includes parts of Queens and Nassau County.
With Suozzi focused on running for governor, the seat could be vulnerable to being flipped by Republicans, who are focused on taking back the majority in the House next year.
There was also speculation that Suozzi and the governor would be competing for the same voters, namely conservative-leaning Democrats, making it harder for her to win re-election and opening the door for a progressive candidate like James or Williams.
As for now, it doesn’t look like Hochul has to worry about that, but there’s still a long way to go until the June primary.

Needle panic

Dear Editor,
I’m glad that 23 City Council members sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislative leaders urging revision of bail reform and giving judges discretion to consider a defendant’s criminal history.
But I have little hope for a positive response. Rather than strengthen law
enforcement, Governor Hochul seems to favor lawbreakers.
The latest example is a bill she signed that decriminalizes open drug use and
allows addicts to shoot up in public places without interference by cops.
It bolsters far left lunatics’ goal of “harm reduction,” but will actually heighten drug addiction. It will create a real-life version of the 1971 film “Panic
in Needle Park,” which depicts an upper Manhattan area that was a mecca for junkies.
We will have panic in all city parks that will no longer be safe for law-abiding residents, including families and children.
Hochul panders to “progressives” in order to win the 2022 Democratic primary election. She recently appointed two people to top-level posts in her administration who support bail reform and defunding the police.
She also approved a measure, opposed by the state’s Democratic Party chairman, that provides financial aid to illegal immigrants.
Far-left Democrats who call themselves “progressive” are really regressive. They want to return our city to the bad old days of the 1970s. Don’t let New York City become a paradise for junkies and a living hell for the rest of us.
Sincerely,
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Hochul panders

Dear Editor,
Governor Kathy Hochul promised us a clean break from Albany’s disgraceful past upon taking office in August.
But she broke that vow by immediately urging a speed up in payments to illegal immigrants under the state’s $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund program passed by the legislature in April. It provides $15,600 to low earning undocumented immigrants who claim to have lost a job or suffered a 50 percent drop in earnings because of the COVID pandemic.
They are entitled to this money even if they worked off the books and paid no taxes. Moderate Democrats on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley and upstate opposed the measure, but progressives called them “racist” and rammed it through the legislative process.
State Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs chided progressives by noting that it’s not racist to question a program that gives “undocumented, non-taxpaying, off-the-books workers a humanitarian grant.”
Lawmakers passed the bill to benefit illegal immigrants who were excluded from the Trump and Biden
administrations’ COVID stimulus programs because they are in our nation illegally. Why can’t New York’s political leaders follow Washington’s example?
Blatant vote grabbing is one reason. Hochul plans to run for governor next year and needs left-wing voters to win her party’s primary election. Many of them live in New York City, where two-thirds of the 200,000 illegal immigrants eligible for COVID benefits reside and have relatives who vote.
I don’t know which NYC legislators voted for this measure, but those who did should be rejected by voters when they face re-election next year. They betrayed their taxpaying constituents and must be held accountable for it.
Sincerely,
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Don’t pick your heroes from politics

Kathy C. Hochul is now officially the Governor of New York.
When the former Congresswoman from Buffalo was sworn in on Tuesday, she was making history as the first woman to ever hold the State’s highest office.
And indeed, her governorship is a historic moment that deserves to be celebrated. New York has been home to a passionate feminist movement since even before the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, yet somehow the State has never had a woman governor.
Yet Hochul’s term begins as that of her predecessor — Andrew Cuomo — ends in absolute disgrace. So while it is worth celebrating her achievement and the achievement of the State as a whole, the beginning of this new governorship is a time for New Yorkers to reflect on how we got here.
To put it lightly, Cuomo went down in flames. But even before his astronomical fall from grace, there were plenty of red flags. Cuomo was a classic, egotistical, old-school type of New York politician. That was clear since day one.
However, the former Governor’s capable response to the COVID-19 pandemic — at least compared to the absolutely abysmal leadership of governors from other, mostly republican, states — quickly earned the otherwise lackluster politician a new degree of national celebrity.
His daily press conferences about microbes and masks took the television slot of daytime soap operas, and became a strangely comforting cottage industry during the pandemic’s early days. Appearances on national TV shows soon followed. Then a book deal.
And just like that, Andrew Cuomo was becoming a hero to people. What a terrible mistake.
No matter how much we agree with a politician’s policy’s or beliefs, we should never put them on a pedestal so high that we can’t hold them accountable for their actions. The fanfare surrounding Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic was too much for a public servant, but as is too often the case, service is the last thing we think about when we discuss politicians. Look no further than No. 45 himself, a former reality TV star turned twice impeached president who used the nation’s highest office to fuel his ego and do little else…that is an opinion piece (or two, or three) for another time though.
So as Kathy Hochul enters office, we as voters must not forget the role politicians are supposed to play in our society. Elected officials should be serving us, their constituents, rather than using our attention to serve their own egos.
Now is a time to celebrate. New York has a woman governor, which is a historic moment too long in the making. However, we must not repeat our own history of deifying the politicians who are supposed to serve our needs.

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