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Vigil honors slain food deliveryman Zhiwen Yan

Last week, the Forest Hills community came together for a candlelight vigil in front of Great Wall Chinese Restaurant to honor Zhiwen Yan, a food delivery worker who was killed at the end of April.

Yan, who lived in Middle Village, was fatally shot on the night of April 30 while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food in Forest Hills.

He was 45 years old, and leaves behind a wife and three children.

Ethan Felder and Donghui Zang organized a candlelight vigil to honor the life and legacy of Zhiwen Yan.

“He was a kind and beautiful soul. And to think how he did everything right in life as an immigrant: he worked three jobs and he leaves three children behind. He epitomizes what we all strive for as Americans,” said Ethan Felder, a labor lawyer and candidate running for NYS Assembly District 28, who co-organized the vigil. “The fact that he had that all taken away two weeks ago… it really strikes at the heart of who we are. That is why we had to memorialize his life and what happened to him and his family, and to our community.”

Zhiwen Yan’s wife, Kunying Zhao, was comforted by the community during her time of grief, and spoke out about how she feels and what the city should be doing to help.

“New York City, you owe me a life. You owe me a husband. You owe an explanation to the Chinese community,” she said through a translator.

She emphasized that Yan and his coworkers had been threatened for months prior to his death, and said that police could have taken protective measures to prevent the worst from happening.

“He should have been able to watch his children growing up, but everything ended,” she continued. “We want New York City to give us an explanation.”

Kai Yang, manager of Great Wall, shared a powerful speech with attendees, demanding justice for his former employee.

Yan was a beloved member of the community, best known for his signature greeting, “Hello, my friend.”

Several residents took turns with the microphone to share their stories about him.

“I knew Mr. Yan for over 25 years. He was the best delivery guy you can ever ask for,” one resident, Ariel, said.
“If you ordered from Great Wall when he was alive, you got your food in 15 minutes or less — no matter how far you lived, or how much food you ordered,” he continued. “I’m so heartbroken.”

“This is a terrible loss to the entire community. He reached so many different people, and I think that just goes to show by how many people showed up to the vigil,” another resident, Michael, said.

“I have met many people over the past several days on my walk to Walgreens, saying they would see him on his scooter, always working,” he added. “He was the hardest working man I know in the neighborhood.”

Kai Yang, the manager of Great Wall who worked with Yan for more than 10 years, shared a powerful speech with attendees, demanding justice for his former employee.

“He was taking care of the neighborhood, delivering to the neighbors who needed food. And then without any notice, that guy came out and shot him. His blood is spilled at the crosswalk of the streets in this neighborhood,” Yang said through a translator.

“This is an insult to the city, and something we need to look into and take care of,” he continued. “My workers and I are still working in fear. We are in fear for our own lives and safety working here every day.”

He addressed the racism against Asian Americans that came out of the pandemic, which has affected the success of his business, and resulted in his workers being verbally assaulted with racial slurs.

Community members from all walks of life stood beside Yan’s wife to support her

“We deserve safety. We deserve peace so we can make our living and we can make this city somewhere worth living,” he said.
Donghui Zang, a candidate for District Leader of the 28th Assembly District, said that despite Yan’s death taking place nearly three weeks ago, his family has still not secured a place to bury him.

He said that he and the community are doing what they can to help them with this process, along with help from Uber Eats, where he also worked, and other Asian community leaders and elected officials.

“Saying ‘stop Asian hate’ is not enough. You need to prosecute and charge the criminals to the maximum extent of the law,” Zang said. “The penalty is too low so it doesn’t scare off the people who commit crimes: murder, robberies, and shootings in the subways. It’s still not enough, and we have to revise the law so people can feel safe and restore the peace.”

Wrong Time for Flu, Right Time for Shot

Flu season is just beginning in New York City, and already my two-year-old daughter, my wife, and I have all received our seasonal flu vaccination. I encourage everyone to join us to protect yourself and your community.
Every year, the Health Department works to make the flu vaccine easily available because the influenza virus can cause painful, and potentially life-threatening, symptoms even in healthy people.
In a typical flu season, roughly 2,000 New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia, and some of them are kids.
That is why we are recommending all New Yorkers ages six months and older get the flu shot, especially people who are most likely to get sick, including adults ages 50 and older, pregnant people, children ages six months to five years, and people with chronic diseases like diabetes.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective: Scientific evidence shows that it reduces the risk of illness between 40 and 60 percent, according to the CDC. If you’re 65 or older, ask your doctor about the high-dose flu vaccine.
I was proud to see a record number of adult New Yorkers get the flu vaccine last year. Over 1.4 million adults got vaccinated—the most ever. Our goal this year is to have another record-breaking year, and we are well on our way with 1,039,787 adult New Yorkers already vaccinated.
But despite our progress, we are still seeing troubling gaps in coverage. This is due in part to misinformation about the flu vaccine and mistrust in medical advice.
I want to make clear to New Yorkers that the flu vaccine will not give you the flu. Young and healthy people can become severely ill. And getting a flu shot will not increase your risk of getting COVID-19.
These are common myths, and we know we must address them in order to instill trust in the vaccine.
In addition, not enough children are getting vaccinated. Our data show that only 67 percent of children ages six months to five years were vaccinated last year, and this year’s numbers are also looking low. With children returning to schools and families out and about in our city again, it’s even more critical than ever to protect our littlest New Yorkers.
The flu vaccine is now widely available across the city for free or low-cost and regardless of immigration status. New Yorkers can find out where to get vaccinated at NYC.gov/FLU.
And if you still haven’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, you can get one at the same time as the flu vaccine. Remember that the flu vaccine doesn’t protect you against COVID-19, and the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t protect you against the flu. You need both!
Serious reactions to the flu shot are extremely rare. Common reactions may include mild pain, redness or swelling at the injection site or headache, fever and muscle aches.
As a doctor and a father, I wouldn’t ask New Yorkers to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. Flu activity usually starts as early as November and continues through late spring, and it takes a couple of weeks for your vaccine to kick in with immunity.
Now is the right time, so go get that flu shot today.

Dr. Dave Chokshi is the commissioner of the New York City Health Department.

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