Richards says ‘more needs to be done’ as Covid spike hits Ozone Park

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Queens Borough President Donovan Richards handed out masks and sanitizers to Ozone Park residents on Thursday to the community. (Photo: Jacob Henry)

With Ozone Park and Richmond Hill’s COVID-19 positivity rate now above 15 percent, Queens Borough President held a press conference on Thursday demanding more action from the city to help this community.  

“I say more needs to be done for the people of Queens so we get our fair share of resources,” Richards said. “In particular, more needs to be done for the people of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.” 

He was joined with many Queens representatives, including Councilmember Adrienne Adams, outgoing Councilmember Eric Ulrich, Assemblymembers Khaleel Anderson, Jennifer Rajkumar and David Weprin, along with other local leaders and officials.  

Richards also handed out masks and sanitizer to residents in the area, and reminded people to practice health and safety guidelines such as wearing a mask and not congregating in public places.   

“We have to take personal responsibility as well,” Richards said. “Ensuring that you’re getting tested is critical.”  

A few hours prior, Richards visited the Aqueduct Raceway, a new Covid vaccination site in south Queens, but said that there are already disparities in who is taking the vaccine.  

“We need to make sure that we’re doing more in these areas,” Richards said.  “We have to have vaccination sites in local communities.  We have to make sure they are centered in the neighborhood.”  

He also acknowledged there is mistrust from people like undocumented immigrants and communities of color who may be weary of a vaccine, but still urged people to get vaccinated if they are eligible.  

Councilmember Adrienne Adams, who serves District 28, which includes Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, also spoke about how communities of color have been neglected throughout the pandemic. 

“We are still seeing people dying in this community of Covid-19 and there is a vaccine,” Adams said. “We are demanding vaccine equity for Richmond Hill.  We are demanding vaccine equity for people of color.” 

She called out the city for not prioritizing people of color and railed against the botched vaccine rollout that has left many people without access to the vaccine.  

“There should have been provisions for hot spots in New York City for people of color,” Adams said.  “We need the vaccine here. There are seniors standing in lines to get the vaccine and the mayor says today, they’re running out of vaccines.  We need to rethink this” 

A block away from the press conference, there were signs up that said “no rapid testing” at the Queens Public Library, one of the only testing sites in the zip code.  

Nirmala Valladares, an Ozone Park resident said that it is not acceptable that Manhattan has rapid testing, but not the site available to her.  

“This should be an option to the general public,” Valladares said.  “People generally need to take a more serious note on what’s happening.  We cannot continue to keep losing our loved ones.”  

Richards ended on a positive note, reminding the community that it’s already beaten the coronavirus once before.  

“We’ve seen these spikes in different pockets of our borough before, and we’ve beat it back by coming together, and working together and being responsible together,” Richards said. “We can achieve that again.” 

Read more: Queens Ledger

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