Women in south Queens call on community to stop spread of COVID-19 through PSA campaign

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Aminta Kilawan-Narine, founder of founder and executive director of South Queens Women’s March. (Photo via screenshot)

The South Queens Women’s March launched a public service announcement (PSA) campaign on Monday, Jan. 11, in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in south Queens neighborhoods, including Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Ozone Park, which have shown the highest positivity rate in the city. 

The four-minute PSA, published on YouTube and Facebook, featured south Queens residents who are COVID survivors, personal anecdotes and information about the long-term physical impact of the virus provided by Dr. Kamini Doobay, an emergency medicine resident physician at NYU/Bellevue and founder of the NYC Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Healthcare System.

The PSA ends with calls to action in English, Punjabi, Bengali, Spanish and Urdu, for community members to wear masks properly, practice social distancing and limit indoor gatherings and parties. 

“I know that our people love to get together, we love to socialize, and I know we are getting antsy and we want to get on with our lives already, but it’s not over yet,” said Aminta Kilawan-Narine, founder and executive director of South Queens Women’s March.

According to the data from the NYC Department of Health, the ZIP code with the highest percentage of the positive coronavirus tests as of Jan. 9 is 11419, which is South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill at 16.31 percent. The neighboring ZIP code of 11420 has a 14.74 percent positivity rate. 

As the city opens COVID-19 vaccination hubs across the borough, the South Queens Women’s March is calling on city officials to ensure vaccine centers are distributed in these ZIP codes to provide adequate access for residents in the communities. 

Local schools, such as John Adams High School, located at 101-01 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park, and Richmond Hill High School located at 89-30 114th St., along with Resorts World Casino, located at 100-00 Rockaway Blvd., have the ability to serve as vaccine centers, the organization said. 

Many residents, including a significant Indo-Caribbean and Punjabi population, rely heavily on public transportation and cannot get time off from their jobs to travel to neighboring cities to receive the vaccine, according to the organization. 

In a PSA released on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, District Leader Richard David is encouraging the community to wear masks and limit social gatherings to lower the infection rate. 

“I’m alarmed that two weeks after the holidays, the COVID infection rate continues to climb in the neighborhood. On the ground, it’s devastating families, many of whom are hospitalized or worse,” David said. 

David has also called attention to no openings of vaccine hubs in the 11420 and 11419 ZIP codes, west of the Van Wyck, despite “astronomical rates and greater impact of the virus on lives there.”

“We live in a consistently neglected neighborhood — for COVID testing, PPE and food distribution throughout this virus. This is the case with the vaccine, too,” David said. 

Recently, NYC Health + Hospitals opened its first vaccine hub in Queens at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica on Jan 10. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the mayor announced a new 24/7 vaccination hub will opening at Citi Field in Flushing.

There will be three more vaccine hubs opening in Queens on Jan. 15 at the following locations: August Martin High School at 156-10 Baisley Blvd., in Jamaica; Beach Channel Educational Campus at 100-00 Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway; and Aviation High School at 45-30 36th St. in Long Island City.

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