Queens Indian community lauds city COVID-19 relief efforts

FILE PHOTO: Family members of a man who died of the coronavirus mourn before his cremation near Bengaluru, India
The Queens Indian community appreciates the city’s COVID relief effort for their hard hit home country. (REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar/File Photo)

Queens elected officials and ethnic organizations are hailing the city’s relief mission to India, which has been ravaged in recent weeks with a surge in COVID-19 deaths.

While the number of infections have declined in the past week, hospitals across the country are still overwhelmed.

“Just over a year ago, New York City was at the center of the pandemic,” Mayor Bill de Basio said. “Now it is our turn to step up and help India in its moment of crisis.”

The city will tap into its stockpile and send COVID-19 test kits, swabs, ventilators, BiPap machines, pulse oximeters and other medical supplies.

“I have underscored the need for the United States to provide assistance to India during this difficult time, and I support this latest effort by New York City as well,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “India is our dear friend and ally and we must continue to be there for its people in their urgent time of need.”

With an Indian population at close to 145,000 in Queens, concentrated in Jackson Heights and Flushing, and a COVID-19 death toll of nearly 7,000 across the borough in the past year, it could have been even worse.

“In the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic in our city, the impact of the global support and resources we received meant more lives were saved,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “It is our moral duty to pay that kindness back and support India in every way possible to battle this virus.”

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Indian American woman elected to state office in New York applauded the city’s efforts.

“The largest Indian American population in the Western Hemisphere is here in New York City,” Rajkumar said, “It was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, ‘Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,’ and that has never been more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic. If there is a COVID crisis in India, then New Yorkers are in crisis.”

Shiv Dass, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, said the organization supported the announcement.

“It will be a great gesture on the part of the Mayor of the City of New York to send much needed supplies to India,” Dass said. “Indians living in the USA especially in New York are greatly appreciative.”

Patricia Raghunandan of the Queens Community Lions Club said India is overwhelmed and in desperate need of COVID vaccines.

“A country with a population of 1.4 billion, and only 26 million people so far have been vaccinated,” Raghunandan said. “I am extremely happy to hear the city is helping India. The vaccines can help prevent deaths from COVID and also slow the infection rate and save lives. It’s very critical for the people of India to receive this life saving vaccine.”

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