COVID 19 Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has left nothing unscathed in New York City.  This horrendous virus tore through neighborhoods throughout New York City, infecting whomever it could.  New York City had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases and confirmed deaths than any other country in the nation.  But the data has revealed its impact depends a great deal on geography. The data displays significant differences between communities, not just in the number of cases but in their severity and survival outcomes once infected with coronavirus. Furthermore, the data tells us that if you are black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Alaskan native, other minority, LGBT, elderly, poor or have limited English proficiency, then your health care outcomes are worse. For black people, this is true regardless of income, ZIP code, profession or educational status. As such, we must address  the root causes of the disproportionality of COVID-19’s impact on Black and Brown communities.  Specifically, we must acknowledge the correlation between race, ethnicity, income and COVID-19.  COVID-19 pandemic’s impact in NYC has exposed long-standing inequalities by race, ethnicity, and income.   Across New York City, many communities are grappling with conditions in the social and physical environment where they live, learn, work, play and pray that puts them at an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.  These conditions are also known as social determinants of health  and are like octopus tentacles whose million suckers are linked to a plethora of unfair and avoidable community inequalities that existed prior (“Race in America: Ending Poverty”) to the introduction of COVID-19.  Researchers and practitioners have found evidence that social determinants of health, including education level, health and disease condition, environmental and cultural influences, resources, and socioeconomic status of individual or community influence a populations' or an individual’s well-being contributing to the existence of health disparities.   As such, eradicating community-based inequalities is not only critical for improving overall health, but also for reducing health disparities that are oftentimes imbedded in social and economic disadvantages.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its response measures, have blown the whistle on health inequalities built into New York City’s physical infrastructure and embroidered into the social fabric of our communities that occupy them. If we do not address the underlying theme of these inequalities, known as social determinants of health, we are putting a ban-aid on the wound and not curing the disease. This calls for the investment in New York City’s Social Determinants of Health. Where can we start? We must unite as a village.  Community and faith-based organizations, healthcare systems and providers, public health agencies, government agencies, policy makers and others all play a pivotal role in advancing equitable access to health. Preventing the spread on COVID-19 requires unapologetic demands that all New Yorkers have resources to maintain and manage their physical and mental health, including equitable distribution of and access to vaccine information, free testing, PPE equipment and humane healthy living conditions. History is in our hands New York City, let us seize this chance to make the health of all citizens a human right. 

 

As your City Councilwoman, Zuri will advocate for the following measures to move towards a just and sustainable post-covid world:

  • Design and implement policies to remove vulnerability in living and employment conditions—eg, public housing, private rental controls; mandate against long term casual employment by introducing progressive labor laws, universal employment guarantee program,  universal basic income programs, social security pensions, childcare at workplace, parental leave, and school meals.

  • Implement progressive taxation and regulate illicit financial flows—eg, national taxation policies that ensure high income earners pay most tax and making corporations pay taxes

  • Implement policies to address structural racism and discrimination against religious, ethnic, racial,  minorities—eg, establish national anti-discrimination organizations, workplace implicit  bias and anti-racism training; pass laws to prohibit racist attacks and discrimination; and implement affirmative action laws and policies

  • Promote and encourage utilization of primary care- To incentivize primary care utilization, the State should reduce or eliminate patient cost-sharing, including co-pays, deductibles, and premiums for primary care for the foreseeable future. This includes the implementation of laws and policies to ensure access to healthcare services is based on medical need rather than on ability to pay or social status and that services are tailored to recipients’ cultural, linguistic, and religious requirements.

  • Require reporting of COVID-19 surveillance data by race and ethnicity.

  • Protect Medicaid.

  • Extend health coverage to all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status.  Promote community-based population health initiatives aimed at increasing cultural competence in provider settings.

  • Invest in human resources for health, including community health workers and those trained in public health infectious disease control—eg, implement fair wages for all health workers, reduce use of short term contracts, train and recruit health workers from the local area to ensure retention

  •  Improve the educational opportunities during and after school.

  • Ensure that schools are equipped with social workers, school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses and other supportive mental health staff - rather than law enforcement officers - to ensure that students receive the support they need as we emerge from the pandemic; and

  • Equip small businesses with fiscal, technological, and tangible resources to implement safety measures to remain safe, compliant, and open in the face of the pandemic

  • A moratorium on evictions and mortgage, rent, and debt payments

  • Eradicate Food Apartheid by putting energy and resources  back into our communities to build back the need infrastructure to help all of our communities thrive.