SUNSET PARK — With 170 deaths from the Novel Coronavirus reported in China, and 7,700 confirmed cases of the disease on China’s mainland, tensions continue to mount about a potential epidemic in the United States.
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, Borough President Eric Adams held a news conference in Sunset Park that included representatives of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, elected officials and community leaders. Concerns about the virus continue to grow in Sunset Park and Bensonhurst, where a large Asian population resides.
The goal of the conference was to highlight steps people can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from the Coronavirus, based on recommendations and guidance provided by the DOHMH, the CDC and the World Health Organization.
“As Coronavirus continues to spread, it is imperative that every Brooklynite be aware of how to protect themselves and their loved ones. That’s why we are proud to lead this public outreach campaign in Sunset Park,” said Adams.
“I want to assure all Brooklyn residents that there is no need for panic, and there have been no confirmed cases here in New York State as of yet. Nonetheless, we must maintain our vigilance against a legitimate public health threat. We thank the Department of Health and NYC Health + Hospitals for their partnership and their tireless efforts to keep New Yorkers informed and safe,” he added.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose district includes parts of Brooklyn including Sunset Park, encouraged people to learn the proper ways to protect themselves.
“There’s significant misinformation and rumors being circulated about the Coronavirus,” she stressed. “It is important New Yorkers be aware of simple steps they can take to keep themselves safe and where they can obtain reliable information.”
District 38 City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who also represents Sunset Park, noted, “The way to combat fear is with knowledge.
“We will continue to work across all relevant agencies and with local organizations in our district like the Chinese-American Planning Council, who were quick to host this important conversation,” he went on.
The virus outbreak is believed to have originated from contact between humans and animals and was initially linked to a large seafood market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. More recently, the Chinese government confirmed that the new virus could spread from human to human, adding to growing fears of a massive outbreak.
Some of the suggestions offered at the conference to protect against the disease included frequently washing your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers; using a tissue or the bend of your arm when sneezing or coughing; avoiding being around people with cold or flu-like symptoms; and cooking all meat thoroughly.
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, whose 51st Assembly District includes Sunset Park, also encouraged residents to be vigilant. “We know from past experiences with tuberculosis in Sunset Park that we can avoid viruses by taking precautions recommended by health authorities and specialists,” said Ortiz.
“I strongly urge New Yorkers to follow the stay-safe guidelines against the Coronavirus carefully. With so many residents traveling across the globe frequently, preventive measures will go a long way to protect our families from illness,” he emphasized.
Nearly 60 million people have been under partial or full lockdown in China during the past week and there have been more than 100 confirmed cases outside of China, in 20 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported five cases of the virus — one in Arizona, two in California, one in Washington State and one in Illinois — while more than 1,000 people are being tested for the disease across 26 states.
The virus can cause coughing, fever, breathing difficulty and pneumonia. The antibiotic-resistant virus also may compromise the immune system of older adults.
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the U.S. government evacuated 195 people from China and flew them to California where they were isolated for CDC screenings and monitoring at a military base.