SUNSET PARK — Although there has not been a single case of the coronavirus reported in New York City, fears continue to mount regarding the potential spread of the virus, and it’s having a devastating effect on restaurants and small businesses in the Asian-American community. On Wednesday, community leaders met with New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer asking for help in dealing with the situation.
On Thursday, many of the same community leaders attended another meeting with local politicians at Park Asia restaurant on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park to discuss the fears the community is facing regarding an upcoming Lunar New Year celebration at New Utrecht High School, which will take place on Sunday, March 1 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school, 1601 80th St.
The event was organized by Brooklyn Asian-American Civilian Observation Patrol chair Louie Liu, and brought together elected officials including U.S. Rep. Max Rose, City Councilmember Justin Brannan and Assemblymember Peter Abbate.
“I’ve been speaking to the press to get the word out that there is no reason for people not to come out to restaurants and shops, and that people should patronize our businesses,” said Abbate.
“We want to keep our community strong, and we want people to come back out to dinners and enjoy themselves. Especially now that we’re having the tail end of our New Year’s celebration, there’s no better time to bring your family, and on March 1 we will host our annual Lunar New Year’s celebration at New Utrecht High School,” Abbate added.
Rose reiterated the importance of not letting fear stand in the way of shopping and dining in the neighborhood. “There has not been one incident of the coronavirus in New York City,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of fear-mongering. I dine at this establishment and I will continue to dine in this community with real pride and pleasure with my entire family, as I’ve done for years. We must continue to do so, because if we don’t, it sends the message that those fear-mongers win. We will not allow that to happen, not on our watch.”
Brannan also emphasized the importance of not letting fear hold people back from enjoying the upcoming celebration. “I echo what my colleagues here have already said. There are no cases of the coronavirus in New York City or in the state of New York,” said Brannan, who noted that the upcoming event at New Utrecht would feature “more than 200 performers, both locals and professionals, and over 40 groups and supporters,” as well as “all kinds of cultural performances from kids to seniors.
“There’s going to be lots of games and activities for everybody” he went on, “and in addition, there will be a resource fair for various city agencies in the lobby.”
As of early February, tens of thousands of people worldwide had been infected with the new strain of coronavirus. Many international experts are predicting that the disease will continue to spread globally.
As of Friday, China had reported 1,109 new cases of the virus, sharply higher than the 349 reported days earlier. The cumulative total worldwide is 75,685 individuals infected. At least 2,236 people have died from the virus.
Globally, an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 people die from the flu each year according to the World Health Organization.
Fifteen coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., none in New York.
Rose called the meeting an extraordinary moment, “Not just when the majority of elected officials in southwest Brooklyn meet to celebrate, but also to pay respect to this extraordinary community and to start the New Year in the right way, wishing families not only health, not only peace, but also prosperity,” Rose added.