Coney Island was revealed to have one of New York City’s highest death rates, leaving elected officials irate.
According to the New York Times, ZIP code 11239, which includes parts of Canarsie and Flatlands, has the highest rate of coronavirus-related deaths in New York City.
The second highest in Brooklyn, and also among the top 10 in the city, is ZIP code 11224, which includes Coney Island. The area has sustained 185 coronavirus-related deaths (1 in 240).
Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend, and Sea Gate, shared his dismay.
“I am devastated and outraged,” he said. “Coney Island (11224) has the fifth highest death rate per capita in the entire city. If you know Coney well, you know it’s basically a small town. People know each other and families have roots here for generations, which is what makes this all the harder. We may not have the density of Manhattan, but deaths reverberate here in a way that they don’t in many parts of the city. What I cannot reconcile is how hard we have had to fight for the smallest scraps, knowing that our demographics put us at higher risk of death, when there were parts of the government who had the data that demonstrated what we knew anecdotally: our community was being decimated.”
Treyger also said that it took weeks to get a testing site and one mask distribution center, and for nursing home data revealing poor conditions to be made public.
“And, all the while, my constituents were dying at alarmingly high rates,” he continued. “My office sent countless letters and emails to city and state health officials to immediately address the inequitable response to the crisis from day one. I also urged the city to send sick nursing home residents to the Javits Center and USNS Comfort (both in Manhattan) as the city and state were boasting about empty beds and extra medics being available. Meanwhile, who had the higher death rate? Southern Brooklyn. The deadly tale of two responses in the same city.”
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who represents Coney Island and Sea Gate, as well as parts of Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Dyker Heights and Gravesend, also chimed in via Facebook.
“The City of New York has released data showing that Coney Island has the fifth highest COVID-19 death rate per capita in all of NYC,” she said. “This fact is exacerbated by the fact that we’re long been a historically marginalized community with higher-than-NYC-average rates of poverty, unemployment and chronic health concerns. It comes at a time where the city and state are both examining the racial impact of the coronavirus on communities of color.”
Frontus said she expressed concern to the Parks Department about the city’s position to ban swimming while the boardwalk and sand area continue to see large crowds.
“In light of this new information, I believe that the hardest hit communities should take the most precautions before fully reopening,” she said. “I will be reaching out to the city and local stakeholders and will share updates as I receive them.”
“Coney Island’s role in the public conversation has mostly focused on calls from those who live in wealthier, whiter communities in Manhattan with lower death rates to open the beaches as a ‘release valve’ for crowded parks in denser areas of the city, failing to consider the health and well-being of the essential workers, families, and senior citizens who call Coney Island home,” said Treyger. “Meanwhile, my constituents have been dying horrific deaths – under-resourced, marginalized, ignored, and alone.
“I pray that this data serves as a wake-up call when it comes to the government’s resource allocation, both during the pandemic and after. While we have a lower population density than much of the city, we have many vulnerable residents, and far less access to private philanthropy and civic infrastructure than other communities, ensuring worse outcomes. I will continue to fight tooth and nail for my district, as we mourn the loss of so many.”