Anil Subba, a Nepali Uber driver from Jackson Heights, Queens, died just hours after doctors at Elmhurst Hospital thought he might be strong enough to be removed from a ventilator.
In the nearby Corona neighborhood, Edison Forero, 44, a restaurant worker from Colombia, was still burning with fever when his housemate demanded he leave his rented room, he said.
Not far away in Jackson Heights, Raziah Begum, a widow and nanny from Bangladesh, worries she will be ill soon. Two of her three roommates already have the symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Everyone in the apartment is jobless, and they eat one meal a day, she said.
“We are so hungry, but I am more terrified that I will get sick,” said Ms. Begum, 53, who has diabetes and high blood pressure.
In a city ravaged by the coronavirus, few places have suffered as much as central Queens, where a seven-square-mile patch of densely packed immigrant enclaves recorded more than 7,000 cases in the first weeks of the outbreak.
The chockablock density that defines this part of Queens may have also have been its undoing. Doctors and community leaders say poverty, notoriously overcrowded homes and government inaction left residents especially vulnerable to the virus.
“I don’t think the city communicated the level of danger,” said Claudia Zamora, the interim deputy director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, an advocacy group and worker center in Jackson Heights.
In early March, she said, city health officials sent out fliers with hand-washing tips, but not the outreach workers and multilingual posters that might have conveyed the looming peril.
The sick now include laborers like Ángel, 39, a construction worker from Ecuador who asked that only his first name be used because of his immigration status.
Like many, he said he worked at a Manhattan construction site until he fell ill. He said he was turned away from Elmhurst Hospital because his symptoms were not deemed life-threatening and had been suffering in the apartment in Corona he shares with three other workers. “I don’t have anyone to help me,” he said.
City officials rejected the suggestion that they left the city’s immigrant neighborhoods to fend for themselves. The Department of Health, officials said, created coronavirus fact sheets in 15 languages. Officials mounted multilingual public service campaigns in subways and on television, and have provided continuous updates to the ethnic media including on the need for social distancing.
*Title provided by Crappy