De Blasio cracks down on public gatherings following Hassidic Jewish funeral
Following a Hassidic Jewish funeral in Williamburg last night that reportedly drew several thousand mourners with some crashing police barricades, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he has instructed New York Police Department officers to issue summonses and even arrests the next time they catch a mass gathering, even if it’s for a religious service.
The mourners came to pay homage for Rabbi Chaim Mertz who himself died of coronavirus. It was the latest of several Hassidic funerals in Brooklyn, in which mourners flouted the social distancing measures the city and state placed in effect to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has disproportionately taken the lives of Hassidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Up until now, the NYPD was ordered to try and educate the people they caught at mass religious gatherings, but the mayor has since decided to treat mass gatherings of all kinds equally, as large gatherings in non-religious situations have been the site of summons, fines and arrests.
“The notion that people gather in large numbers and even if they didn’t mean to would spread a disease that will kill other members of the community is just unacceptable to me,” de Blasio said.
The mayor also took to Twitter to explain his frustrations and the new guidelines that the police would be following.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” one of his tweets read. “I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
This comment has received major backlash online, including by Jewish politicians, with many people calling the tweet almost anti-Semitic.
“Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC. The few who don’t social distance should be called out — but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted in response to the mayor. “This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever.”
Read more about this in this article: Eyewitness News
Cuomo orders MTA to sanitize all subway trains every night
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today at his daily press briefing that the MTA must sanitize each subway car every single night to ensure the safety of essential workers.
“Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before,” Cuomo told reporters. “Letting them endanger their own life and endanger the lives of others is not helping anyone.”
He ordered the MTA to provide him with a plan for the nightly disinfection by tomorrow, saying it is realistic and necessary.
Additionally, the governor touched on the fact that people have reported numerous homeless people sleeping on the trains and in the subway stations every night, often accompanied by their belongings stuffed into suitcases or bags.
As the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, pandemic ensued, the city began allowing the homeless to sleep on the trains.
“No one wants to live their lives on a subway train,” Cuomo said. “We have a higher obligation as a society than to say ‘okay, you can sleep in a subway car.’”
Cuomo also announced that, starting today, the state will offer antibody testing to all transit workers, to make sure that they are not infected or carriers of the virus.
This is hoped to protect both the essential workers that have to take public transportation to get to work and the MTA workers themselves.
Read more about this in this article: The Hill
Elderly Brooklyn couple dies just two days apart from each other
An elderly Brooklyn couple died from coronavirus just days apart from each other, leaving their son to mourn the loss while struggling to make ends meet.
Arthur Forte, who was 80 and had emphysema, died on April 2 at the Staten Island University Hospital within two weeks of his initial symptoms. His wife, Helen Forte, died just two days later at the same medical center.
The couple had been married for 57 years after meeting in the very borough in which they were born and raised.
Their son, Sal Forte, had shut down his Bay Ridge business as the coronavirus pandemic ramped up to be able to move in with his parents and take care of them.
“A lot of things are replaying in my head and it’s hard because I went through, what I could’ve done differently, what I should’ve done, what I did. Until I thought I did everything they told me to do. I really did. I closed down my business. I locked down. I stayed inside. And it still got us,” he said.
According to the store owner, his father’s funeral happened while guests had to remain in their cars in order to social distance and his mother’s cremation was delayed by two weeks due to a backlog.
He now has to pay his own mortgage as well as his parents, in addition to maintaining his business and his health. The community set up a GoFundMe page to help him.
Read more about this in this article: New York 1
Queens suicide rate soars during the coronavirus pandemic
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz discussed troubling data that shows that the rate of suicide has increased in Queens during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the data, there were 16 suicides between March 15 and April 28, double the amount that there were during the same time period in 2019.
Another way of putting the numbers: about the same number of people have died by suicide since the being of the state’s and city’s shutdown on March 20 as died of suicide between Jan. 1 and April 19 in 2019.
“There is a mental health component to this health crisis that needs our attention,” Katz said in a statement yesterday night. “Since this pandemic began the numbers of suicides in Queens County have soared. The victims are young and old – no one is immune. Please reach out to your friends and neighbors. Check in on each other because nobody should be alone in this and there is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help.”
Read more about this in this article: The New York Daily News