A year after New York City became the center of the global Covid-19 outbreak, the neighborhood considered at the time to be the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic remains in crisis – laying bare many of the economic fault lines exposed by the coronavirus.
Corona, Queens, a welcoming enclave for many of the city’s undocumented immigrants and home to many of the “essential” workers who kept New York running during the pandemic’s worst days, has had the highest number of infections and deaths in the city – and now has one of the lowest percentages of people vaccinated.
At least 37% of residents there have received one dose of the vaccine, according to city data. On the Upper East Side, home to the city’s grand museums, luxury boutiques and multimillion-dollar townhouses, more than 64% of residents have received their first dose.
Densely packed, Corona’s multi-family homes are among the most crowded in the city. In the past year, there were 40 eviction filings per 1,000 units, according to the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of housing non-profits – 1,211 evictions in total. In Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, a neighborhood of gourmet coffee shops and craft beer breweries, landlords had sued 37 families altogether.
It’s no coincidence that New York depended on Corona families to deliver food, clean the subways and work in cramped restaurant kitchens while many New Yorkers stayed put. Like many such neighborhoods across the developed world, its residents were on the frontline, allowing their richer neighbors to shield themselves at home.
This disparity was obvious one year ago, when New York City was the global center of the Covid-19 outbreak. At the time, not-for-profits in Corona described to the Guardian how they acted as disaster relief agencies to feed families, connect people with doctors and speak with consulates to repatriate the deceased’s remains.
A year later, undocumented New Yorkers are still at high risk of contracting the virus, and are largely excluded from the federal economic stimulus benefits that have helped so many others weather the pandemic.
New York state, for the first time this month, agreed to try to