Cabrera calls for Bronx field hospital and additional safety measures for ‘forgotten borough’

Councilman Fernando Cabrera discusses COVID'S affect on houses of worship.
Photo courtesy of John McCarten

With work halted for the planned field hospital at Van Cortlandt Park in the borough with the highest COVID-19 fatalities in the city, one elected official is wondering where the help is for Bronxites.

On April 15, Councilman Fernando Cabrera called for a field hospital in the Bronx to stop the spread of coronavirus infection in the borough most devastated by the crisis. The councilman is puzzled as to why one was planned for Van Cortlandt, but nothing for the south Bronx.

“We need the field hospital in Van Cortlandt Park that was promised to the Bronx,” he said. “We need hotel rooms, dormitory rooms or other suitable spaces where people can be isolated from family members. We need tests and PPE. The data showing racial disparities are now well known, while the hardest hit borough continues to struggle. I’m calling on state and local leadership to give us the help we need.”

As of press time, the borough had 1,431 COVID deaths, nearly triple that of Manhattan residents. The Bronx has the highest infection rate per 100,000 people in the city, as well as the worst health outcomes in the state of New York.

With some of the highest asthma rates in the country and numerous people with diabetes, Bronx residents are more prone to the coronavirus.

“We desperately need facilities that can give relief to our overburdened hospitals and places to keep self-quarantined people away from family members and spreading the virus at home,” Cabrera said. “The Bronx is being left behind. It’s like a horror movie.”

While field hospitals are located in Manhattan in Central Park and the Javits Center, the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens and the USNS Comfort arrived in New York Harbor in recent weeks, the Bronx remains extremely vulnerable with no such similar support.

He acknowledged that finally some help was given to the south Bronx this week when a walk in testing site opened April 12 at the Tres Puentes Center operated by Urban Health Plan. It is located at Third Avenue and 138th Street and testing is by appointment only Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. People must call 311 for an appointment or have a referral.

While there are drive thru testing sites at Jacobi Hospital, Baychester Plaza Mall in Co-op City and Lehman College, he stressed that more needs to be done.

Cabrera told the Bronx Times it seems like the Bronx is often the forgotten borough. He questioned why Manhattan has two field hospitals.

Most Bronxites are not living in private homes with a basement or attic or spare bedrooms where they can isolate themselves from family members or stay six feet away.

“If we’re really going to curb down numbers we need to have an option for people to go somewhere,” he said.

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