After quarantining herself for two weeks, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez returned to the community on Monday as she donated supplies to Jacobi Hospital.
On March 30, Fernandez, Assemblyman Michael Blake and SUNYY EOC gave masks, gowns, gloves and goggles to medical staff at Jacobi.
“Our frontline workers are putting their lives on the line so that they can help our most vulnerable patients,” Fernandez said. “I am so glad that I was able to team up with the SUNY Bronx EOC to provide these resources to the staff, understanding just how limited the supply is and how necessary it is to have these protective gears. This protective equipment is the little bit that we can do for our healthcare workers to give them some safety during this pandemic.”
Fernandez said she has never experienced anything like this. While she did not have the coronavirus, she was near someone who did, so stayed home as a precaution.
In Albany, waiting to vote for the budget, she chatted with the Bronx Times about the coronavirus and how it has changed everything.
As she looks out on the streets of the Boogie Down, she feels like she is in the Twilight Zone. The abandoned stores and empty streets are scary, she said.
According to Fernandez, the same stress residents are feeling is affecting her and her staff as well.
“It’s really an everyday type of battle,” she said. “There is anxiety I know that I’ve felt.”
She recalled how Hurricane Sandy destroyed businesses, but after a week or so people were back at work and school. However, no one knows when things will be normal again with this pandemic.
“I always try to be very positive,” she said. “I feel like that’s jumped in the last two weeks. They [communities] are coming to elected officials as a source of information.”
Her constituents have called her with a litany of issues. Some of the concerns have been mental health, technology, food, jobs, money and living too close to people in a shelter.
As millions of kids are learning virtually, likely for the foreseeable future, many are without computers and internet access. Fernandez stressed this should not be the case and the DOE and schools need to make sure every child has a device and Wi-Fi.
“I think the immediate roll (of virtual learning) out was not sharp,” she remarked. “It [COVID-19] smacked us with the hard reality that we were not prepared.”
Many people are stuck at home because they lost their jobs or are working remotely. This isolation can lead to poor mental health, she said.
“Anxiety is up and depression is growing,” she commented. She noted that the fear of suicide during this time is increasing.
While Governor Andrew Cuomo declared no evictions for 90 days, she is still worried about people losing homes.
Some landlords have reached out to her saying they still need the money because they have to pay people.
“In my opinion, I say we cancel all payments and bills,” the assemblywoman said.