Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams was in the Crotona section of the Bronx on Friday morning, addressing one of the borough’s long-standing issues, health equity.
In the South Bronx, the poorest urban congressional district in the country, the population suffers high rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality. A few comorbidities including asthma and heart disease led to high COVID hospitalizations and fatalities in the Bronx.
Adams, the incumbent Brooklyn borough president, said he wants the city to “scale up” its vaccine incentive programs to low-income communities such as the Crotona section, through organizations such as SOMOS Community Care, which has a network of providers throughout the city.
SOMOS Community Care has administered 1.5 million vaccines in New York City. However, the Bronx is still the second-lowest vaccinated borough with just 67% of the population receiving one dose of the vaccine, entering Friday.
Additionally, the 61-year-old Adams wants to increase funding for volunteer networks like New York Cares and low-to-no-cost health insurance agencies like Metro Plus so that people can be eligible for healthcare without needing to go through NYC Health + Hospitals system.
Adams was blunt in his assessment of the city’s healthcare outreach in low-income areas, which includes disproportionate COVID-19 fatalities among the city’s Black and brown populations, saying “our government has failed these communities.”
Another part of Adams’ plan would be to turn COVID vaccination sites in low-income communities into permanent healthcare centers, an effort, he believes, will lead to better health outcomes for minorities.
NYC’s poorest neighborhoods, which also have the highest proportion of Black and Hispanic residents, have death rates which are 30% higher than those in wealthier neighborhoods.
Adams furthered his assessment, stating that the city needs to shift its fundings and initiatives toward preventative health care or risk economic shortfalls by not addressing the root of chronic illness in its residents.
“COVID only really amplified how bad our ‘sickcare’ system is,” he said. “We don’t have a healthcare system … We wait until you’re sick and we give you medicine to cure the symptoms of your sickness. We are saying that must stop.”
Communities with more Black or Hispanic residents, according to BMC Public Health, were most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a number of race, poverty and ethnic-based systemic issues and risk factors that have been linked to lack of healthcare access and existing comorbidities in those communities.
Bronx leaders such as Democrat Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and New York City Councilman Oswald Feliz, a Democrat, joined Adams in encouraging vaccinations for COVID-19 as well as influenza.
Health officials are pushing Americans to get their flu shot to help build back immunity and avoid possibly getting COVID and the flu together, and avoiding a “twindemic” of flu and coronavirus spikes.
Adams is the heavy favorite in the Nov. 2 general election as he faces Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa, due to the city’s wide margin of registered Democrats to Republicans.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.