New York Governor Cuomo issued an executive order on Wednesday mandating residents wear face coverings or masks in public or in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. That same day, at least 1,000 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in Brooklyn received a mask of their own, reported News 12

Residents lined the sidewalks in front of The Van Dyke Housing Complex while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’s office distributed protective equipment about four weeks after Adams distributed equipment to Brownsville essential workers. 

This is something that we should have done before. I’m sorry that it took this long,” Borough President Adams told residents.

Last week, more than twelve seniors died in two Brownsville NYCHA complexes, likely due to COVID-19 complications. City Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel said that Brownsville residents need to come together in a time when the community is being overlooked.

Officials lamented there wasn’t a plan in place to insure seniors in NYCHA housing were not left to fend for themselves. 

“It is a tragedy that we have lost members of our NYCHA community to COVID-19, and we are grieving with the families that we serve,” said Ampry-Samuel. “NYCHA is working with our City agency and nonprofit partners to outreach residents and connect them with health information and services, wellness checks, mental health services, meals, and host of other support services.”

The councilmember said her office has made 37,693 individual phone calls and has spoken to 19,961 residents to make sure they understand all the precautions surrounding the virus and to identify whether they have any special needs.

“We need our elected officials to support these efforts, not place blame for a virus that knows no bounds, and impacts every single senior and non-senior New York City resident, as well as billions of people around the world,” she said.

The borough president hopes to distribute more face masks and protective gear to community members in the coming weeks. 

“We deserve the best like anyone else,” said Lisa Kenner, president of the Van Dyke Houses Tenant Association. “One thing about this virus: It doesn’t discriminate.” 

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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