APRIL 22, 2022 www.qns.com RIDGEWOOD TIMES
Maloney unveils temporary medical care unit at Astoria Houses
BY JULIA MORO
Local leaders and elected officials unveiled the new
temporary medical care unit that will provide free
COVID-19 vaccines and tests at Astoria Houses on
Thursday, April 14.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney secured the 40-footlong
repurposed shipping container for the medical care
unit by working with developers from the New Jersey
Institute of Technology (NJIT), the city and state of New
York, the New York City Housing Authority and other key
The unit is operated by the Floating Hospital, a New York
City charity hospital that provides healthcare to anyone
in need. The site will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Maloney pushed for this testing and vaccination site due
to the lack of COVID resources near the Astoria Houses.
Currently, there is only one permanent vaccination site
within half mile of Astoria Houses and two in the entire
11102 ZIP code.
“Until everyone in this city, in this country has affordable
access to basic healthcare, we are not fully free or
equal,” Maloney said. “Let us work towards a more perfect
and healthier union.”
Maloney credits this lack of access to the high rates of
COVID-19 cases in the area, which is more than double that
of Queens and New York City. Astoria’s case rate is 30,511,
compared to rates in Queens, which is 13,353 and New York
City’s rate of 12,611.
“Health care is and always should be a human right,” Maloney
said. “This has not been more evident than in the past
two years, as we confronted the coronavirus pandemic
and millions of people were unable to access COVID-19
tests and vaccinations.”
Governor Kathy Hochul attended the launch of the medical
center sharing that she is thankful Maloney advocated
so strongly for this project.
“We need to make sure New York’s recovery from the
COVID-19 pandemic is inclusive, equitable and fair,” Hochul
said. “That’s why it’s so important to have sites like
this new medical care unit at the Astoria Houses, bringing
much-needed resources and services to communities that
had been left behind for far too long. I’m grateful to the
hard-working medical professionals who will ensure local
residents have tests and vaccines.”
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of
color throughout the pandemic, which leaders recognized
during the unveiling at the Astoria Houses.
“This pandemic demonstrated that there are systemic
disparities in healthcare access and therefore healthcare
outcomes,” Hochul said.
Reuters found in a study that the mostly white area of
Gramercy Park in Manhattan had a rate of 31 deaths per
100,000 residents. In Far Rockaway, which is more than
40% black, the death rate is nearly 15 times higher: 444
deaths per 100,000 residents.
NYCHA Chair and CEO Greg Russ, said that the COVID
19 pandemic underscored the importance of bringing
healthcare to as many communities as possible.
Read more on PoliticsNY.com.
BY BILL PARRY
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell spoke
with QNS to shed some light on the
issues that led him to decide to end
his re-election campaign Tuesday, April 14.
The 36-year-old — who represents
District 30, which comprises the neighborhoods
of Maspeth, Middle Village and
parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside
and Woodside — told QNS that he
reached the breaking point after the $220
billion New York state budget was finalized
over the weekend.
“There were a host of issues, but guns
were the problem for me,” Barnwell said.
“You have people dying and getting shot in
the street. I wanted to get illegal possession
of a firearm to be considered for bail,
not mandate but at least considered. Nope.
The gun stuff was the last straw for me.”
Barnwell also said he is frustrated with
the inaction by city agencies.
“I handle all of my constituent complaints
and city agencies are just not doing
their job,” Barnwell said. “Not resolving
serious complaints like no heat, no hot
water, mold, etc. The Department of Buildings
not resolving illegal conversions and
then they wonder why bad things happen.
It all goes back to people playing politics
instead of solving the issue and you know
me — I don’t like playing politics.”
Democratic District Leader Melissa
Sklarz, a longtime neighbor of Barnwell’s
in Woodside who mounted an unsuccessful
challenge against him in 2018, was on
a committee that included Queens County
Democratic chairman Gregory Meeks that
selected Steven Raga to replace Barnwell
on the ballot.
“The committee on filling vacancies selected
Steven Raga as the best choice for
Queens County Democrats in the 30th AD
in the June primary,” Sklarz said.
Raga is the current executive director
of Woodside on the Move who served as
Barnwell’s chief of staff for four years.
“I had nothing to do with that whatsoever;
like I said, I don’t like playing politics,” Barnwell
said. “Steven ran for City Council last
year and I didn’t endorse him. I guess they
picked him but it has nothing to do with me.”
Barnwell grew up in the Boulevard Gardens
Apartments in Woodside dreaming
of a career in the military until he was
diagnosed with scoliosis, or curvature
of the spine. Three back surgeries and
metal rods stabilizing his spine ended his
thoughts of serving in the armed forces.
Barnwell chose public service instead
stunning nine-term incumbent state Assemblywoman
Margaret Markey in the
2016 Democratic primary before claiming
the seat in a convincing win over Republican
nominee Tony Nunziato, the current
leader of the Queens GOP.
He will finish out his current term at
the end of the year and is undecided about
what comes next.
”I’m a lawyer and I could return to
practice, but I’m also a Christian so I
might become a preacher,” Barnwell
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell said “a
host of issues” are behind his decision
to end his re-election bid. QNS file photo
said. “I already hear people saying, ‘Oh,
he’s got a corporate job lined up or maybe
he’s going to be selected to be lieutenant
governor,’ and I’m like, I put thousands
into my re-election campaign and then
the budget came down, and I just said to
myself, I can’t. I’m done.”
Governor Kathy Hochul and Rep. Carolyn Maloney
unveil a new medical care unit at Astoria Houses
Thursday, April 14. Photo courtesy of Maloney’s office
Barnwell explains decision to drop re-election bid
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