NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As asylum seekers continue to flood into New York City from Texas and Florida, Mayor Eric Adams is now comparing the humanitarian crisis to the pandemic.
The mayor spoke Friday for the first time since announcing a new relief center for incoming migrants this week.
He compared the crisis to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and says we could get anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 migrants.
A parking lot in Orchard Beach in the Bronx has been transformed into the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center. It will serve as the first touchpoint for adult asylum seekers.
"We are going to treat them like the emergency that they are facing," Adams said.
Critics have likened the relief center to tent cities and have spoken out against the potential use of cruise ships to house asylum seekers, an idea the mayor floated last week. The mayor spoke on Caribbean Power Jam Radio Friday morning.
"We had a hospital in Central Park under COVID. We had a boat here, a hospital boat, that was here parked on our river during COVID," Adams said. "We used whatever we had to do to get through this emergency."
At a shelter in Hollis, Queens, the concern is for one asylum seeker who officials say died by suicide.
"We do know the system is bursting at the seems, this was preventable," Jumaane Williams said.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams toured the facility Friday morning, just days after her death.
The 32-year-old woman arrived from Colombia with her two children in May. City leaders say she told other shelter residents she had been separated from her husband at the border.
"I wanted to come see for myself and see if we could get some answers," Williams said.
He said he did not get a lot.
Williams says the family shelter is at capacity and there are Spanish speaking social workers and translation services available. Yet, he's unclear on how consistent the services are being offered.
The tragedy he says is a result, in part, of his demands falling on deaf ears. In every budget, he says he asks for stronger housing services.
"Tents and cruise ships aren't an answer to the housing needs we have right now," Williams said.
A second relief center will be opened for families with children in the future.
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