NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- After more than 12 elderly residents in two Brownsville NYCHA complexes died, one local official is taking action.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams distributed PPE to tenants on Wednesday. He also held a news conference to urge NYCHA and New York City Department For the Aging to formulate comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and intervention plan.
Adams was joined by City Council member Alicka Ampry-Samuel at the Van Dyke Houses to hand out masks to dozens of people who lined up around the block, all six feet apart.
He said 25,000 masks will be given out to residents of 40 NYCHA developments.
"And by giving you real information and real tools, it can allow you to prevent getting coronavirus," he said.
Adams and Ampry-Samuel do not specifically blame NYCHA for the deaths, but they argue the city initially focused its COVID-19 defense plan solely on intervention and failed to include prevention.
"We should have had a plan in place, a strategy to make sure that we were in contact with each and every senior that live in our public housing buildings" Ampry-Samuel said. "And there was no plan in place."
Data from the city indicates that nearly a quarter of all NYCHA residents are 62 years of age or older.
NYCHA residents over the age of 20 are four times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than non-residents, making them more susceptible to dying from the disease than the general public.
Barbara Brancaccio, Chief Communications Officer, released the following statement:
"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. 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. We have made 37,693 individual phone calls, and have personally spoken to 19,961 of our most vulnerable residents to confirm first-hand that they understand the precautions regarding COVID-19, 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."