While life in New York City has slowed considerably due to the Covid-19, the South Bronx is running at full speed. This district at the southern tip of the Bronx is home to many warehouses, resulting in an endless stream of delivery trucks. Their activity is sustained in these times of confinement. And this worries the locals, who fear a renewed pollution. ” We are in the “asthma aisle”said Mychal Johnson, co-founder of the local environmental justice association South Bronx Unite.
Poor, polluted neighborhood
The poorest neighborhood in the megalopolis hit hard by the current epidemic – more than 15,000 dead – the South Bronx has a large population of asthmatics. Its residents, mostly Hispanic and black, are five times more hospitalized for asthma than the national average. ” We have classrooms filled to 90% of asthmaticscontinues Mychal Johnson. As a poor, non-white community, we carry very heavy burdens, inherited from decades of segregation and damaging political decisions. “
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According to him, the pollution comes from the three highways that surround the neighborhood, but also from the daily comings and goings of thousands of trucks. The lack of parks does not help: the South Bronx, 500,000 inhabitants, has only one. The presence of community gardens created by residents in the middle of the HLM bars does little to change the situation.
Asthma, an additional anxiety factor
In this “asthma alley”, the Covid-19 is very scary. And for good reason: asthma and its respiratory complications are considered to be co-morbidities. ” Although more research is needed on the relationship between asthma and Covid-19, there is there are a lot ofworry and concern “Explains Acklema Mohammad, a doctor practicing in the neighborhood for thirty years. Its pediatric care center treats 13,000 asthma sufferers from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of a nationally recognized treatment program.
She had to revise her methods because of the Covid-19. “ We were doing a lot of visits to high-risk patients to find out what in their home could trigger asthma attacks. Now we have to do virtual tours. We call them regularly to educate them on how to strengthen their lungs, which will help them if they get sick, explains the doctor. The good news is that the Covid-19 pushes them to be more rigorous in taking metedrugs. “
The Bronx, particularly hit by the Covid-19
She said the role of asthma in the deaths of Covid-19 remains to be determined. One thing is certain: the Bronx is paying a heavy price for the virus. This poor district has proportionately more patients, but people die from coronavirus twice as much as in any other part of the city. In the South Bronx, in particular, between 59 and 76% of screenings performed are positive, making the neighborhood one of the most affected in New York. ” Going out is out of the question. We have everything delivered. Fortunately, my kids don’t usually spend a lot of time outside Says Blanca Ortiz, an asthmatic housewife like three of her children, on the phone.
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Asthma is not the only threat to the neighborhood. ” Many locals also suffer from obesity andhypertension, recalls Mychal Johnson. We live in poor quality housing. Health education, including how to eat healthy, is lacking. This systemic racism contributes greatly to the current situation. Yesterday, we had to wait years to see the consequences. With the Covid-19, they jump us at the figure. “