Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Coronavirus in New York City: No Schools Will Close Because Homeless Kids Have Nowhere To Go

Far from the national media coverage we see 24/7 on the multimedia news feed is the story of the homeless in NYC. Kids are particularly hard hit because they are without a voice, often without medical care, and without resources to get out of the rut to find a better life. We do not in any way want to malign the good name of the many wonderful organizations in New York City who are treating and supporting the homeless. But these organizations first have to find the people they need to care for, and this is a problem.

Many of the poor, elderly and/or sick people in this city do not reach out for help and do not seek assistance, for any number of reasons. In our opinion, the fact that NYC's Mayor and Chancellor will not close the public schools is dangerous for everyone who works in or attends the biggest public school system in the United States and can serve to spread the corona virus or any other contagion. We know that the NYC Department of Education gets paid for each seat that is occupied and does not get paid when the seat is not occupied. Too bad.

Latest tweet from the NYC DOE March 10, 2020:

"The health and safety of our students and school staff is our first priority. There are no plans to close schools at this time. Latest information sent to NYC public schools families regarding #coronavirus is available here:"

The Coalition For the Homeless has the statistics. We know the problem. We must, as citizens, try to deal with it appropriately, i.e. for the health, safety and welfare of all the people in the city, country, world. We are all in this together.

 Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Basic Facts About Homelessness: New York City

Coronavirus: New York Won’t Close Schools Because Homeless Kids Have Nowhere Else to Go

For many thousands of students across New York City and the United States, school is the only place they receive regular meals, shelter, medical care, and other vital services.

As the number of cases of COVID-19 in the tri-state area rises to over 150, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency across New York State. Local universities like Hofstra, Columbia and Yeshiva have shut their doors on students today. But the city has no plans to close public k-12 schools – because tens of thousands of homeless children have nowhere else to go. 34,000 children in New York City’s public school system currently live in emergency shelters, and a further 74,000 have only been spared the same fate by relatives, friends or neighbors who have taken them in. With 1.1 million students, the city has the largest public school system in the United States, one in ten of whom experienced homelessness in the 2018-2019 school year, according to a recent report from education group Advocates for Children. Thus, for many thousands of students, school is the only place they receive regular meals, shelter, medical care, and other vital services. For that reason, School Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said that they would remain open despite the risk and that closures would be considered only as a “last resort.”

Homelessness among young people has reached epidemic proportions nationwide. Federal data shows that more than 1.5 million students across America experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 year, with California atop the table. And yet the problem has become normalized to the point where children in the richest society in world history living on the streets are unremarkable. In a story about homeless New York child chess prodigy Tanitoluwa Adewumi, the New York Times and other media outlets described his playing style and his personal brilliance but did not ponder how he came to be homeless or what that said about the society he lived in. The problem is particularly acute in the Bronx, where 37 percent of residents also often go to bed hungry, the highest rate in the entire country.

While Columbia University intends on teaching classes remotely from Wednesday on, schoolteachers in poorer boroughs note that it is impossible to do the same, as up to half of the students do not have Internet access at home. “We can’t do distance learning,” said Nicole Manning, a ninth-grade math teacher at Herbert H. Lehman High School in the Bronx, “It wouldn’t be fair.”

Y'all the NY school system won't shut down because over 100,000 students are homeless and will not get a meal otherwise. The US is the dystopia they imagine everywhere else being.

— Laleh Khalili (@LalehKhalili) March 9, 2020

Other responses to the coronavirus have raised eyebrows. If the outbreak reaches pandemic proportions, the city has made plans to make prisoners from the notorious Rikers Island jail dig mass graves for victims on Hart Island, a policy first proposed by Michael Bloomberg when he was mayor. And amid a run on the product, inmates in prison factories have also began producing large quantities of hand sanitizer for public use. This weekend a Manhattan hardware store was fined for hiking prices on cleaning products. Meanwhile, banking lobbying groups are pressuring the government to force through emergency deregulation of Wall Street, supposedly to help fight the virus.

It appears that the subway will be kept open at almost all costs, too. The confined space filled by 4.3 million people every day could pose a serious contagion threat, but it is also a crucial artery of the city. Mayor Bill de Blasio has suggested using alternative means of transport, if possible. “If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can,” he advised.

There has also been an epidemic of anti-Asian xenophobia on the subway. The New York Police Department is investigating a hate crime after a Chinese woman was attacked last month. Thai and Hmong communities have also been the target of racist abuse.

The NYPD and the Hate Crime Task Force encourage the victim to report this incident to the police for a full investigation.

— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) February 5, 2020

From the inadequate public health provisions, the wave of intolerance to the shocking levels of homelessness, the coronavirus is exposing many of the flaws of and the dark undertones of American society. Without a functioning social safety net, the United States will find it harder than other nations to combat the virus’ spread.

Feature photo | A commuter wears a face mask in the New York City transit system, March 9, 2020, in New York. John Minchillo | AP

A new report shows that New York City plans to use prison labor to dig mass graves in case of a deadly outbreak of the Coronavirus.

wo dozen new cases of Covid-19, a deadly strain of novel coronavirus, were detected in the United States over the weekend, bringing the total to 42, with 47 more U.S. nationals infected either in China or aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Included in the 42 is New York City’s first case; the patient in question is currently confined to her Manhattan home.
“There is no cause for surprise – this was expected. As I said from the beginning, it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last week called for the state legislature to pass $40 million in emergency management funds to confront the outbreak. Yet even with the extra money, it seems clear that the city would be almost completely unprepared to handle a crisis on the scale that much of the media is hyping it up to be.
A new report by New York Magazine, based upon information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and a 2008 New York City pandemic response plan, shows the Big Apple would be overwhelmed in the case of a Spanish Flu-like epidemic. Last week Mayor de Blasio announced he had set aside an extra 1,200 hospital beds in case of need. But a truly serious outbreak could see as many as 26,300 new patients per day arriving at hospitals. Furthermore, the city has barely one sixth of the ventilators it would need in that situation, with medical masks also in perilously short supply.
Perhaps the most notable information from the report is that if the city’s crematoria are overrun, New York intends to use prison slave labor to dig mass graves:
The city has plans to send corpses to Hart Island in the Long Island Sound where, in the late 19th century, yellow-fever patients were quarantined. Prisoners from Rikers Island would be ferried over to do the digging.”
This policy is based on a document authored during Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, one that saw a more authoritarian approach taken to crime and policing. Bloomberg is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Billionaire "Democratic" candidate Mike Bloomberg has ties to Harvey Weinstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein among other notables.
Yet while the prospect of Harvey Weinstein and other inmates of the infamous prison being forced to come into contact with contaminated corpses might raise some eyebrows, New York prisoners already bury thousands of poor, homeless or unidentified people in deep, mass graves containing up to 1,000 bodies on Hart Island, being paid $0.50 per hour for their labor. More than one million people have been interred on the desolated island off limits to the public. In the past, it has also been used as a quarantine station and a prison.
While the Chinese government has drawn praise for mobilizing its considerable resources, building multiple hospitals in a matter of days to house the infected, and effectively quarantining entire municipalities, the American response has been less impressive. President Trump, who attempted to cut the CDC’s budget in February, proposed a tax cut in response to the virus. The majority of American cases are located in the Pacific Northwest, with Washington state governor Jay Inslee, himself a former Democratic presidential candidate, declaring a state of emergency on Saturday.
In the United States, prisoners are leased out across the country to large corporations, who use their artificially cheap labor to reap huge profits. Everything from McDonald’s uniforms to expensive lingerie to car parts to Starbucks cups are manufactured by prisoners, who have little option but to give their labor for as little as $0.12 per hour. Meanwhile, many firefighters who tackled the California wildfires were actually incarcerated inmates making $1 per hour risking their lives. And while governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton used prison slave labor in and around his mansion to “keep costs down.”
Similar to how Ebola was racialized as a distinctly African illness, news of the coronavirus has led to an outbreak of anti-Chinese racism.
The coronavirus started in December in Wuhan, China and has spread to 58 countries, with over 89,000 people infected now confirmed. As the virus has spread, so has anti-Chinese xenophobia. In crisis, however, there is opportunity, with the prices of basic medical masks rising by 10,000 percent in Italy as speculators take advantage over public fears. Yet experts agree that wearing masks is ineffective, instead urging people simply to wash their hands regularly with soap and water and refrain from touching their faces.
Governor Cuomo stressed that “there is no reason for undue anxiety.” “The general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available,” he said. However, if things get out of hand, the dark side of American society will be on display, as the exploitative prison industrial complex will be recruited to fight the virus.
Feature photo | In this May 23, 2018 photo, each white marker denotes a mass grave of about 150 people on Hart Island in New York. Seth Wenig | AP

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