During the worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, minority communities in the Big Apple they were the hardest hit by the public health emergency, which in turn led to a serious economic crisis. And it was undoubtedly the Bronx the county that suffered the worst consequences, as shown by a new report revealed this Tuesday by the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
In addition to having the higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus In all of New York City, the Bronx also reported one of the highest rates of job losses due to the pandemic, registering a peak of nearly 25% unemployment in May 2020, a trend that has remained high until now. but with some signs of slow recovery.
“Before the beginning of the pandemic The Bronx It was on a continuous trajectory of great development, with sustained economic, population and job growth. And then the pandemic struck, and due to the socio-economic and health situation that already existed previously in the population, this county received one of the strongest impacts compared to the entire city, “said the state Comptroller, warning that that “stalled progress in the county that is home to one-fifth of New Yorkers, threatened to reverse the gains made in recent years.”
The report highlights several peculiarities of the Salsa County as, for example, that 70% of the workforce is composed of essential or service sector workers who have face-to-face contact with clients or consumers, mainly in four areas: health, shops, social assistance and the tourism and hospitality, industries that together recorded a job reduction of 18%.
“But the problem was not only that those four categories of businesses were the ones that closed the most, but that those essential workers had to keep going to work, on public transport and seeing clients face to face like health workers, and that exposed in a more extreme way to the coronavirus, causing a greater number of serious cases in The Bronx ”, specified the official.
Certain conditions put people, and therefore communities, at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing more severe outcomes, the analysis explains. These conditions include poverty, unemployment, overcrowded housing, underlying health conditions, and access to health services. The Bronx had the highest rate, nearly 42%, of residents facing three or more risk factors. The prevalence of these risk factors reflects that residents had relatively poorer access to quality health care prior to the pandemic, contributing to the relatively high rate of hospitalizations and deaths from the virus in the county.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bronx had a low unemployment record and development was at its highest point, we were going in the right direction,” the county president Ruben Díaz Jr. reacted to the report.
Meanwhile, the State Assemblyman Karines Reyes, representing District 87, stressed that the pandemic “exposed and exacerbated the various health and economic inequalities faced by the residents of the Bronx. Unemployment skyrocketed when the retail and service sectors halted operations due to lockdown restrictions. West Farms, a predominantly Black and Latino neighborhood, saw unemployment levels hit 26% at one point. West Farms was the most egregious example of what happens when a city does not adequately support its residents. “
There is a hopeful side
Despite the tough situation that the county with one of the largest Latino populations in the entire Big Apple has experienced with COVID-19, the hopeful side is that a great spirit of the entrepreneur movement and the creation of new small businesses is still alive here , the majority connected with immigrants who make up the highest percentage of residents, shows the report of the Comptroller’s Office.
DiNapoli explained that part of the report is to show that the Bronx, as it has done in the past, “has the potential to recover and overcome, but we have to make sure that the vaccination rate continues to improve, as this county is currently behind the the rest of the others in that aspect, and there you have to make a greater effort ”.
“The City also has to make a greater effort in the problem of food security and income assistance, which are two major areas in which The Bronx has been hit hardest compared to other counties,” said the Comptroller, adding that “it is also necessary to reactivate the development plans of large projects that had already been approved, so that they continue.”
President Díaz Jr. also referred to those development plans, ensuring that although the pandemic hit hard, “we will come back strong and move forward with large infrastructure projects, including the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange, four new Metro-North stations, Orchard Beach renovation and various development projects. “
DeNapoli emphasized that now that the City and State are focusing on the recovery from the pandemic, it must be ensured that the process is the same throughout the city, and as the Bronx has been the hardest hit area it deserves very particular attention.
COVID-19 Figures in The Bronx as of May 16:
150,149 total confirmed cases of coronavirus. 22,791 hospitalizations. 5,547 dead.
Figures among Hispanics per 100,000 residents:
9,315 confirmed cases of coronavirus. 1,414 capitalizations. 375 dead.
Five recommendations from the Comptroller
Ongoing aggressive vaccination efforts throughout the county. Sustained outreach of resources such as food distribution and rental assistance. Programs aimed at helping those most affected by COVID-19. Careful tracking of relief funds to ensure that The Bronx receives its fair share of the serious harm it has suffered. Continued investment to aid recovery.
This is one of the most diverse counties in New York City with the highest percentage of minority residents (over 90%). Over the past 20 years, The Bronx has grown faster than any other county, driven in large part by immigration. From 2000 to 2017, the Bronx’s population increased by 10.4% to 1.47 million residents. During that time, the immigrant population of the municipality increased by 38.8%. From 2017 to 2019, the general population saw a slight decline from 1.47 to 1.42 million, in line with declines across the city.
The Bronx experienced steady employment and new business growth from 2009 to 2019. Employment grew 20% to 249,000 jobs in 2019. Although it lagged behind the city’s growth rate of 29.9% for the employment, was the only county to show no decline in employment during the Great Recession. Sustained job growth is largely concentrated in four sectors: health, welfare, leisure and hospitality, and retail.
More than 70% of residents work in essential or face-to-face industries, the largest of which includes 25.9% in health care and social assistance; 10.2% in retail trade; 9.6% in accommodation and food services; and 7.7% in transportation and storage.
The municipality is made up mostly of small businesses and in the 10 years prior to the pandemic, businesses in the municipality increased by 15.3%. This was faster than in Manhattan.