Coronavirus in the Bronx: Experts say these factors may contribute to borough's high case rate

As the second wave of coronavirus hits communities across the nation, the impact continues to take its toll on families in the Bronx.

News 12 Staff

Dec 11, 2020, 11:20 PM

Updated 1,258 days ago

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As the second wave of coronavirus hits communities across the nation, the impact continues to take its toll on families in the Bronx. 
Leoina Velaszquez says COVID-19 has devastated her friends and family. She is among the group of people considered high risk for severe complications if exposed to the virus. 
As a diabetic, she takes her daily medications and frequently sees her doctor. 
“I have to take care of myself, that's why I always come to see the doctor,” said Velaszquez. 
Harris Leitstein runs the Diabetes Center at St. Barnabas Hospital. On average, he says he sees about a dozen patients a day. 
He says he’s witnessed firsthand the virus’s impact on the community. 
“These folks just get slammed from so many different angles and it's unfortunate because they don't deserve it. So we have to do our best to help people through diabetes and now through COVID,” said Leitstein. 
COVID-19 continues to spread nationwide, with a second wave taking hold on many communities -- particularly those of color. 
According to the New York state Department of Health’s website, the Bronx currently ranks third in the state with the highest percentage of COVID cases. 
Its impact is seen in several neighborhoods like Belmont, Mott Haven, Morris Park, Hunts Point, Morris Heights, City Island and Country Club. 
Those communities, according to the city’s DOH COVID Tracker Map, are ZIP codes that are current hotspots. 
Dr. Isaac Dapkins is with the Family Health Center at NYU Langone Health. “The risk of getting severely ill has to do with how old you are and what your chronic medical conditions are. The Bronx, like many places in NYC, struggles with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in their population,” said Dr. Dapkins.
Besides other underlying health problems that some Bronx residents face, Dapkins says multiple generations living under one roof is also a contributing factor to the disproportionate number of coronavirus cases in the Bronx. 
Dapkins says a lot of Bronx residents are front-line workers--putting them at greater risk of the virus. 
“Police officers, firemen, people who work in the MTA, any kind of service industry, those folks don't have the luxury of going to a Zoom to do their meeting. They have contact with other people,” said Dr. Dapkins. 
With a vaccine expected to be approved soon by the Federal Drug Administration, medical experts are urging Bronx residents to get vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19. 
In the meantime, they say wearing masks and social distancing is critical in reducing the spread of the virus in the borough.


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