Yonkers Getty Square and The Pandemic

The coronavirus has impacted every corner of the planet. An impressive and yet frightening statement. The most vulnerable of it's victims include the elderly. minorities and the homeless. 

Yonkers bears the burden of warehousing the largest homeless population in Westchester County. Until now, that statistic has been met with a ho hum response.  The pandemic has added to the task of keeping people safe. Shelters that normally open at night and disperse clients after breakfast are now available on a 24/7 basis. 

Yet many homeless prefer to remain in the street for fear that they might contract the virus in those overcrowded shelters. This poses a problem not only to them but to the public. Most homeless people wear no masks and have  limited access to sanitation. This puts us all at risk. That risk exists in the downtown area comprising two zip codes, 10701 and 10705. Eventually that risk will spread to nearby zip codes in Yonkers. 

"Mayor Mike Spano said the hardest-hit neighborhoods are in west and southwest Yonkers, which are the most densely populated sections of the city and have a high percentage of Hispanic  residents, some of whom are undocumented. 

Spano said breaking down the number of cases by zip code is a necessity to slow the spread of the virus. Once the city had firm numbers, they informed state officials who set up a testing site, within walking distance for residents who live in the 10701 zip code. -LoHud"
But the homeless are not getting tested and they are not wearing masks. They are congregating in the front of local businesses, defecating in public areas, and yearning for rescue.  Appeals for housing and emergency social service programs have gone unheeded. Yet their appeals in the form of panhandling increase each day even though it violates personal space. 

Recently, the Yonkers City Council passed a bill that bans aggressive panhandling. The bill was presumptively in response to newly minted Yonkers waterfront residents being hassled by the "locals.". 

"Police Commissioner John Mueller told the Legislative and Codes Committee last week the legislation is in response to resident's complaints about invasive panhandling. People are having a hard time, in some cases, walking from the train back to their apartment buildings,” said Mueller. The begging by ATMs has been particularly problematic, he said.- Lo Hud"

Panhandling is only a portion of the problem. The CDC predicts that a second wave of the coronavirus will hit, yet again, in the fall of this year. This comes on the heels of the Y.0. winding down from the initial strike that has peaked with over 6,000 cases. The largest in Westchester County. 

Will the second wave be equally devastating? Will the homeless be a contributing factor to the problem?

Once upon a time, society was neatly divided into the "haves and the have nots."  Along came a contagion that democratized suffering and death. Everybody got it. Now, the only way out is to provide for the needs of the less fortunate.  If we do not do that, we are sowing the seeds of our own demise.

That homeless person at Stanley Pharmacy or the Yonkers train station may be the decisive factor in whether  we win or lose the next round of the epidemic. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3994eFLoQQ (video courtesy of Pepsi Martinez) Click still photo to see additional.