CDC called in as 10 die in Bronx Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, speaks about the outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease in the South Bronx, which has claimed 10 lives so far.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to request help from the CDC, as Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak  spreads in the South Bronx, killing 10 and infecting 100 residents.

By Carmen Glover

As the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease widened in the South Bronx, New York, claiming ten lives and sickening 100 residents, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr appealed to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to call in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, August 6, to investigate and provide specialized assistance.

Stating that the level of anxiety “is very high,” Diaz solicited intervention from the governor, as Mayor Bill de Blasio downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak, while City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett insisted that the city was taking the issue “very seriously.”

“During the course of our actions fighting the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in the Bronx, it has been revealed that there is no inspection mechanism for coolant systems, rooftop water tanks and other standing water infrastructure that could be a breeding ground for this disease and others,” Diaz said in a statement, “The city must create a new inspection system for these systems just as we inspect other critical systems such as elevators.”

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Legionnaires’ disease has infected and killed more people in the Bronx than the three people who died from Ebola disease in the entire United States in 2014 when a national effort was coordinated to keep the nation safe.

The disease was traced to cooling towers in five area buildings, including Lincoln Hospital, which treats hundreds of patients daily for ailments ranging from mental health disease, drug addiction to respiratory disease. The South Bronx is considered an epicenter for asthma in the city. Governor Cuomo has indicated that business owners in the city and state can request for their cooling towers to be tested for contamination, at no cost to them.

Lincoln Hospital was the site of confirmed cases of Legionnaire's Disease and the hospital's cooling towers were subsequently disinfected and cleaned.

Lincoln Hospital was the site of confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s Disease and the hospital’s cooling towers were subsequently disinfected and cleaned.

On Monday, August 3, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, hosted members from the New York City Health Department in an informational session at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on the Grand Concourse, where worried residents sought answers and reassurance that they would be safe.

In the meantime, de Blasio has instructed a response team to make emergency calls to building owners and property managers in the Bronx to make sure that wherever cooling towers are located, they are cleaned within 14 days.

Residents of the South Bronx, New York City, line up to ask questions about Legionnaire's Disease at a public forum this week.

Residents of the South Bronx, New York City, line up to ask questions about Legionnaire’s Disease at a public forum this week.

This new outbreak comes on the heels of a similar Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak in Co-op City in the North East Bronx, last year, which left residents violently ill. So far, the residents who have died from the disease in the South Bronx have been elderly and had pre-existing health conditions which weakened their immune systems.

However, because the disease is spread from mists in the air, every person who walks in the South Bronx can potentially inhale the deadly mist and contract the disease, which made the mayor’s refusal to seek assistance from the CDC a head-scratcher for nervous residents.

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29-year-old Co-op city resident Ron Hines, is embraced by his father. Hines was sickened with Legionnaires’ disease in November 2014 and has still not fully recovered. He filed a lawsuit early this year. Residents sickened in the latest outbreak in the South Bronx have also begun the process of filing lawsuits.

Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease travels in the air and is often concentrated in cooling towers from which the infected mist sprays into the atmosphere. The disease triggers a severe form of pneumonia that is especially brutal for residents who have pre-existing health conditions such as respiratory disease, those who are very young or elderly.

As the new round of the outbreak spreads in the South Bronx, the first lawsuit was filed against the city. Residents who were sickened in Co-op City filed lawsuits early this year.–OnPointPress.net.

 

9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony uplifts, inspires

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Former NYC Mayor and 9/11 board chairman Michael Bloomberg, view the 9/11/ Memorial Museum with Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By Carmen Glover

U.S. President Barack Obama led a high-powered contingent of politicians to dedicate the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan yesterday in a ceremony that was uplifting and inspiring. Dignitaries, families of the survivors and viewers who watched the ceremony live on television or as it streamed online, were first treated to musical renditions from various choirs as the ceremony got underway. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the 9/11 board of directors, took the stage to deliver a poignant speech.

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President Obama speaks at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony.

“We are here today to help dedicate a great museum, one that rises out of the bedrock of our city, our history and our hearts. In the years to come, the 9/11 Memorial Museum will take its place alongside fields of Gettysburg, the waters of Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam Veterans’ Museum as a sacred marker of our past and a solemn gathering place-a place where we can remember those who dies and honor acts of courage and compassion that saved lives and lifted spirits,” he said.

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President Obama began by describing the raw emotions felt by some of the survivors in the moments after the towers were attacked and the acts of heroism by one young man in particular.

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Visitors gather outside as the 9/11 Memorial Museum is dedicated inside.

“In those awful moments after the south tower was hit, some of the injured huddled in the wreckage of the 78th floor. The fire was spreading and the air was filled with smoke. It was dark and they could not see. It seemed as if there was no way out and then there was a voice saying he had found the stairs. They didn’t know his name but they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandana,” he said, describing the selfless and courageous actions of volunteer firefighter Wells Crowther, 24, who worked in the south tower.

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Partial view of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan.

Crowther’s mother, Alison, was later joined onstage by one of the women he rescued, Liang Young.

“My husband Jefferson and I couldn’t be prouder of our son,” said Alison Crowther, as she described her son who saw everyone in the world as “being connected.”

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President Obama, Former President Bill Clinton and Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg tor the 9/11 Memorial Museum with their partners First Lady Michelle Obama, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Financial Executive Diane Taylor.

Obama shared that while touring the museum earlier with First Lady Michelle Obama, it dawned on them the importance of being able to “recall, reflect and reaffirm the true spirit of 9/11: love, compassion, sacrifice and to enshrine it forever in the heart of our nation.” Biting his lower lip in his trademark style, he paused and said:

“No act of terror can match the strength and character of our country. Nothing can ever break us, nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

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Damaged fire truck from the fateful day that is now enshrined in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Among the other attendees were: Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NJ Governor Chris Christie, Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani; Former New York Governor George Pataki and a contingent representing the Port Authority, firefighters, police officers, families of the victims and survivors. Some of the politicians had their spouses or significant others with them at the event.

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Security detail at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication Ceremony in Lower Manhattan.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum will remain open for the next six days exclusively to the families of the victims and survivors. It will open to the public officially on 5/21/2014.–OnPointPress.net

Deadline to apply for free, universal pre-K slots in NYC

Wednesday, April 23 is the deadline for applications to be submitted for free pre-K in NYC.

Wednesday, April 23 is the deadline for applications to be submitted for free pre-K in NYC.

By Carmen Glover

New York City parents who act before the close of business on Wednesday, April 23 to apply for free, universal pre-kindergarten classes will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. After making free pre-K the number one priority of his campaign, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was rewarded when Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $300 million to fund the initiative, in his recent state budget, while making it clear that he did not support de Blasio’s initial idea of taxing the rich to pay for the program. Up to 20,000 pre-K seats will be utilized by children in September as long as parents meet the application deadline.

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Children’s participation in pre-K have positive impact on their ability to socialize and learn.

Parents who have children younger than five years old now have the opportunity to enroll their children in properly staffed and operated pre-K programs in the city, now that the offerings have expanded due to the Governor’s budgetary allocation.  New teachers are being hired to fill spots and the salary has been increased from the less than $35,000 that is currently being paid at some community-based pre-K programs to $44,000 for the upcoming academic year starting in September.

This new initiative is as win-win for parents who want to work but had limited or no options for all-day childcare programs that provided academic stimulation for young children. Act now to take advantage of this helpful program that will provide a strong educational foundation for the next generation of leaders. For more information call (718)-935-2009 or visit www.nyc.gov/schools/prek. —OnPointPress.net.

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Impact of unemployment, low minimum wage, broadens

President Barack Obama has been making modest impact in lowering the unemployment rate and boosting job creation.

President Barack Obama has been making modest impact in lowering the unemployment rate and boosting job creation, in the face of sabotage and petty opposition from Republicans in Congress.

By Carmen Glover

Women For Hire has been a strong advocate for job seekers over the years, organizing job fairs, facilitating workshops and providing timely resources designed to impart nuggets of information for the ever-growing bloc of the workforce seeking employment or improved working conditions. So when Tory Johnson, CEO of Women For Hire, sent out a lengthy email yesterday, it made sense to see what she had to say.

Entitled “Not a Happy Email,” Johnson shared the tale of  Jacques le Sourd, 64, late theater critic for a newspaper in Westchester, NY, for 35 years, and a friend of her husband’s, who died recently. “The coroner said it was a heart attack but those who loved Jacques le Sourd know better: it was a pink slip that cut him down,” Johnson stated.

Johnson then proceeded to talk about her childhood friend Susan Fruchtman, who has an MBA from Duke University. According to the email, Fruchtman, 42, who worked in marketing and finance at Fortune 500 companies for 15 years, had her job eliminated in 2010 and, despite assiduously seeking full-time employment, has only managed to work in temporary jobs, exhausting $60,000 in savings and forced to receive Medicaid for healthcare.

 

Anthony Shorris was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with Anthony Shorris, first deputy mayor, is committed to enacting city-wide increased minimum wage measures.

Recent job numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the unemployment rate hovers at 6.6.%. This is due to a combination of the Obama Administration creating jobs in spite of the war that Republicans in Congress have declared on his economic agenda and blocking every single measure that he has proposed to ease the toll that acute unemployment has taken on the populace. Nevertheless, President Obama has trudged on, and against all odds, the numbers are shifting in the right direction, albeit slowly.

During his State of the Union Address and at various campaign-style stops that he has made subsequently, President Obama has repeated one single mantra: “No one who works full-time should live in poverty,” as he emphasized the importance of companies, government contractors in particular, raising the minimum wage to $10.10. The President’s quest to increase minimum wage has captivated the nation’s attention, with many conservative politicians and employers insisting that such action would drain jobs from an already fragile economy, while struggling workers and their advocates have argued that paying less than the proposed $10.10 is inhumane.

In New York, the Daily News has launched an aggressive campaign to highlight the dreadful conditions endured by Port Authority workers whose employers are contracted by private companies to clean, and provide other routine services at John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia Airports. The campaign has reaped some success, with more expected.

Meanwhile newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, has proposed measures to authorize increased minimum wage across the city, only to be put in check by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said such action “would be unconstitutional.”  Regardless of what configuration of the unemployment and low minimum wage battle results in expansive changes, one thing is clear: action is needed now to restore a sense of hope, dignity and optimism to a battered workforce that yearns for meaningful opportunities to work, provide for their families, pursue dreams and survive.–OnPointPress.net

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