AVELLA, SIMANOWITZ URGE ACTION VS. VIRUS:
Citing the death of an elderly College Point resident from the West Nile virus earlier this year, local lawmakers and community leaders last week called upon city officials to take immediate action against the deadly disease.
Meeting for a rally at 11th Avenue and 138th Street, the original site where the virus first struck several years ago, state Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz and other civic leaders issued their demand for action.
Beside the death of the elderly man, the lawmakers and their supporters cited other factors feeding their fears. These included the warm winter we just had, raising concerns that mosquitoes breed and lay eggs much earlier than usual. They also noted the location of the Northeast Queens neighborhood.
“After all these years, the West Nile virus remains a dangerous threat to the residents of this area,” said Avella. “This area right by the water, is an inherently vulnerable location, and it is completely unacceptable that the city does not devote more resources towards combating this very real problem. This is literally a life and death situation and the city must take more responsibility in protecting its citizens.”
Simanowitz recalled that when the West Nile first appeared in 1999, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani walked door-to-door on the same street warning residents of the peril.
“Here we are 13 years later and there is still no comprehensive plan in place to safeguard College Point residents from this potentially life-threatening disease,” Simanowitz stated.
Leaders of the major local civic associations that addressed the rally were Andy Rocco, Kim Cody, Alfredo Centola, Tyler Cassell and Peter Brancato.