The Queens Memory Project brings you the premiere of season two of the Queens Memory Podcast. This season we have collected documented experiences of Queens residents during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Episode one features testimonies of two residents who live near hospitals and the blaring realities they face, as well as others who struggle to find a sense of normalcy, who feel as though they have lost time, and those who have lost loved ones to the virus.
On March 20, 2020, at 11 am, Governor Cuomo delivered a press briefing on New York’s response to COVID-19. It was in this briefing that the governor announced an executive stay-at-home order, urging residents to isolate to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections in New York.
In the following weeks and months, Queens residents still grapple with how isolation and COVID-19 have impacted their lives. Malcolm Boyd and Elizabeth O’Brien share their stories of living near hospitals in Queens, including Elmhurst Hospital, which Boyd describes as a COVID ‘hotspot.’ Queens, and Elmhurst Hospital in particular, has in fact had the highest infection rates in the city, and remains toward the top of the list for most confirmed cases and deaths in the United States.
O’Brien laments over the state of health in Queens, specifically for MTA workers and essential grocery staff, noting that as of her recording on April 20th, an estimated 7,000 have died of COVID-19. At the time, testing was not administered widely, so the exact number of COVID related deaths is disputed.
Further in the episode, recent high school graduate Kafilat Abdul of South Jamaica speaks of missing out on her graduation ceremony and celebrations, and Justin Kwiatowski of Queens Village, an essential worker, talks of maintaining a routine, adhering to safety procedures, and finding the positives in life.
On April 2nd, Mayor de Blasio said in his daily press briefing: “This is a transformative moment for the state, for the country. I believe that. I also believe this is a moment when you see what people are made of.”
Meanwhile, Queens residents continue to reel from their experiences with COVID-19. Ann Hepperman, of Jackson Heights, contracted the virus in March, and shares her experience of being in total quarantine, accessing tele-health, and what it was like to re-enter the world once she had recovered.
Hepperman speaks of suffering a panic attack at a grocery store and the psychological trauma she has faced and many others are likely to suffer from. Hendal Leiva lost a friend to COVID-19, and talks about the suddenness of his friend’s death and how it has impacted him.
Resources are available to help those struggling with stress, anxiety, and loss related to COVID-19. For helping yourself manage anxiety see Health Line’s tips, for those with children, visit Child Mind, and if you have suffered a loss, New York Presbyterian offers advice. These are just a few of the vast number of online resources available -- for immediate help, please consider calling a 24/7 helpline.
Referenced at the end of the show is a tribute to first responders by the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, which can be seen here.
It’s not too late to submit your story to the Queens Memory Project. Follow this link to submit an audio recording, text, video, or photos that you feel documents your experience of COVID-19.