A major challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic has centered on the public's attitude toward and reception of the guidance and advice of public health experts and government leaders. We would like to expand this discussion to critical issues of health justice and deepening racial disparities that have been laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis and its deadly toll among communities of color, and the ongoing social and psychological trauma that has been exacerbated by recent police killings. These issues raise questions about structural inclusion and exclusion that affect the ways that communities put their trust in leaders during a pandemic, and the vision of reform that we seek going forward.
One of the hardest hit areas has been in central Queens, where inequity in jobs, precarious housing, poor working conditions, and lack of access to healthcare and other services, are fueling both the spread and the lethality of the virus. The dislocation and fears associated with immigration status, ethnicity, and race pose a sharp challenge to local communities and their needs. This panel will bring together elected officials and community leaders to help change the narrative around the virus to also focus on ways we can build public trust, reimagine stronger social solidarities, and secure social justice during this time of COVID-19 and for the future.
Jeffrion Aubry, Assembly member for the 35th district in Queens and New York State Speaker Pro Tempore, New York State Assembly