During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic last spring — Queens — specifically Elmhurst Hospital emerged as the epicenter for the virus.

What You Need To Know

  • During the first wave of the Coronavirus, Queens emerged at the epicenter for the virus
  • Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights were among the hardest hit neighborhoods

  • Dr. Harlem Gunness is studying why the borough was hit so hard and why communities continue to struggle a year later

Neighborhoods like Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights were ravaged with COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Dr. Harlem Gunness, the director of public health at St. John’s University says a lack of preparedness allowed the virus to spread rapidly.

“Whether they have food, whether they have, you know, prescription medication, or over the counter medication, whether they have someone to help them, you know, if they get ill prepare foods or do their laundry,” said Gunness.

Gunness studied constituents living in those hard hit neighborhoods.

According to the study — race, education-level and employment status impacted people’s ability to hunker down at home.

The survey found Latinos were 3.5 times less likely to avoid using public transportation compared to other racial groups. Gunness says nearly 50% of participants with a high school diploma, or less, were unable to have a two-week stockpile of food. Participants with a college education were more likely to have a stockpile of hand sanitizer at home.

"It's basically, you know, showing where the gaps are, where we're still not fully prepared for the pandemic, where there still, we need to do more concerted efforts to target these communities,” said Gunness.

Gunness says a lack of COVID-19 education also impacted the community’s hardships. One in three residents reported not getting information from a credible source.

"So that's really telling, you know, a lot as to why they continue to struggle,” said Gunness.

Gunness said there’s still a lot of work to be done in these communities. Twenty percent of participants say they’re hungry and having trouble putting food on the table more than a year later.