Coronavirus in N.Y.: Live Updates
Here’s what you need to know:
Anti-violence workers’ new job: convince people to socially distance.
When Iesha Sekou began passing out surgical masks and disposable gloves in Harlem early in the pandemic, some people laughed and said she was taking things too far. For many, it was an unfamiliar role for Ms. Sekou, the founder of a nonprofit that usually works to prevent gang violence.
But as deaths from the virus mounted in predominantly black neighborhoods like the one where Ms. Sekou’s group operates, people started chasing her and her workers down the street to get supplies, she said.
Even young skeptics who “had their little theories” about the virus dropped their resistance after Ms. Sekou and her volunteers warned them that they might get infected and unwittingly pass the disease along to their grandmothers.
“That’s a soft spot that we were able to hit and get them to know that if you don’t want to do this for you, you don’t like the way it looks, do it for who you live with, whose couch you sleep on,” Ms. Sekou said.
People like Ms. Sekou are known as “credible messengers” or “violence interrupters” in their line of work, and city officials say they may be critical to overcoming resistance to social distancing rules in some black and Hispanic neighborhoods where there is distrust of the authorities.
Violence prevention groups, like Ms. Sekou’s Street Corner Resources, are part of a broader effort by City Hall of using civilians to encourage people to follow social distancing rules rather than relying solely on police officers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made that effort a priority after viral videos of heavy-handed arrests in black and Hispanic neighborhoods prompted public outrage and enforcement data showed stark racial disparities in arrests, leading to calls for change from elected leaders.
New York sees more reports of virus-linked syndrome in children.
New York State is investigating 157 cases of a severe inflammatory syndrome that is linked to the virus and affects children, a 53 percent increase in the past nine days, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday.
“The more we look, the more we find it,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily news briefing. On May 12, the state was investigating 102 cases.
The condition, which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, often appears weeks after infection in children who did not experience first-phase virus symptoms.
Instead of targeting the lungs as the primary virus infection does, it causes inflammation throughout the body and can severely damage the heart.
Most the children found to have the illness in New York so far have tested positive for the virus or antibodies to it, Mr. Cuomo said.
New York City health officials said on Thursday that there were at least 89 cases of the syndrome in the city that met the C.D.C.’s criteria. As of Wednesday, officials were investigating 158 potential cases. Twenty-six did not meet the C.D.C. criteria, and 43 were still being investigated, officials said.
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Reporting was contributed by Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah and Ashley Southall.