“More needs to be done for the people of Queens so we get our fair share of resources,” Richards said. “In particular, more needs to be done for the people of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.”
He was joined with many Queens representatives, including Councilmember Adrienne Adams, Assemblymembers Khaleel Anderson, Jennifer Rajkumar and David Weprin, along with other local leaders and officials.
Richards also handed out masks and sanitizer to residents in the area, and reminded people to practice health and safety guidelines and not congregate in public places.
“We have to take personal responsibility as well,” Richards said. “Ensuring that you’re getting tested is critical.”
A few hours prior, Richards visited the Aqueduct Raceway, a new COVID-19 vaccination site, but said that there are already disparities in who is getting the vaccine.
“We need to make sure that we’re doing more in these areas,” Richards said. “We have to have vaccination sites in local communities.”
He also acknowledged there is mistrust among people like undocumented immigrants and communities of color who may be weary of a vaccine, but still urged people to get vaccinated if they are eligible.
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said communities of color have been neglected throughout the pandemic.
“We are still seeing people dying in this community and there is a vaccine,” Adams said. “We are demanding vaccine equity for Richmond Hill. We are demanding vaccine equity for people of color.”
She criticized the botched rollout that has left many people without access to the vaccine.
“There should have been provisions for hot spots in New York City for people of color,” Adams said. “There are seniors standing in lines to get the vaccine and the mayor says today, they’re running out of vaccines. We need to rethink this.”
A block away from the press conference at a branch of the Queens Library, there were signs up that said “no rapid testing,” one of the only testing sites in the zip code.
Local resident Nirmala Valladares said that it is not acceptable that Manhattan has rapid testing, but not the site available to her.
“This should be an option to the general public,” Valladares said. “People generally need to take a more serious note on what’s happening. We cannot continue to keep losing our loved ones.”
Richards ended on a positive note.
“We’ve seen these spikes in different pockets of our borough before, and we’ve beat it back by coming together, working together and being responsible together,” Richards said. “We can achieve that again.”