You are reading

Council Member Holden Says “Racist” City Policy Has Left District 30 With No City-Run COVID Test Sites

COVID test (Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash)

Jan. 3, 2022 By Allie Griffin

A Queens council member whose district doesn’t have a single city-run COVID test site said the de Blasio administration excluded his neighborhood based on its racial makeup.

Council Member Robert Holden said his constituents have been denied testing resources since the former administration determined that they didn’t live in one of 33 “hard-hit” neighborhoods identified by the city’s racial equity taskforce.

His district, Council District 30 — which covers Ridgewood, Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside — has no city-run COVID test sites roughly three weeks after COVID-19 cases began to rise drastically in the city.

Holden told the Queens Post that he repeatedly called on former Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team to open test sites in the district — only to be told that the neighborhoods in his district were not a priority.

The 30th Council District is historically white, while the 33 taskforce neighborhoods are largely communities of color. According to 2010 census data, District 30 was about 57 percent non-Hispanic white. The 2020 census data by district level has yet to be released.

“It’s a sick and twisted policy to actually exclude neighborhoods based on race or ethnicity, and it reeks so badly of the dysfunctional de Blasio administration,” Holden said.

The council member’s district — other than a slice of Woodhaven — doesn’t include any of the 33 neighborhoods identified by the city’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity (TRIE) as the “hardest-hit communities” during the pandemic.

Holden said that a de Blasio staffer told him in an email that the city is prioritizing the 33 neighborhoods for COVID-19 testing, arguing that they have been historically under-resourced and disadvantaged.

He said that the staffer told him that the city would also not be distributing at-home test kits in his district because none of the neighborhoods have been listed by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity.

“That’s when I went ballistic,” Holden said. “I said that’s absurd … and doesn’t make any sense in fighting COVID because it doesn’t only spread in certain areas. It’s everywhere.”

Council District 30. It covers Ridgewood, Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside

Holden said he eventually got 100 at-home test kits from the city that he had to “scrounge” for and distributed them all to constituents within 20 minutes.

However, he said the same staffer reportedly gave a similar emailed response to Staten Island Council Member Joe Borelli when he asked for more test sites and resources in his district. The emails were also corroborated by a New York Post report.

Holden, who has just been sworn in to his second term, said he’s not ready to let the issue go.

“You don’t fight racism with racism,” he said. “What you try to do is give [resources] to every neighborhood.”

Holden is in the process of sending a letter to Mayor Eric Adams requesting city-run COVID test sites in his district. He will also be calling for the disbandment of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity.

The councilmember also said that he wants there to be an investigation into the taskforce and the de Blasio administration’s allegedly unequal distribution of pandemic resources, like test kits and mobile testing vans.

“I want an investigation as to how the Blasio administration withheld very important COVID fighting resources to certain areas,” he said. “… You don’t do that. You don’t exclude neighborhoods.”

In the meantime, Holden and Assembly Member Brian Barnwell are currently offering free COVID-19 testing at their respective offices on select days this week as they await city-run sites.

With allegedly no help from the mayor’s team, Holden said he called Dr. Mitch Katz, the President and CEO of the city’s public hospital system, directly to get the test site opened at his Middle Village district office. The site offers PCR saliva tests with results via email in 24 to 48 hours.

In just two days, more than 600 people got tested.

Despite its success, Holden said he remains upset since people are still waiting in lines in the cold. He said every neighborhood must have multiple city-run test sites and that the city should partner with local pharmacies to reach more areas.

“You need a few sites in every neighborhood,” Holden said. “I don’t want people waiting on lines. If you’re not feeling well, and you want to get tested, you should not be waiting outside in the cold.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Cheering CUNY’s Class of ’24 for perseverance, talent and grit

May. 23, 2024 By Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

CUNY’s impact on New York is never more visible than during commencement season, when we celebrate the achievements of some 50,000 students who earn degrees at our 25 campuses each year. Behind each one of those graduates is a story of aspiration and perseverance, and together they tell the interconnected story of CUNY and New York.

NYPD identifies pedestrian struck by police vehicle on Van Wyck, AG launches probe

The NYPD revealed the identity of the 22-year-old man who was struck and killed by one of its highway patrol vehicles on the Van Wyck Expressway in the early morning of Sunday, May 19.

Ervin Zacarias Agustin, 23, of Ormonde Boulevard in Valley Stream, was running across the highway just after 4:30 a.m. when he was struck and killed by a marked NYPD vehicle near Archer Avenue. The highway patrol car had its lights and sirens activated when it crashed into the Long Islander in the center lane as he attempted to cross the Van Wyck from east to west.