FIFTY Filipinos and Filipino Americans have succumbed to the novel coronavirus in the 10 states covered by the Philippine Consulate General in New York, according to Consul General Claro Cristobal.
“The pandemic is very much in our midst and our community has been affected badly. Out of the 50 casualties, 18 are front-liners, doctors, nurses, hospital transport workers, laboratory technicians, among others,” Cristobal said. “That’s huge. The fatality rate is about 3.4%. That’s about 1 out of every 3 Filipino deaths in the Northeast so far.”
Addressing the members of the Fil-Am Press Club of New York through Facebook Live, Cristobal shared updates to the community and urged people to continue staying at home. The media briefing happened after an online health forum that tackled the epidemiology of COVID-19.
In this forum, Cristobal shared that the first case in New York contracted the disease at a family dinner attended by 10 people, where nearly all of them contracted the disease and one died. Two people at the Philippine Consulate also tested positive and their parents and spouses also contracted it.
The series of health forums is a collaborative effort of the Association of Philippine Physicians in America (APPA), Kalusugan Coalition (KC), Philippine Nurses Association of New York (PNANY), and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations of New York (NaFFAA-NY) in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in New York (PCGNY).
Through its own network and the “warden system” implemented a few years ago, the Consulate received reports of deaths of Filipino nationals. Cristobal said that they continue to monitor the figures.
He also appealed to the wardens to continue their work and reach out to members of the community, particularly those who live alone. He also asked the community to continue taking care of themselves and practice social distancing if they need to go out for essentials.
Cristobal added that the Philippine Consulate does not stop working even if the offices on Fifth Avenue are closed. They continue to serve Filipinos in emergency cases and they have also been mailing the few passports they have received from Manila.
The consulate has received about 57 requests for assistance, including rebooking of flights and assistance in searching for information, with around 15 seeking financial help.
If and when the lockdown is lifted on May 16, Cristobal said the public should expect a different work setting as new operational procedures will be set in place.
“Major changes will happen,” Cristobal said. “Before you come to the consulate, you must have a valid appointment.”
The consulate will be implementing an online queue-less appointment system, which will give clients a specific time period for their appointments. The system will help ensure both operational efficiency and effective crowd control management. They are expecting to have this operational a week before reopening.
“All community events including the annual Filipino Restaurant Week, will also be cancelled, until it is already safe to resume,” Cristobal added.
On Monday, April 20, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the cancellation of June all parades in the city, including the NYC Pride March and Parade, Puerto Rican Day and Salute to Israel parades, and the Philippine Independence Day Parade along Madison Avenue.
“This year is the 50th anniversary of the pride parade, and it’s a very, very big deal,” De Blasio said in Monday’s briefing. “That march is such an important part of life in this city, but this year in particular it was going to be something that was a historic moment.”
Editor’s note: The Asian Journal is working to document those of Filipino descent who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus in the United States. If you know of someone or would like to offer a remembrance of someone who has died of COVID-19, please tell us about them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Remembering Lives Lost.”