Virus hits NYC hardest in a few working-class neighborhoods

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A woman wearing personal protective equipment crosses Main Street Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in the Flushing section of the Queens borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – The coronavirus pandemic has hit especially hard in a few poorer New York City neighborhoods where telecommuting isn’t an option for many workers and there are more likely to be many people living under one roof.

Residents of the immigrant-rich Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona sections of Queens have tested positive for the virus in greater numbers than in other parts of the city, according to data released Wednesday by city health officials.

People living in one Queens zip code just south of LaGuardia Airport were roughly four times as likely to have tested positive as people in the gentrified section of Brooklyn that Mayor Bill de Blasio calls home.

A disproportionately high number of people have also tested positive for COVID-19 in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to many Orthodox Jews, for whom large families and frequent communal gatherings could have led to easier transmission of the virus.

Yet other places, just as poor and just as crowded, have had it easier.

An Associated Press demographic analysis of the more than 170 zip codes where New York City has reported COVID-19 cases shows little consistency in where outbreaks have been worse.

The areas of New York that have a larger share of households with people over 65 had higher rates of confirmed cases per 1,000 people, the AP found. But other demographic variables – from high household incomes to large shares of foreign-born populations to areas with large numbers of overcrowded housing units – saw no significant link to COVID-19 case trends.

The numbers do help explain something that has seemed obvious to people living in the hard-hit Queens neighborhoods served by Elmhurst Hospital, where long lines of people waiting for testing and treatment have been one of the defining images of the pandemic.