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Coronavirus

Haitian Strongholds Flatbush, Queens Village among hardest-hit by COVID-19

By Sam Bojarski

New York City isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to coronavirus, and neighborhoods with the largest Haitian populations have seen relatively high numbers of cases as of late. 

From families to businesses, the pandemic has created “a devastating situation all across the board,” said Johnny Celestin, a Haitian-American New Yorker who has covered the impact of COVID-19 extensively on a virtual broadcast he co-hosts, called the Le Mo-Jo Show

Some families, he added, have had to deal with the emotional and financial impact of having to bury multiple relatives.

Overall, the neighborhoods that have seen the most COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic are concentrated in Queens and The Bronx. But Flatbush, in Brooklyn, and Queens Village have been particularly hard-hit. As of 2018, Brooklyn had more than 90,000 Haitian-American residents by official measures, many concentrated around Flatbush. Queens Village is the cultural center of the Haitian community in Queens, which contains tens of thousands of Haitian Americans. 

A pedestrian on Jamaica Avenue, in Queens Village. Photo by Leonardo March

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he planned to keep an eye on certain neighborhoods in New York City that were experiencing high infection rates. Flatbush and Queens Village were both seeing infection rates of 45 percent, more than double the citywide average. 

The Haitian Times also looked at cumulative data, that shows the proportion of positive cases since the pandemic began. This data indicates that about 24 percent of residents in Flatbush/Prospect Lefferts Gardens have tested positive. In the two zip codes comprising Queens Village, 28 percent and 31 percent of residents, respectively, have tested positive for coronavirus. 

In both Corona and East Elmhurst, more than 31 percent of residents have been infected. 

Celestin said Haitians in Flatbush and Queens Village are experiencing the same problems as residents of other areas like The Bronx, which has also seen large proportions of residents test positive. 

Haitians, like other immigrant communities, tend to have concentrated living situations, with a lot of family members living in the same home, he said. 

He also said that many people are working in consumer-facing businesses like restaurants, which have stayed open for takeout, throughout the pandemic. 

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Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski has been covering Haiti and its diaspora for The Haitian Times since 2018. He is currently covering New York's Haitian community as a Report for America corps member.
Sam Bojarski
Jun. 19, 2020