Stories from Bayside, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Bellerose, College Point, Whitestone, Auburndale and Glen Oaks

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In just a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has turned the typically busy Bell Boulevard into a ghost town.

The strip, full of bars, restaurants and dessert shops, has been empty since Gov. Cuomo mandated that food service businesses close their doors to sit-down diners. The street that is usually packed with double-parked cars and valet drivers desperately searching for an open space now seems to have an abundance of it — the boulevard is now more often populated by a lone car or two parked for just a few minutes to pop into a restaurant to pick up an order, or by a delivery driver hopping back behind the wheel to bring a meal to a customer.

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An NYPD highway patrol officer was indicted and arrested on Thursday, March 26 with one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child and three counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child.

“The defendant, who is vested with enforcing the law as a member of the New York City Police Department, is accused of committing a horrible breach of trust by possessing and disseminating a video that is for all intents and purposes images of a crime scene,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a prepared statement on the indictment. “The defendant is accused of using his cell phone to share a video of a child being abused by an adult. This alleged behavior is wholly unacceptable of anyone — especially a member of law enforcement.” Read more

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Queens College announced March 30 that Frank Wu will serve as its 11th president, following his appointment by The City University of New York’s Board of Trustees, effective July 1.

“I am honored to be coming to Queens College, a campus that represents education as the engine of the American dream for individuals and families now more than ever,” Wu said in a prepared statement. “I am here because my parents were immigrants who came as students. That opportunity must continue to be offered and expanded.” Read more

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With all the chaos associated with the pandemic seeming to never end, it may be comforting to know that crime in the 107th Precinct is on its way down.

“We’ve seen a tremendous reduction — 71 percent for the last week,” Deputy Inspector Scott Henry, commanding officer of the precinct, told the Chronicle on March 30. “Crime’s been down ... we’ve made some good arrests.” Read more

Tuesday, April 07, 2020
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The daily death toll from the coronavirus in New York State leapt to a new high on Monday, Gov. Cuomo reported at his Tuesday daily press briefing.

Seven hundred thirty-one people died of COVID-19 Monday, Cuomo said. The leap follows two days of a lower, essentially flat death rate that had given hope the state was nearing or had reached a plateau in daily mortalities. On Sunday, 599 people had died, following 594 on Saturday and a previous high of 630 on Friday. Read more

Monday, April 06, 2020
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is distributing nearly 250,000 N95 face masks to bus and train operators and other transit employees, the agency announced Sunday.

The MTA has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, with at least eight employees dying of COVID-19 in the span of a week, from bus drivers to a mechanic and a subway station cleaner. Read more

Thursday, April 02, 2020
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The death toll among Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers rose drastically to a total of eight by Tuesday morning, less than a week after the agency announced its first casualty.

On Monday afternoon, the MTA announced the deaths of Scott Elijah, Caridad Santiago, Ernesto Hernandez, Victor Zapana and Warren Tucker — five transit workers who showed symptoms of COVID-19. The announcement was shortly followed by the death of Patrick Patoir, which was reported by Transit Workers Union Local 100. Read more

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Banks across the city are temporarily closing the interior of select branches in an effort to decrease close contact between their patrons and workers to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re only open for drive-through and ATM services,” said a Queens County Savings Bank teller at the Kew Gardens location, one of the few to shut down its inside operations. Some of the bank’s branches, mostly supermarket branch locations, have closed altogether, but have kept ATMs open to ensure that customers have the ability to access cash during the pandemic. Read more

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As a result of the economic strain caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 32 percent of New York City’s food pantries have closed down. As unemployment jumps and is expected to do so for an indefinite number of coming weeks, the pantry system is calling for the city and state governments to commit $50 million in emergency aid to make sure New Yorkers don’t go hungry.

“We definitely expect this to continue,” Jilly Stephens told the Chronicle. The CEO of City Harvest, the city’s largest food rescue organization, said that as of March 31, 71 food pantries in the city had closed their doors, a number she says will only continue to rise. Read more

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Joseph Lewinger, better known by The Mary Louis Academy community and his beloved students as “J-Lew,” passed away due to complications from COVID-19 late on the night of March 28. He had no pre-existing conditions that would have left him vulnerable to the virus, and was 42 years old.

The assistant principal of Student Life, athletic director and former teacher became the high school’s second victim of the pandemic, following basketball coach Dave Edwards, who died just a few days before. Read more

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The 109th Precinct encountered two dead-upon-arrival cases in its parks this weekend, neither of which has confirmed association to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shortly before noon on March 27, officers recovered the unconscious and unresponsive body of a Little Neck resident from the Little Neck Bay waters in Whitestone. EMS also responded to the crime scene and pronounced Mark Kasarjian dead upon arrival. Read more

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Trans activist Lorena Borjas, 59, died Monday morning from COVID-19. The news was announced on Twitter by fellow activist Cecilia Gentili, who called Borjas the “mother of the Trans latinx community of Queens.”

She came to the United States from Mexico in 1981, looking for a hormones specialist in order to make her transition. Read more

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The NYPD is searching for a quick-acting suspect who grabbed $400 out of his victim’s hand in Flushing on March 15.

The suspect approached the 39-year-old female victim at approximately 4:45 p.m. in front of 40-10 Main St., took her cash and fled westbound on Roosevelt Avenue. Read more

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Spring break has been canceled for all public schools in the state and all playgrounds in New York City will be closed down, under new orders from Gov. Cuomo.

The order on spring break came in the form of a guidance issued by the state Education Department, which says schools should continue distance learning during what was supposed to have been spring break. In the city, that was April 9 to 17. Read more

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The NYPD is asking that people help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus by obtaining needed motor vehicle accident reports online rather than visiting the precinct in which the accident occurred.

The reports are available on the NYPD website at collisionreport.nypdonline.org. Those taken after Sept. 30, 2016 are posted on the site. Read more

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Acting Borough President Sharon Lee announced Monday that the term for 2020 Queens Community Board appointees will begin May 31 instead of April 1, and last through March 31, 2022.

Current board members whose terms would have expired on March 21 will continue serving for an additional 60 days. Read more

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The NYPD and New York City Police Foundation on Tuesday announced the purchase of 150,000 masks, 150,000 gloves and 150,000 packets of hand sanitizer for police officers serving during the virus pandemic.

The supplies — which cost $500,000 and were supplied by the procurement and branding firm Winbrook — were purchased by the Police Foundation thanks to its donors and are expected to ship in the coming days. Sony is also immediately donating masks, on top of the 150,000 that were bought. Read more