It was just about a year ago, sometime in early to mid-February, that the novel coronavirus began circulating in New York City, according to researchers. Twelve months later, the city has suffered more than 22,750 confirmed deaths from Covid-19 and another 5,000 probable ones.
Where has the virus been most lethal in Queens?
According to city data listed by ZIP code, the greatest number of deaths per capita in the borough have been in the Flushing/Murray Hill area. The death rate there, in ZIP code 11354, stood at 643.56 per 100,000 residents as of last Thursday. The actual number of deaths reported was 347.
That was followed by 595.31 deaths per 100,000 in 11691, Edgemere/Far Rockaway, with 398 actual fatalities. The rest of the 10 worst ZIP codes in Queens for Covid losses per capita, with their geographies as the city lists them, are:
• 11369, Airport/East Elmhurst, with 585.83 deaths per 100,000, or 197 actual losses;
• 11372, Jackson Heights, with 482.84 per 100,000 and 293 actual;
• 11692, Arverne/Edgemere, with 456.51 and 96, respectively;
• 11432, Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills, with 447.7 and 272;
• 11694, Belle Harbor-Neponsit/Rockaway Park, with 437.93 and 91;
• 11368, Corona/North Corona, with 422.22 and 466;
• 11004, Bellerose/Douglaston-Little Neck, with 395.79 and 75; and
• 11423, Hollis/Holliswood, with 382.16 and 119.
The safest ZIP code, by far, was 11109 in Long Island City, which only saw 34.71 deaths per 100,000 residents — extrapolated from two actual fatalities.
The other nine ZIP codes with the fewest losses per capita, starting with the lowest number, were:
• 11363, Douglaston-Little Neck, with 103.93 per 100,000, or seven actual deaths;
• 11364, Bayside (South)/Oakland Gardens, with 120.49 and 43, respectively;
• 11101, Astoria (South)/Long Island City/Sunnyside, with 130.31 and 48;
• 11358, Auburndale/Murray Hill, with 152.67 and 55;
• 11385, Glendale/Ridgewood, with 154.42 and 160;
• 11105, Ditmars Steinway, with 165.79 and 60;
• 11106, Astoria (South), with 181.68 and 68;
• 11367, Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok, with 184.38 and 75; and
• 11417, Ozone Park, with 193.29 and 60.
The median death rate was 261.13 per 100,000 in ZIP code 11429, Queens Village, which saw 84 deaths.
The numbers were current as of last Thursday. The latest figures for each ZIP code, as well as other Covid-related data, can be found at on.nyc.gov/36Uqs7I.
The Chronicle sent lists of the 10 deadliest and 10 safest ZIP codes, including each one’s death rate per 100,000, to the office of Borough President Donovan Richards for comment.
Asked if any of the numbers surprise him, Richards said, in an email sent by a spokesman, “Unfortunately, these startling numbers come as little surprise.” He said communities of color and historically underserved areas have experienced generations of inequity in healthcare and have been the hardest hit by the virus.
“Now, it is up to all of us to take these lessons of injustice we’ve learned from the virus and root out these inequities once and for all, so that no community must experience such painful trauma like many of ours have ever again,” Richards said.
Going forward, the Covid response must maintain a focus on equity, he said, whether it’s addressing the “dangerous lack of testing” in South Queens or the lack of vaccination sites in northeast Queens.
“It is clear that COVID-19 resources — PPE, testing, vaccines — need to be dispersed equally to all corners of the borough, especially transit deserts like Northeast and Southeast Queens,” Richards said. “No one should need to leave their neighborhood for a swab or a shot.”
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), who represents the area with the highest death rate per capita, was among those who spoke at a Feb. 8 rally calling on the city to open more vaccine sites there, as well as in northeastern Queens.
Koo cited in particular the delay in opening Citi Field as a vaccine site, and said, “One final note. Currently the Vaccine Reservation Call Center run by the city only takes calls in English and Spanish. I can tell you, my constituents who live in the area with the highest infection rate would really benefit from Chinese and Korean translation. The city needs to do better, and they need to do it now.”
Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona), who represents the third-hardest-hit ZIP code (Richards formerly represented the second-worst as a councilman), said he sounded the alarms at the start of the pandemic and continues to push for more resources now, “and it’s not enough.”
“These are Latino, Black, and immigrant communities, essential workers, seniors most at risk, and families in multigenerational homes that have suffered the worst,” Moya said via email. “We can’t recover if the City doesn’t truly prioritize these communities.”