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This month, many people around the City have observed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19, remembering the uncertainty the early days of the virus brought, reflecting on the economic hardships too many households continue to face, and, perhaps most of all, mourning the lives we lost to this horrific pandemic. And while transmission rates decrease and vaccines give people optimism that an end to this public health crisis is near, healthcare workers – like those once at the epicenter of the epicenter, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst – are still taking care of critically-ill COVID patients, offering testing and vaccines, and supporting those still recovering that potentially will require a lifetime of additional health treatments. But despite the heroic, life-saving care the city’s public health system provided in the darkest of days during the pandemic, our funding is currently in jeopardy.

Elections last year shattered the myth of the Queens County Democratic machine’s invincibility.

June saw now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Queens, Bronx) historic primary upset of then-party boss Rep. Joe Crowley. More insurgent wins came in September. Catalina Cruz (D-Jackson Heights) unseated Aridia Espinal, a western Queens assemblywoman who the party picked in April to fill a vacancy. And in their own primaries, now-state Sens. John Liu (D-Bayside) and Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst) respectively toppled Tony Avella and the late Jose Peralta, two longtime lawmakers with party backing whom liberals targeted for being in the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democrats that allied with Senate Republicans.

Catalina Cruz on Thursday offered a brief assessment of what her victory in the Democratic primary in the 39th Assembly District meant to Queens politics.

"History!" Cruz said. "People voted and we made history!"

Cruz defeated incumbent and party-endorsed candidate Ari Espinal by an unofficial tally of 53.4 percent to 43.1. Yonel Sosa polled at 3.2 percent.