This Week In Brooklyn: Early Voting, Flu Vaccines, Violence & Faith

This Week In Brooklyn: Early Voting, Flu Vaccines, Violence & Faith
Have you voted early? (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

BROOKLYN – Have you gotten your flu shots yet? You still have time! The NYC Health Department released early data for the flu season thus far and found that there was a 37% increase in vaccination among adults and a 27% increase for children compared to the same period last season.

“In total, over 1,210,000 New Yorkers have received this year’s flu vaccine based on doses entered into the Citywide Immunization Registry, however, since adults are not required to be reported to the Registry like children are, likely more doses have been given than captured,” the Health Department noted.

“This promising progress is only possible because New Yorkers are looking out for one another and doing the right thing by getting their flu vaccines,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said. “This year could be the most important flu vaccine you ever get. Now is the perfect time to get the vaccine if you haven’t yet. Our friends, families and neighbors are counting on all of us to help keep each other safe.”

Will you be early voting? The lines have been long and people have waited for three hours. The Board of Elections has expanded its early voting hours. Polls close at 8 p.m. today. On Thursday, they will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, it’s from 7 a.m to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. As of yesterday, there have been 457,735 people who voted. Brooklyn is leading with 149,368. There is still time to vote! You can also vote on Election Day.

Do you think we have been reporting a lot about shootings happening in the borough? Well, that is because we are. Violence has increased in NYC, and NYPD detectives believe it is because of a surge in gang violence, AMNY reported. Two people were shot and killed in two separate incidents within two hours of each other last night, including a 16-year-old boy. Just a few days ago, a 20-year-old student visiting Brooklyn from Indiana was killed by a stray bullet outside the Airbnb he was staying at with his friends. Local politicians and residents have had enough. Bed Stuy neighbors penned a letter on asking elected officials for fewer photo ops, and more action. Borough President Eric Adams told us, “The uptick in gun violence this year has been devastating to so many communities throughout our borough and city. While no one has been spared from this epidemic, Black and Brown communities have borne the brunt. We must treat this crisis with the level of urgency it deserves.”

Access to food pantries is still as important as ever. Over 100 people lined up outside the Salvation Army Brooklyn Brownsville Corps Community Center on a recent Friday as workers handed out plastic bags filled with fresh produce. Nearly one-third of Brownsville’s residents are food insecure, and the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the issue, we wrote. The Salvation Army community center is one of 58 organizations in Brownsville running food pantries or soup kitchens. They are almost as ubiquitous as supermarkets – there are just 83 total retail food stores in the area. According to the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center, access to healthy food remains a challenge in part because there is one supermarket for every 15 bodegas in Brownsville.

Sheikh Osman Adam is the assistant imam at Masjid At-Taqwa. His only source of income comes from the small store right next door, which sells things like soap and oil. At the beginning of the pandemic, his shop caught on fire and everything was burned. A few days later, he was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Now, he’s back on his feet and wants to get his shop up and running again so he can help support his family. We spoke to a young man who knows Adam very well, and he told us, “So much of community life is centered around that shop. For that resource to be missing, it essentially handicaps the community. More importantly, it means that we cannot support Sheikh Osman in the way we have been able to support him. We can’t even attempt to pay him back for so much of the effort he has put into keeping the community and Masjid At-Taqwa alive. He’s not the face of the masjid, but he is so critical to its operation.” You can donate here.

There are about 1.1 million kids in the NYC public school system, meaning just about 25% of children have attended school in person at some point this school year, we wrote. The ‘opt-in period’ when those parents who chose fully remote instruction for their children can decide to send them back to school will begin next week on November 2nd and will go through November 15th. It will be the only opt-in period this year, according to Chancellor. “This will be the only time to opt-in. Let me repeat that – this will be the only time to opt-in, which is a change from what we originally had said over the summer. We think that this is better for the sake of stability for all students, for families, and educators. So, we urge any family who is considering it to take advantage of this opportunity to do so now.”

Do you enjoy public art? Well, Brooklyn is well known for its vibrant art scene. Over the past two weeks, many new murals were unveiled, adding vibrant color, imagery, and self-expression to our neighborhoods, documenting 2020 in the process.  (There is also the Papergirl Brooklyn project you should check out and the public art along Atlantic Avenue). Check out some new public artwork that’s out this month in the borough we love the most!