More than 34,000 air conditioners installed in low-income seniors’ residences as part of the COVID-19 Heatwave plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio provided an update Thursday on the city’s plan to keep elderly and low-income New Yorkers cool this summer during the coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-May, Blasio’s administration pledged to install 74,000 air conditioning units in the homes of low-income seniors across the city and adjust city-wide cooling centers to meet social distancing requirements to help New Yorkers stay cool while mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

So far, the city has installed 34,294 air conditioners in the homes of elderly low-income New Yorkers, de Blasio told reporters at a press conference Thursday. Of those units, 24,133 moved into private homes while 10,161 were moved to New York Housing Authority apartments, according to the mayor’s office.

De Blasio also said the city will set up 130 cooling and misting stations in the city’s most heat-affected communities according to the Heat Vulnerability Index, 650 spray showers are now operating in the parks of the city and 300 hydrants have been fitted with spray caps to allow easy and legal opening.

The city has also mapped 145 cooling centers that meet social distancing guidelines although the city’s website is currently not functioning. In addition, the parks department will add more cooling elements like street showers and plugged fire hydrants to 14 more open streets as part of its “Cool Streets” initiative.

Some experts believe the air conditioning units have actually helped spread the coronavirus since the machines continuously recirculate the air. The World Health Organization officially recognized on Thursday that droplets carrying the virus may be suspended in the air indoors, posing an infection risk for those who spend long periods indoors without ventilation. .

It is not known whether air conditioners installed in homes are equipped to filter the coronavirus.

“A cooling center is a very temporary reality, usually someone is there for a day or part of the day, maybe several days in the day, but it is something that is used very occasionally,” he said. de Blasio said after being questioned about the city. do to make sure that air conditioning units in homes or cooling centers would not spread the virus. “We want to make sure that the cooling systems are as clean and appropriate as possible. We’re thinking about all the steps we need to take to process this new data… we’ll have more to say about it in the coming days.

Karl M. Bailey