Coronavirus

NYC health commissioner confronts coronavirus future

A Q&A with Dr. Oxiris Barbot on contact tracing and what the “new normal” will look like.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot

Dr. Oxiris Barbot Rita Thompson

As health commissioner of New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Dr. Oxiris Barbot has played a vital role in slowing the virus’s spread. Though her guidance has sometimes been impeded by politics – with her agency most recently being passed over to manage the city’s contact tracing initiative – Barbot has served as a key health expert throughout the crisis. A pediatrician, Barbot’s latest focus has been exploring recent cases of heart and kidney failure in children who have the coronavirus.

The health commissioner joined City & State’s webinar on Tuesday to discuss how the city can support its most vulnerable communities during the pandemic. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

There’s been recent news that contact tracing in New York City is going to be done by New York City Health + Hospitals. I’d assume there’ll be some kind of partnership with the health department? How is that going to play out?

We at the health department have a long history of being involved and bringing to an end epidemics that have affected the city, from (tuberculosis), HIV and most recently measles. And I’m really proud of the staff that we have and the years of experience that they have in doing contact tracing. We will continue to partner with our sister agencies because, from the beginning, we have said that this is an all hands on deck approach.

You spearheaded Take Care New York 2020, which focused on addressing social determinants of health and engaging communities on the issues of health equity. Did the city make clear measurable progress on that front? And now, given the coronavirus pandemic, how far are we set back?

I think that it is abundantly clear that the underlying drivers that have contributed to health inequities that we were trying to address through Take Care New York have absolutely wreaked havoc during this public health emergency. Black and brown New Yorkers are dying at twice the rate as white New Yorkers, and I have no doubt that that in part is due to the underlying drivers – things like insecure housing, things like lack of economic opportunities.

Going forward, as we develop treatments and vaccines, how can we ensure that this kind of care reaches the most vulnerable and not just the richest?

I think one of the things that the city is really leveraging and lucky to have is a robust system of public hospitals. And I think that where we are seeing high levels of transmission, we are also seeing (New York City Health + Hospitals) provide that ongoing care. That being said, we do have issues around ongoing access to care. For example, now that we’ve got many, many people out of work, one of the things that I asked myself is, how long will we still have employer-based health insurance? I think there are lots of policy questions that are being raised by this public health emergency.

We’re getting a lot of questions on what is the “new normal” going to look like. You read about things like widespread temperature checks, a huge level of testing, maybe even certificates for people who have antibodies and people wearing masks everywhere. What other things might become normal going forward?

I still think we are in the development phases, but one thing I anticipate is that the use of face coverings will be something that remains for the foreseeable future. The emphasis on hand hygiene will remain for the foreseeable future. One of the cultural changes that I hope will happen as a result of this is that we won’t continue adopting the “tough it out” mentality of when somebody gets sick, they feel they will get judged if they don’t go to work.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.