Credit: Lem Peterkin

Actor Idris Elba, Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron, City Councilwoman Inez Barron the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, Afro jazz legend Manu Dibango—all just announced that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The global pandemic is hitting locally with 1,300 diagnosed in the city, and 23,000 in New York State with the death toll at 20 as of Wednesday afternoon, March 18.

“Tell the people that I love them, and their thousands of messages have really picked up my spirit to make me my regular Charles Barron fighting spirit,” Barron assured in an exclusive interview. “I’m going to beat this like I have beaten some many other things in my life.”
 While having no underlying issues, the exercising, otherwise fit-as-a-fiddle activist politician is approaching 70 years old and is in that age group of higher concern age according to the CDC.

Although not laboring to breathe, wearing an oxygen mask Barron made a notable conscious effort to push his voice through his condition. He stated, “This debilitating virus I have takes away oxygen, and I have a little pneumonia to go with it. So you need to have the oxygen for assistance.”

The East New York Assemblyman said, “My breathing is coming back stronger and stronger. I feel stronger now than I did when I first came in. I’m just staying here until I am completely healed. I don’t want to leave this hospital prematurely and have a relapse.”

Councilwoman Inez Baron exclusively told the AmNews to announced that she too has tested positive for coronavirus. She is already self isolated as recommended by at doctor and has no symptoms of the virus.

Councilwoman Barron said in a statement that she’s continuing to self isolate and follow protocols since her husband was diagnosed.

“Since Monday my staff and I have been telecommuting to be able to conduct our regular Council functions. We will continue to function in that manner,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for of their prayers, well wishes and positive thoughts. My affirmation is ‘I believe God and with that grounding in faith, I know that God is working in all matters pertaining to me and my family. Asante sana, which is Kiswahili for ‘Thank you very much.’”

A host of celebrities, other politicos and more than 1,300 everyday people were also told that they tested positive for coronavirus.

This global pandemic does indeed have the world on edge. New York was shook when on late Saturday night this reporter confirmed Barron’s diagnosis by conversation with Barron, after a social media post by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stating that his fellow Assemblyman was diagnosed with the illness.

With the shelter-in-place policy hanging over New York while Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo bicker, bars, restaurants, and many, many stores remain shuttered.

Despite initially defiantly refusing to consider closing down New York City, on the afternoon of Sunday, March 15, 2020, de Blasio caved into loud demands from teachers, parents and the United Federation of Teachers union head Michael Mulgrew. The schools were closed immediately, with a quickly assembled plan to provide breakfast and lunch for the several thousand of the 1.1 million school children who depend on school for those meals.

The homeless and the low income raised concern, as did the small business owners and workers, who too became victims of the impact of the coronavirus.

The public stayed home, or diverted funds to the buying of food and household supplies, leaving MTA ridership down many riders; the MTA is begging for a bailout, as are the airlines.

Air travel was decimated as President Donald Trump announced a ban on travelers from Europe. Meanwhile, with the number of confirmed cases rapidly increasing by the day, authorities decry the lack of tests.

During a phone call interview from his hospital bed, Barron said, “I can’t say enough about my wife, and my son, and my family, and my Operation Power people. They have been so loving and caring.”

On March 5, as he was in Albany, Barron said he began to feel unwell and was running a temperature, and went home, but on Thursday he did a couple of engagements. The following Monday he said, “I went home, and I talked to my doctor and he said to monitor it, that it seems more like influenza. But, by the third or fourth day, I said, ‘Doc, this is not getting any better.’ And that I want to come in and test to see if it is influenza, or if it is the virus. So, I went into the hospital, they kept me, I took the test, and it came back a few days later and said I had the virus. I was shocked, I said, ‘No not me!’” Despite the oxygen mask, and his extra effort to talk through it, Barron maintained his storied humor.

For those still in doubt about the gravity of the situation, Barron urged, “Community please take this seriously. This is a deadly virus. Please, please take this very seriously. Don’t take anything for granted. If you have any of the symptoms don’t take anything for granted. Protect yourself. Don’t shake anybody’s hand. Clean your hands. Don’t go to places where meetings are being held. Avoid any social contact for as long as you can. This is a very, very serious virus.”

“I got tested,” Inez Barron said on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. She had stayed by her husband Charles as he laid in the ICU.

She had been a constant by her husband’s side, during what turned out to be the virus incubation period at home, and then at the hospital as he was being treated.

Mrs. Barron said, “I let my staff and the speaker know. I am self-isolating. I’m good.” She said she was still taking care of business from her district and getting the house ready for the return of her husband.

“He is getting stronger everyday, and he should be home by the weekend,” Barron said. “I’m really good.”

As the city urges self-isolation, the six feet distance protocol, and the stay-in-doors-if-you-can ideal, “It will be several weeks or even longer if we know we had an effect,” said Trump’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“The streets are quiet for the most part, people are taking heed of all the protocols to protect themselves and their families,” said A.T. Mitchell, East New York District Leader. The community activist said he has closed his Man Up Inc. offices and the Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center. “We want our community to be able to be home to look after their families, while we still monitor their needs, and provide all assistance where we can, as is our mission always.”

As for Charles Barron, he told the paper, “I’m going to continue to make revolution happen, and the reason why I’m going to beat this is because of our famous and most important phase, ‘Black Power.’”

Fighting words indeed from the self-proclaimed “elected revolutionary,” he added, “Black Power will win. I also want to express my love and prayers for those communities who are suffering like I am from this infectious virus. I want to say to the communities who have already lost loved ones that we have you in our prayers and our support. We as community have to come together as we have never come together before and fight this.”

What would the activist politician say to all students who have had to take the time off school for encouragement?

He replied without missing a beat, “This is the time for the Board of Education to be more creative in its approach to teaching. [They] have to move into the 21st century to still teach even if it is for six months by way of so much technology.

“For the 4-500,000 poor families who are counting on the school breakfasts and lunches, the government should be able to provide mobile lunches, bring it to them. So for the poor folk…the government with its $178 billion budget, and the city with its $95 billion budget, should provide mobile food services, and provide some kind of means of supporting parents who have to go to work, and don’t know what to do with their children. We have to look out for the poor.”

“I’m more worried about them than myself,” Barron said, as he went on to heap praise on the vanguard healthcare workers. Expressing genuine gratitude for the Brooklyn hospital where he is being treated, Barron added, “I have had some of the best doctors and nurses anyone could have. They have taken so much care of me. The doctors, the nurses and administrators were tremendous. I really owe them a debt.”

He concluded, “I just want to thank the community for their love. It means so much to me. I’m going to come back stronger than ever before.”

During one of his daily pressers Cuomo declared of the coronavirus outbreak, “It will go down in history…as a true crisis.”

’Rona may have us rocked, but we are not defeated. Always the determined activist, Barron concluded, “I’ll be back stronger than ever, and they’d be better be ready to rumble—we’ve still got to make revolution in America.”