Queens City Council member missed budget vote due to COVID-19 complications

Photo courtesy of Costa Constantinides’ office

The lone active member of the New York City Council who couldn’t participate in Tuesday night’s controversial city budget vote wound up being hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications.

Queens City Councilman Costa Constantinides contracted the illness back in late March, and even though he recovered from the worst of it, he has had episodes of breathing difficulty ever since. The latest flare-up occurred on the night the City Council passed the revised $88 billion plan that included shifting up to a billion dollars away from the NYPD, and a host of various municipal cuts.

According to the councilman’s spokesperson, Constantinides wound up spending several hours at Mount Sinai Queens hospital’s emergency room Tuesday night. He notified the City Council he would be absent from the vote upon arriving at the medical center.

After treatment, he was sent home, and had a follow-up visit with his doctor Wednesday morning, the councilman’s spokesperson added.

“Last night I was once again forced to go to the hospital with complications from COVID-19. This hasn’t been the first time since I contracted the virus in late March,” said Constantinides, who represents Astoria and Long Island City. “You don’t know how frustrating this has been, as I want to fully focus on my job. But breathing is at times difficult, especially as the weather gets hotter.”

Constantinides said Tuesday’s budget vote was the first one he missed in his City Council career. He didn’t state Wednesday how he would have voted, but he indicated support of NYPD reductions.

“While I was not able to make a stand last night, I am committed to using whatever time I have left in the Council to fight for a scaled-down police department,” said Constantinides, who is term-limited in 2021 and ineligible to run again. He’s also a candidate in the still-unofficial Queens borough president Democratic primary.

The budget passed 32-17 during a vote finalized just after midnight Tuesday. One district was completely voiceless in the budget process: the 37th Council District in Brooklyn, whose City Council seat remains vacant following the resignation earlier this year of Rafael Espinal. 

The 37th District includes the neighborhoods of Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville and East New York. A special election to fill the seat was cancelled due to COVID-19; it’s expected a new City Council member will be elected in the November general election.