Bedbugs 1, NYC 0

While listening to WNYC one morning recently, I recall one commentator asked whether or not the City was doing enough to combat bedbugs. Some might suggest, that had the City properly addressed the bedbugs issue when they resurfaced a few years ago, the current infestation crisis could have been averted.   It got me to thinking: why had there not yet been a strong media bed bug counter offensive by the Mayor’s office?  New York City is the most bedbug infested city in the nation. The problem has persisted for at least five years and only now are the City and the Federal Government starting to address the issue.

Between June 2009-June 2010, exterminators confronted 31,000 bedbugs cases in NYC alone.  Immediately after 9/11 there seemed to be announcements and emergency evacuation procedures visibly posted everywhere.  While bedbugs may not pose the same threat as terrorists, they have uprooted people’s lives immeasurably–folks displaced, stores shut down, hepatitis rumors floated, tenant/landlord disputes arisen.

In March 2009 Mayor Bloomberg announced a bedbugs advisory council would be formed. Then one was finally appointed six months later to address citizen concerns. 311 was eventually dispatched for information.  In December, a PDF pamphlet was published outlining basic preventive measures. Then finally, in late July, the NYC Bedbugs advisory council announced $500,000 would be used to finally develop an anti-bedbugs portal and public awareness campaign led by leading bug experts.

Tuesday I decided to call the NYC Health Department Press Office to see if there might be some new information on the launch of the portal site. The associate press secretary quickly responded via email stating “We do not have a set date yet. We’ll keep you updated,” then referred me to the PDF.

Hmmm… with publishing on the web easier than ever, I wondered, why has it taken so long for a portal like this to be even conceived in the first place?  Not to mention PSAs and subway ads ? In the media capital of the world, what’s the hold up?

So, why has the Mayor’s office been seemingly slow to react with a strong media blitz?    I am curious to hear what you think. Is the Mayor’s office doing enough to allay citizens’ concerns about bedbugs? What can NYC do better when confronting bedbugs?

Image: Courtesy of the NYC Department of Health

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