80 wet markets operating in New York amid lockdown are breeding ground for the next pandemic, says report

The grim scene at these markets is reminiscent of the notorious wet markets in China, where scientists believe the novel coronavirus pandemic first broke out

                            80 wet markets operating in New York amid lockdown are breeding ground for the next pandemic, says report
(Getty Images)

With the world coming to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions are pointing fingers at China -- where the virus originated -- for disrupting their day-to-day activities. Public personalities and stars, including Lara Trump, comedian Ricky Gervais, Paul O’Grady, wildlife hosts Michaela Strachan and Philippa Forrester and reality star Pete Wicks, have come together to call for an immediate ban on these animal markets. Animal rights activist groups too have come to put pressure on China to close the wet markets

And although the wet markets selling exotic meat in the city of Wuhan may have first transmitted the virus onto a human, we have some wet markets "right here in our own backyard," according to a report by TMZ.

"Here's a sneak peek at a wet market with live poultry, which might remind you of something you'd see in China," the tabloid website wrote, sharing footage of some wet markets with live poultry at two different locations in NYC, which are reportedly still running amid the pandemic.

One of the establishments is One-Stop "Vivero" Live Poultry Market in the Bronx and the other is called Flushing Live Poultry located in Queens.

The report states that both the markets are currently open and operational with what appears to be little regulation -- killing and selling the chickens and other meat in the same location. The footage shows a woman walking into one of the stores without any trouble and taking snaps of the chickens that are ruthlessly crammed in ages. When she asks the workers if they're open, they say yes.

The video also shows pigeons cooped up in the cramped space, with their feathers and feces everywhere.

"... frankly, it's gross and definitely NOT sanitary," TMZ wrote.

According to the outlet, the footage was shot by animal rights organization NYCLASS, who told TMZ that there are over 80 such wet markets in the New York area which are running without legislative action or oversight despite the deadly pandemic.

The report also notes that these markets do not fall under the purview of the NYC Department of Health, but the USDA and State Agriculture Department. According to NYCLASS, these state and federal organizations "poorly manage these markets." 

The grim scene is reminiscent of the notorious wet markets in China, where scientists believe the pandemic first broke out. While some experts suggest the pathogen was transmitted via bats, TMZ wrote that "having live animals exposed in markets like this ain't healthy."

"Their existence poses a public safety risk to the New Yorkers who live and work in these areas," NYCLASS executive director Edita Birnkrant told TMZ of the markets.

"Market floors and even public sidewalks are often covered with blood, feces, and other biohazards that put everyone in danger," she added.

Meanwhile, it is believed state representatives in California and New York are currently working on legislation to have them shut down at least until the lockdown lasts.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, actors Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix called for the closing of all live-animal markets and what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls “concentrated animal feeding operations" across the country.

"The unsanitary living conditions inside CAFOS weaken animals’ immune systems and increase their susceptibility to infection and disease. The factory farms’ response has been to pump the animals full of antibiotics that make their way into our food supply and onto our dinner plates, systematically fostering in humans a lethal resistance to the medicines that once quelled everyday infections," they wrote, adding that "such practices have brought humanity to the point that the WHO now estimates that more than half of all human diseases emanate from animals."

New York is one of the hardest-hit states amid the pandemic, reporting over 17,000 COVID-19 fatalities as of Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the United States has over 965,933 confirmed cases of the virus with a staggering 54,877 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

For more information and statistics on the coronavirus pandemic, click on the Newsbreak tracker here