More than half of those who have tested positive for the Zika virus in New York City had traveled in recent months to the Dominican Republic, the city’s health department said on Wednesday, releasing data from its latest round of testing.
The results were a stark reminder that, as the summer travel season begins, many of the most popular destinations for New Yorkers in the Caribbean and Latin America pose a serious health risk, especially for pregnant women.
The new and more detailed data — which broke down cases by borough and by travel history — was issued in a health alert to doctors and health care providers across the city.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said that of the 233 people who have tested positive, 140 had reported recently arriving from the Dominican Republic.
After the Dominican Republic, the places most frequently visited by patients who tested positive for the virus were Puerto Rico, with 20 cases, and Guyana, the small South American nation, with 14.
Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported in the Dominican Republic. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to the Dominican Republic protect themselves from mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this elevation are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito. The following map shows areas of the Dominican Republic above and below 6,500 feet.
Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is also possible, so travelers are also encouraged to use condoms or not have sex.
Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months, is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.
As more information becomes available, this travel notice will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
Many people infected with Zika virus do not feel sick. If a mosquito bites an infected person while the virus is still in that person’s blood, it can spread the virus by biting another person. Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitos.
Men who have traveled to an area with Zika but don’t have symptoms should use condoms for 8 weeks to protect their sex partners. Men who have Zika symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika should use condoms for 6 months. If the man’s partner is pregnant, the couple should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
Women who have traveled to an area with Zika but don’t have symptoms should wait 8 weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant. Women who also have Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.
This is a little cafe a couple of blocks from my apartment in the colonial zone. It is on a little side-street, near the Bilini Hotel. Great coffee, and the best homemade pumpkin pie I have had in a long time. AND (!!!) the prices are sooooo cheap. There are so many small businesses like this dotted throughout the neighborhood.
Santo Domingo.- Pope Francis has accepted Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez’s resignation as archbishop of Santo Domingo, and will continue his duties until his successor is announced and sworn in.
The protocol to formalize the appointment of Santo Domingo’s next archbishop is in its final phase, after a lengthy consultation process in the country through Vatican envoy Jude Thaddeus Okolo.
The announcement of the new archbishop is expected after June 28, when Lopez Rodriguez reaches 25 years since designated cardinal by then Pope John Paul II. “That signals that the Pope has already chosen the prelate who’ll replace Lopez Rodriguez,” Outlet eldia.com.do reports.
Upon leaving office, Lopez Rodriguez will become emeritus archbishop of Santo Domingo, and will still be a member of the College of Cardinals for life, but keeps the right to vote only in case of election of a new pope until he turns 80, on October 31.
The Dominican cardinal submitted his resignation as archbishop in 2011, when he turned 75, as Canonic Law stipulates.
Photo: Carlos Rodriguez Activists have been fighting for LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic for decades, but in 2016, that fight grabbed some international headlines thanks in part to US Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster. Brewster, who has served as US ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2013, is the first openly gay top diplomat that the US has ever posted to Latin America. Since beginning his tenure three years ago, his presence and vocal support of gay rights have sparked a larger conversation about the status of LGBT people in the DR – one that bubbled over recently when he visited a school with his husband and was accused by a coalition of evangelical Christian churches of pushing a “gay agenda” on students.
Brewster has, in some ways, become the face of a movement to de-stigmatize LGBT identities on the island. But he is just one part of a large network of Dominican activists, artists, and legislators working to create visibility and change. Dominican visual artist Carlos Rodriguez is one such artist; through his photography, films and advocacy, he is countering harmful misrepresentations of LGBT communities in the media. De-stigmatizing these identities is important, because while the Dominican Republic’s criminal code doesn’t explicitly ban homosexuality, it also doesn’t outlaw discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This means LGBT communities face widespread discrimination in health care, education, the justice system and employment – not to mention violence. Transgender people in particular are vulnerable to violence, and there have been several dozen suspected hate-crime murders since 2006, according to a recent report by US-based organization Human Rights First.
Recently, two criminal incidents on highways have come to the attention of the Embassy.
In one case, two persons were pulled over on Carretera Sanchez just west of San Cristobal by a vehicle with “police” markings and nine armed men in police and military-style uniforms. The victims were forced into the back seat of their car and taken to an isolated area where they were robbed of their valuables (money, jewels, computers, cameras). Although they were threatened with harm, they were not injured. According to the Dominican National Police, the men were not actual police officers, but imposters.
In another case, two persons stopped to purchase souvenirs along Autopista Duarte near La Vega when three armed men took their rental car and drove away. Again, they were threatened with harm, but were not injured. The car was later recovered, but all their personal items were missing.
The Embassy provides the following highway safety tips:
• Drive on highways only during daylight hours.
• Limit the amount of valuables you take with you.
• Limit your stops along the highway to well-known and well populated locations.
• If you are urged to pull over by armed people, try to do so in a public place. But DO NOT keep driving; stop.
• Do not resist and comply with all requests. Your life is more important than your possessions!
• Contact local law enforcement and the U.S. Embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.
Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for the Dominican Republic), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for the Dominican Republic. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.
Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.
For all emergencies involving U.S. citizens, contact the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, located at:
It's that time of year again. Election rally today. And that means that I have to leave my home because the noise is soooooo fucking incredibly loud. It is so loud that the glasses in the cabinet are vibrating. For the last few weeks, the weather has been crazy. It has been raining a lot. Especially over the last couple of days. I mean sky-opening rain. I wish it would rain now! Thank God the election is on Sunday.
For the last several weeks the weather has been overcast, and ranging between cool and humid. I've been walking around and looking at some of the new buildings and spaces. A lot of buildings have been renovated in the zone, or at least the facades have. This one above has always peaked my interest. I would always pass it, and comment on what a beautiful job that was done with with the restoration. And then I find out it is a museum. It is owned by a local Dominican artist, who lives in Jarabacoa. And the museum is dedicated to his art.
A local desingn store where you can find things to purchase from local artisans. From fashion, jewelry and art. They have events where you can meet local artists. They also have live music. Very bohemian/artistic vibe with a creative clientele. If you're looking for a unique gift, this is the place to check out.
Mercado Colón calls themselves a fusion restaurant. I see it more as a tapas restaurant. Can be pretty busy on the weekends, but very nice during the week. Have only had the pizza and the sliders, and it was very good. Offers a really great wine selection. Here is their menu: http://www.menu.com.do/#!/n/mercado_colon/
I have been meaning to write about this for a long time. Deivis Ventura, is the first openly gay candidate for congress in the Dominican Republic. There is also an openly gay candidate for mayor of La Romana.
42-year-old Deivis Ventura is the first openly gay man running for a seat as a diputado, or representative in the Dominican Republic's equivalent of the House of Representatives. His candidacy comes with the support of Ciudadanos Más, an initiative to position leaders from traditionally excluded minorities in the political field.
Ventura says he suffered bullying in school and was also fired for being gay. He can relate to the initial distrust of many Dominicans in his circle who felt alienated from the political process, but he believes that only through participation can true changes come to the country. Although he faced rejection when he came out, his family now stands beside him and is supporting his campaign.
"I've traveled a long path that has brought me to affirm and love myself fully as I am: a black man, a gay man, a son of a poor family, a person of deep faith and above all a being who believes that a better world is possible when the basis for peaceful co-existence is built on the premise of respecting differences and accepting human diversity."
"LGBT Dominicans face a range of human rights concerns including violence, discrimination, hate crimes, lack of access to justice, impunity for perpetrators, and societal homophobia and transphobia."
The report goes on to detail some of the challenges which include reports of police harassment and complicity with violence, lack of anti-discrimination laws and some outspoken religious leaders that regularly make homophobic comments.
The hopeful tone of the report is based on the activists working for change in the country (Ventura is a member of REVASA, a network of gay and lesbian activists. They have a sister organization called TRANSSA for trans women and men. These are two of the groups active amongst others). Ventura says the press has been respectful in covering his candidacy, and the opposition comes mostly from people from the conservative religious groups.
Throughout the region both in the US and internationally LGBT candidates have sought to address issues of equality by running for the chance to make the laws themselves. There have been victories in Peru, Colombia and most recently Venezuela in the past. In May we will be able to report whether we can add Ventura to the list of successful LGBT candidates.
Ventura champions the environment, poor workers, and women. He hopes to pass a gender identity law, a non-discrimination law and a hate crimes law amongst other priorities.
Several new places have opened in the colonial zone. The biggest just had their grand-opening. It is called Buche' Perico, and is owned by the people behind El Conuco. It is on El Conde, down the street from Denny's and across from SegaZona Cafe. It had a soft-opening for the last couple of weeks. And I stopped by to have a look-see. The space is absolutely amazing. They have been renovating this building for the last 9 months, and I have to say they have done a spectacular job. It is really beautiful. Don't know about the food as yet. When I stopped by, they just had a buffet setup for lunch. But if the food at El Conuco is any guide, it should be very good.
I have been lazy lately about posting. And soooo much is going on. For the longest I have been complaining about the state of affairs in the colonial zone. Well, I am starting to think that things may be looking up. And being a die-hard pessimistic New Yorker, that's saying something. I'm starting to see some signs of progress. And there are definitely people who are putting their money into projects who obviously have some faith. So many new restaurants have opened lately in the colonial zone. Along with some new galleries and other little out of the way spots. And another luxury hotel is near completion. That's not to say there aren't still problems. Many of the commercial spaces on El Conde are vacant. And at night most of the side streets are dark. But many building facades are being rehabbed. And it helps the area take on a new "shine." So I'm a hopefully optimistic.
This past weekend I checked out the gay nightlife in the colonial zone. It's been about 6 months since I went to the Fogoo/G Lounge. Started off the night by having a drink (or I should say a couple of drinks) at Esedeku. And fell in love with their Sangria (good and strong!) and the doorman!. Then went over to Fogoo/G Lounge. And it's me, I'm old. The music is too loud and I don't like the hookah smoke. But honestly, I could put up with all that if there was some beautiful MASCULINE men about. Nothing wrong with drag queens, or skinny feminine gay men who appear to be in half-drag. They just don't entice me to want to come out. But as I was reminded, the music has ALWAYS been loud, and they used to smoke cigarettes in the clubs. And that's true. I just know where to go now to see beautiful men. I just wish it were in a gay setting.
Promise to post again tonight or tomorrow with some of the new stuff happening in the zone.
Nineteen families were forcibly removed from their homes in the colonial zone. The space in question is across the street from the Hodelpa Caribe Colonial. According to news reports, the property is owned by the owner of the Hodelpa hotel chain. And they want it back. As can be imagined. The evictions did not go well.
The ambassador was also at the launching of the new LGBT Chamber of Commerce, here in Santo Domingo a few days ago. Coupled with the visit to the school with his husband, well, to say that he has worn out his welcome would be putting it mildly. Many in the gay community here are speaking out in support of the ambassador. A counter petition has been launched at the White House website (see below). You can click on the photo below to sign.
Got the news earlier today. Just wanted to be sure the family knew before I posted this. Herman Gaines, Jr., better known to his friends as Gee, was found dead in his Santo Domingo rental apartment today. A heart-attack is suspected. He just arrived a couple of days ago, and was planning to stay a couple of months. Just saw him the other day. One of the nicest people you could ever meet. Shocked. You just never know when it is your time. Rest in Peace, Gee.
Former New Yorker (Harlem!) living in Santo Domingo since January 2004. The person I was when I arrived is a totally different person today. I still love living in the D.R. Even with all its obvious contradictions. This blog is where I write about things I find interesting with the gay community, news, gossip, culture, and of course, men. Strictly from my point-of-view.