NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As New York City and the state work on regulations to prevent another Legionnaires’ outbreak, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to put a dent in an underlying health problem plaguing the Bronx.

With 12 dead and dozens still in the hospital with Legionnaires’ “We must not lose sight of the underlying health issues here in the Bronx that make our families more susceptible to disease,” said Gillibrand.

All of those who have died in the South Bronx outbreak had underlying health issues, health officials have said.

Gillibrand said asthma is a big one, and she knows all too well because her son has it.

“I know exactly what it’s like when the school calls and says your son is having trouble breathing,” she said.

In the Bronx, crisscrossed by expressways and dotted with old industrial sites, asthma rates are sky high, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.

“Ninety-eight students in my school have asthma out of 387,” said public school principal Patricia Quigley.

About 9,320 children in the Bronx were hospitalized for asthma attacks between 2011 and 2013, according to Gillibrand.

So the senator has proposed legislation that would set up a grant program for schools to pay for medication, equipment and training.

“We have to ensure that our schools are prepared to handle this chronic illness,” she said.

Gillibrand said all school districts would be eligible for the grants and funding would be decided based on school districts’ share of low income students, who often have higher rates of asthma.


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