A homeless woman found dead on a Queens subway platform in February had COVID-19 before she passed away, the city’s medical examiner said Friday.
The woman, Audrey Lumer, died Feb. 9 at the 21st St.-Van Alst station in Long Island City. She was surrounded by bags and covered in bed bugs when she was found.
Her cause of death was determined to be “hyperintensive cardiovascular disease, with COVID-19 contributing,” said medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer.
Lumer had been evicted from her apartment about four years before she died, the Daily News reported earlier this year.
Her demise came at the intersection of two dire crises in New York: a rise in homelessness and the ongoing pandemic, which has so far taken the lives of more than 40,000 people in the city.
“Ms. Lumer’s avoidable death is a tragedy that stresses how dangerous it is for people without stable homes who seek refuge on the streets and subways because they feel it is the safest option for them,” said David Giffen, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless.
Lumer was one of at least six people believed to be homeless who were found dead on the city’s subway trains and platforms during the first six weeks of 2022.
She was sickened by COVID-19 as the virus’ omicron variant swept through the city. At least 5,100 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 and 1.1 million have tested positive for the disease since the variant was first identified in the city on Dec. 2.
It’s unclear how long Lumer lived on the platform before she died.
She was evicted from her apartment in Queens on Utopia Pkwy. on June 8, 2018, where she moved in with her father de ella in 2013 after her house de ella in Long Island was foreclosed on. Her dad de ella moved to Florida with his girlfriend de él in 2015 — and stopped paying rent, court records show.
She pleaded in Queens housing court to be allowed to stay before she was evicted, claiming in a May 31, 2018 filing that her “wallet was stolen three weeks ago. They took my driver’s license.”
“I do not have a place to live,” Lumer wrote in a court filing three days after she was evicted from an apartment.
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She packed her belongings and cats into a U-Haul truck and took them to a storage facility, and spent the final years of her life on the streets.
Her brother, Steven Lumer, is a finance director who owns an apartment on the Upper East Side. He got a protective order against his sister de ella months before she was evicted because he said she was harassing him and his family de ella.
“Right before she got evicted, I tried to get her the help she needed,” Steven told The News in February. “I said she needed a plan. She needed to get the help that the city and religious centers offer, but she refused.”
He could not be reached for comment on his sister’s cause of death.
An MTA token booth clerk at the station where Lumer was found told The News in February that Lumer was known to transit workers and riders and had been living in the station for an extended period of time. Straphangers regularly brought Lumer food and water, the MTA worker said.
Officials from the city’s Department of Homeless Services are prevented by privacy law from disclosing whether Lumer ever entered a homeless shelter or accepted services from outreach workers.
Homeless outreach workers do not administer COVID-19 tests to people sleeping in the subway unless they accept care and are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, DHS officials said.