Three more people have died from Legionnaires' disease, NYC officials confirmed yesterday as they convened for a town hall meeting to address hundreds of worried South Bronx residents. One attendee said, "There's more questions than answers to this disease that's going around. I'm scared, yes, because it's right in my backyard."

So far, a total of seven people have died from the pneumonia-like illness and there have been 81 reported cases of the illness. All of the deceased, officials said, "were older adults and had additional underlying medical problems. These additional deaths occurred in prior days and were reported to the Health Department yesterday." Sixty-four people have been hospitalized and 28 have been discharged.

The Health Department has traced the bacteria, legionella, to five cooling towers in the South Bronx—Lincoln Medical Center, Concourse Plaza, Opera House Hotel, a Verizon building and Streamline Plastic Co. All the towers have been cleaned and were found to be clean after being re-tested.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who has called for new cooling tower/rooftop water tanks inspection standards—apparently there isn't any inspection process currently in place—said at the meeting, "We’re not at the level of panic, but anxiety is really high." According to the NY Times, when asked about "preventive testing," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, "There are industry standards that are left to the owners, and what we’ve all been talking about this evening is the government role."

Mayor Bill de Blasio issued this statement:

"Legionnaires’ Disease has been a persistent public health threat for years, and has intensified in both New York City and across the nation over the past decade. The City continues its immediate response to the current outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the South Bronx - including comprehensive cleaning and remediation of infected sites, treatment of those who have contracted the disease, and a vigorous public information campaign to ensure people know the facts.

“However, a more systemic solution is required to prevent the cycle of these outbreaks from continuing. This week, new legislation will be announced designed to halt future outbreaks of Legionnaires’, and place new emphasis on long-term prevention. The comprehensive package will address inspections, new recommended action in the case of positive tests, and sanctions for those who fail to comply with new standards. Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks have become far too common over the past ten years, and the City will respond not by only addressing an outbreak as it occurs, but with a new plan to help prevent these outbreaks from happening in the first place.”

Here's the Department of Health's website about Legionnaires': Those most at risk are"people who are middle-aged or older—especially cigarette smokers—people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs)." Healthy people who develop Legionnaires' can recover with antibiotics, but may still be hospitalized.