New York Daily News
TurboVax techie Yang’s ‘key’ guy
The man who helped thousands of New Yorkers line up vaccination appointments through his TurboVax website has one more honor he can now aspire to — getting the key to the city.
Huge Ma, who became a Big Apple sensation for creating TurboVax, beamed over the praise Tuesday from Andrew Yang, the leading contender in this year’s mayoral race.
If elected, Yang promised he’d not only bestow the key-to-thecity honor on Ma — he’ll offer him a job, too.
“Huge Ma deserves our eternal gratitude, and as mayor, one of my first acts will be to give him the key to the city,” Yang said in Washington Heights, outside the Fort Washington Armory vaccination site. “While I’m giving him the key to the city, I’m going to be making a hard sell about joining city government to help improve our systems. Having an engineer with his skills would be an obvious asset.”
Ma rose to superstar status through TurboVax, a website and Twitter handle he designed with $50 over the course of just several days. After struggling to find a vaccine appointment for this mother, Ma made the website, which compiles official city and state vaccine data and then sends it out via the @turbovax Twitter account.
“I never planned to get involved, to get mixed up in all this,” Ma said. “I have always just been following my gut from the very beginning. When I built TurboVax, I just wanted to make the vaccine process simple. That’s it.”
Since January, the site has helped connect countless New Yorkers with COVID vaccines.
Ma has also been vocal in speaking out against the horrific bias attacks against Asian-Americans that have recently left many shaken in the city.
“My message to everyone is that your voice and your actions have power, and somehow I am standing here as evidence to that,” Ma said. “I firmly believe that technology, when done right, can really improve society, and I’m looking forward to learning how Andrew and the other mayoral candidates intend to use tech to help rebuild our city.”
Ma would not say whether or not he planned to vote for Yang, though.
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), a co-chairman of Yang for New York, pointed to Ma as an example of how predictions of the city’s inevitable decline are wrong and called him the city’s “greatest cause for optimism.”
“Rather than stand by passively on the sidelines, rather than complain bitterly about government dysfunction, he became part of the solution,” Torres said. “At a cost of only $50, in less than two weeks, Huge managed to do what the federal government and local and city government failed to do with much greater resources. And you saved lives.”