COVID-19 update: A focus on respect: Bereavement Task Force will ensure decedents are treated with dignity, Adams says
On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.
On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams convened funeral home directors, faith leaders, morgue operators, cemeteries, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and other stakeholders for a Bereavement Task Force. In recent weeks, funeral homes have reported being overwhelmed by the number of decedents. Adams and members of the task force discussed potential policy solutions that ensure decedents are being treated in a dignified manner, and which allow their loved ones to lay their bodies to rest peacefully. “Even a public health crisis of this magnitude should not get in the way of treating decedents with basic dignity,” said Adams. “That’s why we are convening this task force today — to come up with a comprehensive set of proposals to ensure that the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one is not compounded by seeing their body treated in a disrespectful manner.”
The New York State Nurses Association is launching a new program, the Upstate COVID Nurses Corps, which redeploys nurses to the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis as Upstate hospitals announce staffing cuts. Nurses at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh are some of the first nurses to answer the call. The hospital is now partnering with NYSNA to send nurses from Plattsburgh to NYC. “I asked CVPH earlier for a leave of absence to go to New York City to help, but was denied,” said Cassie Stanley, RN. “We’ve been preparing for the surge Upstate, but too many nurses are on hold, which makes no sense when people so desperately need help. When I saw the email about the Upstate COVID Nurse Corps, I was excited because if I were in that situation, I would want my fellow nurses to come help out, too. I’m comfortable with new challenges and feel eager to start.”
Attorney General Letitia James today issued guidelines to protect New Yorkers using funeral homes and reminded funeral homes that the office will take action against any entity that violates consumer rights. Attorney General James also lauded action by the New York State Cemetery Board, for which the Attorney General advocated, that will address severe cremation delays in the downstate region and make it easier for funeral homes to transfer deceased to upstate crematories with more capacity. “New Yorkers are grieving the loss of our families and neighbors,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “While the challenges the funeral home industry faces are unprecedented, deceased New Yorkers must be treated with respect and dignity, period.”
Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago has announced a series of virtual activities aimed at celebrating New York City’s 520 miles of shoreline with an eye towards the next Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a report which will provide a vision for the city’s waterfront for the next decade and beyond. “While we all miss spending time by the water, New Yorkers can get informed and participate in waterfront planning with this very special series of creative online events,” said Lago. “We hope these opportunities will help keep New Yorkers of all ages connected with the waterfront from their homes.” The virtual programs, which include “Walking the Edge” (fridays at noon), “Waterfront Passport” (each weekday) and “#WaterfrontWednesdays,” will run through May.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon announced on Friday that New York State had distributed over $4.6 billion in unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting businesses in early March. In total, the DOL has processed over 1.6 million completed applications for unemployment benefits since March 9th, she said, including for both traditional unemployment insurance and the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. “I know there are still many New Yorkers who are waiting to receive their benefits, and I understand the frustration and anxiety they are feeling,” Reardon said. “I want you to know that we are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect you with your benefits — and I will not rest until every New Yorker has access to the unemployment benefits they deserve.”
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