COVID-19 update: Cuomo confirms NYC will enter Phase Two on Monday
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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that global public health experts have cleared New York City to enter Phase Two of reopening on Monday. Business guidance for Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan is available here. “I am so incredibly proud of what we all did together and as a community. We reopened the economy and saved lives, because it was never a choice between one or the other, it was always right to do both,” Cuomo said. Out of the 79,308 tests conducted in New York State yesterday, only 796, or 1 percent, were positive.
New York City’s unemployment rate rose from 15.8 percent in April to 18.3 percent in May, bucking indicators of a potential national economic rebound, according to an analysis released Friday by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. The analysis found that over 900,000 fewer New Yorkers were working in May than in February, and communities of color and young people under the age of 24 have been particularly hit hard by job losses. “The latest data on the city’s unemployment situation are alarming and further underscores the urgent need for swift, robust federal support,” said Stringer. “Communities of color and young people are bearing the brunt of our unemployment crisis; we need Washington to recognize the enormous scale of the losses we’ve suffered and get New York City the financial aid it needs.”
Essential workers who sustained New York’s economy during the coronavirus outbreak would be eligible for college scholarships under a bill introduced by Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus. Some essential workers have received hazard pay, Frontus noted, and the state rightly passed a law to provide death benefits to families of essential workers who die from COVID-19 infection. But workers shouldn’t have to die to provide a better future for their families, she said. “We have a chance to do something transformational, not just transactional,” Frontus said. “A college education has been the path to economic mobility to generations of New Yorkers. It is time to give a new generation a path forward.” The Essential New York Scholarship Program would provide college scholarships to essential workers under terms similar to those in the original G.I. Bill, Frontus said.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams introduced legislation on Thursday that would require the City to create guidelines for landlords on cleaning and disinfecting their buildings and facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would task the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to develop these guidelines and to deliver them to the owners and managers of multiple dwellings. “This bill sets a mandate to create and distribute clear guidances on what each property owner can and must do to protect their tenants from this virus,” said Williams. “In this pandemic, we’ve set new standards of cleanliness for our modes of transportation and workplaces, and it’s clear we should do the same for buildings housing millions of tenants across the city.”
Every single weekday of the summer — from June to early August — Brooklyn Public Library will host a virtual summer reading activity for Brooklyn kids. Activities will include family-friendly performances, author and illustrator talks, and art projects. The theme of this year’s summer reading is “Imagine Your Story.” The Library writes that imagination is more important than ever for Brooklyn kids this year, and will give them an escape out of the four walls of their apartments and outside of the surrounding city blocks. BPL librarians are effectively stepping in as summer school teachers, tutors, and mentors to support the borough’s youth through a difficult time.
A group of 56 New York State legislators have urged Gov. Cuomo to prevent an imminent mass housing crisis by extending the eviction moratorium order, protecting all tenants for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The group, led by State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, and State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, sent a letter to the governor noting that the original eviction moratorium order he issued in March was due to expire on June 20th. “Given the depth of the crisis, we are extremely concerned about mass evictions and displacement after June 20. Right now, New Yorkers should not have to worry about their most basic needs, like housing. All of their focus should be on the health and safety of their loved ones,” the group wrote.
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