Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 19, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Gianaris Steps Up For Workers Impacted by COVID-19

State Sen. Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced yesterday the Senate passage of legislation to ensure employees in New York State will be able to access paid leave if they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

The Senate bill also waives the 7-day waiting period before New Yorkers can apply for unemployment insurance. This action builds on legislation passed by the Senate to allocate $40 million to help address the crisis.

“This is the first of many necessary steps required to help our neighbors survive this crisis,” said Gianaris. “The economic impact on working people will be immeasurable and we must do all we can to help.”

The legislation advanced by the Senate Majority, S.8091, will help every employee in the state by ensuring they receive paid leave and guaranteed job security if they have to undergo a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation. This paid leave will last for the duration of their order and help ensure they are not financially hurt for helping contain the coronavirus pandemic. 

Koo, Lee Decry Trump’s use of “Chinese Virus” Wording

City Council Member
Peter Koo

Queens Acting Borough President Sharon Lee and City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) yesterday both decried President Trump’s repeated referrals to the “Chinese virus” instead of its officially recognized term, COVID-19.

“I implore all public figures and media outlets to be responsible distributors of information and go by the WHO official name for coronavirus disease – COVID-19. Not only does trying to normalize the term “Chinese coronavirus” recklessly go against their official definition of the virus, but it inflames racial tensions at a time when Asians around the world are being discriminated against and even assaulted due to this very kind of misinformation. This is not a virus that affects one country or one group of people. Coronavirus is worldwide. We must fight it as one,” said Koo.

Lee said the term “‘Chinese virus’ is a deeply consequential misnomer.

“COVID-19 gives no one license to target, harass or assault anyone, but the term ‘Chinese virus’ provokes exactly that. It emboldens the discrimination, harassment and targeting of many Americans. Calling it a ‘Chinese virus’ instead of the accurate term ‘COVID-19’ inflames racism, empowers sinophobia, and resurrects ‘yellow peril’ perceptions that endanger Americans, including American citizens like myself,” said Lee. 

“This is a shared war against a pandemic, and as we all race together to stem the tide of COVID-19, triggering a war of words is the absolute last thing we need. This virus does not discriminate, and as fellow Americans, neither should we,” she added.

Katz Takes Steps To Protect DA Office Workers’ Health

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced she is taking immediate action to protect the hundreds of employees that work within the DA’s Office and to keep all defendants, crime victims, witnesses, jurors and all others the office interacts with safe from the COVID-19 virus that has gripped our city.

“As New Yorkers, we have lived through citywide crises before. We survived the attacks of September 11th and the ravages of Superstorm Sandy. We have always found a way to come together, to support one another and protect the vulnerable. I have no doubt that we will get through this new crisis, but it will take all of us doing our jobs and taking the extra steps to work in unison to fight this potentially deadly virus. Ultimately, however, this office will continue to function and work with our criminal justice system to assure that the rights of both defendants and victims are safeguarded,” said Katz.

“My first priority is to make sure we continue to provide a fair criminal justice system. We are mandating changes that will help to keep everyone safe while at the same time ensuring the rights of defendants. We will do so while we take steps to enable social distancing, tele-working and other procedures,” she added.

Katz said many of these changes were initiated by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, who acted with great leadership to make meaningful changes to keep defendants safe while preserving their rights as they continue through the criminal justice system.

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