Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, March 20, 2020

COVID-19 molecule
COVID-19 (Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

Maloney Seeks Answers over Testing Shortage

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney reported that U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, along with several subcommittee chairs, wrote a letter Thursday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield, addressing the Trump Administration’s failure to meet its coronavirus testing goals.

The letter acknowledges an earlier request for information never received a response and that despite being able to provide one million testing kits for one million people by the end of the first week in march, on 75,000 were available. 

In it, the officials state they are, “gravely concerned that, due to multiple missteps, people across the country have been unable to get tested as healthcare providers are being forced to ration the extremely limited number of tests available, significantly degrading our country’s ability to conduct accurate modeling of the spread of the virus and endangering the health and safety of the American people.”

Krueger: Coronavirus Killed Marijuana Legalization

State Senator Liz Krueger
State Senator Liz Krueger

In a Wednesday interview with WMHT, State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville) revealed that her bill to legalize marijuana in New York State may be cut out of a new budget due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Krueger, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which negotiates the state budget, explained that she did not think lawmakers would be able to prioritize it alongside treatment for the virus. She also pointed out that she does not anticipate the state budget, due April 1, to be finalized by the end of the week as originally planned. 

“I don’t believe marijuana is going to be negotiated in this budget in the next few days,” Krueger told WMHT. “I just don’t see it as realistic.”

Powers Speaks Out on Coronavirus in Rikers

Council Member Keith Powers
Council Member Keith Powers

Councilmember Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, Central Park South, Midtown East, Times Square, Koreatown, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, Waterside Plaza, Tudor City, Turtle Bay, Murray Hill, Sutton Place) chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, discussed revelations that a corrections officer who works at Rikers Island’s Gate 1, had come down with the coronavirus with the Daily News Wednesday.

In particular, he expressed concerns that the jails lack key supplies for corrections officers, such as masks. 

“In a public health crisis, we shouldn’t be asking city employees to share essential equipment,”  said Powers.