Brooklyn Lawmakers on the Move April 1, 2020

News Site Brooklyn

Velázquez Bill to Help Anti-Hunger Organizations 

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Dumbo, East New York, East Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Gowanus, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Williamsburg, Queens, Lower Manhattan) authored legislation that will establish a new program to help meet staffing shortages at anti-hunger non-profit organizations in New York City and throughout the nation.

“COVID-19 is affecting all Americans, but, as is the case with most crises, our most vulnerable neighbors will undoubtedly suffer the greatest hardship,” Velázquez noted. “Many of our nonprofit anti-hunger organizations were stretched thin before the virus hit and the coming months will mean even greater challenges. This bill will meet the dual goals of assisting New York’s and our nation’s restaurant workers and industry while using their experience and skill to channel food to the hungry.”

Under the bill, the “Community Meals Fund”, nonprofits could qualify for grants of $500,000 to partner with small and mid-sized restaurants for the preparation and distribution of food to the vulnerable population.

Rose Announces RUMC to Begin COVID-19 Testing

Max Rose
U.S. Rep. Max Rose

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (South Brooklyn, Staten Island) announced yesterday that following approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first diagnostics testing for coronavirus by Cepheid, Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC), New York City will be the first locality in the nation to begin using this technology which returns tests in approximately 45 minutes compared to the typical turnover of days.

“We need to continue increasing testing capacity and accessibility to fully combat this virus—and RUMC’s deployment of Cepheid’s new rapid testing is a huge step towards that goal,” said Rose.

“I’ve been working closely with RUMC, Cepheid and my fellow Staten Island elected officials to help secure the necessary FDA approval and will continue fighting to ensure all our healthcare providers and those on the front lines have all the equipment and tools necessary to beat this virus,” he added.

Colton Outraged that Meters Still in Effect

Assembly Member William Colton

Assemblyman William Colton (Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) is outraged that Mayor De Blasio has extended the suspension of the alternate side parking rules, but left meter rules in effect.

“I demand to suspend meter rules due to an issue that metal meters pose contamination the threat to all touching it. Those meters are not properly maintained and disinfected by the city each time it is touched. Also a threat of forcing residents to travel far from home looking for parking on residential streets with few spots while commercial metered streets have numerous empty spots available,” said Colton.

 “Meter spaces are essential for essential workers like doctors, nurses, pharmacy workers, food industry workers. Doctors and nurses, unfortunately, are working double shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and need a break with parking. People shouldn’t be forced to worry about moving their cars or get a summons or get contaminated at times like these.  City officials must understand that now is not the time to think about revenue, we need to be concerned about how to resolve the crisis of COVID-19 and be safe,” Colton added.

Ortiz Reminds Tenants Can’t be Evicted

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assistant Speaker Félix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) is reminding residential and commercial tenants in New York State that they cannot be evicted for any reason, by law, until after June 20, 2020.

“COVID-19 has impacted New Yorkers financially and emotionally more than any event in recent history. Compounding the problem is the inability of unemployed workers to file for unemployment due to an overwhelmed system,” said Ortiz.

“Residential and commercial tenants should be aware that they cannot be evicted from their home or business during this crisis. No New Yorker will be put out on the street if they are unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income,” the lawmaker added.

Myrie Sends Updates for Domestic Abuse Victims and COVID-19

State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park) called attention to victims who are at risk of domestic violence at a time when most people are being asked to remain at home as much as possible.

Services for at-risk individuals include:

  • NYC Family Justice Center facilities are temporarily closed, services remain available by phone, such as immediate safety planning, shelter assistance, and other resources. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, you can call the Brooklyn Family Justice Center at 718-250-5113. On evenings and weekends, you can call NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-621-4673.

  • For help with stress and anxiety, residents can visit the NYC HOPE Resource Directory online at for help. You can also call NYC Well (888-692-9355) or text “WELL” to 65173. We have additional mental health resources available in our Resource Guide.

More COVID-19 updates from Myrie include:

Medicaid Information:

  •  the State Senator’s office is joining with colleagues in the U.S. Congress, State Senate, Assembly, and City Council with a letter rejecting the $2.5 billion cut to Medicaid funding outlined in the Medicaid Redesign Team II (MRT II) proposal and to accept federal Medicaid assistance.

Equipment and Hospital Information:

  • New York State has ordered 17,000 ventilators from China which will arrive in the coming weeks. The city and FEMA announced an agreement to send 250 additional ambulances and 500 EMTs to the city.

  • The governor announced the formation of a Central Coordinating Team, which is aimed at helping public and private hospitals share information, supplies, staff and patients.

  • The Javits Center is now open and accepting patients to its 1,000 beds. The USNS Comfort arrived in NYC yesterday and as of today is taking non-COVID-19 patients to reduce the burden on our hospitals, and the city is converting the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center into a temporary hospital with 350 beds.

Parks and Outdoor Information:

  • The mayor announced that while city residents have mostly been complying with social distancing, there have been some hotspots with too much crowding, and the city will close those 10 playgrounds today.

  • Alternate Side Parking is suspended for the next two weeks, now through Tuesday, April 14th.

  • The city is continuing to release people from incarceration, with the priority being those who are elderly and/or have chronic conditions. 900 people have now been released.

Frontus Applauds Protection for Healthcare Workers

Mathylde Frontus
Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus (Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Gravesend) praised the state’s action in protecting healthcare workers based on need, not job title.

“All healthcare workers are working around the clock and putting themselves on the line to help their neighbors,” Frontus said. “We need to take every available measure to keep them safe. I appreciate the state’s effort to coordinate resources for the greatest good.”

Physician assistants at some local hospitals contacted Frontus’ office to report that PPE, including protective masks, were being distributed to doctors and residents, while other frontline staff were limited to one mask every five days. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to coordinate resources among public and private hospitals is meant to efficiently manage limited resources, and officials in the governor’s office told Frontus that PPE would be distributed based on who needs it most.