Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 17, 2020

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

Johnson, Rivera to Propose Opening City Streets During Lockdown

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

In a Friday press release, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Midtown West) and Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-Lower East Side, East Village, Murray Hill) announced that they will introduce legislation opening city streets to foot and bicycle traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic during the City Council’s April 22 meeting.

The bill, which already has widespread support in the city council, should help make it easier for New Yorkers to practice social distancing.

“New Yorkers don’t have the street space they need to maintain proper social distancing, which we know is essential in this public health crisis,” said Johnson. “While we want to work collaboratively with the administration to open streets, this issue is so important and so urgent that we are taking legislative action to make it happen ourselves. Other cities across the country and around the world have demonstrated that this is doable. There is no reason we can’t do this here,”

West Side Electeds Stand with Striking Building Workers

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

The staff of the Chamberlain on West 87th Street and 432 West 52nd Street went on strike for a day Thursday in response to unsafe working conditions and employee mistreatment, Patch reported. 

Their demands included fairer pay, better health insurance, safer work environments, and protective equipment. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D), Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side), Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Hell’s Kitchen, Upper West Side, Central Park,) and State Senator Robert Jackson (D-West Side) all spoke out in favor of the group of porters, doormen, and handymen. 

Tunde Bello, 32, a porter at the Chamberlain, shared his concerns with Patch. “We just deserve better,” he said. “We’re putting our life on the line right now, and it’s like if I get sick I have to bring that back to my family. That’s the worst thing… the people who I’m around — that’s who I’m really scared for,” 

Niou Calls on State to Create Vote-by-Mail System

Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou
Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou

Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou (D-Chinatown, Financial District, Lower East Side) urged New York to provide every registered voter in the state with an absentee ballot application, Spectrum News reported Monday. 

The proposal would allow all New Yorkers who can vote to do so by mail to better allow for social distancing. If implemented, New York would be the sixth state to have such a system. The others are Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah

“As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Niou.

 “We have to make sure that in our push to protect democracy and expand voting options, no one is left out. That our family, friends, and neighbors can exercise their right to have a say in our political system while protecting themselves from this pandemic. That’s why I’m calling for us to go one step further and mail ballot applications to every eligible voter in the state. Now, more than ever, we need to fight for government accessibility and representation for our constituents to ensure all voices are heard.”