Rose Introduces Legislation to Coordinate Pandemic Preparedness
U.S. Rep. Max Rose (South Brooklyn, Staten Island) announced yesterday new legislation that he introduced to establish a Director of Pandemic and Biodefense Preparedness and Response, which would be a new Cabinet-level position that will prepare for and coordinate the response to a pandemic, biological attack or other major health crisis.
“We’re seeing the drastic and devastating impact a pandemic can have on our country, and the fact is, we need to be better prepared for the next wave or next outbreak,” Rose said. “Pandemics reach every corner of our society and require a whole-of-government response, both in preparation and response. This position will ensure we have someone specifically dedicated and properly empowered to marshal every resource available to the federal government to defeat whatever may come next.”
The Director of Pandemic and Biodefense Preparedness and Response would:Develop and direct the implementation of a National Pandemic and Biodefense Preparedness and Response Strategy; act as the principal adviser to the President in a time of pandemic, biological attack or other major health crisis and coordinate the nation’s response to such a crisis; develop pandemic and biodefense training with professional medical societies; and serve as a member of the National Security Council.
Adams Calls for Free MTA Fares
Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), chair of the Committee on Transportation, held a press conference yesterday outside the Jay Street-MetroTech subway station in Downtown Brooklyn to distribute masks to commuters, the vast majority of whom are essential workers and also called for free fares for all essential workers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are asking essential workers to risk their health, and the health of their loved ones, every day they continue to show up to do their jobs. These essential workers — people who stock our grocery shelves, answer our emergency calls, operate our buses, serve food in our schools, and so many others who keep our city running — don’t have the luxury of telecommuting and are on the frontlines of ensuring we have access to food, public safety, and health care. The very least we can do as we continue to navigate this public health emergency is allow them to access our public transit system free of charge for the duration of this crisis. These people deserve more than our gratitude — they deserve concrete benefits that recognize and celebrate their heroic contributions,” said Adams.
Recent figures released by the MTA show that ridership across the entire transit system has declined by about 95 percent overall since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in New York. The vast majority of those continuing to commute on subways and buses are essential workers, who often do not have the means to afford other commuting options. A recent report by the Office of the City Comptroller found that 72 percent of all essential workers in the city live in the outer boroughs, with 28 percent hailing from Brooklyn.
Deutsch Wants to Reach Out to Unemployed
City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest) is happy about seeing a positive trend in data with deaths and hospitalizations but realizes that millions are dealing with loss of jobs.
“While we are seeing a positive trend in data, with deaths, hospitalizations, and critical care cases going down, the aftershocks of this virus are going to linger for quite some time. For millions across the country, COVID has resulted in a loss of income and employment. Even when businesses reopen here in New York, it will take a long time to recover economically, which means that many will be jobless,” said Deutsch.
“I am very well aware of the ongoing issues with unemployment, and my office has already assisted thousands of applicants in getting the process completed, after long delays. I encourage you to follow the instructions below, and reach out to me at [email protected] with any issues at all.”
Bichotte Applauds Cancelation of Democratic Election
Assemblywoman and Kings County Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) thinks the decision to cancel the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary is a sensible accommodation by the New York State Board of Elections in the face of the unprecedented threats posed by the current pandemic.
“I applaud Senator Bernie Sanders for unifying the Democratic party and endorsing Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. And it is incumbent upon those of us who are Democratic leaders to ensure that the views of all in the Democratic party – including supporters of Senators Sanders, Warren, Gillibrand and other former candidates – are heard and represented in developing a progressive party platform that will guide the rebuilding of our country from the devastation wreaked by the current administration,” said Bichotte.
“With the expansion of absentee and early voting, we can continue our commitment to democracy by holding city & state legislative and congressional primaries safely on June 23rd.”
Senator Persaud Lauds L-train Tunnel Project Completion
NYS Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, and Starrett City) applauds the completion of the L-Train Tunnel.
When Superstorm Sandy greatly damaged the tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn and decimated communities throughout New York City, L-train riders experienced delays, packed trains, and loss of a direct Manhattan link.
“The L-train is a lifeline in Senate District 19 and Southeast Brooklyn. I am delighted to hear Governor Cuomo’s announcement that the L-train Canarsie Tunnel repair project is completed ahead of schedule and $100 million under budget,” said Persaud.
“Before New York went on ‘PAUSE,’ over 250,000 New Yorkers commuted daily using this train line between Brooklyn and Manhattan. As New York State begins reopening for business, this is a great relief for merchants and commuters. We can redirect the unused resources towards finishing other L-train projects in Southeast Brooklyn such as the connector between the L and #3 train stations at Livonia Avenue and Junius Street,” the lawmaker added.
Brannan Makes Thousands of Calls to Check in on Seniors
City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst) and his staff, many of whom are working from home, have been continuing to make outgoing calls to hundreds of local senior citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal of these wellness “check-in” calls is to make sure seniors are equipped with everything they need to get through this difficult time. Seniors are asked if they are in need of food or medicine, if they need someone to pick up groceries for them, and if they have any questions related to the coronavirus. Of course, many calls result in normal constituent cases like speed bump requests and noise complaints.
Brannan started the calls after local senior centers closed. “It became clear in early March that many seniors who are aren’t online may be missing out on important information. We wanted to make sure nobody went hungry or felt like they were forgotten during this time of isolation. We also wanted to make sure seniors were aware of the latest phone scams that have started recently.”
“We must recognize the digital divide is still very real. Not everyone is reading my Facebook posts or emails. We need to meet people where they’re at and that means calling seniors directly and checking in on them during this very tough time.”