NYC Council Speaker Johnson’s Statement on Coronavirus/COVID-19

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. | File photo by Christian Miles

 

The following is from a press release of Thursday, March 12, 2020, in which New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (whose area of coverage includes Chelsea) provides the latest information on how the City is reacting to Coronavirus/COVID-19. For more info, visit the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene by clicking here. NOTE:  The City’s reaction to this unprecedented health challenges evolves daily. Follow Speaker Johnson, the City of New York, and your other local electeds ,via their websites and social media, for the latest news and information.

“I agree with the decision to ban large scale gatherings in New York City, as I called for yesterday. Life is going to have to change for some period of time in order to better control this outbreak. This is no longer business as usual. It is time for a more aggressive strategy and measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

I know many of the measures required of us will hurt people’s livelihoods. There will be an economic impact on places like our theaters and concert venues, movie theaters, gyms and sporting arenas, not for profits and other public gathering places. The City must take actions to give them relief.  To start, the Council is looking at creating a fund to help people and businesses impacted. 

The Council will also be coming out with policies to help protect and provide essential services for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including individuals without homes, prison populations, elderly New Yorkers, senior centers and residents of nursing homes. 

Large-scale school closures should be considered, and a decision needs to be made before the end of this week. We must have a plan in place to make sure services continue for families who rely on our schools to provide meals and medical and other crucial services. 

In addition to the ban on large scale gatherings, individuals should also practice social distancing to the maximum extent possible as a protection measure. This will mean limiting non-essential travel and avoiding unnecessary public events, including going to restaurants, bars, and shops, though grocery stores and pharmacies must remain open. Please work from home if you are able to do so. If you are an employer, please give your employees the option to work from home if at all possible.

Religious and community institutions should offer services and programming via video when possible so that the people they serve can minimize their exposure to risk. If it is absolutely necessary to continue in-person services, they should be taking rigorous hygienic measures, like deep cleaning and providing hand sanitizer, and maximizing physical separation between people.

These are measures that have been tested and proven in other pandemic settings. I am confident that a more aggressive response now will save lives and prevent even more pain later. 

We are also calling on the City, State, and Federal governments to do more as quickly as possible. This should include emergency paid sick leave, financial relief for small businesses, and protections for domestic workers, individual contractors and others who lack the privilege to work from home or simply take a few days off. 

Additionally, as I have called for previously, we need to rapidly expand the production of testing kits and their availability to New York City, and to provide accurate and consistent information and guidance that Americans can trust.

I am urging all New Yorkers to be careful and smart in their own personal health decisions. If you are feeling sick, please do not go to work. If you are sick enough to want to see a doctor, please call before you go. 

Yesterday, I said the city isn’t shutting down – and it still isn’t. But this is an evolving situation, with rapidly changing guidelines from public health experts. 

New Yorkers are tough. That’s part of why we’ve all chosen to live here. We have been through crises together before. The coming weeks will no doubt be challenging, and many of our daily rituals will be disrupted. I am sorry for those who are already infected and those who will become infected, and for their families and the healthcare workers who bear the heaviest burden. But I know that our resilience, our shared sense of sacrifice, and our commitment to each other and our communities will help our city weather this crisis together and emerge stronger for it.”

NOTE: For additional information about the coronavirus, including symptoms and prevention and an up-to-date case count in New York City, please visit nyc.gov/health/coronavirus.

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