At a press conference on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the efforts of the frontline workers running hospitals, food services and public transit that has kept New York running, and finally brought the state through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged that the federal stimulus package under consideration should include hazard pay for the workers that have risked their lives to save lives and keep New York from down sliding into complete chaos. He emphasized that a large proportion of these frontline workers are people of color.
“Thanks is nice, but also recognition of their efforts and their sacrifice is also appropriate,” Cuomo said. “They are the ones that are carrying us through this crisis, and this crisis is not over.”
“The economy did not close down. It closed down for those people who frankly have the luxury of staying at home,” Cuomo said. “All of those essential workers, who have had to get up every morning to put food on the shelves and go to the hospitals to provide health care under extraordinary circumstances … those people worked. They exposed themselves to the virus.”
Cuomo said that about 40% of the workers at the forefront of this crisis are people of color. In some sectors that number goes even higher: in public transit, about 45% are minorities, while in construction it is closer to 57%.
“Two-thirds of those frontline workers are women. One-third come from low-income households,” Cuomo said. “Pay them what they deserve,” he added. “Give them a 50% bonus.”
“When you were home with your doors locked, dealing with cabin fever, they were out there dealing with the coronavirus, and that’s why they are more infected,” he added.
New York state, and especially New York City, has borne the brunt of the pandemic in the United States, having the most number of cases than any other country with 248,000 cases in the state and about 137,000 cases in the city as of April 21.