Cuomo calls on the federal government to provide hazard pay to frontline workers: 'Give them a 50% bonus'

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty ImagesCuomo called on the federal government to provide hazard pay to frontline workers.
  • At a press briefing on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to provide hazard pay to frontline workers, including hospital workers, transit employees, and those in the food service industry.
  • “Pay them what they deserve,” Cuomo said. “Give them a 50% bonus.”
  • Pointing to the high infection rates among black and Latino communities, Cuomo said that those numbers can be partly attributed to 40% of frontline workers being people of colour.
  • Read live updates about the coronavirus here .

As New York is seeing the spread of the coronavirus curb within its borders, the frontline workers responsible for running hospitals, food services, and transit while the rest of the state has been on lockdown should be rewarded, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

At a press briefing, Cuomo proposed that the federal stimulus plan should include hazard pay for frontline workers, many of whom are people of colour.

“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.”

New York has seen lower hospitalisation rates and fewer deaths from the coronavirus in recent days, pointing to the possibility that the state could be coming up on the other side of the virus’ curve. Still, the state remains by far the epicentre of the coronavirus in the US in terms of the confirmed number of patients with COVID-19. New York had more than 248,000 cases as of Monday morning.

And the number of New Yorkers dying from the disease is still “horrifically high,” Cuomo said. At least 478 COVID-19 patients in the state died on Sunday – 22 fewer than the day before. The total number of deaths in the state has risen to 12,654, according to Johns Hopkins.


Pay them what they deserve’

About 40% of frontline workers are people of colour, Cuomo said. In certain industries that number is higher. In public transit, that number is 45%, and among building workers, it’s 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 went on.

Other key takeaways from Cuomo’s daily update:

  • Cuomo announced the establishment of a “Reimagine New York Task Force,” made up of local officials across the state, which will be responsible for improving and rebuilding society once the pandemic subsides.

    • The group will be focused on bettering housing systems, public safety systems, health systems, and social equity among other areas of society.
  • In response to a question about President Trump’s tweet that said states should be responsible for testing, Cuomo agreed that states are responsible for testing, but that labs conducting the tests are dependent on equipment from national manufacturers.

    • “Those labs can only run as many tests as the national manufacturers provide them,” Cuomo said. “I’d like the federal government to help on those supply-chain issues.”
  • If the federal government does not provide funding to New York, the state estimates a 20% cut to schools, hospitals, and local governments, Cuomo said.

    • “The federal government has said from day one, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to provide funding to the states,” Cuomo said. “But I’m worried because I’ve heard this over and over again.”
  • On Sunday, the governor announced that New York would be rolling out antibody testing to determine how many people have been exposed to the novel virus. The state has the bandwidth to run 2,000 tests a day, which would come out to 14,000 tests a week.

    • On Monday, Cuomo reiterated the point. “We’re starting the largest antibody test ever done today,” he said.

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