Time to Demand Cuomo and de Blasio Protect Workers and Small Businesses in Reopening Plan (OP-ED)
The following editorial was written by Zishun Ning of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
The New York City and State governments are still failing to protect people’s health and livelihood after two months of “PAUSE.”
The number of deaths and infections remain high. Patients with COVID-19 are still turned away, despite lower hospitalization rates and instead told to self-quarantine; healthcare workers are still not given enough protective gear (PPE) to stay safe; it is still difficult to maintain social distancing in public transit; and many laid-off workers are still not able to get unemployment insurance.
Despite these problems, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are rushing to reopen both City and State.
Reopening prematurely will only cause a spike in cases and deaths, as Texas has demonstrated. Workers are now facing the difficult choice of forfeiting unemployment insurance or risk going back to work and contracting coronavirus. Small businesses, struggling without sufficient relief, face shutting down permanently or reopening before deemed safe. It’s a cruel choice that could harm and displace the community.
The government had similarly reopened Lower Manhattan after 9/11. They told residents and workers the air was safe because they prioritized the economy and real estate. Nearly two decades later, the community saw many deaths and serious chronic illnesses as a result of the government’s rush to return.
Likewise, de Blasio and Cuomo’s call to reopen amid the pandemic shows they have little concern for citizens’ wellbeing. Instead, they lean on rich donors and developers to formulate reopening plans that focus on accumulating more power for the rich and more suffering for our communities. Luxury development will resume right at the beginning phase. It will be a continuation of their displacement agenda that has been dividing and pushing out communities across the City–especially communities of color–to maintain developers’ profits.
We can’t risk our lives to fuel the upper class profit-making machine. We, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side demand Mayor de Blasio and Cuomo stop the reopening plan, and instead, take action to protect workers and small businesses, including establishing relief funds for workers and small businesses to cover living expenses regardless of immigration status, setting up facilities for people to be quarantined and treated immediately, and providing enough PPE for healthcare workers to stay safe.