Time to Demand Cuomo and de Blasio Protect Workers and Small Businesses in Reopening Plan (OP-ED)

Posted on: May 29th, 2020 at 5:17 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

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.

Recent Stories

East Broadway Subway Station Turns 85

The East Broadway subway station wasn’t always a shady dungeon attracting crime. Once upon a time, the transit stop inspired celebrations across the Lower East Side. It was exactly eighty-five years ago – January 1, 1936 – that the East Broadway subway station debuted to the public. The feat of subterranean engineering, then known as […]

Looking at the New Ludlow House Annex Atop Demolished Libation Site

Well, that was quick. With Libation excised from the Lower East Side, the hole is now filled. Taken over by Ludlow House. The building at 137 Ludlow Street was demolished last year, and replaced in a matter of months. In fact, it’s already operational. The architecture of this one-story newcomer mirrors design elements of its […]

Stringer Promises ‘Fair Share’ of PPP for City Businesses

City Comptroller (and mayoral candidate) Scott Stringer held a press conference yesterday at the Chinatown kiosk on Canal Street, announcing a plan to funnel federal Payroll Protection (PPP) dollars to New York city businesses. It certainly triggered an uncomfortable memory of last year’s PPP fiasco. The first round of PPP went into effect just a […]

‘Open Streets’ Town Hall Yields More Questions than Answers

Tuesday night’s Town Hall on Open Restaurants and Open Streets, hosted by Community Boards 3 and 6 – left residents with more questions than answers regarding the long-term impact these pandemic-era health and economic neighborhood solutions have on a post-COVID city. However, the online meetup did bring a wide scope of information in terms of […]

Unused Half of Bowery’s Sunshine Hotel Flophouse Available to Rent

The leasing banner has been strung from the facade of 241 Bowery for more than two years. Without much success. The second and third floors (combined 8,938 square-feet) – once part of the Sunshine Hotel flophouse – are again on the market. And at a hefty price: $6,495 for a “raw” space that requires renovations […]