BY GRANT LANCASTER
Manhattan legislators expressed their displeasure with the federal response to COVID-19 coronavirus in a Community Board meeting while asserting that they would do whatever it takes to protect New Yorkers during the crisis.
State legislators’ main focus at the moment is healthcare and alleviating rent problems for New Yorkers faced with unemployment or simply reduced income, said Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D – 26) in a digital meeting of Manhattan Community Board 3 on Tuesday night.
Financially, the city has “bled and will continue to bleed” money in an attempt to look out for citizens, said Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D – 66).
Legislators were less than pleased with the federal response to the viral outbreak, which “should have been here weeks ago,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who represents District 2.
The legislature has expanded unemployment benefits and sick leave so that those who are isolated or quarantined can receive the benefits, not just people with confirmed cases of the illness, Kavanagh said.
Sen. Brad Hoylman (D – 27) has attempted to get grocery stores to offer “senior hours” where older New Yorkers can shop away from the crowds. He also created an online form for volunteers who want to pick up and deliver groceries for older and at-risk New Yorkers, gathering about 200 volunteers as of Tuesday night.
Some of the response has been due to emergency powers granted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the outbreak, which will last until April 1, 2021, if needed, Kavanagh said.
“I think you have seen the governor acting decisively and in ways that a lot of people appreciate,” Kavanagh said.
Going forward, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are looking for spaces to place more hospital beds, because the city does not have enough to treat the projected infection rates in the state, Rivera said.
The arrival of the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort in April will help alleviate some of the space problems, but with the rapidly spreading illness there is concern that the city’s healthcare system will be overwhelmed, Rivera said.