New York Calls For 'Hazard Pay' For Workers On COVID-19 Frontlines


As New York inches towards the first stage of reopening, Governor Andrew Cuomo is urging the state to set a high bar for its future.

During his Monday daily briefing, Gov. Cuomo turned his attention to the people who never stopped working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the essential workers who are exposed to the virus every day deserve more than applause and gratitude. He renewed his calls for hazard pay for frontline workers.

"Thanks is nice, but recognition of their efforts and their sacrifice is also appropriate," the governor said. "They are the ones who are carrying us through the crisis. And this is not over."

State officials have expressed concern that the novel coronavirus seems to disproportionately affect people who belong to racial minority groups. One possible explanation is that minorities are more likely to hold essential frontline jobs and thus more at-risk of exposure to the virus.

"Any reasonable person would say we should right this wrong," Cuomo continued. "...[T]he economy closed for people who, frankly, had the luxury of staying at home."

Gov. Cuomo has proclaimed numerous times in recent weeks that federal cooperation is crucial for New York to reopen without a vaccine.

He has urged the White House to help states make tests more widespread and, in a bipartisan letter from the National Governors Association, asked for a bailout for states that are now devoid of revenue and too broke to balance their budgets.

Cuomo has repeatedly likened the COVID-19 crisis to the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the devastation that followed Superstorm Sandy — though COVID-19 is blamed for six times as many deaths as both of those prior cataclysms combined.

He said Monday that New York improved after each of those crises and will do so again when concerns over the pandemic virus have dissipated.

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