New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Monday press conference that frontline workers, who are disproportionately people of color, should be given hazard pay by the federal government for doing their jobs in the middle of the U.S. coronavirus epicenter.
A medical worker at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan during the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images
According to Cuomo, 41% of New York’s frontline workers are people of color, with women making up two-thirds of frontline workers, while one-third come from low-income households.
“Black and brown Americans are disproportionately victims of COVID-19,” read one of Cuomo’s PowerPoint slides.
“The economy closed down, frankly, for people who have the luxury of staying at home,” Cuomo said, while workers in healthcare, public transportation, delivery services, childcare and building cleaning services have continued to go to work during the pandemic.
Cuomo called on the federal government, as part of its next economic stimulus package, to increase hazard pay for frontline workers with a 50% bonus: “Pay them what they deserve.”
A pilot program is also launching this week in New York City to deliver cloth masks for every resident in public housing, Cuomo said, along with hand sanitizer.
New York is also partnering with an organization called Ready Responders, Cuomo said, to provide healthcare services—including COVID-19 diagnostic testing—to public housing residents.
“I would propose hazard pay for frontline workers. Thanks is nice, but recognition of their efforts and their sacrifice is also appropriate,” Cuomo said.
State-level data of coronavirus infections seem to show people of color being most impacted by the disease. According to The Atlantic, African Americans make up about 14% of Michigan’s population, but comprise 40% of the state’s coronavirus deaths. In Illinois, the infection rate is twice as high among African Americans as compared to the overall state population. New York City officials are not releasing data on the race of patients being tested, hospitalized, or dying from coronavirus. A New York Times database of COVID-19 cases by city zip codes compared to census data showed that the five zip codes with the highest number of cases were overrepresented by Latinos and Asians, The Atlantic reported.
The CDC is not collecting data on the race of patients who tested positive or died of coronavirus, CBS News reported.
What to watch for
Over 20 New York hospitals that participated in trials of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, will report their results to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, according to Cuomo. President Trump has touted the drug despite it being an unproven treatment for COVID-19.
What The Racial Data Show (The Atlantic)
A Month of Coronavirus in New York City: See the Hardest-Hit Areas (New York Times)