CORONAVIRUS’ IMPACT ON HEALTHCARE

NYS SENATOR BIAGGI COMMENDS GOVERNOR CUOMO FOR CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE, FIGHTING FOR MEDICAL SUPPLIES

SAYS PASSAGE OF PAID SICK LEAVE BILL WAS NEEDED BUT MORE HAS TO BE DONE FOR WORKERS IN THE FUTURE

BELIEVES CURRENT CRISIS WOULD NOT BE AS BAD IF NEW YORK HAD SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

As many have retreated into their homes to decrease their chances of infection, essential health care workers have done the opposite — remaining in the line of fire as they attempt to heal the sick and control the spread of the coronavirus. But now they are overwhelmed, short-staffed and ill-equipped as the outbreak continues, and they don’t have enough medical supplies to protect both patients and themselves. 

New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi has been closely following their struggle, and also finds herself on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, though in a different capacity. With her colleagues in Albany, the first-term Democrat, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester, helped pass paid sick leave legislation that will provide benefits to public and private employees who are forced to quarantine due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“It’s remarkable that it’s taken a crisis like this to push so many legislators who generally were not for this particular policy to not only stand behind it but to vote for it,” Biaggi told MetroFocus’ Jenna Flanagan. Biaggi added that a majority of workers who are either sick, laid off or forced to stay home will be able to be paid for at least two weeks.

The senator also hopes the current crisis will lead to expanded support for a single-payer or Medicare for all system. She is currently co-sponsoring the New York Health Act, which would bring about such an overhaul. “If we had a system like that already, we wouldn’t see as much of a crisis, I believe, as we’re seeing right now with the shortage of beds, with the shortage of ICU units, with the shortage of ventilators,” Biaggi said.

Aired on March 23, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS METRO FOCUS, WITH RAPHAEL P RAMON, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANNIGAN, MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERYL TIS H AND THE PROGRAM TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

AND BY -- ♪♪

> THIS IS METRO FOCUS WITH TH LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AFFECTING THE TRISTATE.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METRO FOCUS.

I'M JENNA FLANNIGAN.

AS YOU CAN SEE WE'RE STILL PRACTICING THE RECOMMENDED SOCIAL DISTANCINGING AND BRINGING YOU THIS BROADCAST FROM HOME, HOWEVER METRO FOCUS REMAINS UNWAVERING IN OUR COMMITMENT TO TELL YOU THE IMPORTANT STORY S ABOUT OUR COMMUNITIES PARTLY AT THIS CRITICAL TIME.

SO TONIGHT WE TALK ABOUT HEALTH CARE.

GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS ALREADY SAID HE BELIEVES A WAVE THE CORONAVIRUS CASES IS GOING TO CRASH OUR HOSPITAL SYSTEM.

SOME HEALTH CARE WORKERS HAVE ALREADY SAID THEY FEEL OVERWHELMED, UNDERSTAFFED AND DANGEROUSLY ILL-EQUIPPED.

SOME HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS BELIEVE THE STATE MAY NEED OVER 100,000 HOSPITAL BEDS TO HANDLE THE EPIDEMIC.

WHAT'S BEEN DONE TO HELP THE CRISIS, JOINING ME NOW, REPRESENTING PART OF THE BRONX AND WESTCHESTER COUNTY AND IS CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL GOVERNANCE AND GOVERNMENT ETHICS.

I'D LIKE TO WELCOME SENATOR BIAGGI TO THE SHOW.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

I APPRECIATE THE COMMITMENT TO REPORTING THE NEWS EVEN IN THESE VERY DIFFICULT TIMES.

YES, OF COURSE, THE WAY WE'RE HANDLING EVERYTHING I THINK EVERYBODY IS BEING INCREDIBLY FLEXIBLE.

THAT'S SUPER, SUPER IMPORTANT.

BEFORE WE GET INTO THE ROLE ALL OF US SHOULD BE PLAYING, I WANT TO START WITH STATE GOVERNMENT AND GET YOUR OPINION ON THE WAY GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS BEEN HANDLING THIS.

BECAUSE FOR A GOVERNOR WHO HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF BAD PRESS OVER THE YEARS, THE TIDE SEEMS TO HAVE TURNED SUDDENLY.

SO I'M ONE OF THOSE LEGISLATORS AND BEFORE BEING A LEGISLATOR ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO WAS CRITICAL AND REMAIN VERY CRITICAL OF OUR GOVERNOR BUT I AM ALSO A VERY REAL PERSON, AND WHEN SOMEONE'S DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB THEY DESERVE TO BE RECOGNIZED AS THAT.

OUR GOVERNOR IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK HAS NOT ONLY SHOWN UP TO THE CRISIS, HE HAS CONTINUALLY A SWAYINGED THE FEAR OF SO MANY INDIVIDUALS FROM LOCAL AND STATE AND FEDERAL ELECTED OFFICIALED TO ALL NEW YORKERS.

WHEN YOU COMPARE HIS LEADERSHIP TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK IT'S REALLY NOT EVEN A COMPARISON.

HE HAS BEEN THOUGHTFUL AND DECISIVE WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT, AND HE'S BEEN CLEAR, WHICH IS TO SAY, HE HAS BEEN GIVING DIRECTIVE THAT'S ARE EASY TO FOLLOW THAT ALLOW PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HE'S SAYING LIKE MYSELF SO I CAN TAKE THAT INFORMATION AND AGGREGATE AND SHARE IT WITH MY CONSTITUENT AND HE'S BEEN FORMIDABLE.

HE STOOD UP TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHICH WE REALLY NEED.

NEW YORK HAS A LIMIT, WE LIKE TO THINK WE'RE LIMITLESS, IN MANY WAY WE ARE, BUT THERE'S A FINITE SET OF RESOURCES AND FUNDS WE CAN USE TO PURCHASE THE RESOURCES LIKE VENTILATORS AND EXPENDING THE HOSPITALS INTO TERRITORIES LIKE BUILDING NEW FACILITIES.

THE VERY THINGS THAT HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT.

EXACTLY.

IN MANY REGARDS HE'S DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB AND I FEEL VERY GRATEFUL TO BE A NEW YORKER BECAUSE OF IT.

LET'S TURN TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND TALK ABOUT WHAT'S BEING DONE IT MAKE SURE WE'VE SHORED UP OUR HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND HEALTH CARE ACCESS FOR AS MANY NEW YORKERS AS POSSIBLE.

SO THIS IS A GREAT QUESTION AND I WANT TO START BY SAYING I'M A VERY PROUD COSPONSOR FOR THE NEW YORK HEALTH ACT, MEDICARE FOR ALL HEALTH SYSTEM.

WE HAD A SYSTEM LIKE THAT ALREADY WE WOULDN'T SEE AS MUCH I ARISE IS AS WE'RE SEEING NOW WITH THE SHORTAGE OF BEDS AND ICU UNITS AND SHORTAGE OF VENTILATOR SO MY GOAL AND HOPE IS THIS SITUATION URGES MANY WHO WERE NOT IN FAVOR OF THAT TO BE IN FAVOR OF THAT ULTIMATELY.

THIS PAST WEEK MY COLLEAGUES AND I RETURNED TO ALBANY TO PASS A SET OF LAWS THAT WE THINK ARE RESPONSIVE TO THIS MOMENT.

AND NUMBER TWO, OF COURSE TO TALK ABOUT THE STATE BUDGET AND REALLY BE CLEAR WHERE HE STAND AS A CONFERENCE BECAUSE WE'RE CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED TO PASS A BUDGET BY APRIL 1st.

THAT'S SOMETHING I AM SO GLAD YOU BROUGHT UP BECAUSE THE STATE BUDGET WAS PROBLEMATIC BEFORE THIS BEGAN.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A $6.1 BILLION HOLE AND NOW WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PERHAPS EXPANDING OUR MEDICAID SERVICES, ET CETERA.

GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS BEEN VERY, VERY PROUD OF THE FACT HE'S MANAGED TO TURN IN ON-TIME BUDGETS, DO YOU SEE IT HAPPENING FOR THIS BUCHBLGET CYCLE -- BUDGET CYCLE?

I DO, ACTUAL WILL, I AM LEAST WORRIED ABOUT HANDING IN A BUDGET ON TIME.

I'M MOST CONCERN ED WHAT WE WILL DO AS LEADERS TO MAKE SURE THE CURRENT $6.1 BILLION DEFICIT THAT'S GROWING, WE DIDN'T EXPECT A PANDEMIC TO HIT NEW YORK, WOULD HAVE TO REALLY USE THE MONEY THAT WE HAVE STORE IN CERTAIN FUNDS TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE SO SOMEWHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO THEN DEAL WITH THAT REVENUE DEFICIT.

SO ONE OF THE THINGS I'VE BEEN CONSISTENTLY SHOWING UP FOR THE CONVERSATION OF IS MAKING SURE THAT WE AS LEGISLATORS AND AS I LEGISLATIVE BODY ARE THINKING ABOUT WAYS TO DO THAT.

SO A BILLIONAIRE'S TAX.

ULTRA WEALTH TAX.

PUTTING A TAX ON THINGS LIKE PRIVATE JETS.

AND YACHTS.

IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK IF YOU HAVE A JET OR YACHT OVER $235,000 WE DON'T TAX THOSE ITEMS.

SILLY THINGS LIKE THAT.

THE TAX THAT WOULD GENERATE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT IS REQUIRING INDIVIDUALS TO HAVE A SECOND ESTATE, RIGHT, IN MANHATTAN, MAINLY, THAT'S WHERE PEOPLE HAVE PEA ETTA TARIFFS TO PAY TAXES ON THOSE PROPERTIES.

THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS TO DEAL WITH THIS BUT WE'VE GOT TO BE REAL ABOUT THIS.

I'M CONSISTENT IN SAYING IF WE WALK AWAY THIS BUDGET PROCESS AND DO NOT THINK ABOUT RAISING REVENUE WE'RE NELGT BECAUSE HE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE OUR NEEDS ARE MET AND THAT OUR STATE IS ABLE TO STILL FUNCTION AND WE'RE IN A MOMENT THAT SUNSHINE PRECEDENTED SO THERE'S NOT A PLAY BOOK TO FOLLOW HERE BUT I KNOW EVEN AS I FIRST-TIME LEGISLATOR THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO IS MAKE SURE WE HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS TO PROTECT ALL NEW YORKERS.

SO THIS PAST WEEK WE PAID THE SICK LEAVE WITH REGARD TO CORONAVIRUS AND WE LOOKED AT CHANGING OF THE COURSE THE DEADLINE FOR PETITION, WHICH WAS MARCH 30, WE MOVED IT UP TO TODAY.

TODAY'S THE DEADLINE FOR YOU TO FILE YOUR PETITION.

BY THE WAY, TODAY IS IN REFERENCE TO MARCH 20th.

PEOPLE SEE THIS ON YOUTUBE LATER ON.

TODAY MARCH 20th IS NOW THE NEW DEADLINE BECAUSE THE LEGISLATOR CAME BACK AND CONVENE CONVENIENTED AND PASSED A LAW THE GOVERNOR HAS NOW SIGNED.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT SICK LEAVE IT'S REMARKABLE IT HAS TAKEN A CRISIS LIKE THIS TO PUSH THOSE WHO WEREN'T BEHIND IT TO VOTE FOR IT AND PUSH IT THROUGH TO LEGISLATURE AND IN NEW YORK TO MAKE SURE A MAJORITY OF WORKER WHO'S ARE SICK WILL BE PAID FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS.

THIS IS WHERE WE STARTED.

WE KNOW A MAJORITY OF NEW YORKERS AND AMERICANS DO NOT HAVE PAID SICK LEAVE.

THIS IS A FIRST STEP TOWARDS WHAT I BELIEVE IS A HUMAN RIGHT.

EVERY HUMAN BEING GETS SICK.

TO NOT HAVE SICK LEAVE IS ASTONISHING.

I'M SPEAKING WITH THE STATE SENATOR WHO REPRESENTS PARTS OF THE BRONX AND WESTCHESTER COUNTY.

AND YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PAID SICK LEAVE TO BE CLAWED IN THE BUDGET.

-- INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET.

I WONDER IF PROGRESSIVES MIGHT SEE IT AS A CHANCE TO NOT JUST GET THE POLICY IN PLACE RIGHT NOW BUT IS THERE ANY INDICATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY MIGHT BECOME PERMANENT OR DO WE GO BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL ONCE WE GET THROUGH THIS CRISIS?

YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW HOW WE GO BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL.

I DON'T THINK THIS WILL BE SUCH A THING AS BUSINESS AS USUAL OF IT HAS TRULY EFFECTED EVERY INDUSTRY AT THE SAME TIME.

EVERY PERSON, NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE OR MAKE, AT THE SAME TIME, NO MATTER WHERE YOU STAND IN TERMS OF POWER, AT THE SAME TIME.

THIS IS CHANGING THE WAY HUMAN BEINGS ARE LIVING, SO WHEN THIS IS OVER I THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO PROBABLY EXCHANGE THE WAY WE WORK WHICH MEANS TELECOMMUTING MAY CHANGE THE WAY WE DO WORK AND IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD.

THIS IS A WORLD ON THE VERGE OF A CLIMATE CRISIS WE'RE ON THE VERGE OF BEING ABLE TO DEAL WITH IT, SPECIFICALLY, HOW WE RELATE TO TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY IN OUR STATE, ESPECIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES, MAKING SURE THAT PEOPLE HAVE HEALTH CARE WHICH IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE STATES WILL HAVE HEALTH CARE WILL MEAN WE'LL BE ABLE TO PUT LESS PRESSURE ON OUR DOCTORS, ON OUR HOSPITALS, ON OUR MEDICAL SYSTEM.

I MEAN, LISTEN, THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE RIGHT NOW WHO CANNOT STAY HOME IN QUARANTINE BECAUSE THEY'RE FAST FOOD WORKERS OR UBER OR LYFT DRIVERS, THESE ARE PEOPLE LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK AND NEW YORK HAS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THAT SITUATION THAT MAKE THE CITY RUN AND WORK.

SO AS WE LOOK AT WHERE WE'RE HEADED AND HOW MUCH TIME WE HAVE LEFT IN THIS CRISIS, IT'S A QUESTION MARK WE DON'T REALLY KNOW BUT WE DO KNOW WE WILL FOREVER BE CHANGED AND THAT MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER, I THINK, ARE BECOMING CONSCIOUS OF THE FACT THAT WE HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER AND THE COMMUNITIES AND THE THOUGHTFUL POLICY BEHIND THAT WILL BE THERE TO PUT INTO PLACE.

I FEEL HOPEFUL.

ANYTHING THIS IS THE ONE THING I'M MOST HOPEFUL ABOUT BUT AT THE MOMENT WE'RE REALLY STRUGGLING BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A POLICY IN PLACE, WE DON'T HAVE A HEALTH CARE THAT'S IF OR EVERYONE, WE HAVE IT FOR SOMEONE.

LOOK AT THE WAY THAT WE HAVE -- PARDON ME.

LOOK AT THE WAY THAT WE HAVE DEALT WITH WHO GETS A TEST OR NOT.

I MEAN, IT'S SO INCREDIBLY DISPARATE.

IT'S INTERESTING YOU BRING UP THE ISSUE OF TESTING BECAUSE THAT'S BECOMING THE SECOND PART OF THIS HEALTH CARE CRISIS IS WHO IS GETTING THE TEST WHO IS NOT GETTING THE TEST.

WHERE ARE ALL OF THE TESTS EVERYONE CAN BE TESTED.

THEY'RE ASKING THE ONLY PEOPLE WITH ACTIVE SYSTEMED GO, OR BELIEVE THEY HAVE SYMPTOMS GO TO THAT WEBSITE, SAME TIME WE'RE HEARING SYMPTOMATIC PEOPLE MIGHT BE INCREDIBLY CONTAGIOUS.

HOW IS THIS BEING ADDRESSED?

NUMBER ONE WE STARTED OFF WITH THIS CRISIS TWO WEEKS AGO IT KICKED INTO HIGH GEAR.

AT THAT TIME WE GOT UP TO 200 TESTS PER DAY IN NEW YORK.

RIGHT NOW WE'RE AT A PLACE WHERE WE'RE GIVING 6,000 TO 7,000 TESTS PER DAY.

LAST NIGHT ALONE IN NEW YORK WE ADMINISTERED 10,000 TESTS FOR NEW YORKERS.

THIS IS ACTUALLY PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING INCREASES AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF CAPACITY THAT WE'VE SEEN ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

WE HAVE 19.6 MILLION NEW YORKERS.

WHICH MEANS IF YOU ARE A DRY THROW, COUGH, DIFFICULTY BREATHING, TEMPERATURE, THE MORE SEVERE, THE MORE URGENCY NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THICK WE CAN DO -- THING WE CAN DO IS STAY HOME.

FOR THOSE OF US WITH THE ABILITY TO WORK FROM HOME, IT IS A LUXURY TO BE ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME, MANY PEOPLE ARE NOT ABLE TO DO THAT.

WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT.

FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE, LET'S BE SELFLESS AND LET'S BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE VULNERABLE AND AT RISK.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS LIKE HEART DISEASE, LUNG DISEASE, LUNG CANCER, CANCER SURVIVORS, ASTHMA, SO MANY CONDITIONS THAT ARE A HUGE CAUSE WHY THE MORTALITY RATES ARE SO HIGH.

STAY HOME.

STAYING HOME IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO.

I KNOW THERE'S AN URGENCY AND REAL FEAR BEHIND NOT KNOWING WHETHER YOU HAVE THIS VIRUS OAR NOT.

I GET THAT 100%. I ALSO KNOW THAT YOU, IF YOU ARE A HEALTHY HUMAN BEING THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS STAY HOME.

AND OF COURSE, AS YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE MORE SERIOUS YOU CALL THE DOCTOR.

YOU CALL THE EMERGENCY ROOM BEFORE YOU GO IN.

AND YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO BE TAKEN CARE OF.

THAT IS THE BEST THING WE CAN DO.

TESTING MATTERS AND WE'RE RAMPING IT UP IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

WE'RE VERY PROUD OF THAT.

I THINK EVEN THOUGH WE'RE TESTING PEOPLE RAPIDLY I'D SAY WE PROBABLY DON'T KNOW ABOUT A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE IT WHO ARE A-SYMPTOMATIC SO BEING DILIGENT IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

AS I MENTIONED IN THE INTRO, HEALTH CARE WORKERS SAY THEY FEEL ILL-EQUIP.

I LIKE TO TELL A QUICK ANTECDOTE.

AT MY SALON THE WOMAN WHO OWNS IT BROUGHT A BOX OF GLOVES TO GIVE TO ONE OF THE LOCAL NURSES BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL WAS RUNNING OUT OF GLOVES.

I WONDER IF THE STATE'S BEEN ABLE TO DO ANYTHING TO MAKE SURE.

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL GESTURE BUT THAT CAN'T BE THE SOLUTION.

WHAT'S THE STATE DOING TO MAKE SURE HOSPITALS HAVE WHAT THEY NEED?

NUMBER ONE, AGAIN, I THINK THE GOVERNOR IS FIGHTING POLITICAL DIFFERENCE BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE SEVERAL PLEAS TO THE FEDERAL ADMINISTRATION THAT ARE FINALLY BEING HEEDED.

VENTILATORS WE NEED THOUSANDS, WE NEED HOSPITAL BEDS, WE DO NEED MORE GLOVES AND PROTECTIVE GEAR.

IN THAT REGARD THE STATE HAS PUT ASIDE ITS EGO WHICH IS AMAZING AND ALSO IMPORTANT IN A TIME LIKE THIS AND ALSO NOT VERY IS COMMON IN POLITICS, LET'S BE VERY CLEAR WHAT WE'RE DEALING WITH HERE, SO, THAT'S IMPORTANT, ALSO, WHAT I'VE SEEN AT LEAST AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL IS AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF EVERY DAY CITIZENS WHO ARE SAYING I MIGHT KNOW SOMEBODY WHO COULD GIVE US SOME GLOVES OR MASKS TRYING TO FILL THE GAP AS WE SEE THE NUMBERS INCREASE AND DOING THEIR PART.

I THINK THAT REALLY SIGNALS TO ME, AT LEAST, THAT THIS IS RESONATING IN A WAY THAT GENERALLY DIDN'T RESONATE.

HOW MANY PEOPLE GET THE FLU EVERY YEAR?

DO YOU FEEL OBLIGATED TO BUY THEM TYLENOL.

THIS IS SUCH A DIFFERENT SITUATION.

SUCH A LARGE PROBLEM.

SO MANY PEOPLE TRYING TO FILL THE GAP.

IT'S NOT JUST MASKS AND GLOVES BUT ALSO FOOD.

A LOT OF OUR ELDERLY ARE AFRAID TO LEAVE THE HOUSE SO THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF PEOPLE IN MY COMMUNITY AND MY OFFICE AS ONE SET OF LEADERS HAVE REALLY TRIED TO IDENTIFY WHO ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE.

HOW CAN WE GET FOOD TO THEM.

IF THEY'RE FOOD-INSECURE OR FINANCIALLY-INSECURE THEY STILL HAVE TO EAT AND THE PANTRIES HAVE TO BE STOCKED WITH FOOD.

IT'S CRITICAL.

AND THE NEEDS ARE ENDLESS AT THIS POINT.

P THINGS I'M RECOGNIZING, ONE, EACH OF US CAN ONLY DO WHAT EACH OF US CAN DO, BUT IF WE'RE COMMITTED TO THAT IT MEANS WE'LL BE COMMITTED TO STOPPING THIS PROBLEM MUCH QUICKER.

NUMBER TWO, THERE'S A SENSE OF EMOTIONAL HOPELESSNESS TO THE GRAVITY OF THE PROBLEM.

I THINK ONE THE WAYS I'VE TRIED TO ADDRESS THAT IS TO SAY ALL I CAN DO AS ONE PERSON IN THE ROLE I'M IN, RIGHT, IS IDENTIFY, HERE'S A PROBLEM, LET ME TRY TO FIND A SOLUTION.

SO A LOT OF MY DAY IS SAYING, OKAY, IN RIVER DALE THERE IS A SENIOR CENTER THAT NEEDS FOOD.

LET ME REMEMBER WHO I CAN CALL.

GOT IT.

I'M GOING TO CALL THIS FOOD PANTRY AND MAKE SURE THEY CONNECT HERE.

OR FOR EXAMPLE THERE'S A GROUP OF YOUNG CHILDREN WHO DON'T HAVE iPADS OR COMPUTERS WHO CAN'T DO DIGITAL LEARNING, OKAY, I'M GOING TO TALK TO THE EDUCATION CHAIR IN THE SENATE.

IT'S ALL THESE LITTLE PIECES THAT AT FIRST YOU FEEL OH, MY GOSH I HAVE TO DO ALL IT.

A LOT OF IT IS CONNECTING AND TAKING THAT STEP TO BE THE CONNECTOR FOR YOUR COMMUNITY AND EVERY ONE OF US CAN DO IT.

THAT'S MY PLEA TO EVERYONE.

IN DOING THAT, I HAVE TO SAY, IT'S BEEN ONE OF THE MOST MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO AND THERE'S SUCH A GREAT NEED EVERY LITTLE PIECE THAT I FEEL LIKE WE'RE ATTEMPTING TO ACHIEVE OR TO SERVE IS MAKING SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE.

I THINK IN A WAY THAT IS NOT THE USUAL WAY OF SHOWING UP FOR THE COMMUNITY.

AND I'M NOT SPECIAL IN THAT REGARD.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US CAN DO THAT.

OF COURSE, OF COURSE.

I DO WANT TO TAKE THE TIME NOW TO TURN A LITTLE BIT TOWARDS ELECTIONS.

WE'VE SEEN SEVERAL STATES POSTPONE ELECTIONS.

WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A SPECIAL ELECTION IN QUEENS COUNTY FOR THE NEXT BURROW PRESIDENT.

THAT WAS CANCELLED.

NEW YORK IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A PRIMARY ELECTION COMING UP IN APRIL.

AND THERE'S QUESTIONS THE NOW ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS GUYS THAT.

FIRST OF ALL, DO YOU SEE THE ELECTION GOING FORWARD AS PLANNED?

OR AS WE'RE STARTING TO SEE PERHAPS WITH SOME OF THE OTHER PRIMARY STATES, SHOULD NEW YORK SERIOUSLY CONSIDER MAIL-IN BALLOTING FOR AT LEAST THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.

OKAY.

OUR ELECTIONS RIGHT NOW ARE NOT BY ANY MEANS NORMAL, RIGHT.

WE'RE IN A PRESIDENTIAL YEAR WHICH IS ONE OF THE TIMES DURING THE ENTIRE CYCLE FOUR YEAR CALENDAR WHERE MOST AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WILL SHOW UP TO VOTE.

IT'S AMAZING.

IN 2016, SINCE THEN THE INCREASE OF VOTERS HAVE REALLY BEEN MOVING TO SEE.

HOWEVER, OKAY, AS PEOPLE CONGREGATE AT THE POLLS OR AS PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES OR GET IN THEIR CAR ORZ SHOW UP AND TOUCH PAPER AND PUT IT INTO THE MACHINE AND TOUCH THE PEN, IT'S GOING TO BE ONE OF THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS OF SPREADING COVID-19, SO ONE OF THE RESPONSIBLE WAYS THAT WE CAN ADDRESS THAT IS VOTING BY MAIL.

NOW IN NEW YORK STATE, VOTING BY MAIL, IN MY UNDERSTANDING HAS TO HAPPEN THROUGH A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

SO IN THE INTERIM IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK WE HAVE ABSENTEE BALLOT OTS AND ARE STARTED THE PROCESS NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON YOU CAN FILL IN YOUR VOTE AND SEND IT IN THE MAIL.

THAT TAKES TWO SESSIONS TO VOTE ON SAND A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

WE'RE IN THE GAP YEAR OF WHAT TO DO.

TO FILL THE GAP I'VE INTRODUCED A PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT WILL ALLOW ALL NEW YORKERS TO VOTE THROUGH ABSENTEE BALLOTS.

I ADDED A SEVENTH CATEGORY ON THE FORM THAT ACCOUNTS SCORE PUBLIC RISK. IF YOU LOOK AT THE SIX CATEGORIES THERE WHAT'S GOING ON NOW DOESN'T FIT SQUARELY IN THOSE CATEGORIES WHICH MEANS IF WE WANT TO VOTE AND THE POLLS ARE OPEN WE SHOULD BE RISKING OUR HEALTH AND LIFE AND THAT'S NOT ACCESSIBLE SO IN THIS BILL ADDING A 7th CATEGORY MEANS YOU WOULD BE A PUBLIC RISK OR A PUBLIC RISK IS POSED.

YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO CHECK THAT BOX, VOTE FOR YOUR CANADIAN CANDIDATE, SEND IT IN THE MAIL, AND NOBODY WOULD INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER.

HISTORICALLY POLL WORKERS ARE GENERALLY ELDERLY.

YEAH.

WE NEED TO PROTECT EVERYBODY.

ALSO A LOT OF VOTERS WE KNOW IN PRIMARIES ARE OVER THE AGE OF 60.

THIS IS THE TARGET AGE RANGE THAT IS THE MOST VULNERABLE THOUGH WE'RE SEEING A DIFFERENT STRAND IN THE UNITED STATES OF COVID-19 THAT IS IMPACTING YOUNGER PEOPLE SEPARATELY.

WE WANT TO PROTECT ALL NEW YORKERS AND STILL MAKE SURE WE'RE ABLE TO EXERCISE OUR RIGHT TO VOTE.

SO WE GOT TO DO THIS.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE A NO-BRAINER BUT RIGHT NOW WE DON'T REALLY HAVE AN OPTION.

I DON'T SEE THE ELECTIONS GOING AS USUAL.

I DO THINK WE'LL HAVE TO ACT ON THIS VERY SOON AND I DO THINK THIS IS ONE OF THE SOLUTIONS AND WAYS TO GET THERE.

YOU KNOW, AS WE ALL SORT OF SETTLE INTO THIS NEW NORMAL THAT INVOLVES VIDEOCONFERENCING AND NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR PEOPLE TO BE PREPARING FOR GOING FORWARD?

YOU KNOW, GOSH, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, THERE'S SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, I THINK, BECAUSE EVERYTHING STEMS FROM THIS, IS THE ABILITY TO TAKE CARE OF OUR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING.

WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT?

I MEAN THAT EVEN AS A LEGISLATOR, RIGHT, THIS WEEK I GOT IN THE CAR, WENT TO ALBANY, SAT SIX FROM MY COLLEAGUE, I WAS AROUND PEOPLE, IN THAT EXERCISE OF STILL DOING MY JOB AND SERVING THE COMMUNITY THERE WAS A REAL SENSE OF DISCONNECTION AND ISOLATION, THAT WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE FIRST MOMENTS I HAD IN A LONG TIME WHERE I FELT CONNECTED TO PEOPLE.

I KNOW IF I FEEL I'M ISOLATED OR SEPARATE FROM OTHER PEOPLE I'M NOT ABLE TO FULLY SHOW UP IN A WAY TO MAKE DECISIONS CLEARLY, TO THINK ABOUT OKAY, HOW, IF I'VE BEEN LAID OFF, HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE MONEY.

I NEED TO APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT.

I NEED TO CARE FOR MY FAMILY AND MAKE SURE MY CHILDREN THAT ARE HOME FROM SCHOOL ARE ABLE TO LEARN STILL.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, WHETHER YOU'RE A MOTHER, DAUGHTER, SISTER, BROTHER, FATHER, UNCLE, AUNT, WHATEVER IT IS YOU ARE, GOT TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF.

WHATEVER THAT MEANS.

CARVING OUT AN HOUR FOR YOURSELF.

I STARTED WITH THIS COVID-19 CRISIS NOT BEING CENTERER OR TAKING CARE OF MYSELF.

MY FIRST INSTINCT IS I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS DISTRICT AND MAKE NEW YORKERS KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON, AND IT WASN'T GOOD FOR ME HEALTH-WISE AND I'VE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT AND TAKING MEASURES TO DEAL WITH THAT.

I URGE EVERYONE TO DO THAT TOO, FROM THAT POSITION OF TRYING TO BE CENTERER AS MUCH AS WE CAN BECAUSE THIS IS OBVIOUSLY UNPRECEDENTED.

I THINK WE'LL BE BETTER OFF.

I REALLY HAVE TO SAY, TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER AND OURSELVES IS ELEMENTAL TO MAKING SURE WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS BECAUSE IF YOU MAKE DECISIONS FROM A CLEAR, CALM PLACE WE'LL BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER AND HEAL MUCH MORE QUICKLY.

STATE SENATOR, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON THE PROGRAM AND OF COURSE PLEASE KEEP US UPDATED AS WE WATCH WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE BUDGET AND THE DEVELOPMENTS THAT COME WITH THE COVID-19 CRISIS SO THANK YOU.

I WILL ABSOLUTELY DO THAT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

♪♪

FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND YOUR COMMUNITY, VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

GOOD NIGHT AND STAY SAFE.

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