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Keeping New Yorkers Safe from COVID-19

Washington, March 18, 2020
Dear friends,
The rapidly spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced all of us to make significant changes to our lives as we adjust to social distancing and other preventative measures designed to inhibit the spread of the virus. I have been working hard—both in Washington and at home in New York—to protect Americans’ health and economic wellbeing. Please know that my office is available via phone should you require additional information or support. 

To reach my Manhattan office, please call 212-367-7350. To reach my Brooklyn office, please call 718-373-3198.

Keeping New York City Schoolchildren Safe

Given the speed at which COVID-19 spreads from person to person, I was very concerned about New York City public schools remaining open. With over 1.1 million New York children enrolled in our public schools, keeping our schools open could’ve led to millions of New Yorkers contracting the virus, quickly overwhelming the New York health system. That’s why I led the New York City Congressional delegation in calling on Mayor de Blasio to immediately close New York City schools and keep our children, their families, and our health system safe. I was relieved when, shortly after receiving our joint statement, Mayor de Blasio made the prudent and responsible decision to close New York City schools for the foreseeable future.

New York schools are more than educational hubs; they provide hundreds of thousands of children with the meals they rely on daily and guarantee childcare so that millions of parents can go to work. It is crucial that Mayor de Blasio ensures that homeless and food insecure children can continue to maintain access to the food and resources they depend on during the school day. The New York City Congressional delegation stands united in its readiness to support the Mayor how ever he needs.

The decision to call for New York City schools to close was not an easy one to make but it was the right one—the consequences of not closing schools are simply too severe.

Ensuring the Continued Sanctity of New York Elections

With elected officials and healthcare professionals continually emphasizing the importance of social distancing—keeping a safe distance from others so as to limit face-to-face contact and reduce the potential for transmitting disease—in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, it became very clear that New York’s petitioning process would need to change. What makes petitioning for inclusion on the ballot so fundamentally democratic—candidates and volunteers coming into close, personal contact with thousands of voters—is the same thing that would facilitate the rapid spread of COVID-19, undermining the capacity for candidates and volunteers to safely collect petition signatures and potentially impacting the ability of certain candidates to meet the signature threshold needed to make it on the ballot. 

It was for those reasons that I wrote to Governor Cuomo, asking him to reduce the number of signatures needed to make it on the ballot by two thirds. I am deeply grateful that the Governor heeded my call and swiftly took action to lower the threshold. In doing so, he kept thousands of New Yorkers safe while ensuring the integrity of our elections.

Limiting the Spread of COVID-19 By Closing Our National Parks

New York City is the proud home to numerous national parks, with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island attracting millions of tourists each year. Unfortunately, the popularity of these sites make them potential hotbeds for COVID-19 transmission and spread, as people from all over the world wait in security lines, ride ferries, and visit sights together. That’s why I called on Governor Cuomo to close our national parks and I commend him for making the right decision in doing so. Decisions like these—while difficult in the moment—are what will curb the spread of COVID-19.

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