Our most essential workforce include brave health care professionals, transit workers, grocery store employees, child care workers and building cleaners. As officials have noted many times in the past week, they’re going into battle without the proper equipment or protections.
Recently, Comptroller Scott Stringer released demographic profiles of who our frontline workers are, where they’re coming from and what they need most.
They’re mostly women, people of color and, in many industries, immigrants. Some are not even citizens, yet they’re putting their lives and health on the line for our city.
They’re largely from Brooklyn and Queens, but they come from the other three boroughs. Some even live outside the boundaries of New York City, but still contribute to our city daily.
They’re renters, public transit commuters, mothers and fathers. Many live at or below the poverty line. Some live without health insurance.
As the comptroller suggested in his report, it’s time to fully equip these soldiers with the protective gear they need. All levels of government should ensure these workers have masks, gloves and other protective equipment, as well as access to COVID-19 testing.
They should be compensated not only fairly, but receive hazard pay. They should be able to get to their worksites quickly and with free transfers.
Stringer’s recommendations are not easily achieved. They require collaboration and agreement among government officials, which does not happen often. But for the sake of these frontline workers, it must happen.
Everyday people can play a role, too. Concerned residents like Jonathan Forgash and Jaime-Faye Bean have launched new efforts to look after their neighbors, whether they’re in the restaurant industry or in health care.
A new effort, Queens Feeds Hospitals, offers free meals for our health care professionals while promoting and supporting local restaurants. It’s exactly the type of response we as a city need to survive this pandemic.
Though we’re fighting for our lives and our communities, we’re not alone. We should keep working together to find the best ways to help those who are working to protect us.