New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

PIX11 City Council reconvenes to plot COVID-19 response by Ayana Harry

City Council reconvenes to plot COVID-19 response

MANHATTAN — After responding to the city’s COVID-19 crisis for weeks, members of the City Council are back together thanks to technology.

On Wednesday, the council held its first virtual stated meeting.

“It was a little unreal. I never thought we'd actually be doing it,” Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos told PIX11 News.

“We have an essential workers’ bill of rights that I'm hoping we can get passed in the next two weeks in time to have a real impact during this pandemic,” Kallos said.

The bill of rights proposes paid sick leave for independent contractors and businesses with more than 100 essential employees would have to provide hazard pay ranging from $30 to $75 per shift.

“We have legislation that would put protections in place for those essential workers, so that they speak out and say, 'I need protective equipment,' they can't get fired for that,” Kallos explained.

Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres is pushing to protect tenants, sponsoring a bill to ensure “a landlord would no longer have the ability to harass you because you’ve had COVID-19 or because you’re a frontline worker at risk of contracting COVID-19, or because you’ve lost the ability to pay rent because of unemployment caused by COVID-19.”

Torres had firsthand experience with COVID-19. He was diagnosed with the virus weeks ago. The councilman says he was able to avoid hospitalization and has recovered.

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