Bronx Democrat and Dominican native, Assemblymember Karines Reyes, is a registered nurse who moonlights at a hospital in her district to help in the fight against COVID-19.
Reyes has seen first-hand the cost paid by frontline workers who lack protections against COVID-19. It’s the primary reason she is sponsoring the NY HERO Act (S.1034 – A.2681), a bill requiring businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"During the pandemic, we have seen profits rise at the expense of the health of our essential workers who do not receive essential protections," Reyes stated. "We must pass the NY HERO Act to ensure that corporations profiting off of the labor of our communities are doing their fair share in ensuring that those workers are able to do their jobs safely."
NY HERO Act regulations include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls.
The legislation, which has made it through committee in the Senate, but remains in the Assembly Labor Committee, is supported by more than 100 labor, community, and safety organizations. It’s also widely supported by Democrats in both houses.
Reyes discussed the NY Hero Act on Capital Tonight. When asked about the Department of Health’s March 25 order mandating that nursing homes in a position to do so accept patients returning from hospitals, she said she doesn’t think it made a difference in the number of people who died from COVID.
"With what we knew at the time, I don’t think the outcome would have been any different," Reyes told Capital Tonight. "I’m an RN and I’ve been working at the hospitals and I was working during COVID. We had nursing home patients that were there for other medical reasons, that had nothing to do with COVID. Our fear was that if we kept them here, they were going to get COVID, and they could possibly have a negative outcome so our priority was to get people out."
While Reyes doesn’t blame the Cuomo administration for the March 25 order, she does blame it for the delay in providing lawmakers with nursing home death data.
"I do think it was it was egregious to withhold information," Reyes said.