During the pandemic, schools, restaurants, the MTA and healthcare have all experienced hardships, including reduced staff, lack of PPE and forced to closures.
Recently, Councilman Fernando Cabrera along with Councilman Justin Brannan introduced legislation to ensure the city is prepared for any future state disaster emergency or local state of emergency.
“Our current situation is a wake-up call,” Cabrera said. “The COVID-19 pandemic’s wide-ranging impact is far more than anyone could have imagined, affecting all our service systems, our economy, our public health and our children’s future. That’s why we’re seeking to enact legislation that will let us know in advance our total state of preparedness and actions that need to be taken. New York has a long road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to make sure this never happens again.”
This bill would require the Commissioner of New York City Emergency Management to submit an annual report to the Council describing the city’s preparation for and response to any state disaster emergency or local state of emergency declared in relation to an infectious disease that affects the city’s public health.
The report would include a description of any actions taken in preparation for, during and immediately after such incident by or on behalf of the city, a list of all city agencies, offices or private entities that were involved in the city’s emergency response, a description of the city’s current public healthcare workforce and ways to improve medical surge capacity and guidelines for notifying and communicating with the public and city officials during a local public health emergency.
Cabrera explained to the Bronx Times that the city cannot repeat what took place over the past seven months. All city and state departments must have plans and be on the same page.
At the peak of the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo were constantly bickering. Whether it’s this mayor or the next one, Cabrera said that should not take place.
According to Cabrera, during a crisis, it is crucial that people in those positions be on the same page.
“Sometimes the city doesn’t know how communicate,” the councilman said.
Looking to the future, the Department of Education must be prepared for a pandemic-type crisis. The councilman stressed that hopefully this leads to schools ending the digital divide, providing the right tools for kids and making sure ventilation systems are up to date every year.
“Our schools were totally unprepared,” he explained. “The time to plan is not when it happens.”
Furthermore, hospitals were short on PPE and nurses, so Cabrera’s hope is that going forward, health care facilities will have adequate supplies and employees.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” Brannan remarked. “I am proud to join my colleague Councilmember Fernando Cabrera in introducing this vital legislation to require the City of New York to produce an annual report on our readiness for a public health emergency. As we have all seen with the COVID19 pandemic, all levels of government were caught off guard and ill-prepared, and the consequences have been dire, unacceptable, and completely avoidable. We need to ensure that our city has plans in place for any future public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks so that countless lives and livelihoods can be saved.”