Letters to the editor, March 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Plastics destroy the environment

I applaud the thoughtful, detailed article by J.G. Collins in last week’s Town and Village paper on the issue of the disastrous role plastic is playing in our environment. The recent ban on plastic bags is a very important first step to address the problem (and this took years!) but so much more needs to be done.

Read the list Mr. Collins presents and cry! I am appalled at the amount of plastic and glass refuse we regularly take to the recycle bins in our building. And this is from a two-person household where take-out food is a rare occasion.

Ultimately it all comes down to money. What is to be done when so many important conflicting demands are made on City and State budgets? One (partial?) solution is: Increase taxes on the middle and upper-income population. This is the way some European countries have successfully chosen. It will be controversial here but what is the alternative? Think about it and take action.

Irmgard C. Taylor
Stuyvesant Town


Modest proposals for the pandemic

I offer up two modest, sensible proposals as we attempt to make our way through our new pandemic age.

First, the more local one. We here in Stuy Town have one of those Little Free Library boxes along the southeast edge of the Oval. Last I checked, the bird-house-style box was filled with books, which, during normal times, is as it should be. But for now, maybe the books should be cleared out to allow space for folks with the means to place non-perishable food items in that mini-library space— cans of soup and beans, boxes of cereal and pasta — for folks who might need such items.

Second, and more broadly for all New Yorkers, Gov. Cuomo should consider pushing back the April 15 deadlines for the filing and payment of New York State income tax returns. Now that July 15 is the new deadline to both file returns and make payments to the IRS, our state needs to match up its deadlines with that of the feds. In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, with growing financial burdens on so many New Yorkers, such a three-month pushback of state income tax deadlines for those who owe the state money should be a no-brainer.

Ken Chanko
Stuyvesant Town


Restrict hours for seniors

Dear New York City Grocery Store Operators:

The grocery stores you operate are a crucial asset in communities across New York, including in my Senate district. Unfortunately, there have been many press accounts in recent days of mass hoarding by shoppers in your stores of basic necessities.

In response, as our city and state begin a new phase in our COVID-19 response, I write to seek from you two voluntary commitments: (i) you make accommodations for your most vulnerable shoppers by instituting special shopping hours for them; and (ii) you implement purchase restrictions on goods that have been the subject of hoarding, including such as toilet paper, bottled water and hand soap.

First, due to the enormous influx of shoppers at your stores, elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised individuals have found it difficult to go to their local grocery stores to purchase the supplies and food necessary to self-segregate themselves and avoid crowds. I’ve heard from many constituents who are unable to stand in long lines because of a disability or able to go into busy grocery stores because of the danger of infection. A solution to this problem undertaken by grocery stores in Jersey City, NJ is to implement special times to allow particularly vulnerable populations to shop without the crowds that put them at risk and allow them to buy the goods they need to survive. Stores like ShopRite of Metro Plaza will be open from 9 to 11 a.m. for shoppers that would benefit from less crowded stores.

Second, I also ask that your stores implement reasonable restrictions on the amount of certain goods like toilet paper, bottled water, and hand soap that can be sold to any individual. In addition to crowds, excessive purchasing and hoarding are also impeding access to essential goods for the vulnerable populations I mention above. Walmarts across the country, H-E-B in Texas, and Wegmans here in New York have already instituted these restrictions with the result of protecting the supply chain for all consumers.

These are turbulent times and New York State is doing everything it can to limit the effects of COVID-19, but additional steps should be taken to ensure everyone’s safety. I hope you agree that grocery stores should undertake these two common-sense solutions to be good neighbors and aid some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Brad Hoylman
State Senator 27th Senate District 

Mount Sinai Beth Israel offering space for COVID-19 patients

Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mount Sinai Beth Israel will be making space available in the First Avenue hospital in order to provide additional capacity for New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital system confirmed this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo also signed an executive order on Monday requiring all hospitals in the state to increase their capacity by 50%, with the goal of increasing capacity by 100%.

Mount Sinai would not specify exactly how many beds can be made available because that determination is made by the state’s Department of Health, but the hospital system confirmed that it is making space available in the unused portions of Beth Israel on First Avenue and the new Rivington facility, which is a former nursing home that Mount Sinai intends to convert into a mental health facility that will include services currently available at the Bernstein Pavilion. The hospital system has been in contact with the state since the pandemic began and the Department of Health is in the process of evaluating all of the options for creating additional hospital beds.

“In the past few weeks and in the weeks ahead, our sole focus is helping the communities we serve prepare for and address the COVID-19 crisis,” a spokesperson for Mount Sinai said. “These are extremely unique and challenging times and we are doing everything in our power and utilizing every resource possible, including, but not limited to, offering the city and state usage of our Rivington facility and unused portions of Mount Sinai Beth Israel to help fight this growing crisis.”

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