Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday lent significant weight to a bipartisan push for line-of-duty death benefits for the families of city workers killed by the new coronavirus.

“We’ve lost a lot of public servants to this horrible disease that came out of nowhere and has afflicted us so deeply. 270 New York City employees have been lost to the coronavirus — 270,” the mayor said. “And it's so important for us to say to their families that we will be there for you. Not just words, but deeds — we will be there for you. We owe that to you.”

What You Need To Know

  • De Blasio calls on Albany to authorize coronavirus line-of-duty death benefits for families of city workers.

  • The city wants benefits like health insurance and partial pay for loved ones.

  • There are signs of bipartisan support for such legislation.

The city is looking to Albany for authorization for benefits such as health insurance and partial pay for the loved ones of late front-line workers. Those civil servants would include EMTs, public health workers, and transit employees.

De Blasio in his remarks referenced Democratic Councilman Daneek Miller and Republican Councilman Joe Borelli as leading advocates, signaling bipartisanship in clearing the home-rule hurdle to state action.

Similarly, state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working on the legislation, which hasn’t been formally introduced.

“We have endeavored very hard to get this to a point where we have gotten all the right stakeholders around the table, had all the important conversations in advance, and really gotten the negotiations to a place where we feel we have a very, very strong bill,” said Democratic State Sen. Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn. “And now having the mayor’s support is an incredible boost to our cause.”

“These city workers had to go to work. They provide essential services throughout our city, whether it’s keeping us safe, whether it’s fighting fires, whether it’s teaching our children,” Republican Staten Island and Brooklyn Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said. “The reality is is that if they were not working, they probably would have not contracted this disease. And it’s sad that they’re leaving behind families and those families often are young children.”

There isn’t yet an official estimate of how much the legislation would cost. The push is reminiscent of one in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Meanwhile, Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot also commended essential workers at Tuesday’s City Hall briefing. She was making her first public appearance in about a week, and she addressed a simmering controversy, the revelation of heated remarks she made in March to NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan about the distribution of protective masks to police.

“Do we wish we were able to do more at that time? Absolutely. But you know, we were working under such extreme circumstances and really looking to everyday secure additional resources for the heroes on the front line,” Barbot said.


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