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Rodriguez, Williams want more coronavirus shut downs across New York City

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Businesses aren't supposed to run with more than 25 percent of its regular staff on-site. Restaurants, cafes, movie theaters — anywhere people can congregate inside — are all closed. Mass transit is down to some of its lower ridership ever.

But for Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, it's just not enough. He's urging both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to follow suit with what's happened in California and Italy, and completely shut down New York City.

"Given the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus and lack of widespread testing in New York City, I call on Mayor de Blasio to shut down New York City immediately," said Rodriguez, whose council district includes Marble Hill, in a release. "We need to implement shelter-in-place measures if we are to stop the spread of (the virus that causes) COVID-19. The global experience with the novel coronavirus pandemic has already demonstrated that the only defense we have against this plague is social separation."

Rodriguez has called for a complete city shutdown since at least last week. He wants to shutter the airports and all "non-essential" businesses. He also believes travel within the city should be done only if "demonstrably necessary for essential work or health reasons."

"Going out should only be permitted for urgent and absolutely necessary errnds, such as obtaining foodstuffs, medicines, and to commute to and perform essential duties," Rodriguez said, in a release. 

Although de Blasio has toyed with the idea implementing "shelter-in-place" protocols for the city, the mayor apparenetly cannot take such measures without the OK of the governor, according to published reports. At least through Thursday, Cuomo didn't seem to be willing to entertain such an idea at this point.

The city's public advocate, Jumaane Williams, also would like to see the city clamp down more than it has, but in a different capacity — construction workers.

Williams has joined city council members Brad Lander — a Brooklyn Democrat who succeeded de Blasio in his council seat — and Carlos Menchaca, another Brooklyn Democrat, in asking the maor halt all but the most critical construction projects. Those "essential" projects, according to a release, includes "work on hospitals and health care facilities, transit, utilities, public infrastructure, supportive housing and homeless shelters," and emergency repair work like heat and hot water in existing residential buildings.

"Essential construction does not include new construction or rehabilitation for typical residential or commercial construction," the three wrote in their letter to the mayor. "We know that delay on development projects incurs additional construction interest, and that economic recovery funds will be needed from the federal, state and local government to help address this hardship."

Although most construction work is done outdoors, many workers still work in close enough proximity to where the coronavirus can spread, the elected officials said. Keeping them on the job also could overtax an already short-staffed buildings department, which can then better prioritize essential and urgent projects, including the expansion of health care facilities.

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