Constantinides Calls on NYC DEP to Protect Employees from COVID-19

ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, wants the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately plan to have as many employees work from home as possible. He’s also calling on the agency to come up with a plan to better protect those essential employees who must report.

His action comes after reports in The City and Patch, in which workers complained of unsafe conditions at  the agency’s Elmhurst office. Even after workers were sent home following the death of a colleague this week, the outlets noted, they have been instructed to return to work on Monday. Yet a photo obtained by The City shows cramped conditions counter to social distance protocol, while employees told Patch they have not received requested personal protective equipment.

“I am extremely troubled by reports today that workers are still forced to come into work, as the City tells people to stay home and social distance,” said Council Member Constantinides. “My heart goes out to the family of the public servant we lost this week. DEP must immediately create a plan to let as many employees work remotely as possible, prioritize those with underlying conditions, and guarantee everyone who can’t work from home has sound protective measures.”

Constantinides has oversight over the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in his role as Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. The Astoria lawmaker plans to ask DEP leadership about staffing plans, the disinfection of offices, and other response measures to COVID-19 whenever the Council resumes hearings.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology.

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