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ImageChristian Smalls, a worker at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, was fired after demonstrating on Monday to demand better health protection.
Credit…Jeenah Moon/Reuters

A group of workers walked off the job at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island on Monday, and a sickout called by Whole Foods Market workers is set for today, as workers in a variety of occupations across the country are protesting what they see as inadequate safety measures and insufficient pay for the risks they confront.

Amazon fired one of the workers who led the Staten Island walkout. The worker, Christian Smalls, said he had been alarmed at work last week to find a colleague with puffy red eyes who was visibly ill.

He said that he had advised the colleague, who later tested positive for the virus, to go home, and that he had told management that the center should be closed for two weeks because there was no way to know how many other workers had been infected.

“She had been there the previous week,” said Mr. Smalls, observing that other workers at the facility are complaining of symptoms like fever. “We don’t know how long she’s been positive.”

Not long after the protest, an Amazon spokeswoman said by email that Mr. Smalls had been fired because he had violated social-distancing guidelines multiple times and had come to the site Monday after having been told to stay home, “further putting the teams at risk.”

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, called the firing “disgraceful” on Twitter and said she would ask the National Labor Relations Board to investigate.

Workers at Whole Foods have called for a sickout on Tuesday to demand paid leave for all workers who must isolate themselves and a doubling of pay to compensate for the risk of working.

Central Park, one of the world’s most well-known gathering places, will open its East Meadow to hospital patients today as the city continues to transform itself in extraordinary ways in the battle against the coronavirus.

A field hospital with 68 beds has been erected under tents on the meadow to treat coronavirus patients from Mount Sinai Health System’s hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens. It was put up by a nonprofit called Samaritan’s Purse, working with the city.

The move to leverage the park’s vast open space comes one day after a naval hospital ship docked on Manhattan’s West Side and an emergency 1,000-bed hospital at the Javits convention center opened its doors. Both of those are treating patients who are not infected with the coronavirus, to help free up beds in conventional hospitals for more virus patients.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC on Monday. “It feels like the kind of thing you experience in wartime.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, briefing reporters on Monday, said that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak was yet to come, even as another 253 people died in the state in a 24-hour period.

“If you wait to prepare for a storm to hit, it is too late,” the governor said. “You have to prepare before the storm hits. And in this case the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit that apex. How do you know when you’re going to get there? You don’t.”

The governor spoke at the Javits Center, a convention hall in Manhattan that was quickly turned into a 1,000-bed emergency hospital. His remarks came shortly after a Navy hospital ship arrived in the city.

Here were some other developments on Monday:

  • New York reported almost 7,000 new cases of the virus, bringing the total to nearly 66,500. Most of the cases were in New York City, where, officials reported later on Monday, 38,087 people been infected.

  • The number of virus-related deaths in New York City rose to 914 Monday afternoon, up 138 from around the same time Sunday, officials said.

  • Seven employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have died of the virus, including a bus driver in Brooklyn and a subway station cleaner in the Bronx.

  • Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced 3,347 new positive coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the total to 16,636. There were 37 new deaths, for a total of 198.

  • Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut announced 578 new coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the total to 2,571. There were two new deaths, for a total of 36 in the state.

A Brooklyn man was charged on Monday with lying to the federal authorities about selling N95 masks and other medical supplies to doctors at exorbitant prices and with assaulting a federal officer after he coughed on F.B.I. agents and then told them he had the coronavirus, prosecutors said.

The man, Baruch Feldheim, 43, was charged with making false statements to law enforcement officers after he lied about stockpiling and selling equipment that is desperately needed by hospitals as they confront a surge in virus patients, the authorities said.

Mr. Feldheim repeatedly sold the equipment at a markup, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in Federal District Court in Newark.

On one occasion, in a transaction arranged via a WhatsApp group named “Virus2020!,” Mr. Feldheim agreed to sell a doctor about 1,000 N95 masks and other gear for $12,000, according to the complaint. That was about 700 percent above what the doctor, who was not identified, would typically pay, the complaint says.

F.B.I. agents went to Mr. Feldheim’s home on Sunday to get more information, the complaint says. At that point, the complaint says, he “intentionally coughed in their direction without covering his mouth,” even though the agents had said they were keeping their distance out of concern over the virus. He told the agents that he had tested positive for the virus two weeks earlier, the complaint says.”

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, David Yaffe-Bellany, Michael Corkery, Noam Scheiber, Kate Conger, Michael Gold, Christina Goldbaum, Andy Newman, Matt Stevens and Tracey Tully.

Source: NY TIMES RSS FEED