New Jersey U.S. Senator and former Newark Mayor Cory Booker says during the coronavirus outbreak he's been hunkered down in his Newark home except for the times he's joined Governor Phil Murphy at various events.
"I'm doing most of my work from here in my office which is a 24/7 all hands on deck as my whole office teams works from home. It's been a challenging time for all but for me I find a chance to up my, frankly, productivity. There's something about you know getting up early in the morning and being able to do all your work from one place. It's actually allowed me to stay very connected across the state with mayors and county leaders and everything from non-profit heads to individual businesses and just everyday trying to help while at the same time being able to be involved in the many negotiations in Washington to get New Jersey the resources it needs."
More than 400 Newarkers have died from complications of COVID-19. Senator Booker stresses that he hopes New Jerseyans gain strength and unite during this crisis.
"I think this is the moment that reminds us all that we need each other, that we're interwoven in spirit with each other. I'm hoping, and I've seen it around Newark and the state, people will rise to this time and be more loving and be more gracious and be more engaged with one another."
Senator Booker, speaking from his home in Newark, talked to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about the new DPCC report Racial Disparities on Full Display: COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Affecting Communities of Color.
"We definitely have pockets in our nation, from nursing homes to the Navajo nation which is right behind New York and New Jersey in the number of cases, we've got to make sure that the impacted communities get the help and resources that the crisis merits. And that means here in Newark and around our state, making sure that access to healthcare and healthcare services and access to testing as well, all the things are really important. There's some very practical things on the national level that should have been done by now like opening up a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. So there's a lot of things that have to be done right now to help stabilize the crisis both healthwise and well as economically."
The former Newark Mayor says he's working on legislation to help small businesses, especially those owned by people of color, to be able to secure loans and funding to keep going during the pandemic and beyond.
Senator Booker, who says he grew up listening to the sounds of WBGO, stressed he'll continue to fight for the Arts in Washington. The Newarker says WBGO's jazz and blues programming has been nurturing to the soul of the nation.
"If there's anything that has shown us in this crisis is how critical the arts are and how they inspire us in dark times. So thank you and all those at WBGO for continuing to be a light in dark times and sustenance and a inspiration to us all."
Click above to hear the entire conversation with Senator Cory Booker.