COVID-19 Vaccine: Beauty Salon Workers Should Be Eligible, Says Assemblymember Catalina Cruz – Teen Vogue

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Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, a Democrat from New York's 39th District, wants both employees and clients to feel safe and protected while providing self-care services. That's why the attorney and assemblymember has proposed that nail technicians, barbers, and salon employees are made a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, and taken the steps to potentially make it a reality.
On March 16, Cruz shared a letter she wrote to New York City's health commissioner Dave Chokshi and New York State's health commissioner Howard Zucker, on Twitter, writing, "Our need for self-care shouldn’t put anyone’s life at risk. That is why this week I asked our State & City gov. to expand eligibility for vaccines to include barbers, & beauty & nail salon workers, as their high-risk jobs make them susceptible to COVID!"
In the letter, Cruz details why she believes those in the beauty and grooming industries should be prioritized for the vaccine, including that in March of last year, they were classified as being in a "high-risk industry," and were some of the first businesses to close as COVID-19 cases grew. "These workers continue to be high risk for infection because they cannot work from home and cannot practically follow all virus exposure prevention protocols while working with their clients when they are providing services," Cruz wrote. Think about how close your stylist or barber needs to get to you while cutting your hair; even if you're both masked, these services don't often allow for social distancing regulations.
Cruz went on to cite that many of these workers are minorities and immigrants; according to her data, nationally, 47% of workers are minorities, and 60% of businesses are women-owned. She adds that there are over 4,000 nail salons in particular in New York City, but adds that many employees are not able to qualify for unemployment insurance "due to immigration status." She also writes that New York salons, barbershops, and nail salons generate over $3.7 billion "in income taxes to federal and local governments each year," making them major factors in a potential economic rebound. 
That's why Cruz's proposed solution is prioritizing these workers in line for the COVID-19 vaccines. "As we work to rebuild NY and rebuild these industries, workers must feel safe returning to work, and customers must feel safe going to salons and barbershops. Workers having access to the vaccine is an essential part of both workers and clients feeling safe and will be integral in the economic health of these industries moving forward," Cruz wrote in her letter. "We must expand vaccination eligibility to these workers immediately to enhance public health and ensure a just and equitable recovery."
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