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Morales quarantines post-COVID exposure; Pans petitioning amid pandemic

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | First Corey Johnson. Now Dianne Morales.

One day after Council Speaker Johnson, who is running for comptroller, announced he was quarantining due to COVID exposure, Morales, who is running for mayor, did the same.

Johnson subsequently tested negative for coronavirus, but is still quarantining, per guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Morales was in Tompkins Square Park on Sunday to receive the endorsement of Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

Dianne Morales, center was endorsed for mayor by Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, left, in Tompkins Square Park on Sun., March 14. District Leader John Blasco, right, was the event’s emcee. Four days later she announced she had been exposed to COVID. (Photo by Gili Getz)

“Today I learned that someone I was with earlier this week tested positive for COVID-19,” Morales said, in a statement, on Thurs., March 18. “We were at an event where everyone was masked and socially distanced, but out of an abundance of caution and concern, I will remain quarantined as I await the results of my COVID tests. I am grateful to have received my first vaccination a few weeks ago, but all of the staff and volunteers who I’ve been in contact with since have been alerted, are being tested and are taking the necessary precautions.

“Our campaign supported the lawsuit filed against Governor Cuomo to get rid of in-person petitioning requirements, which was irresponsibly dismissed. I also signed onto the letter urging that campaign workers be deemed eligible for vaccination. Despite these efforts, here we are.

“While I love connecting with New Yorkers in person, this is a stark reminder that we are still in the grips of a global pandemic,” Morales said. “The attempts to force things to return to ‘normal’ are dismissive of the devastation that has befallen countless New Yorkers — and negate the reality that normal didn’t work for so many. These are not the norms we should aspire to; we deserve so much better, and this is not good enough.

“For the over 1,000 campaigns registered this election cycle, for all the staff, for all the volunteers, for all the candidates — please continue to lift each other up in these uncertain times. My heart goes out to everyone who has been exposed, has had to quarantine, has contracted the virus, and, of course, to everyone who has lost a loved one to this devastating pandemic.”

State Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo.

The lawsuit to waive the in-person gathering of petition signatures to get candidates on the June 22 ballot was brought by Village District Leader Arthur Schwartz on behalf of about 100 candidates, including Erik Bottcher, one of his opponents in the City Council District 3 race. However, Judge Frank Nervo, a Village resident and former president of the Village Independent Democrats, dismissed the suit on Feb. 23; the appeal was slated for March 8 — four days after the petitioning period was set to begin.

Due to the pandemic, the state Legislature previously had reduced the number of petition signatures needed by 30 percent.

After Nervo’s ruling, Schwartz said, “I think Judge Nervo’s decision is a very weak comment about the law: He simply says that the Legislature has made a rational decision, and that he can’t change their decision without ruling that the petitioning law is irrational, which he didn’t want to do. He made no comments about the public health hazard at all. He also hinted that we should have sued months before, when the petitioning requirements were higher under the unamended law.”

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