Part-time workers, small organizations face disruption with virus-related policies

Mar 12, 2020

Among the many local events affected by the coronavirus outbreak is Downtown Rising 2020, an event to discuss development projects in downtown Rochester. 

Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, the event's organizer and Rochester Downtown Development Corp. president, said 4,000 people had been invited to the event, and postponing it is “the prudent thing to do.”

“I think these are unprecedented circumstances in the region, in the country, and frankly the world right now,” said Zimmer-Meyer. “And the No. 1 issue is public health.”

Zimmer-Meyer said she made this choice in response to the Monroe County Health Department's recommendation that all events with 50 or more people be canceled. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also banned gatherings of over 500 people statewide. 

She said these policies will likely hurt two groups most: workers with few or no benefits and small 

Rochester Downtown Convention Center
Credit James Brown / WXXI News


“Those folks don’t have paid sick time and are not in the same kind of economic situation as those of us who do have that built into our job situation,” said Zimmer-Meyer. 

She also said small organizations that serve large groups of people are going to be put at risk.

Zimmer-Meyer said the uncertainty could put some companies out of business and workers out of a job.

Efforts to help these workers have been discussed on the state and federal levels, but no measure on paid sick leave has been passed yet.