Actors Chris Rock and Rosie Perez joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday at his daily briefing to urge New Yorkers to embrace social distancing safety measures and to seek out coronavirus testing options.
Rock and Perez came out during Cuomo’s live news conference to announce a PSA campaign in the works that will feature them urging New York City and Empire State residents to wear masks, among other steps, in the effort to allow the nation’s largest city to reopen from the pandemic lockdown.
Rock joked the city residents should try to make the testing process “a festive occasion.” Both Rock and Perez were wearing vinyl gloves, a recommending safety measure, during the midday news conference that ran about one hour.
“People need to get tested. They need to posse up for testing,” Rock said. He noted that it was particularly important for protecting older people in the city. “If you love your grandmother, you should get tested.”
Perez stressed how crucial it is for people to wear masks in public.
“Please spread love the Brooklyn way. Get tested. Wear a mask,” she said. “Mi gente, wear a mask please. This is not a joke, this is not a hoax.”
Rock estimated that about 40% of the people he sees in his Brooklyn neighborhood are not wearing a mask. The PSA campaign will aim to target teenagers and young adults, many of whom have stubbornly resisted donning masks and other personal protective equipment. He referenced the cultural polarization that has led some to consider wearing a mask as a liberal cause.
“It’s sad…that our health has become sort of a political issue. It’s a status symbol almost to not wear a mask,” Rock said.
Perez noted that the problem of people eschewing masks is not limited to low-income and densely populated areas of the city.
“I see hipsters and yuppies walking around without a mask,” she said. “What is it, arrogance? Do you think you’re not going to be affected. OK fine, but you’re affecting me too. That I really do not understand.”
Perez nodded to her work in Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing” by noting how she tries to encourage people to be vigilant about wearing masks.
“I say ‘Hey, do the right thing,’ put your mask on, come on people,” Perez said. Rock said he gives scofflaws “a nice side eye.”
Perez also praised Cuomo for his executive order allowing retail outlets to turn customers away if they try to enter without wearing a mask. “It’s about respecting the store owners,” she said.
Rock and Perez both gushed over Cuomo and his handling of the crisis, which has drawn national attention to the governor who is now in his third term.
“Our governor is a rock star. He makes me proud to be from New York,” Perez said.
Rock said he was a regular viewer of Cuomo’s briefings, which are carried live widely on TV.
“You bring me calm. You bring me joy every day,” Rock said to Cuomo.
When asked what he and Perez hope to accomplish with the PSA effort, Rock said he simply wanted to help in any way he can. He pointed to the sad milestone widely noted this week that more than 100,000 Americans have died of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’re soldiers for New York,” Rock said. “It’s 100,000 dead Americans. I will go wherever I’m called.”
(Pictured: Chris Rock, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rosie Perez)