Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on COVID-19 impact in her district, response to the virus

The freshman congresswoman represents five of the 10 hardest-hit zip codes in New York City. She spoke to "Nightline" co-anchor Juju Chang about the racial and class divides that led to these rates.
5:07 | 05/21/20

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Transcript for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on COVID-19 impact in her district, response to the virus
lightning rod. Out of the top tens of codes that have been impacted by covid, five of them are here. It wasn't as shocking. Alexandria ocasio-cortez, at 30, the youngest woman to ever serve in congress, representing one of the most diverse districts in the country. We're just a bridge over from Manhattan, yet, we have twice the infection rate. The bronx native knows the added burdens that fall on children of immigrants. When you graduated from college, cum Laude, you came back to tend bar, wait tables, why? My dad had passed away while I was in college. My mom was a single mom, also a domestic worker. We were barely clinging onto our house. Poverty correlates with a lot of these problems, hypertension, diabetes, what should be done about these systemic inequalities? Inequality and poverty are of themselves preexisting conditions. When you don't have health insurance and you're scared to go to the doctor, your decisions around your own health become primarily financial decisions. And it becomes gambling, and so, you know, we talk about what the solutions to systemic inequality is, it needs to be systemic solutions. A hero to the left, a villain to the right. Her Progressive views igniting controversy. She voted against the massive covid-19 relief bill. You were a lone Democrat voting against the C.A.R.E.S act. Knowing that it had a half trillion dollars that would be leveraged to $4 trillion to a bailout for Wall Street with virtually no strings attached that would be preferenced to the wealthiest, I knew that that bill was not structured to solve our biggest problems that we had. She gets plenty of attacks from the president on Twitter, but that doesn't stop her from speaking her mind. He's vir lengthily fighting. He's made people afraid to go to the doctor because they're afraid I.C.E. Will pick them up in the er. Few of them are getting tested and the help that they need but still going to work because though are so economically desperate. Your mom drove a school bus, cleaned houses. What does an essential worker mean to you? Any person in this country that is helping keep the lights on and helping us live day by day, whether it is the farm workers picking the food, an mta bus driver. The great irony of essential workers is that they have typically been underpaid, under-recognized and undervalued in our economy, and if there's one thing that I hope that this crisis shows us is that our essential workers deserve so much more. Many companies are reportedly ending hazard pay at the end of this month or in the next few months. How does losing two or three dollars an hour impact these workers? It's shocking. They're saying okay we're taking away hazard pay, covid is over. Not a single public health official would say that. $2 is everything to a worker that is choosing between milk and their prescription drugs. $2 an hour means the world to workers. It means nothing to Jeff bezos. So why don't we just give folks the actual wages that they deserve. With congress not in session and the economy of her district in Tatters, Alexandria ocasio-cortez has been on the ground focussed on her do you think enough was done to protect essential workers? Enough wasn't done. I don't think that I would can look at this crisis. I don't think we can look at the numbers and say that we have done enough or that we did enough. What do you think sh required to sort of comprehensively fight covid? We need free testing, whether you're insured or uninsured. Why shouldn't health care be treatmented as a human right in any condition? And now that you think covid-19 has exposed those divisions -- It's kind of like a fork in the road where on one end we can say everyone around us is we can take the other path and say that covid doesn't care if you're rich, if you're poor, if you're documented, undocumented, black or white or Latino. This is a risk that impacts every single one of us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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