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Michael Che to pay rent for 160 apartments in honour of grandmother who died of COVID-19

U.S. comedian Michael Che arrives at the Kennedy Center for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 27, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images

Saturday Night Live (SNL) star Michael Che has offered to pay a month of rent for tenants of the same New York City public housing building that his late grandmother, who died of the new coronavirus disease, lived in.

The SNL Weekend Update co-host posted an open letter on Instagram on Wednesday to share that he is “paying one month’s rent for all 160 apartments in the New York Housing Dept. building she lived in.”

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“It’s crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent when so many New Yorkers can’t even work,” Che wrote.

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“Obviously I can’t offer much help by myself. But in the spirit and memory of my late grandmother, I’m paying one month’s rent for all 160 apartments in the New York Housing Dept. building she lived in,” he continued.

“I know that’s just a drop in the bucket, so I really hope the city has a better plan for debt forgiveness for all the people in public housing, at the very least,” he wrote, before adding: “P.S. de Blasio! Cuomo! Diddy! Let’s fix this! Page me!”

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Che “another extraordinary New Yorker” in a tweet about the SNL actor’s action.

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“Michael Che is another extraordinary New Yorker who grew up in @NYCHA, and never forgot where he came from. Beyond the money raised, tonight shows how deeply people in this city care about our neighbours in public housing.”

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During last weekend’s episode of SNL, Che revealed that his grandmother had passed away from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

He told his co-host Colin Jost about the loss of his grandmother.

“As you know, Colin, I lost my grandmother this week,” Che said. “And coming back to work really made me feel better, especially with you.

“For Weekend Update, I’m Martha’s grandbaby,” Che said instead of his usual signoff.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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