Update from Senator Stewart-Cousins: State and Federal Action on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Dear Friend,

As New York moves forward on “PAUSE” in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, I am working closely with my colleagues in government to address this crisis. I will continue to keep you informed and up-to-date with what is being done to protect our community and state from the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, the federal government passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.” This $2 trillion stimulus bill will help struggling workers, businesses, and government agencies as we all work to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some highlights from the “CARES” Act: 

  • Allocating $150 billion to cover state and local government efforts associated with combating the coronavirus crisis.
  • Increasing unemployment insurance by $600 per week for a four-month period, and extending benefits to part-time workers, gig economy workers, freelancers, and workers on furlough who are still receiving health insurance from their employers.
    • Workers who are already receiving unemployment benefits are also eligible for an additional thirteen weeks of benefits.
  • Providing individuals and families with a one-time direct payment (through refundable tax credits) of $1,200 per person, with an additional $500 per child.
    • All taxpayers with Social Security numbers who are U.S. residents are eligible for these tax refund checks.
    • These payments phase out for taxpayers who had an adjusted gross income above $75,000 on their 2019 tax return (or 2018 if the taxpayer has not yet filed their 2019 taxes), phasing out entirely at $99,000. These amounts are doubled for married taxpayers filing jointly.
  • Protecting against foreclosure and eviction on federally backed mortgages and loans.
  • Providing $349 billion in forgivable loans and grants to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
  • Suspending student loan payments through September 30, 2020 without penalty and without accrual of interest.

For further information, here is a good article from our local paper, the Journal News: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/25/coronavirus-stimulus-package-whats-in-it/2906670001/.

Additional updates regarding COVID-19: 

  • The NYSDOH is currently reporting that there are 59,513 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York State and 8,519 in Westchester County.
    • These numbers are large because New York has been testing aggressively and has conducted 172,360 tests to date.
  • I worked with the State Department of Health to advance new regulations that will help New Yorkers under home isolation, like those in New Rochelle and throughout Westchester County, more easily transition back to their daily lives.
    • Individuals isolated for 7 days who are symptom-free for 72 hours will automatically be released, consistent with the policies of the CDC.
  • On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, New York State established a free mental health service where New Yorkers who are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic can call 1-844-863-9314 to schedule an appointment and speak with a mental health professional.
  • State government is looking for additional 1,000-plus patient overflow facilities in all of NYC’s five boroughs, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. These will be in addition to the four temporary hospital sites that are being built as recommended by the Army Corp of Engineers.
  • New York State remains on “PAUSE” by executive order, meaning all non-essential businesses are closed and New Yorkers are being encouraged to stay indoors unless they need to address urgent needs.
  • All elective, non-critical surgeries are cancelled, effective Wednesday, March 25.
  • DMV in-office transactions are temporarily closed, online transactions are still available.
  • When out in public, New Yorkers will be required to practice social distancing of at least six feet from each other.
  • All non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are temporarily banned.

Information on Testing: 

  • Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.
  • A mobile testing center has been set up in New Rochelle to serve all parts of Westchester County. Residents who would like to be tested can make an appointment by calling 888-364-3065

Ways You Can Help Local Small Businesses: 

  • Buy a gift card.  This will provide owners with immediate cash and it will show your commitment to return to the store.
  • Order out.  Many restaurants still offer take-out and delivery services.
  • Purchase a virtual fitness class. If your gym is closed – take a virtual fitness or yoga class.
  • Shop local, but online. Many local small businesses have online stores and this will allow them to keep revenue flowing.

Additional Resources:

I will continue to send regular updates to keep you informed and up-to-date. Although our district office remains closed, you can contact us by phone: (914) 423-4031 or by email: scousins@nysenate.gov. You may also access information about COVID-19 through the state’s 24-hour hotline: 1-888-364-3065.


Andrea Stewart-Cousins
New York State Senator, 35th District
President Pro Tem, Majority Leader

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