April 8 COVID-19 Update from Senator Stewart-Cousins

Dear Friend,

As we welcome spring weather, New York remains on “PAUSE” in an effort to continue fighting the spread of COVID-19. Governor Cuomo’s “PAUSE” directive has been extended until April 29, at which time it will be re-evaluated. I continue to work closely with my colleagues in government to address this crisis and will keep you informed and up-to-date with what is being done to protect our community and state from the spread of COVID-19.

During these difficult times, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support from New Yorker’s as we work hard to beat COVID19. Our health care community is facing a staffing crisis and our hospitals need resources & support. I urge those who are trained Critical Care Nurses, Respiratory Therapists and any retired medical personnel to help us save lives and beat COVID19 to submit their information here: https://apps.health.ny.gov/pubpal/builder/survey/retired-health-professional.

Updates regarding COVID-19: 

  • The NYSDOH is currently reporting that there are 149,316 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York State and 15,887 in Westchester County. Unfortunately, 6,268 New Yorkers have passed away due to the coronavirus, including 315 residents of Westchester County.
    • These numbers are large because New York has been testing aggressively and has conducted 365,153 tests to date.
  • The Governor announced earlier today that the state will be extending unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks, for a total of 39 weeks.
  • All New Yorkers will now be able to vote by Absentee Ballot for the upcoming Primary Elections on June 23, 2020.
  • Consumers and businesses who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 are able to defer paying premiums under individual and small group health insurance policies through June 1, 2020.
  • New York State of Health Marketplace has extended its special enrollment period one-month, through May 15, 2020. Enroll here: https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/.
  • Governor Cuomo has implemented a statewide Public-Private hospital plan to share information, patients, staff, and supplies across the state, and upstate hospitals have begun receiving patients from downstate.
  • On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced an agreement with the largest private student loan servicers in New York to provide student debt relief to those experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • On Sunday, March 29, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced New York pharmacies have agreed to offer free home delivery services in effort to reduce long lines for prescriptions on site
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order allowing medical students who would be due to graduate at the end of the academic year to begin practicing early.
  • The 1,000-bed temporary hospital at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is open and accepting patients and will only be used for COVID-19 patients.
  • All elective, non-critical surgeries are canceled, 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.

Here are some highlights from the Federal Stimulus “CARES” Act: 

  • 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/.

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.

Sincerely,

Andrea Stewart-Cousins
New York State Senator, 35th District
Senate Majority Leader

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