Coronavirus Update from Senator Stewart-Cousins – March 20

Dear Friend,
I continue to work closely with Governor Cuomo’s office and receive updates from senior officials at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Office of Emergency Management, New York State Education Department (NYSED), and the Westchester County Department of Health regarding the spread of COVID-19 in Westchester County and New York State. While our district office will be closed, my staff and I are working hard to keep you all safe and informed. You can contact us by phone: (914) 423-4031 or by email: scousins@nysenate.gov. You can also access information about COVID-19 through the state’s 24-hour hotline: 1-888-364-3065.

Here are important updates regarding COVID-19:

  • The NYSDOH is currently reporting that there are 7,102 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NYS and 1,091 in Westchester County.
    • These numbers are large because New York has been testing aggressively.
  • The CDC has called for the cancellation of mass gatherings of 10 or more people for the next eight weeks in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.
  • All local governments must reduce their workforce by at least 50% and non-essential state workers are now working from home.
  • The Governor’s office has declared only medically necessary visits will be allowed at nursing homes. There will also be daily health screenings for all nursing home workers when they enter the facility.
  • Governor Cuomo issued an executive order directing non-essential businesses to implement work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20. Businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 50 percent. All non-essential businesses must close, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and utilities will remain open.
  • When out in public, New Yorkers will be required to practice social distancing of at least six feet from each other.
  • New York State is stopping all evictions of both residential and commercial tenants for 90 days.

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.

School Closures:

  • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order that eliminates the 180-day aid penalty requirement that schools be in session during an academic year.
  • Schools in Westchester County are closed starting, Monday, March 16th, for two weeks ending April 1. Stay in contact with your local school districts for the most up-to-date information.
  • The City School District of New Rochelle has begun distributing food to students affected by school closures at the following locations:
    • New Rochelle High School House IV parking lot 9:00am – 1:00pm
    • 95 Lincoln (WESTCOP) 9:00am – 4:00pm (Extended hours)
    • 345 Main Street (New Rochelle Housing Authority) 9:00am – 4:00pm (Extended hours)
    • Trinity Elementary School from 9:00am – 12:00pm
    • Columbus Elementary School from 9:00am – 12:00pm
    • City Park from 9:00am – 4:00pm (Extended hours)
  • Irvington Public School District will be distributing Grab and Go breakfast and lunch bags at each student’s home school from 8:30am – 11:00am.
  • Additional food access in New Rochelle will be made available by the following organizations:
    • HOPE Community Services has extended its food pantry hours to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2PM-6PM and this soup kitchen will provide take-out hot meals Monday to Friday.
    • The Union Baptist Church on 466 Main Street will have food distribution.

Resources for COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave:

  • The Senate Democratic Majority stepped up to protect New York workers and passed legislation to ensure all employees will be able to access paid leave if they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19. This legislation will also guarantee New Yorkers’ job security. This will provide critical relief to workers and help curb the spread of COVID-19.
  • Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order today waiving the 7-Day Waiting Period for Workers to Claim Unemployment Insurance due to COVID-19.
  • The Department of Financial Services is requiring insurers to waive copayments for any telemedicine visits in an effort to help our emergency rooms.

What is Paid Leave and Who Qualifies? 

  • The paid leave authorized by the Senate will last for the duration of any mandatory or precautionary quarantine order.
  • Sick leave for COVID-19 will not be charged against existing accrued sick leave.
  • You qualify for paid family leave to care for a minor dependent child who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.
    • Businesses who have 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020, and a net income under $1 million last fiscal year, will have the full cost of employee’s leave provided by New York State insurance programs, capped at benefits coverage equal to annual salaries of $150,000.
    • Businesses who have 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020, and businesses who have 10 or fewer employees but a net income greater than $1 million last fiscal year, will be required to provide 5 days of paid leave to their employees, and the rest of the required quarantine or isolation days provided by New York State insurance programs, capped at benefits coverage equal to annual salaries of $150,000.
    • Businesses who have 100 or more employees, and all government institutions, will be required to cover at least 14 days of paid leave.

Housing Assistance:

  • Governor Cuomo has waived mortgage payments for New Yorkers for 90 days based on financial hardships, as well as fees for overdrafts, ATMs, and credit cards.
    • There will be a grace period for loan modification.
    • No negative reporting to credit bureaus.
    • No late payment fees or online payment fees.
    • Postponing or suspending foreclosures.
  • New York State is halting any evictions of all residential or commercial tenants for 90 days.

Other Information: 

  • All nightclubs, casinos, movie theaters, concert spaces, and gyms statewide are to close entirely.
  • All restaurants, cafes, and bars will be closed for sit down service except for food delivery orders and take out.
    • NOTE: The State Liquor Authority will allow take out liquor sales from bars, restaurants, and distilleries.
  • Retail shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys to closed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
  • All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair removal services, and related personal care services will be closed to members of the public effective Saturday, March 21 at 8PM.
  • New York State is waiving all park fees in state, local, and county parks.

We can all do our part to help keep our communities safe, and combined with individual preventive measures to stay healthy, social distancing has proven to slow the spread of coronavirus. The CDC has determined the potential for the outbreak to continue if we do not make the necessary changes to our daily lives:

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/rr/rr6601a1.htm#_blank

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/rr/rr6601a1.htm#_blank

We must flatten the curve! I urge all my constituents to do their part during these difficult times and stay home. By protecting yourself, you will also be protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

I understand the uncertainty in our communities right now, but rest assured, my colleagues and I will continue taking action and working with health officials to stay up-to-date and keep you informed.

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About the Author: Andrea Stewart-Cousins