I hope with all my heart that you are feeling well and are healthy. Many of our Westchester residents have gotten sick from COVID-19 and very sadly we continue to see more deaths—although, thankfully, the numbers are decreasing at a rapid rate.
Westchester continues to test more and more residents, and I was pleased to get additional testing sites in Yonkers, New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, communities that have been hardest hit. More sites will be coming in Port Chester, White Plains and another in Yonkers. For testing information, please call the state hot line: 888-364-3065 or click here .
And please remember, wearing masks or facial coverings in public, including public or private transportation when you can’t social distance, is still required.
Because we continue to flatten that curve, the governor announced recently that as of May 15, New York is no longer on “Pause”, but is now on “Forward”.
Here’s what’s happening in our community, now. Changes occur daily as more things open up in Westchester.
- Religious services for no more than 10 people can be held using masks and social distancing, beginning Thursday May 21. The governor stressed using parking lots.
- While doctors’ offices, emergency dentistry, and physical and occupational therapy have been open during “Pause”, hospitals can now perform elective surgery, and acupuncture offices can open.
- If you have lost your health insurance due to unemployment, you can apply for NY State of Health through June 15, but you must apply within 60 days of losing coverage.
- All evictions and pending eviction orders remain suspended statewide until June 20. However, if you qualified for unemployment insurance or suffered COVID-19 financial hardships, evictions and foreclosures are prohibited until August 20. Landlords cannot impose COVID-related late fees and tenants can use security deposits to pay rent.
- Motor vehicles inspections that were due after March 31 continue to be on hold, but now auto maintenance has been added to the list of essential services, which had already included auto repair.
- Outdoor low-risk recreational activities are now permitted as long as social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting are in place. These include tennis, non-motorized boat rentals, golf and driving ranges (but not miniature golf), with the current food and retail services restrictions in place.
- Also, if you can find one—you can go to a drive-in-movie theatre.
- Playland Beach and Croton Park Point Beach will be open Friday through Monday, Memorial Day Weekend. Playland Park will be closed at least until July 20th and the fireworks at Kensico and Playland on July 3 and 4th are cancelled.
- Landscapers who previously could only maintain or do pest control on gardens can now return to a full service operation.
- Household repair and maintenance are allowed including heating, air conditioning, and pool maintenance in addition to cleaning and sanitation services.
- To continue to feed our most needy residents, Westchester has received $1 million dollars under the State’s Nourish New York program, which I advocated for. This will help our food pantries to offer food and dairy products from New York farmers.
- You can now vote by mail for school elections on June 9th as well as the for the June 23rd presidential, state and congressional primaries. All registered voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application which can be mailed back postage free. The actual ballot will then be mailed to you. Some polling places will also be open in Westchester for same day or early voting.
- As a condition to reopening New York, the State Health Department is hiring thousands of “contact tracers” who will work remotely to trace the contacts of those who are diagnosed with COVID-19. You can apply on line (click here). If accepted you will be trained and will work with the Westchester County and NYS Departments of Health. These are paid positions.
- The parking lot at the County Center will continue to be maintained as a health facility into the fall flu season.
Lastly and unfortunately, it’s no secret that this pandemic has caused a state budget gap of billions of dollars The governor has said that the State needs $61 billion in federal funding to avoid drastic cuts to schools, local governments, and hospitals. This is the round of funding that is currently being debated in the US Senate after passing the House.
I continue to work with our federal delegation so that New York gets the funding we need, and I continuously meet with school administrators, hospitals, non-profits and local officials to keep them abreast of the situation.
Until next time,
Andrea Stewart Cousins
New York State Senator, District 35
President Pro Tem, Majority Leader