Category Archives: NYS Acts to Contain Coronavirus

NYS Accepts Ventilators from China, Oregon; expands testing; will Graduate Med Students Early to Fight COVID-19 With Apex Still More Than Week Away

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at coronavirus press briefing: “We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with 10,841 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 and the apex still a week or more away, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 1,000 ventilators have been donated to New York by the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation. The Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation have also donated one million surgical masks, one million KN95 masks and more than 100,000 pairs of goggles to the state. The Chinese government and Ambassador Huang Ping, Chinese Consul General, have facilitated these donations. The ventilators arrived at JFK Airport today. 

The National Basketball Association is also contributing one million surgical masks for New York’s essential workers in collaboration with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China’s New York Consul General Huang Ping. 

Additionally, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has offered to provide New York with 140 ventilators from Oregon’s stockpile. 

Governor Cuomo will also issue an Executive Order allowing medical students that are slated to graduate to begin practicing immediately to help with the state’s surge health care force. To date, 85,000 health professionals, including 22,000 out-of-state individuals, have signed up to volunteer as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This pandemic has been stressing our nation on every level and we are doing everything in our power to prepare for the fight that will come at the apex,” Governor Cuomo said.”Ventilators remain our greatest challenge, and we have received a generous donation of 1,000 ventilators from the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Chinese government, as well as 140 ventilators from Oregon – and these ventilators will save lives. This is a painful, disorienting experience, but we will get through it together and we will all be the better for it.”

Governor Cuomo commented, “Anyway, it all comes back to China. New York has been shopping in China. We’re not really China experts, here. International relations is not what we do on a daily basis. I’ve been to China before when I was HUD secretary, I did a trade mission with China. So, I have a basic understanding, but we went to the Asia Society to help us navigate China. I asked the White House to help us navigate China. I spoke to the ambassador and we got really good news today. That the Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will come in to JFK today. I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba, and the Nets, but I’m not stating a preference, for their donation. That’s going to be very helpful and I want to thank Ambassador Huang very much for his help in making all of this happen because this is a big deal. It’s going to make a significant difference for us.”

About the state of Oregon’s contribution, he said, “The state of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators, which is, I tell you, just astonishing and unexpected. I want to thank Governor Brown, I want to thank all of the people in the state of Oregon for their thoughtfulness. Again, this was unsolicited. But the 140 ventilators will make a difference. I was thinking about it, on behalf of New York and what it means for our – first it was a kind gesture. I know Governor Brown and she is a kind person, but it’s also smart from the point of view of Oregon. Why? Because we’re all in the same battle and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus, right?

“Look at what they did in China. It was in the Wuhan province. First order of business was contain the virus in Wuhan. Why? Because you want to contain the enemy. That’s always the first step. Oregon, we’re dealing with it now, we don’t stop the spread in New York, it continues. And if you look at the projections, Oregon could have a significant problem towards May. Our problem is now. So it’s also smart from Oregon’s self-interest. They see the fire spreading. Stop the fire where it is before it gets to my home. That was the Wuhan province…

“The State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind, it was smart, stop the virus here. It’s better for the state of Oregon, it’s better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We’ll return their 140 ventilators, and there’s never been a discussion, but frankly I know New Yorkers and I know New Yorkers’ generosity. We will turn it double fold, because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe. So, stop the fire in New York, kind, generous, also smart.”

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced that New York-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is creating 500,000 test kits for the State at no charge amid a nationwide shortage of test kits and swabs. The first batch of test kits was delivered to the State on Monday and the State will receive an ongoing delivery of 25,000 kits per day. Additionally, Corning has donated 100,000 tubes and provided an additional 500,000 tubes to the State at reduced cost and expedited delivery, and Puritan has sold medical swabs to the State. As of Wednesday, the State has tested 220,880 individuals.

“In this war, we must plan forward for the next battle. Meaning, we have been behind from day one. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. You don’t win a war that way. The next battle is the apex. The next battle is on the top of the mountain. See that curve? You see a curve? I see a mountain. The next battle will happen at the top of that mountain. That’s where it is going to be joined. And that’s where the enemy either overwhelms our healthcare system, or we are able to handle the onslaught of the enemy at the top of that mountain. And that’s what we’re planning for every day.

“But I want to offer you a different perspective that I’m starting to think about and I think we all should start to think about.

“As a society, beyond just this immediate situation, we should start looking forward to understand how this experience is going to change us, or how it should change us, because this is going to be transformative. It is going to be transformative on a personal basis, on a social basis, on a systems basis. We’re never going to be the same again. We’re not going to forget what happened here.

“The fear that we have, the anxiety that we have, that’s not just going to go away. When do we get back to normal? I don’t think we get back to normal. I think we get back, or we get to a new normal. Right? Like we’re seeing in so many facets of society right now. So we will be at a different place.

“Our challenge is to make sure that transformation and that change is positive and not negative. Let’s make sure we’re taking the positive lesson and not the negative lesson…

“We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again. ‘Oh, no, this is a once in a lifetime, never again.’ Something like this will happen again. We’re seeing it in the environment. We’re seeing it with floods, we’re seeing it with hurricanes. Something like this will happen again. You can’t just turn off the economy like a light switch.

“How do governments work together? You can’t figure it out on the fly – what the federal government does, what the state government does, what the local governments do. Figure it out before. Learn the lessons from this. Telemedicine, and tele-education. We have closed the schools. Well why weren’t we ready with a tele-education system? Why weren’t we better with telemedicine? Why didn’t we have the capacity to have that’s lines on people coming in to give the same basic diagnosis and the same basic advice? Why don’t we have medical supplies made in this country? Why are we shopping in china for basic medical supplies? Why don’t we gear our medical research to these types of threats and challenges, which we know are on the horizon? We know these viruses are changing. We know they mutate. Why don’t we get ahead of it?

“You still have to run society. Let’s talk about first responder capacity. We now have first responders who are getting sick, and the workforce is dropping. That was inevitable, right? That was going to happen. What’s the backup to that situation? And let’s talk about societal stability, and engagement at times of crisis. You can’t just tell everyone, ‘go home and lock your doors and sit on your couch and order takeout,’ for the foreseeable future. That’s not who we are. It’s not even a mental health issue. It’s just, it’s a personal health issue. It’s how we relate to one another. We’re not built to be isolated for long periods of time and not have human contact. So how do we deal with that?

“And these are the types of questions that we have to start to think through. But not today. That is the next challenge, I believe. And that is what we’re going to have to think about soon. But for now, one crisis at a time, as they say. And we are planning to handle with the current crisis, preparing for the battle on the mount, which is what we are doing every day. And that’s what we are doing. And not only are we doing it, but we have to succeed at it. You know?

“Government process is very good at saying, ‘well, we’re trying. We’re working on this. We’re doing our best. We’re doing our best.’ Winston Churchill, “it is no use saying we’re doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Tad harsh goes with that expression, which I think you could say, tad harsh. Handsome, but a tad harsh, but it’s true. And that’s what I say to my team every day. This is beyond best efforts. This is beyond, “I’m working very hard.” We have to get this done. We have succeed. We have to find a way. We have to make it happen, because too much is at stake.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,841 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 113,704 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
Albany29326
Allegany162
Broome659
Cattaraugus90
Cayuga71
Chautauqua101
Chemung361
Chenango397
Clinton311
Columbia497
Cortland100
Delaware262
Dutchess938129
Erie80888
Essex71
Franklin100
Fulton93
Genesee204
Greene241
Hamilton20
Herkimer184
Jefferson202
Lewis20
Livingston182
Madison744
Monroe51248
Montgomery133
Nassau13,3461,322
Niagara1017
NYC63,3066,147
Oneida809
Onondaga26210
Ontario313
Orange2,741344
Orleans101
Oswego260
Otsego265
Putnam28331
Rensselaer582
Rockland4,872583
Saratoga1410
Schenectady1177
Schoharie101
Schuyler41
Seneca60
St. Lawrence529
Steuben559
Suffolk11,3701,216
Sullivan19325
Tioga70
Tompkins851
Ulster29027
Warren201
Washington161
Wayne300
Westchester13,081730
Wyoming183
Yates10

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, NYS Governor Cuomo Announces New Hospital Network Central Coordinating Team

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of a new hospital network Central Coordinating Team to facilitate a more coordinated and strategic approach among the state’s healthcare system in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The program could become a model for other states, indeed, a model for a national approach to providing necessary personnel and equipment to address coronavirus hotspots as they emerge around the country, as Cuomo called for unity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of a new hospital network Central Coordinating Team to facilitate a more coordinated and strategic approach among the state’s healthcare system in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program could become a model for other states, indeed, a model for a national approach to providing necessary personnel and equipment to address coronavirus hotspots as they emerge around the country as Cuomo called for unity.

The coordinating team will help implement the statewide public-private hospital plan, which the Governor announced yesterday, to share information, supplies, staff and patients among hospitals across the State. The team will be responsible for organizing upstate to downstate staffing; assisting Elmhurst Hospital and other stressed hospitals; setting patient thresholds for hospitals; organizing patient transfers to other hospitals and the USNS Comfort; coordinating State-City stockpiles and individual hospital stockpiles; and facilitating staffing recruitment.

The team will be led by the State Department of Health and includes the Westchester, New York City and Long Island healthcare systems, the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State. The team will also work with FEMA and the federal government.

Governor Cuomo also announced the State is launching an online portal that will help connect hospitals and healthcare fasciitis across the state with the nearly 80,000 healthcare workers who have volunteered to work on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The portal will prioritize the deployment of workers to hospitals with the greatest need; volunteers are expected to be deployed as early as this Thursday.

“As we continue to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have two missions – preparing our hospital system so it is not overwhelmed when the apex of the curve hits and ensuring people stay home so they don’t get the virus in the first place,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are following the mathematical projections of the experts and preparing for the main battle at the apex by procuring as much equipment as we can, increasing our hospital capacity and supporting hospital staff. We met with the entire state hospital system for the first time ever and established an unprecedented new approach to work cooperatively as one unified, statewide healthcare system to defeat this virus. This virus does not discriminate — no one is immune to it — and people must continue to be cautious, think of others and not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.”

The governor soberly gave “the blunt truth of this situation” saying: “Total number of people tested, 200,000. Population of 19 million, is not going to give you a random sample, but it’s been helping us track down on the positive cases. Number of positive cases, 9,298. Total cases 75,000 cases. You see the predominance in New York City, then Westchester, then Nassau, then Suffolk, then Rockland. So you can see it’s that area of density. It spreads out from that area of density. The march of coronavirus across the State of New York continues. We’re down to just two counties that don’t have a case. The overall numbers, 75,000 have tested positive. Ten thousand people in our hospitals, 2,700 ICU patients. Good news, 4,900 – almost 5,000 – discharged. That’s up 771. So people come in, they get treated, they go home.

“New York is at 75,000 cases. Next state is 16,000. California is at 7,000. So you can see New York, there’s a magnitude of difference more than any other state. Fifteen-hundred fifty deaths. That’s up from 1,218 yesterday. Again, we’re studying the charts. We’re trying to study the data, follow the data. The data is uneven. It bounces. Numbers often bounce in any model. There are variables in this model. The hospitals are reporting it, so what every hospital reported, were they busy, are they combining a couple of days in one? It’s an imperfect reporting mechanism.

“You see the basic line is still up. What the statisticians will tell you is you basically draw the straight line that columns indicate and you see that we’re still going up which is what we see on the overall trajectory, that we’re still going up. Number of intubations was down, not much, but it was down and that’s a good sign. You also see the number of discharges going up and that’s consistent. The longer people are in, they either get treated and leave or they get put on a ventilator and the longer you’re on a ventilator, the less likelihood you will come off the ventilator. That is the blunt truth of this situation.”

With the realization that New York is still 14 to 30 days from reaching the apex – that is, the peak of number of cases on a given day – after which there would still be the descent before the crisis is ended, Cuomo said, “In general, I am tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one. The virus was in China. We knew it was in China. Unless we assume there’s some immune system variation with Asian people, it was coming here and we have been behind it from day one since it got here and we’ve been playing catch-up. You don’t win playing catch-up. We have to get ahead of it. The second rule is never underestimate your opponent, and we underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected, and the third point is plan forward. Get ahead of it. Get ahead of it, fight the fight today, yes, but anticipate the next battle and plan for the next battle.

“And the main battle is at the apex. We’re still going up the mountain. The main battle is on the top of the mountain. That’s where the main battle is going to be. The apex of the curve and then we come down the other side of the mountain. We are planning now for the battle at the top of the mountain. That’s what we are doing. Get a staffing plan ready now for the battle at the top of the mountain. Equipment stockpile now – we’re gathering equipment that we don’t need today because today is not the day of the battle. The battle is when we hit the apex, depending on who you believe, 14 days to 30 days from today.

“And also we need a social acceptance of the time expectation. We’re all anxious. We’re all tired, we’re all fatigued. It’s been all bad news for a long time. Our whole lifestyle has been disrupted. Everybody knows wants to know one thing, when is it over, nobody knows. Well, President said by Easter; this one said by this – nobody knows. You can have a hypothesis, you can have a projection, you can have an opinion but nobody knows, but I can say this, it is not going to be soon. If our apex is 14 to 21 days, that’s our apex. You then have to come down the other side of the mountain once you hit the apex, so calibrate yourself and your expectations so you’re not disappointed every morning you get up.”

Cuomo described the “balkanization” and “fragmentation” of the state’s health care system – private hospital chains, public hospitals, downstate and upstate, city and suburbs and rural communities, rich and needy and now federal hospitals – and said that he was creating a network where staff, supplies and patients would be allocated as needed.

“That has to be our mentality. We laid out a full plan on how to do facility development, how to move people among hospitals so nobody gets overloaded, shifting patients, shifting staff, shifting supplies. None of us have enough supplies. Okay, then let’s pool our supplies and let’s put them out for the people who need them. Just because one hospital happened to have found a vendor from China who delivered 5 million masks, let’s share those masks.”

Getting ahead of the virus means gearing up for the projected apex and stockpiling vital equipment like ventilators for the day when they will be needed – a remark intended to blunt Trump’s veiled accusation that Cuomo was warehousing 4,000 ventilators while complaining that he needed 30,000.

And he continued to appeal for mass testing as critical to not only determining who is sick, but who has the antibodies and therefore no longer at risk.

The crisis ends, he said, “when we get a fast track test, an at home test, 15-minute test, and people can find out when they can go back to work because they’re negative. We’re working on additional testing. As I said, the department of health has a new test, but that’s when this ends

“We’re also working on the new medications. We’re leading the country in many of these developments. We have saliva testing. We’re working on the antibody testing and plasma testing at the same time.”

Cuomo added, “We know what to do. We just have to do it. It is individual discipline to stay at home. That’s what it is, it’s discipline. No social distancing. It’s discipline. Well, I’m bored. I know. I’m bored. It’s discipline. Making this healthcare system work, that’s government skill, that’s government performance. That’s saying to that healthcare system, I don’t care how it worked yesterday, I don’t care whose turf this is, I don’t care whose ego is involved, I’m sorry, we have to find a way to work, a better way. Time to say to that federal government and to FEMA and HHS, you have to learn how to do your job, and you have to learn how to do it quickly. Because time is not our friend. It’s about a social stamina. This is not one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, okay? This is not going to be an Easter surprise. Understand that and have the stamina to deal with it.

The coordination of the state’s health care system is but one step in what Cuomo called for as “unity” – coordination and cooperation among states.

“Let’s help one another. New York needs help now. Yesterday I asked for healthcare workers from across the country to come here because we need help. We will pay you, and more importantly, we will return the favor. This is going to be a rolling wave across the country. New York, then it’ll be Detroit, then it’ll be New Orleans, then it will be California. If we were smart as a nation, come help us in New York. Get the equipment. Get the training. Get the experience. And then let’s all go help the next place, and then the next place, and then the next place. That would be a smart national way of doing this. And showing that unity. And, unity meaning, we’re not, I know this is a political year, and everything is a political backdrop, and Democrats want to criticize Republicans, Republicans want to criticize Democrats. Not now. Not now. There are no red states, there are no blue states. The virus doesn’t attack and kill red Americans or blue Americans. It attacks all Americans. And keep that in mind, because there is, there is a unifying wisdom in that.”

The Governor confirmed 9,298 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 75,795 confirmed cases in New York State – among them, the governor’s own brother, Chris Cuomo, who anchors a news program on CNN. Of the 75,795 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

County Total Positive New Positive
Albany 226 9
Allegany 7 0
Broome 38 3
Cattaraugus 6 0
Cayuga 3 0
Chautauqua 6 1
Chemung 20 5
Chenango 19 2
Clinton 21 4
Columbia 30 4
Cortland 8 0
Delaware 16 5
Dutchess 484 92
Erie 438 62
Essex 4 0
Franklin 9 3
Fulton 1 0
Genesee 10 1
Greene 16 6
Hamilton 2 0
Herkimer 12 0
Jefferson 12 1
Lewis 2 0
Livingston 13 1
Madison 41 7
Monroe 292 50
Montgomery 7 1
Nassau 8,544 1,200
Niagara 42 1
NYC 43,139 5,686
Oneida 40 6
Onondaga 194 14
Ontario 22 2
Orange 1,556 121
Orleans 6 2
Oswego 15 1
Otsego 18 1
Putnam 186 19
Rensselaer 41 1
Rockland 2,863 352
Saratoga 108 3
Schenectady 85 5
Schoharie 6 0
Schuyler 2 0
Seneca 2 2
St. Lawrence 30 17
Steuben 24 5
Suffolk 6,713 922
Sullivan 109 8
Tioga 7 3
Tompkins 66 0
Ulster 211 21
Warren 18 0
Washington 10 3
Wayne 19 4
Westchester 9,967 641
Wyoming 9 1

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, NYS on Pause Extended for Next 2 Weeks; Schools Can Host Free Day Care, Pharmacies Offer Free Delivery

Directs State Nonessential Workforce to Work from Home for Additional Two Weeks Through April 15th

New York’s Wadsworth Lab has Developed New, Less Intrusive Test for COVID-19

Executive Order Also Allows Schools to Host Day Care Free of Charge

Following Governor’s Call, Pharmacies Have Agreed to Offer Free Home Delivery

Announces State, in Partnership with Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senator Bailey, Assemblyman Benedetto and Borough President Diaz Jr., is Launching a New Mobile Testing Site in the Bronx

Confirms 7,195 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 59,513; New Cases in 44 Counties

Governor Cuomo also announced that New York State’s Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a health care professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present. This new test will help conserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for healthcare workers, reduce potential exposure of the virus to health care workers and will allow the state to continue to test as many individuals as possible in New York amid the national shortage of the more intrusive nasopharyngeal, or NP, swabs. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced all NYS on Pause functions will be extended for the next two weeks. The Governor also directed the state nonessential workforce to continue to work from home for an additional two weeks through April 15th. The state will re-evaluate after this additional two-week period.

In-person workforce restrictions, which have been implemented through various Executive Orders —202.3 (restaurants and bars, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and casinos); 202.4 (local government workforces, school districts; village elections); 202.5 (malls, public amusement facilities); 202.6 (all non-essential reduce 50%); 202.7 (barber shops, salons, other personal care); 202.8 (DMV); 202.10 (non-essential gatherings of any size); 202.11 (extension of school district closure until April 15, 2020) — are also extended until April 15, 2020 to enable uniform extension and review of such restrictions, and any such restrictions may be extended by future executive orders.

Governor Cuomo also announced that New York State’s Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a health care professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present. This new test will help conserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for healthcare workers, reduce potential exposure of the virus to health care workers and will allow the state to continue to test as many individuals as possible in New York amid the national shortage of the more intrusive nasopharyngeal, or NP, swabs. Self-collection of nasal swabs has been done before for other respiratory viruses such as flu and it has been shown to be effective and safe, and collection of a saliva sample is simple and non-invasive. This new testing will begin within a week.

The Governor also issued an executive order to allow schools to host day care free of charge.

After speaking with the state’s major pharmacy chains, the Governor announced that pharmacies have agreed to offer free home delivery to help reduce long lines for prescriptions at their facilities.

“There is no state in the nation that is better prepared or better mobilized to combat this virus than New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “The number of cases is still going up towards the apex, and the development of new, faster tests will be critical in flattening this curve, getting people back to work and returning to normalcy. The state’s Wadsworth lab has developed a new, less intrusive test that will allow us to increase our testing capacity, as well as save valuable PPE for our healthcare workers. We will get through this because we are New Yorkers – we are strong, we have endurance and we have stability. We have a plan, we’re executing that plan and we will manage any obstacle that we come across.”

Governor Cuomo also announced, in partnership with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Jamaal Bailey, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., that the State is launching a new mobile testing site in Co-Op City, the largest public housing development (Mitchell Lama) in the country. This new mobile testing site located at the Bay Plaza Mall Parking Lot, AMC Cinema entrance in the Bronx will provide tests by appointment only and will prioritize symptomatic individuals who had close exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, health care workers and first responders displaying symptoms, and those working in or having recently visited a nursing home who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. To get an appointment, New Yorkers can call the Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

Finally, the Governor confirmed 7,195 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 59,513 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 59,513 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:      

County Total Positive New Positive
Albany 205 10
Allegany 6 4
Broome 29 6
Cattaraugus 4 3
Cayuga 2 0
Chautauqua 5 0
Chemung 15 3
Chenango 15 7
Clinton 13 1
Columbia 23 1
Cortland 6 1
Delaware 8 0
Dutchess 320 58
Erie 358 40
Essex 4 0
Franklin 6 2
Fulton 1 0
Genesee 9 2
Greene 7 0
Hamilton 2 0
Herkimer 10 1
Jefferson 7 1
Lewis 2 2
Livingston 10 5
Madison 24 5
Monroe 219 27
Montgomery 6 1
Nassau 6445 908
Niagara 38 5
NYC 33768 4002
Oneida 26 3
Onondaga 152 23
Ontario 18 2
Orange 1247 146
Orleans 3 0
Oswego 8 1
Otsego 10 3
Putnam 144 13
Rensselaer 39 1
Rockland 2209 313
Saratoga 102 6
Schenectady 76 4
Schoharie 5 0
Schuyler 1 0
St. Lawrence 12 4
Steuben 17 4
Suffolk 5023 885
Sullivan 88 16
Tioga 4 0
Tompkins 52 7
Ulster 146 18
Warren 18 5
Washington 7 1
Wayne 12 0
Westchester 8519 644
Wyoming 8 1

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done.’

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island to urge CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo: “My last point is practice humanity. We don’t talk about practicing humanity, but now if ever there is a time to practice humanity the time is now. The time is now to show some kindness, to show some compassion to people, show some gentility – even as a New Yorker.”

Trump has played a pathetic game of catch-up to the actual task of getting Americans through the coronavirus pandemic as best as possible, with as few deaths and as little destruction to the economy and society as possible. While he has proved a mendacious inept clog, true leadership has been demonstrated by Governors, especially New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His press availability today, in which he gave updates on his nonstop effort to increase hospital capacity and obtain necessary protective equipment and medical supplies in anticipation of a surge of patients, was heartening to New Yorkers. It was a speech that hearkened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was Governor of New York before he was President, leading the nation through the Great Depression and later through World War II.  This is a rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks:

Good morning. Happy Saturday. Welcome to the weekend. I want to give you an update and briefing on where we are today and then we’re going to go out and do some real work, get out of this building before we get cabin fever. You know the people who are here today. From my far right, Simonida Subotic who is in charge of managing supplies which is a major function for us, Robert Mujica, Director of Division of the Budget, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, the great James Malatras who has been a tremendous help here.

Go through the facts, the numbers are still increasing. We have been seeing that. That’s the line that we’re tracking. This is all about the increase in the number of cases and managing the increase in the number of cases to the capacity of our health care system. What are we doing? We’re reducing the spread and the rate of the spread to match the increase in the number of cases and increasing hospital capacity at the same time – just how do our hospitals manage the rate of the spread.

We’re trying to reduce the spread to over a period of months. Over a period of months our healthcare system can deal with the numbers. We have moved to zero non-essential workers. You can’t go below zero so we’re doing everything we can there and we put out new rules on personal conduct and what people should be doing and how they should be behaving and where they should be.

Matilda’s Law which is for the vulnerable population, senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems, underlying illnesses – that was very specific. As I mentioned we named it for my mother Matilda because I went through this with my own siblings. How do we help mom? Where do we bring mom? There was a difference of opinion. The best health professionals put together guidelines that not only help senior citizens but also their families who are trying to deal with this. I know it was helpful to my family and the question among siblings these laws and guidelines answered. I don’t want to mention which sibling but it turns out that he was wrong.

The personal conduct rules and regulations are also very helpful. I want to thank Dr. Fauci who is really an extraordinary American and has given me great guidance and help and assistance in putting together these policies so I’d like to thank him and we’re doing those.

We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done. New Yorkers are lucky. We have a very experienced team that’s doing this. This is not their first rodeo. They’ve been through a number of emergencies on a number of levels.

Increasing hospital capacity – we want to get the capacity of 50,000 thousand up to a minimum of 75,000. We told the hospitals we’re going to be ending elective surgeries. We are now working with hospitals to reconfigure the space in the hospital to get more beds and to find more staff to manage those beds. We’re working on building new beds. We’re going to go out and review a number of sites today. I’d like to give the final list to the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers today but we’re looking at Javits, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, the Westchester Convention Center, and I’m going to go out and take a look at those sites today or the ones I can get to. That would give us a regional distribution and a real capacity if we can get them up quickly enough and then increasing supplies which is one of the most critical activities.

We are literally scouting the globe looking for medical supplies. We’ve identified 2 million N-95 masks which are the high protection masks. We have apparel companies that are converting to mask manufacturing companies in the State of New York in all sorts of creative configurations and I want to thank them. I put out a plea yesterday to ask them for help and we’ve been on the phone with all sorts of companies who are really doing great work. We’re also exploring the State of New York manufacturing masks ourselves.

We’re going to send 1 million N95 masks to New York City today. That’s been a priority for New York City and 1 million masks won’t get us through the crisis but it’ll make a significant contribution to New York City’s mask issue and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for working in partnership. We’re sending 500,000 N95 masks to Long Island. We’ve been working with County Executive Laura Curran and County Executive Steve Bellone and I want to thank them.

We’re gathering ventilators. Ventilators are the most important piece of equipment and the piece of equipment that is most scarce. We’re gathering them from all different health facilities across the state and then we’re going to use those in the most critical areas. We also identified 6,000 new ventilators that we can actually purchase so that’s a big deal.

From the federal government’s point of view I’ve spoken to the President a number of times. I spoke to the Vice President a number of times. They’ve issued a federal disaster declaration which is a technical act by the federal government but what it basically does is it allows the federal emergency management agency called FEMA to step in and assist financially. By that declaration FEMA would pay 75 percent of the cost of a disaster. New York State would pay 25 percent of the cost. The federal government can waive the 25 percent of the cost. I’m asking them to waive that 25 percent in this situation. I’ve worked on many disasters, FEMA has waived the 25 percent. If there’s any situation where FEMA should waive the 25 percent, this is the situation.

We’re also working with the federal government. We’re requesting 4 field hospitals at 250 capacity each. That would give us 1000 field hospital beds. We’re going to be looking at Javits as a location for those field hospitals. We’re also requesting 4 Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospitals. Those are the sites I mentioned earlier that I’m going to take a look at. The SUNY Stonybrook, Westbury, Westchester Convention Center and also Javits. Javits is so big that it can take the 4 field hospitals and an Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospital. We’re also requesting assistance with medical supplies which has been a very big topic of conversation all across the country. 

We’re also asking our federal congressional delegation to fix a law that was passed on the coronavirus federal aid because of a technical issue the way the bill was written, New York State does not qualify for aid. That’s over $6 billion, that is a lot of money and we need the federal delegation to fix that bill otherwise New York State gets nothing. New York State has more coronavirus cases than any state in the United States of America. That we should not be included in the bill, obviously makes no sense. 

We’re also going to conduct immediately trials for the new drug therapy which we have been discussing. I spoke to Dr. Zucker about it. There is a theory that the drug treatment could be helpful. We have people who are in serious condition and Dr. Zucker feels comfortable, as well as a number of other health professionals, that in a situation where a person is in dire circumstance, try what you can. The FDA is going to accelerate to New York 10,000 doses. As soon as we get those doses we will work with doctors, nurses and families on using those drugs and seeing where we get. 

I spoke to the President, he spoke to this drug therapy in his press conference yesterday and I spoke to him afterward. I said that New York would be interested and we have the most number of cases and health professionals have all recommended to me that we try it, so we’ll try it.  We’re also working on a number of other drug therapies, an anti-body therapy, a possible vaccine. We have a company here in New York called Regeneron that’s really showing some promising results. I exempted them from the no work order, because they couldn’t possibly have a really significant achievement for us. The new numbers, the more tests you take, the more positives you find, and I give this caution because I think people misinterpret the number of new cases. They take that number of new cases as if it is reflective of the number of new cases, the spread. It is not. The number of new cases is only reflective of the number of cases you are taking, right. Where our goal is to find the positive cases, because if we find a positive case we can isolate that person, and that stops the spread. So we’re actually looking for positives. The more tests you take, the more positives you will find.

We are taking more tests in New York than anyplace else. We’re taking more tests per capita than China or South Korea. We’re also taking more tests than any state in the United States of America. That is actually a great accomplishment. Because if you remember back, two weeks, which seems like a lifetime now, the whole question was coming up to scale on tests. How do we get the number of tests up and how do we get it up quickly? I spoke to the president and the vice president and said decentralize the testing, let the states do it. I have 200 labs. I can mobilize quickly. Let us do the tests. They agreed. We’re doing more tests than any state, so for example, we’ve done 45,000 tests. California has done 23,000, Washington has done 23,000, so you see how many more tests we are doing. And again, I credit the team that’s working here, because this is exactly what the mandate was. Perform as many tests as quickly as you can, and that’s the drive-thrus we’ve put in place, the hospital management, et cetera. So our numbers should be higher. And they are.

Total number of positive cases now is up to 10,000, number of new cases has increased by 3,000, let’s go back in case you can’t read as fast as I can read. 6,000 New York City, 1,300 Westchester, 1,200 in Nassau. You see the Westchester number is slowing. We did a New Rochelle containment area. The numbers would suggest that that has been helpful. So I feel good about that. You see Nassau increasing, you see Suffolk increasing. So that’s just the wide spread increase that we have been anticipating. But our hotspot of Westchester is now slowing, and that’s very good news. New York City, it is the most dense environment. This virus spreads in density, right. And that’s what you’re seeing in New York City, obviously, has many more people than any other specific location in the state. Number of counties are increasing. You see the blue. I said to you early on that blue is going to take over the whole state, just the way every state in the United States has now been covered. Most impacted states, you look at the cases in New York is 10,000, Washington, California, 1,000 each. Does that mean that we have ten times the number of cases as California or Washington? Or does that mean we’re doing more tests than California or Washington? The truth is somewhere in the middle, and nobody can tell you. Total number of people tested, we’re up to 45,000. Number of new tests. This is a rate that we watch. What is the rate of hospitalization? Again, because this is all about hospital capacity, right, 1,500 out of 10,000, it’s roughly 15 percent of the cases. It’s been running about 14, 15. It’s gone as high as 20 percent, 21 percent. So actually 15 percent rate of hospitalization is not a bad number. It’s actually down from where it was. The more refined number is, of those who are hospitalized, how many require the ventilators, because the ventilators are the piece of equipment that is most scarce. That’s the next refinement of these numbers that we have to do.

And again, the context on the numbers is important. We’re talking 10,000 et cetera. You look at any world health organization or the NIH, or what any of the other countries are saying. You have to expect that at the end of the day, 40 percent to 80 percent of the population is going to be infected. So the only question is, how fast is the rate to that 40 percent, 80 percent, and can you slow that rate so your hospital system can deal with it. That is all we’re talking about here. If you look at the 40 to 80 percent, that means between 7.8 million and 15 million New Yorkers will be affected at the end of the day. We’re just trying to postpone the end of the day. Again, perspective, Johns Hopkins, this is not a science fiction movie. You don’t have to wait to the end of the movie to find out what happens. Johns Hopkins has studied every case since it started, 284,000, 11,000 deaths, almost 90,000 recoveries, 183,000 still pending. Which tracks everything we know in the State of New York. Our first case, first case, healthcare worker, 39-year-old female who was in Iran. She went home, she never went to a hospital, she recovered, she’s now negative. You get sick, you get symptoms, you recover. That is true for the overwhelming number of people. Again, context, people who died in the flu, from the flu, in 2018-2019: 34,000 Americans. 34,000, so when you hear these numbers of deaths, keep it in perspective. 34,000 people died of the flu. Over 65, 74 percent of the people were over 65. 25 percent were under 65. So, if you have an underlying illness, you catch the flu, you can die. More likely if you have an underlying illness, senior citizens, et cetera, but not necessarily. You have 25 percent under 65 years old die from the flu.

Also, in terms of context, perspective. Don’t listen to rumors. I mean, you have such wild rumors out there, and people call me with the craziest theories. Just, I understand there’s anxiety and stress, but let’s remember some basic context and facts. Society functions. Everything works. There’s going to be food in the grocery stores. There’s no reason to buy a hundred rolls of toilet paper. There really isn’t. And by the way, where do you even put a hundred rolls of toilet paper? The transportation system functions. The pharmacy system functions. These things are all going to work. Nonessential workers, stay home, but the essential workers are staying home, especially the healthcare workers. There is not going to be any roadblock when you wake up in the morning that says you can’t leave this place, you can’t leave that place, right? So if you have a real question, because you think there’s a real concern from a credible source, contact my team. We have a special website: coronavirus.health.ny.gov, and ask the question and you will get a real, truthful, factual response.

I have not hidden anything from the people of this state. I have not tilted facts. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American people deserve the truth, they can handle the truth, give them the truth. When they don’t get the truth and if you don’t get the facts, that’s when people should get anxious. If I think I’m being deceived or there’s something you’re not telling me, or you’re shading the truth, now I’m anxious. Everything I know, I’ve told you, and I will continue to tell you, and these are facts, and you hear a rumor, and you want to check it out, go to that website, these are people who work for me directly, and you will have the truth. We do have an issue with younger people who are not complying, and I’ve mentioned it before but it’s not getting better. You know, you can have your own opinion. You cannot have your own facts – you want to have an opinion, have an opinion, but you can’t have your own facts. “Well young people don’t get this disease.” You are wrong – that is not a fact. 18-49 years old are 54 percent of the cases in New York State. 54 percent. 18-49 years old. So you’re not Superman, and you’re not Superwoman, you can get this virus and you can transfer the virus and you can wind up hurting someone who you love or hurting someone wholly inadvertently. Social distancing works and you need social distancing everywhere. There’s a significant amount of non-compliance, especially in New York City, especially in the parks – I’m going to go down there today, I want to see what situation is myself, but it has to be stopped because you are endangering people and if it’s because of misinformation, if it’s because of noncompliance, I don’t care frankly – this is a public health issue and you cannot endanger other people’s health. You shouldn’t be endangering your own. But you certainly have no right to endanger someone else’s.

This is my personal opinion, this is not a fact, you know to me it’s very important in a situation like this, tell me the facts and then tell me your opinion – this is my opinion. We talk about social responsibility, especially young people talk about social responsibility and they should – we pass a lot of legislation in this building, groundbreaking legislation, national firsts, on economic rights, highest minimum wage in the United States of America, human rights, first state to pass marriage equality, which I believe was a human rights issue, we talk about environmental responsibility and this state has the most aggressive environmental laws in the United States of America and I am proud of it, but I also want people to think about the social responsibility when it comes to public health. We haven’t talked about it before, not really a field, it’s not really an issue, it’s not really a hashtag, but social responsibility applies to public health just as it applies to human rights, and economic rights and environmental rights – public health, especially in a moment like this, is probably most critical.

So let’s think about that and let’s act on that. In this crisis, think of yourselves, we are all first responders – your actions can either save or endanger a life, so we are all first responders. What’s going to happen? We’re going to get through this. We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get through this. Fact is we’re trying to slow the spread of the virus to a number of months so the healthcare system can deal with it, so therefore by definition it’s going to be a number of months. I know people want to hear, “It’s only going to be a matter of weeks and then it’s going to be fine.” I don’t believe it’s going to be a matter of weeks. I believe it is going to be a matter of months, but we are going to get through it, and how long and how well it takes us to get through it is up to us. It depends on what we do – you know when you’re sick and you say to the doctor, “Well how long until I get better?” And the doctor says, “It depends on what you do. If you follow the advice, you’ll get healthy faster, but it depends on what you do.” This depends on what we do. China is now reporting no news cases. Let’s assume that’s true – look at that trajectory, look at that turnaround, look at what they did, we do have data we can follow. So how long is it going to take? It depends on how smart and how we responsible are and how diligent we are. You tell me the percentage of compliance and intelligence and discipline on social disciplining et cetera? I’ll tell you how long it takes for us to get through it.

Also something that people aren’t really talking about but I think we should start talking about – we talk about the economic consequences of this situation and they are going to be significant, and we are going to have to deal with it and New York will be right on top of it and as aggressive as we are with everything else. But economic consequences come second – first, is dealing with this crisis. We talk about the economic consequences but we also need to talk about the social consequences. There is no Dow Jones index that we can watch on the screen that is measuring the social consequences and the social decline. But the stress, the anxiety, the emotions that are provoked by this crisis are truly significant, and people are struggling with the emotions as much as they are struggling with the economics. And this state wants to start to address that. I’m asking psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists who are willing to volunteer their time to contact the state and if this works out I would like to set up a voluntary network where people can go for mental health assistance where they can contact a professional to talk through how they are feeling about this. They are nervous, they are anxious, they are isolated. It can bring all sorts of emotions and feelings to the surface. When you are isolated you do not have people to talk to.

So I am asking the professional mental health establishment to contact us. Let us know that you are willing to volunteer time. It would obviously be all electronic. It would not be in person. It would be telephone, it would be Skype, etc. But I would ask you to seriously consider this. Many people are doing extraordinary things during this public health crisis. I ask the mental health community, many of them are looking for a way to participate, this is a way to participate. And if we get enough mental health professionals willing to volunteer their time, we will set up a mental health electronic help center. And we will talk more about that the next few days.

What happens besides how long? What happens? The bigger question to me is what do we learn about ourselves through this? As a society, we have never gone through this. We have never gone through a world war. We have not gone through any great social crisis. Here in New York, we went through 9/11 which I think is relevant in terms of some feelings that people are now experiencing. 9/11 transformed society. I was there. I was part of it. You were never the same after 9/11. You had a sense of vulnerability that you never had before which I feel to this day. There was a trauma to 9/11. But as a society, as a country, we have been blessed in that we have not gone through something as disruptive as this.

So what do we learn about ourselves? I think what we are saying already is a crisis really brings out the truth about ourselves first of all and about others. And your see people’s strengths and you see people’s weaknesses. You see society’s strengths and you see society’s weaknesses. You see both the beauty and the vulnerability. You see the best in people and you see the worst in people. You see people rise to the occasion and you see people fall from the burden of the emotion. So, I think – You take a step back.

NYS Governor Announces Efforts to Dramatically Increase Hospital Capacity, Medical Supplies to Address Anticipated Surge in Covid-19 Patients

Governor Andrew Cuomo, with Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling. The Governor announced new efforts to expand hospital capacity and increase the state’s supply of personal protective equipment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Will Visit Sites – Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury & Westchester Convention Center

Announces New Actions to Increase State’s Supply of Personal Protective Equipment

Issues Executive Order Temporarily Closing DMV In-Office Transactions; Online Transactions Still Available

Announces FEMA Granted New York’s Request for Major Disaster Declaration

Asks New York’s Congressional Delegation to Fix the Coronavirus Federal Aid Law that Currently Exempts New York from Receiving Aid

Department of Health Commissioner Recommends Trials for New Drug Therapy

New Yorkers Can Sign Up for Email Updates Here and Ask Questions About COVID-19 Here

New Yorkers Can Find More Information About the New COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers regarding four initial sites in New York State for locating temporary hospitals – the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center. Over the past days, an inspection team led by the Army Corps of Engineers, and including state officials from the Office of General Services, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the Department of Health and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has visited more than a dozen sites to review for temporary hospital use. Upon the Governor’s determination, the Army Corps is expected to immediately begin work to construct the temporary hospitals. The Governor is also requesting FEMA designate four field hospitals with 250 beds each for the state, intended for use in the Javits Center in addition to the temporary hospital to be constructed by the Army Corps.

Governor Cuomo also announced that the state is taking new actions to increase the supply of personal protective equipment – or PPE. The state has identified two million N95 masks for purchase and will send one million to New York City and 500,000 to Long Island. Apparel manufacturers in the state are converting their operations to begin manufacturing masks and other medical equipment, and the state is also exploring manufacturing masks. Additionally, the state is gathering ventilators from different health facilities from across the state to be used in the most critical areas and has already purchased 6,000 additional ventilators.

The Governor also issued an executive order temporary closing the Department of Motor Vehicles for all in-office visits. Online transactions, including for license renewals, are still be available. License and permit expirations will be extended.

The Governor also announced that federal government approved New York’s request for a major disaster declaration that allows FEMA to step in financially and assist the state. Under the current declaration FEMA will pay 75 of the funding and New York is responsible for 25 percent. The Governor is urging the President and his administration to grant a 100 percent federal cost share under this declaration. The Governor urges the federal government to quickly grant the state’s pending request to support homeowners through additional individual assistance programs and statewide hazard mitigation assistance.

The Governor is also asking New York’s Congressional delegation to modify federal coronavirus legislation to ensure New York is eligible for $6 billion in aid. Due to a current technical issue in the bill, New York State is not eligible to receive aid.

Additionally, the Governor announced that State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker has recommended trials for new drug therapy to help combat COVID-19. The FDA is acquiring 10,000 doses of Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax for New York State to use on a trial basis.

New Yorkers can sign up to receive daily email updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation here and can ask questions about COVID-19 here. New Yorkers can also find more information about the new COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law here.

“Every day we see the number of cases of novel coronavirus continue to rise, and we know that by all projections we’re going to have more hospitalizations than we can deal with in our healthcare system,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have a plan of action to help stop the spread of this virus, including expanding hospital capacity and identifying new hospital beds, and after meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers and hearing their recommendations, we stand ready for the building of temporary hospitals at four facilities in New York State. This is a public health crisis, but worse than the virus is the fear, but we have a plan and we are doing everything we can to keep the people informed and save lives.”

NYS Guarantees Jobs, Paid Sick Leave for Workers Quarantined by Covid-19, suspends Collection of Medical, Student Debt

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island to urge CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a three-way agreement with the Legislature on a bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The program bill also includes the permanent comprehensive paid sick leave policy first advanced in the Governor’s FY 2021 Executive Budget proposal.

This follows the Governor’s announcement last week that the state will guarantee two full weeks of paid leave for all state workers who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus.

The Governor announced that the state’s drive-through COVID-19 mobile testing facility opens today on Long Island. The Governor also authorized the State to open drive-through COVID-19 mobile testing facilities in Suffolk County, Rockland County and on Staten Island. This follows the success of the New Rochelle mobile testing center, which opened March 13th. Drive-through mobile testing facilities help keep people who are sick or at risk of having contracted coronavirus out of healthcare facilities where they could infect other people. These facilities are a critical part of the Governor’s nation-leading program to test thousands of people per day for COVID-19 by this week.

The Governor also announced that the state is reaching out to qualified former doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to supplement the personnel at hospitals. The State Department of Health and the State Education Department have sent letters to retired health care professionals and all schools of nursing, public health and medicine encouraging qualified health care personnel to sign up for on-call work during the COVID-19 crisis. Healthcare professionals who wish to sign up can contact the State Department of Health at health.ny.gov/assistance.

Governor Cuomo also directed the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State to work with 1199 SEIU to develop a plan to create drop-in child care opportunities and expand child care facilities at their hospitals to ensure child care for hospital workforce. They will submit a joint plan to the state by Friday.

“The single most effective way to contain the spread of this virus is to ensure people who may have come into contact with it do not interact with others. Last week I said we would lead by example by guaranteeing two weeks’ pay for state workers who have been quarantined as a result of covid-19,” Governor Cuomo said. “The paid sick leave measure we’ve agreed to today expands those protections to all new Yorkers – because no New Yorker should lose their job or income for following a critical public health order. This is an extraordinary time in this nation’s history, and it will go down in the history books as one of those moments of true crisis and confusion. So my message to New Yorkers is this: Be a little bit more sensitive, understand the stress, understand the fear, be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative. We are going to get through it and we are going to get through it together.”

To address the immediate need of employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation, the Governor’s legislation will provide the following:

Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

The provisions of the quarantine legislation are set to take effect immediately upon passage, ensuring that New York workers will be able to take advantage of these benefits.

The legislation also includes the comprehensive paid sick leave proposal that was advanced by the Governor as part of his State of the State and FY 2021 Executive Budget, which will be effective 180 days after enactment. Specifically, the legislation provides:

Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of unpaid sick leave each year.

Employers with 5-99 employees and employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave each year.

Employers with 100 or more employees will provide at least 7 days of paid sick leave each year. 

NY  Suspends Collection of Medical, Student State Debt

In a separate action, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James today announced that — effective immediately — the state will temporarily halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection, for at least a 30-day period, in response to growing financial impairments resulting from the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Countless New Yorkers have been impacted — directly or indirectly — by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business. In an effort to support these workers and families and ease their financial burdens, the OAG will halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection from March 16, 2020 through April 15, 2020. After this 30-day period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for a possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.

“As the financial impact of this emerging crisis grows, we are doing everything we can to support the thousands of New Yorkers that are suffering due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new action to temporarily suspend the collection of debt owed to the state will help mitigate the adverse financial impact of the outbreak on individuals, families, communities and businesses in New York State, as we continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.”

“In this time of crisis, my office will not add undue stress or saddle New Yorkers with unnecessary financial burden,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers need to focus on keeping themselves safe and healthy from the coronavirus, and therefore can rest assured that state medical and student debt referred to my office will not be collected against them for at least 30 days. This is the time when New Yorkers need to rally around each other and pick each other up, which is why I am committed to doing everything in my power to support our state’s residents.”

The OAG collects certain debts owed to the State of New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the State of New York and state agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:

Patients that owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ home;

Students that owe student debt due to State University of New York campuses; and

Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners, and certain homeowners that owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.

The temporary policy will also automatically suspend the accrual of interest and collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.

New Yorkers with non-medical or non-student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG, may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. Individuals seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s coronavirus website to learn more about the suspension of payments. If an individual is unable to fill out the online form, they can also call the OAG hotline at 1-800-771-7755 to learn more. 

Finally, the Governor confirmed 432 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 1,374 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 1,374 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

New York City: 644 (187 new)

Westchester County: 380 (157 new)

Nassau County: 131 (24 new)

Suffolk County: 84 (21 new)

Albany County: 23 (11 new)

Rockland County: 22 (9 new)

Dutchess County: 16 (6 new)

Orange County: 15 (4 new)

Monroe County: 10 (1 new)

Saratoga County: 9 (4 new)

Ulster County: 8 (1 new)

Erie County: 7 (1 new)

Schenectady County: 5 (1 new)

Allegany County: 2

Greene County: 2

Onondaga County: 2 (1 new)

Putnam County: 2

Tompkins County: 2 (1 new)

Broome County: 1

Clinton County: 1 (1 new)

Delaware County: 1

Herkimer County: 1

Montgomery County: 1

Ontario County: 1

Rensselaer County: 1 (1 new)

Sullivan County: 1 (1 new)

Tioga County: 1

Wyoming County: 1