New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, after a meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, chided Washington for politicizing the coronavirus pandemic, and not acting swiftly enough to provide crucial funding to states and localities, especially those – New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California – where the outbreak of cases and the death toll has been the worst. “This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country,” he stated in a press briefing shortly afterward at the National Press Club in Washington. He urged government to “do the right thing.”
Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called such funding a “blue state bail out,” after having allocated billions to friendly industries and funneling millions to connected business interests. He stressed that New York and California, alone, represent one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, so you don’t have a reenergized economy without them. New York and California are also are the biggest donor states, sending billions of dollars more to taker-states like Kentucky than they get back in federal spending (New York sends $29 billion a year more than it gets back; Kentucky takes $29 billion more than it sends).If the states do not get federal aid, he stresseded, they will be forced to cut spending for hospitals, schools, police and fire – all the services most essential during a public health crisis – and excess thousands of workers, which won’t do the unemployment rate much good. Or, he said, the federal government can use this time as Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression, to finally build the big, bold infrastructure projects that have been put on back-burners for 30 years.
Cuomo noted that the The House of Representatives has already passed its Heroes bill that includes $500 billion for states and $375 billion for locals; Medicaid funding for the most vulnerable; increased SNAP food assistance; 100 percent FEMA federal assistance; funding for testing; and repeals SALT cap to help states most affected by COVID-19, “the politically motivated first double tax in U.S. history” that was implemented by the federal tax law in 2017.
The Governor also renewed his call for Congress to pass the ‘Americans First Law’ to help prevent corporate bailouts following the COVID-19 pandemic. First proposed by the Governor on May 10th, the legislation states that a corporation cannot be eligible to receive government funding if it doesn’t maintain the same number of employees that the corporation had before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo also urged President Trump to support a real public infrastructure program and to advance infrastructure projects in New York — including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion — to help supercharge the economy.
He listed a series of projects in New York State that are ready to go – including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion – that are just awaiting federal approval “to help supercharge the economy.” Significantly, Trump earlier has told agencies to dispense with regulations that are obstacles to speedy development, and during the 2016 campaign, boasted he would be the builder, with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan.
Cuomo also renewed his call for ‘Americans First Law’ which would require any company that takes government funding to rehire the same number of employees it had before the COVID-19 pandemic, and not use the pandemic to “right-size” or “downsize” and cut costs to increase profits.
“Washington is now debating their next bill that would aid in the reopening and the recovery. Prior bills have helped businesses, large businesses, small businesses, hotels, airlines, all sorts of business interests,” Cuomo said. “That’s great but you also have states and local governments and state governments do things like fund schools and fund hospitals. Do you really want to cut schools now? Do you really want to cut hospitals now after what we have just gone through when we are talking about a possible second wave, when we are talking about a fall with possible more cases? Do you really think we should starve state governments and cut hospitals? Would that be smart? Do you really want to cut local governments right now? That is cutting police. That is cutting fire. Is now the time to savage essential services and don’t you realize that if do you this, if you cut state and local governments and you cause chaos on the state and local level, how does that help a nation striving to recover economically?
“The Covid states, the states that bore the brunt of the Covid virus are one third of the national GDP. How can you tell one third of the country to go to heck and then think you’re going to see an economic rebound? Also, state governments, state economies, local economies, that is what the national economy is made of. What is the national economy but for a function of the states? There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town. But it is the obvious fact and we have made this mistake before.
“Again, look at history. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are going to repeat the mistakes. It is that simple and we have seen in the past what has happened when state and local governments were savaged and how it hurt the national recovery. Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal publication, makes the point that on the economy cuts to employment and spending likely to weigh on growth for years. So even if you believe the rhetoric we are about reopening, we are about getting the economy back, great. Then if that is what you believe you would provide funding to the state and local governments.
“The Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, very smart man respected on both sides of the aisle, said we have evidence the global financial crisis in the years afterward where state and local government layoffs and lack of hiring weighed on economic growth. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get this national economy better than ever. Fine. Then act accordingly and act appropriately.
“This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country. You have people saying, well don’t want to pass a bill that we continue don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout is what some have said. Senator McConnell, stopping blue state bailouts. Senator Scott, we’re supposed to go bail them out? That’s not right. On Fox TV, Laffer, you want us to give our money to Cuomo and New York? Hello, not this week.
“First of all, this is really an ugly, ugly sentiment. It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America. Those words meant something. United States of America. First of all, Mr. federal legislator, you’re nothing without the states, and you represent the United States. Not only is it ugly, it is false. It is wholly untrue, what they are saying, 100 percent. And there are facts, if you want to pose the question, which is, I think, divisive at this period of time.
“But if you want to pose the question, what states give money and what states take money? Right? There is a financial equation that is the federal government. And if you want to ask, what states give money to other states and what states take money from other states, that’s a question that Senator McConnell and Senator Scott and Mr. Laffer don’t really want to ask, because the truth, the truth is totally the opposite of what they’re saying. You look at the states that give more money to the federal government than they get back. You know the top, what they call donor state, you know what one state pays in more to the pot than they take out to the federal pot than any other state than the United States? It’s the State of New York. New York pays more every year, $29 billion more, than they take back. You know the second state, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, every year, they contribute more to the federal pot. You know who takes out more than they put in from that pot? You know whose hand goes in deeper and takes out than they put in? Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida. Those are the facts, those are the numbers.
“The great irony is, the conservatives want to argue against redistribution of wealth. Why should you take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s exactly what you are doing. That is exactly what you have done every year. So it’s only redistribution unless you wind up getting more money. Then it’s fine, then it’s not redistribution. Take from the rich, give to the poor, that’s redistribution, yes, unless you’re the poor, Senator McConnell, Senator Scott because you were the ones who have your hand out. You were the ones who are taking more than others. Redistribution, you’re against it, except when the richer states give you more money every year. Then the great hypocrisy, they actually make the redistribution worse when they passed three years ago a provision ending what’s called state and local tax deductibility. That didn’t level the playing field.
“What they did was they took the states that were already paying more money into the federal government, the quote, unquote richer states and they increased the money they were taking from the richer states. They took another $23 billion from California and another $14 billion from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut. The hypocrisy is so insulting because when you start to talk about numbers, there is still facts. People can still add and people can still subtract and they know what they put in and they know what they take out.
“I know it’s Washington, D.C. but the truth actually still matters. Americans are smart and they find out the truth even in the fog and the blather of Washington, DC. My point to our friends in the Congress: Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey. Stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the Covid virus through no fault of their own. Why did New York have so many cases. It’s nothing about New York. It’s because the virus came from Europe and no one in this nation told us.”
Cuomo hit back on suggestions that the state was at fault for having so many COVID-19 cases – indeed, more than almost any other nation, at 364,965, including 1129 cases added the day before, from 45 counties. Indeed, though Trump had intelligence briefings in January, he downplayed the threat and even later, only looked to China as a source, so the country’s attention was focused on cases in Washington and California.
“We were told the virus is coming from China. It’s coming from China, look to the West. We were looking to the West it came from the East. The virus left China, went to Europe. Three million Europeans come to New York, land in our airports January, February, March and bring the virus. And nobody knew. It was not New York’s job. We don’t do international, global health. It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe and we bore the brunt of it. Now, you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake? And because we had more people die? We lost more lives and you want to now double the insult and the injury by saying, ‘Well, why should we help those states? Those states had more Covid deaths.’ That’s why you’re supposed to help those states because they did have more Covid deaths and this is the United States and when one state has a problem, the other states help.
“I was in the federal government for eight years. When Los Angeles had earthquakes, we helped. When the Midwest had the Red River floods, we helped. When Florida had Hurricane Andrew, we helped. When Texas had floods, we helped. When Louisiana had Hurricane Katrina, we helped. We didn’t say “well, that is Louisiana’s fault. They had the hurricane. Well, that is Texas’s fault, they had the floods.” It was nobody’s fault. And we were there to help because that is who we are and that is what we believe. What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality?
“You know there still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book, and Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called doing the right thing. There is still a right thing in life. The right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country, not because a law says do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing. As individuals, as people, we believe in doing right by each other, by living your life by a code where you believe you are living it in an honorable way, acting on principle, and you are doing the right thing.
“Why can’t the government? Why can’t the Congress reflect the right thing principle that Americans live their life by? Pass a piece of legislation that is honorable and decent and does the right thing for all Americans. Why is that so hard? And if you want to talk about reopening the economy, then do it in a productive way. People think this economy is just going to bounce back. I don’t think it is going to bounce back. I think it will bounce back for some, and I think there will be collateral damage of others. We already know that tens of thousands of small businesses closed and probably won’t come back. We already know the large corporations are going to lay off thousands and thousands of workers, and they are going to use this pandemic as an excuse to get lean, to restructure, and they will boost their profits by reducing their payroll.
“We know it. We have been there before. We saw this in the 2008 Mortgage Crisis where the government bailed them out, the big banks that created the problem, and they used the money to pay themselves bonuses and they laid off their workers. They will do is same thing again that. That is why I propose the Americans First legislation that said a corporation can’t get a dime of government bailout unless they rehire the same number of workers they had pre-pandemic as post. Don’t take a gift from the taxpayer and then lay off Americans who are going to file for unemployment insurance paid for by the taxpayers. Don’t do that again.
“And if you want to be smart, we know that there is work to do in this nation. We have known it for years. You can fill a library with the number of books on the infrastructure and the decay of our infrastructure and how many roads and bridges have to be repaired, how this nation is grossly outpaced by nations across the world in terms of infrastructure, airports and development. Now is the time to stimulate the economy by doing that construction and doing that growth. You want to supercharge the reopening? That’s how do you it. This nation was smart enough to do it before. We did it in the midst of the great depression. We created 8 million jobs. We built an infrastructure that we’re still living on today. We’re still living on the infrastructure built by our grandparents, not even our parents. What are we going to leave our children? And now is the time to do it.
“We have major infrastructure projects in New York that are ready to go, that are desperately needed, that were desperately needed 30 years ago. Build them now. Supercharge the reopening. Grow the economy. That’s what we would do if we were smart. You’re not going to have a supercharged economy. You’re not going to see this nation get up and start running again, unless we do it together. That’s states working with other states. That’s a federal government that stands up and puts everything else aside.
“They were elected to provide good government. Nobody elected anyone to engage in partisan politics. There was a time when as a nation we were smart enough to say, “You want to play politics? That’s what a campaign is for.” Run your campaign against your opponent. Say all sorts of crazy things. That’s crazy campaign time. But when government starts, stop the politics, and do what’s right and smart. Don’t play your politics at the expense of the citizens you represent. There is no good government concept anymore. It’s politics 365 days a year. From the moment they’re elected to the moment they run again, it’s all politics. And that is poison. We have to get to a point, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, if only for a moment in response to a national crisis where we say it’s not red and blue. It’s red, white, and blue. It’s the United States and we’re going to act that way.
“In New York we say that by saying New York tough, but it’s America tough. Which is smart, and united, and disciplined, and loving, and loving.”
Cuomo said that the ninth of 10 regions, Long Island, began reopening today, joining Mid-Hudson Valley which opened yesterday, the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, which all have met the seven metrics required for Phase One of a multi-phase process. Each of the regions has to have a monitoring commission in place to make sure reopening does not trigger new outbreaks, and that any upticks are addressed.
New York City still has more metrics to complete before it can begin its formal reopening, though the New York Stock Exchange did reopen yesterday.
Governor Cuomo: “States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening but at the same time the federal government has a role to play and the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis. There cannot be at national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded.”
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back at Republican lawmakers’ naked partisanship in coronavirus pandemic – specifically, the suggestion that the federal government abandon states suffering under the health and economic hardships, and after swiftly passing some $4 trillion in debt in order to fund Corporate America, telling states and localities to go bankrupt, rather than provide necessary funding.
“This is now turning into a political brawl on state and local funding,” Cuomo said during the Wednesday, April 29 press briefing. “More and more, some of the elected officials in Washington are saying they’re against it. They’re lead by Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Senate, who makes it blatantly political. No blue state bailout. No blue state bailout. What is he trying to say? The states that have coronavirus are Democratic states and he’s a Republican, so he doesn’t want to help the Democratic states.
“He went so far as to say, well he’d be in favor of the states going bankrupt. First, states have never gone bankrupt. States can’t go bankrupt. There are serious Constitutional questions about whether or not a state can declare bankruptcy and you need a federal law that would allow the states to declare bankruptcy even if you got around the Constitutional question on bankruptcy. If he believes that, if it wasn’t just political rhetoric and personal vitriol, then pass a law that allows states to declare bankruptcy. He would have to do that. I dare him to do that and get that bill signed by the President.
“To make it partisan is what is most disturbing and you can see they’re now rallying the partisan troops. Senator Scott from Florida says we’re supposed to bail them out. We versus them. We’re supposed to bail them out. It’s we and it’s them. That’s not right. Who is we and who is them? Who is we? And who is them? Them, the people who had coronavirus. They are the ones who had the coronavirus. We, without the virus, are supposed to bail out those people who have the virus. what an ugly sentiment.
“First of all, on the facts, it’s not even close to right and why they would even want to go down this road when the facts damn everything they’re saying. And there are still facts. I know it’s hard to communicate facts in this environment. I know a lot of the filters don’t communicate facts. They all communicate spin now. Everybody has their own spin. But there are still facts that are not political theater, right? New York State bails them out every year. They’re not bailing us out. We bail them out every year. New York State pays $29 billion into that federal pot, $29 billion more every year that we never get back. Our state contribution into the federal pot, the United States of America pot, every year we put in $29 billion more than we take out. On the other hand, they take out every year $37 billion more than they pay to the federal government. Senator Mitch McConnell, you are bailing out New York, when every year you take out more from the kitty, the federal pot, $37 billion more than you put in? Who is bailing out whom?
“Senator Scott, Florida, you’re going to bail us out? You take out $30 billion more every year than you pay in. How dare they? How dare they when those are the facts? How long are you going to play the American people and assume they’re stupid? They are not and they can add and they know facts. And I don’t care what the news media tries to do to distort these facts. They are numbers, and they are facts, and they can’t be distorted, and this is every year.
“Look, what this is really about, it’s the Washington double speak. You look at the bills that they want to pass and who they want to help. They want to fund the hotels, the restaurants, the airlines, the big corporations. That’s who they want to fund. Who do state and local governments fund? State and local governments fund police, firefighters, nurses, school teachers, food banks. That’s who I want to fund and that’s what it means to fund a state and local government. And that’s the choice they’re making. Everybody applauds the health care workers. Jets fly over in tribute to the health care workers. That’s all nice. Saying thank you is nice. How about actually rewarding them and making their life easier? How about giving them hazard pay? How about helping with their childcare? How about helping families who can’t feed their kids right now? How about helping the police, and helping the firefighters, and all the people who are out there right now killing themselves to make life easier for us?
“That’s what this is really about. They want to fund corporate America. That’s who puts money in their pockets. And I say let’s fund working Americans. That’s the choice. Bail out us, them. No, it’s just theater. It’s just smoke and mirrors to avoid the American people seeing the reality, which is whose pocket they want to put money in, versus whose pocket state and local governments want to fund.
“The reason that it’s so disturbing to me, I’m not surprised by anything in politics. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly for many, many years. I was in Washington for eight years. I know what it’s like. But if there was ever a time that one could reasonably believe you could put aside partisan politics. If there was ever going to be a moment where we could say, you know what, let’s stop just for one moment the partisanship, the ugliness, the anger, the deception. Let’s just stop for one moment. If there was going to be one moment to hit the pause button, the moment would be now. You have human suffering. You have people dying. You can’t stop the politics even in this moment? Even in this moment when people are dying all across the country, you still want to play your politics? That’s what this is about, and that’s why it is so disturbing on a fundamental level. Politics, I’m getting up and I’m reading that death toll number. I’m speaking to the widows and the brothers and the sisters and the children of people who died, and then we’re going to play politics with funding that’s necessary to save people’s lives? When does it stop?
“And the disconnect is between the political leadership and the people, because the American people, it’s not them. They are principled, they are kind, they are better than what they are getting. The American instinct is to help each other in crisis. The American instinct is to be good neighbors. The American instinct is the farmer who sent me the one mask to help a New Yorker when he only had five masks and a wife with one lung and underlying illness. And he sends one of his five masks to New York. Think about that generosity, that charity, that spirit. That’s America. Why? Because we’re good neighbors, because we care about one another.
“America was when I said we need help in our emergency rooms and hospitals and 95,000 nurses and doctors from across the nation said we will come to New York to help. We’ll come into the emergency room. We’ll come into the hospital. I understand it’s COVID I will leave my family, and I will come to help yours. That’s America. That’s who we are and that’s who we have shown ourselves to be in the middle of this crisis. The crisis brings out the best and the worst, yes. And the best of America is beautiful and that’s what we’ve seen. Because, yes, we are tough. Yes, we are smart. Yes, we are disciplined. Yes, we are united. Yes, we’re loving, loving, because we are Americans. And that’s who we are and how we are as Americans. And I just hope the political leadership of this nation understands how good we are as a people.
“And the textbook says politicians lead, elected officials lead. No, sometimes the people lead and the politicians follow, and that’s where we are today. Follow the American people. Look at what they’re doing. Look at how they’re reacting. And politicians, try to be half as good as the American people. I want to show you a self-portrait that was done by American people. This is a self-portrait of America, okay? That’s a self-portrait of America,” Cuomo said opening a curtain that revealed a collage of protective face masks.
“We received thousands of masks from all across America, unsolicited, in the mail, homemade, creative, personal, with beautiful notes from all across the country, literally. Just saying, thinking about you, ‘We care, we love you, we want to help.’ And this is just people’s way of saying we care. And we want to help. This is what this country is about. And this is what Americans are about. A little bit more of this and a little bit less of the partisanship and the ugliness, and this country will be a better place.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo gave specific detail for a phased reopening of the economy, starting in regions of the state which are comparatively unscathed, compared to downstate – New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, Rockland and Westchester counties north of the city, where the number of COVID-19 cases exceeds every other nation.
He said that the “spigot” to reopen the state’s economy would be based on data, not politics or emotion – and would depend on area hospitals having 30 percent capacity available after re-starting elective surgery, and the rate of transmission staying below 1:1 (one person infecting one other person).
Testing is being ramped up from 20,000 a day to 30,000, to a goal of 40,000.
Using this criteria, 35 counties have been approved to resume elective outpatient treatments – necessary to help hospitals’ finances. The Governor previously announced that the state will allow elective outpatient treatments to resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term. The counties now eligible are: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chenango, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Putnam, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
“We have made tremendous progress to stop the spread of this infection, but we are not out of the woods yet and we need to proceed with caution as we begin our re-opening plan,” Governor Cuomo said.”We know testing is key to re-opening New York – it is the indicator that will show if we are keeping the infection rate down throughout the re-opening process. We have been more aggressive than any state or nation in the world on testing and we are now halfway to our goal of doubling our testing capacity from 20,000 per day to 40,000 per day, but we still have more work to do.”
Cuomo provided the specific 12-point guidelines for the phased plan to re-open New York on a regional basis. Each region of the state – Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Long Island, Southern Tier and Western New York – must follow these guidelines as part of the re-opening plan.
CDC Guidelines: Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening.
Industries: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.
Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a known COVID-positive person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.
Tracing System: There must be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with other surrounding regions.
Regional Control Rooms: Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its control room to monitor regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, PPE burn rate and businesses.
Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.
“Our reopening is different,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have a conceptual plan. We don’t have an abstract plan because there is no conceptual plan, there is no abstract plan. You have to have a plan that is based on facts, based on specifics. This is not about politics, this is not about spin, this is not about emotion. There are no conspiracy theories at work here. We outlined a 12-step plan that is factual, that is based on numbers, based on data and then it has a numerical circuit breaker that is not subject to personal emotion or desire, but just checks and monitors that infection rate that we just saw in Germany and is watching for those increases.”
Governor Cuomo also announced the creation of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board to help guide the state’s re-opening strategy. The advisory board will be chaired by Former Secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow and includes over 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state. A list of the members of the advisory board is available here.
Former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party’s ticket for President (winning 3 million more votes and the most votes of any white male candidate to run for president, who Biden introduced as “The woman who should be president now”), endorsed Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy for president during a Women for Biden town hall, saying, “More than ever, these tumultuous times reveal how desperately we need level-headed, solutions-oriented leadership. We need someone who listens to scientists, who acts with kindness and compassion, and who recognizes that America can and must lead the world in responding to this pandemic.
“The world today looks very different than the one so many of us fought for in 2016. Like many of you, I’m concerned — not only about our current health crisis, but about the deep-seated problems in our democracy that it lays bare, from inequity in our health care system to the high-wire act demanded of too many working parents.
“When I think about who I want leading us through this challenging time, there is no question: Joe Biden has the bold ideas, the smart plans, and most of all, the character to tackle this crisis and any others that come our way.”
The two discussed many issues of particular concern to women, including women’s reproductive rights and access to affordable health care, pay parity, food security, protection from domestic violence at a time of enforced sheltering with an abuser, and most significantly, how women, who make up the vast majority of health workers, frontline workers and minimum wage earners, are the most in need of protection during this health and financial crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic. And have been most derided and held in contempt by Trump and his administration.
“80% of all healthcare workers are women, one out of three jobs held by women has been classified as essential.” Clinton said. “This is an issue that affects all of us, young and old, every background, walk of life, but has disproportionate impact on women on frontlines, working, caring for others, holding down their home.”
Noting that there has been a rise in domestic abuse as women are forced to shelter with their abusers amid a time of increased stress, she noted that Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act during the Clinton administration.
“Violence against women, a huge problem, has been one of leading causes of my life,” Biden said. “ wrote the law, met thousands of abused, know the suffering they are experiencing, how much courage they have. Our support has to match the courage they show every day and let them know they are not alone.” He flashed the number for the national domestic hotline, 800-799-SAFE, but because women may be too afraid to call, they can also text Love to 22522, or chat online (thehotline.org).
“I add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be president,” Clinton said. “What a difference it would make now if we had a president who not only listened to science, facts over fiction, but brought us together, showed us the kind of compassion, caring we need from our president, which Joe Biden has exemplified throughout his life. What it would mean if had real president, not someone who plays one on TV, but someone who wakes every morning, worried about people responsible for leading.”
Immediately after the town hall, the Biden campaign released a fact sheet highlighting Biden’s plans to support women during the COVID-19 crisis: – Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Highlights of Biden Plans to Support Women
Women in the United States are acutely impacted by this pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed and are worried about making ends meet. Others are doing essential work that has so often been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued. And, while this virus can hit anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t impact every community equally. It hits hardest those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources, including women of color and low-income women.
We cannot unsee what this pandemic has highlighted about the way our society fails women and their families. As President, Joe Biden will act so that essential workers are safe. He will act so women don’t struggle as much financially through the pandemic. He will act so women can get the health care they need and domestic violence survivors have a safe place to call home. And, he will act so that when the United States begins to recover from COVID-19, women are not left out of the recovery.
Joe Biden has long been a champion for women — for their safety, their health care, their paychecks, and their families. He has released several plans that support women through a decisive response to the COVID-19 crisis at joebiden.com/covid19-leadership. Biden is calling for the following steps to be taken immediately to support women and families. As this crisis continues and evolves over the coming weeks and months, Biden will release additional plans and proposals to address the challenges facing women as a result of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Women are working in essential jobs in overwhelming numbers — as health care providers, home health aides, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, grocery store workers, and so many more. One in three jobs held by women are essential, and women of color are the most likely to have those jobs. These women are the best of America — running toward the danger, lifting people up when they are at their most vulnerable, and fighting to protect the health and safety of their neighbors. That’s always been true—but now there’s not a single person across this country who doesn’t see exactly what they are: heroes.
It’s unconscionable that the Trump Administration has failed to do everything in its power to protect the health, safety, and well-being of women working on the frontlines. If Biden was President today, he would:
Get our essential workers the protective equipment, testing, and support they need to reduce their risk of getting infected by the virus. All essential workers — health care workers, first responders, homecare workers, child care workers, domestic violence and other social service workers, pharmacy workers, government workers, postal workers, farmworkers, food packagers and processors, grocery store clerks, transportation workers, and many more — should have priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus. The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks and other PPE for all essential workers by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should appoint and empower a Supply Commander to take control of the national supply chain for essential equipment and gear and to ensure equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
Implement and enforce standards to keep all women safe on the frontlines and ensure that their civil rights are protected. Biden would direct his Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure employers provide safe workplaces, and his Administration would work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers. He would also ensure the needs of vulnerable populations are considered in the enforcement of all federal workplace protections. This means funding robust enforcement of civil rights protections, including under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, and fighting to secure passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to better ensure pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace so they don’t have to choose between work and their health. Biden would also extend Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deadlines for women to file discrimination and harassment complaints during and after the pandemic.
Provide a boost in essential workers’ paychecks. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work, in addition to a permanent $15 minimum wage and overtime protections. Women, who make up the vast majority of the low-wage workforce, should never have to worry about making ends meet for their families — and especially not while protecting our communities during a pandemic.
Ensure all essential workers qualify for child care assistance and other emergency support.
Provide every worker with emergency paid leave so workers don’t have to go to work because they’re worried about a paycheck. Biden would provide all workers – no exceptions – paid leave for 14 days or for the duration of their quarantine or isolation, while also ensuring that employers will not bear any additional costs for such additional leave in the midst of this crisis.
PROTECT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY
Hospitality workers, service industry workers, and millions of other women have already lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of this pandemic. Women — many of whom were economically insecure even before the crisis — are worried about making rent, paying bills, and keeping food on the table while waiting for relief checks. If Biden was President today, he would:
Keep as many women on payroll as possible by transforming unemployment insurance into Employment Insurance for millions of workers. Biden would take steps to get all 50 states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Here’s how it works: A business keeps a worker on payroll, but at reduced hours – and the federal government makes up the difference in their wages. The worker gets the same pay – but the burden on the business is much less. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach – so far more than half of states have created work-sharing programs. The Trump Administration should boost assistance to them, to save or restore millions of jobs.
Make women who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. Biden would create a “Banks Defense Production Act” to make sure the banks that work with states prioritize and deliver unemployment payments quickly and require the use of electronic payments and prepaid debit cards to deliver direct cash relief fast. Families shouldn’t have to wait for President Trump to sign a check. Biden would also work with Congress to extend the boosted unemployment benefits (the extra $600) for however long this crisis lasts.
Ensure that all small businesses – not just those with the right connections – can access relief quickly. On April 3, Biden asked the Trump Administration to “produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.” They have not done so. It is unacceptable to have a small business program that is leaving minority and women business owners out in the cold, and that firms with fewer than 20 employees have received only about 20% of the first allotment of funding disbursed from the Paycheck Protection Program – even though they make up about one third of payroll.
Ensure housing security, including by immediately freezing rent for qualifying individuals and halting foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet during this crisis.
Forgive at least $10,000 of student debt per person through the duration of the crisis, including for women, who hold two-thirds of all student debt in America.
Ensure food security by increasing SNAP benefits by 15% during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
Boost Social Security payments to $200 per month to help older women with any additional expenses they may incur during the pandemic.
Provide additional funds to state, local and tribal governments that are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Biden would make sure the federal government helps communities with their public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety. Biden would also expand assistance to schools facing extra costs – particularly Title I schools — including efforts to continue remote education or remote activities normally done after-school.
PROTECT CAREGIVERS AND ACCESS TO CHILD CARE AND LONG-TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the burdens of caring for their families, and they make up the vast majority of the care workforce. Many women are taking care of children, as well as elderly parents. If they are lucky enough to have a job during this crisis, they may not be able to take paid time off to care for sick loved ones. Meanwhile, many care facilities, especially child care providers, have been forced to close their doors.
If businesses that provide care do not survive the pandemic, it will be harder for women to go back to work when we recover. It will be even more difficult for the women who make a living by providing care to get by. We must protect workers who are caring for others during the pandemic, and move aggressively to shore up our care infrastructure so it can better support families during the recovery.
Prioritize child care providers, home health care workers, direct support professionals, personal care attendants and other care workers for personal protective equipment and supplies, testing, and premium pay, depending on their risk of exposure. The nature of care work makes social distancing challenging, and we owe these caregivers the safety protections they need.
Protect and Expand the Availability of Long-Term Services and Supports. The majority of family caregivers – those caring for a loved one with a disability or chronic condition – are women. Caregiving imposes significant costs – economic and health-related – on these women. At the same time, the risk of getting COVID-19 is even greater for older Americans and individuals with disabilities living in group homes and other care facilities, increasing the demand for care in a home and community-based setting. Biden would increase resources to enable more seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their own home and community.
PROTECT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, INCLUDING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The pandemic has put additional stress on women’s ability to access the health care they need. Before the pandemic, roughly one in four women experienced financial barriers to accessing health care. As women are now laid off or face wage cuts, they may have even more trouble paying for health care. At the same time, several states have used the crisis as an excuse to restrict women’s access to reproductive health, including timely and essential abortion care. The Trump Administration and all states must ensure all women have access to all the health care they need. Building on Joe Biden’s plan to protect and build on Obamacare [read the full plan at: joebiden.com/healthcare], as President, Biden would:
Ensure access to health care by:
Ramping up testing and ensuring that not only testing, but also treatment and any eventual vaccine for COVID-19, is free for all individuals regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Collecting racial, gender and ethnic data on testing and treatment so we can identify and address disparities.
Helping women who have been laid-off keep their health insurance by picking up the full cost of COBRA premiums.
Opening a new Obamacare enrollment period, so women who so badly need insurance can get it, instead of fighting in the courts to gut that landmark law like the Trump Administration is doing.
Stop states from using the pandemic to curtail access to abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association agree that states should not be using the pandemic as an excuse to delay abortions. In this case, health care delayed means health care denied. States should not be using a public health crisis to infringe on women’s constitutional rights. If Biden was President today, he would put science over fiction and ensure states treat abortion as the essential health service it is. This builds on his existing women’s health care agenda. His Justice Department will stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade. And, he will work to codify Roe, repeal the Hyde Amendment, restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including through Medicaid and Title X, and restore access to contraception coverage.
Reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will take the California strategy nationwide. And, he will expand access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most, providing access to a public option and doubling America’s investment in community health centers.
SUPPORT SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND PROTECT CHILDREN AND YOUTH AT-RISK FOR ABUSE
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk for domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse for women and girls nationwide. For many women and children, home is not a safe place, and sheltering in place restrictions further isolate those at risk of domestic violence. At the same time, community-based supports like domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, and child advocacy centers have had to limit in-person services to keep staff and clients safe, while adapting to provide text, chat, and phone-based assistance. The economic fallout of the pandemic will likely increase financial insecurity for survivors, creating further obstacles for leaving an abusive relationship. Shelters and other service providers need support to adapt to the pandemic, and keep pace with the increased demand for assistance to survivors that is expected to only go up after the lockdowns have been lifted.
Survivors and the courageous frontline advocates working to ensure their safety need immediate support. While Biden would work with Congress to provide additional funding, women and vulnerable youth across the country cannot wait another day for the support they need. He would do everything in his power to immediately get funding to service providers and survivors, including by enlisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and he would encourage governors to recognize survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse as vulnerable populations in need of state funding.
Provide survivors and their children with a safe place to live, and support shelter staff and residents to stay healthy. Not everyone has a safe place to call home. Shelters, which often have shared bathrooms and communal cooking spaces, need new avenues for providing survivors with a safe living space that adheres to social distancing requirements. Biden would:
Empower FEMA to work with states toimmediately increase shelter options, including contracting with hotels and motels and providing shelter modifications like sleeping and bathroom trailers.
Encourage states to ensure all shelters, not just the larger ones, receive funding. Smaller shelters serving communities of color, tribal programs, or shelters for immigrant and refugee survivors may have less capacity to access federal grant funding and need support.
Fund programs providing shelters and other housing options including the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), VAWA transitional housing, Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Domestic Violence Bonus to provide housing for survivors experiencing homelessness, and VAWA emergency transfer tenant protection voucher assistance for rental assistance for survivors.
Provide personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to victim services providers, including domestic violence and sexual assault programs, child welfare professionals, and other essential social services workers.
Expand the safety net for survivors – including by providing cash assistance, unemployment insurance flexible to their needs, and paid safe days and sick leave – as well as ensuring service providers who support them have adequate health coverage, paid sick leave, and overtime compensation.
Provideemergency cash assistance to survivors through grants to community-based organizations, and make longer-term investments in cash assistance, as Biden called for in November in his plan to End Violence Against Women. Biden would also direct FEMA to work with states to provide shelters with food, including prepared food.
Work to ensure that survivors who quit their job because they are unable to telework are able to access and obtain unemployment insurance from the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Provide safe days and 12 weeks of paid safe leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking who need time to seek physical or mental care, seek counsel, find new housing, or take other action related to the violence they experienced.
Provideemergency funding to the Office on Violence Against Women for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, ensuring enhanced funding streams for tribes and culturally specific victim services, and provide funding for non-residential programs, in addition to shelters, under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
Ensure survivors are able to access and service providers are able to provide remote victim advocacy through text, chat, phone, and other virtual services.
Provide funding to expand the reach of the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s texting and chat services, and create a texting service for the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Assault Hotline are both available to those that need it. For those who cannot call their local shelter or the hotline because they are living in close proximity with the person harming them, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers both online chat and texting services, the latter of which Biden premiered in 2011 by sending the first text ever for the service. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers chat-based support; Biden would fund a texting service. He would also provide funding for both hotlines to hire more advocates.
Ensure service providers and survivors have all the tools they need to connect virtually and safely. Domestic violence and sexual violence programs, including rape crisis centers, offer tele-advocacy and crisis support through text, chat, video, and phone services. To do this, they need technology including computers, upgraded broadband, hotspots, teleconferencing licenses, and other software licenses. And although technology-based services have the benefit of reaching survivors where they are, they also introduce new risks for victim privacy, safety, and confidentiality and need support to mitigate those risks. As President, Biden would:
Get technology to service providers immediately. Biden would direct FEMA to consider technology that is eligible for emergency support and work with Congress to increase funding for domestic violence and sexual assault service programs, including for the Sexual Assault Services Program and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act so they can boost their capacity to provide virtual services. And he would leverage private-public partnerships where possible.
Expand the Office on Violence Against Women’s training and technical assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault programs so that service providers can safely use technology-based services with survivors.
The Federal Communication Commission should reverse changes that reduced access to wireless service to people who need it most — including domestic violence survivors. The Lifeline program offers low-income adults subsidies for wireless services, but under the Trump Administration, the FCC scaled back help from this program. In November, Biden called for the FCC to reform its Lifeline program to increase the number of participating broadband providers, reduce fraud and abuse, and ultimately offer more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. And now, connection couldn’t be more important.
Ensure telehealth is widely accessible to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including through expanded funding for Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, and pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Exams for child victims of sexual abuse.
Ensure that people who need it most and are often underserved are receiving funding.
Expand funding for culturally specific services. Since 2005, the Violence Against Women Act has funded domestic and sexual violence programs offering trauma-informed and culturally specific services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. Given the pandemic’s disparate impact on communities of color, it is imperative these programs have all the funding they need.
Protect immigrant women. In addition to ensuring that testing and treatment for COVID-19 is readily available to everyone, regardless of immigration status or English-language ability, Biden would take proactive steps to protect immigrant women, who are often the most vulnerable and least able to access supportive resources. The Trump Administration should immediately halt the implementation of its un-American new Public Charge rules, which may discourage immigrant women from seeking vital food and housing support they need to remain safe and healthy. It should also automatically extend immigration statuses and work authorizations set to expire within one year of the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, and Congress should ensure that no immigrant who loses their status during this time, or during the 90 days after the national emergency declaration is ended, accrues unlawful presence that could impact their future immigration status. The Trump Administration should also follow the recommendation of public health officials and vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention who pose no risk to the community. Neither should Trump be wasting resources on ICE enforcement actions to terrorize immigrant families, especially during a pandemic. Sensitive locations should always be protected against ICE actions, and immigrant survivors who have applied for protection under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act should not be detained or deported while their applications are in process.
Ensure tribes receive sufficient resources in all funding streams, and reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured tribal governments have the power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence non-Native Americans who assault indigenous women on tribal lands, through the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. This must be reaffirmed, and the federal government should provide emergency financial support to tribal governments and service providers so they can support Native women.
Make services accessible for older survivors and survivors with disabilities. Funding should be provided to ensure remote advocacy services are accessible to people who often cannot or do not wish to leave home, including for the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline and other adaptive and inclusive services for survivors who need accommodation.
Enhance protections for vulnerable children and youth at-risk for abuse. Before the pandemic, at-risk kids had protective support from teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who were most likely to report abuse. Now, families are homebound under increasingly stressful circumstances, adding to the risk of child abuse or neglect. The National Parent Helpline is available to support overwhelmed parents and caregivers. As President, Biden would work with Congress to fund the Helpline to add texting service, as well as increase funding for child advocacy centers, and other child welfare programs that prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.
Establish an Emergency Anti-Violence Task Force that includes representatives of advocacy groups, community-based organizations, and state and local governments, along with legal, housing, and public health experts, to consult with stakeholders, track the unique problems happening now, identify best practices and guidance for responding to them, work with agencies and Congress to adapt to them, and eventually create a report with both an analysis of the problems faced during the pandemic and shortcomings of policy levers, as well as a roadmap for future emergencies. The Task Force would also immediately work on ways to help leverage the private sector to play a role in the response. As President, Biden would immediately task his Office on Violence Against Women with using this information to create a preparedness plan for future national emergency, which should include ways to make programs and funding streams sufficiently flexible, and to determine ways to leverage public-private partnerships, such as with hotel chains and technology and telecommunications companies.
Ensure an Equitable Recovery Women and people of color have historically been left out or left behind in times of recovery — and we can’t make that mistake again. To rebuild a stronger, more inclusive middle class that will make our economy more resilient in any future crisis, when it comes time for economic recovery we must:
Require jurisdictions that receive funding to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial and gender disparities, and the Small Business Administration and Treasury should similarly track Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA program lending to ensure that minority and women business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are treated fairly.
Stop the exploitation of low-wage workers – most of whom are women – and who everyone now sees are essential and should be compensated as such. Biden will increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, ensure overtime protections, and dismantle the barriers to higher-paying jobs for these workers.
Finish the Obama-Biden Administration’s work on ending unequal pay. The first bill signed into law during the Obama-Biden administration was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to fight back if they were unfairly paid less than their male coworkers. The Obama-Biden Administration also protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will build on this critical work by increasing pay transparency, making it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shifting the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increasing penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.
Provide access to affordable, high quality child care. Biden will increase the child care tax credit to as much as $8,000 per family and expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care. And, he will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and national summer jobs programs, to keep kids active and learning after school hours. Biden also will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds.
Permanently provide family, medical, and safe leave as well as sick and safe days. As President, Biden will work to provide the type of comprehensive 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave envisioned in the FAMILY Act sponsored by Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Biden will pay for this proposal by returning the estate tax to 2009 levels. Biden will also work to provide the type of coverage in the Healthy Families Act spearheaded by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray, which will ensure workers receive seven days of paid sick leave for routine personal and family health needs, as well as time for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek services.
Ensure women have access to fair and flexible scheduling, in addition to providing permanent paid sick and safe leave, and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Transform our education system by tripling funding for disadvantaged schools, fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, offering universal pre-K, providing 4 years of tuition at public colleges and under-resourced Minority Serving Institutions to families earning less than $125K per year, investing in community college and workforce training, and easing the burden of student debt.
Protect and build on Obamacare, ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance.
Provide retirement security. Biden will preserve and strengthen Social Security, including by providing a higher benefit for the oldest Americans, protecting widows and widowers from steep cuts in benefits, and eliminating penalties for teachers and other public-sector workers. And he’ll allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market.
Expand long overdue rights to domestic workers and farmworkers. More than a million women and 700,000 women farmworkers – many of whom are immigrants – care for our children, elderly, and people with disabilities, and pick our fruits and vegetables so we can put food on the table. Now more than ever the world sees just how essential they are. But they have far too long been left out of basic workplace protections. Biden will change that, starting by signing into law:
Senator Harris and Congresswoman Jayapal’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which, among other things, establishes a federal wage and standard board to set fair wage levels and define working conditions for domestic workers across the United States;
and Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act, to help provide immigrant women who are feeding the nation a path to legal status, workplace protections, and much-needed housing support.
He will also protect the pay of migrant farmworkers, unlike the Trump Administration, which has considered cutting it during a pandemic.
Address International Impacts of the Pandemic
COVID-19 isn’t just a threat to women across the United States. This is a global health crisis that also disproportionately impacts women around the globe. Domestic violence is rising, both in the developed world and in the developing world. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, violence against women reports have increased 225% during lockdowns, while in Afghanistan, domestic violence rates that were already as high as 50% are compounded by reports of women’s shelters shutting down to protect against the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, women constitute an estimated 70% of workers in the health and social sectors globally, putting them on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 and increasing their risk of contracting the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to mean dramatically increased caregiving responsibilities for women, extended unemployment, and lost business and income as well as greater income inequality. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 provides insight into the impacts we can expect to see on adolescent girls, which include an increased vulnerability to physical and sexual abuse, an increase in domestic responsibilities, a loss of pathways to prevent child marriage or early childbearing, and a lower rate of return to school, limiting economic opportunity. And, among the more than 70 million displaced people around the world, women and girls are already among the most vulnerable. Now, in fragile states, displaced persons camps, or tightly populated migrant neighborhoods, they are among the least able to protect themselves against COVID-19. A Biden Administration will reassert global leadership and return a government-wide focus to championing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by:
Elevating the voices of women in the response. As President, Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead efforts globally, leveraging their expertise, networks and skills to optimize the global response and recovery.
Prioritizing responses to gender-based violence internationally, human trafficking, and survivors’ lack of access to humanitarian assistance and employment opportunities. In addition, as President, Joe Biden will ensure that domestic violence victims once again have a pathway to claim asylum and will support the Safe from the Start Act, which calls for attention to preventing gender-based violence in humanitarian response.
Ensuring that global health and humanitarian aid prioritize women and remove barriers to accessing reproductive health services. As President, Biden will call on leaders globally to ensure that “essential services” — including sexual and reproductive health clinics, domestic violence shelters, and abortion service providers — remain available to serve women.
Calling for an expanded emphasis on education for girls and boys in refugee and displaced persons camps and supporting programs generally to help teachers, school staff, and communities implement inclusive learning methods for girls, reinforcing the message that girls and boys need equal access to opportunities. Already, research warns that girls in many countries will be less likely to go back to school once this pandemic ends. As President, Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Essential workers are providing life-saving medical care, cleaning our hospital rooms, delivering our food and other essential goods, stocking our grocery store shelves, getting us from place to place, keeping our cities’ lights on, and so much more. They have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.
Joe Biden has said since the beginning of this campaign that American workers are the heart and soul of this country— too often, though, we’ve taken these workers and the work they do for granted.
But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted this critical truth: all across this nation, it’s often our lowest-paid workers who have stepped up during this crisis.
Donald Trump’s foot-dragging and delays have only made it more challenging for workers.
These workers are putting themselves on the line every day. They are essential to our society – in times of crisis and beyond, and deserve not just our thanks and respect, but our support.
Joe Biden has a bold agenda to give these workers the long-term support they deserve — raising wages, guaranteeing quality, affordable health care, providing free tuition for public higher education, and encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
But these workers can’t wait. They need emergency help now. Today, Joe Biden is calling on President Trump’s Administration to take four immediate actions to protect and support our essential workers:
(1) Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
(2) Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.
The Trump Administration should ramp up capacity to produce masks for all frontline workers – from health care workers to grocery store workers – by fully using the Defense Production Act. And, the Trump Administration should fully empower a Supply Commander to coordinate the production and delivery of essential supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The Supply Commander would be tasked with ensuring equitable distribution so that at-risk communities and particularly vulnerable populations are fully taken care of.
(3) Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.
During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then, OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. The Trump Administration has only started enforcement efforts this week and is still refusing to do everything it can and should to protect workers’ health and safety.
The Trump Administration should:
Immediately release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) to give employers and frontline employees specific, enforceable guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID.
Finalize a permanent infectious disease standard. After H1N1, the Obama-Biden Administration spent years preparing a new, permanent infectious disease standard, which would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. It handed it to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, it readily shelved it. They should immediately get to work bringing it to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces.
Double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines. Under President Trump, OSHA currently has record low inspectors. Given the exigencies of this crisis, and the need for rigorous enforcement of workplace standards across the country, at least twice the number of inspectors are needed.
Work closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers.
(4) Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk.
There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. The Trump Administration should immediately work with Congress to pass a bold premium pay initiative. Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Joe Biden called for in his March 12 plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.
In the face of a dangerous uptick of domestic violence incidents, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the immediate modernization of the state’s domestic violence hotline with a new text program and confidential online service to aid victims of abuse and provide potential lifesaving ways to get help. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary social distancing guidelines, domestic violence victims are even more vulnerable and unsafe while isolated at home without being able to get away from their abuser and there has been a reported uptick in the number of domestic violence cases in the state. Calls to the state’s domestic violence hotline are up 30 percent in April compared to last year and calls increased 18 percent from February to March 2020. State Police also report domestic violence incident calls were up 15 percent in March compared to last year.
For many victims, making a phone call to get help or accessing services may be impossible because their abuser can easily monitor their calls. The new text program and confidential online service will make it easier for these victims in isolation to contact the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and get the help they need.
New Yorkers seeking help can text 844-997-2121 or chat with a professional on the new confidential website at www.opdv.ny.gov. The text and online services will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with OPDV staff who are experts in the area of domestic violence.
“New Yorkers are living through an unimaginably stressful period and we’re seeing signs that domestic violence is on the rise as victims are stuck at home with their abusers and unable to access the help they need,” Governor Cuomo said.”We’ve been working with state agencies to help address this issue and provide more resources, and this new text program and confidential online service will help make it easier for victims to get the help they need and get out of potentially dangerous situations.”
“The reality is that abuse victims are often closely surveilled by their abuser,” Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said. “In New York, no one should be at risk because they can’t find a way to make their need for help known. The text and online confidential service programs we are rolling out today will provide additional and better methods for victims of domestic violence to get the help and intervention they need when they need it.”
Since NYS on PAUSE went into effect, OPDV and many state agency partners have been working diligently to pursue strategies for putting safety information in front of victims in places that such information would not normally be available, including on social media accounts of public utilities or tax/finance. Additionally, major efforts have been underway to get safety flyers with the Hotline number hung up in essential retailers, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and home repair stores, among others.
Such social services, though, would be in jeopardy because of the extraordinary financial crisis that New York State, with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country and the world, is experiencing. The Governor outlined the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state. New York State revenues are estimated to decline by $13.3 billion – or 14 percent – from the Executive Budget forecast. Additionally, the revenues are estimated to decline by $61 billion over the financial plan period of FY 2021 to FY 2024.
New York State faces extraordinary costs to address the coronavirus pandemic at the same time revenues have come to a virtual halt. That is forcing Governor Cuomo to contemplate what cuts could be made.
“New York State was not, quote, unquote, in trouble before this happened,” Cuomo said. “New York State was very, very strong before this happened. Our economy was growing. It was growing at a very high rate. Our government spending has been at record lows. The spending increases. Our taxes today are lower than the day I took office….
“And then this economic tsunami hits and you shut down all the businesses, everybody stays home, they’re not getting a paycheck. They feel economic anxiety. The consequence to the state is the revenue projections are way down. What do we do about it?”
But despite passing nearly $3 trillion in economic stimulus virtually all of it going to businesses, Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell said he has no intention of bailing out “blue states.” States, he said, should go bankrupt, instead.
Cuomo, during his press briefing, said that states are not allowed to declare bankruptcy – that would require McConnell to pass a law and for Trump to sign it.
“It’s a really dumb idea. People are trying to talk about bringing the economy back, reopen, we have to get the economy moving again. And then rather than provide financial aid to the states that got hit by this economic tsunami through no fault of their own, the suggestion was made, states should declare bankruptcy. A few problems with that premise. Forget the morality of it and the ethics of it and the absurdity of it and the meanness of it. Legally, a state can’t declare bankruptcy. You would need a federal law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. So to the Senate that proposed it, I say pass a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. I dare you. And let the President sign that bill that says, ‘I give the states the legal ability to declare bankruptcy.’
“You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? You want to send an international message that the economy is in turmoil? Do that, allow states to declare bankruptcy legally because you passed the bill. It will be the first time in our nation’s history that that happened. I dare you to do that. And then we’ll see how many states actually take you up on it. I know I wouldn’t. But if you believe what you said, and you have the courage of conviction because you’re a man of your word, pass that bill if you weren’t just playing politics. We’ll see how long it takes him to do it.”
Meanwhile, the Governor is addressing voting. “We still have elections in the midst of all this chaos. We have seen elections held where we had people on lines for a long period of time. It makes no sense to me to tell people you have to put your life at risk, violate social distancing to come out to vote. So, we passed an executive order that said you can vote by absentee. Today, I’m asking the Board of Elections to send every New York voter what’s called a – automatically receives a postage paid application for a ballot. If you want to vote, we should send you a ballot so you can vote, so you don’t have to come out and get in a line.
“Then looking ahead, more testing. We’re making great progress on that. New York State is doing more testing than any state in the country right now. New York State is doing more tests than any country per capita on the globe right now. That is what will educate our moving forward. Watch the spread of the virus. It’s getting warmer, more people are going to be coming out of their homes. That’s going to happen naturally. Watch that spread. Testing gives you those numbers on an ongoing basis. Maintain social distancing. Also, plan on a reopening and not just reopening what was.”
Cuomo stressed, as he has done in the past, that coming out of this “horrific experience” should be “a period of growth. It should be a period of reflection. If we’re smart and we use it that way, there are lessons to learn here if we’re smart and we have the courage to look in the mirror. We went through 9/11. We were smarter for it. We went through World War II. We were the better for it. We went through Superstorm Sandy. We learned, we grew and we were the better for it. We should do the same thing here. People have totally changed their lifestyle. What have we learned? How can we have a better health care system that can actually handle public health emergencies? How do we have a better transportation system? How do we have a smarter telemedicine system? How do we use technology and education better? Why do some children have to go to a parking lot to get Wi-Fi to do their homework? How do we learn from this and how do we grow?”
“And let New York lead the way because we’re New York tough. But New York tough, when they say we’re tough, yeah, we’re tough, but we think tough incorporates being smart and being disciplined and being unified and being loving.”
Virus Entered New York Through Europe
“People are also talking about a second wave, potential of a second wave. People are talking about potential for the virus to come back in the fall which means the game is not over which means the game could be just at halftime so let’s make sure we’re learning the lessons of what has happened thus far and let’s make sure we are being truthful with ourselves. Not that we are deceiving anyone else but let’s be truthful with ourselves. I don’t think we’re deceiving anyone else but let’s make sure we’re not deceiving ourselves. What has happened, what should we learn from as far as what has happened thus far so we make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again and let’s do that now.
“This was our first global pandemic. Welcome. There had been people who talked about global pandemics before. Bill Gates had talked about the potential of a global pandemic during the Obama Administration. They talked about being prepared for a global pandemic but it was almost always an academic exercise, what if, what if, what if. Once it happens, once it actualizes for people, then it’s different. Then people get it. We now know that a global pandemic is not just a text-book exercise, not just a table-top exercise. It can happen. When it happens, it’s devastating. Let’s just learn from what happened on the first one. Let’s just get the basic lesson of what happened on the first one.
“Last November, December, we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You can read about it in the newspapers. Everybody knew. January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington and California. February 2nd, the president ordered a travel ban from china. March 1st, we have the first confirmed case in the State of New York. By March 19th, New York State is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to closedown than the State of New York. March 16, we have a full travel ban from Europe.
“Researchers now find, and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February. And there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February. Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the State of New York. And, the coronavirus that came to New York did not come from China. It came from Europe.
“When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey, during January, February up to the closedown, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people.
“So November, December, you have the outbreak in China, everybody knows. January, February, flights are coming from Europe, people are also coming from China in January, until the China closedown. And the flights continue to come from Europe until the Europe shutdown. 2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey. We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China, waiting for us to act, two months later? We all talk about the global economy, and how fast people move, and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China, waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved.
“Research now says, knowing the number of flights coming to New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion. Those are the flights that were coming from Italy and from Europe, January and February. We closed the front door, with the China travel ban, which was right, even in retrospect it was right. But we left the back door open, because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban. That’s what the researchers are now saying, with 28,000 cases in the United States, 10,000 in New York.
“So, what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. When you see November and December, an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it’s in the United States. When they say it’s in China, just assume that virus got on a plane that night and flew to New York or flew to Newark airport, and it’s now in New York. That has to be the operating mentality. Because you don’t know that the virus didn’t get on a plane. All you need is one person to get on that plane in China and come to New York. The way this virus transfers, that’s all you need. And you can’t assume two months later the virus is still going to be sitting on a park bench in China waiting for you to get there. That is the lesson. And again, why do we need to learn the lesson? Because they’re talking about this happening again with this virus where it could mutate in China, and get on a plane, and come right back. Or the next virus, or the next pandemic.“
With testing and tracing COVID-19 cases critical before the state can begin to reopen its economy, New York State is launching large-scale antibody testing to help determine what percentage of the population is now immune to the virus who would then be able to go back to work.
Following a tour of the Northwell Testing Laboratory, in remarks at the Feinstein Research Center on the Northwell hospital campus on Sunday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the State Department of Health was beginning to conduct a statewide antibody testing survey. The testing survey will sample 3,000 people for a population of 19.5 million people (for context Germany performed a 3,000-person sample with a population of 83 million). Large-scale antibody testing will help determine the percentage of the population that is now immune to the virus, allowing more individuals to safely return to work.
“Any plan to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data and testing, and we have to make sure our antibody and diagnostic testing is up to the scale we need so we can safely get people back to work,” Governor Cuomo said.”We are going to start antibody testing across the state tomorrow – and we are going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation. This will be the first true snapshot of exactly how many people were infected by COVID-19 and where we are as a population and will help us to reopen and rebuild without jeopardizing what we’ve already accomplished.”
Cuomo cited the positive drops in numbers of infections, hospitalizations as deaths as proof that the policies have worked, that the state can “control the beast”. But that this is no time to get complacent.
“I get the political pressure that everybody is under. I get the political pressure that local officials are under. But we have to be smart and we have to be coordinated. People have to have the best government from government officials in the State of New York. Government matters today in a way it has not mattered in decades. And it is important that government sends the right signal and one message and there is no confusion. Because if people don’t have confidence in government right now, if they think there is chaos or confusion or politics, that would be a terrible message to send.
“We have done a great job as government officials – all of us – Democrat, Republican, state, local. We have to keep doing it. And now is not the time to send mixed messages. And also on a very parochial level, I get that in the conversations I’ve had people feel political pressure. Here is the simple answer. The State’s emergency powers now govern in this emergency. Blame me. Blame me. Somebody’s complaining about a beach, somebody’s complaining about whatever, businesses open, schools open, blame me. It’s true. It’s right. It’s the state law and I don’t have any issue with that. So blame me.
“Also, as we are planning the reopening, let’s set the bar a little higher. Let’s all start to think about this now. What did we learn during this? Personally, what did we learn? Socially, what did we learn? Collectively, what did we learn? And how do we incorporate that into our reopening? How do we have a better health care system when we reopen? How do we have a better transportation system, better telecommuting, a smarter telemedicine program? Better technology and education? How do we have more social equity?
“You can see the disparate effect of this disease and how it reinforced the disparity in the inequity in society. How do we remedy that? And how are we more cohesive as a community for having gone through this, right? It is not just reopen. It is not just build it back. It is advance. Use this as a moment in time where they look back, when they write the history books and they say oh boy, they went through a terrible time but they actually learned from it and they improved from it. They moved forward. We had 9/11. Yes, we built back.
“We built back different, we built back smarter. We had Hurricane Sandy, devastated Long Island. I was governor. I didn’t say we want to replace, I said we’re going to learn how to do a new grid system. We’re going to learn how to do better infrastructure. And we did. Long Island, today, is better for having gone through Hurricane Sandy as terrible as that was.
“We have to do the same thing here. How do we come back even better? So, the long and the short of it is thank you to all New Yorkers for all the good work. To our healthcare workers, a special thank you. To the police, to fire, to the transit workers. You know, the economy has not been closed down, right? All the essential services have still been functioning. You still can go to the grocery store and get food. Lord knows you could go to a healthcare institution and get healthcare. The transportation works, the buses work. All these people who kept everything working, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
“But also remember we still have more to do. New Yorkers know that because New Yorkers are tough, but tough doesn’t mean just tough. Tough is easy. It’s tough but smart, but disciplined, but unified, and but loving. That’s who we are as New Yorkers.”
Cuomo – along with Vice President Joe Biden – is proposing hazard pay for frontline workers, who have disproportionately suffered illness and death, are disproportionately women, people of color, in low-paying jobs and living in congested communities that have also not had the same access to medical care.”
No Time to Get Cocky
Cuomo reflected, “So the recent news is good. We are on the other side of the plateau and the numbers are coming down. But, that’s good news only compared to the terrible news that we were living with, which is that constant increase. And remember, you still have 1,300 people who walked into the hospitals yesterday testing positive. So, it’s no time to get cocky and it’s no time to get arrogant, right? We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. And this virus has been ahead of us every step of the way. We’ve been playing catch-up from day one in this situation. So it is no time to relax. And this is only halftime in this entire situation. We showed that we can control the beast and when you close down, you can actually slow that infection rate, but it is only halftime. We have to make sure we keep that beast under control, we keep that infection rate down, we keep that hospitalization rate down as we now all get very eager to get on with life and move on. So, it’s not over.
“We have a whole second phase and in this second phase, first, do no harm. Don’t jeopardize what you’ve already accomplished by seeing that infection rate increase. We have to be smarter, especially when it comes to the new frontier of testing and how we test and how aggressively and how we get that organized. And then when we talk about rebuilding, we have to talk about not just rebuilding, but let’s learn from this horrific experience. Let’s take these lessons forward and how do we build back better than before? I don’t want to have on all through this and then just say we are reopening. No, we have to open for a better future than we have ever had. And we have to learn from this. As we go through this, I know people are eager to get on with life. We have slowed the infection rate down to .9 percent. 0.9 percent means one person infects .9 percent of a person, less than one. That means the virus is slowing. If one person is infecting 1.2 people, the virus is increasing and is an epidemic and an outbreak and is out of control.”
So, we have a very small margin of error here, as we navigate going forward. Any plan that is going to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data, and that means it has to be based on testing. This is a new world for all of us. How do you get testing up to scale? How do you get it up to scale quickly and how do you find out where we really are right now in terms of this virus? You have all these scientists and experts who are basically trying to extrapolate from the data, but we don’t really know how any people were infected. How many people had coronavirus but self-resolved? We don’t really know, because we haven’t been able to do testing on that large a scale. But we are going to start, we are going to start here in the State of New York with antibody testing.
“Antibody testing means you test the person to find out if they have the antibodies if they were infected with the coronavirus. We are going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation. We are going to sample people in this state, thousands of people in this state, across the state to find out if they have the antibodies. That will tell us, for the first time, what percent of the population actually has had the coronavirus and is now at least short-term immune to the virus. This will be the first, true snapshot of what we are really dealing with. We are going to be doing that over the next week and the New York State Department of Health will be running that. There’s also another set of test that are called diagnostic testing.
“Diagnostic testing is whether a person is positive or negative. We are coming up to scale on this, even though it is very, very hard. Northwell is leading the parade on this and I just looked at some of the technology they are bringing in. All of these different manufacturers who make different machines to run different tests and it’s a number of big manufacturers. Northwell is bringing in as many as they can, but this has to be brought to scale. Nobody has done testing at this level ever. We have to do this in partnership with the federal government, because there are all sorts of logistical questions and supply chain questions and people can’t get certain chemicals they need to do tests and the chemicals are made in other countries. So, we have to do this with the federal government.”
Federal Funding for States Necessary
Cuomo was critical of the failure of the federal government to include funding for states and localities in the stimulus packages.
“They want to help small businesses, and that is great. They also have to help a governments and local governments, which have not been supported in previous legislation. Everyone is saying, ‘It is up to the states to come up with a reopening plan, it’s up to the governors, it’s up to the governors.’
“Fine. That is true, and right, and legal. But the governors in the state have to have resources. And yes, you have to help small businesses, you have to help the airlines, all of these private sector interests as well as citizens. But if you don’t help the state government and local government, then how are we supposed to have the finances to reopen? If you don’t give state and local government support, we are the ones who support the schools, we support the police, we support the fire, we support the hospital workers, we support the transit workers.
“So, if you starve state and local government, all that means is we have to turn around and reduce funding to the people who we are funding. If we don’t get federal assistance, you are looking at education cuts of close to 50 percent in the State of New York, where school districts would only get half of the aid they got from the state last year. You are talking about cuts to hospitals from the State. I mean, how ludicrous would it be to now cut hospital funding from state governments?
The National Governors Association has asked for $500 billion to be included in the stimulus package currently being discussed.
Cuomo said that the decline in infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths shows that the state’s actions have been effective.
“Now is no time, as I said, to get arrogant. We are working with our regional states, our partners, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc., the surrounding states. We are coordinating with them and we have to continue to do that. The weather is getting warmer, the numbers are coming down, cabin fever is getting worse. I believe that is going to be a documented disease when this is over, cabin fever. But we have to stay smart and we have to stay coordinated. We have been working with New Jersey and Connecticut because whatever one state does affects other states, right? You live in Nassau, Suffolk, New York City, you can get in your car and be in New Jersey, you can be in Connecticut in a matter of minutes.
So, it is very important to plan accordingly. It is not that we can be on the same page on everything, but at least let’s know what each other is doing.
Cuomo noted, “This is a reality check. With all the good news in the reductions, we still have 1,300 people that yesterday came in and tested positive and were hospitalized. Thirteen hundred is a lot of people coming into the hospital system with that diagnosis. Less than it had been, so that’s good news, but it is still 1,300 people who are testing positive and need hospitalization.
“Nursing homes are still our number one concern. The nursing home is the optimum feeding ground for this virus. Vulnerable people in a congregant facility, in a congregant setting where it can just spread like fire through dry grass. We have had really disturbing situations in nursing homes and we’re still most concerned about the nursing homes.
“The worst news of all for us to live with every day and an everyday tragedy, we lost another 507 New Yorkers. Those are not just very large numbers we see deaths. Every number is a face and a family and a brother and a sister, mother and a father. People are in pain today and will be in pain for a long period of time.”
In his press briefing on Monday, Cuomo announced a new initiative to address the disproportionate number of cases in public housing – ripe for the disease because the people are lower income, living in highly concentrated circumstances: the state is delivering 500,000 cloth masks – at least one for every resident – and 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to NYCHA residents.
“What we do determines our future,” Cuomo said. “Smart government shapes future. This is cause-and-effect on steroids. What we do today will determine tomorrow – you won’t have to wait to read history books. If we make smart decisions, you will see smart outcomes in two weeks. We make bad decisions, you will see bad outcomes in 2 weeks.
“The future is in our hands, really in our hands.”
“We can control the beast, the beast will not destroy us. We have a lot of work to do to keep the beast under control. A lot of work to do to reopen. But will set bar high, reimagine so what reopen will be better. Build. Back. Better.”
A dramatic change from what Easter Sunday usually looks like. Fifth Avenue is traditionally the scene of the Easter Parade, with elaborate hats and fancy dress and, since it is New York, wild sometimes whacky costumes. This year, the streets were desolate, the churches shuttered and famous boutiques closed. At Times Square, the Tower flashed electronic thank you’s to health care workers and first responders. Broadway theaters were shut down. Here are some images:
In contrast, this is what the famous Easter Parade along Fifth Avenue looked like in happier times:
Governor Offers Full Partnership with Federal Government as Part of State’s Continued Efforts to Bring Mass Testing to Scale; New York Will Partner with Connecticut and New Jersey to Create a Regional Testing Partnership
Announces $200 Million in Emergency Food Assistance for More Than 700,000 Low-Income Households Enrolled in SNAP
Governor is Working with Congressional Delegation to Create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund
Announces New Partnerships with Private Sector to Provide Free Housing for Frontline Medical Workers
Releases ‘New York Tough’ Video Showing How New Yorkers are Spending Their Time at Home, Building on Ongoing State Efforts to Reach All Communities in New York with the Life-Saving Stay Home Message – Video is Available Here
Confirms 10,575 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 170,512; New Cases in 54 Counties
The reason that the national coronavirus numbers are plateauing is because New York State, with more coronavirus cases than any other country, has brought down the rates of new infections, even as the daily death toll remains high. But it is not clear whether COVID-19 has yet to strike places where the numbers seem relatively low, because there is not sufficient testing. Trump is pushing to reopen the economy – desperate to be able to go into the election with a strong economy, low unemployment rates, high Dow – without care that lifting stay-at-home mitigation will trigger new spikes in infections and new waves, as are already being experienced in some Asian countries.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has received high marks for his command-and-control that clearly has resulted in significantly lower rates of infection than a slew of statisticians predicted could happen if steps to contain the virus were not implemented, said as much. Looking ahead to how and when the state could get back to work, he warned against doing it too early or too suddenly. Testing – both to diagnose and to determine if someone has the antibodies to effectively be immune to the coronavirus – is critical and he called for the federal government to exercise the Defense Production Act to get private labs and manufacturers to bring tests up to scale, that is, by the tens of millions.—Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State is ramping up antibody testing, a key component of any plan to reopen the economy. The state is currently conducting 300 of these antibody tests, and is on track to conduct 1,000 per day by next Friday and 2,000 per day by the following week. As part of the state’s continued efforts to bring mass testing to scale, the Governor offered a full partnership with the federal government to conduct this important work. In the interim, the Governor announced that New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will create a regional testing partnership to bring mass testing to scale for residents in these states.
Governor Cuomo also announced an additional $200 million in emergency food assistance will be available for more than 700,000 low-income households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Those enrolled in SNAP and not yet receiving the maximum benefit will receive an additional payment to bring them up to this amount in March and April. The supplemental benefits will be issued in April and delivered directly to recipients’ existing Electronic Benefit Transfer accounts. Households eligible for the supplement that live in counties outside of New York City will begin receiving the supplemental emergency benefit starting on April 13, and all eligible households will have received it by April 24. In New York City, the emergency benefits will be issued starting on April 14, and the issuance completed on April 25.
Governor Cuomo is also working with New York’s Congressional delegation to create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund to support health care and other frontline workers and their families who contracted COVID-19.
The Governor also announced new partnerships with the private sector to provide housing for frontline medical workers. Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky will contribute $2 million to help provide rooms in union hotels at no cost to frontline workers. As part of this effort, 1199SEIU is partnering with Airbnb to offer housing to its members — comprised of hospital and other healthcare workers — as they fight the COVID-19 crisis statewide. Additionally, the InterContinental Times Square, Yotel and the Hudson Hotel are providing an additional 800 free rooms for health care workers coming to New York City from out of state, collaborating with the Hotel Association of New York City, MetLife and the Related Companies.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s social media awareness campaign, the state today released a video that features New Yorkers showing us their reality as they stay home under the state-wide Pause restrictions. Working in partnership with Resonant Pictures, the state put out a call for photographs of life in the city over the past three weeks. The video, set to the iconic song by The Fray, truly illustrates “How to Save a Life,” during the pandemic.
“The data has shown that what we do today will determine the infection rate two or three days from now, so we must continue to do what we are doing even though it is difficult –because it is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “The key to reopening is going to be testing. New York State has been very aggressive on testing, and our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is fast and non-invasive. The State Department of Health can currently do 300 tests a day and by next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot, but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New York has advanced on testing.”
Here is more of what Governor Cuomo said in his daily briefing:
“New York State has been very aggressive on testing and our state lab has been very aggressive on testing. Our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is a fast and not invasive test. The State Department of Health can do 300 tests a day. By next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New Yorkers advanced on testing. You look at how quickly New York State has moved on testing and how many tests we have done – we’ve done a higher percentage of tests in New York State than other countries have done and New York State far exceeds what this nation as a whole is doing on testing. Even with our high capacity and high performance on testing it’s still not enough. It’s not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and reopen quickly so the testing front is going to be a challenge for us.
“Why can’t New York just develop more tests and do more testing? How do we get New York State Department of Health to scale? That’s an issue that we’ve been working on it’s harder than it sounds. You need certain reagents so you can do the testing. You need certain materials so you can do the testing. It’s very hard to get these reagents right. You’re in a situation where countries all across the globe are trying to do the same thing.
“Federal government has something called the Defense Production Act, DPA they call it, which I’ve been saying from day one is a very powerful tool for the federal government to use when they need to secure a product in the defense of this nation. This is in the defense of this nation. The federal government has used it effectively. They’ve used that in this situation more as a point of leverage than anything else, basically saying to a company, you know, we need you to do this, we do have the Defense Production Act that we could use. But we need an unprecedented mobilization where government can produce these tests in the millions.
“New York State Department of Health is doing is doing several thousand. We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. You need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen any time soon. Private sector companies on their own, I don’t believe will be able to come to scale. We’re working with the private sector companies. They have the tests but they don’t have the capacity to come to scale. You’re going to need government intervention to make that happen and the federal government is in the best position to do that.
“New York State offers to be a full partner with the federal government. We do have the largest number of cases in New York. New York is an economic engine. I can’t do it as a state. If I had a Defense Production Act in the state, I would use it. I would use it. I don’t have that tool, the federal government does. Any way we can partner with the federal government to get these tests up to scale as quickly as possible, we are all in. I like to operate as a coalition with New Jersey and Connecticut because we are the tri-state area. I have spoken to Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont of Connecticut. They will join in a testing coalition. So, I ask the federal government if you are willing to step in and use the federal powers, New York State and New Jersey and Connecticut would partner with the federal government. And let’s get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start to build that bridge to reopening the economy.
“Second on reopening, you need a federal stimulus bill. You need a federal stimulus bill – they passed a couple already. But you need a fair federal stimulus bill that is not a political pork barrel bill. You know where the cases are. You know where the need is. I understand the political dynamics of the U.S. Senate but this is not a time to be passing bills that really are to make sure your home state gets enough funding. That’s not what this is about. This is about helping the country coming back and focusing on the need. When I says the bills were unfair to New York, the past bills, it is not just that I am advocating to New York. Look at the need. Look at where the cases are. Look at where the damage has been done. The federal government is trying to address that damage. You know where it has been done. Look at the chart on where the cases exist. Look at the number of deaths, the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations and help those places come back and come back quickly. That’s what the stimulus bill is supposed to be doing.
“Also, let’s make sure we are learning from what we just went through and are going through. Because there are lessons I think we should all be aware of over the past few months. And before you take a step forward, let’s make sure we know what we are stepping into. A question I had from day one, when you look back at this, where were the horns that should have been triggered back in December and January. Where were the warning signs? Who was supposed to blow the whistle? The President has asked this question and if think he’s right. The President’s answer is the World Health Organization should have been blowing the whistle. I don’t know enough to know if that’s right or wrong, but I know the question is right and sometimes the question is more important than the answer.
“How did this happen? I still want to know how this happened. Because the warning signs were there. And if you don’t know the answer, then how do you know it is not going to happen again, right? Fool me once – January, you go back and look at the headlines in January and you see questions and you see warnings. Now, they were all over the map, but we saw what was happening in Asia. We saw what was happening in Europe. Where were the international experts saying, ‘Well, if this is happening there, this is what we should expect to happen in the United States? Or prepare to happen in the United States?’ January, February, you still had sources in this country saying basically there’s nothing to worry about. You know, how did that happen? Did we really need to be in this situation where the United States winds up with a higher number of cases than the places that went before? We sat here and we watched China. China winds up have 84,000 cases, we wind up having 474,000 cases. I mean, how does that happen? We saw South Korea. They wind up with 10,000 cases. Italy, where we saw a collapse of the whole health system, winds up with 143,000 cases.
“I raise the question because the answer, again, is less important than the question, but before we move forward let’s make sure we’re not repeating the same mistake that we made, right? George Santayana. ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I don’t want to repeat what we just repeated, what we just went through over this past month.
“So, what are the relevant questions? Is there going to be a second wave? Let’s look at the countries that have gone through this reopening process and what can we learn from them? Right? Well, we have to start to reopen. Let’s look at what the other countries who have gone before us, what they did, what worked and what didn’t work. When you take just a cursory review you see caution signs. Hong Kong appeared to have the virus under control, they let its guard down, the virus came back. Hong Kong recorded the biggest rise in cases and a new wave of infections. Is that true? Could it happen here? Article yesterday, Italy has seen a bump in the number of cases. You know, before we take a step make sure we are more informed and more aware than we were in the past. They’re talking about a second wave in Singapore.
“You got back and you look at the 1918 flu epidemic. That was over 10 months. There was a first wave, there was a second wave. The second wave was worse than the first wave because the virus mutated. Third peak and the whole experience was 10 months. Is there any extrapolation to where we are today? I don’t know the answers. This is not what I do. It’s not what a state does.
“But, we know the questions and we should have the questions answered before we take a step forward. Yes, no one has been here before. These are totally uncharted waters. But we do know that none of this is predetermined and it is all a function of our actions. We are in total control of our destiny here. What we do will effect literally live and death for hundreds of people.
“So, where do we go from here? First, keep doing what we’re doing. Stay home because that works. We are flattening the curve, we must continue to flatten the curve. We have to get testing to scale. That is an entirely new exercise. It’s something we still haven’t done well in this country. We need both diagnostic testing and antibody testing. We need millions and millions of them. We need them in a matter of weeks, not months.
“We have to be more prepared as a nation. We should never go through this scramble that we went through with states competing against other states to buy masks from China. I mean, we should just never have been here in the first place, but certainly we should never be here again. And then let’s make sure we study the waters ahead and proceed with caution before we set off on the next journey. When we talk about reopening, let’s study the data and let’s look at what has happened around the world. Let’s make sure the best health minds in the country are giving us their best advice.
“How do we go forward? We stay New York tough. New York tough means more than just tough, it means discipline. It means unified. It means loving. And it means smart. Now is a time to be smart. Now more than ever. That’s what it means to be New York tough and we are.”
“The actual curve, today 18,569, is much, much better. How do you create a curve so different from the projections? In fairness to experts, nobody has been here before, and a big variable was what policies would put in place, and a bigger variable is whether people listen to the policies you put in place. Just because you announce a policy– to close businesses and everybody stay home – if people don’t take seriously or feel is political, they wouldn’t follow it.”
Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,575 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 170,512 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 170,512 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday released a list of priorities to ensure the next coronavirus legislation passed by Congress is the boldest legislation in history, matches the scale of the crisis, saves lives and ensures working Americans are not left behind.
“We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Sanders said. “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. That means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history. Today, I am outlining a set of six core provisions that must be included in new Congressional legislation to support working people during this horrific crisis.”
Sanders’ priorities include:
Keep workers on payroll – make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck, retroactive to the beginning of the crisis. An important precedent was set by keeping airline workers on payroll in the last bill
Use Medicare to make sure no one has to pay for health care during the crisis
A $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed
The forceful use of the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies
Hazard pay for workers on the frontlines of the emergency
$600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities
Freezing monthly rent and mortgage payments
Emergency food for millions of families who would otherwise go hungry
In a mailing to supporters, Sanders described his priorities in more detail:
Our country is now facing its worst crisis in modern history. We are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that could lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and infect millions of others, and we are entering an economic downturn that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment. This week that number doubled to 6.6 million claims — ten times higher than any other week on record. It is certain that well over 10 million people have lost their jobs — more than in the Wall Street crash of 2008.
In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way. And that means that Congress must pass, in the very near future, the boldest piece of legislation ever written in modern history.
There are many, many issues that must be addressed in our response to this pandemic, and working together, we will make sure they are addressed.
1. Addressing the Employment Crisis and Providing Immediate Financial Relief
There is little doubt in my mind that we are facing an economic crisis that could be even worse than the Great Depression. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has projected that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32 percent. In my view, we must make sure that every worker in America continues to receive their paycheck during this crisis and we must provide immediate financial relief to everyone in this country.
An important precedent for that approach was taken in the recent stimulus package in which grants were provided to the airlines for the sole purpose of maintaining the paychecks and benefits of some 2 million workers in that industry through September 30. We must expand that program to cover every worker in America and we must make it retroactive to the beginning of this crisis. This is not a radical idea. Other countries, such as the UK, Norway, Denmark, France, and others have all come up with similar approaches to sustain their economy and prevent workers from losing their jobs.
Our primary goal during this crisis must be to prevent the disintegration of the American economy. It will be much easier and less expensive to prevent the collapse of the economy than trying to put it back together after it collapses.
To do this, we must also begin monthly payments of $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in our country, and guarantee paid family leave throughout this crisis so that people who are sick do not face the choice of infecting others or losing their job.
2. We Must Guarantee Health Care to All
Let’s be clear: we were facing a catastrophic health care crisis before the pandemic, and now that crisis has become much, much worse. Already, 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. Layoffs will mean tens of millions of people more will lose their current insurance — which will result in countless deaths and bankruptcies. Already in the last two weeks, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their employer-sponsored insurance.
And as the pandemic grows, we are seeing more and more reports of people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, uninsurance will lead to deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.
Therefore, during this crisis, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national pandemic. Let me be clear: I am not proposing that we pass Medicare for All in this moment. That fight continues into the future. But, for the moment, we must act boldly to make sure everyone can get the health care they need in the coming months.
3. Use the Defense Production Act to Produce the Equipment and Testing We Need
Unbelievably, in the United States right now, doctors and nurses are unnecessarily putting their lives on the line treating people suffering from the coronavirus because they lack personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and surgical gowns. The CDC has directed health professionals to use homemade gear like bandanas or scarves and some workers at the VA are being told to re-use one surgical mask for a week at a time. HHS estimated that our country needs 3.5 billion masks in response to this crisis.
President Trump has utilized the Defense Production Act thousands of times for the military and for enforcement of his immigration policies, yet he has resisted using its power to save lives during the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must immediately and forcefully use the Defense Production Act to direct the production of all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies needed.
We must also utilize this power to produce antibody tests so we can begin figuring out who has already contracted the virus and has developed some immunity to COVID-19.
In addition, OSHA must adopt a strong emergency standard to protect health care workers, patients, and the public during this crisis. We must crack down aggressively on price gougers and hoarders, and use any means necessary to secure supplies.
4. Make Sure No One Goes Hungry
Even before this crisis hit, one in every seven kids in America was going hungry and nearly 5.5 million seniors in our country struggled with hunger. Already in this crisis we see lines at food banks and growing concern that our most vulnerable communities and those recently unemployed may struggle to feed their families.
As communities face record levels of food insecurity, we must increase SNAP benefits, expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children, double funding for the Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) to ensure food banks have food to distribute, and expand Meals on Wheels and School Meals programs. When necessary, we must also develop new approaches to deliver food to vulnerable populations — including door-to-door drop offs.
5. Provide Emergency Aid to States and Cities
Even as state and local employees like police officers, firefighters and paramedics work on the front lines of this pandemic, states and cities that pay their salaries are facing enormous budgetary pressures.
Congress must provide $600 billion in direct fiscal aid to states and cities to ensure they have the personnel and funding necessary to respond to this crisis. In addition, the Federal Reserve must establish programs to provide direct fiscal support and budgetary relief to states and municipalities.
6. Suspend Monthly Payments
Even before this crisis, half of the people in our country were living paycheck to paycheck. In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Now, with growing unemployment, families are facing financial ruin if we do not act quickly and boldly.
That’s why we must suspend monthly expenses like rent, mortgages, medical debt and consumer debt collection for 4 months. We must cancel all student loan payments for the duration of this crisis, and place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.
Brothers and sisters: In this unprecedented moment in our history it is easy to feel like we are alone, and that everyone must fend for themselves. But that would be a mistake and a terrible tragedy. Now, more than any other moment in our lives, we must remember that we are all in this together — that when one of us gets sick, many more may get sick. And when my neighbor loses their job, I may lose my job as well.
Further, we cannot wait until our economy collapses to act. It will be far easier and less expensive to act now, in a very bold way, than to try to rebuild our country later.
If we work together and unite behind these basic principles of economic and health justice, I am confident that we will not only get through this unprecedented crisis together but that we will lay the groundwork for a better and more just America in the future.
The proposal put forward by Sanders today is backed by several progressive groups.
“Half of Veterans are over age 65, and we disproportionately suffer from preexisting conditions and economic challenges which make the COVID-19 pandemic particularly devastating for our community,” Common Defense Director Alex McCoy said. “Meanwhile, countless workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are making extraordinary sacrifices to save lives, while going without sufficient protective equipment. Senator Sanders’ plan for Phase 4 of COVID-19 response takes the bold steps which are absolutely essential to saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable economic hardship. We must immediately implement his proposals to provide Americans with a financial lifeline, and pivot our industrial capacity to produce sufficient supplies. We applaud Senator Sanders for demonstrating real leadership in this crisis and centering the tangible needs of ordinary people, while Donald Trump downplays the threat and weaponizes aid to give favors to his political allies and bail-outs to his favorite corporate CEOs.”
“Senator Sanders’ economic rescue principles speak to the bold, fast action needed to protect and support people, and prevent corporations from consolidating economic and political power amidst a crisis,” People’s Action Director George Goehl said. “We urge him to build on this strong framework by including a Rent Zero policy in the short term: no rent or mortgage payments during the crisis, no late fees, and no debts from housing obligations during the crisis.”
“Bernie’s plan for the fourth phase of a federal legislative response centers people, not corporations. It is about helping us survive with the cash assistance, healthcare, nutrition, worker safety we need, and relief from monthly payments we cannot make. It speaks to the needs of frontline workers who are battling the pandemic and making it possible for the rest of us to shelter in place, said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Director of Center For Popular Democracy Action. “Bernie is uniquely courageous in demanding and lifting up the inclusion of immigrants, recognizing that low-income communities of color will bear the worst of this crisis. His plan provides urgent and direct relief to those most vulnerable — addressing the gaps left by previous relief bills and creating a foundation for long-lasting recovery.”
“Governments all around the world are keeping people employed and on payroll by covering salaries if businesses commit to not cutting wages or laying people off,” Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said. “Senator Sanders is leading the fight to bring that common sense model to our country when so many workers and small business owners are confronting a complicated Rube Goldberg machine just to get a little relief.”
“This moment of crisis exemplifies the detrimental impact failing to account for the needs and extend protections to the most vulnerable has on the health of all within our communities, said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Director of Make the Road Action. “Only through a comprehensive response that covers the immediate and future healthcare, economic and maintenance needs of all members of our society can we prevent greater loss of life and a deeper economic downturn. Make the Road will continue to fight alongside Senator Sanders to ensure the next phase of COVID-19 legislative response includes these provisions and an eye towards justice.”
“The current government response has left behind some of our most vulnerable neighbors including the homeless, the undocumented, the unbanked, and those without internet connections, said Marisa Franco, Founder and Director of Mijente. “The priorities outlined by Senators Sanders for the next Coronavirus Stimulus Package are what our country needs to ensure everyone in our community can access the financial and medical support needed to withstand this crisis. We stand with Senator Sanders in demanding a $2,000 monthly emergency payment, emergency food, and Medicare to every person in our country regardless of their housing situation, immigration status or whether they have a bank account or internet connection.”
Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.
Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act: The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist
1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:
Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.
Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.
Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.
Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.
Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.
2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:
Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.
Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.
Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.
Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.
3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:
Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing.
Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.
Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time.
4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:
Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.
Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.
Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.
Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses – and whether they are maintaining payroll.
Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.
Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed
Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.
Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.
5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they:
Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.
Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.
Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.
Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.
Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.
6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud .
7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets.
8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly. And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.
9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently.
10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:
Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.
Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:
Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.
Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.
Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.
Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.
An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.
A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis
A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.
Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.
Vice President Joe Biden is directly challenging Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic accelerating across the United States and world that has produced twin crises in healthcare and the economy, in the form of questions that should be posed at the White House briefings that have become campaign rallies for Trump’s election. Instead of a “whole of government” marshaling of forces to combat the virus, Trump’s “whole of government” is one big political enterprise, while Trump uses that time at the bully pulpit to attack Democrats, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and call the impeachment yet another “hoax” instead of organizing his administration to make sure all the states and cities have the life-saving equipment and staff needed to save lives, that the nation unites together to curtail social contact, and to make sure businesses and families to have the financial resources necessary to make it through. Instead, Trump has denied re-opening enrollment to Obamacare for those who don’t have health insurance, and his administration has no clue how to actually implement the $2.2 trillion in “relief” money to families and businesses. This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
As Trump Attempts to Spin Away His Historic Failure to Combat the Coronavirus, Here Are Questions He Needs to Answer at Today’s Press Conference
1. Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace?
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health care of Americans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
2. Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying yesterday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
3. With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread, like other countries did, instead of downplaying its threat for months?
Two new polls today show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
4. GOP State Attorneys General confirmed Monday that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
The Daily Beast confirmed on Monday that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic.
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
5. Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this.
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response.
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.
6. With another round of record unemployment claims showing the economic pain the coronavirus is putting the American people through, do you regret the weeks you spent downplaying the threat it posed and do you agree with your Treasury Secretary who said last week that unemployment numbers are “not relevant”?
With 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, the explosive economic toll of the coronavirus continues to grow.
For months, Trump ignoredand downplayed the looming threat of the coronavirus and failed to take the necessary steps to prepare us — even as other countries quickly acted. Now, America has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world and our economy continues to suffer body blows.
Throughout, Trump’s administration has shown a cavalier indifference to the unimaginable economic toll of the coronavirus has had on the American workers, with Secretary Mnuchin claiming that last week’s massive unemployment figures were “not relevant” — even as families across the country are struggling to make ends meet.
7. Why are you refusing to allow Americans who desperately need health insurance in the middle of a pandemic access to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace?
This is yet another step in Trump’s ideological battle against the ACA — no matter the cost to the health of Amercans — which has seen his Administration pursue efforts that would kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage and roll back protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions
About 20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
8.A new report today shows that the U.S. Army was projecting as early as the beginning of February that 150,000 Americans could be killed by the coronavirus. So why did you continue to waste precious weeks downplaying the threat it posed?
A shocking report today by the Daily Beast shows that as early as February 3, the U.S. Army had internal projections showing that upwards of 150,000 Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus that was then spreading rapidly around the globe.
Instead of joining other countries around the world in taking quick action to prepare for the virus, Trump dismissed and downplayed its threat, telling a campaign rally a week later that “looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
Vice President Biden, in contrast, was sounding the alarm — writing a January 27 op-ed in USA Today about the threat it posed and the steps that should be taken, with Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine noting yesterday that Joe Biden “very much did see the coronavirus disaster coming.”
9. With new polls showing that Americans don’t approve of your handling of the coronavirus crisis, do you regret not acting sooner to halt the virus’ spread?
Two new polls released yesterday show growing numbers of Americans disapprove of Trump’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus, which has left the United States leading the world in confirmed cases.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult survey found that by a seven point margin, Americans don’t think the administration is doing enough to combat the coronavirus. Similarly, an Associated Press poll also out today shows that only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and only 38% approve of the federal government’s response — even as people rally in support of how their state and local officials have handled the crisis.
10. Why do you continue to mislead Americans about your failure to adequately develop and deploy an effective coronavirus test — a failure that allowed the virus to spread unchecked and explode across our country?
In a call with governors on Monday, according to the New York Times, Trump continued to shrug off the coronavirus testing crisis that exploded on his watch, claiming that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
Trump’s lie was so out of step with reality that it prompted a rebuke from fellow Republicans, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan saying Tuesday that Trump’s claim was “just not true” and that “no state has enough testing” and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine adding that “we know Ohio hasn’t had as much testing as we would have liked. We had to ration the testing.”
Similarly, Trump’s assertion in a Monday interview with Fox New that testing failures were the fault of the Obama-Biden administration was demolished by PolitiFact yesterday, which rated Trump’s claim “Pants on Fire” false, and said that that his attack “flies in the face of logic.”
Trump’s baseless claims come just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.