New York State has just launched a new web application to help struggling New Yorkers locate benefits to assist them during their time of need. Developed through a public-private partnership with Google.org, the user-friendly social services discovery application will help individuals who are either new to or unfamiliar with the state’s social programs network.
“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented demand for social services in New York, including families and individuals who have never relied on social programs before,” Governor Cuomo said.”This new web application, the result of a public-private partnership, will provide New Yorkers with a user-friendly, stigma-free resource to get the assistance and relief they need.”
The “Find Services” web application provides an easy-to-use starting point for first-time users of social programs. The web application prompts each user with a series of simple questions aimed at narrowing the field of possible services to those that are best designed to serve their needs. After answering the questions, the user is provided with a ranked list of potential services along with a description to help residents judge if the service is right for them and provide them with more information about how to apply.
The web application was developed at no cost to taxpayers during a six-month collaboration between the state Office of Information Technology Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees many of New York’s social services programs, and a team of 10 full-time pro bono Google.org fellows supporting the Governor’s COVID-19 Tech SWAT Team initiative. This unique public-private partnership has enlisted the assistance of leading technology companies and has assisted roughly four million New Yorkers since its inception. The web application’s code has been open sourced to allow other government entities the opportunity to build on this project to meet the needs of their residents.
During a three-week pilot of the application, more than 100,000 New Yorkers accessed the web application. The State will use analytics data to understand where residents need help getting connected with vital government services and refine the application over time to best serve the needs of New Yorkers.
ITS Interim Chief Information Officer and Director Jeremy Goldberg said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has moved with urgency and resilience to tackle the coronavirus head-on. We have received unprecedented support from civic-minded technologists across the state to support our response efforts. We welcomed that support and worked hand-in-glove with this team to assist those who needed it most.”
New York’s social services programs have seen increased caseloads since the start of the global pandemic. More low-income New Yorkers are availing themselves of critical benefits, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and temporary cash assistance.
OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said,”Now more than ever, it is critical for eligible New Yorkers to have easy access to programs designed to help them and their families in their time of need. This new web application expands our ongoing efforts to provide a stigma-free platform for individuals and families to explore and familiarize themselves with social programs that can make an enormous difference in their lives.”
President of Google.org Jacquelline Fuller said, “Seeking social services can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. The Google.org Fellows wanted to make it easy for New York residents to find and access essential programs, especially in times of crisis. In under six months and 10,000 pro bono work hours donated, the team was able to build a web application from the ground up by combining the technical expertise of Googlers with the unwavering leadership of New York State. Google has called New York home for the last 20 years and we’re proud to stand alongside Governor Cuomo and the members of the Tech SWAT Team to help ensure the health and safety of our community.”
In March, Governor Cuomo directed ITS to solicit volunteers from the technology community to help develop competent technological solutions to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, to help facilitate New York State’s coordinated, decisive, and rapidly evolving response. ITS worked with the Governor’s Office and the state Department of Financial Services to establish a team of highly trained civic-minded professionals in the technology field to assist the state’s response over 90-day periods.
The New York State COVID-19 Tech ‘SWAT’ Team has since assisted state agencies with operations, analytics, communications, and other critical needs during the ongoing response. The team completed 21 large projects managed and led entirely by internal government teams at ITS, the New York State Digital Service Team, and state Office of General Services. An additional 19 projects were completed pro bono, involving a combined 25,000 hours of volunteer hours and saving taxpayers roughly $14 million.
New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.
“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”
“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”
The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery.
Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:
1)Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.
2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses.
3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.
4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”
“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”
“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”
Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19. This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business, and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”
Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”
This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing this joint statement:
“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence.
“Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results.
“Last week’s revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time.
“Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — over the strong objection of CDC scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.
“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts. Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward’s reporting, the question of, “What did they know and when did they know it?” cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”
Cuomo commented, “Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo – did you ever mention to the President, ‘By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.’ It just doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.”
Voters Can Learn More About Absentee Voting And Early Voting In New York By Visiting ny.gov/earlyvote
New York State had long been criticized for having some of the most restrictive rules for voting, resulting in some of the lowest turnout rates in the country. But that has changed with a series of reforms aimed at making it easier to vote, including making absentee voting (vote-by-mail) an option available to all, new early voting, to meet the coronavirus crisis so that casting a vote does not have to be a life-and-death choice between exercising a citizen’s most cherished right, and their health.
In addition, Cuomo issued executive orders allowing registered voters to drop off their completed absentee ballot at a Board of Elections office, early voting location or Election Day voting location without requiring them to wait in line with in-person voters. Boards of elections are required to develop and submit a plan to the State Board of Elections by September 21 and make it publicly available.
Meanwhile, the state is launching a public awareness campaign to ensure New Yorkers know all the ways they can vote in November’s election, including voting early, voting absentee, or voting in person on Election Day.
“Because of COVID, this year New Yorkers have several options when it comes to casting their ballot. You can vote early, vote absentee, or vote in person on Election Day, and I am issuing an executive order to ensure boards of elections have plans in place to safely receive the anticipated additional volume of absentee ballots through in person return,” Governor Cuomo said.”To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard.”
Absentee ballots can be dropped to county boards of elections offices as soon as voters receive their ballot; any early voting location between October 24th and November 1st; and at polling locations on Election Day. By dropping off an absentee ballot at a county board of elections office, early voting site or polling location, New Yorkers can avoid Post Office delays and the need for a stamp.
Most New Yorkers can now request an absentee ballot for the first time under a new law the Governor signed expanding eligibility to all voters who have concerns regarding COVID-19. They should check the “temporary illness” box on their absentee ballot application. To learn more about absentee voting and early voting in New York, visit ny.gov/earlyvote.
The state has launched an absentee ballot portal where voters can directly request an absentee ballot for the upcoming November 3rd election.
Given an expected unprecedented increase in the use of absentee ballots and concerns about the reliability of the United States Postal Service, today’s executive order ensures an expedited, dedicated line for returning absentee ballots in-person, or a contactless drop box in every county.
The state made several sweeping election reform steps in advance of the November 3rd election.
On August 20, Governor Cuomo signed into law a three-part election reform package to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November, including: allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to a board of elections immediately; expanding the necessary protections to allow a voter to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of illness including COVID-19 and; ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by a board of elections without a postmark on the day after the election will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by November 10.
On August 24, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to further bolster and support New Yorker’s right to vote by requiring county boards of elections to take the following actions:
Send a mailing outlining all deadlines for voters by Tuesday, September 8.
Send staffing plans and needs to the New York State Board of Elections by September 20 so BOE can assist in ensuring adequate coverage.
Adopt a uniform clarified envelope for absentee ballots and require counties to use it.
Count votes faster: require all objections to be made by the county board in real time, make sure that boards are ready to count votes and reconcile affidavit and absentee ballots by 48 hours after elections.
Provide an option for New Yorkers to vote absentee in village, town and special district elections.
“All board of elections make sure they have everything in place, the staff in place, to count the ballots as soon as possible,” Cuomo said. “And the board of elections have to report staffing plans and any needs for additional staff. If they don’t have the staff. Tell us tell us before. So you can get the staff because you have to be able to count the ballots. You have to be able to tabulate the vote. We want it done and we want it done right, but we want it done timely. We don’t want to hear after-the-fact excuses for why you couldn’t do it. Tell us how you’re going to do it before-the-fact, and your staffing plan from the board of elections that will actually do that.
“This election is going to be one of the most critical in modern history. It will be controversial. You already hear the statements questioning the vote, and the accuracy of the vote, and mail-in ballots. We want to make sure that every vote is counted; every voice is heard and that it’s fair and right and accurate.”
“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Governor Cuomo said. “These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November.”
New Laws Will Make It Easier for New Yorkers to Vote and Be Counted in November
S.8015-D/A.10833 Authorizes Voters to Request an Absentee Ballot Due to Risk of Illness, Including COVID
S.8783A/A.10807 Authorizes Voters to Request Absentee Ballots Starting Today
S.8799A/A.10808-A Allows Ballots to Be Postmarked On the Day of the Election, November 3
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Voting access is one of the core foundations of our democracy. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that no New Yorkers feel pressured to put their health and well-being at risk to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. I thank the bill sponsors for advancing this legislation, and my Senate Democratic Majority colleagues for their ongoing
commitment to empower New York voters and Governor Cuomo for signing these bills.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The Assembly Majority knows that democracy is best served when it is easier, not harder for Americans to vote. But the administration in Washington is once again proving that they do not value these critical democratic institutions, going as far as attacking the U.S. Postal Service to limit access to voting by mail. Here in New York, we will not stand for that. Earlier this year, we passed legislation to expand voters access to mail in voting, and we will continue to fight to make it easier and safer for New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and protect the integrity of our elections.”
Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests Due to Risk of Illness (S.8015-D/A.10833)
This legislation gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “COVID has upended every aspect of our lives — but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers’ sacred right to vote. I introduced S8015D to ensure that no New Yorker will have to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility. Unfortunately, during the June election too many New Yorkers had to make that very choice because they did not receive their ballots on time. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to provide every New Yorker with the assurance that they can vote via absentee ballot come November and to give the Board of Elections the time they need to prepare. I also want to extend my gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues in the Legislature for their partnership and commitment to protecting our democracy.”
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “Today is a great day for our democracy in New York State. As we continue to work on ways to increase voter efficacy in the absentee ballot process, I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law so that New Yorkers do not have to choose between risking public health and fulfilling our civic duty to vote. I am proud that New York State can stand in contrast to our White House administration by taking steps to make it easier and safer to vote, instead of casting political dispersions that erode our core democratic institutions.”
Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests (S.8783A/A.10807)
This legislation authorizes voters to request absentee ballots immediately, 30 days before Election Day, adding almost 7 weeks to the amount of time a voter has to vote by absentee ballot. This legislation eliminates an outdated statutory provision that prevents voters from requesting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day. The legislation gives voters reassurance that they will receive and can cast their vote in a timely manner.
Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “With an increasing number of voters planning to vote by absentee ballot this year, it is important to give local boards of election sufficient time to process applications and send out ballots, and maximize the time voters have to complete and return them. This legislation is part of our continued effort to expand access to voting, during the pandemic and beyond. Voters should have full confidence that, whether they use a mailbox or a ballot box, they can exercise their rights safely, securely and without obstacles.”
Assemblymember Al Taylor said, “The COVID-19 health crisis has transformed life as we know it, including how we vote. This year we saw a tenfold increase in absentee ballot requests, with more people than ever choosing to vote by mail to protect the health of their families and community. With this new reality, we must ensure voters can exercise their rights in future elections both safely and efficiently, and that includes receiving absentee ballots in a timely fashion. I am honored to continue the fight to expand and protect voting rights in New York alongside my colleagues as we build upon the progress that’s already been made while helping our neighbors stay safe. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law.”
Relating to Ballots Postmarked on Day of Election (S.8799A/A.10808-A)
This legislation allows ballots to be postmarked on the day of the election, November 3. The legislation also amends election law to allow the Board of Elections to count all absentee ballots that have a time stamp showing it was delivered to the Board of Elections the day after the election but does not have a dated postmark. The Board of Elections shall deem those ballots mailed in a timely fashion.
Senator Michael Gianaris said, “It’s critical we learn the lessons of the primary election and ensure every valid vote counts in November. The bill being signed today will help insulate voters from problems caused by difficulties with the US Postal Service. I’m grateful the Governor is enacting it.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte said, “The legislation the governor is signing today will ensure that New Yorkers’ right to participate in the electoral process is protected. We saw unprecedented absentee voter turnout during the primary, but because of financial challenges at the United States Postal Service, many ballots did not receive timely postmarks. We must rise to the occasion and make sure that voters across the state can safely and effectively cast their votes. This legislation will help to address problems with the Post Office, by ensuring that absentee ballots that do not receive a postmark are considered timely if they are received by the Board of Elections the day after an election. This protects the integrity of votes and enfranchises the voter. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting New Yorkers by ensuring that their constitutional right to vote is protected.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo in his daily briefing in which noted that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days., laid out a searing attack on Donald Trump, charging that Trump is waging war on Democratic-lead cities.
“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo declared. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City…
“We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…
“The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.”
Cuomo put it into the context of Trump administration’s failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which came into New York and the Northeast from Europe, not China, causing untold emotional and economic harm, and now doing everything possible to prevent the city and state from recovering economically.
Here are his highlighted remarks –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The good news is this: reopening is proceeding and our strategy is working. New Yorkers are doing a better job than any state in the United States of America— period— and I’m proud to be a New Yorker. The bad news is we have after-effects of COVID, social after-effects. We have economic issues. we have quality-of-life issues. We have increasing crime issues. We have habitability issues.
I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock. This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses— but you’re not going to provide funding to state local governments, who basically support police, fire, hospitals and schools is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.
There was a headline in the Daily News once: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” and the city was outraged Ford wouldn’t provide financial resources. What Ford did pales in comparison to what Trump is doing; not only did he tell New York City to “drop dead,”
Trump is actively trying to kill New York City. It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City.
He passed SALT, which was targeted just at New York City tax reform; it cost us $14 billion.
He’s refused to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th to 125th Street. Every prior administration has funded the Second Avenue Subway. It is always been a federal-state partnership. Only this President, a former New Yorker, refuses to fund the Second Avenue Subway— even after we opened it up to 96th Street and did an amazing turn-around on the construction project that everybody celebrated.
He won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia. And you want to talk about really ironic, repugnant logic? You know why he won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia? He says he has to do an Environmental Review statement. The same President who has lamented about the delay of Environmental Reviews and how they take so long, and how they stop development and how bad the SEQRA is and how the environmentalists are all full of baloney when it comes to ANWAR. Now he says, “I can’t approve the AirTrain from LaGuardia that’s been talked about for decades because I have to do an Environmental Review. Now Trump, as the environmental bureaucrat. How incredible is that?
He won’t approve congestion pricing for the MTA. What does he have to do with congestion pricing? Nothing! It is just gratuitous. It is just gratuitous. There is no federal involvement with congestion pricing. Their approval is purely technical and it’s been over a year— we passed it in New York State. He won’t approve it.
He won’t rebuild the tunnels between New York and New Jersey that are dangerous. They’re Amtrak tunnels. Do you know who owns Amtrak? Who owns Amtrak? The federal government owns Amtrak. They’re his tunnels. They’re decaying. I went to the tunnel; I took a video of water seeping into the tunnel. I took a video of bricks crumbling. I sent them the video. He watched the video. Still, no money to fund the Amtrak tunnels.
This weekend, they stopped FEMA funding from cleaning schools and trains. “We want students to go back; we want schools to reopen.” But you don’t want to clean the schools? Students should go back to a dirty school? Is that what you want your child to do? Gratuitous and arbitrary, and now no federal funds for New York City and New York State post-COVID.
Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and Fauci admitted. “The China Virus, the China Virus, the China Virus.” It was not the China Virus; it was the European Virus that came to New York. They missed it. They missed it. The China Virus went to Europe. It got on a plane and went to Europe. They never even thought of the possibility and then 3 million Europeans got on a plane and came to New York and they brought the virus. January: they brought the virus. February: they brought the virus. March: they brought the virus. And in mid-March, the federal government does a travel ban from Europe. Mid-March. Too little too late, Mr. President. He caused the COVID outbreak in New York. Donald Trump and his incompetent CDC and his incompetent NIH and his incompetent Department of Homeland Security.
Department of Homeland Security- “We’re going to protect the people of this nation “We’re not going let the immigrants come across the southern border; we’re going to create a wall” Why didn’t you stop the virus? The virus killed many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. Do you hear that point?
We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created. That’s where we are.
The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.
This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. Right? These are the enemies from the president’s point of view. Look at his tweets. “These are the locations and the outposts of the enemies, so don’t provide them any funding even though we caused the COVID virus. It is an unsustainable position for the federal government.
Either this president will figure it out or the next president will figure it out. If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion. In the interim we have to be smart. We’ve gone through tough times before, New York, we had the fiscal crisis of the 70s; post 9/11 – I experienced it was a whole disruptive period – we went through the Great Recession, but we have to be smart we have to be smart we have to be financially smart and we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.
The good news is, this is going to be a challenge, yes, but nothing like the challenge we just went through. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. I hope and pray. But compared to what we went through with COVID, dealing with the fiscal crisis is a mere bump and we’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it together because we’re New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and most of all: Loving.
The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund to provide flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses, focusing on minority and women owned small businesses, that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance. The state will take a smart, targeted approach for distributing these loans, focusing on businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues. Businesses interested in receiving a loan should visit esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans.
Governor Cuomo also announced the Long Island and Mid-Hudson Valley Regions will be permitted to begin construction staging in anticipation of phase one of reopening. If the number of deaths continues to decrease and the tracing is online, both regions could reopen next week.
The Governor also announced the launch of a new pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct 7,000 tests per week. New York State now has more than 750 testing sites across the state. The Governor also encouraged eligible New Yorkers to visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov to find a nearby testing site and get tested.
The Governor also announced that the state is making its contact tracing training curriculum available at no cost to all states through the National Governors Association to speed the process of creating contact tracing programs. The state partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University to develop this comprehensive online curriculum to train potential contact tracers. Contact tracing is currently underway in seven regions of the state – the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier and Western New York.
The Governor pointed to the urgency of continuing practices like social distancing, hand-washing and perhaps most critically, wearing a mask in public when six-feet separation cannot be maintained.
“How do you know the mask works?” he said. “First responders have a lower infection rate than the general population. Nurses, doctors in emergency rooms have a lower infection rate than the general population. How can that possibly be? Because they wear the mask and they do the hand sanitizers. You feel out of control, you can’t protect yourself, you can’t protect family? Yes, you can. That’s what the mask does. You want to be in control of yourself? You want to greatly increase your odds? Wear the mask. By the way, not just asking you. The mask is mandatory in public settings. Public transportation, if you are in a taxi or Uber, private carriers, or anytime you are in public within six feet of another person, the mask is mandatory. It is not just a nice thing to do, a responsible thing to do, for citizen duty, it is mandatory that you wear the mask within six feet of another person in public. You don’t have a right to infect another person. You don’t. Look at the constitution, tell me where it says you have the right to infect another person. You don’t.
“So, how do we reopen smart? It’s up to you. It’s up to us. And that’s both the beauty and the conundrum of this situation. It is wholly dependent on social action. Wholly dependent on social action. You tell me what people do, I will tell you the results, period. Government can say whatever it wants. I can sit up here and say whatever I want. I can’t control it. People can control it.”
Cuomo is so keen on mask-wearing, that he enlisted his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo to create the state’s Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest, which was launched on May 5th. Out of 600 submissions, five finalists have been selected. New Yorkers can vote for the winning ad until Monday May 25th at WearAMask.ny.gov, and 92,000 people have voted to date. The winning ad will be announced on Tuesday, May 26th, and that ad will be used as a public service announcement.
On the state’s decision to launch its own small business loan program, Cuomo said, “Small business is a priority. Federal government passed the Small Business Assistance Program. That has run out of money and small businesses are taking a real beating in this situation. They are 90 percent of New York’s businesses and they’re facing the toughest challenges. The economic projections, vi-a-vie small business are actually frightening. More than 100,000 have shut permanently since the pandemic hit. Many small businesses just don’t have the staying power to continue to pay all the fixed costs, the lease, et cetera, when they have no income whatsoever. Minority owned businesses face a far greater risk and have received less in federal relief.”
The state’s own small business relief program will make $100 million available through private banks.
“We’re going to focus on MWBEs that did not receive federal assistance and focus on really small business. The federal definition of small business is what many could consider large business, but we’re going to focus on true small businesses. Twenty or fewer employees, less than $3 million in gross revenues.”
Finally, the Governor confirmed 1,696 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 358,154 confirmed cases. Of the 358,154 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
Nassau County and Suffolk Counties are expected to meet the state’s metrics to reopen by next week, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, even as the counties, and New York State move forward with reopening beaches, parks, golf courses, tennis and marinas this Memorial Day weekend, and will honor the fallen on Memorial Day with car parades and a televised wreath laying ceremony.
State beaches, including Jones Beach, are open, while Nassau County beaches will reopen to residents. Beaches are limiting capacity to 50 percent, through limiting parking, and social distancing and rules regarding wearing a mask in public and when 6-feet separation cannot be maintained, are in place.
The Bethpage Memorial Day Air Show that traditionally takes place at Jones Beach State Park will go on “virtually” on the airshow’s web page. Nassau County will conduct an auto parade and a small wreath-laying ceremony at the Veterans Memorial within Eisenhower Park; the Memorial Day events will be televised beginning at 9:30 am.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran encouraged residents to take advantage of the county’s expanded biking/walking/recreational trails. Speaking at Eisenhower Park, showcased the newly completed 1.4 mile expansion of the Motor Parkway Trail, a multi-use trail that currently spans from Hofstra University, to Museum Row, to Eisenhower Park. The expansion was completed in time for National Bike Month, which runs through the month of May. The trail serves as a recreational connection of 11 continuous miles through Nassau County for hikers and bicyclists, directly serving the Nassau Hub area. Curran said that ultimately, the county’s Department of Public Works in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land, will extend the trail to connect with Bethpage State Park, where there is a stunning 15-mile long bikeway, and will eventually reach to the Nassau-Suffolk line. The bike paths offer an alternative to using an automobile.
Indeed, the Motor Parkway was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt as the first roadway specifically designed for automobile use only. It hosted the first international automobile race in the United States, 112 years ago. Howard Kroplick, a car collector and historian who owns the 1909 Alco “Black Beast” which twice won the Vanderbilt Cup race.
“It shows government works for the people,” Curran said, adding that the 930acre Eisenhower Park, with its golf courses, mini-golf, tennis, pool, skating rink, actually is larger than New York City’s Central Park.
Nassau County, being contiguous with New York City, has been a hotspot for coronavirus, but the County executive pointed to positive metrics, including the most critical one, the number of deaths falling from peaking at 219 in a single day (April 6) to five; the number of new cases a day went from a peak of 2477 hospitalizations to 564 today; from 592 ICU patients at its peak, April 14, to 178 today.
Residents have “quarantine fatigue” she said, which is why opening outdoor recreation is so important. She said that nonprofit venues, like Old Westbury Gardens, the Planting Fields, the Bailey Arboretum, also can be opened safely, limiting capacity, in order to give people more things to do.
Nassau County’s economy has been decimated by the pandemic and the lockdown. Curran said.
She warned of a collapse of downtowns and the county’s small businesses.
“We see businesses suffering, lay offs,” she said. The county budget, which depends for 40 percent of its revenue on sales taxes, expects a 20 percent decline in those revenues – a loss of $438 million out of a $3.5 billion budget. The county is projecting a $384 million deficit.
She insisted the county has no intention of furloughing workers. “We have the best employees. We have a lean operation. I will stand by (our workers). Think of everything they have done –the DPW, police, health, consumer affairs – all going nonstop, serving residents. We need help from the federal government.”
The county, she said, has so far received $108 million from federal aid, but the county’s payroll is $80 million a month.
Consequently, the state’s new focus on getting funding to small businesses will be a boon to Nassau.
“Small business is a priority,” Governor Cuomo said at his May 22 coronavirus briefing. “The federal government’s small business assistance program has run out of money. Small businesses have taken a beating – they are 90% of New York businesses, and facing the toughest challenges. The economic projections are frightening” – more than 100,000 nationwide are estimated to have shut permanently since the pandemic escalated in March. Minority- and women-owned businesses have been especially disadvantaged by the federal program.
Cuomo announced the state was initiating its own small business relief program which will make available $100 million in New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), with a focus on minority- and women-owned businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues, that have not received federal support (https://esd.ny.gov/economic-recovery-covid-19-loans-small-businesses).
The state also is permitting the staging for construction projects in anticipation of the county reopening.
The lag in reopening the county has also hurt real estate sales, Curran said. New Jersey and Connecticut are seeing a boon in New Yorkers looking to escape the city for suburbs. “We don’t want to lose out. We have all price ranges here.”
Meanwhile, Curran announced that the Nickerson Beach cabanas will be open for the summer season on June 21.
“The Cabanas at Nickerson are a beloved tradition of our County’s beach culture and for many it wouldn’t be summer without them. I am glad we are able to return a tiny of bit of normalcy to our residents and allow them to enjoy this amenity along with our beautiful south shore beach. We will have new guidelines in place to ensure that people are able to enjoy the cabanas in a safe way,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Nickerson Beach has long offered cabanas for rent during the summer season on the eastern and western ends of the park. Each year, a lottery is held to determine eligibility for available spots. There are 498 cabanas and 147 cabinettes. The County released directives to ensure all renters can utilize the cabanas safely while abiding by social distancing guidelines. The County will be monitoring compliance of these rules.
The County will be implementing a density reduction plan by reducing parking to 50 percent occupancy.
Cabanas may only be used to store food, change clothes and store beach chairs, tables and umbrellas.
Congregation in and around cabanas will not be permitted.
The County will be reaching out to cabana renters to ascertain their interest in voluntarily forgoing their use this season. Those renters who chose to pass on utilization this season will have their renting rights honored with no penalty in the 2021 season. The County will be releasing a fee reduction plan for those who chose to rent this season.
Use of indoor amenities, except for bathrooms, at beach clubs are not permitted at this time. The County is waiting on New York State guidance on opening pools.
Meanwhile, the Governor is looking to allow religious centers to conduct services, limiting participation and requiring social distancing, and is also looking to for a return of professional sports but without fans in arenas.
Cuomo has insisted that testing, tracing and isolation are key to reopening without triggering new spikes in contagion that could force the economy to shut down again. He encouraged anyone to get tested and announced a new pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct 7000 tests per week.
“New York is doing more testing than any other state, any other nation.” He said that so much testing is available that many of the places are doing thousands fewer tests a day than they can accommodate.
If you have any symptoms or feel you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, he urged, go to coronavirus.health.ny.gov to find out where to go for a test.
The state has mounted the most aggressive contact tracing program, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and developed by Johns Hopkins.
Cuomo said New York would share the software and training program with any state that requests it, through the National Governors Association, at no cost.
Cuomo stressed the importance of wearing a mask as key to preventing a resurgence of coronvirus outbreaks that could once again shut down the economy. As proof, he notes that doctors and nurses in the Emergency Room, first responders and frontline workers have lower rates of the infection than the general population because they wear masks. The state has mounted a video contest for a public service announcement. Five finalists have been selected. To vote (by May 25) go to coronavirus.health.ny.gov/wear-mask. The winner will be unveiled on May 26. In just 2 ½ days, some 92,000 voted.
Bethpage Jones Beach Memorial Day Air Show Virtually
While there won’t be an actual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, you can see photo highlights of past shows here:
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.“
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo hit back hard on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaling he would block aid to states most impacted by the coronavirus. McConnell, boasted in a press release that he had no intention of bailing out “blue states.”
Cuomo, who is staring down a $15 billion budget deficit, said that without federal aid, states (which are not allowed to go bankrupt) would be forced to cut back on health workers, police, fire, teachers, mass transit and social services as the state.
“15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democratic so why help them? Don’t help New York State because it is a Democratic state? How ugly a thought. Think of what he’s saying,” Cuomo said during his April 23 press briefing.
“For crying out loud, if there were ever a time for you to put aside your pettiness, your partisanship, your political lens you see the world through – help Republicans but not Democrats – that’s not who we are. If ever there was a time for humanity, decency, now is the time.”
Except that is exactly who McConnell and the Republicans are, and demonstrated it through every crisis.
McConnell is clearly seeing the political advantage of pushing Blue States into near bankruptcy – that figured into how he constructed the 2017 Tax Act which limited the deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT) because it would adversely impact blue states over red ones, force state government to cut back on services or risk a tax revolt.
But Cuomo also pointed to the stupidity of that: California is the world’s 5th largest economy and accounts for 14% of US GDP; New York State is the third largest economy in US, accounting for 8% of GDP – taken together, these two states alone account for nearly one-fourth of GDP.
“If New York and California are allowed to go bankrupt, that would take down the entire economy,” Cuomo said.
Moreover, Cuomo insisted, “When it comes to fairness, New York State puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out. At the end of the year, we put in $116 billion more than we take out. His state, Kentucky, takes out $148 billion more than they put in. He’s a federal legislator distributing the federal pot of money and New York puts in more money to fed pot than takes out, his state takes out more than it puts in. Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out? It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state.
“How do you not fund schools, hospitals in the midst of crisis, police, fire, healthcare – frontline – if you can’t fund the state, the state can’t fund those services. It makes no sense.” (Probably the same way you cut $500 million in funding to the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic.)
“The entire nation depends on what governors do to reopen, but then not fund state government? I am I going to do it alone?
“States should declare bankruptcy? That’s how to bring the national economy back? You want to see that market fall through the cellar, just let New York State declare bankruptcy, Michigan, Illinois, California declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of the national economy. That’s just dumb.”
The National Governors Association, a bipartisan group of governors from around the country, wrote federal officials this week pleading for $500 billion to help them make up for lost tax revenues during what they called “the most dramatic contraction of the U.S. economy since World War II.”
None of the four stimulus bills that have passed the Senate, amounting to trillions of dollars of funding, have provided any aid to states hardest hit by the virus. As it happened, these happen to be Democratic states – New York, which accounts for almost one-third of all coronavirus cases and deaths; New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois and California.
Republicans have been gleeful at sending billions to corporations and well-connected, able to skirt whatever oversight and provisions the Democrats had tried to impose (Trump said he would take the reporting requirements as a suggestion and promptly fired the Inspector General), balked at expanding unemployment assistance, and reneged on promises to help states now billions in the red because of the expenses of maintaining services as revenues have all but dried up with the lock-down of all but essential work.
Mimicking his obstruction to Obama’s recovery when refused to allocate enough money for the Recovery Act, McConnell has been content to see the budget deficit rise by $3 trillion (on top of the $1 trillion Trump added even as the economy boomed, because of the Republican tax scam) as long as it could be steered to friendly industries and donors, now expressed glee to let blue states go bankrupt.
“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said in an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has consistently asserted that future stimulus bills would send aid to states and localities, but McConnell is now signaling that now that they have gotten four stimulus bills amounting to a slush fund with little oversight and accountability, they will be unwilling to provide direct help to states. All of a sudden, they are concerned about rising debt. (Reminder: Republicans shut down government and threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling during Obama unless Obama would rescind Obamacare from the budget.)
Once this last stimulus bill passes the House, as is expected, Democrats will lose all leverage to get aid to states, localities, hospitals, workers and the unemployed.
Meanwhile, Cuomo reported on the preliminary results of the state’s first statewide survey intended to determine what percentage of the population has antibodies after being exposed to the infection.
The preliminary results suggest that 13.6% of the state has been infected (and now has antibodies), with the greatest proportion downstate: 21.2% of people in New York City, 16.7% of Long Island, 11.7% of Westchester/Rockland and 3.6% of the rest of the state. The 3,000 in the sample were randomly surveyed in grocery stores and box-stores – in other words, people who were out and about.
Based on that infection rate, it would suggest that 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected. If that were true, the 15,500 fatalities would suggest a death rate of 0.5%. However, Cuomo stressed that the fatalities counted were only those that took place in hospitals and nursing homes, but do not include those who died at home.
Amid a lack of federal
direction and nationwide standards, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New
Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont today announced
a regional approach to combating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout
the tri-state area, in announcing closures of restaurants, bars,
gyms, movie theaters and gatherings over 50 people, as well as public schools.
But the governors all
called upon the federal government – the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA – to assist
with building emergency hospitals and providing medical equipment and
protective gear for health workers.
In what may be the first
regional coalition in the country to slow the spread of the infection, these
uniform standards will limit crowd capacity for social and recreational
gatherings to 50 people, effective 8 PM tonight. This follows updated
guidance that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued yesterday
recommending the cancellation or postponement of in-person events
consisting of 50 people or more.
The three governors also
announced restaurants and bars will close for on premise service and move
to take-out and delivery services only. These establishments will be
provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol. These measures will take effect
at 8 PM tonight.
Finally, the three
governors said they will temporarily close movie theaters, gyms and casinos,
effective at 8 PM tonight.
This uniform approach to
social distancing is meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or
“Our primary goal
right now is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new
infections doesn’t crash our healthcare system, and everyone agrees social
distancing is the best way to do that,” New York Governor Cuomo said. “This
is not a war that can be won alone, which is why New York is partnering with
our neighboring states to implement a uniform standard that not only keeps our
people safe but also prevents ‘state shopping’ where residents of one state
travel to another and vice versa. I have called on the federal government to
implement nationwide protocols but in their absence we are taking this on
New Jersey Governor Murphy said, “With all we are seeing in our state – and across our
nation and around the world – the time for us to take our strongest, and most direct,
actions to date to slow the spread of coronavirus is now. I’ve said many times
over the past several days that, in our state, we are going to get through this
as one New Jersey family. But if we’re all in this together, we must work with
our neighboring states to act together. The work against coronavirus isn’t just
up to some of us, it’s up to all of us.”
Connecticut Governor Lamont said, “The only way to effectively fight the spread of
COVID-19 is by working together as states. We have shared interests, and a
patchwork of closures and restrictions is not the best way forward. I know that
because of this collaboration, we will save lives.”
But the governors called upon the federal government
to quickly assist to address what is anticipated as a critical shortage of
hospital capacity, medical equipment and protective gear for health workers.
“The best way
to [add hospital capacity] is the Army Corp of Engineers – they build airports,
bridges,” said Governor Cuomo. “They have the personnel, equipment and do it
well. They have the medical equipment and experience setting up hospitals. The
state doesn’t have existing workforce. We could contract out –and expedite
contracting, which is very expensive – but we still don’t have the medical
equipment. It is very, very hard for a state to get this equipment. Everybody
wants ventilators, oxygen tanks. The federal government has a stockpile of
emergency medical equipment. [But], if the federal government doesn’t step up
and doesn’t step up quickly, states will be forced to do what they can on own,
and New York will do exactly that” – use its own construction authority and
Dormitory Authority to build.
New Jersey Governor Murphy said that to expand his
state’s hospital capacity, “we are looking at host of contingency plans in
similar light. We have had constructive conversations with FEMA, but more about
testing. We will take all the help we can get. Our big needs from the federal
government alongside testing is personal protective equipment. In long term, we
will need help with economic recovery – states can’t do that on own. But our
immediate need on personal protective equipment.
hospital beds and within a couple of weeks,” Connecticut Governor Lamont said. “We
are woefully short, especially if a surge comes, even if we flatten the curve
in the most optimistic way, we are badly outgunned. We saw what happened in
China, where built new hospitals, added capacity in short order.”
The governors said they were not going to shut down
public transportation, but to “right size the equipment to ridership,” Governor
Murphy said. “There are huge focuses on hygiene, cleanliness, making sure all
the equipment is as clean and germ free as possible.”
Meanwhile, the governors are looking to increase
telecommunications capacity, to enable people to telecommute, to maintain
education online and medical assistance, as well as stay in touch with family.
“We’re working with telecom service providers ,upping
capacity, taking away caps, to learn at home, telehealth at home, so people get
out of cars and stay closer at home,” Said Governor Lamont. “Ridership on rail
is way down.”
“New York also,” Cuomo added. “We want people to stay home, so we need capacity for
The three states, acting in concert, are shutting
down bars and restaurants except for take out and delivery. The exceptions will
be supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential retailers.
New Jersey is strongly discouraging nonessential
travel between 8 pm & 5 am on any given day beginning tonight.
Other states may join New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut in a wider regional coalition for coordinated action – including Pennsylvania,
Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Asked about the downsides to closing public schools –
including loss of food service for needy children, and child care for workers, Cuomo
said, “We will do it in a way that accentuates the upside and negates the
downside. The downside is people lose childcare, first responders may not be
able to go to work, especially healthcare workers if there isn’t child care, so
the crash will be on the healthcare system. So we said that schools can close
but must provide child care for essential workers, first responders, healthcare
workers. Schools close but we will not stop the food for breakfast, lunch,
dinner. Educational opportunities lost but we are planning to continue to teach
through telecommuting or summer school if this has abated to that point by
“There are few easy calls on this one,” Governor
Murphy said. “There is enormous pressure on the economy, small businesses going
forward. In schools, the three issues referenced- food security (we have a couple
of hundred thousand kids who depend on schools for a hot meal), child care,
remote learning (250,000 New Jersey kids
don’t have access to device). So we are preprinting monthly syllibi. None of these
decisions are easy, without offsets. But we believe strongly this is right path
As for tribal casinos in New York and Connecticut, which
as sovereign nations, the states cannot order to close but Governor Cuomo said “This
is a ‘do the right thing’ situation.”
Earlier, Governor Cuomo had issued a ruling to close
New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk, and instructed New York City to
develop a plan within 24 hours to ensure children who rely on school breakfast
and lunch programs will continue to receive that support, and parents –
especially critical healthcare workers and first responders – will be provided
access to child care as needed.
“Our goal is to
slow the spread of the virus to a rate that the healthcare system can manage,
and one of the ways to do that is to reduce density,” Governor Cuomo said.”Closing
the schools is a good idea but you have to anticipate and correct any
unintended consequences – we have to ensure children who rely on free school
meals continue to get them and that there’s adequate child care, especially for
healthcare workers and first responders who are parents of young children. We
will close these schools but it needs to be done with these contingencies in
mind so that children are not harmed and our hospitals aren’t understaffed –
otherwise we cut off our nose to spite our face.”
The Governor also called
on 1199 SEIU President George Gresham, New York State Nurses
Association President Judy Sheridan Gonzalez, Greater New York Hospitals
Association President Ken Raske and United Federation of Teachers
President Mike Mulgrew to work together to ensure children who rely
on school breakfast and lunch programs will continue to receive that support,
and parents will be provided access to child care as needed, including
temporary daycare centers. These centers would prioritize care for children of
healthcare workers and first responders to ensure these school closures do not
strain the hospital and emergency response systems.
Earlier today, the Governor tasked SUNY Empire State
College President Jim Malatras with working with counties to develop
contingency plans in preparation for school closings, including how to provide
meals to food insecure children and ensuring families have adequate access to
County executives from
Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau joined a conference call with Governor Cuomo to
discuss the school closures.:
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “Our county has been coordinating
with the State to ensure an effective means of slowing the spread of the
COVID-19 virus. Cancelling group events and meetings, limiting access for
non-essential social contacts and anticipating additional testing and
healthcare needs are all part of our response in concert with the Governor and
his administration. Closing schools – with adequate childcare and nutrition
provisions – is the next step we will undertake this week. We deeply appreciate
the leadership shown by Governor Cuomo.”
“Over the last
several days we have worked with our state and local partners on the potential
closure of schools as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to
increase around the state,” Suffolk
County Executive Steve Bellone said. “As part of our larger
social distancing efforts, we came to the conclusion that closing schools is
the right thing to do at this time. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo
for his leadership as we deal with this crisis as well as our school districts
for their partnership and swift action to protect Suffolk families.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “I thank Governor Cuomo for fully
supporting our decision to close all public and private schools and for his
unwavering commitment to ensure every child in Nassau County is fully taken
care of while this crisis continues to unfold. We all agree that nothing is
more important than the safety and well-being of our children.”