COVID-19 Update for Monday, April 20, 2020
Governors Make Appointments to Council Charged with Restoring Northeast Economy
NEW YORK—Perhaps the beginning of the end or at the very least the end of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restoration of the regional economy are at hand.
On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced their respective appointees to the multi-state council to restore the economy and get people back to work.
Among the appointees include the head of Northwell Health on Long Island and the former CEO of PepsiCo of Purchase.
The appointees for each state include one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chief of Staff from each state.
“We have been collaborating closely with our neighboring states to combat this pandemic through a uniform approach to social distancing and density reduction and it has been working well. Now it is time to start opening the valve slowly and carefully while watching the infection rate meter so we don’t trigger a second wave of new infections,” Gov. Cuomo said. ”
New Jersey Gov. Murphy added, “The only path to a sustainable economic recovery is through a strong healthcare recovery. Then, and only then, do we position ourselves to fully ignite our economy and get the residents of our state back to work while minimizing the danger of this disease. A coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multi-state council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences.
The appointees from each state include:
Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor
Robert Mujica, Director of NYS Division of the Budget
Michael Dowling, President and CEO, Northwell Health
George Helmy, Chief of Staff to the Governor
Dr. Richard Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Jeh Johnson, former United States Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama
Paul Mounds, Jr., Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor
Indra Nooyi, Co-chair of the nonprofit organization AdvanceCT and former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
Dr. Albert Ko, Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health
Michael Brunelle, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor
Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Department of Health
Secretary Dennis Davin, Department of Community and Economic Development
Sheila Grant, Chief of Staff, Office of Governor
Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services
Kurt Foreman, President and CEO, Delaware Prosperity Partnership
David Ortiz, Chief of Staff to the Governor
Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health
Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Commerce Secretary
Kristen Lepore, Chief of Staff
Michael Kennealy, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Lauren Peters, Undersecretary at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
On Saturday, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced that in all three states, marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only, like anywhere else in the three states. This announcement aligns the policies of the three states on this particular service.
Gov. Cuomo in his daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday, April 20, stated that there were 4,726 new Coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 427,512. On Sunday, April 19 there were 478 COVID-19-related deaths in New York State. To date the pandemic has killed 14,347 in New York State. The number of deaths in New York from COVID-19 has dropped since April 14 when there were 752 deaths, followed by 606 on April 15, 630 on April 16, 540 on April 17 and 507 on April 18.
On a positive note, the number of new cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 have all gone down in recent days.
The governor also announced at his press briefing today that he has called on the federal government to provide hazard pay for essential public workers on the front lines, proposing a 50% bonus for these workers. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 41% of frontline workers are people of color. Of those frontline workers, 45% of public transit workers, 57% of building cleaning service workers and 40% of healthcare workers are people of color. People of color are also disproportionately represented in delivery and childcare services, and approximately one third of frontline workers are members of low-income households.
He also announced the creation of the Reimagine NY Task Force to improve systems in Downstate New York once the state is no longer on pause. The task force will be led by the state and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and will be comprised of other local elected officials and housing and transportation experts.
NY’s Congressional Delegation Calls on President Trump To Provide More Fed Funding for FEMA Emergency Work
WASHINGTON—New York’s entire 28-member bipartisan delegation sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Friday, urging he grant New York State a waiver to provide 100% federal funding for all Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emergency work in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The representatives asked that any eligible work paid for through the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) be paid for by the federal government rather the New York taxpayers, as was done by Presidents Bush and Obama after 9-11 and Superstorm Sandy, respectively.
The complete 28 member New York delegation that joined the letter were Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Pete King (NY-2), Thomas Suozzi (NY-3), Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Grace Meng (NY-6), Nydia Velazquez (NY-7), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Max Rose (NY-11), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Tom Reed (NY-23), John Katko (NY-24), Joe Morelle (NY-25), and Brian Higgins (NY-26).
In its letter to President Trump, the New York delegation stated, “With New York State at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, it is imperative that New York receive all the federal resources available to save lives and protect public health and safety. The costs associated with responding to this public health crisis are astronomical. New York State expects to request billions of additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the DRF in the coming months. If New York State must shoulder the cost of even 25% of this massive bill, it could deal a devastating blow to New York’s vibrant economy.”
The delegation ended its letter requesting a waiver of its usual share and have the federal government provide 100% funding for the federal DRF program.
NYS Department of Labor Launches New COVID-19 Unemployment Application
ALBANY—The New York State Department of Labor reported the launch of a new application today (April 20) for New Yorkers to apply for traditional Unemployment Insurance or the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This one-stop-shop for unemployment benefits will connect New Yorkers with the benefits they deserve faster, without requiring them to call the Department of Labor.
Prior to today, due to cumbersome federal guidelines, New Yorkers were required to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance and be rejected before applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. With the new application, which aligns with updated federal policy, New Yorkers will be able to simply fill out one form to get the correct benefits.
In conjunction with this morning’s rollout of the improved application, DOL has been deploying more than 3,100 representatives solely dedicated to answering unemployment benefit needs seven days a week. This is up from 400 who previously manned the DOL call center prior to the pandemic.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, DOL has paid approximately $2.2 billion in Unemployment Insurance benefits to 1.1 million New Yorkers. The application call backlog prior to April 8 has been reduced to 4,305 from 275,000.
“I have been unemployed before myself, and I understand the pain, fear and anxiety New Yorkers are facing. The DOL’s mission is to help our neighbors through some of their toughest days, and in the last week we have made great strides in updating our systems,” NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “While it appears the Coronavirus pandemic is beginning to stabilize—at least from the public health perspective—we know that many New Yorkers are still facing an uncertain economic future, and the Department of Labor will continue to dedicate every resource available to helping New Yorkers weather this storm.”
The updated unemployment benefits application system will determine which unemployment program—unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance—New Yorkers should apply for and then prompt them to answer a specific set of questions. The application builds on the new online system the department rolled out on Friday, April 10th, in partnership with the State Office of Information Technology Services and Google Cloud, to help manage the exponential and unprecedented increase in new claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which was included in the Federal CARES Act, provides unemployment benefits for individuals who are ineligible for traditional unemployment insurance. Examples of those covered by PUA include:
• Self-employed New Yorkers;
• Independent contractors;
• New Yorkers who worked for an app-based company (i.e. “gig workers”)
• Those diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have COVD-19 symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis;
• Those living with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Those providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
• A primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or another facility due to COVID-19;
• Those unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or because they have been advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
• Those scheduled to commence new employment that cannot reach their workplace as a direct result of COVID-19;
• Those who became a major breadwinner because the head of their household died from COVID-19;
• Those who quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
• Those whose place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19;
• Those with insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19; and
• New Yorkers otherwise not qualified for regular or extended UI benefits and affected by COVID-19
In addition, New Yorkers concerned about food insecurity are reminded that resources are available across the state. Anyone looking for assistance can find a local food bank, including those supported by New York State, by visiting Feeding America’s website here.
New Yorkers seeking to file an unemployment insurance claim should visit labor.ny.gov or call the Telephone Claim Center at (888) 209-8124.
Senator Carlucci Lays Framework For COVID-19 ‘Heroes Compensation Fund’
ALBANY —New York State Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) has introduced legislation to fast-track the governor’s vision for a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund into law.
Sen. Carlucci said similar to the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, the legislation will provide compensation to frontline workers and their families who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Laying the framework for a fund to benefit our frontline heroes must be done quickly. Many families have lost a loved one who was working on the frontlines to COVID-19, and this country has a responsibility to make sure families impacted are helped,” said Senator Carlucci. We owe our essential workforce a massive debt of gratitude. They go into work every day, risking their own health to keep our State running. They are the heroes of this crisis.”
The legislation will provide death benefits to families who have lost a frontline worker, and provide essential workers who experience permanent impairments with workers’ compensation or disability benefits. Essential workers who would qualify would be any employee of a business providing products or services that are required to maintain the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of New York State as determined by the Governor.
Carlucci has said funding should be provided through the federal government as was done for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.