The safety measures New York State has put in place in the wake of COVID-19 – such as social distancing and restrictions on social gatherings – are already showing early signs of slowing down the spread of the virus. According to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, estimates from Sunday showed coronavirus hospitalizations were doubling every 2 days, however Tuesday’s estimates showed hospitalizations were doubling every 4.7 days. This means that your commitment to social distancing is working to save lives. I know that staying home as much as possible can be challenging, but know that doing so is making progress in our collective effort to mitigate the spread of this pandemic, and helping to alleviate pressure on our healthcare system – so keep up the good work!
In the early hours of the morning, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill tomorrow. Below is a summary of the provisions and how they will affect New York State:
- State Aid: The final legislation includes $150 billion for state, local, and tribal government costs associated with combating the COVID-19 pandemic. $11 billion of this is reserved for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Tribal governments. The remaining $139 billion will be allocated by population proportions according to the U.S. Census Bureau data. According to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, New York State would get at least $7.5 billion and that at least $168 million will go to Westchester County, over $159 million would go to Erie County, and more than $128 million would go to Monroe County. New York City would receive $1.3 billion.
- Other Possible Sources of State Aid: In addition to the $150 billion outlined above, the legislation also includes an additional pool of funding for the following specific purposes:
- $45 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (including reimbursement for medical responses, personal protective equipment, and National Guard deployment).
- $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to support the continuation of educational functions.
- $25 billion in aid to transit systems throughout the United States.
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile medical supplies.
- $10 billion in grants for airports.
- $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs.
- $6.5 billion in funding for local economic development programs.
- $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant.
- $2 billion through CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support.
- $1 billion for the Defense Production Act (PPE, ventilators, medical supplies).
- $1 billion to recapitalize Amtrak and support their employees.
- $850 million for State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance.
- $400 million in election assistance to help states prepare for the 2020 election cycle.
- $300 million through Violence Against Women and Prosecution Program.
- $200 million per year in SFYs 2021-2026 for the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Development Program.
- $500 billion loan program for large businesses, states, and cities: Within this amount, $454 billion is made available to make loans and loan guarantees to, and other investments in, programs or facilities established by the Federal Reserve for the purpose of providing liquidity to the financial system that supports lending to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities. Depending on the authorized uses of these funds, New York State may be able to get additional resources to help with its Financial Plan.
- Unemployment insurance: The final legislation increases unemployment insurance by $600 per week for a four-month period. In New York, the maximum unemployment insurance benefit is $435 per week, meaning that New Yorkers claiming unemployment would be eligible for $1,035 weekly. Workers who are already receiving unemployment benefits are also eligible for an additional thirteen weeks of benefits. Notably, this benefit includes part-time workers, gig economy workers, freelancers, and workers on furlough who are still receiving health insurance from their employers. These provisions will cost the federal government approximately $260 billion, of which $15 billion will be provided to New Yorkers.
- Direct Cash Payments: The bill includes one-time direct payments (through refundable tax credits) to individuals and families, including those with little to no tax liabilities, totaling $1,200 per person, with an additional $500 per child. All taxpayers with Social Security numbers who are U.S. residents are eligible for these tax refund checks, though these payments phase out for taxpayers who had an adjusted gross income above $75,000 on their 2019 tax return (or 2018 if the taxpayer has not yet filed their 2019 taxes), phasing out entirely at $99,000. These amounts are doubled for married taxpayers filing jointly. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that taxpayers should expect their checks in about three weeks. Notably, this excludes all people who pay taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number.
- Protection Against Foreclosures and Evictions: The bill grants 60-day forbearances on federally backed mortgage loans, which can be extended by up to four 30-day periods. Servicers of federally backed loans may not begin the foreclosure process until mid-May, at the earliest. The legislation also prohibits servicers to charge fees, penalties, or additional interest because of delayed payments.
- Multifamily federal mortgage loans receive smaller protections, with just a 30-day forbearance and two 30-day extensions.
- Those with federally backed mortgages with tenants are not permitted to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period. They may not charge fees or penalties for the delay. This legislation does not forgive the rent.
- Hospital Funds: The final legislation includes a $100 billion appropriation for hospitals and other healthcare providers, which includes funding for equipment and infrastructure and enhanced health initiatives. The funding can be used for personal protective equipment, testing supplies, increased workforce training. An additional $17 billion in funding has been allocated for increased Medicare payments for all hospitals and providers. Additional funding has also been made available to bolster the Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity, and to fund medical research of COVID-19.
- Small Business Interruption Loans: The legislation includes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans and grants to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The maximum loan amount will be determined by the average of monthly payments for payroll, mortgage, rent, and other debt obligations incurred during the one-year period before the date of the loan. Exceptions will be made for seasonal employers. Self-employed people, independent contractors, and sole proprietors are eligible for these loans. This legislation also provides grants for small businesses with education, training and advising needs.
- An additional $17 billion is directed to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover loan payments including principal, interest, and fees for small businesses.
- Includes $10 billion for the SBA to offer emergency grants through the Emergency Injury Disaster Loans of up to $10,000 to assist small businesses with their operating costs.
- Student Loans and Grants: The bill includes tax relief to encourage employers to implement student loan repayment programs. The provision will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes. The requirement for students who withdraw from an institution of higher education to return amounts of loan or grant funds are waived for students who experience a qualifying emergency during the period of repayment or enrollment period. Students who received Federal Pell Grants or other grant assistance and withdrew for a qualifying emergency are also waived from returning grant funds. The bill also cancels the entire portion of a student loan obligation associated with a payment period during which the borrower withdrew from an institution of higher education during the payment period for a qualifying emergency. Student loan payments are suspended through September 30, 2020 without penalty and without accrual of interest. No later than 15 days after enactment of the law, borrowers will be notified of the suspension of payment and the accrual of interest.
- Aviation Industry Job Protection: The bill appropriates up to $32 billion to protect two million jobs in the aviation industry via the suspension of certain aviation excise taxes, financial assistance, airport grants, and aid necessary to carry out essential transportation services. $25 billion of these funds are earmarked for passenger air carriers, $4 earmarked for cargo air carriers, and $3 million for contract workers such as catering services. Previous versions of the legislation expanded health benefits for airline contract workers, but these provisions were omitted from the final bill.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This legislation provides an additional $15.81 billion for the SNAP program. Most of this money is allocated in a contingency reserve fund in the event that SNAP disbursements exceed projections.
- This Act suspended the work and work training requirements for SNAP during the crises.
- This Act enabled the Department of Agriculture to approve emergency SNAP assistance to families with children who would have received free or reduced-price school meals if their schools were not closed due to COVID-19.
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program: The legislation provides $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which supplies food banks, of which $350 million will be directed to purchasing food and $100 million directed to distribution.
- REAL ID: The deadline for compliance with REAL ID requirements for, among other things, boarding aircraft, will be extended until September 30, 2021.
- Miscellaneous Health Provisions: The legislation includes a number of miscellaneous health-related provisions, largely to increase availability of telehealth services, to improve care planning for home health services, to prohibit cost sharing for coronavirus treatment under Medicare. The legislation includes provisions to combat drug and medical device shortages. Lastly, the legislation includes provisions to streamline drug trials for the coronavirus.
In an effort to continue expanding hospital bed capacity, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the state is scouting additional new sites for temporary hospitals, with a goal of having a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility in each New York City borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. One of the locations currently being considered is the New York Expo Center in the Bronx. These are in addition to the temporary hospitals that are being built at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center. The state is also preparing vacant college dormitories and hotels for emergency beds.
Governor Cuomo announced the state has received significant donations from a number of major corporations, philanthropic organizations and celebrities to help increase the state’s supply capacity amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The donations include personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, equipment for field hospitals, free flights for incoming medical volunteers and other medical supplies and support items. You can access the full list of donations on the Governor’s website.
The Governor also announced that an additional 12,000 healthcare workers, including retirees and students, have signed up to volunteer to work as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of volunteers to more than 52,000.
Additionally, more than 8,600 mental health professionals, including individuals from other states, have now signed up to provide free online mental health services. New Yorkers can call the state’s hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment.
Today the Governor announced approved technology for one ventila tor to serve two patients at once, to help alleviate any future shortage of equipment. The state is also looking at technology to convert anesthesia machines into ventilators. COVID-19 patients are typically on a ventilator for 11-21 days (compared to 3-4 days normally).
New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced that the City is working with the federal government to bring an additional 2,000 ventilators to our hospitals. The estimated need Citywide is for 15,000 ventilators. Additionally, the City is producing face shields and other personal protective equipment now at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There will be 50,000 face shields shipped by Friday to the Department of Health and 120,000 made by next Tuesday.
Mayor De Blasio also announced that as of tonight, 375 incarce rated individuals who were serving time for minor, non-violent offenses in New York City jails will be released, to reduce jail population density and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our correctional facilities. This brings the City’s jail population to below 5,000 – the lowest New York City has seen since 1949.
Senior Update: The Department for the Aging (DFTA) is ceasing all congregant s ervices and will now only offer grab-and-go meals. DFTA has created a centralized meal delivery program that will deliver meals to 25,000 seniors to provide seniors with a 5-meal package per week. DFTA is working with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to ensure that senior residents in NYCHA developments have access to food.
In addition, DFTA is offering case management services both on the phone or online. To be connected with these services, please call 311.
Housing Resources: For tenant related questions, Housing Justice for All has made a FAQ webpage to address any concerns. You can access more information here. The NYCHA Journal has also provided updated information for ten ants about how they are responding to COVID-19.
Fraud and Scam Protections: The Department of Justice has created a Coronavirus Fraud Prevention website w ith resources on how to protect yourself from fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission has created a website to help consumers avoid coronavirus-related scams.
Supermarket Update: NYC Supermarkets are required to maintain social distancing in check out lines. If a store is not enforcing this requirement, please call 311. Mayor De Blasio is recommending all supermarkets to institute morning senior citizens hours to ensure safe shopping for our vulnerable populations.
NYC Parks Update: Practicing social distancing in our public parks is essential to reducing the spread of coronavirus. The Park Enforcement Patrol, The FDNY, Department of Parks and Recreation and the Sheriff’s office will be enforcing social distancing requirements for park-goers.
Human Resources Administration (HRA) Update: HRA has consolidated Job Centers, SNAP offices and Medicaid Centers. People can apply for benefits online at ACCESS HRA or by calling 311. People can now apply for cash assistance online, in order to prevent in person visits to an HRA Center.
Freelancer Resources: The Freelancers Relief Fund is offering financial assistance to up to $1,000 per freelance household to help cover lost income including: Food, utility payments, and cash assistance. Applications will open on April 2nd. Learn more about the Freelancers Relief Fund.
Employment Update: If your employer is not complying with New York State’s COVID-19 Employment Regulations, you can file a complaint online. You can learn more about and apply for New York State emergency paid sick leave due to the coronavirus online.
NYC Residents: The city’s Workforce1 Career Center launched a Virtual Center (or call 718-960-2458) to help New Yorkers prepare for, and connect to, jobs across New York City’s five boroughs and in every sector of the economy. Candidates can be connected via web or phone to one-on-one help from professionals for help with job opportunities, individual career advisement, resume and interview preparation, and workforce training.
FEMA Update: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a fact sheet with public assistance guidance. You can find more FEMA information on their website.
Citi Bike is offering free 30-day memberships for critical workforce in response to COVID-19. More information available on Citi Bike deals.
New Community Resources:
- Pelham Residents: The Junior League of Pelham, Pelham Together, Pelham Civic Association and the Pelham Chamber of Commerce have created a relief effort for residents called Pelham Cares: Neighbor to Neighbor. Pelham Cares is an initiative that will purchase meals from local businesses to be delivered to those working on the frontlines. This is a great way to help essential workers while supporting small businesses. You can access more information here.
- City Island Residents: City Island Strong is offering food, grocery or prescription delivery, dog walking and other help to residents. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ways to Lend a Helping Hand:
- Donate or Sell Supplies: EDC launched a new website this weekend for local businesses that want to support the COVID-19 emergency response effort by providing or manufacturing supplies. Learn more at the new website: COVID-19 Emergency Supply Sourcing & Manufacturing.
- Donate Space: New York City is still identifying new hospital capacity. They are particularly interested in private spaces that may not be yet on their radar. If you have space to offer, please fill out this space survey here: NYC Share Your Space Survey.
- Medical Professionals: New York State is looking for qualified health, mental health, and related professionals to supplement our health care capacity. Take the Health and Professionals survey.
- Recruiting Drivers: New York City is looking for TLC-licensed drivers to help with important work related to COVID-19, such as delivering food to older adults who can’t leave their homes. This work will be paid $15/hour plus reimbursement for gas and tolls. Drivers will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. The initial need for drivers will be small, but we expect it to increase as we expand our programs. Sign-up here, at DeliveryTLC.
- Volunteer with City Harvest: To help City Harvest meet the increased need for food, they have created several volunteer opportunities at our Food Rescue Facility, and we need your help. Please check our Volunteer Portal for upcoming opportunities. If you haven’t volunteered with City Harvest before, you will need to….. BAD LINK