The Wrap Up – April 27, 2020

Reopening New York State

Today Governor Cuomo re-iterated that NYS on PAUSE will remain in effect until May 15th  and will most likely be extended in various regions around the State that are continuing to experience high infection rates. The planned stay at home order will continue while the State evaluates re-opening the economy regionally. He stated you can make the case to un-pause certain regions but the approach needs to be smart. 

There are ten factors the Governor outlined that must be taken into account for this process to be successful.

  1. The CDC guidelines – there must be a 14 day decline in infection rate
  2. Industry – Phase 1: Construction/Manufacturing – which construction and manufacturing projects could be accomplished safely?
  3. What actual business precautions would be in place, such as social distancing and health monitoring?
  4. What is the healthcare capacity for that region based on the ICU capacity, possible upcoming flu season and PPE stockpile when broken out by Regional Economic Development Corporation region?
  5. What is the testing regimen?
  6. What is the tracing regimen?
  7. What type of isolation facilities are available in the area?
  8. There must be a regional coordination for four main categories
    1. Schools
    2. Public Transportation
    3. Test availability
    4. Tracing capability
  9. There cannot be any “attractive nuisances” that would drive an increase of population density to an area, specifically when taking into account the surrounding areas.
  10. There would need to be “control room” in each region that would act as the epicenter for information gathering and processing.

Increased Antibody Testing

The State has currently tested 7,500 people for antibodies in its mission to gather data on the infection rate of COVID-19 within the state. To gather more specifics data they plan on extending this testing to 1,000 FDNY and NYPD employees, 3,000 healthcare workers, and 1,000 transit workers.

New York City  

Mayor de Blasio today announced New York City plans to hire 1,000 health workers to identify, interview and trace people who had contact with individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus.  The “tracers” will seek to ensure those individuals are aware of their contact and can self-isolate.  Anyone seeking to apply for a job as a “tracer” may apply by visiting the Fund for Public Health website

New York City also plans to open up 40 miles of streets to pedestrians, with a set goal of expanding to 100 miles in the future.  The move includes expanding some sidewalks with barriers set up in the street, which will provide additional open space to New Yorkers while maintaining social distancing

COVID-19 Numbers                                                     

We continue to appear to be on the far side of the COVID-19 plateau. That said, the number of deaths in the State has increased by 337 since yesterday to 17,303 total.

The Wrap Up – April 26, 2020

Executive Order 202.24

The Governor last night issued Executive Order 202.24, authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, subject to completion of appropriate training developed by the NYS Department of Health. As discussed yesterday, the Order expands testing capacity in New York State by allowing independent pharmacies to conduct coronavirus tests. Additionally, this Order cancels a special election for the office of City Council in the 37th district and stipulates that this seat will be filled at the November general election.

Reopening New York State

Governor Cuomo today began outlining a process for reopening regions and economic activity in New York State.  Although we expect changes to this outline as the State monitors COVID-19 data in upcoming weeks, the process currently would operate as follows:

  • New York State on PAUSE” business restrictions and social protocols, and the closure of schools statewide, are in effect through May 15. 
  • Current CDC guidelines recommend that state and regional hospitalization rates show 14 days of decline before reopening decisions are made.
  • If New York State officials observe 14 days of declining hospitalization rates on or around May 15, they may decide to reopen the State in phases and by region (according to the State’s 10 economic development regions).
  • Phase I would include construction and manufacturing activities that are “low-risk” for COVID-19 spread.
  • Phase II would make reopening decisions using a matrix that analyzes individual businesses by their risk level and the essential nature of their services.  Businesses will assist the State in these analyses.
  • Two weeks must pass between phases, to allow COVID-19 infection rates to be monitored and factored into decision making.
  • The State would prohibit any attractions or openings that could draw a large number of visitors from outside local areas.
  • To the extent practicable, this process will occur within a multi-state context, especially downstate.
  • In the downstate region (comprising New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County), State and local officials will coordinate the reopening of businesses, schools, transportation, parks, and beaches.
  • Upstate regions are more likely to reopen first, given their lower hospitalization rates.
  • Businesses and healthcare professionals will play a large role in developing and executing this process.

New York City – L Train Service Resumption

The Governor today announced that the MTA has completed the L Train Project under budget and ahead of schedule.  Previous service schedules will resume on Monday, April 27 incorporating adjustments made under the MTA Essential Service Plan.

Mayor Announce Creation of Panels to Plan a Re-opening
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced Sunday the creation of an eight-person Fair Recovery Task Force (FRTF) comprised of several former state and city leaders, which is charged with developing a preliminary recovery road map by June 1st.  The FRTF will include 8 panels of industry leaders (yet to be formed) who will focus on reopening economic engines, including small businesses, faith-based organizations, education and vocational training and arts, culture and tourism. The Mayor also created a panel on racial inclusion and equity to be led by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson, which will focus on addressing racial disparities that have been exposed by the public health crisis. 

COVID-19 Numbers                                                     

We continue to appear to be on the far side of the COVID-19 plateau. That said, the number of deaths in the State has increased by 367 since yesterday to 16,966 total.

The Wrap Up – April 25, 2020

Executive Order 202.23

Governor Cuomo last night issued Executive Order 202.23, guaranteeing that every New Yorker automatically receives a postage-paid application to receive an absentee ballot for the June 23rd primary elections and any previously rescheduled election.  This Order also cancelled the June 23rd State Assembly, State Senate, and Queens Borough President special elections; these seats will be filled at the November general election.  (NOTE: the June 23rd special elections are separate from the June 23rd State Assembly and Senate primaries, which have not been cancelled.)  Finally, this Order authorized the Commissioner of Health to suspend or revoke the operating certificate of any skilled nursing facility or adult care facility found to have violated a Department of Health regulation or directive.

Testing Expansion

Discussing New York State’s need to bring diagnostic and antibody testing to scale to expedite the State’s reopening, the Governor stated that while 20,000 individuals currently are tested each day, the goal (with federal assistance) is 40,000 tests per day.  To increase laboratory capacity in the State and help meet this goal, the Governor will be issuing a new Executive Order allowing independent pharmacists to conduct diagnostic coronavirus tests.

Additionally, the State is expanding diagnostic testing criteria to include more New Yorkers, emphasizing first responders, health care workers, and essential employees.  As testing capacity grows, the Governor said that testing eligibility will expand also.

Finally, the Governor announced that antibody testing will be conducted today for frontline healthcare workers at four downstate facilities: Bellevue Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Montefiore Medical Center, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.  Expanded antibody testing next week will include Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees, transit workers, the New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department.

COVID-19 Numbers                                                     

We continue to appear to be on the far side of the COVID-19 plateau. That said, the number of deaths in the State has increased by 437 since yesterday to 16,599 total.

The Wrap Up – April 24, 2020

COVID-19 Economic Impact Analysis

Governor Cuomo announced today that he expects New York State revenues in the current fiscal year to be $13.3 billion below the initial Executive Budget forecast.  Over the financial plan period of FY 2021 to FY 2024, the projected deficit is $61 billion.  The Governor stated that these shortfalls completely are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

Facilitating Absentee Voting

The Governor will be issuing a new Executive Order guaranteeing that every New Yorker automatically receives a postage-paid application to receive an absentee ballot.  This new Order will compliment Executive Order 202.15, issued earlier this month, which allows New Yorkers to vote by absentee ballot for the June 23rd primaries.

Future of “New York State on PAUSE” Restrictions

The “New York State on PAUSE” business restrictions and social protocols, and the closure of schools statewide, are in effect through May 15.  The Governor anticipates a decision “in about one week” on whether to extend these directives.

Response to Bankruptcy Suggestion

The Governor again criticized U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting that states should declare bankruptcy rather than expecting federal assistance to address their budget gaps. Arguing that states cannot legally declare bankruptcy and noting that state bankruptcies would devastate the national and global economies, the Governor “dared” the Senate to pass federal legislation allowing for bankruptcy.

New York City

Today, Mayor de Blasio called on the state to help tenants who cannot pay their rent come May 1st by letting people pay rent with security deposits, defer paying rent, come up with a plan to pay back rent over a 12 month period, and extend the eviction moratorium for 60 days beyond the crisis.  He also announced an Equity Action Plan to educate New Yorkers how to flatten the curve, specifically in the hardest hit areas of the City.  This will involve community testing sites, TV/Radio ads and direct mail.

The NYC Council held a hearing on legislation that would require the DOT to close up to 75 miles of streets to cars to encourage more social distancing. 

Possible Legislative Return

The Majorities in the Legislature conferenced remotely this week to discuss how to proceed with the remaining 2020 Session calendar. We anticipate both houses will need to reconvene at some point to address COVID related issues, potential mid-year budget adjustments as well as unfinished legislative business cut short due to the pandemic. However, there are no definitive plans to return to Session anytime in the near future. We will continue to monitor public statements made by the legislative leaders in advance of a scheduled return.

The following statement is from Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins regarding Senator James Skoufis (D-Newburgh) announcement that he has contracted COVID-19:

“I have been informed by Senator James Skoufis that today he tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Skoufis always brings great energy to our conference, and we are all praying for him and his wife Hillary, while he uses that energy to recover.”

COVID-19 Numbers                                                     

We continue to appear to be on the far side of the COVID-19 plateau. That said, the number of deaths in the State has increased by 422 since yesterday to 16,162 total.

The Wrap Up – April 23, 2020

Antibody Study        

Today Governor Cuomo announced the preliminary Phase 1 results from the statewide antibody testing that has been running for the past two days. This testing was initiated to determine the prevalence of trace antibodies in individuals and to set a projected baseline of the population believed to have been infected with COVID-19 and since recovered. They have collected samples from 19 different counties and a total of 40 different grocery and big box stores across the state.

Phase 1 Results

  • 13.9% of those tested are positive for the antibody, meaning an estimated 2.7 million people in New York State have been infected
  • 12% of the females tested, were positive for the antibody
  • 15.9% of the males tested, were positive for the antibody
  • Regional Positive Results
    • Long Island ——————–16.7% of those tested were positive
    • NYC ——————————–21.2% of those tested were positive
    • Westchester/Rockland —–11.7% of those tested were positive
    • Rest of State ——————–3.6% of those tested were positive

Federal Funding

Governor Cuomo again articulated the need for the Federal government to step in and fund state government through additional legislation. The Governor expressed concern with US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the politicizing of the issue by stating that the Senator was “in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route” as a possible solution to the financial crunch they are dealing with. This is an unacceptable route for the Governor. 

Nursing Home Investigation

In conjunction with Attorney General Tish James, the state will be conducting an investigation into nursing homes to ensure they are providing proper care for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Currently nursing homes are required to have enough PPE for staff, isolate residents diagnosed with COVID, restrict visitors, and only readmit residents with or recovered from COVID who can be cared for properly. This comes after numbers were released showing that 25% of all COVID-related deaths statewide come from nursing homes. 

COVID-19 Numbers

We continue to appear to be on the far side of the COVID-19 plateau. All of the three-day average statistics are continuing to decrease except for the number of new cases that has been hovering around 1,300 additional new cases per day for a total of 263,460. The number of deaths in the State has increased by 438 since yesterday to 15,740 total.