Federal and New York State Responses to COVID-19 as of March 17, 2020
Greeting from the Envision Team, we hope you and your loved ones are well in this time of crisis.
On behalf of our clients our team is engaging with both federal and state government to respond to Covid-19. To catch you up on where we are thus far, whether your organization is directly or indirectly impacted, we wanted to run through a timeline of what we know thus far, and developments that are evolving as we send this. We’ll continue to update you as things progress but please don’t hesitate to contact our team with any questions or specific issues.
1. On March 6th, the President signed the first Coronavirus response bill into law, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, an appropriations bill that contained $8.3 billion in funding for SBA loans, state Departments of Health, vaccine development and a ramp-up of testing, among other items. (A Committee summary is attached above)
2. Late last week the House passed a second coronavirus response bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HR 6201, with more of a policy focus. The Senate is expected to make changes to the House-passed bill as soon as Wednesday and pass it by the end of the week. Highlights are: paid sick leave and family leave, nutrition programs for seniors, and insurer coverage of testing. (A Committee summary of that package is attached above as well as the legislative language concerning paid leave)
3. As of today, attention has turned to a third supplemental appropriations bill that would provide financial support to individuals and industries that have been impacted by the pandemic. The total cost could top $1 trillion. The White House has proposed $850 billion in tax cuts and other economic supports to varied industries, with a focus on transportation and hospitality. In concert, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is introducing his own $750 billion package, which is taking a less tax break focused approach and more direct assistance for individuals, transit systems and small business. We understand as of the evening of March 17th, that there is some agreement on direct payments to individuals as well, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per individual. At this time, the Senate hopes to combine the house passed bill, HR 6201 (the 2nd bill), and its latest proposals into a “third” larger stimulus package on a bipartisan basis which is being negotiated by Senator Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This combined larger package would then need to be passed by the House and sent to the President for signature. This would require a quorum of the House to return to Washington to vote on the bill or agreement by both parties to pass the bill by unanimous consent.
4. Regarding the Executive Branch, the Stafford Act has been a focal point, which provides for National Emergency Declarations. The Stafford Act has broad provisions, well beyond aggressive quarantine provisions being put in place and enforced currently by states and localities. At this time our intelligence suggests that any use of the Stafford Act would be focused on two areas. First, providing financial assistance to state and local authorities to address the needs in their communities, without the fear and anxiety of budget constraints. Second, mobilization of military forces, such as the national guard to set up infrastructure, such as the emergency hospitals being stood up in some of the harder hit areas, including New York City and Westchester.
Additionally, the Federal Government is waiving a number of regulations regarding the delivery of health care to allow for greater use of tele-medicine, broad testing for Covid-19, and other health related needs.
New York State
1. On March 7th the Governor declared a State of Emergency in New York State and passed legislation releasing $40 million in funds to be used at his discretion.
2. On March 10th, the Governor put New Rochelle in Westchester county into a containment zone. He closed all schools and public gathering places until further notice. He also was able to open the first mobile drive thru testing center in the country.
3. Late last week, the State began to close schools and limited public gatherings to under 500 people and later changed that to less than 50 people and have now closed all schools in New York State.
4. On March 16th, the Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut put a tri-state ban on restaurants, bars, theaters, clubs etc. All restaurants and bars are limited to take-out or delivery only and laws were lifted to allow for alcohol to be allowed to be sold as a take-out item at restaurants and bars. There is a current consideration of a shelter in place order for New York City and discussions by senior staff of possibly the entire State of New York as well, but the situation is rapidly developing.
5. This week the Governor introduced legislation that would provide paid sick leave; 14 paid days for everyone. For small businesses, some or all costs will be borne by insurers or by the temporary disability insurance leave program. Future paid sick leave would be brought down to 5 days for both small businesses and large businesses.
6. The State budget, which is in the midst of its negotiation season, is still being considered and worked on by senior staff. They are in discussions to pass a bare bones budget to pay for immediate needs for the next year and remove all policy from the budget. They would then recess and come back to Albany at a later date to finish the work of the legislature. The governor or legislature has the ability to call members back to session at their discretion, which we expect to happen after the crisis has passed.
7. The Governor has suspended all collections of state debt including student debt, medical debt etc. for at least 30 days.
8. The Governor has asked all retired medical personnel and medical students in residency etc. to volunteer to work at hospitals. The Department of Health will work to expedite applications to reinstate them into the medical field. See www.Health.ny.gov assistance or contact our team for more information. Additionally, the state is working to leverage empty hospital bed capacity and ease the regulatory requirements that would slow the opening of bed capacity at a formerly open facilities or temporary locations.
This link gives the latest Covid-19 data, state actions and quarantine information for New York State https://health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/
Again, if you have any questions or needs regarding federal or state action to covid-19 please do not hesitate to contact us.
More information on COVID-19 related bills and appropriations for your reference: