Cuomo: Pandemic Workers' Families Deserve Death Benefits

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Death benefits for the families of frontline workers who succumbed to COVID-19 will be provided by the state and local governments in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said, as he called on the federal government to do the same.

"You worked when it was hard," Cuomo said during his daily coronavirus briefing, held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. "You appeared for duty when it was troubling to do so.”

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Cuomo: New York Professional Teams Urged To Start Training

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region
UPDATED 1:03 PM ET May. 24, 2020

Starting today, professional sports leagues will now be able to begin their training camps across New York.

Teams will be required to have health and safety guidelines in place to protect both players and staff.

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Daily COVID-19 Deaths Fall Below 100 In New York

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 2:11 PM ET May. 23, 2020

The daily death toll from COVID-19 fell below 100 people for the first time since March when the virus began its rapid spread around New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced 84 people had died from coronavirus as the death toll slipped below 100 people.

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State Eases Restrictions, Allows Gatherings of 10 or Fewer People

BY Spectrum News Staff New York State

New Yorkers are now allowed to gather in small groups of 10 or fewer, after Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order late Friday.

The governor expanded his executive order from earlier in the week allowing gatherings of 10 people or fewer only for religious purposes.

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Bill Introduced to Help Cut Costs for Volunteer Fire Departments

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region
UPDATED 4:16 PM ET May. 22, 2020

Around 90 percent of New York’s fire departments are all volunteer-based, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Many of these departments are the first on the scene, providing medical treatment and transport, however, calls have only increased in some areas due to COVID-19.

The Selden Fire Department in Suffolk County normally runs an average of 3,500 EMS calls a year on top of their normal fire and rescue calls. When the pandemic was at its peak in the state, Selden FD was running 40-50 percent more EMS calls per day than usual.

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Lawmakers Plan Remote Session Next Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The debates, roll calls and votes will be held over video conference. The bills approved will be done so remotely.

But the Legislature will hold a post-budget session starting Tuesday with scheduled committee meetings, top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Friday announced.

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New York Launches Small Business Loan Program

BY Morgan McKay New York State

With unemployment reaching 14.5% in April and the largest monthly job decline on record, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is launching a loan program to help small businesses that were left out from receiving federal aid.

The $100+ million New York Forward Loan Fund will provide "flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses." It will focus on minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs), businesses with 20 or fewer employees, and businesses with less than $3 million in gross revenue.

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Cuomo Order Extends Property Tax Deadlines, Allows "Caravans"

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Property tax deadlines for certification, assessments and other certifications were extended in an executive order approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday evening.

At the same time, the order sets into place allowing small gatherings of no more than 10 people for religious services and Memorial Day celebrations.

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New York's Jobless Rate Hit 14.5 Percent In April

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Monthly records were broken in New York state as the number of unemployed continues to skyrocket and numerous businesses start to close their doors for good.

Unemployment rates in New York rose to 14.5 percent in April, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.

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Katko, Delgado Want National Guard Deployment Extended

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Reps. John Katko and Antonio Delgado are leading a bipartisan push to have President Donald Trump extend the authorization for National Guard activities in New York through the duration of the national emergency declaration.

The move would ensure National Guards units receive benefits for their service and help maintain public safety measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Summer Camp, Day Camp In Doubt Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Summer camp and day camp is an annual summer rite of passage for kids. But like everything else during the pandemic, camp this year is very much in doubt.

A new and potentially COVID-19-linked illness is affecting kids, with more than 100 cases being investigated in New York.

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Bill Would Allow Bars, Restaurants To Continue Take-Out Drinks

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A socially distant "cheers" could still be in order after the current state of emergency ends for restaurants and bars.

State Senator Brad Hoylman on Thursday proposed allowing eateries and bars to continue offering wine, beer, and cocktails for take-out and delivery two years after the emergency declaration ends.

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Cuomo: Lawmakers Are Working Hard During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers are working harder than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, while he took a wait-and-see approach on a potential post-budget session that will most likely be conducted remotely.

The legislature has not convened since April 3, when the state budget was approved.

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Sales Tax Reprieve Extended During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York is once again deferring sales tax remittances without penalty or interest, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday, a move that's being cheered by small businesses who have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grace period for the remittances has been extended to June 22.

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New York Summer School Will Be Conducted Online

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that summer school this year will be conducted through remote and distance learning statewide.

Meal programs for students and child care services for essential workers will continue.

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Insurgent Candidates Face Campaign Challenges During COVID-19

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Candidates like Alex Yudelson and Matt Toporowski are facing some unusual challenges during the pandemic.

Both are challenging long-time incumbents in New York’s June 23 primary election, but they’re doing it without the ubiquitous hand-shaking, chicken dinners, and baby-hugging that typifies campaigning in America. And the media, which in other years would be dissecting candidate polling and providing candidate profiles a month before the election, has been almost wholly focused on the pandemic.

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SNAP Expansion Urged For Meal Delivery

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A coalition of groups, along with the ride hailing firm Uber, is urging state lawmakers to approve a measure that would expand the SNAP program to allow its use for delivered meals ordered through apps.

Meal delivery and curbside pickup in New York have been the sole options for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic as non-essential businesses have closed since March.

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New York Farm Bureau Creates Labor Database

BY Morgan McKay City of Albany

The coronavirus has taken a toll on farms across New York. Milk prices are down, restaurants and schools are closed, slowing demand, and workers have fallen sick both farms and processing plants.

At the same time, unemployment is soaring with the state paying out $10 billion in benefits to more than 2 million New Yorkers since the pandemic began.

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Calls for an Investigation Into Nursing Homes Grow as Cuomo Blames President Trump

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

Around 5,600 people are believed to have died from the coronavirus in nursing homes across the state.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, continued to defend the state’s handling of nursing homes throughout this pandemic, blaming President Trump’s CDC guidelines that allowed COVID positive patients to be admitted into nursing homes.

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Some Lawmakers Feel Like They're on Pandemic Sidelines

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

For the last two months, the management of the coronavirus pandemic has virtually been the Gov. Andrew Cuomo show.

In many respects, this is literally the case. Cuomo has held daily briefings, televised nationally, on the pandemic.

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Task Force to Examine Domestic Violence During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A task force is examining the spike in domestic violence cases during the pandemic and how the state should address it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced Wednesday.

The effort will be led by Melissa DeRosa, the top aide to the governor, and the Council on Women and Girls.

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Should Colleges Get Aid, Again, in Next Round of Coronavirus Stimulus?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

SUNY Cobleskill, in rural Schoharie County, is one of the smaller SUNY campuses, with about 2,200 students who study everything from liberal arts to graphic design, but its agricultural curriculum is well known.

“As a matter of fact, our title is, ‘we put culture in agriculture,’ ” said SUNY Cobleskill President Dr. Marion Terenzio.

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Defending Nursing Home Policy, Cuomo Points to CDC's Guidelines

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's nursing home policies were based on guidelines from the federal Centers for Disase Control and Prevention, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, as he continued to defend his administration's response to how the COVID-19 pandemic tore through nursing and adult care facilities in the state.

State and federal lawmakers have called for investigations of how New York's nursing homes have been affected by coronavirus, which so far has been attributed to the deaths of more than 5,400 residents.

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New York to Permit Small Religious Gatherings

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Religous gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed to take place in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, as restrictions are eased amid a decline in coronavirus cases.

The gatherings can take place with social distancing guidelines in place starting Thursday. An interfaith council of advisors is being turned to for developing guidelines.

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New York Unemployment Benefits Grow to $10B

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York has paid out $10 billion in unemployment claims since March as the coronavirus pandemic began to sink the economy and shutter businesses, Department of Labor officials on Wednesday announced.

The benefits paid out over the last two months are nearly five times the total amount paid in unemployment insurance in all of 2019.

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Pastors Urge Cuomo for Guidance on Religious Services

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Hundreds of pastors across New York wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking that congregations be allowed to return to church as soon as possible.

"Out of respect for government authority and concern for the health of their congregants and the general public, thousands of New York churches have temporarily and voluntarily suspended in-person worship services," the Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms wrote. "The suspension of in-person services has taken a toll on churches, pastors, and Christian believers.”

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Warren Endorses 4 New York Incumbents

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday endorsed three incumbent Democrats in the state Legislature and Rep. Jerry Nadler's re-election bid.

"It’s more important than ever to help elect leaders up and down the ballot who will champion bold reforms and put people first," Warren said. "Today, I’m proud to endorse another slate of candidates across the country."

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Coronavirus’ 4-Legged Victims Find Friends Upstate

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Thousands of New York City residents have died from the coronavirus. It’s a tragedy on an enormous scale made worse by the knowledge that many pets beloved by the virus’ victims will likely be forgotten or released into the environment.

But if they are sent to a shelter, the Animal Care Caravan may help.

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Contact Tracers: How Information Is Shared and What This Means For You

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

Warren County is a smaller region in upstate New York, but Ginelle Jones, director of public health for the county, says they have had no problem in finding contact tracers.

“As people are seeing and hearing about this, they’re calling us and saying, ‘Can I be a tracer?’ ” Jones said. “I’m just excited people are willing to volunteer in the community for this to help the counties when we’re in a time of need.”

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New York Lawmakers Could Return (Virtually) Next Week

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

State lawmakers could hold a virtual session as early as next week, for the first time since early April, and take up a package of coronavirus-related legislation.

It's not yet clear what lawmakers will act on, but members of the state Senate and Assembly over the last two months proposed a variety of pandemic relief measures meant to meant to make it easier to vote by mail, provide support and bolster benefits for frontline workers like hospital staff and EMTs.

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Capital Region Joins Reopening Fold as Hospitalizations, Deaths Decline

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The Capital Region will begin the first phase of reopening businesses on Wednesday after hitting the final benchmark of hiring contact tracers, who seen as key to limiting the spread of the virus in order to restart the economy.

The development means most of upstate New York will have started the first stage of the process, which will allow construction, manufacturing and some retail businesses for curbside pickup to start business for the first time since March, when non-essential businesses were shuttered.

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Appeals Court Upholds June 23 Presidential Primary

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New York's Democratic presidential primary on June 23 was upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court, ensuring the vote will still be held.

The state Board of Elections will not appeal it, Commissioner Douglas Kellner said in a statement.

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$500B Eyed For States, Local Governments In Pandemic Relief

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 6:24 AM ET May. 19, 2020

State governments would receive a combined $500 billion in federal aid to provide direct relief from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic under legislation that's gaining bipartisan ground in Congress.



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Bill Would Create WPA-Style Program for New York

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy has introduced legislation Monday that would create short term jobs targeted for Millennials that have been laid off due to COVID-19.

The ‘Works Progress Administration-Pandemic Recovery’ jobs program would allow the New York State Department of Labor to train younger age groups on new jobs such as contact tracing, conservation and climate mitigation.

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New York AFL-CIO: Workers Need COVID-19 Coverage

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The New York State AFL-CIO is urging the Workers Compensation Board to provide health care coverage and wage replacement benefits to workers who were exposed to the coronavirus while on the job.

The union approved a resolution backing the move Friday, and sent a letter Monday to the Workers Compensation Board and its chairwoman, Clairissa Rodriguez.

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Amid Pandemic, Mental Health Services Could Be Vital

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic has also created a subsequent crisis for bolstering mental health care services -- a crisis that comes amid a cash shortage for state government.

Some advocates and lawmakers are calling for more than $38 billion spending, and are looking toward the federal government for the money.

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Cuomo Encourages Sports to Start in NY, Wants to Watch Bills Play

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Sports teams that can play games without fans should do so in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, saying having games as TV-only events is better than nothing at all.

Cuomo was in Buffalo on Monday, the home of the Bills football team and Sabres hockey team. Kim Pegula, the co-owner of both teams, sits on Cuomo’s economic re-opening task force, along with representatives of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Knicks, New York Liberty, and Brooklyn Nets.

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Western New York Permitted to Begin Reopening Tuesday

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Western New York is now set to start reopening on Tuesday, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, after it hired 525 contact tracers over the weekend.

Western New York will now be the sixth upstate region to start Phase 1 of the reopening process which allows construction companies, manufacturing companies and curbside pickup for retail stores to open back up.

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New York's Tax Revenue Collapsed in April

BY Nick Reisman New York State

File this under not surprising: New York’s revenue took a nosedive in April as the coronavirus pandemic shutdown the state’s economic activity, a report released Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

New York’s tax receipts totaled $3.7 billion, falling $7.9 billion from the previous April. That’s a 68.4 percent decline.

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3 Things We Don't Know About the Future of the Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The dark tunnel of the coronavirus pandemic contains more unknowns than knowns.

The modeling predicting dire circumstances for hospitalizations, leading to the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort steaming into New York City, did not come to pass.

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Assemblymember Pat Fahy Advocates to Open Summer Camps

BY Erika Leigh Albany/Capital Region

Summer is just around the corner, and with the push for the Capital Region to start the re-opening process, there's also interest in summer programming. Assemblymember Pat Fahy is one lawmaker pushing for summer camps, enrichment programming, and summer school.



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Cuomo: Capital Region, Western NY Have One Hurdle for Reopening

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

One metric stands in the way of starting phase one of the Capital Region and Western New York economies, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday: Deploying enough contact tracers.

Cuomo called the issue “an administrative hurdle” during Sunday’s press briefing. Contact tracers find and monitor the contacts of infected people and notify them of their exposure.

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Still No Firm Plan on When People Can Gather for Church

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region

Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions have been allowed to stay open for virtual services.

However, people will not be allowed to congregate in their place of worship until most likely Phase 4, the very last phase.

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Sen. Harckham: More Funding Needed for Mental Health

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The latest federal stimulus bill does not include enough money for mental health care amid a pandemic that has killed thousands of Americans, created heightened anxiety, and cost millions of jobs, state Sen. Peter Harckham said Friday.



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Latest Stimulus Proposal May Not Be in Time to Help New York

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Friday on the $3 trillion “HEROES Act,” which would provide critical funding to states, counties, cities and towns.

Even if the enormous spending package passes in the U.S. Senate (where the bill is not yet scheduled for a vote) and even if the president doesn’t issue a threatened veto, relief may not come in time to save New Yorkers from deep spending cuts.

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Businesses Begin to Reopen, But With COVID Liability Concerns

BY Nick Reisman New York State

One of the first sectors to reopen during the first phase is the construction industry — something Mike Elmendorf of the Associate General Contractors Association says is key to getting the economy moving again in New York.

“For every billion dollars you invest in non-residential construction, you support about 28,000 jobs directly and indirectly, you generate huge amounts of economic activity. So as we get the economy going again, the construction industry is the right place todo that,” said Elmendorf, the group’s president and CEO.

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Assemblyman Wants More PPP Help for Small Businesses

BY Nick Reisman New York State

On Friday, Republican state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt urged federal lawmakers to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, which is meant to bolster small businesses and their workers during the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.

In the letter, Schmitt urged Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to make changes to the program as some small businesses are unable to meet requirements that would convert the no-interest loan into a grant. The letter was also sent to Democratic Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee in the House.

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Lawmaker Petitions to Improve New York Unemployment System

BY Morgan McKay New York State
UPDATED 12:57 PM ET May. 15, 2020

Republican State Sen. Sue Serino is launching an online petition to highlight the need to fix the unemployment system.

“Thousands of New Yorkers have gone two months without receiving a single dime in unemployment benefits,” Serino said in a statement. “These are real people, with real families to support, who are unemployed through no fault of their own. My colleagues and I are doing all we can to assist and we have offered a number of suggestions to the Governor and the Department of Labor that have gone largely ignored while claims languish and hardworking New Yorkers struggle to afford necessities."

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As Regions of State Begin Reopening, Beaches Will Open, Too

BY Spectrum News Staff New York State

With five regions of New York beginning Phase 1 of reopening Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined guidelines for continued safety, and announced that New York beaches would reopen ahead of Memorial Day Weekend.

Returning to the Capitol after press conferences across the state this week, the governor said New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware will be opening their beaches and lakeshores the Friday before the holiday weekend, but at 50 percent capacity.

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NYSUT's Andy Pallotta Re-Elected

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The New York State United Teachers union announced Andy Pallotta’s re-election on Friday, along with the leadership slate that includes Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango and Secretary-Treasurer J. Phillipe Abraham.

Pallotta’s re-election to the post he has held for the last three years comes at a challenging time for education in New York, as the school year has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School buildings have been closed since March in the state, and it remains unclear if they will be able to re-open in September.

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Cuomo Signs Executive Order Approving Reopening For 5 Regions

BY Nick Reisman New York State

An executive order issued Thursday night by Governor Andrew Cuomo began the process of reopening some sectors of the economy in New York for 35 upstate counties.

Spread over five regions, the order in essence expands what is considered an “essential” business during the pandemic to businesses in construction, manufacturing and some retail for curbside customer pickup.

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Delgado Seeks Funding For Localities Hurting From Pandemic

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany

The $3 trillion HEROES Act is scheduled for a vote on Friday in the U.S. House. Representative Antonio Delgado NY-19 of the Hudson Valley, says rural areas like his didn’t get much from the last stimulus package, so this time around, he was determined to change that. “What we tried to do with the Direct Support Communities Act is devise a formula, partly with my Republican colleague Lee Zeldin, to be sure that whatever the amount of funding is, for state and local, a portion of that will reach every single town, hamlet, village, based on population across the country.”

$375 billion is the amount currently earmarked for local governments in the HEROES Act. Under Delgado’s formula, local relief funding would be split 50/50, half committed to cities, towns and villages, and half committed to counties. “I have counties in the district that are laying off folks because they don’t have the means to maintain,” Delgado said. “We have to support our firefighters, our teachers, our law enforcement, our police officers, our nurses, doctors who work in public hospitals. There is so much that is being provided by way of local government, but they don’t have the resources right now.” If the HEROES Act passes in the House, it will have an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate, where today Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the aid package “a totally unserious effort” to address the pandemic. Delgado called those words unfortunate. “The notion that rather than provide a serious response, one that meets the serious of the moment, is insulting to the millions upon millions of Americans who have been asked to sacrifice so much to endure this hardship,” McConnell said. The Direct Support Communities Act is the only bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation in the HEROES ACT.

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Business Owners Voice Concerns Over Cost of Laying Off Workers

BY Morgan McKay Albany/Capital Region
UPDATED 6:11 PM ET May. 14, 2020

Whenever a company lays off a worker, for any reason, it increases the amount this business has to pay in unemployment insurance.

However, now with thousands of workers being laid off by the week, small businesses are concerned with how much they will have to pay when they open back up.

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Nursing Homes, Family Members Face Challenges During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Anne Gray's mother first entered The Brightonian nursing home in Rochester in 2015. Her mother is now COVID positive and has been transferred to a hospital. For Gray, her mother's residency required constant vigilance.

"If you're not in the facility and see what's going on, there's just no recourse for you," she said. "There's none."

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Cuomo Advisor Discusses Reimagining Education Initiative

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Jim Malatras wants to put your mind at ease about the Reimagining Education initiative announced last week.

“I think as a long-term strategy, you can’t replace face to face education,” he told Spectrum News. “I think there’s an important social connection between an educator and your student.”

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Lawmakers Want a Beach Reopening Plan

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in New York are calling for the creation of a task force that would coordinate the reopening of beaches.

The lawmakers, led by Democratic Sens. Todd Kaminsky and Diane Savino, wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for a beach reopening plan as a gradual reopening of parts of upstate New York will begin on Friday.

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5 Upstate Regions Cleared to Begin Reopening Friday

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A large swath of upstate New York, from the Canadian border in the North Country, to Pennsylvania in the Southern Tier region, will begin phase one of a gradual economic reopening on Friday.

The reopening will move horizontally from the Finger Lakes region to the Mohawk Valley and include large upstate cities like Rochester and Syracuse.

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Schools Open By September? Cuomo Says He's Not There Yet

BY Nick Reisman New York State

It is unclear if New York schools can open by September as a new disease potentially linked to COVID-19 emerges in children.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday in an interview with WAMC said he was yet to make a decision on schools reopening either for summer session or in September.

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New York Courts Move Toward Reopening

BY Spectrum News Staff New York State

The state’s court system will begin to reopen in areas that are given approval by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week, the Office of Court Administration on Wednesday said.

The state’s top judiciary and court officials plan to gradually reopen courthouses starting on Monday in five judicial districts spread across 30 upstate counties: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie; followed by Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties on Wednesday, May 20.

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Gillibrand: $100B Needed For Rental Assistance

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The next coronavirus stimulus package should include $100 billion in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes amid an economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said.

At the same time, Gillibrand is backing a provision that would provide $11.5 billion for state and local governments to aid families and people who are left homeless due to the crisis.

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Four New York Regions Can Start Reopening Friday

BY Morgan McKay New York State
UPDATED 7:00 AM ET May. 14, 2020

Four regions in New York will now start Phase 1 of reopening on Friday.

The Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, and now the North Country have met all seven metrics needed to begin reopening their regions.

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As New York Pays Out $7.4B in Unemployment, Republicans and Cuomo at Odds Over Response

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 4:00 AM ET May. 14, 2020

New York has paid out $7.4 billion in unemployment benefits since March when the coronavirus pandemic began to wreak havoc on the state's economy.

The state Department of Labor on Wednesday announced 330,000 people who filed to receive benefits from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program were approved.

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Albany Mayor: Leaders in Washington Are "Tone Deaf"

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Democrats in Washington are pushing an ambitious stimulus plan which includes direct aid to states and localities.

While details are still emerging, the HEROES Act, which is double the size of the CARES Act, will include funding for testing, unemployment insurance, and most tantalizingly, $500 billion for states and $375 billion for local governments like the City of Albany.

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New York's Budget Hinges On Washington, Cuomo Says

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo get what he wants from Washington?

The push for federal relief for New York's coronavirus-damaged economy could reach its end game stage in the coming days as Congress pieces together its fourth stimulus package.

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State Education Officials in New York Seek Federal Support

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York’s top education officials are seeking federal support for schools in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Interim State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe in letters this week urged U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to provide more federal funding for elementary and secondary education.

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Senate Lawmakers: Tax the Rich to Fund New York Education

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Two New York state senators proposed legislation that would tax high earners in the state slightly more for a limited time in order to avoid major education funding cuts.

The SHARE Act, or the Shared Help Assessment to Rebuild Education Act, would increase the income tax rate for earners of more than $5 million from 8.82 percent to 10.90 percent for 2 years.

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New 'Excelsior' License Plates Sent Back Due To Manufacturing Problem

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

New "Excelsior" license plates are being sent back to the state Department of Motor Vehicles after a problem with their design manufacturing was discovered.

On Tuesday morning at the Rensselaer County DMV in Troy, new license plates were being returned to the state. County Clerk Frank Merola said in an interview the initial reasoning he got from state officials was vague.

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Cuomo Seeks $61 Billion In Federal Relief

BY Nick Reisman Albany County

New York will need tens of billions of dollars from the federal government to avoid cuts to health care and education, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday during a stop in Binghamton.

The governor, facing the biggest fiscal challenge since he took office in 2011, said the money is needed to support hospitals and first responders during a rolling crisis.

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Are People Coming Around to "Reimagining" New York Education?

BY Susan Arbetter New York State

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo angered some in the education community around the state by suggesting that technology could replace classroom teaching.

“You know, the older model that everyone goes and sits in a classroom, and the teacher is in front of that classroom, and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these physical classrooms, why, with all the technology you have,” he asked rhetorically during his daily press briefing.

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Sales Tax Revenue Declined Sharply In April

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Sales tax revenue for local governments in April plummeted 24.4 percent compared to the same period last year, a report released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found.

The sharp decline in revenue is the latest sign of the COVID-19 pandemic's toll on the health of the economy in New York and on local governments. This, in turn, could lead to cuts in spending for local governments or an increase in taxes elsewhere to make up the lost revenue.

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Should Nursing Homes Have Liability During Pandemic?

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany
UPDATED 12:00 PM ET May. 12, 2020

More than 5,000 residents of nursing homes have died since the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in New York. But holding some facilities accountable for what has happened may be difficult for family members.

In March, New York lawmakers approved a sweeping law giving Governor Cuomo expansive powers to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Tucked into it was a provision that barred nursing homes from liability during the pandemic. Richard Mollot is the executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition.

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Speaker Heastie Warns State Needs Stimulus Funds

BY Susan Arbetter City of Albany
UPDATED 12:00 PM ET May. 12, 2020

There are more than 300 COVID-related bills waiting to be voted on by lawmakers. In a wide-ranging interview with Spectrum News, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the legislature will likely not reconvene in earnest until it’s known if the next federal stimulus package includes direct aid to New York State.

“I know people seem to be a little frustrated, but it’s kind of like we’re circling the airport till they tell us it’s safe to land.” said Heastie. “We’re looking at the bills, but again, it’s very very dependent on what the federal government is going to do for us.”

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Too Old for School? Some NY High School Seniors Could Age Out Without Graduating

BY Morgan McKay New York State

More than 100 education and advocacy groups wrote a letter to the New York State Education Department asking that students that would normally age out of high school, be allowed to return in the fall.

“There are students throughout the state who are living in homeless shelters and families that are in small apartments that may not have the space that they need to sit in front of a computer or a quiet place to study,” Ashley Grant, a Supervising Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York explained.

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Assembly Candidates: Make It Easier to Vote During COVID-19 Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman New York State

A slate of left-leaning Assembly candidates have sent a letter to the legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo urging them to approve measures that will make it easier to vote in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The candidates want New York to mail absentee ballots directly to voters without first applying for one, expand early voting and in-person voting locations to ensure social distancing, and approve an automatic voter registration measure.

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Hudson Valley Lawmaker Assembles Reopening Task Force

BY Morgan McKay Hudson Valley

New York State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt formed a reopening and long-term task force that will look at ways the state Legislature can spur the reopening process.

Schmitt's district, which sits in the Mid-Hudson region, has only met five out of the seven metrics needed to reopen on May 15.

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Federal Relief Bill Could Expand Aid For Local News

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A provision that could be included in the latest federal relief legislation will expand the Paycheck Protection Program to include more local news outlets that have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic and economic meltdown.

The measure, as announced on Monday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, would make newspapers and TV and radio stations that are part of larger parent companies eligible for the forgivable loans.

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Nursing Homes Should Have A Pandemic Plan, Lawmaker Says

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Nursing homes in New York should be required to have an emergency plan for pandemics submitted on a yearly basis, Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Monday said.

Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, has introduced a bill that would require the plans for nursing homes, which have been devastated by the pandemic.

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3 Upstate Regions to Begin Phase 1 Reopening on Friday

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that three regions of New York state are set to start Phase 1 of reopening on Friday, May 15.

So far, only the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, and the Southern Tier have met all seven metrics the governor created as a way to start safely reopening regions while also keeping track of numbers and staying prepared in case there is a second wave of the COVID-19 virus.

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Siena College/TU Poll: 49% of Capital Region Residents Say Don't Open Yet

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Stay-at-home restrictions put in place by New York should not end on Friday, a plurality of Capital Region residents told a Siena College/Times Union poll released Monday morning.

The poll found 49 percent of residents believe the restrictions should remain in place beyond Friday, when the state may begin to gradually lift them for some regions and sectors of the economy.

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New York Faces A Pivotal Week

BY Nick Reisman New York State

New York faces perhaps one of the most pivotal weeks since the novel coronavirus pandemic swept through the state, sickening and killing tens of thousands of people.

The week could decide the fate of regional economies and whether they can begin a gradual reopening process.

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Cuomo Outlines New Regulations for Nursing Homes as Deaths Surpass 5,000

BY Morgan McKay New York State

"A fire in dry grass," was how Governor Andrew Cuomo first described how the coronavirus quickly and easily spreading to residents and staff at nursing homes. The coronavirus death toll in these facilities has now surpassed 5,000 since March and there have been calls from all across the state for an investigation into how nursing homes operated in this pandemic. On Sunday, Cuomo announced that hospitals are no longer allowed to discharge patients back into nursing homes unless they test negative for the coronavirus. Cuomo said the original policy issued on March 25, which allowed hospitals to discharge COVID positive patients back to nursing homes, was due to a concern over hospital capacity at the time. Nursing homes are still not allowed to refuse admittance of a COVID-19 positive patient, but they also must be able to provide adequate care for this resident, such as having proper personal protective equipment and a separate wing or facility for these positive patients.

Nursing homes must also now test their staff twice a week for the coronavirus. If nursing homes are not able to provide proper care for residents, Cuomo says the state has constructed specialized COVID-19-only facilities both upstate and downstate suitable for nursing home residents. He emphasized that these facilities will be operational until this is over or until the end of the year. Nursing homes that do not follow these procedures will lose their license, according to the governor. On May 15, this coming Friday, the Governor says that some upstate regions will be able to start a Phase 1 reopening. This Monday, May 11, Cuomo will speak with county executives that will be eligible.

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3 Children In New York Die From Potentially COVID-19-Linked Illness

BY Nick Reisman New York State

The number of new coronavirus-related hospitalizations in New York continued to decline, though the death toll from the pandemic continued to remain above 200 people over the last 24 hours, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.

And three children in New York have now died from a mysterious new illness believed to be linked to COVID-19.

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Legislative Hearing Announced, State Session Dates Still Uncertain

BY Morgan McKay New York State

For the first time since the budget was passed over a month ago, some lawmakers will be making the trek back to Albany either virtually or physically.

On May 13, the first joint legislative hearing will be held, examining the impact the coronavirus has had on the economy. But 10 days are all that’s left on the legislative calendar, and the session still has not been held since early March.

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Extending Child Victims Act Gives Survivors More Time

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of daily life for many people has seemingly given an abundance of time. But for the survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse, time is still a precious commodity, even if it's standing still.

And on Friday Gov. Andrew Cuomo handed abuse survivors more time, extending a key provision of the Child Victims Act to Jan. 14.

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Getting Unemployment Benefits Out In New York Like 'Building The Plane While Trying To Fly It'

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

The national unemployment rate stands at its highest since the Great Depression, but for many New Yorkers unemployment benefits have been delayed for weeks.

The economic hardship combined with the public health crisis has made the coronavirus pandemic an especially nightmarish experience as food pantries see long lines of cars and a reopening of the economy will, at best, be gradual.

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Cuomo Extends Child Victims Act Lawsuit Filing Deadline to January

BY Morgan McKay New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York will extend the window for child abuse survivors to file lawsuits under the Child Victims Act for another five months.

Courts have been at a relative standstill since the COVID-19 pandemic began, severely limiting survivors' ability to meet with lawyers and judges.

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Funding For North Country Hospitals Secured

BY Nick Reisman Northern NY

The recent federal COVID-19 pandemic relief package included $64 million for rural hospitals in New York state's North Country region, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik in a statement said Thursday.

The money is being sent to hospitals where resources are already stretched thin prior to the spread of the coronavirus, making any outbreak in the region concerning for local public health officials.

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