COVID-19: New York State and New York City Press Conference Weekly Highlights

NY State Government: Week in Review

Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio provide daily press briefings on the status of New York State’s and New York City’s COVID-19 response.Manatt provides daily updates on these briefings, and going forward we will provide the highlights of important weekly actions being taken in New York State and New York City.

Please contact Laura Manley at LManley@manatt.com with any questions.

COVID-19: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo Press Conference Weekly Highlights

Top Line Items From Saturday, April 25, to Friday, May 1, 2020:

Friday, May 1

  • Governor Cuomo announced that schools (K–12) and colleges and universities will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
    • Decisions related to students attending in-person summer school will be made by the end of May.
    • Decisions related to reopening in the fall will not be made until we get closer to that time.
      • Related to reopening all sectors of the economy, Governor Cuomo said that if schools cannot safely open in September, then he does not see how all businesses in the state can be reopened, due to child care concerns.
  • New York State will be directing insurers to waive all cost sharing/copays/deductibles for mental health services for essential workers through this crisis.
  • Governor Cuomo is speaking with New York’s hospitals in an effort to gather more targeted information related to new COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The Governor was asked about canceling rent for New Yorkers.
    • He said that the state has already banned evictions through June for people who cannot pay; to cancel rent would cause the collapse of the rental industry.
  • The Governor was asked about reports from grocery store owners that they are having issues with customers coming to their stores without a face covering and not following social distancing within the store.
    • He responded that he believed owners were well within their rights to deny access to patrons who do not wear face coverings or abide by social distancing requirements.

Thursday, April 30

  • The Governor announced the MTA will launch the “Essential Connector Program,” which will close subways from 1 to 5 a.m. each day to allow trains to be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Governor Cuomo and former Mayor Bloomberg discussed New York’s Contact Tracing Program, which will be coordinated with the NYS Department of Health and Johns Hopkins University in partnership with New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • The Governor was asked about the state action allowing for elective surgery to resume at some hospitals in certain counties in the state.
    • He said that hospitals that have been allowed to resume elective surgery must maintain a 30% hospital bed buffer at all times, and they must continue to monitor and review numbers daily to determine whether/when other hospitals will be able to resume as well.

Wednesday, April 29

  • The Governor announced preliminary findings from antibody testing of FDNY/EMT and NYPD, with further analysis to be undertaken in the future; he also announced that the state would begin testing 1,000 transit workers that day.
  • Elective surgeries will be allowed across the state in counties that are at low risk of COVID-19 surge and meet the capacity threshold.
    • Department of Health will be releasing additional information, and this may be supported by an Executive Order as well.
  • New York is now averaging 30,000 tests per day.

Tuesday, April 28

  • The Governor was asked about typical summer events like the state fair, festivals, car shows, etc., and whether these events will happen or be considered “attractive nuisances.”
    • He responded that no, such events will not be held, unless they can occur statewide and in coordination with other states in the region; otherwise, people will flock to those events in one region and cause a density problem.
  • Governor Cuomo’s team was asked about unemployment claims in the state.
    • Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, reported there are around 400,000 outstanding claims, but the Department of Labor has processed 1.5 million claims and issued around $3.1 billion thus far.

Monday, April 27

  • The Governor announced the state would begin antibody testing for FDNY, NYPD, frontline healthcare workers and transit workers.
  • Further data from the ongoing statewide antibody testing shows that approximately 14.9% of New Yorkers have been infected with the coronavirus, with 24.7% of New York City residents testing positive for the antibodies.
  • Governor Cuomo announced that some regions of the state would begin to Un-PAUSE following the expiration of the PAUSE order on May 15, and he began to lay out some guidance that regions across New York should begin to think about.
  • Food banks across New York are seeing a surge in demand, so the state is partnering with farmers to provide dairy, food and other products to those in need.New York is also looking for interested philanthropists to contact Fran Barrett, director of non-profits, if they’d like to help.

Sunday, April 26

  • The Governor announced further information on his two-phase reopening plan that will be implemented by region, and will be determined by the number of hospitalizations and antibody and diagnostic tests.
    • In order to reopen, businesses will have to come up with a plan to phase in operations in the new normal, addressing their people, places and processes and reducing their workforce to those most essential to business operations in the short term.
  • The state will have fiscal data available on budget adjustments as of May 1, and will have a plan available by May 20 for those changes.
  • The Governor said they are looking to see if the state is able to purchase agricultural goods from upstate farms to provide to downstate food banks.

Saturday, April 25

  • Governor Cuomo announced he is signing an Executive Order allowing independent pharmacists to conduct diagnostic coronavirus tests.
  • New York conducted antibody testing for frontline healthcare workers at four hospitals and healthcare systems in New York City, including:
    • NYC H+H Bellevue
    • NYC H+H Elmhurst
    • Montefiore
    • SUNY Downstate
  • The Governor said comprehensive testing will continue next week and focus on workers in the following organizations:
    • MTA
    • Transport Workers Union
    • New York State Police
    • NYPD
  • New York State is expanding testing criteria to include first responders, healthcare workers and essential workers.
  • Governor Cuomo was asked about his regional reopening plans for New York and how those are being coordinated with the multistate coalition that is responsible for making recommendations for the member states to open.
    • He and his team are working with the multistate coalition and with regional coalitions and will engage the two when the time comes.
    • The Governor reiterated that reopening the state will be a phased approach—timing, industry and activity level.

COVID-19: New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio Press Conference Weekly Highlights

Top Line Items From Wednesday, April 29, to Friday, May 1, 2020

Friday, May 1

  • Mayor DeBlasio announced the first streets will open on Monday as part of the “Open Streets” initiative to allow space for New Yorkers to safely get outside and social distance, with certain streets being closed to vehicle traffic.
  • The mayor reiterated that social distancing would be enforced and that participants at any large gatherings who do not disperse when told to do so will receive summonses.
  • When subways close each day from 1 to 5 a.m., homeless New Yorkers will be offered space at a Safe Haven or homeless shelter so that they do not have to spend that time on the street.

Thursday, April 30

  • New York City has been able to secure a number of gowns sufficient to last through mid-May.
  • Mayor DeBlasio announced that 100,000 masks will be distributed at city parks starting this week, with 275,000 additional face coverings being distributed by city workers who are enforcing social distancing requirements.
  • Citi Bike is extending a one-year free membership for essential workers and expanding its locations.
  • The mayor thanked a number of companies that have provided supplies and funding to assist essential workers and New York City’s small businesses.

Wednesday, April 29

  • The mayor announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide mental health support for frontline personnel—both healthcare and first responders.
  • Mayor DeBlasio said the city would be offering antibody tests to 150,000 healthcare workers and first responders beginning next week.
  • DHS will be moving an additional 1,000 people from shelters into commercial hotels and will begin testing at DHS shelters.
  • The mayor announced “Project Cupid”—starting next week, New Yorkers will be able to file for marriage licenses online.
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