COVID-19 update: Bringing in the big bucks: New York ‘hot spots’ to receive $4.3 billion, says Schumer
On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.
To contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Mayor de Blasio today announced a comprehensive “Test and Trace” strategy to reduce COVID-19 infections citywide. “To defeat this virus, we need to test and trace every last case,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That’s why we are drastically expanding our testing capacity and exercising every last option to get the quantity of testing we need.” To test as many people as possible, the city will set up sites in communities across the five boroughs to collect specimens and test them for COVID-19. The city will also work with each person who has COVID-19 to connect them immediately to care and help them safely isolate at home, a hotel, or a hospital.
New York’s Friars Club and its Dean, legendary broadcast star Larry King, joined with iconic Brooklyn eatery L&B Spumoni Gardens to deliver 150 meals to frontline healthcare workers Tuesday at Maimonides Medical Center. The packaged meals of lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs were donated by the Friars Club. They were picked up at the restaurant by members of the Emergency Task Force of the Diocese of Brooklyn and delivered to the hospital’s emergency department, where doctors and nurses have been helping care for those stricken with COVID-19. King grew up in the neighborhood around Spumoni’s and the hospital. “As a Brooklyn boy, I can tell you there’s nothing better than a nice hot meal from Spumoni Gardens and I hope all of the healthcare workers enjoy it – they earned it,” said Mr. King.
Assemblymember William Colton announced today that he is outraged at the National Grid after it submitted an application to the New York State Public Service Commission for the gas delivery rate increase by more than 17.78%. “First, much of its request is based upon its insistence on building a billion-dollar pipeline, the cost of which is intended to be passed on to its gas customers,” said Assemblymember Colton. “An independent analysis of the National Grid’s “Long Term Capacity Report” by Synapse Energy Economics, a nationally known expert, concluded there was no supply and demand gap to justify building this pipeline, which National Grid customers are being asked to pay the price.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney praised Congressional Democrats following passage of the latest interim emergency coronavirus legislation. “I am proud of the work done by Congressional Democrats to make this bill a bipartisan deal that follows the path set by the bipartisan CARES Act,” she wrote. “Importantly, in addition to securing additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), this bill specifically sets aside billions for women and minority-owned businesses who were largely left out of the initial distribution of PPP loans.”
As states prepare to reopen following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced $10 million of funding from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a tri-state coronavirus contact tracing effort. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has worked quickly to help contain the crisis his state was facing, proving to be the type of leader our country needs,” said National Coalition of STD Directors Executive Director David C. Harvey. “Now as states prepare to reopen, he and former Mayor Bloomberg are working together to invest in the most critical component to ensure our country can reopen safely: contact tracers. The $10-million investment in contact tracing is an important first step to support the critical work of the 100 STD contact tracers already hard at work to fight COVID-19 in New York State.”
A new, citywide philanthropic program called NYC Healthcare Heroes plans to support NYC healthcare/hospital workers in Brooklyn. Until the end of June, the program will be delivering 500,000 care packages of essential groceries for hospital employees. The program was launched by Debra and Leon Black in partnership with Aramark, the world’s largest U.S.-based provider of food, facilities and uniforms. The Blacks have committed $20 million to the project.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced today that New York hospitals and providers will receive $4.3 billion of a new $10B allocation designated for coronavirus “hot spots,” like those across the New York City area and Long Island. Schumer said New York will receive the lion’s share of these funds and that he pushed the Trump administration to quickly allocate the health money, which was secured as part of the CARES Act also known as Corona-3. Schumer added that New York will get billions more in the months ahead.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services will direct health insurers to provide cash flow relief to, and ease administrative burdens on, New York State hospitals in response to COVID-19. Relief provided to hospitals during the pandemic includes insurers’ immediate payment of outstanding accounts receivables, suspension of preauthorization requirements for all hospital services, and prohibition of retrospective review of claims. “The Department of Financial Services is going to issue a directive to health insurers to provide financial and administrative relief to our hospitals so they can continue safely and quickly providing the care that is so desperately needed right now,” said Gov. Cuomo.
The MTA Board today unanimously ratified the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Family Benefits Agreement. The MTA has reached 41 agreements with 26 different unions to honor their heroic service and sacrifice following initial agreements with Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU), the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers (SMART), International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 808 (IBT). The agreement will also be extended to non-represented employees. “Our own heroic workers have sacrificed an immense amount to ensure that other heroes can do their jobs during this unprecedented crisis,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said. “We will never be able to fully honor their sacrifice, but today marks an important step in recognizing all that they have given to the region in one of its most challenging moments.”
Today, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet announced legislation to build the Health Force, which would recruit, train and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in order to provide public health capacity for the surge in COVID-19 patients, prepare for future public health care needs, and build skills for new workers to enter the public health and health care workforce. “The new Health Force will put thousands of Americans back to work, creating a valuable workforce to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and meet existing and emerging public health needs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to announce this legislation as part of the National Public Service Package, a vital, innovative approach to respond to this crisis.”
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