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New York Capital Brief: September 10, 2020

Assisted Living Policy Changes

After consistent expressions of concern regarding the negative physical and mental health consequences of resident isolation, the DOH advisory on visitation in adult care facilities and assisted living residences has been changed to permit visitation in communities that have been COVID-free for 14 days, effective September 9.

Hodes & Landy has been advocating on behalf of Argentum NY, the senior living association, with the Department of Health and the Executive Chamber since July to change the 28-day COVID-free requirement to allow visitation in assisted living residences to 14 days, mirroring all other quarantine guidelines.

The advisory also facilitates visits by representatives of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) as long as they adhere to appropriate infection control protocols. Additionally, each community must appoint an internal team to review compliance with the Advisory.

2021 NYC Mayoral Race

With Mayor Bill de Blasio approaching the end of his final term next year, the field of potential candidates is growing. The Democratic primary, which is likely to determine the election’s outcome, is only nine months away.

This week, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer officially announced his candidacy for mayor. Those who have previously declared their candidacy include:

  • Shaun Donovan, former commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing
  • Loree Sutton, Commissioner of NYC Department of Veterans’ Services
  • Dianne Morales, non-profit CEO
  • Aaron Foldenauer, attorney
  • Julia Qing Reaves, LGBT+ activists
  • Max Kaplan
  • Joycelyn Taylor

There also remain a number of public and private sector leaders who have been taking steps towards a potential mayoral run.

Hours before Stringer’s announcement, Kathryn Garcia, the Sanitation Commissioner,  resigned from her post and is expected to launch a mayoral campaign. Mayor de Blasio’s former top counsel, Maya Wiley, also recently resigned from her position at MSNBC to prepare for a mayoral run. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, former police officer, and former State Senator is also expected to make a bid for candidacy.

Education Amid COVID

Many upstate schools reopened for in-person learning this week, with the majority of districts implementing a hybrid learning model, meaning students will split their time between in-person learning and remote learning. New York City schools will reopen remotely on September 16 and in-person on September 21.

At the collegiate level, New York is seeing a growing number of COVID-19 cases on college campuses. Governor Cuomo said on Tuesday that the State may suspend in-person classes for higher education institutions that register 100 or more confirmed positives over a two-week period. Due to a significant spike in positive cases for students, SUNY Oneonta has already voluntarily closed their campus, sent students home, and moved all fall semester classes online.

The Governor also announced the launch of the “COVID-19 Report Card,” an online dashboard that tracks real-time COVID-19 infections and testing operations of every New York school and school district. The Governor acted by Executive Order directing schools, local health departments, labs and all testing sites properly collect and report COVID-19 testing data for students and staff at each school in New York.

Cuomo Faces Pressure to Tax the Ultra-Wealthy

In light of a current $15B and growing budget shortfall, Governor Cuomo has resisted calls to tax New York’s millionaires and billionaires.

On Tuesday, for the first time since the crisis began, Cuomo acknowledged that raising taxes could be part of the solution. When asked what options were on the table, Governor Cuomo said if the federal government fails to come through and there is no appetite to raise taxes at the federal level, New York will be looking at a combination of cuts, potential borrowing, and additional revenues – including taxes.

Despite the push for aid appearing to divide on party lines at the federal level, some New York lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in agreement that federal assistance is needed.

Raising taxes on the wealthy has publicly been supported by the Democratic-led Assembly and Speaker Carl Heastie in order to mitigate cuts to critical services.

“The New York State Assembly Majority has long favored asking those with more to pay their fair share. So many of our neighbors are suffering during this crisis, and we must ask those New Yorkers that do very well to do a little bit more,” Speaker Heastie tweeted in July.

In a statement from Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on federal help and need for revenue, she writes “we are all hurting and this crisis calls for multimillionaires and billionaires to help our state shoulder this extraordinary burden.”

On the other side of the aisle, Assembly Minority Leader Barclay concurs by saying “we need federal aid — there’s simply no way around it. Without federal action, local governments are looking at dramatic cuts to critical services, laying off employees, or forcing tax increases on New Yorkers. None of those options will help expedite the state’s recovery.”

COVID & Travel Advisory Update

On June 25, Governor Cuomo, along with CT Governor Lamont and NJ Governor Murphy, implemented a tri-state travel advisory which requires anyone who is returning from a “restricted state” to quarantine for 14 days. This list includes 35 states in total, with Delaware, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland being added this week. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island were removed.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its directive recommending travelers coming from states with a high rate of coronavirus cases self-quarantine for 14 days to stem the spread of COVID, Governor Cuomo indicated that New York’s travel advisory won’t be lifted any time soon.