New York Capital Brief:

Legislature Reacts to AG Report
In response to last week’s NY AG report on COVID-19 nursing home deaths and the alleged under reporting of such by DOH, Senator Liz Kreuger, long-serving Democrat and Chair of the influential Senate Finance Committee, released a statement calling for Cuomo’s broad authority of pandemic decisions to be re-evaluated. The Senator is the first Democratic Legislator to make a public statement on the topic.

When Governor Cuomo declared the state of emergency last March, the legislature granted him additional authority to respond to the pandemic, allowing him to bypass the normal legislative process with Executive Orders that imposed numerous new requirements, mandates, and policies, as well as suspend laws, unilaterally.

Senator Krueger also said that she believes the governor’s office should face public oversight hearings around its response to the pandemic, particularly around the Attorney Generals’ report. The Senator also highlighted the New York Times article that revealed several top officials who have left their positions at the Department of Health.

Shortly after Senator Krueger’s statement, Senator Allesandra Biaggi became the second Senate Democrat to join the Assembly Republicans call for the legislature to revoke Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers, citing that the Governor “used that power to issue 65 executive orders, and to suspend more than 250 laws.”

Vaccine Supply Bump
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo announced that after a call with the Biden administration and several governors, New York will be getting an additional 5% increase in vaccine supply for each of the next three weeks; in total, NY will be receiving a cumulative 20% increase in vaccines. The 20% increase in supply will be allocated directly to local governments.
The Governor also announced that he is giving local governments the flexibility to add Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers, restaurant workers, and developmental disabled facilities to the current eligible Phase 1B group contingent upon their vaccine supply and what makes sense to the community.

In addition, the Federal government is implementing a new nationwide pharmacy program and has agreed to give an additional 10% allocation directly to private pharmacies, which will result in another 30,000 doses for those in New York.

NY Micro-Cluster Strategy
Governor Cuomo announced that, due to a significant decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks, restrictions are being lifted for 26 orange and yellow zones.  There are several neighborhoods in NYC and Newburgh that will continue to qualify as “yellow” zones, awaiting further progress.

Although the additional cluster restrictions have been relaxed in most parts of the State, existing statewide restrictions still remain in place, including capacity limits for certain businesses and restrictions on mass gatherings.

To locate the remaining COVID hot spots by address,  click here.

NY’s Travel Advisory Update
As a reminder, the Presidential proclamation from March 11 and March 14th, 2020 suspends entry into the United States of people who were physically present in any of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.  The Schengen Area consists of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. As of March 14, this applies to the United Kingdom and Ireland, too.

Travelers entering NY from the United Kingdom must produce a negative test prior to boarding flights on British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Under Executive Order, New York has implemented a COVID testing requirement for those entering/re-entering NY from other states and from countries at Level 2 and 3 COVID-risk.

According to the Order, instead of a mandatory 14-day quarantine, all people* entering NY will have to bring proof of a negative COVID test. The results must be from a test taken within three days of coming into NY from a non-contiguous state.** Upon arrival, all travelers must quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, the traveler must get another test. Once the second test comes back negative, the person is no longer required to quarantine.

*Essential workers will continue to be exempt from this mandate.

**These new rules do not apply to PA, NJ, VA, MA, or CT, although non-essential travel is highly discouraged.