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The Latest from Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefing on COVID-19*
Governor Cuomo has extended the Pause Act to May 15, which mandates non-essential workers to work from home and a six-foot social distancing space be observed in public places. Click here for more information.
- Hospitalization rate is down 1,000 patients (from 18,000 to 17,000). Total hospitalizations also down. Also, net change down more significantly than before.
- ICU admission number down.
- Intubations down.
- New hospitalizations remain at about 2,000, same as yesterday.
- Governor says this will be over once a vaccine and/or medical treatments are made. For the moment, need to continue controlling the rate of infection and strengthen the healthcare system through increased capacities. Need to also increase testing with federal help, then conduct reopening in a phase-in manner.
- Reiterated that we must determine the next wave of essential businesses and figure out what businesses are "safer." Then must develop reopening plan. Explained businesses would be phased-up via percentages based on whether they are considered low- or high-risk for infection.
- The Governor again explained that businesses must "reimagine" the workplace to increase ability to telecommute, ability to socially distance, and restructure customer interactions. Additionally, businesses must be able to determine a proactive infection plan in case of a second wave.
- Testing will be the best tool to make decisions on reopening.
- Governor says NYS has conducted 500,000 tests in 30 days, more than any other state.
- Still need to increase testing capacity; need to figure out a way of increasing testing sites, supplies, lab capacity, acquisition of chemicals, and create a "tracing army" for investigations.
- Reiterated argument that federal government should play a role and assist in obtaining resources.
- Strengthening the healthcare system: Need to continue surge and flex procedures, as well as build out a strategic stockpile of PPE.
- Will be sending 100 ventilators to NJ.
- Cannot currently track the infection rate; that can only be achieved through advanced testing.
- Need to determine how fast the virus spreads from one person to another; until it is determined we need to limit the spread rate.
- Must wear a mask when riding:
- Public transportation
- Private transportation carriers and for-hire vehicles
- All operators of public systems, private carriers, and for-hire vehicles must wear a mask at all times.
- This will become effective on Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m.
- The Governor urged the public to follow precautions set. "The policies I communicated aren't worth the paper they are presented on unless people decide to follow them," he said.
*Courtesy NY StateWatch
For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.
NYFB COVID-19 Town Hall Event Recording
NYFB held a Zoom meeting for members last night that allowed them to ask questions of leading farm officials and agricultural partners about the COVID-19 response, guidance and assistance. Valuable information was shared to help farms make the best decisions for their families, employees and operations. Click here to listen to the recording.
Additional Flexibilities Under H-2A Program
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with the support of USDA, has announced a temporary final rule to change certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from COVID-19. Under this temporary final rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labor certification who is concerned that workers will be unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the U.S. immediately after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition. To take advantage of this time-limited change in regulatory requirements, the H-2A worker seeking to change employers must already be in the U.S. and in valid H-2A status.
Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to protect the country’s food supply chain by allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the U.S. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the continued lawful employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agricultural workers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Agricultural employers should utilize this streamlined process if they are concerned with their ability to bring in the temporary workers who were previously authorized to work for the employer in H-2A classification. More details are forthcoming with DHS, but a copy of the announcement can be found here.
PPP Funds Exhausted
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that the $349 billion authorized for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans has been exhausted and the SBA is no longer accepting applications for PPP loans. Any loan applications that have received an SBA authorization number will receive an SBA guaranty. Farm Bureau is advocating for Congress to authorize additional funding for the PPP to assist businesses, including farm operations, impacted by COVID-19.
Unemployment Insurance in New York Under the CARES Act
Guidance was released this week clarifying for states the dates for both eligibility of the increased unemployment benefit amount and the extended time for benefits. New York’s pay period for unemployment ends on Sunday. Therefore, the revised end date for eligibility of the increased unemployment benefit amount (additional $600) is July 26, 2020. The revised end date for extended time for benefits (additional 13 weeks of benefits) is December 27, 2020. NYFB has prepared an extensive fact sheet on this topic available here.
New York Congressional Members Send Dairy Letter to USDA
In an effort led by Congressman Brindisi (NY-22) and Congresswoman Stefanik (NY-21), 14 members of the New York congressional delegation sent a letter to USDA outlining assistance needed to support the New York agricultural industry including the dairy industry. NYFB would like to thank the following congressional members who signed onto the letter: Anthony Brindisi, Elise Stefanik, Sean Patrick Maloney, Brian Higgins, John Katko, Kathleen Rice, Antonio Delgado, Paul Tonko, Peter King, Joe Morelle, Grace Meng, Lee Zeldin, Tom Reed, and Tom Suozzi. A copy of the letter can be found here.
Empire State Development (ESD) has Updated the Essential Business Guidance for Construction
All non-essential construction must safely shut down, except emergency construction (e.g. a project necessary to protect the health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow it to remain undone, but only to the point that it is safe to suspend work). Essential businesses may continue with projects already started. At every site it is required that the personnel working on the site maintain an appropriate social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exits. Sites that cannot maintain appropriate social distancing, as well as cleaning/disinfecting protocols, must close. Enforcement will be conducted by state and local governments, including fines up to $10,000 per violation.
Click here to view the complete essential business guidance from ESD.
INTL FCStone Webinar: Crop Marketing in Uncertain Times–Market Outlook
Member benefits partner, INTL FCStone, will provide a free Market Outlook + Crop Marketing Educational Webinar on April 21 featuring their Chief Commodities Economist, Arlan Suderman. This is an opportunity for Farm Bureau members to review market expertise, learn about risk management tools and crop marketing strategies before the planting season begins.
Webinar details: Tuesday, April 21, from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. EST. To attend the webinar please register online.
NY FarmNet is Open
Please keep these numbers and websites available to call or share should you, a family member or friends need someone to speak with in these uncertain times.
Support is available at 1-800-547-3276 and www.nyfarmnet.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (TALK), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Crisis Text Line
Text “GOT 5” to 741-741, www.crisistextline.org
If you have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your agricultural operation, please give New York Farm Bureau a call at 518-436-8495. We can only help those who ask. Who knows, maybe your question will cause us to get ahead of a problem instead of reacting to it after it has become a problem.
- For previous NYFB COVID-19 alerts and the latest info, click here.
- Click here for the latest information from New York State on COVID-19.
- The CDC has created a website for the latest news on the virus.
Click here to access it.
- COVID-19 Guidance from NYSDAM is available on its website. The department has also published a general resource guide for the agricultural community.