COVID-19 Updates

header image

COVID-19 Latest

 

The Latest from Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefings on COVID-19*

  • Day 83 of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • All numbers are down.
  • 109 lives lost yesterday: 82 in hospitals, 27 in nursing homes.

Reopening

  • Long Island and mid-Hudson Regions: If deaths continue to decline and tracing is operational, both regions can reopen next week.
  • Construction staging will be permitted now.
  • Governor reiterated that we must remain vigilant to prevent a second wave.
  • He urged the public to continue wearing masks which are still mandated in public settings where social distancing cannot happen.

Testing

  • NYS is launching a new pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct 7,000 tests per week.
  • There are now 750 testing sites in New York
  • Get a test at coronavirus.health.ny.gov.

Tracing

  • Contact tracing is underway in seven regions.
  • Amount of tracers by region:
    • North Country: 26
    • Mohawk Valley: 166
    • Capital District: 285
    • Central NY: 220
    • Finger Lakes: 482
    • Western NY: 586
    • Southern Tier: 71
  • NYS and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg have developed a contact tracing program and will share the curriculum with other states.

Small business:

  • Minority-owned businesses have received less in federal aid.
  • NY FORWARD $100 million fund to distribute to businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues.

*Courtesy of Statewatch

 

  • Click here to see all four phases of projected industry reopening including the guidelines for non-food related agriculture. This website also has information on how to file a complaint to assist local authorities with enforcement of Executive Orders and restrictions on business operations and activities, as well as gatherings.
  • Click here for a tool that will help you determine whether or not your business is eligible to reopen.
  • Click here to view a Regional Monitoring Dashboard to see where each region stands.
  • Click here to see the frequently asked questions (FAQ) on New York Forward and the contact information for your regional control center.
  • Click here to see the list of members in each regional control room.

 

Reminder for Horticulture, Equine and Other Agricultural Businesses

The guidance for what is deemed an essential business has been revised to include landscaping, gardening, and horticulture. These businesses are now exempt from the workforce reduction rule regardless of what region they are in, this is statewide. Click here to view the full essential business guidance document.

 

A region must meet the criteria to reopen and start phase 1 reopening before horse riding lessons can happen on equine farms. Once a region meets the criteria to reopen, phase 1 businesses are eligible to reopen while following the Interim Guidance for Non-Food Related Agriculture Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

 

Also, each business must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. This also includes businesses that have been deemed essential. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. Click here for a sample safety plan.

 

 

Take part in “Thank a Farmworker Day” on Sunday, May 31!

COVID-19 has reinforced how important our local farms are to food security. These days front line workers include the invaluable efforts of farm employees. They are essential in producing food, raising crops and caring for animals. Let’s show our appreciation on Sunday, May 31. Organizations across the state will be celebrating farmworkers, and New York Farm Bureau is encouraging our members to join in this effort.

 

How can you say thanks? Here are some ideas.

  • Hang a sign on your farm entrance thanking your employees.
  • Post a thank you sign in their breakroom or work area.
  • Hand out individual wrapped lunches (no buffets or pizza grabs during social distancing).
  • Purchase gift cards from local businesses to pass out to your employees.
  • Provide cheese, bag of apples or other NY farm products.
  • Take a moment to personally speak with each worker and thank them for what they do.
  • Stock their fridge with their favorite flavored milk or ice cream.
  • Share what they mean to your farm on social media. Use the hashtag #ThankAFarmworker

People like to be appreciated. You know your employees best. Even the smallest gesture can make a difference and make for a happier workplace.

 

A Notice from NYCAMH: Free Diagnostic Testing for People who Work in Agriculture

As New York State’s capacity to test for COVID-19 is expanding, “essential employees”—including those who work in agriculture—are being prioritized for diagnostic testing, according to the NYS Department of Health’s revised guidance. (See “Can I Be Tested?” at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing).

 

This means that if you own or work on a farm operation and would like to get free testing, you should be able to schedule an appointment for a free diagnostic test at a state testing facility. To request an appointment, “essential workers,” which includes anyone working in production agriculture, can complete an assessment at https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov/ or contact the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

 

When completing the assessment, you will be asked a short series of questions regarding symptoms and exposures. If you or your employees have not had any symptoms or exposures to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, this does not necessarily disqualify you for free testing.

For anyone who works in agriculture, the key question relates to your work. Among the qualifying jobs, the relevant answer is “essential employee with direct contact with the public while working.”

 

The state requires the following information for making an appointment: First and last name, gender, date of birth, permanent address and availability of a personal vehicle to travel to the appointment.Some type of photo i.d. and permanent address will be requested for the testing.

 

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health can provide assistance at no cost with requesting free diagnostic testing at a state testing facility. Contact NYCAMH’s Farm Partners social worker, Kathy Smith, at 800-343-7527 or Kathleen.Smith@bassett.org. NYCAMH is a private, non-profit and non-regulatory organization committed to the health and safety of New York’s farm community.

 

OSHA Issues Guidance on Reporting COVID-19 in the Workplace

On May 26, 2020, the OSHA enforcement guidance for recording cases of coronavirus disease will go into effect. This new guidance provides criteria to help employers determine if reporting is necessary. Under OSHA’s record keeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and thus employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19. Employees with 10 or fewer employees have no recording obligations except for work-related COVID-19 illnesses that result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

 

For those subject to reporting, OSHA has provided criteria to assist in determining if a COVID case is considered work related. If, after going through the criteria, the employer cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that exposure in the workplace played a causal role with respect to a particular case of COVID-19, the employer does not need to record that COVID-19 illness. A copy of OSHA’s Guidance on COVID-19 Reporting can be found here.

 

March Margin Triggers Dairy Margin Coverage Program Payment

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the March 2020 income over feed cost margin was $9.15 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the first payment of 2020 for dairy producers who purchased the appropriate level of coverage under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. Current projections indicate that a DMC payment is likely to trigger every month for the remainder of 2020, a different expectation from last July when some market models had forecast no program payments for 18 months.

 

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Over 13,000 operations enrolled in the program for the 2020 calendar year. Although DMC enrollment for 2020 coverage has closed, dairy producers should look for FSA to open sign up for 2021 coverage in July. For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

 

USDA to Provide $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Businesses and Ag Producers

The USDA has announced that it is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

B&I CARES Act Program loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for or respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The loans may be used only to support rural businesses, including agricultural producers, that were in operation on Feb. 15, 2020. USDA announced the expanded B&I CARES Act Program authorities in a notice published in the May 21 Federal Register (PDF, 217 KB). Program funding expires Sept. 30, 2021.

 

USDA is developing application guides for lenders and borrowers on the B&I CARES Act Program. The Agency also will host two webinars to provide an overview of program requirements. To register for the webinar on Wednesday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, click here.

 

To register for the webinar on Wednesday, June 3 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, click here.

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

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

___________________________________________________________________________