COVID-19 Updates

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COVID-19 Latest

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

  • Hospitalizations down to 8,196.
  • Intubations down (-330).
  • New hospitalizations flat (604), have been flat for a few days.
  • IHME Projection model shows cases decreasing over time, but still expects a few hundred deaths in June.
  • Deaths since May 7: 216. 171 in hospitals, 45 in nursing homes. Governor says there is a possibility deaths will flatten at some point.
  • Seventy-three reported cases of children with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease.
  • On Thursday, a 5-year old boy passed away from COVID-related complications, and other cases are being investigated as well.
  • Governor urged parents to seek care if their child has a prolonged fever, difficulty feeding, severe abdominal pain/diarrhea/vomiting, change in skin color (pale, patchy, or blue), trouble breathing, chest pain, decreased amount or frequency of urine, lethargy, irritability, or confusion.
  • Infection rate is higher in minorities, affecting Hispanic/Latinos and African-Americans the most.
  • Majority of new cases are coming from minority communities. Governor says this inequity will be addressed immediately, with new information to be released in a couple of days.

 

*Courtesy of Statewatch

 

The Pause Act is scheduled to go 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.

 

For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.

 

Update on Workers' Compensation

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the way we do business, many of us are able to continue to serve our clients’ insurance needs. An Executive Order mandated that no insurance policies would be canceled, and the insurance world has taken that to heart.

 

Not only have all fees--including late charges and interest fees--been waived, but New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) has been working diligently to assist all policyholders with adjustments to payrolls, lenient payment arrangements and continued communications to answer all policy-related questions.

 

The NYSIF Spring 2020 Workers’ Comp Advisor just issued outlines on how NYSIF can help and the steps they’ve taken to assist policyholders. Click here for more information. NYSIF policyholders should check their email or mail for the Advisor soon.

 

As an employer, you know that the safety and well-being of your employees is vital to the continued operations of your business. But, do you know what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19? And, how to tell if it would be a work-related occurrence? NYSIF has put together a COVID-19 page on the website as well as a COVID-19 NYSIF’S FAQ document providing guidance.

 

If you have any questions regarding workers’ compensation coverage, whether a policyholder of NYFB Safety Group 486 or just curious, call our specialists Michele Bates at 518-431-5608 or Lucy Tefft at 518-431-5629, or email wcinfo@nyfb.org.

 

Safely Transporting Farmworkers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Farmworkers often travel together in crowded pickup trucks, vans and buses, making social distancing a challenge. The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) has developed the guidance to help keep workers safer while traveling. For more information, click here.

 

Click here for disinfecting farm surfaces poster.

 

Please Do Not Cut Agriculture Program Funding! E-Lobby Letter

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State is facing a major economic hurdle. Many of the agriculture programs that received funding through the FY 2020/2021 final state budget are at risk of seeing cuts to that funding. The programs funded through the state budget are critical for our agriculture community. If we were to lose this funding it would be detrimental to the entire state’s food systems. Click here to send a letter o the Governor and ask him not to cut funding for essential agricultural programs.

 

Send Letter to Governor Cuomo Requesting that all Agribusinesses and Farm Activities be Included in Reopening Plan

Write to the Governor today requesting that all non-food production agricultural operations and agribusinesses be included in the first phases of reopening in New York. Farms and agribusinesses that produce food and care for animals have been considered essential during PAUSE NY, but other agriculture businesses have been considered non-essential. These include farms and agribusinesses that engage in landscaping, nurseries that grow and sell ornamental plants, and equestrian facilities that provide riding lessons and other “non-essential” activities. These farms and businesses have been financially affected and have not been able to make any income to support their employees and their business during PAUSE NY. It is important to take precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and the public during COVID-19, but as NY reopens, it is also imperative to allow the opening of these agribusinesses and permit these farm activities while still taking steps to reduce the safety risks. You can edit this letter if you would like to add any specifics regarding your farm or business. Click here to send your letter to Gov. Cuomo.

 

Temporary Policy for Form I-9 List B Documents

Due to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security is issuing a temporary policy regarding expired List B identity documents used to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Given that many areas are under stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 and some online renewal services have restrictions, employees may experience challenges renewing a state driver’s license, a state ID card, or other Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, List B identity documents. Beginning May 1, identity documents found in List B set to expire on or after March 1, 2020, and not otherwise extended by the issuing authority, may be treated the same as if the employee presented a valid receipt for an acceptable document for Form I-9 purposes.

 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued the following instructions to employers: When an employee provides an acceptable expired List B document that has not been extended by the issuing authority the employer should:

  • Record the document information in Section 2 under List B, as applicable; and
  • Enter the word “COVID-19” in the Additional Information Field.
  • Within 90 days after DHS’s termination of this temporary policy, the employee will be required to present a valid unexpired document to replace the expired document presented when they were initially hired.

For more information and guidance from USCIS, click here. A factsheet on I-9 Forms can be found here.

 

USDA Announces Additional Food Purchase Plans

The USDA recently announced details of $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, in addition to purchases previously announced, which will enable USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide. In addition to Section 32 purchases, USDA will use other available funds to purchase food in support of American agriculture and families on an ongoing basis and in response to recent disruptions in the food-supply chains.

 

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will purchase a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products. Purchases are determined by industry requests, market analysis and food bank needs. AMS will begin issuing solicitations in June and intends to begin deliveries in July. Details on how vendors may participate are available on the Selling Food to USDA page on the AMS website. A copy of USDA’s announcement and specific purchase amounts for commodities can be found here.

 

FSA Reminds Producers of Ongoing WHIP+ Program Signup

The USDA has started making payments through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus (WHIP+) to agricultural producers who suffered eligible losses because of drought or excess moisture in 2018 and 2019. Signup for these causes of loss opened on March 23, and producers who suffered losses from drought (in counties designated D3 or above), excess moisture, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires can still apply for assistance through WHIP+.

 

To be eligible for WHIP+, producers must have suffered losses of certain crops, trees, bushes, or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only) for the following named natural disaster events: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, wildfires, and now excessive moisture that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Also, losses located in a county not designated by the Secretary as a primary county may be eligible if the producer provides documentation showing that the loss was due to a qualifying natural disaster event.

 

A list of counties that received qualifying declarations and designations is available here. For more information, visit the this link or contact your local FSA office. USDA Service Centers, including FSA county offices, are open for business by phone only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing.

 

Grievance Day

Local governments that must file their tentative assessment roll on or before June 1, 2020 are authorized--but not required--to allow the tentative and final assessment rolls to be filed up to 30 days thereafter and to change the date of grievance day to at least 21 days after the filing of the tentative roll. Additionally, the local government may dispense with the physical posting of the tentative roll and authorize the tentative roll to be published solely online, so long as the date of grievance day is clear and prominently displayed. The Board of Assessment Review may conduct grievance day remotely by conference call or similar platform, so long as taxpayers can present their complaints through the platform and the public has the ability to view or listen to the proceeding. *Town board authorization/ratification is necessary to implement these changes. NYFB encourages you to reach out to your assessor to see if your town has elected to extend the dates or provide remote hearings.

 

Young Farmers & Ranchers Virtual Connection

The AFBF YF&R Committee is excited to announce “YF&R CONNECT,” a monthly Zoom meeting for YF&R members to gather, learn and plug into Farm Bureau. The sessions will be held on the third Monday of each month at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The first will be Monday, May 18, and each call with have a unique Zoom link. Each session will be planned to last one hour and include a learning and networking component. Case IH will be providing the information for the first learning session portion and they will be speaking on new and emerging farm machinery.

 

All YF&R members are welcome and encouraged to attend. AFBF will make reminders and provide more specifics on this month’s call over their social media pages.

 

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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

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