COVID-19 Updates

header image

COVID-19 Latest

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


  • Governor reiterated the importance of monitoring
  • Testing eligibility has been expanded:
    • Anyone who has any flu-like symptoms can get a test.
  • Hospitalizations are down.
  • Net change in hospitalizations and intubations are down.
  • New cases are down by one.
  • 106 lives lost on 5/17: 83 in hospitals, 23 in nursing homes.
  • International experts will advise NY on data:
    • Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research, University of Minnesota
    • Dr. Samir Bhatt, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London, joined the press briefing via video conference.
      • He is an expert in Geostatistics.
      • He commended New York for its data collection, but reiterated that no country is out of the woods yet.



  • Western NY needed 521 tracers and 525 have been identified, making them eligible to reopen.
  • Western New York starts Phase I tomorrow.
  • Governor encouraged major sports teams to plan reopening without fans.
  • Governor encouraged people to think of their responsibilities.
  • Governor reiterated that we will know what will happen in the future, based on what we do today.


Nursing Homes:

  • Top priority is protecting nursing home residents and seniors.
  • All staff must be tested twice per week.
  • New York is connecting facilities to nursing homes. These facilities have reserved at least 35,000 tests per day.
  • The state is sending 320,000 testing kits to nursing homes today.

*Courtesy of Statewatch


  • Click here to see all four phases of projected industry reopening.
  • 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.


NYS on PAUSE will continue through May 28 for regions that have not started reopening; a region can enter Phase One of reopening as soon as it meets its required metrics. Click here for more information.



Essential Business Update

The Empire State Development 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 located in. Click here to view the full essential business guidance document.


Guidelines on Phase 1 Reopening Plan for Agriculture Including Equine and Horticulture

There are guidelines now available on the businesses included in the Phase 1 of the New York Forward reopening plan. Eligibility for reopening each region will be determined by certain health metrics. Click here to view the Regional Monitoring Dashboard to see where each region stands. 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 which is applicable to the following activities, including but not limited to: greenhouses, nurseries, sod farms, equine operations, forestry and tree farms, companion animal services and local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions. These guidelines apply to all non-food related agriculture activities in regions of New York that have been permitted to re-open, as well as to non-food related agriculture activities statewide that were previously permitted to operate as essential. Click here for the document that must be signed to affirm that you have read the guidance document.


Each re-opening business must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. 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. There are frequently asked questions (FAQ) posted on this website along with the contact information for each region committee.


SBA and Treasury Release Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, have released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. Click here to view the application and instructions.


The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities. The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:


  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles.
  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness.
  • Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30.
  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.


Food and Agriculture in the HEROES Act

The American Farm Bureau Federation has put together an analysis of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act) that was passed by the House on Friday, May 15. The HEROES Act includes support for various sectors of the economy, from additional relief for workers, to health care and retirement. It also includes a specific subsection for agricultural producers and additional matters relating to agriculture.


The article reviews some, but not all, of the agricultural provisions in the HEROES Act. While the Heroes Act was passed in the House, the Senate has yet to release a fourth stimulus bill which will likely have many changes. A copy of the article can be found here.


Revised Guidance on Employee Retention Credit

The IRS issued an updated FAQ regarding the Employee Retention Credit, which explains that eligible employers may treat health plan expenses as qualified wages even if the employees are not working and the eligible employer does not pay its employees any wages for the time they are not working. The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 per quarter of wages (including qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees. This Employee Retention Credit applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. This new information can be found at question 62 in the FAQ. The IRS had previously said employers must be still paying wages in order to receive the credit. The IRS FAQ is linked 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


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 (TALK),


Crisis Text Line Text

“GOT 5” to 741-741,