Governor Cuomo held a briefing today with several key announcements related to Coronavirus. First, he announced the creation of the COVID-19 Report Card. In addition to information reported by schools, the report card dashboard will track testing with information received directly from the laboratories and will report positive cases for each school every 24 hours. It was noted that the numbers from schools and the report card may be different on a given day because of a lag in the reporting. A link to the report card can be found here.
Further, the Governor announced the creation of two vaccine-related entities. The first is an independent review board, which will assess the safety of any potential vaccine. The second is the Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force, which will oversee the procurement, administration and public education of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Governor is hoping this task force will help to avoid a shortage scenario for the vaccine similar to what we saw for personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic. The Governor hopes that these actions will create the best vaccination program in the U.S. and ensure that all New Yorkers get immunized. He would like New York to be the first COVID-19-free state in the country.
During his briefing today, the Governor also talked about the budget deficit in New York and his belief that the federal government must step up and provide funding to the states. The Governor stated that over the next two years, there will be a $50 billion shortfall for New York. He believes that federal funding must be provided to cover this gap and does not think that the state should be looking at higher taxes, cuts or borrowing right now.
In early September, it appeared that the Senate and Assembly would be returning to session to address the budget situation. However, at that time, it was assumed that the federal government would act on the next round of Coronavirus relief funding, which would provide funding to the states. To date, the federal government has not acted on any new funding, and it does not appear that an agreement will be reached before the November elections. If the federal government does not act before the November election, this means that it is unlikely that the Senate and Assembly will return for a session before the elections. There may still be a return to session after the elections, but it will depend on many moving factors including whether a deal is actually reached on funding and the outcome of the elections.
As a reminder, there is still a quarantine requirement for travelers arriving, or returning to New York, from certain states. This list is updated every Tuesday. To view the current list of states and territories subject to the quarantine, please check here.
We will keep you posted on a potential return of the legislature, any updates from the Governor, and on any important election news. If you have additional questions about this update, please reach out to a member of our Government Affairs practice group for assistance: