Mid-Hudson Fails to Meet Necessary Metrics to Reopen; Heroes Act Could Provide $500B to States

John Jordan | May 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a COVID-19 briefing held earlier this week.

Earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his daily COVID-19 briefings gave a preview of the likely regions that will be allowed to start a phased re-opening of their economies, noting that the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions have met all the necessary metrics to allow the process to begin there on Friday.

The governor is expected to extend his “New York on Pause” restrictions for other regions in New York State, including the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. Just shy of meeting the necessary guidelines to reopen are Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. At press time, the Mid-Hudson is not meeting two key metrics for reopening—a 14-day decline in hospital deaths and the number of new hospitalizations, according to the state’s dashboard. In total, there are seven metrics regions must meet to be eligible to begin the phased reopening process that would involve certain components of the construction and manufacturing sectors.

The governor did have some good news for Orange County on Wednesday when he announced that Orange County was one of 12 additional counties that are now allowed to conduct elective surgeries.

The governor will allow the low-risk business and recreational activities—landscaping/gardening, recreational, such as tennis, and drive-in-theaters—to commence operations statewide beginning on Friday as well.

He also established regional control rooms that will be charged with monitoring the region’s compliance with COVID-19 metrics and if necessary implement shutdowns until metrics are once again met. Total hospitalizations, the number of intubations and the number of deaths registered from COVID-19 all declined on Sunday. The governor reported there were 166 people who died from the Coronavirus in the state on Tuesday, down sharply from 195 fatalities the day before.

Democrats in House Propose $3-Trillion COVID Aid Package

On Tuesday, U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced a proposal to provide direct relief to state, county, and local governments to help them recover from lost revenue and unexpected costs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. New York State is facing a $61-billion deficit.

The measure is part of the $3-trillion coronavirus relief legislation, H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, which Chairwoman Lowey introduced to support the continued coronavirus response and recovery. If enacted, the Democrats’ spending package would provide an estimated $34.4 billion in relief funds for New York State, $17.2 billion for New York City, and $15.1 billion for other municipalities and counties in New York.

In addition, counties and municipalities in the 17th Congressional District would receive an estimated total of $1.28 billion, including $544 million for Westchester County and $112 million for Rockland County.

An estimated $3.84 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority out of $15.75 billion in grants nationwide to transit agencies for operating expenses, payments to furloughed workers, worker protections, and compensation for lost revenue. The investment builds on $3.91 billion for the MTA provided by the CARES Act.

An estimated $5.1 billion would go directly to New York from $90 billion allocated to states, local school districts, and public colleges for many purposes including sanitizing, technology, and addressing the impact of long-term closures, which builds upon the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund established in the CARES Act.

Overall, the Heroes Act will provide $500 billion for states, including $250 billion awarded within 30 days of passage and the remaining $250 billion by May 3, 2021. Localities would be provided $375 billion, including $250 billion within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.

“As the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York has acted aggressively and responsibly to protect the entire nation at a very high cost to our state and our communities. Expenses to protect families have skyrocketed while revenues have dried up due to job loss and stay home orders. This vital aid is absolutely necessary to protect essential health, public safety, education, and other jobs and services in state and local governments and to mitigate an unimaginable economic impact from this pandemic,” said Chairwoman Nita Lowey.

“Our state, county and local governments have ratcheted up their spending to confront the COVID challenge, even while the virus has ripped a hole in their budgets due to collapsing revenue. Providing urgent relief to state, county and local governments is not an abstract concept—it is keeping cops, firefighters, bus drivers and more on the job; it is preserving vital services during a pandemic; and it is staving off tax hikes at the worst possible time for the economy,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

The Heroes Act would also repeal the SALT cap that was imposed with the passage of the 2017 Tax Act. The measure imposed a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, which has been harmful to higher cost states, including New York. Gov. Cuomo praised the legislation for including the SALT cap repeal and said it is critical that it be included in the final bill passed by Congress.

In addition to $67 billion in new funding for governments in New York State, the relief package would allow the use of new and prior Coronavirus Relief funds to replace lost revenue, a high priority for New York. Combined with $5.2 billion in relief funds for New York in the CARES Act, this bill would provide the state nearly $40 billion to help cover lost revenues and expenses due to coronavirus.

The legislation follows the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted on April 24; The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18; and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on March 6.

COVID Fund Will Provide $246M to Eight Area Hospitals

U.S. Rep. Lowey also announced earlier this week that eight hospitals in New York’s 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Rockland and part of Westchester County will receive $246,279,512 for essential expenses associated with treating Coronavirus patients. The funding is part of the more than $5.026 billion previously announced for 90 New York hospitals that have provided inpatient care for 100 or more Coronavirus patients each in COVID-19 High Impact Areas.

“Westchester and Rockland Counties are home to some of the hospitals caring for the greatest number of coronavirus patients in the country,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “I fought to secure this funding in the CARES Act with my state, my community, and my neighbors in mind, and I’m relieved this funding has made its way to our Lower Hudson Valley hospitals. This is a significant step, but we are far from completing our mission of getting frontline hospitals the tools they need to maintain their heroic, life-saving work during this crisis. I will continue fighting to make sure NY-17 health providers have what they need to treat and heal COVID-19 patients.”

The eight hospitals will use this federal funding, allocated through the Provider Relief Fund from the CARES Act, for costs associated with operating in a coronavirus disease hotspot. The relief ensures that hospitals can continue to treat coronavirus patients and increase staffing, bed capacity, and much-needed personal protective equipment.

White Plains Hospital, White Plains: $65,283,067
Montefiore Nyack Hospital, Nyack: $44,828,287
Westchester Medical Center (WMCHealth), Valhalla: $49,115,383
Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern: $39,262,377
Phelps Hospital, Sleepy Hollow: $20,312,951
Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco: $16,295,632
Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plans: $11,181,812
New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor: $19,502,808

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth