March 24, 2020
NYSAC Special Bulletin  

Between the Legislature and COVID-19, news is breaking at a pace like we’ve never experienced — and it all directly ties to the work New York’s counties are doing. To help keep you as updated as possible, NYSAC will be sending out daily “Special Bulletins.”
COVID-19 By the Numbers
As of 11:00am today (3/24), NYS has 25,665 total positive test results. This is an increase of 4,790 from yesterday. Of the 25,655 total positive results, 3,234 are hospitalized (13%). Of the 3,234 that are hospitalized, 756 are in the ICU – this means that 23% of the hospitalizations are in ICU.  

To date, NYS has tested 91,270 individuals. About a 12,906 person increase from yesterday.
Working Together, Learning Together, Succeeding Together
As your association, it’s our mission to do everything we can to support your efforts at the local level.

To achieve that mission, we’re working to share what other counties are doing to serve their communities in this extraordinary time. When we all work together, we learn from each other, we teach each other and achieve more together than we ever could apart.

Many counties have begun to implement new coronavirus specific email addresses to supplement the efforts being done at local county call centers.

Counties like Orange have embedded their crisis hotline number into the electronic email signatures. This is a good practice as it helps push out the crisis hotline number across the county. 

Many counties such as Nassau, NYC and Chautauqua have been developing very innovative and engaging posters and flyers that they have been sharing on a community wide basis. To view a sample of these posters, please visit www.nysac.org/health.

We are checking in with counties to see if they are conducting cash flow analysis if the social distancing requirements remain in place for an extended period of time.  County fiscal reserves are limited, and sales tax will be highly depressed over the near term. We just want folks to be looking at the situation and to relay any concerns back to us.

New York State Update

At the Governor’s daily press conference today, the Governor stated that the original apex projection of hospital beds was 110,000 beds. Now, the state is projecting that they will need 140,000 beds and 40,000 ICU beds. That is why he is seeking to dramatically increase hospital capacity.

“I will turn this state upside down to get the beds we need.”
– Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

He predicted that the state is approximately 14-21 days away for the estimated apex in cases. 

Ventilators remain the greatest need, with the state having procured 7,000, it is still seeking at least 30,000 more. As a measure of as resort, they are exploring attempts to split a ventilator for two patients. 
State Budget Projections
Legislative staff are now reporting to us that that the legislature will return Friday to vote on a budget. Though developments with the State budget are always fluid, we can now safely project:

  • Court judgement interest rate reform will not be included as part of the SFY 21 Enacted Budget. 
  • An increase to the CHIPS bidding threshold will not be included as part of the SFY 21 Enacted Budget. We can also now safely project that mobile sports betting will not be included in as part of the SFY 21 Enacted Budget. 
  • While sports betting is unlikely to be part of next year's spending plan, the proposed VLT aid cut will be fully restored. This is a major win for counties who receive a portion of VLT revenue. 

An omnibus local home rule tax extender is still being considered and will likely be included in the budget. The plan is to extend for three years to push renewals outside of a state lawmaker election year.  

Must Reads

Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, an epidemiologist and co-director of Stanford’s Meta-Research Innovation Center, pointed out that we still do not have a firm grasp of the population-wide fatality rate of coronavirus. A look at some of the best available evidence today, though, indicates it may be 1 percent and could even be lower.

Federal Rescue Bill Nears Agreement

Early this afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that a Senate agreement on a third wave of emergency funding to address the coronavirus could be "hours" away, and that both sides seemed close to bridging disagreements that have stalled a deal on the approximately $2 trillion package.

NACo is working to ensure the legislation contains a State Stabilization Fund and that counties are eligible for any such assistance directly. There continues to be much debate about whether this should be included and how much funding might be allocated.
Let Your Federal Representatives know how critical it is for counties to get direct assistance from the State Stabilization Fund!  

Tweet or post this infographic on Facebook and tag your federal representatives to let them know why counties need this assistance!
Eyes on the Horizon
April 28th Presidential Primary

A growing chorus of elected officials have acknowledged that having people go the polls in a month is unwise, but there has yet to be a consensus about the appropriate remedy. Proposals have ranged from authorizing everybody to vote by mail to simply canceling the primary if it becomes clear that former Vice President Joe Biden will win.

In addition to the presidential contest, the April 28 ballot is currently slated to feature the special elections to fill the seats formerly held by Rep. Chris Collins, state Sen. Bob Antonacci, and three members of the Assembly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also pushed back village contests that were due to be held last week to that April date. 

 “We are facing critical shortages of inspectors and polling places due to the ongoing public health crisis,” the NYS Election Commissioners Association wrote in a release. “Over the next week, [boards of elections] will find it almost impossible to meet critical deadlines for testing machines and preparing primary ballots because of staff shortages due to the ongoing stay-at-home order.” 

They’re asking the state to reschedule the contests for June 23 (the date of the congressional and state primaries), let voters submit absentee ballots due to emergencies, and give counties more leeway to consolidate polling sites.  
Service and Support     

IBM Offers to Support County Call Centers   

IBM has developed and is offering to provide counties with a CHAT-BOT (Citizen Support Virtual Agent) that can help COVID-19 call centers deal with the high volume of incoming calls. The CHAT-BOT would overlay your existing website Q and A section or call center and help answer or direct up to 50% of the questions from the public, making the call volume more manageable. 
 
The solution leverages IBM Watson to help the county respond to citizen inquiries with accurate and reliable answers, in a scalable and cost-efficient manner. The virtual agent would assist counties in responding to citizen inquiries with accurate and reliable answers, in a scalable and cost-efficient manner.    
 
If your county is interested, you can contact David Sodergren at 518-852-6829 or by emailing David.Sodergren@IBM.com  

Proact Prescription Discount Card Offers To Help Those Who Lose Insurance   

COVID–19 is impacting every community that ProAct serves with the prescription drug discount cards that most counties have endorsed for nearly last 20 years.   

As safety measures disrupt employment for millions of New Yorkers, some of your residents may lose their prescription drug coverage and need some help.  

The county discount drug card may be able to help by providing a break at the pharmacy counter for residents across the State.   

ProAct has committed to printing and distributing prescription discount cards that can be send to participating counties to put in their offices over the next couple of months.   

FEMA Funding for Construction of Emergency Hospitals in NY
FEMA issued a $350 million Mission Assignment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of alternate care facilities in New York. Four sites have been selected.

They are working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the state of New York to complete the construction of a 1,000-bed medical station at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City to care for patients with special health needs. These medical stations increase local healthcare capabilities and can be tailored to meet local requirements.
Federal Disaster Funds Applicant Briefings
On March 20, 2020, the State of New York received a Major Federal Disaster Declaration FEMA-4480-DR for the COVID-19 Incident. The incident started on January 20, 2020, and is ongoing. The declaration authorizes public assistance for Category B Emergency Protective Measures.

On March 24-25, 2020 NYS Ag and Markets will begin holding applicant briefings for Potential Eligible Applicants via WebEx.

Potential eligible applicants include the following:

  1. State agencies;
  2. Local governments and special districts;
  3. Federally recognized Tribal Nations;
  4. Certain types of private nonprofit (PNP) organizations:

  1. Critical PNPs – PNPs that own or operate a facility that provides a critical service, e.g., hospitals and emergency care facilities, fire & rescue emergency services, educational facilities (including colleges both public or private), nursing homes, laboratories, and rehab centers that provide medical care.
  2. Non-critical but essential PNPs – PNPs that own or operate a facility that provides a non-critical, but essential social service AND provides those services to the general public, e.g., senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, community centers, child care facilities, food assistance programs, performing arts facilities, and houses of worship.
 
The Applicants Briefs provide eligible applicants with the information needed to: (a) participate in the disaster as Public Assistance applicants; and, (b) submit for reimbursement for FEMA-eligible expenditures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

To register for one of the applicant briefings, please click on the registration link next to your preferred date and time. Once you register for the applicant briefing, you will receive a confirmation with the teleconference login as well as the WebEx login. You will also receive a confirmation email with this information. The duration of the WebEx should be approximately 1 hour.
 
DA TE - TIME - REGISTRATION LINK

March 24, 2020 9:00 AM EST Register

March 24, 2020 1:00 PM EST Register

March 24, 2020 6:00 PM EST Register

March 25, 2020 9:00 AM EST Register

March 25, 2020 1:00 PM EST Register

March 25, 2020 6:00 PM EST Register
Receive timely updates when you follow NYSAC: