Below are the Top 5 items from April 2020
1. PLANS FOR REOPENING THE STATE TAKE SHAPE:
Within the last week, the Governor began discussing plans for reopening our economy. As our COVID-19 numbers locally have been in stark contrast with downstate, I have supported a regional approach to reopening. Public health continues to be the top priority, but given what we’ve experienced locally we will likely be ready to resume business sooner than our downstate neighbors.
The Governor recently outlined criteria regions will have to meet in order to begin getting back to business. When the NY On Pause Order expires on May 15th, any region that has experienced a 14-day decline in COVID hospitalizations and has at least 30% hospital capacity may enter Phase One of reopening which includes the resumption of construction and manufacturing industries. A number of other guidelines must also be followed including plans to protect employees returning to work, testing and tracing protocols for the community, and coordination with other regions regarding education and transportation, among others.
Locally, a COVID 19 Economic Response, Recovery and Resiliency Task Force has been established by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and The Agency. I am pleased to be serving on this task force which is made up of business, economic development, education, and government leaders. Our focus is to develop and implement a strategy for economic reopening and resiliency that align with good public health practices now and into the future.
2. MENTAL HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICE ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE:
These are stressful times for everyone; from the essential workers to those who have experienced isolation at home, or who live in unsafe settings. We are unfortunately seeing a spike in cases where children and adults are in severe distress. Please know that we continue to have a strong network of human service providers who stand ready to help.
At the beginning of April, I convened a Zoom meeting to discuss community trends, ways to partner, along with the need for community education about the services that are available. Providers included those focused on mental health and substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and the needs of the elderly. On April 17th, I joined County Executive Jason Garnar to remind the public that our strong network of local agencies remain open for people in need. Click here for a list of local and state resources that can help. You are not alone.
3. UNITED WAY LAUNCHES COMMUNITY RESPONSE FUND LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM IS SAFE & SECURE:
Our community has faced adversity head on in the past and has always been defined by our ability to respond, recover, and grow from those challenges. We’ve seen so much generosity already, from restaurants donating meals for school students, to community members sewing masks to be distributed at nursing homes. The effects of this pandemic will be felt for a long time to come. To help, the United Way of Broome County launched the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. 100% of all funds raised will go directly to community-based organizations working to help those affected by COVID-19. You can donate by visiting uwbroome.org/COVID19-ACTION or texting ACTION to 85511. Thank you to all who have already contributed.
4. INFORMATION & HELP AVAILABLE REGARDING CARE ACT STIMULUS PAYMENTS:
On March 27th, Congress passed the CARES Act to help individuals negatively impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. This bill included Economic Impact Payments, commonly referred to as “stimulus payments,” which millions of Americans are starting to receive. Individuals making below $75,000 will receive $1,200 and couples earning less than $150,000 will receive a $2,400 payment. Many taxpayers who filed 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns will receive them automatically into their bank account. New York State has launched an awareness campaign to help ensure residents receive their CARES Act payments. Click here for helpful information on this program. If you still have questions regarding your stimulus payment, contact your local federal representative.
5. CENSUS 2020: YOUR RESPONSE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER:
Given the long term economic effects of the pandemic, participating in the 2020 Census is more important than ever. New York has been historically undercounted, resulting in the loss of Congressional seats and funding for things like public education, hospitals, infrastructure, public transit, and housing. The count also has a real impact on taxpayers as each person we fail to count costs the state $2,600 per year. If you haven’t already, please help our community get our fair share of federal funding by taking ten minutes to complete your 2020 Census online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail. Responding now will minimize the need for the Census Bureau to send Census Takers out into communities to follow up.