Queens lawmaker urges Cuomo to extend funding for businesses impacted by coronavirus scare

Courtesy of State Assemblyman Ron Kim’s office

State Assemblyman Ron Kim is encouraging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to extend emergency funding or creation of a separate fund that will provide relief grants for small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus or (COVID-19). 

As the World Health Organization (WHO) urges countries to redouble efforts to contain the spread of the virus effectively, Cuomo announced a $40 million appropriation for the New York State of Health to hire additional staff, procure equipment and any other resources necessary to respond to the potential coronavirus pandemic, on Feb. 26.

“As we are seeing the novel coronavirus spread to new countries around the world, in New York we are continuing to take all necessary precautions to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous virus,” Cuomo said. “While there are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York, these aggressive actions including $40 million in emergency funding will help ensure our healthcare system is equipped with the necessary staff, supplies and equipment needed to respond to any emergency situation that may arise in the future.” 

Cuomo’s $40 million emergency fund in preparation for a possible outbreak in New York City is parallel to Kim’s recent Feb. 7 announcement on the creation of the Asian American Health Council, comprised of more than 20 medical professionals, and his push for a dedicated emergency fund to deal with the coronavirus. 

On Feb. 7, Assemblyman Ron Kim was joined by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, chair of social services, to announce their intent to form an Asian-American Health Advisory Council.

“I thank Governor Cuomo for his swift and decisive action in seeking $40 million to keep New Yorkers safe from a possible coronavirus outbreak,” Kim said. “But more immediately, due to the fears surrounding the spread of this virus, hundreds of our workers and family-owned small businesses are suffering and on the verge of filing for bankruptcies. After weeks of declining business, often up to 50 percent in lost revenues, many New Yorkers are more scared of losing their jobs or livelihood than catching the coronavirus.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of today, samples from 27 New Yorkers have been sent to the CDC for testing, 26 have come back negative with one result still pending. There are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York state. 

Cuomo is proposing legislation to grant authority to the city Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to ensure local health departments and public and private hospitals statewide to take certain actions and measures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as needed. 

The DOH will convene local health departments and hospitals statewide to review protocols, best practices and procedures to help ensure they are prepared to combat the spread of the virus.  

The governor is also calling on the federal government to authorize the Wadsworth Center and New York City Public Health Lab to test for the virus, allowing for expanded testing capacity and expedited test results. New York State has independently worked to develop and validate a test using the CDC Protocol. Upon FDA approval, Wadsworth can immediately begin testing to support New York State and other states in the northeast region if necessary. 

Additionally, DOH will work with the MTA, Port Authority and its airport operators, and the authorities’ respective workforces to ensure workers have the necessary training and access to supplies, including cleaning and protective equipment, they need to continue to operate mass transit systems and airports. The state is also coordinating with all state agencies to help ensure they are prepared to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic. 

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