A Drop in the Tank: Not Enough for New York in Federal Aid Bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was critical Thursday of the relief expected in his state, the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, after days of political rancor at the Senate finally won approval of a $2 trillion aid package.

Though the stimulus package directs $5 billion to New York state, Cuomo noted that the money is specifically earmarked for virus response with nothing for lost revenue — a figure estimated to be between $10 billon and $15 billion after businesses and tourism were ground to a halt to slow viral transmissions.

Department of Labor personnel turn New Yorkers away at the door in this March 18, 2020, file photo. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

On top of that, the Democrat said, New York is facing increased expenses as it scrambles to treat patients with the deadly virus.

“I believe what they did failed to meet the governmental need,” Cuomo said this morning in what has become a daily press conference on the pandemic.

“I’m disappointed. I said I was disappointed,” said Cuomo, noting that he had spoken to the state’s congressional representatives. “I find it irresponsible, I find that reckless. Emotion is a luxury, and we don’t have the luxury at this time of being emotional.”

As of Thursday morning, 37,000 people across the state have tested positive for Covid-19 and 385 have died. The state has 5,000 confirmed cases in the hospital, 1,200 of them in intensive care units. New York has conducted the most aggressive testing in the country and expects case numbers to continue to rise.

Cuomo last week put the state “on pause,” keeping nonessential workers home and shuttering businesses, in an effort to limit the number of people who need hospitalization at once, or flatten the curve, as the goal has come to be known.

It still won’t be enough, he said.

“You cannot get the curve down low enough so that you don’t overwhelm a hospital capacity,” Cuomo said Thursday. “So any of these scenarios, we have to increase the hospital capacity.”

The state’s goal is to have a 1,000-bed overflow facility in each downstate county.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday afternoon that New York City has acquired 2,500 more ventilators, just one-sixth of what the city is projected to need in the crisis.

While the city had released 200 inmates from the jail system as of Wednesday, de Blasio said another 175 people will be released this evening.

Politico New York reports that 131 inmates and staff have tested positive.

“None of us expected this crisis, but one thing that came out of it is our jail population continues to decline,” de Blasio said. As of this morning, according to de Blasio, the number of inmates in the city dipped below 5,000 for the first time since 1949.

On Thursday morning, Cuomo also expressed gratitude for the people who are keeping the state running during the crisis.

“We always said this is not going to be over quickly,” he said. “I understand people are tired. … But when I feel tired, I think of the first responders who are out there every day, showing up. I think of the police officers, I think of the firefighters who were up there every day, the grocery store workers who are working double shifts just to keep food on the shelves … the pharmacists, who have lines going out the door … the transportation workers who don’t have the luxury of feeling tired because they have to get up and they have to drive the bus so the nurses and the health care professionals can get to work. And they’re working, many of them, seven days a week. So yes, we’re tired. But look at what others among us have to do.”

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