ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged the state’s congressional lawmakers to reject the U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, he said Wednesday, adding the pandemic could leave the state with a revenue shortfall of up to $15 billion.
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Congressional leaders reached a deal on a $2 trillion package — the largest in American history — late Tuesday to provide federal aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan will cut financial-assistance checks to middle-class and lower-income Americans and increase unemployment benefits to a greater number of workers to be paid out for four months. The aid would also serve as relief for businesses and state governments.
Gov. Cuomo railed against the Senate’s $2 trillion emergency aid plan Wednesday, saying the bill would give New York an insufficient $3.8 billion, with about $1.3 billion slated for New York City.
“That is a drop in the bucket as to need. It would be terrible for New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I spoke to our congressional delegation. This morning, I said to them, ‘This doesn’t do it.’ I understand the Senate theory and the Republican theory, but we need the House to make adjustments.”
A similar plan in the House gave the state $17 billion, the governor said. Under the Senate bill, the $3.1 billion reserved for New York is 1.9% of the state’s budget, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.
“Literally 48 states get a higher percentage in funding than New York State,” Gov. Cuomo’s Communications Director Dani Lever said in a statement. “The gross political manipulation is obvious.”
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, could not be reached for comment Wednesday about the bill.
Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo asked state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to reassess the state’s proposed $178 billion executive budget after COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the local and national markets. On March 17, DiNapoli said the state’s executive budget forecast could be $4 billion to $7 billion below original projections.
The state’s response to COVID-19 has cost roughly $1 billion to date, Gov. Cuomo said.
“We’re looking at a revenue shortfall of 9, 10, $15 billion,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If we don’t get more funding from the feds, I don’t know how we write the budget. That’s why this Senate bill is so troublesome.”
The state had 30,811 positive cases of COVID-19 as of press time Wednesday, with 285 deaths and 3,805 requiring hospitalization, or about 12%. Of those in the hospital Wednesday, 888 patients are in the intensive care unit, or 3%.
To see the complete county breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide, view the COVID-19 map and tracker at hudsonvalley360.com/site/covid19.html
Gov. Cuomo also announced Wednesday more than 6,100 mental health professionals across the state volunteered to provide free counseling sessions to residents online during the pandemic. To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional, call the state’s hotline at 1-844-863-9314.
The state is working around the clock to ramp up hospitals with adequate beds, staffing, equipment and ventilators before the virus apex, or peak, is expected to hit within the next 21 days, Gov. Cuomo said.
The state projects it needs 30,000 ventilators through the duration of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo said. The state purchased 7,000 and expects 4,000 from the federal government through the Defense Production Act. New York also has 14,000 ventilators stockpiled throughout the state, but hospitals have not requested additional machines as of Wednesday.
“We have no anticipation to prioritize ventilator usage,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Our goal is to have a ventilator for anyone who needs one.”
The state needs 140,000 hospital beds, but has 53,000. Hospitals were tasked with increasing their capacity a minimum of 50% with a goal of doubling it.
More than 40,000 retired nurses, doctors and medical professionals signed up to be part of the state’s volunteer Surge Health care Force. The extra health care workers will be deployed to the state’s temporary medical centers when they open, or to hospitals with
Gov. Cuomo has requested more equipment, ventilators and aid from the federal government to help combat COVID-19 throughout the month of March. The governor urged the federal government implement a rolling deployment of ventilators and supplies to address the critical needs of virus hot-spot areas across the nation, and to move the supplies as necessary.
“Different regions will have their curve at different times,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We need help from the entire country right now... as soon as we get past our critical moment, we will redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hot spot. I personally guarantee we will bring that equipment, we will bring that personnel, we’ll bring that technical assistance. We are all in this together.”
The Tribune News Service contributed to this report.