This Week in Albany – April 17

Shenker Russo and Clark LLP Legislative Update

COVID-19 Update

This week, Governor Cuomo continued holding daily press briefings on the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic. For most of the week, the number of new cases and hospitalizations seemed to indicate the state was still plateaued at its apex. Fortunately, the numbers announced during this morning’s briefing seemed to show a slight curve downward. However, the number of fatalities from COVID-19 remains at over 600-per day. Because of this, the Governor made several announcements this week to continue battling the disease.

On Wednesday, the Governor announced he was amending his Executive Order 202 to require all New Yorkers over the age of two to wear masks or mouth/nose coverings when in public situations where they are unable to abide by social distancing requirements. This will go into effect tonight at 8 PM. Yesterday, the Governor announced that NY on Pause will be extended until May 15th, meaning that all non-essential businesses and schools will have to remain closed until mid-May. Closer to that date, the Governor will reassess the COVID-19 situation and whether the Regional Working Group have announced a plan to reopen the economy in phases, and then decide how to move forward.

This morning, the Governor announced he will further amend his Executive Order 202 to direct all New York State Public and Private Labs to coordinate with the State Department of Health to prioritize diagnostic testing. Also, during today’s press briefing, the Secretary to the Governor, Melissa De Rosa, said that the Governor will eventually amend the Executive Order to require nursing homes to inform families and/or residents if their facility has any positive cases. However, there has not been any announcement as to when that amendment will happen.

Lastly, the Governor indicated this morning that he is open to potentially reopening Upstate New York before downstate, given the difference in how both areas were affected by the pandemic. Despite saying he is open to this, he did not say if this is the approach he will take. It is important to remember that the Regional Working Group the Governor announced this week is still working to come up with a regional plan on how to open their economies jointly, and we do not expect that any plans to reopen any parts of the State will be announced until the Working Group has announced their plan.

Bill Reports

The Legislature introduced 73 bills this week and delivered 53 to the Governor’s office. The Governor signed the remaining Budget Bills this week, as well as announcing his line-through vetoes of those bills. The Legislature still has not announced when they will be returning to Albany for Session, but members of the Legislature have continued to indicate that there is an appetite to return eventually. We will continue to monitor the Legislature’s schedule and will inform you if we hear of any updates.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us directly.