Coronavirus (COVID-19) Twenty-Fourth Update

Friday, April 3, 2020
Dear Guilderland residents:
 
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health reported that there are 254 confirmed cases with 30 persons hospitalized, with 15 adults in the intensive care unit.  Since yesterday, there have been two additional deaths of persons with underlying health conditions and that the County death total from COVID-19 is four. There are now 412 persons under mandatory quarantine and 123 persons in precautionary quarantine.  County Executive Daniel P. McCoy acknowledged the tragic losses and devastating impacts upon families caused by the pandemic and urged the public to prevent spread of the virus by following health guidelines.  
 
Governor Cuomo today announced the launch of www.ny.gov/covid-19tracker which provides visualizations of State and County testing and results. You can also access this data at data.ny.gov, the State's data portal which has downloadable formats that can be sorted, searched, analyzed and applied to new uses.  The Governor also announced that, starting Monday, April 6th, every day from 8am to 6pm, the Capital Region will have a new drive thru testing site at UAlbany’s Colonial Quad parking lot.  The site will prioritize tests for persons in a highest risk population. Interested persons must make an appointment by calling (888) 364-3065. 
 
It has been one-week since the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, an 880 page stimulus bill intended to provide financial assistance for workers, businesses, and residents.  It’s a massive bill including state fiscal relief, payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, multiple business assistance programs, student loan changes, rental assistance, homeless programs, special housing needs, support for hospitals, revised rules for retirement accounts, new rules for deducting charitable contributions, and much more.  The breadth of this bill is far beyond the Town’s ability to explain. We will add helpful resources to the Town’s website as they become available: https://www.townofguilderland.org/supervisors-office/pages/town-guilderlands-response-coronavirus-covid-19
 
Here’s a synopsis of a few components in the CARES Act that may be of assistance to residents and small businesses:
 
Recovery Rebates
The stimulus package includes direct payment by check or direct deposit to eligible residents.  Here is an online tool for determining your eligibility and calculating the benefit amount: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/coronavirus-stimulus-check-calculator/.  For most people, the payment amount is based upon your most recently filed Federal tax return.  Some tax advisors are encouraging clients to file 2019 federal tax returns as soon as possible, particularly if your 2019 income might make you more eligible for a stimulus payment than your 2018 tax return.
 
Unemployment Insurance
The stimulus package provides greater benefits, extends duration of benefits, and expands the eligibility for unemployment insurance to include the self-employed and part-time workers.  In the end, people who are unemployed, underemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19 are more likely to receive benefits. Unemployment insurance claims in New York are processed by the Department of Labor: https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.  Here’s a helpful FAQ on COVID-19 unemployment insurance claims. 
 
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
Here’s a link to an overview by the Small Business Administration (SBA) explaining how small businesses are encouraged to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
 
Paycheck Protection Program
This SBA loan program helps businesses retain employees during the crisis: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.
 
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
This SBA loan program provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties due to COVID-19: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance
 
SBA Express Bridge Loans
This SBA loan program provides a small business with a current SBA relationship with quick access to up to $25,000 in loans: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-express-bridge-loans
 
SBA Debt Relief
This SBA program provides “financial reprieve” to small businesses during the crisis:  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief#section-header-0
 
Again, there are many more components to the stimulus program that may be important to you, your family or your business.  
 
Given questionable items in prior stimulus bills, I figured that there must be at least one odd expenditure in the 808 page bill.  I did not (and likely will not) thoroughly read it so I cheated by searching for news reports about “pork” and the like. The best that I could find was a special tax benefit for distilleries, with lots of positive news reports for hundreds of distilleries in Kentucky and elsewhere.  The reason for this tax benefit was clear: promotes high-proof alcohol production for “essential” sanitizers. But those entities can now stay open and serve the State’s interest in supplying products to beverage stores, an “essential service” as determined by the Governor. It is comforting to know that the Feds and State have found at least one way (albeit indirectly) to jointly fight this pandemic.  If you find anything odd or funny in the CARES Act, please let me know at 3AMIdeas@togny.org.
 
Thank you again for staying safe and calm.    
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter G. Barber
Town Supervisor