Coronavirus Updates (April 17): More Economic Devastation

About 400,000 New Yorkers filed for unemployment last week, as the SBA ran out of disaster funding and local governments began to calculate the economic impact of shutting down the economy to prevent the worst case scenario of lives lost to Covid-19.

There’s no sign that the New York economy will rebound any time soon, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday extended the executive order requiring non-essential businesses and schools to be closed for an additional two weeks, through May 15.

The governor pointed out in his Thursday morning press briefing that, even with the economic shutdown, the Covid-19 infection rate in New York is now .9, meaning each infected person is infecting an average of .9 people.

The state has a narrow window of acceptable infection rates, he said, adding that if that number goes up to 1.2 when the state relaxes social distancing, infections will begin to rise exponentially again.

In total 1.2 million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment between the time Covid-19 was first diagnosed in the state at the beginning of March and April 10, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, told reporters at the governor’s Thursday press briefing.

By comparison, just 300,000 New Yorkers filed for unemployment during the entire Great Recession of 2008, she said.

Nationwide, 5.2 million people filed unemployment claims in the week ending April 10, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor Thursday, bringing the national total up to 20 million people.

New York City has been the source of the most jobless claims in the state, followed by Long Island, with just over 520,000 initial claims filed in the city and about 176,500 on the island.

After the New York Department of Labor rebooted with a new call-back system last week, Ms. DeRosa said Thursday that about 275,000 claims remain to be processed.

“Some of the people are from last week, and some date back to the middle of March,” said Ms. DeRosa, adding that most of the older claims “require additional forms and are from self employed people and contractors.”

“If you’re one of the people who’s still struggling, it doesn’t matter at all,” how many claims have already been processed, she said. “We understand. I apologize for that. We’re going to do everything we can to bring system up to scale as soon as possible.”

The New York State Department of Labor is asking people who have filed for unemployment to remove any blocked call filters from their phones.

“Because our representatives are working remotely, incoming calls may appear as private,” the DOL tweeted on Thursday. “Anyone calling from the DOL will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your UI application & the type of claim filed.”

Unemployment filers may also receive a call from 518.704.2704, which is the state Department of Labor’s outbound number.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County is putting together a Covid-19 Fiscal Impact Task Force, an “independent panel that will conduct an extensive review of the county multi-year plan and determine the financial impact that the pandemic has had upon it,” County Executive Steve Bellone announced Thursday.

 Suffolk County depends on sales tax revenue for nearly 40 percent of its operating budget, and Mr. Bellone said Wednesday the closure of the county’s economy will likely have a major impact on the county’s finances.

This task force is in addition to a county Covid-19 Recovery Task Force Mr. Bellone has convened to focus on the devastating effect the virus has had on our local tourism-based economy.

He urged all residents to respond to the U.S. Census at my2020census.gov to make sure all residents are counted so the county can get as much federal aid as possible in response to Covid-19. The federal government has moved the deadline for collecting census data to Oct. 31 in light of the crisis.

The Small Business Administration also announced Thursday that it has run out of funding for its Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs “based on available appropriations funding.”

“Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis,” according to the agency.

On Hospitals

Suffolk County’s Covid-19 hospitalization rate appears to have stabilized, said Mr. Bellone on Thursday, with a decrease of 45 patients hospitalized and a decrease in 25 patients in ICU reported in the prior 24 hours. In that time period, 152 people had been released from the hospital. In total, 706 Suffolk residents had died of Covid-19 as of Thursday, according to the New York State Department of Health.

There were 23,752 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Suffolk County as of Thursday evening, including 357 cases in Southampton Town, 254 in Riverhead, 253 in Southold, 109 in East Hampton and six on Shelter Island.

Mask Rules

Mr. Cuomo has added a requirement that anyone riding on public transportation, in cars for hire or taxis must wear a mask at all times to his executive order requiring everyone to wear a face covering in public if they are in an area where they can’t maintain social distancing. Children under two years old and people who are medically unable to wear masks are exempt from the order, which goes into effect at 8 p.m. tonight.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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