Important Updates and Resources for COVID-19

Visit my new website here for the most up-to-date COVID-19 information and resources for you and your families.  

Seasonal Business Owners - find important clarification on PPP eligibility here.

North Country Small Businesses: Find resources for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and other similar programs here.

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Statement on New York State Decision to Defer Negotiated Raises for Corrections Officers

Our brave Corrections Officers repeatedly put their lives on the line to keep order in our prison systems. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have put their personal health and the health of their families on the line as essential employees, without hazard pay. Now, New York State is denying them their rightfully negotiated pay raises. They deserve to be rightfully compensated at any time, but especially when they are deemed essential workers and are, in many cases, directly exposed to COVID-19. This is completely unacceptable and must be corrected immediately. I will continue to advocate for the men and women of the law enforcement and corrections communities.

Requesting Action to Address the Health and Safety of Senior Living Facilities and Nursing Homes

Given the recent announcement by Clinton County Department of Health that all elderly residents at the 46 Flynn Ave senior living facility in Plattsburgh will be placed under quarantine, I am requesting immediate additional action to address the health and safety of our senior living facilities and nursing homes to protect our seniors who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. I strongly believe that transparency is critically important to inform our seniors and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. New York State continues to fail to release data of nursing home or senior facilities impacted by COVID-19. The Clinton County Health Department made the right call to release this information publicly to educate our seniors and the community. If the State does not release this data, our county departments of health and senior facilities should self-report. I believe that frontline medical and support staff at all senior facilities across the North Country must have priority access to testing and PPE in order to continue in the workplace. Additionally, our senior facilities and nursing homes should immediately strengthen mandatory staff protocols like temperature checks before allowing entrance into facilities. We must continue to work as a community to protect our seniors by abiding by CDC's guidance to stay home and social distance. My office is committed to continuing our strong support of the County Offices of the Aging across our district to ensure seniors have information about grocery delivery and prescription drug delivery services. We are grateful to our County Public Health offices for working diligently to address these issues. Read more here

Calling for More COVID-19 Testing for the North Country 

According to data from the New York State COVID-19 tracker, NY-21 counties have only received 1.67% of total tests statewide – this is unacceptable. As Governor Cuomo continues to discuss shifting scarce Upstate resources to Downstate, such as PPE and ventilators, we need an immediate surge in testing capabilities Upstate – specifically in the North Country. The current population of our counties has increased because of the absorption of seasonal residents. We need more accurate data to drive the State’s decision making for resource spread, and that starts with a greater share of testing in the North Country. I have worked with our counties to request additional testing materials as the State continues to make the decisions about where tests are deployed. The current testing percentage in the North Country is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately.

Statement on Governor Cuomo's Executive Order 

After widespread bipartisan opposition from Democratic and Republican elected officials from the Hudson Valley to the Capitol District to the Southern Tier to the North Country to Buffalo, I am pleased that Governor Cuomo significantly walked back New York’s misguided Friday announcement to send the National Guard to take 20% of unused PPE and ventilators from Upstate to Downstate. In the Executive Order issued on Tuesday, there is no longer a 20% requirement, it was written as ‘may’ and not ‘shall,’ and will not be managed by the National Guard and instead coordinated by the Department of Health working with the support of the Hospital Association of New York State. This five-day delay and significant walk back means that the bipartisan opposition from across Upstate had a significant impact leading to a much more reasonable approach that will ensure the unique needs of each community are met. We are grateful for each and every hospital and healthcare worker who are working tirelessly to serve their communities and are going above and beyond to voluntarily share resources when able.

Following My Advocacy, U.S. Treasury Clarifies PPP Guidance for Seasonal Businesses

On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans established under the CARES Act and issued this important clarification based on the guidance provided and developed by Congresswoman Stefanik who worked with President of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michael Bittel. Numerous North Country seasonal businesses contacted my office because the initial Paycheck Protection Program guidance did not fully clarify eligibility for seasonal businesses. I immediately contacted the Deputy Secretary of Treasury and worked directly with the Department of Treasury to issue needed additional guidance so that our financial institutions were able to process loans for our seasonal businesses, which are critical to our North Country economy. Read more here.

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 Resources for Small Businesses

This new loan program will offer significant relief to North Country small businesses by providing working capital to allow these businesses to keep operations running and people employed.

  • Existing SBA lenders and new, approved lenders brought into the program will be able to offer these loans to eligible small businesses. This will allow businesses to access these loans through community banks and other qualifying lenders, putting the money in the hands of the businesses faster.
  • New Loans under this program are eligible for a forgiveness if the business maintains payroll continuity from Feb. 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020. Qualifying businesses may request forgiveness on a loan used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, forgiveness on a loan used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utility pay over an 8 week period.
  •       The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by      any reduction in employees retained compared to the      prior year. This provides flexibility for businesses that      re-hire workers that were previously laid off. 
  •      The SBA will guarantee 100% of loans provided at a      4% interest rate during the period from March 1, 2020      through December 31, 2020. 
  • All small businesses employing 500 or less employees (including 501(c)(3), sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals) that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 would be eligible to receive a loan in an amount equal to the lesser of $10 million or 2.5x the average monthly payroll based on the prior year's payroll.
  • Qualifying small businesses may use these funds to cover: payroll costs, costs related to the continuation of healthcare benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums, employee salaries, commission, or similar compensations, payments of interest on any mortgage, rent, utilities, or interest on any other debt that was incurred before the covered period. 
  • This bill also increases the maximum loan amount for "Express Loans" from $350,000 to $1,000,000. "Express Loans" are expedited versions of the loans provided under Section 7(a) for which the turnaround time for a response to the application is given within 36 hours. 

Tax Relief for Small Businesses  

  • This bill provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of the wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis for businesses that had to partially or fully close down, or those whose gross receipts decreased by over 50%.
  • Employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees can receive the credit regardless of it they had to shut down. The credit counts for the first $10,000 of compensation paid per employee.
  • Delivers short-term relief and liquidity to employers and the self-employed by allowing them to immediately defer payroll taxes and pay them over the next two years, with half due on Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half due on Dec. 31, 2022. 
  • Allows businesses to carry a net operating loss that occurred in 2018, 2019, or 2020 back five years and amend the prior year return, providing additional cash flow and liquidity. 
  • Helps businesses provide student loan repayments to their workers by allowing up to $5,250 in tax-free payments toward an employee's student loans.
  • Increases the amount of interest expenses businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, up to a limit of 50 percent of their taxable income. 
  • Allows businesses to immediately write off the costs associated with facility improvements instead of having to depreciate these improvements over 39 years, which is particularly important for the hospitality industry and local supermarkets. 
  • Amplifies all the great work being done by American distilleries to help produce hand sanitizer by waiving the federal excise tax on alcohol used for this purpose. 

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County Public Health Resources

Clinton County: (518) 565-4840
Essex County: (518) 873-3514
Franklin County: (518) 481-1709
Fulton County: (518) 736-5720
Hamilton County: (518) 648-6497
Herkimer County: (315) 867-1176
Jefferson County: (315) 785-3000
Lewis County: (315) 376-5453
Saratoga County: (518) 584-7460
St. Lawrence County: (315) 386-2325
Warren County: (518) 761-6580
Washington County: (518) 746-2461

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Requesting More HHS Funding for New York Hospitals 

This week, I sent a bipartisan letter, along with members of the New York Congressional Delegation, requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reconsider their potential decision to allocate hospital funding to hospitals based on Medicare payment data. Despite the disproportionate scale of the COVID-19 crisis in New York, HHA has chosen not to give New York priority when distributing funding appropriated by Congress as part of the recently passed CARES Act. The letter outlines the impact that COVID-19 has made on New York hospitals and requests that they be prioritized for funding.  The allocation of funding by HHS based on Medicare payment data does not take into account the effects that COVID-19 has had on our New York State hospitals. I’m joining Members of our New York Congressional delegation in advocating for increased support for our New York hospitals, who have been working tirelessly to combat this outbreak. I will continue to advocate for our hospitals to receive critical funding for increased staffing, expanded capacity, and more essential resources including ventilators and PPE. Read more here

Announcing Increased Funding for New York Community Health Centers 

After my strong support of and advocacy for Community Health Centers, the Heath Resources and Services Administration disbursed appropriated funds from the CARES Act to Federally Qualified Community Health Centers. Hudson Headwaters Health Network received $1.9 million for COVID-19-related activities and capacity building efforts. The Community Health Center of the North Country received $705,000. I pushed hard for Community Health Centers in my district to be included in the CARES Act relief package. Many of my constituents depend on our Community Health Centers, which are critical resources for rural communities. I’m grateful that both Hudson Headwaters and the Community Health Center of the North Country have received this funding so they have the resources to combat COVID-19 and properly care for their patients during this unprecedented and challenging time. Our entire community is inspired by the diligence and hard work of our healthcare workers on the front lines, and my office will continue to be a strong advocate for Community Health Centers and all North Country healthcare workers – heroes living among us. Read more here.

Hosting a Coronavirus Telephone Town Hall

On Wednesday, I hosted a telephone town hall and was able to answer important questions directly from constituents about the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. I was joined by Essex County Director of Public Health, Linda Beers, and was able to speak to constituents about small business, seniors, and veterans issues, the need to support our corrections officers, the lack of testing kits in upstate New York, Governor Cuomo's recent executive order regarding ventilators and other medical supplies, the effects of the outbreak on agriculture and other essential industries, and the overall impact of the coronavirus across New York State. It is absolutely crucial that during this time when I cannot meet constituents in person, I am communicating with them directly via telephone. I will continue to stay in close contact with our local public health officials, local elected officials, and constituents to address the needs of our communities during this unprecedented time. 

Protect Yourself from Scams

Congress recently passed the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief to help individuals and businesses. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have raised concerns about scammers and fraudsters that impersonate federal employees and ask you to verify personal account information in order to receive a payment. Here are some helpful security facts:

  • The U.S. Government will not contact you about these payments - period. 
  • The U.S. Government will not ask you to verify payment information of any kind.
  • The U.S. Government will not ask you to pay any fee or charge to receive payment.
  • The U.S. Government will not offer to expedite your payment for a fee.

To protect your personal information:

  • Hang up if you receive a telephone call from someone who claims to be from a government agency asking for verification of personal information.
  • Ignore or delete it if you get a pop-up message, email or text that directs you to call a certain number or visit a website to verify personal information.
  • Never reply to a phone number or use a website that is part of a suspicious call, pop-up or text message to verify personal information.
  • Phishing emails are near-replica websites of a trusted or well-known institution such as your financial institution or a government agency. When in doubt, you should initiate contact through a known telephone number or website.

Be diligent and ask yourself: Why would your financial institution or the government need to contact you for personal information to make or receive a payment—they already have it! Please do not hesitate to reach out to any one of my offices if you have questions or concerns.

In Case You Missed It: Weekly Media Roundup

In case you missed it, I have done various interviews and conference calls with local media over the past few weeks on coronavirus, its impact on seniors and small businesses, local prisons and corrections officers, local hospitals, the CARES Act, and steps that members of the community should be taking to protect themselves. As always, I will continue to do interviews with the local media to ensure the public is fully informed on the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.

North Country Public Radio: Stefanik leads opposition to Cuomo's plan to redistribute NY ventilators

Press Republican: Stefanik Issues Statement

Post Star: NOTEBOOK: Stefanik calls for farmers to be eligible for stimulus

Spectrum News: Stefanik: More COVID-19 Tests Needed In North Country

Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik supports voluntary redeployment of ventilators

Press Republican: Stefanik supports voluntary redeployment of ventilators | Coronavirus

Watertown Daily Times: Stefanik, health advocates say Cuomo order on hospital supply redistribution not necessary

Press Republican: Officials take questions on unemployment, SBA

Press Republican: Officials condemn raise deferments

Watertown Daily Times: State, federal officials answer virus-related questions for Lewis County residents

Sun Community News: Stefanik Statement; NYS Decision to Defer Negotiated Raises for Corrections Officers

Spectrum News: Stefanik: More Transparency Needed For Nursing Home COVID-19 Cases

THANK YOU

On behalf of our entire district, I want to thank the incredible leadership, courage, and resilience of so many at this difficult, unprecedented time as we work together to combat and beat COVID-19. 

From our doctors, nurses, physician assistants, healthcare providers, hospital personnel, EMS, and first responders who are on the front lines of our public health needs, to our truck drivers, manufacturers, grocers, workers, and farmers who are keeping our shelves stocked, to our county personnel and local elected officials who are working daily to ensure we have the capacity to meet the public's needs to the best of our ability, to our teachers, caregivers, volunteers, and parents who are meeting the challenge, to our local media informing the public, our entire community is grateful for your tremendous service. 

As a community working together, we will overcome this. My office is here to serve each and every constituent. No issue is too small and we will continue to work around the clock to serve the families and small businesses of our district. 

Wishing You and Your Family a Blessed Passover and Happy Easter

As our communities observe Passover and celebrate Easter, I wish you and your families a meaningful and safe holiday. 

As always, thank you for subscribing to my weekly updates!