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. 

 

North Country Small Businesses: The SBA Paycheck Protection Program is LIVE TODAY. Please use this form to apply and work with your local financial institution.

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Statement on Cuomo Announcement Regarding Ventilator Shift from Upstate to Downstate


I am very concerned about Governor Cuomo’s announcement today regarding his plan to sign an executive order to shift ventilators from Upstate to Downstate New York. The North Country comprises the largest number of seniors of any Congressional District in New York State, the most vulnerable age group to COVID-19. Our critical needs and vulnerabilities must be considered. North Country hospitals reached out to my office with this specific concern earlier this week – our rural hospitals are already very limited in resources and we must ensure Upstate New York’s needs for testing supplies and ventilators are fully met. I am committed to working through these concerns with both Republican and Democrat Upstate officials, our hospitals, and county public health offices. Read more here.

Calling on New York State to Create a Comprehensive Safety Plan for New York Prisons

Correctional Officers in North Country prisons are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the nature of their work, and until this week, were not permitted to bring their own personal protective equipment into work to use as a precaution. I repeatedly called on the state to reverse this policy and grant permission to Correctional Officers to bring PPE from home. On Thursday, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced that prison staff on the front lines will be allowed to bring in and use their own PPE during work. I continue to call on New York State to create a comprehensive statewide COVID-19 public health plan to address continued lack of safety precautions at North Country prisons during the crisis. During this unprecedented time, every possible precaution must be taken to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19. I’m calling on New York State to create a comprehensive plan to address the continued lack of safety and health precautions in our prisons. Our North Country Correctional Officers work in close quarters with other staff and inmates, and for several weeks have been vulnerable to the virus due to state policy. I’m encouraged that the state reversed their PPE policy and I will continue to work with state and local officials to ensure our essential prison workers across the North Country are afforded every safety measure possible to protect them from COVID-19. Additionally, we need to address the concerning breakdown of communication between our prisons, our county public health officials, and hospitals. Opening up this communication line needs to be prioritized by the State immediately. Read more here.

Following My Advocacy, Seniors Receiving Social Security Will Not Have to File Tax Returns To Get Stimulus Checks

On Wednesday, I called for the IRS to provide immediate clarity on the process for seniors to receive their COVID-19 crisis stimulus checks, following the information put out earlier this week indicating some seniors would be required to first file tax returns before they can receive checks. Late Wednesday night, U.S. Treasury announced that seniors receiving Social Security will not be required to file a tax return before receiving their stimulus check. The U.S. Treasury announcement is in line with The CARES Act, which provides that 2019 Social Security Benefit Statements are to be used to determine eligibility for individuals who don’t file a tax return, a critical safeguard to ensure eligible seniors are not left behind. I’m honored to represent the North Country, one of the largest constituencies of seniors in the country, and thousands of seniors across my district do not file tax returns because their main source of income is Social Security. I’m grateful to U.S. Treasury for reversing this policy, as filing tax returns is an often confusing and intensive process. It’s important that North Country seniors know they will soon be receiving their stimulus checks during this challenging and unprecedented crisis. 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. 

How To Get in Touch If You Are Out of the Country 

We are currently working to help constituents traveling abroad.
The State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Do Not Travel Advisory. If you are traveling internationally, we encourage you to reach out to our office immediately and register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for up-to-date info from our embassies across the globe. Read more here.

 

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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 New York Regional Hospital Funding 

This week, I joined other members of the New York and New Jersey Congressional Delegations in sending a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar requesting that he prioritize funding for the New York and New Jersey regional hospitals. The State of New York estimates a potential revenue loss of $9 billion to $17 billion in FY21, which begins next week. As of March 31st, New York has 66,497 positive cases of COVID-19. Currently, the health care infrastructure in both New Jersey and New York is incredibly overwhelmed. New York is now the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.  With their many major metropolitan and densely populated areas, these two states are poised to remain disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. This letter urges the administration to prioritize federal funding for hospitals located in states who are bearing the brunt of treating infected patients. Our healthcare professionals and facilities across New York State are facing an unprecedented challenge with the number of COVID-19 cases increasing each day. They need critical federal support to help them prepare for surge capacity, increase their workforce, and obtain essential resources like personal protective equipment and testing supplies. We cannot hesitate in providing this funding to our regional hospitals in order to help them treat and care for all individuals impacted by Coronavirus. I will continue to advocate for support for these amazing professionals and facilities who are rising to meet this challenge. Read more here.

Advocating for Increased Funding for New York in the Next Federal Legislative Package 

This week, I sent a letter to House leadership requesting that New York State receive significantly more funding in any forthcoming federal legislative relief package. The last stimulus package, the CARES Act, allocated the funding for state and local governments purely by population, not by the amount of cases or the impact it has had on the state. There was also a minimum allocation of $1.25 billion per state, which gives low-population states a disproportionate share of the money.  New York State is the epicenter of coronavirus pandemic and is facing an unprecedented number of cases compared to many other states across the country. Future legislative relief packages need to reflect the severe impact this crisis has had on New York and our state and local budgets when allocating critical resources. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the New York delegation to advocate for the needs of our state as we work to combat this public health crisis. Read more here.

Requesting Inclusion in Small Business Relief for Farmers and Agribusinesses

This week, I sent a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) asking that farms and agribusinesses be considered eligible for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The CARES Act, passed by the House last week, creates an emergency economic injury grant program. This provision expands the eligibility criteria in the underlying economic injury disaster program. However, the SBA currently does not include farmers and agribusinesses as eligible for the program. This House letter requests that they be deemed eligible for this type of funding moving forward. Farms and agribusinesses in the North Country make significant contributions to our economy. It is our turn to provide them some type of relief in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. I am proud to sign this bipartisan letter along with my colleagues to request that the Small Business Administration extend this grant program to our hardworking agribusiness community, many of whom are still operating as essential businesses during this crisis. Read more here.

In Case You Missed It: Weekly Media Roundup

In case you missed it, I have done various interviews with local media over the past few weeks on coronavirus, its impact on seniors and small businesses, local prisons and corrections officers, 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.

Post Star: Stefanik wants COVID-19 package to focus on small firms, blames China for misinformation

Watertown Daily Times: Stefanik: No plans for a national lockdown

Post Star: NOTEBOOK: Stefanik says Trump should direct companies to manufacture medical supplies

Sun Community News: Stefanik provides update on COVID-19 fight

Press Republican: Stefanik's priority: Relief for small businesses

Press Republican: Elected officials share updates on COVID-19 response

WAMC: New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik Discusses Coronavirus Impact On District


Press Republican: Stefanik discusses $2 trillion stimulus package

Post Star: NOTEBOOK: Stefanik seeks retrofitting of old hospitals to address COVID-19 surge needs

Watertown Daily Times: Stefanik: Payroll, utilities, rent forgiven under small-business loans

Press Republican: Stefanik calls for PPE, social distancing in prisons

Sun Community News: Stefanik talks correction officer’s needs, travel in briefing

Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik, Gillibrand: IRS shouldn’t make people file tax returns to get stimulus

North Country Now: Reps Stefanik, Gillibrand request Secretary of Health and Human Services prioritize funding for regional hospitals

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. 

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