5/15 COVID-19 Updates and Information
COVID-19 Updates and Information
For the most up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19, visit my website here.
FARMERS: Read more about the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) funding application process here.
Statement on Speaker Pelosi’s $3 Trillion Partisan Legislation and the Need for Immediate Bipartisan Relief
Speaker Pelosi did not reach across the aisle even once to work with Republicans on this $3 trillion, 1,800 page partisan wish list. This $3 trillion bill is a non-starter written behind closed doors. We need a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill immediately to provide support for our rural counties and municipalities across our District. The New York Congressional Delegation has effectively worked to propose solutions whether its increased funds for hospitals, nursing homes, or testing capacity. The Speaker needs to reach out to all Members to negotiate a package rather than writing her bill behind closed doors and jamming in her partisan wish list including a federal takeover of state and local elections, the release of prisoners including illegal immigrants and violent offenders, and providing funding to sanctuary cities. This legislation will never become law, and Speaker Pelosi knows it. This political game is offensive to the spirit of the body of Congress and to the American people who are hurting and deserve bipartisan relief now. I will fight to ensure that the bipartisan bill includes direct resources for the North Country whether for our farmers who have suffered immense losses due to supply chain disruptions, direct funding for local governments to fund police forces, firefighters, and schools, extended assistance for small businesses, and enhanced support for displaced workers to reenter the workforce. Despite Pelosi’s refusal to work across the aisle, I will continue to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner on policy solutions that actually have a chance to be signed into law.
Statement on North Country Meeting Metrics to Reopen Economy
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, I have advocated against a one-size-fits all approach and instead for a regional approach within the State understanding the unique challenges and strengths of the North Country. After working diligently with our local, county, and state elected officials - as well as community leaders - our region has met all of the metrics laid out by New York State, it is imperative for small businesses and hardworking families that we start the process to safely re-open our North Country economy. I want to applaud our healthcare workers and county health departments for their courageous and essential service to our communities that helped our region get here today. Additionally, I’ve worked closely and constantly with local elected officials, chambers of commerce, and small businesses across our district and I appreciate their diligence throughout this challenging time. It’s important that we remain safe and vigilant in order to keep moving in the right direction so people can continue to get back to work and provide for their families. I will continue to work tirelessly on the federal level and in our district to keep us safely moving toward a healthy North Country economy.
Launching the North Country Heroes Initiative
Our North Country region has displayed incredible leadership, courage, and resilience during this difficult and 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. I want to take this time to highlight “North Country Heroes” across our district. If you know of someone going above and beyond during the COVID-19 crisis, please fill out the form on my website here with their permission, so my office can highlight their tremendous service to our community!
Holding Working Group Phone Calls
This week, I held a series of successful working group phone calls with our county public health officials, local elected officials, and community leaders to hear their concerns and strategies for a path forward. It is very important for me to stay in contact with stakeholders like these in order to ensure I am meeting their needs at the federal level. I will continue to hold these working group calls next week.
Joining Members of NY Delegation to Request Investigation Into New York State’s Safety and Health Guidance for Nursing Homes
This week, I joined Members of the NY Delegation to send a letter urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to investigate New York State’s adherence to appropriate safety and health guidance for nursing homes and long-term care facilities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This request comes after New York State issued uncertain and shifting policy guidance on providing care for some of the most vulnerable in our communities at nursing homes statewide. This included encouraging facilities to accept patients who have been previously diagnosed with COVID-19, and at one point, allowing asymptomatic COVID-19 caregivers to attend to residents. Additionally, without sufficient state-provided personal protective equipment (PPE), healthcare workers have been at a significantly higher risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. I was joined by Reps. John Katko (NY-24), Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Pete King (NY-2), and Tom Reed (NY-23) in sending this letter to HHS and CMS. Throughout this public health crisis, I have repeatedly urged New York State to carefully consider our most vulnerable older populations whom often reside in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Many of the state’s policies have put not only the residents of these facilities, but also those who care for them, at risk of direct exposure to COVID-19. I am joining my colleagues to urge HHS and CMS to review the efficacy of Governor Cuomo and New York State’s COVID-19 guidance for these facilities and provide more information and federal oversight. It is imperative that we protect our seniors, who deserve safe, reliable housing and care, from exposure to COVID-19 whenever possible. I will continue to advocate on their behalf throughout this crisis. Read more here.
Requesting DHA Continue to Include Retail Pharmacies in TRICARE Coverage During COVID-19
This week, I sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs asking for the increased use of community retail pharmacies for non-active duty service members and veterans currently covered under TRICARE. In response to COVID-19, Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) and their pharmacies have changed or limited access to non-active duty service members and their families, and are encouraging TRICARE beneficiaries to use mail order services which are steering patients away from retail community pharmacies like Kinney Drugs, who have already implemented necessary safety precautions. Additionally, the letter restates the Department of Homeland Security’s designation of pharmacy employees as critical infrastructure workers and emphasizes the need for the DHA to recognize the critical role community pharmacies fill when providing prescriptions to patients during a public health crisis. Community pharmacies in the North Country have implemented the necessary no-contact precautions for those picking up prescriptions due to COVID-19. Our servicemembers covered by TRICARE should still be able to safely pick up prescriptions at their local pharmacies and, in turn, support our community businesses during this economically challenging time. I am asking that the Defense Health Agency consider encouraging TRICARE beneficiaries to still support their local pharmacies that are practicing safe, no-contact procedures. This action will minimize further disruption for servicemembers during this unprecedented time and support our local economy. Read more here.
Cosponsoring the ACCESS Act
I am cosponsoring the bipartisan Advancing Connectivity During the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act). Many older Americans and individuals with disabilities rely on nursing homes for care in their older years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely isolated them from their family members and healthcare providers. The ACCESS Act would authorize emergency funding of $50 million for the Department Health and Human Services’ Telehealth Resource Center to assist nursing facilities in expanding their use of telehealth services. It also requires HHS to share recommendations to improve access to telehealth services in nursing facilities during the pandemic and establishes a grant program to allow nursing facilities to facilitate “virtual visits” with loved ones during the pandemic. My district is home to many seniors who reside in nursing homes and elder care facilities, and their lives have been severely disrupted by this public health crisis. This legislation will be crucial in helping our seniors stay better connected to their healthcare providers and their families throughout this unprecedented time. It is essential that we continue to protect our most vulnerable population from risking exposure to the virus, while still providing them with the telehealth and family virtual visits for human connection that they so desperately need. I will continue to advocate for support for our seniors throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond. Read more here.
County Public Health Resources
Cosponsoring Legislation to Support Dairy Product Donation Programs
I am cosponsoring the bipartisan Farmers MILK Act, legislation to expand the existing USDA Milk Donation program to help get milk into the hands of those in need. The bill authorizes USDA to act as a matchmaker between dairy producers with excess supply of milk with food banks that can distribute that milk to those in need. It also authorizes an additional $4 million a year for this important program. Our dairy farmers have faced an unprecedented crisis throughout COVID-19 after issues arose along the supply chain. I have spoken with dairy farmers from across the district who have had to dump milk and am working with the USDA and the Trump Administration to provide relief for them. I have also heard from local community leaders that food banks have seen an increase in the number of families they are serving. This bill helps to bridge that gap and get our farmers valuable product back into our communities in need. I will continue to advocate at the federal level for direct relief for our farmers and agriculture businesses who have worked tirelessly to feed their communities, even during this crisis. Read more here.
My Original Legislation to Fund Holocaust Education Passes the Senate
My original legislation, the Never Again Education Act, passed the Senate on Wednesday night. This legislation will provide teachers throughout the country with the resources and training they need to teach our children the important lessons of the Holocaust. It passed the House in January of this year. I introduced this bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12.) This bill will amplify the work of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, leveraging a combination of public and private funds to develop and disseminate high-quality Holocaust education resources, which can be adopted by local schools and included in their curriculum. The bill has the support of more than 1,800 Holocaust survivors from 38 states, as well as 350 organizations from across the country. This critical, bipartisan legislation is a proactive measure to educate and provide states and schools with the resources necessary to incorporate Holocaust education into their classrooms, ensuring that all students understand the evils of Holocaust and its impact. I was honored to co-lead this bill through its passage in the House, and I applaud the Senate for passing it to reaffirm Congress’ commitment to Holocaust survivors across our country. I am looking forward to the President signing this legislation into law. Read more here.
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:
To protect your personal information:
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 Round-up
Adirondack Daily Enterprise: AARP sponsors tele-town hall featuring Stefanik, county health leaders
Sun Community News: Stefanik Statement on North Country Meeting Metrics to Reopen Economy
Saratoga TODAY Newspaper: Stefanik Named to China Task Force
WWTI Inform NNY: Stefanik’s Never Again Education Act passes Senate
Gloversville Leader-Herald: Stefanik, Smullen hold group listening session
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.
As always, thank you for subscribing to my weekly updates!