Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday ordered businesses to reduce their in-office workforce by 75 percent to reduce exposure to the coronavirus.
Exemptions will be made for essential service industries, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain.
He also reported 1,769 new cases, raising the statewide total to 4,152, including 178 cases in Suffolk County, an increase of 62.
The governor also announced the Department of Financial Services has issued a new directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90-day mortgage relief to mortgage borrowers impacted by the outbreak. The directive includes:
- Waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship;
- No negative reporting to credit bureaus;
- Grace period for loan modification;
- No late payment fees or online payment fees; and
- Postponing or suspending foreclosures
Cuomo also asked the Department of Financial Services to tell state-chartered banks to waive ATM fees, late fees, overdraft fees and fees for credits cards to help lessen the financial hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic on New Yorkers.
“We know what we have to do to contain the spread of this virus – reduce density and person to person contact – and based on new facts we are getting every day, we’re taking further steps to keep more New Yorkers at home while keeping essential services running,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the same time, we know there is going to be an economic impact across the state and we are taking new actions to support the thousands of New Yorkers and small businesses who are suffering. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be disruptive, but we will get through this together.”
The governor also announced an executive order allowing the State Department of Health to identify space within existing hospitals to increase bed capacity to prepare for a surge in patients needing hospital treatment.
Other new measures are designed to free up staff and speed up the admission and discharge process at hospitals for 90 days. The Department of Financial Services will issue a directive to health insurers allowing scheduled surgeries and admissions without insurer pre-approval and allowing inpatient hospital services without insurer approval. Under the measure, insurers will pay inpatient hospital services and emergency services without waiting to review for medical necessity. It will also allow the discharge of patients to a rehabilitation center or nursing after an inpatient hospital stay without insurer pre-approval, and encourage self-funded plans to adopt these same provisions.