While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the country as a whole, nowhere was as affected by the virus as New York, particularly New York City. While the numbers have been on a noticeable downtrend over recent weeks, the total number of New Yorkers affected by the coronavirus are still astounding. As of May 12, 2020, over 27,000 New Yorkers have died from complications related to COVID-19, and another nearly 350,000 have contracted the virus.
Back in March of this year, Governor Cuomo signed a strict stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The Governor referred to his plan as “NYS PAUSE,” as it closed down schools, all non-essential businesses, as well as most government offices, and required most New Yorkers stay at home. These restrictions, while important to reduce the spread of COVID-19, have been difficult to cope with. In fact, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have filed for unemployment after being laid off, bringing the system to a halt. And many more employees have been furloughed. Not only that, but small business owners have suffered as they have been required to shut their doors for an extended – and indefinite – period of time.
At Brill Legal Group, P.C. we see that our City is suffering and we want to do what we can to help. Below is a list of resources that may help you and your loved ones find the information you need to make dealing with the pandemic more manageable.
General COVID-19 Information
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a very contagious respiratory disease that is spread through the air. The disease is easily spread through small, invisible droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 can also spread when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
- The Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu, including a dry cough, low-grade fever and difficulty breathing. Some patients have reported a loss of smell, general aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should reach isolate themselves from others and immediately reach out to a healthcare professional to determine whether they should be tested.
- At-Risk Populations
Most of those who are young and health will recover within a few weeks. However, even healthy individuals may need to be hospitalized for a few days to a week before recovering. The primary concern presented by the virus is that it presents an increased risk of complication for those over 60 years of age, the immunocompromised, as well as individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions, including:
- Chronic lung conditions
- Serious heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Staying Safe and Staying Well
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that, to combat the spread of the disease, everyone:
- Stay at home and self-isolate if they are feeling unwell;
- Cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with liquid soap and water; and
- Follow social distancing protocol by avoiding close contact (within six feet) with those who may have the virus.
- Wear a mask to prevent the spread of the virus, even if you do not have symptoms
- Additional Information Regarding COVID-19 in New York
The COVID-19 crisis is continually evolving from day to day, and so do the suggestions on how to best mitigate against its spread. To stay on top of all updates, occasionally check the following pages:
- Center for Disease Control COVID-19 webpage
- Center for Disease Control COVID-19 FAQs
- World Health Organization
- Latest COVID-19 statistics
- Information for travelers
- Review Governor Cuomo’s Executive orders
- Information on antibody testing
- “New York State on PAUSE”
On March 22, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order implementing a plan he referred to as New York State on PAUSE. The plan is intended to assure every New Yorkers’ safety during the coronavirus pandemic. New York State on PAUSE consists of ten points, listed below:
- All non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
- Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are canceled or postponed;
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
- When in public, individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
- Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
- Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
- Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
- Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
- Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
- Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.
On the NYS PAUSE website, users can report non-essential businesses that have remained open or non-essential gatherings. Those who notice a violation can also report the violation by calling 1-833-789-0470. NYS PAUSE allows for violators to be fined up to $1,000.
Information for Individuals and Families:
- Public Benefits and Food-Security Information:
The state government has implemented some important changes in how it administers public benefits. For example, the WIC Program can now be accessed by phone and SNAP benefits can be applied for online. The New York Human Resources Administration helps qualifying individuals in getting set up with the benefits that they need. A list of the services they provide can be found here.
The Food Bank of New York City remains open during the COVID-19 crisis, and provides food to those who need it. The organization has multiple locations across the state for “grab and go” meals. Those in need of assistance can visit their website.
- Student Loan Information:
Under the recently-passed relief acts, many student loan borrowers will have their interest rate reduced to zero and some will have their loans placed into an emergency forbearance for the next few months. For those who qualify, payments will not need to be made. However, these benefits only apply to federally-held loans, and private lenders are not required to waive interest. However, private student loan lenders may be willing to work with those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about student loan relief by the Federal Student Aid webpage or by contacting your loan provider.
- Stimulus Check Information:
Starting in the middle of April, the United States Treasury began issuing stimulus checks to qualifying Americans. Each qualifying individual will receive $1,200, and those with children under 17 years of age will receive $500 per child. Couples can receive up to $2,400 plus $500 per child. However, there are income limits, and individuals and families that make over a certain amount may not qualify, or may qualify for a reduced stimulus check. To learn more about the stimulus checks, visit the I.R.S. website. On April 15, 2020, the I.R.S. created a website where individuals can check the status of their stimulus check.
- For Victims of Domestic Violence
As a result of the stay-at-home order, families are now spending more time together. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a noticeable uptick in the instances of domestic violence. The New York domestic violence hotline can be reached at 1-800-942-6906. Those who are in immediate danger should not wait until the crisis passes, and should call 911 and report the abuse to the police immediately. The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Abuse maintains a website for additional information. Governor Cuomo, in response to the sudden increase in incidents of domestic violence, has also implemented a Domestic Violence Text Program, that more easily allows victims of abuse to get potentially lifesaving help.
- Additional information for Individuals and Families:
Information for Small Business Owners:
The COVID-19 pandemic has put many New York small businesses at risk of going out of business. Beginning in March, lawmakers passed a series of bills that provided much-needed assistance to small business owners. Perhaps the most important assistance comes through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There are several components to the CARES Act, a few of which are described below.
- Finding Help Paying Employees During the Crisis
Not only are many employees of small businesses crucial to the success of the business, but they are also considered family by many business owners. It can be devastating to tell hard-working employees that they will no longer be receiving a paycheck. Thus, one of the most important parts of the CARES Act is the paycheck protection program (PPP). The PPP offers employers loans to cover payroll during the crisis. If employers are able to maintain payroll throughout the crisis, the loan may be forgiven. Learn more about the PPP here.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Lawmakers understand the difficulties that small business owners face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, under the CARES Act, the restrictions to obtain an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) have been loosened. These low-interest loans are up to $2 million, and most small business types are eligible, including sole proprietorships, limited liability corporations, independent contractors and cooperative or employee-owned businesses. To learn more about EIDLs, visit the Small Business Association’s website on EIDLs.
- Other Support for Small Businesses
The PPP and EIDL programs are the most commonly applied for programs by small business owners; however, the CARES Act provides additional help to business owners. To learn more about what options small business owners have, visit the SBA’s website on the CARES Act.
- Best Practices
As restaurants start to reopen in the future, it will be crucial that establishments closely follow best practices to reduce the spread of the virus. The Food and Drug Administration has set up a webpage discussing best practices for food-service establishments, including restaurants and delivery services. The New York government also has a webpage reviewing best practices for food-service businesses.
- The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act
Business owners should also be aware of the requirements imposed by the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (Families First Act). Under the Families First Act, covered employers must provide paid sick leave to certain employees who must take time off either because they are quarantined, caring for someone who has been quarantined, or caring for a child whose school or child-care provider is closed. Details about the Families First Act can be found on the Department of Labor’s webpage.
- Additional Information for Small Business Owners:
- Workplace FAQs for employers
- Hiring assistance for essential services businesses
- Small business guidance and loan resources
- Information on paid-leave requirements
- Small business self-employed tax center
- Coronavirus tax relief for business and non-profit organizations
- Guidance for determining whether a business is “essential”
Information on the New York Court System:
For the most part, the New York Unified Court System is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. New York courts are open to handle “essential business” only. Below is a list of resources pertaining to the New York court system:
- New York Unified Court System website
- Order expanding virtual filings
- A list of administrative orders issued by the courts
- The Chief Judge’s message regarding COVID-19
Brill Legal Group Attorneys Are Here to Assist You in Any Way We Can
As a dedicated team of New York criminal defense attorneys, we understand that not everyone will need our services during the pandemic. However, for those who do, we are available. Whether you have loved ones who are still incarcerated or you have been arrested during the pandemic, we can help. From the moment you allow us to work on your case, we will zealously stand up for your rights at every stage of the process. We understand that having serious charges hang over your head makes it difficult to live your life as you normally would, especially given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We do everything we can to minimize the effects that a case has on your life, before, during, and after the trial. We offer free initial consultations to all prospective clients. To learn more about how we can help you defend your freedom against the allegations you are facing, call us today at 888-315-9841. We have offices conveniently located throughout the New York City area, including in Manhattan, Suffolk County and Nassau County.