Federal COVID-19 Relief Is To Go To Communities Based On Population Versus Needs

Counties With Fewer Cases & Deaths Could Get More Than Rockland

New City, NY (April 21, 2020) – Rockland County Legislator Lon Hofstein is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to disperse COVID-19 relief funding based on the needs – not the population – of the counties that have been impacted by the virus, including Rockland County.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Rockland County has recorded 9,568 positive cases of the virus and 401 deaths, with 439 people in Good Samaritan and Montefiore Nyack Hospitals with confirmed or suspected cases.

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, to provide emergency relief, including to state and local governments. But the federal funds will be distributed based on the size of population instead of the needs of a particular community. About $7.5 billion will be allocated to New York State, with just $2.4 billion of that amount allocated to local governments that have a population of 500,000 or more people.

In a letter to Gov. Cuomo dated April 20, Hofstein wrote, “Erie and Monroe Counties will be included, yet their percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases is dramatically less than what is being experienced in Rockland County.”

Erie County has 2,109 positive cases and 153 deaths and Monroe County has 1,054 positive cases and 66 deaths. But Erie County has a population of about 919,000 people and Monroe County has about 742,000 people. Rockland County, which has suffered far more positive cases and deaths, has a population of about 326,000 people, well below the 500,000-person threshold for the federal CARES funding.

Legislator Hofstein requested the Governor to find a way to address the inequity.

“While the formula used to distribute the funds cannot be amended or revised, I am asking that you allocate any remaining federal money under the CARES Act to counties based on their need rather than the size of their population,” Legislator Hofstein wrote.

The letter was also signed by Legislators Christopher Carey, Harriet Cornell, Toney L. Earl, Charles Falciglia, James Foley, Michael Grant, Jay Hood, Doug Jobson, John McGowan, Aney Paul, Laurie Santulli, Phil Soskin, Vince Tyer, Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe and Itamar Yeger..

“Government health officials and the national media have labeled Rockland County as a ‘hot spot,’” Legislator Hofstein wrote. “I strongly urge you to take the rate of infection into consideration when distributing the remaining CARES funds to our impacted communities so the critical needs of residents can be met.”

Gov. Cuomo is scheduled to meet with President Trump in Washing, D.C., today to discuss funding aid, testing expansion, and when and how to reopen the economy. He has argued that New York State, where the largest number of cases and deaths have occurred, receive assistance in accordance to its needs.

“Rockland County, like many places, has suffered due to the need to shut down our society except for essential services and businesses,” Legislator Hofstein said. “We need help to recover and we know there will be pain. Some businesses just won’t be able to restart, and our sales tax revenues have been crushed.

“We need to look at the big picture,” Legislator Hofstein said. “If your region endured more of a hardship as a result of this pandemic, then your economic subsidy should be greater. It’s a fair request.”