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Finger Lakes Region

July 15, 2021 - 2:35pm

Press release:

Following his successful passage of the broader American Rescue Plan earlier this year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer heralded the Child Tax Credit expansion, which will allow payments of up to $300 per child to automatically go out to families across New York each month – starting TODAY July 15. Schumer said the plan will impact more than 86 percent of New York children.

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee County, is expected to receive Expanded Child Tax Credits totaling more than $435 million.

“Help is here for working families across New York in the form of enhanced Child Tax Credits that put more money in families’ pockets to recover from COVID even as its boosts New York’s economy,” Senator Schumer said. “Over 86 percent of families throughout New York will benefit from the enhanced Child Tax Credit just as they begin to fully recover from the global health and economic pandemic that rocked our country for the past year.

"That is why I made sure this relief bill included help for New York families, because this significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit will cut the nation’s child poverty rate in half and bring necessary relief. The credit expansion – on top of the $1,400 direct checks that came earlier this year – will provide New York’s families with thousands of dollars of relief, directly in their pockets. Getting additional federal dollars into the hands of struggling families not only makes sense, but it’s what’s needed to help the New York recover from the pandemic.”

Schumer explained the Child Tax Credit (CTC), one of the most powerful and effective anti-poverty tools the federal government has, was significantly expanded for American households in the American Rescue Plan. This tax-credit expansion will deliver an estimated $7.03 billion in additional economic relief to families with children across New York and have a major impact on working families.

Schumer highlighted that researchers have estimated that the American Rescue Plan – including the expanded Child Tax Credit – will cut the child poverty rate in half nationally. Specifically, the relief bill increases the Child Tax Credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child age 6 to 17 (and $3,600 per child below the age of 6) for 2021.

Additionally, the bill makes the CTC fully refundable and removes the $2,500 earnings floor to receive the credit for 2021, ensuring that the lowest income households will be able to benefit from the maximum credit amount for the year.

This change importantly corrected flaws in the credit that prevented around 27 million children nationwide whose families have little or no income from receiving the full benefit – and in New York State alone, this credit expansion will benefit 1,546,000 of these children who were previously left out of the full Child Tax Credit.

The increased $3,000 or $3,600 CTC is available to families making less than $150,000, and it phases down above that income level, so household incomes of more than $150,000 will see a reduced credit.

This boosted credit amount is particularly impactful in lower-income households, as it has been found that increasing a low-income child’s family income early in their life has numerous, critical longer-term benefits on education, health, and even employment. Specifically, it is estimated that a $3,000 increase in annual family income for children under age 5 translates into an estimated 19-percent earnings increase in adulthood.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated 3,564,000 children across New York will benefit from this expanded tax credit – including 583,000 Black, 954,000 Latino, and 266,000 Asian American children. It will also lift 680,000 children in the state above or closer to the poverty line.

The total amount of Expanded Child Tax Credit headed to each region in New York State can be found below:  

REGION

TOTAL EXPANDED CTC

Southern Tier

$264,503,932

Capital Region

$502,125,581

Central

$471,279,544

Hudson Valley

$847,414,412

Long Island

$1,028,580,062

NYC

$2,997,872,107

Finger Lakes

$435,560,223

Western

$482,651,024

TOTAL:

$7,029,986,887

March 31, 2021 - 1:33pm

Press release:

Standing at the Bug Jar in Downtown Rochester, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today that "help is on the way" to the Finger Lakes region as he detailed specifics from the American Rescue Plan Act he just led to passage in the U.S. Senate.

Using the Bug Jar as a backdrop, Schumer explained that even more for New York’s live independent venues which are eligible for their own, DIRECT, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed.

Save Our Stages

The Save Our Stages provision included an additional $1.25 billion for independent live venues, performing arts organizations, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and included a critical fix that allows venues to access a PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, deducting the PPP loan amount from the grant amount. Schumer said the additional funding and technical fix would be a lifeline for New York’s independent venues, hard-hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, a venue had to choose between getting a PPP loan or a Save Our Stages grant.

Just last week, SBA announced that the Save Our Stages program will open to applications on April 8th after Schumer’s continued press to implement the program. SBA also released an updated PPP application that now allows venues to apply for a PPP loan as well as a Save Our Stages grant, as Schumer intended with the fix included in the recent COVID-19 bill.

“Independent venues, like theaters, concert halls, and cinemas, are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the Upstate economy. These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to fully reopen, costing jobs and leaving a giant hole in the fabric of our communities,” Senator Schumer said.

“That is why I made sure this relief bill included a swan song – additional reliefs dollars to boost the Save Our Stages legislation and a critical technical fix to allow venues to access PPP and flexible grant support. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like independent venues in the Finger Lakes, not only makes sense, but it’s the curtain call needed to keep small businesses like the Bug Jar going.”

Schumer said that live venues remain one of the hardest hit industries as the state carefully reopens, and dedicated assistance from the American Rescue Plan will save many venues from permanently shutting their doors to the public. It is estimated that by the end of 2020 live venues across the country lost $9 billion in ticket sales alone.

The senator said the federal assistance was imperative because independent venues not only drive economic activity within communities through restaurants, hotels, taxis and other transportation and retail establishments, but live events provide 75 percent of all artists’ income.

The December package included $15 billion to create the Save Our Stages program after Schumer’s tireless efforts to pass it into law. The program, which will be overseen by the Small Business Administration, provide assistance to independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.

Grant amounts equal to 45 percent of gross revenue in 2019 for the venue, up to $10 million, can be used for various costs, including payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, PPE procurement, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines.

To ensure the hardest hit of eligible applicants receive assistance, there are two priority application periods. The first 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 90 percent of gross revenue can apply. The next 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 70 percent can apply. A reserve of 20 percent of overall appropriated funds, $3 billion out of the $15 billion provided, will remain available for all other eligible entities to apply for after 28 days. There is a $2 billion set-aside of funds for eligible entities with 50 or fewer employees to ensure smaller applicants are not left out.

American Rescue Plan's Impact on New York

Additionally, Schumer detailed the American Rescue Plan’s tentative impact to New York as more than $100 billion dollars. The deal includes the additional round of direct stimulus checks for tens of thousands of Finger Lakes residents, on top of aid to help schools safely reopen, vaccine distribution, critical pension relief, an expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, new rental assistance, agriculture and nutrition assistance, direct local fiscal relief to revive the local economy and help solve the Finger Lakes’ budget woes, all of which adds up to essential relief for countless families, workers, restaurants, more independent live venues and small businesses across the state. 

Schumer also highlighted that researchers have said that the American Rescue Plan will cut the child poverty rate in half, which is especially important for Rochester as the city ranks the highest for child poverty among cities of a comparable size, with 48 percent of children living below the poverty line.

THIS PLAN:

  • Makes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) fully refundable and increases the credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child age 6 to 17 (and $3,600 per child below the age of 6). An estimated 3.56 million children across New York will benefit from this expanded tax credit, and it will lift 680,000 children in the state above or closer to the poverty line. It is estimated that New York families will receive $7.03 billion in relief from the enhanced CTC.
  • Strengthens the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers, many of whom are in lower-paid but essential jobs on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response, benefitting 910,000 of these workers in New York. It is estimated that New York families will receive over $786 million will receive in relief from the enhanced ETIC.

Money for the Finger Lakes Region

Sends $22 million in direct payments of $1,400 to over 9 million New Yorkers. That includes approximately $1.4 billion in direct payments for more than an estimated 556,000 households in the Finger Lakes Region: An estimated 344,000 households in Monroe County will receive approximately a total of $858 million; an estimated 41,500 households in Wayne County will receive approximately a total of $104 million; an estimated 51,000 households in Ontario County will receive about a total of $127 million; an estimated 29,000 households in Livingston County will receive approximately a total of $72 million; an estimated 18,500 households in Orleans County will receive approximately a total of $46 million; an estimated 26,500 households in Genesee County will receive approximately a total of $66 million; an estimated 18,000 households in Wyoming County will receive approximately a total of $46 million; an estimated 16,000 households in Seneca County will receive approximately a total of $39 million; and an estimated 11,500 households in Yates County will receive approximately a total of $29 million.

As part of the deal, more than $23.8 billion in state and local aid will be going to New York, with more than $566.31 million going directly to the Finger Lakes Region. New York State government will receive over $12 billion, solving the state’s budget woes. 

With 50 percent of Rochester’s rental units currently occupied by tenants spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, Schumer explained that rental assistance, included in the American Rescue Plan, is also a necessary tool of fighting poverty.

This funding is a win-win allowing residents to cover past-due rent and future rent payments while maintaining rental streams for property owners needed to maintain this housing. Without this federal aid, too many families would be unable to make payments, through no fault of their own, and be faced with the prospect of being thrown out of their homes in the middle of a pandemic.

EPPI 2.0 builds and improves upon the success of EPPI 1.0, which was launched last summer thanks to funding Schumer secured in the CARES Act. Changes in the second round of the program include less cumbersome eligibility guidelines to qualify for rent relief; and the ability of landlords to apply for relief on behalf of their tenants with their consent.

Funding for Education

The American Rescue Plan also includes $9 billion for New York’s K-12 schools – these flexible funds will support school districts in reopening safely for in-person instruction and addressing the many needs that students are facing due to the pandemic. Finger Lakes school districts will receive $404.5 million in total in K-12 support funds.

New York’s Colleges and Universities will also receive $2.6B from the American Rescue Plan, half of which must be distributed to students in the form of financial aid awards to address hardships caused by COVID-19. Finger Lakes colleges will receive $163.8 million in total.

Funding for Transit 

Schumer was able to secure more than $7 billion in transit funding for New York, with $45.5 million going toward the Rochester Transit Services (RTS), $12,061,336 for Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Airport, and $219,000 for other Finger Lakes airports.

Multiemployer Pension Plan Relief

The legislation also delivers critical relief for suffering multiemployer pension plans – which have experienced significant additional challenges as a result of this economic crisis – without cutting benefits retirees have earned. In New York State alone, there are more than 1.3 million participants in multiemployer pension plans, and around 624,600 New Yorkers are participants in plans that are expected to receive relief directly through this legislation.

“As Majority Leader, I fought hard to ensure this deal sent real relief to the tune of $100 billion to New York for workers, families, farmers, healthcare, small businesses, including our hard-hit industries like restaurants, and communities in Ithaca—the things we need to support in order to weather this crisis and then work to recover,” Schumer said. “This marks the second biggest stimulus bill in the nation’s history—second to the CARES Act—and it comes just in time, because Finger Lakes residents still need real help to get through this.”

July 28, 2020 - 1:12pm

From Rochester Regional Health today (July 28) regarding the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, reopening, and travel restrictions in New York:

Travel Restrictions

As positive coronavirus cases spike around the country, travelers arriving to New York State from designated states will be met with restrictions, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s updated Executive Order. Gov. Cuomo added 10 more states to the list of states that will require travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York. 31 states in total are on the list as of July 21.

The new states added are: Alaska, Indiana, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Essential workers are excluded, as well as anyone returning to New York from a designated state in which the visit was for less than 24 hours.

"The last 137 days have been hell for New York as we were the epicenter of this pandemic,” Gov. Cuomo said. “However, New Yorkers stood as one, acted responsibly and—as many other states in this nation are now grappling with new spikes of this insidious virus—the beast, for now, has been brought to bay in this state.”

Newest Rules for Bars & Restaurants

All restaurants and bars in New York State can now only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food, according to a new statewide requirement announced by Gov. Cuomo July 16. All service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers, and customers are prohibited from ordering directly from the bar.

To comply with the requirement, the New York State Liquor Authority say that bars and restaurants must sell sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen, to customers in order to sell them alcohol. Other foods can be salads, wings, or hotdogs. However, a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or candy are not enough to satisfy the requirement.

Cases Spike in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California

Almost half of all states are spiking at a faster rate than they had been in the spring, according to a new USA TODAY study. Florida broke the single day record for positive cases with 15,300 new cases on July 11 and reported a record-high of new single-day COVID-19 deaths with 132. Arizona has seen nearly 40 percent of its total yearly cases occur in July alone with more than 50,000 positive cases since July 1. Texas reported 110 deaths and 10,791 new positive cases on July 15, its second straight day of record-high cases in the state and the sixth straight day of more than 10,000 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to The Hill

The full list of states on the New York State travel advisory is below:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

New York State Slows Spread

Hospitalizations in New York State have dropped below 700 for the first time since March, and the state recently reported its lowest three-day average death toll since March.  

A new study by “The Truth About Insurance” named New York the most responsible state in fighting COVID-19. “We've used data and science to drive this fight and fuel our reopening strategy, but make no mistake, this distinction is shared by every single New Yorker who did the right thing these last months, ignored the politics, socially distanced and wore a mask,” Gov. Cuomo said.

“But we can't stop now. We must remain disciplined and we must remain New York Tough. We've come too far to go back to where we were."

What Rochester Regional Health is Doing

Rochester Regional Health has implemented diligent processes in place to help team members comply with this new requirement. Employees who are currently traveling or plan to travel to any of the designated states are permitted to work upon their return, provided they follow a strict set of guidelines and processes.

Reopening Schools

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently released guidance for reopening schools in New York State. The guidance allows for regions in Phase 4 to reopen if the infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a seven-day average. A summary of the full guiding principles created by the New York State Department of Health and can be read here.

Phase 4

Phase 4 has begun for the greater Rochester area and the Finger Lakes Region. Phase 4 allows businesses to reopen in the industries of art, education, recreation, and entertainment. Malls are also reopening, however, not all stores in malls are reopening immediately. Gyms, casinos, movie theaters, and amusement parks remain closed. Museums and aquariums are opening with proper safety protocols in place.

"Phase 4 presents the greatest risk because the amount of variation of facilities that are on the slate to reopen in Phase 4 is more than variable than in Phase 1 through 3," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County public health commissioner. "So doing so in a measured, coordinated way will allow the health department to follow the data very close and make course corrections as needed because the last thing we want to do is set ourselves all the way back."

Indoor restaurants in all regions have opened with safety precautions, as well as nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas. Outdoor seating is allowed with outdoor tables spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.

June 24, 2020 - 11:17am

Word out of the Finger Lakes Region “control room” is that Phase Four will begin on Friday for some, but not all, of the businesses waiting to resume operations that have been shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the most recent update, businesses given the green light to reopen include low-risk outdoor and indoor museums, art galleries, historical venues and zoos.

Additionally, media production will be allowed to restart – activities such as motion picture, television, streaming and music productions on set, on location or at any production or recording site.

Several businesses will have to wait a while longer, however.

Classified as high-risk activities, those businesses not allowed to reopen yet include: amusement parks, water parks, arcades, bowling centers, casinos, concerts, movie theaters, performing arts or other theatrical productions.

Furthermore, concerts, shows or carnivals that would exceed a limit of 25 people also remain on hold.

Contacted this morning, Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell, who is part of the region’s “control room" of about 30 people, said that although Phase Four is the last of the state's reopening phases, it could go on for an extended period of time.

“There’s going to be the potential for – not a Phase Five – but Phase Four will just take longer, and we’ll continue to see more and more specified guidances for the parts of the economy that are presumed to be part of Phase Four,” he said.

Gsell mentioned that CDC protocols and the science would indicate that “the potential for community spread of new infections would very likely increase significantly if there is not a gradual … rollout in the Phase Four grouping.”

He also reported that the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will host a Phase Four reopening Zoom webinar for the business community from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday.

For more information, go to www.geneseeny.com.

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