Home Economy Westchester County sets up information service to help businesses hit by COVID-19

Westchester County sets up information service to help businesses hit by COVID-19

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Businesses looking for loans to help get through the COVID-19 crisis or are unsure of when to file tax returns or need guidance on new regulations have a new resource in the form of a webpage set up by Westchester County’s Office of Economic Development.

COVID-19
Coronavirus image courtesy the CDC. Illustration by Bob Rozycki

“We’ve established a dedicated website page to provide the latest information from Westchester County, New York state and the federal government,” Bridget Gibbons, the county’s director of economic development, said at briefing this afternoon that provides updates on what the county was doing to help cope with the virus outbreak.

“We are providing information up there regarding examples of small business loans that are available, quick loans that you can get from Community Capital,” she said. “We also are providing information from New York state about paid family leave, paid sick leave and other resources that small business can tap into.”

The web address is westchestercatalyst.com/coronavirus-updates.

While supporting the decisions to require business closings in order to implement social distancing to stop people from congregating and spreading the virus, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said the actions “are absolutely devastating to the small businessmen and women who run these businesses and to the workforces of these businesses, people who are hourly wage individuals who work in a nail salon, who work in a restaurant or bar and work off of tips and a small hourly wage and now have no job whatsoever.”

Latimer called the situation an economic development nightmare.

“It is important to note that restaurants are still open for takeout food and delivery but that is a fraction of the revenues that these businesses have. The hospitality industry, the hotels of our county and elsewhere have crashed in terms of their ability to accommodate people,” Latimer said. “The traveling public has stopped traveling.”

Latimer said that decisions will be made sometime in the next month about whether the county’s Playland Amusement Park and the county beaches will open.

“Playland is scheduled to open in the middle of May,” Latimer said. “Beaches generally open Memorial Day weekend. Public pools usually do not open until late June when the normal school session is over. Those decisions have not yet been made. It will depend on where we are in this crisis as we reach this point.”

He said that while the county’s parks remain open, children’s playgrounds are off-limits because it’s impossible to constantly sanitize the playground equipment and make sure that no COVID-19 is on the surfaces that children touch.

Latimer said that members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with state health department staff members were at the Westchester County Center in White Plains today beginning the process of transforming the center into a hospital facility.

“The County Center is closed to any public access for any purpose whatsoever,” Latimer said. “It is completely now under control of the Health Department as it becomes fitted appropriately for temporary hospital services. We hope we won’t have to use it for that purpose.”

Latimer provided statistics on the numbers of COVID-19 cases that have been detected in several Westchester communities. As of last Friday, March 20, the epicenter of the Westchester cluster, New Rochelle, had 223 cases detected. Some other communities: Yonkers – 145; Mount Vernon – 70; White Plains – 54; Greenburgh – 43; Scarsdale – 35; Eastchester – 31; Port Chester – 28; Cortlandt – 25; Harrison – 26.

Latimer said that many other municipalities had from one to a few cases each.

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