Renters in New York state, both residential and commercial, are being protected from eviction through Aug. 20, it was announced May 7 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
He said that the moratorium on evictions that had been in effect until June 20 is being extended by executive order for another 60 days. Cuomo made the announcement during a news conference held on the campus of New York Medical College in Valhalla.
Cuomo’s visit to the campus was just to hold the news conference, one in the series of daily briefings he has been giving during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’re going to take additional steps like banning any late payment fees because a person couldn’t pay the rent during this period of time, also allowing people to use the security deposit as a payment and they can repay it over a prolonged period of time,” Cuomo said. “No one can be evicted for nonpayment of rent, residence or commercial, because of COVID until Aug. 20.”
Cuomo said that whether there is a further extension would depend on the circumstances during the summer.
Cuomo said that the choice some people claim needs to be made between minimizing the number of coronavirus cases by continuing social distancing and business restrictions or rebooting economic activity is a false choice.
He characterized the argument that it’s OK to open early because people are going to die anyway as making no sense. He said it would be a novel defense in a courtroom.
“A person before a judge charged with murder: ‘Did you have a gun?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did you fire the gun?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did you shoot the person?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did the person die?’ ‘Yes. The person was going to die anyway,’” Cuomo said.
He brought up an argument made by at least one conservative radio talk show host that most of the victims of COVID-19 are older people who probably didn’t have much time left anyway.
“How do you define old, not that old is a justification,” Cuomo said. “We looked at numbers yesterday, the numbers of people coming in, the new cases coming in to hospitals: 51 years old is where the increase starts. I don’t really see 51 as old when we start talking about the old people.”
Without naming President Trump, Cuomo argued against the concept proposed by Trump that the American people were warriors fighting the coronavirus and should be willing to accept a certain amount of loss of life.
“Any leader who makes a decision in this situation should be willing to participate in anything they authorize. There is nothing that we are going to allow or authorize in this state that I myself will not be part of. It’s too easy to say, ‘You can go do this but I’m going to protect myself and I’m going to stay behind the glass wall.’ If all human life has the same value, if I say something is safe for New Yorkers, then I will participate in it because if it’s safe for you it’s safe for me.”
Cuomo said that it is becoming increasingly apparent that the whole of the U.S. East Coast may have been affected by travelers carrying the virus from Europe on flights that entered the U.S. in New York or Newark. Travelers subsequently boarded connecting flights to various other cities.
“The whole East Coast may have seen cases come from Europe. The China flights were going to the West Coast,” Cuomo said. “Nobody told us and nobody stopped it.”
On another subject, Cuomo said that the Nourish New York Initiative is moving forward. Farm products produced in the state that were being destroyed because they could not be brought to market now will be distributed to more than 20,000 households across New York within the next week.
Nearly 50 food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries will be supported according to Cuomo with more than 2,100 farms in New York state participating.
Cuomo reported that 6.8% of health care workers in Westchester who were tested for COVID-19 antibodies in their blood were positive compared with 13.8% of the general population in the county.
On Long Island, the results were much closer with 11.1% of the health care workers testing positive versus 11.4% of the general population. In New York City, 12.2% of health care workers had the antibodies while 19.9% of the general population tested positive. Cuomo said that the testing results indicate that use of personal protective equipment by health care workers does help shield them from the virus.
Cuomo reported that the number of deaths in New York yesterday from the virus were below 300 for the sixth straight day. Of the 231 new fatalities, 40 were in nursing homes and 191 were in hospitals.