New York Congressman Lee Zeldin, representative for the First Congressional District (including the East End) and member of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, sent out an op-ed on Monday, March 30 to explain the massive CARES Act and what it means to his constituents.
The complete message is reproduced below. Find link to read complete text of CARES Act at bottom of page.
What The CARES Act Means for Our Health and Our Economy
With several tens of thousands of documented coronavirus cases, New York is the state hit hardest by the ongoing outbreak. Our response has been a whole-government, top-to-bottom response from President Trump to Governor Cuomo to our local elected officials and other community leaders. Whether it was approving testing in state and private labs, the approval of semi-automated testing, shipments of ventilators from the national stockpile, and the deployments of the USNS Comfort hospital ship and over 600 Army medics from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Hood, Texas, the bipartisan, Americans-first response to coronavirus in New York should serve as a model for everyone across the country.
Finally, after countless days and hours of negotiations and back and forth, Congress produced a law that provides critically and urgently needed funding for hospitals, state and local governments and small businesses and workers. In fact, this law includes $367 billion in assistance for small businesses. It provides over $100 billion in support for health care workers and hospitals and $150 billion for states, cities and localities for the battle against coronavirus on-the-ground. This law also delivers $16 billion for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts, especially our local responders as they confront this pandemic head on.
This agreement increases the Medicare reimbursement rate to assist providers caring for our most vulnerable population, employs the Strategic National Stockpile to increase access to test kits, expedites FDA consideration of new medication and treatments and facilitates the use of new and innovative telemedicine technology to protect and contain the spread of COVID-19.
Not only does this law provide direct tax rebates for the American families who most need it and bolster unemployment insurance, but it also provides up to $10 million loans for the small businesses that are the backbone of their local economy and workforce. Nationally, it provides loans to critical industries while ensuring that those companies that accept these loans must retain 90% of their workforce and are banned from stock buybacks and dividends.
As I and others had previously stated, the CARES Act should be solely laser-focused on helping our hospitals, our economy, and our state and local governments to get through this moment in time. Thankfully at the end of the day, while not perfect with some items added that belonged in a different debate on a different day for a different bill, those who need help from the CARES Act the most are the greatest winners.
This legislation will build on continued federal assistance for the State of New York, which includes FEMA sending 4,000 ventilators from the national stockpile, the Army Corps building several temporary hospitals in New York, including at SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Old Westbury, and placing 2,910 hospital beds in the Javits Center in New York City to assist area hospitals in increasing patient capacity.
We are Americans, and there is no doubt we will emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever before. This is a national crisis, which started in China and is now global, and if our nation is going to beat coronavirus we must be in the fight together. I hope every Member of Congress has learned this lesson. I know too many New Yorkers and Americans have.