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Counties form new regional coalition to fight pandemic, hail new FEMA reimbursements, call for close partnership with governor on restarting economies, and laud county workers in new PSA


Thu, Apr 23rd 2020 09:20 am

From the New York State Association of Counties:

In a digital press conference, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) announced a new Northeast/Mid-Atlantic County Coronavirus Coalition, launched a new public service announcement, called on congress to pass another COVID-19 relief package for state and local governments, and discussed reopening local economies on a regional basis.

The event was part of NYSAC’s “NY Counties Lead” public awareness campaign. View the recording here.

“This global pandemic does not follow geographic borders, and we need to collaborate and coordinate with the 300-plus counties in this region of the United States to best protect our residents. That’s why, this week, counties across the Northeast created a coalition designed to share information that can keep residents safe, help prepare for the reopening of local economies, and effectively advocate on behalf of the counties in the region,” NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said.

The coalition was created at the monthly meeting of the Northeast Caucus of the National Association of Counties (NACo), and is designed to share best practices between counties in some of the states that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

As part of its recently launched “NY Counties Lead” campaign, NYSAC also released a new PSA saluting the local government workers across the state who are helping to lead the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PSA can be seen here.

“Many people don't realize the extent to which the battle against COVID-19 is being fought by county government employees, and we salute the work that they are doing each and every day. I am humbled and grateful for the heroic services our employees provide to protect the public,” said NYSAC President John F. Marren, chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors.

The county association also hailed the federal decision to allow FEMA to reimburse counties for 100% of all COVID-19-expenses, rather than the typical 75%-25% split. At the same time, they called on Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package designed to provide direct relief for states and local governments that are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic, but are seeing severe drops in revenues to fund local programs and services.

Finally, NYSAC also commented on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement to consider reopening regional economies based on local coronavirus circumstances.

“County leaders will continue to collaborate with local governments, residents and private essential and nonessential businesses, and bring this regional information to the attention of officials charged with developing re-emerging plans at the state level,” Acquario said. “Local governments have been planning for this and are creating blueprints for reemerging better and stronger than before.”

He pointed to local business surveys, regional business coalitions, and the creation of public-private groups designed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on local industry, academic and business operations. 

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