Albany County to get $55M in federal aid

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“This is the first time the federal government has provided direct unrestricted aid to the counties and the local governments of the United States. It’s unprecedented,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties.

ALBANY COUNTY — A sense of relief, even jubilation, pervaded Monday morning’s county COVID-19 press conference as Executive Daniel McCoy celebrated the Senate passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act.

“This is the first time the federal government has provided direct unrestricted aid to the counties and the local governments of the United States. It’s unprecedented,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties.

Acquario praised both Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who shepherded the bill through, and McCoy who had served as president of the association as, over the last year, it lobbied for funds to go to local governments.

McCoy said that, rather than the $59 million he predicted on Friday for Albany County in aid from the bill, the Senate had scaled it back to $55 million.

He reported aid to other local municipalities: Colonie, $7.5 million; Bethlehem, $5.9 million; Guilderland, $6 million; New Scotland, $1.5 million; and Altamont, $1.3 million. Acquario added that the Helderberg Hilltowns of Berne and Knox would receive roughly $400,000.

New York State itself is to receive $12.5 billion with $2.2 billion going to the 57 counties outside of New York City, and nearly $1 billion going to small cities, towns, and villages, Acquario said.

“Every county leader advocated for the passage of this federal assistance …,” said Acquario. “Both parties — upstate, downstate, urban, rural. They’ve all been impacted. They’ve all been working non-stop.”

Acquario went over a list of things he said have been learned from the pandemic, including the need to invest in local health care; the need for a better system of command and control; and also a better system to procure personal protective equipment and to carry out contact tracing and vaccination; inequities in health care; and the challenges of remote learning in schools.

The funds need to be used, he said, “to strengthen communities for the future.”

McCoy went over the eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks: Single Americans earning less than $75,000; single parents earning less than $112,000; and couples earning less than $150,000 will receive the checks.

He also noted that schools will receive $160 billion, $4 billion will go for more vaccine centers, $28.6 billion will go to grants for restaurants and art centers, and $10 billion will go to small businesses.

“This is the aid we needed,” said Mccoy.

 

Newest numbers

Another Albany County resident died of COVID-19 — a man in his nineties — bringing the county’s death toll  to 361.

McCoy also said that 23 percent of county residents have received at least one shot of vaccine and he urged people to use the county’s online pre-registration system since the 30,000 people who had signed up have now largely been vaccinated.

As of Monday morning, Albany County has had 20,973  confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 56 new cases since Sunday.

Of the new cases, 34 did not have clear sources of infection identified, 21 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, and one was a health-care worker or resident of a congregate setting.

 The five-day average for new daily positives has decreased to 64.6 from 65.2. There are now 540 active cases in the county, down from 557 on Sunday.

The number of Albany County residents under quarantine decreased to 1,453 from 1,484. So far, 65,839 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 20,433 of them had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 68 recoveries since Sunday.

There were two new hospitalizations overnight, and there are now 28 county residents hospitalized from the virus — a net decrease of seven. There are currently three patients in intensive-care units, unchanged from Sunday.

Albany County’s infection rate, as of Sunday, as a seven-day rolling average, was 2.1 percent, according to the state’s dashboard.

Statewide,the infection rate was3.2 percent.

More Regional News

  • Flexible grants of $5,000 up to $50,000 will be made available to eligible small businesses and small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations. The grants can be used for operating expenses, including payroll, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, personal protective equipment, or other business expenses incurred during the pandemic.

  • The state’s new rules, for indoors, “strongly encourage” but do not require masks for students or campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated. Outdoors, masks are not required although students, campers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated are “encouraged” to wear a mask in certain higher-risk circumstances. Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks. Finally, schools and camps may choose to implement stricter standards.

  • Thompsons Lake campground in the Helderbergs is among the state sites opening for Memorial Day weekend. Twenty-two beaches, pools and spraygrounds are opening at normal capacity. Unvaccinated visitors should wear a face covering when unable to maintain social distance outdoors and, for the safety of park staff, all visitors are required to wear a face covering inside park buildings.

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