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NYC mayor orders staff furlough amid COVID financial crisis
COVID-19 | New York

NYC mayor orders staff furlough amid COVID financial crisis

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NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that he and about 500 other city employees will take one-week, unpaid furloughs from their jobs in the coming months as the city grapples with a financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The furloughs, which would start in October, will be a largely symbolic move, saving only around $860,000 in the face of a projected $9 billion budget shortfall. But the Democractic mayor said they will still send a message that sacrifice is needed.

“This is a painful step, but it shows just how committed we are to responsible budgeting and leading the City through these challenging times,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio has been hoping for more aid from a federal stimulus bill and has been lobbying for state lawmakers in Albany to grant the city the authority to borrow up to $5 billion to prevent layoffs of as many as 22,000 city employees.

“Today’s announcement makes it clear we need Albany to step up, too,” de Blasio said. “We need our partners in the state government to give New York City long-term borrowing authority.”

The mayor said he will work during his furlough but other city employees are not expected to do the same.

Here are other developments related to the coronavirus in New York:

Insurance enrollment period extended

Uninsured New Yorkers are now getting more time to apply for health insurance coverage in light of the pandemic.

A special enrollment period for people buying coverage through New York’s health insurance marketplace or directly through insurers will run through Dec. 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

New York state health officials and insurers say they’re offering the special enrollment period so people don’t avoid seeking testing or medical care because of lack of health insurance coverage.

Typically, people who lose workplace insurance have 60 days from when their coverage ended to apply for insurance on their state’s marketplace.

The state received over 3.6 million claims for unemployment assistance from mid-March through Sept. 5, up from roughly 385,000 in that period last year.

Federal aid

New York City would have received hundreds of millions of dollars more in federal emergency virus aid if Congress had distributed funding based on need instead of population, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a report released Wednesday.

The report looked at communities that had the highest share of confirmed COVID-19 cases by late August, and compared their share of $27.6 billion in federal aid to the aid that went to places with fewer cases of the virus.

The report comes as New York officials keep pushing for another round of pandemic aid from Congress.

“The way the formula was set up did not maximize what kind of help we could have gotten from Washington, given how hard-hit we were in the state,” DiNapoli said in an interview Monday.

His report is in line with an AP analysis finding some states with small populations took an outsize share of federal virus funds.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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