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Cuomo unlikely to mandate blanket shutdowns for entire regions, LIA chief says

Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association,

Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, seen in 2018, said Monday that Long Island businesses should be mindful of COVID-19 relief programs set to expire at year's end.  Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Barring a catastrophic increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is unlikely to mandate blanket shutdowns for entire regions of New York, a member of two state pandemic advisory panels said in a Newsday webinar Monday.

Kevin Law, who sits on the New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board and the Long Island Regional Control Room, acknowledged that COVID-19 cases are accelerating, but that Cuomo is most likely to take action in community hot spots.

"I don't believe he intends to shut down entire regions," said Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association.

Still, Law acknowledged that Long Island's numbers "are bad." He urged Long Islanders not to "politicize mask wearing" and "allow COVID fatigue to make our numbers worse."

Law said Long Island businesses should be mindful of an array of COVID-19 relief programs scheduled to expire at year's end. They include:

  • A small business debt forbearance program through the federal Small Business Administration;
  • A delay in collection of employer payroll taxes applicable to certain businesses;
  • The Main Street lending program for small businesses.

Expiring programs for Long Island residents and workers include:

  • The 13-week extension of unemployment benefits;
  • The student loan payment forbearance program;
  • The residential eviction moratorium.

New or extended benefits will hinge on a political duel in Congress with House Democrats favoring a $2 trillion bill and Senate Republicans backing aid at the $500 million level, Law said.

"Will they be able to negotiate something between now and the end of the year, or will they have to wait until the Biden administration takes over?" he said.

Webinar panelist Erica Chase-Gregory, director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, urged business owners to consider what tactics worked in the previous pandemic shutdown and be prepared to put them to work again.

Chase-Gregory said in the spring some business owners retained staffing levels thinking that a shutdown would be brief and found themselves "behind the eight-ball."

Panelist Stacey Sikes, executive dean of entrepreneurship and business development at Hofstra University, urged businesses to delay nonessential spending and to capitalize on the holiday shopping season.

A third panelist, Stacey Finkelstein, associate professor and area head of marketing for Stony Brook University’s College of Business, suggested that businesses do a "social media audit" and develop a consistent and coherent social media plan.

The Newsday/Long Island Association webinar was moderated by Newsday economics writer James T. Madore.

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