As Congress debates the next relief package, COVID 4.0., hospitals emphasize again the billions in lost revenue and billions spent on unbudgeted supply, equipment, and workforce expenses in the past seven weeks. The financial distress to hospitals is inarguable and unimaginable. New York’s congressional delegation recognizes this, and hospitals thank them, especially Sen. Chuck Schumer, for securing $100 billion in the initial CARES Act and another $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act to help hospitals and other health care providers handle the staggering financial damage to their institutions. But the financial health of hospitals will be compounded if our local communities and businesses are left to flounder on their own.
This pandemic will continue into the near future, as will the economic damage to hospitals. This financial distress will only worsen if the federal government does not assist states with the staggering budget holes they face. Our state is staring at a $15 billion deficit and growing. The governor’s proposed cuts to hospitals, schools, transportation, and other sectors will make a bad situation worse. The ripple effect throughout our region’s economy will result in more unemployed and uninsured workers, and the closing of small businesses. There will be no economic recovery. Medicaid cuts to hospitals will cripple their ability to care for not only COVID-19 patients but all patients.
Of the $50 billion from CARES Act funds distributed thus far, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released 5% of the funds to New York’s hospitals, while acknowledging the state’s hospitals saw 28 percent of the nation’s cases. Our region remains the hot spot area, and we continue to need as much help as possible from the federal government. We count on New York’s congressional delegation to drive that point home.
Editor’s note: The writer is president and chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.
Give school funds to small businesses
During this crisis, it is important to think of how all the small businesses in our areas will survive. One solution will surely anger members of the teachers union I belong to, but I believe it is the right thing to do.
Funds budgeted for spring school activities will not be used for them. Salaries for coaches, club advisers, school plays, etc. will not be earned by teachers who run these events. Many Long Island school boards have already rightfully decided that these funds will not be disbursed to these individuals.
However, instead of putting the funds into the schools’ reserve funds, which I presume many boards plan to do, the money should be returned to those in the community who help support our public schools. Specifically, they should be disbursed to small businesses that pay part of school taxes. Legal ramifications? Let the lawyers figure that out.
Many in my teaching profession will disagree, but I urge union members to think long term instead of short term. If all local businesses permanently shut down, I believe there is a good chance we will lose athletics and arts programs when business returns to normal, and school budgets will be slashed.
Please, schools, give us all a break
This is an unprecedented time. We are all trying to find our place in this pandemic world. Parents are doing their best to make this reality “normal” and not scare their children. But it is scary. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Let us keep some semblance of normalcy by allowing our children to take a step back from packets, dittos and Google classrooms and take a break. Children need it. Parents need it. Teachers need it. Teachers have been called upon to recreate their curricula in an online medium. They have been working around the clock to connect with their students and create learning environments that stimulate and educate their pupils. Let them have this break to adjust to this new reality. These will be the children of the pandemic. God willing, they will tell their own children of what it was like to learn at home. Teachers will know that even though they weren’t in traditional classrooms, they still could teach and have a meaningful impact on their students.
But we need a break. Kids need a break. Teachers need a break. We all need a break. We all just need a chance to be.
U.S. should meet with Chinese experts
To control the coronavirus, our medical community must learn how long asymptomatic people who have contracted the disease are contagious and if/when people who have overcome the disease become immune and can return to work [“Seeking virus remedy,” Business, April 14].
I know our medical technologists are working on these issues but cannot promise if/when they will get answers. Meanwhile, many more people will die, and our economy is suffering. China has had a “head start” on solving these issues and hopefully could help. We need influential people such as editors to convince our politicians to arrange for the Chinese medical experts to meet with ours.
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