How might the state move forward positively after all the negative impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic? Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday laid out plans to help the unemployed, revitalize the arts community, and boost green energy. It was the second part of his State of the State Address, and Cuomo says we cannot rely on the coronavirus vaccine to bring things back to normal.
That might not be until summer or even the end of the year.
"We need to begin to act now. If we don't, dining will remain at levels too low for restaurants to survive. Offices will remain empty, hurting the service business that depends on those office workers. Theaters and sports venues will sit empty. People will remain out of work, with all of the psychological and financial trauma that entails."
He’s making plans to embrace some of the changes. For example, he says remote work will stay after COVID is gone.
"For some, work from home will be part of their new normal. Online businesses will continue to increase. We must embrace it, not deny it. We must prepare and help guide it. A remote economy requires high speed internet for all."
Cuomo wants to push internet providers to offer high-speed service for $15 per month so disadvantaged households can afford it. He says people in poverty and communities of color are most likely to go without, and that prevents applying for a job, accessing telemedicine, and limits education. Cuomo also has an initiative to get arts venues back open.
"In New York, the arts and culture industry accounts for almost a half million jobs and generates $120 billion in economic output. But these are not just statistics. They are our friends and our neighbors. These artists are part of what makes New York New York.
His New York Arts Revival would rely on safer ways to host events, including using outdoor venues. Cuomo notes the increase in rapid COVID testing will help in many areas.
"Why can't we use rapid testing to open restaurants, in orange zones, theaters, offices. Next, we will work with the local real estate community to open additional rapid testing sites where people can receive a rapid test hours prior to patronizing a business or engaging in a social activity."
The details of many of his initiatives will be outlined in the State Budget proposal expected to be out at the end of the month.