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May 2020

Attorney General James and Governor Cuomo Renew Suspension of State Debt Collection in Response to Coronavirus, Protecting New Yorkers’ Wallets

DO I NEED TO QUARANTINE OR SELF-ISOLATE?

The Westchester County Department of Health has added an online tool to help residents determine whether they should be in quarantine, isolation or exercise caution, depending on their potential exposure to COVID-19. The tool, known as the COVID Determination Tree, will ask a series of questions to help people define if they are subject to an Order of Isolation, an Order of Quarantine, or if it’s recommended that they Self-Quarantine.

 

Access the COVID Determination Tree HERE.

 

Upon answering a series of seven questions, participants will be prompted with cautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The survey only takes a few minutes.

 

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Westchester County, visit the Health Department Website.

 

 

New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state has renewed a previous order from March 17, 2020 that halted the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and that was specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for collection for an additional 30-day period, in response to growing financial impairments resulting from the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The new order will run for an additional 30-day period, until May 17th. After this 30-day period, the OAG will reassess the needs of state residents for another possible extension. Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.

 

“We renewed this order to suspend the collection of debt owed to my office because this crisis is wreaking havoc on our state’s working people and I will do everything in my power to protect their wallets,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers need to hold on to every dollar they have and focus on keeping their families safe and healthy. Millions across the country, including more than a million right here in New York, have filed for unemployment and are struggling to get by. While we battle this public health crisis, the last thing my office will do is add undue stress or saddle our neighbors with unnecessary financial burden. I will continue to do everything in my power to help pick up our fellow New Yorkers and support our state’s economy.”

 

"As we continue our work to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus, we recognize that New Yorkers are still struggling with both emotional pain and economic hardship as a result of this crisis," Governor Cuomo said. "By renewing the suspension on the collection of student and medical debt that is referred to the attorney general’s office for an additional 30 days, we are helping to lessen the burden faced by so many individuals, families, and businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. I’m grateful to the attorney general for her partnership.”

 

Millions of New Yorkers, like Americans across the nation, have been impacted — directly or indirectly — by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business. In the five-week period ending April 11th, over 22 million residents across the nation lost their jobs and filed for unemployment, including more than 1.2 million in New York State alone. In an effort to support many New Yorkers economically impacted during this difficult time, Attorney General James today renewed an order, first made last month, to ease the financial burdens for many workers and families by halting the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection for 30 additional days. Today's order renews this suspension period through May 17, 2020.

 

The OAG collects certain debts owed to the State of New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the State of New York and state agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:

 

Patients that owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ homes;

 

Students that owe student debt due to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses; and

 

Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners, and certain homeowners that owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.

 

The temporary policy has also automatically suspended the accrual of interest and the collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.

 

New Yorkers with non-medical or non-student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. Individuals seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s coronavirus website to learn more about the suspension of payments. If an individual is unable to fill out the online form, they can also call the OAG hotline at 1-800-771-7755 to learn more.

 

Department of Community Mental Health Offers Tips to Residents of Westchester County to Help Them Cope with the Impact Of Covid-19

Westchester County residents are all coping with the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  It is projected that the health crisis precipitated by COVID-19 could have a lasting impact on the mental health of the citizens of Westchester.

 

The Department of Community Mental Health reminds our residents that public health emergencies, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) can shake our sense of safety causing feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.  Anxiety can be useful at times because it helps motivate self-preservation but can sometimes be overwhelming. There are several things you can do during these times to help reduce anxiety and find balance.

 

One thing that is quickly overlooked is making time to take care of yourself. This seems basic but it is often the first thing we lose sight of.

 

“As we are caring for others in such a time of great need, it is important that we practice self-care,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “Through the efforts of Community Mental Health and our partners we are offering many different resources and services to support our residents,” he added.

 

Some helpful tips for self-care include:

•       Take the time to exercise, remember to eat well and get rest. Stay connected to the world around by spending time outside.

•       Be mindful. Incorporate moments of mindfulness into your daily routine through deep breathing, yoga, meditation and grounding exercises. Enjoy each moment.

•       It seems like COVID-19 is the topic of every conversation. Try to create a safe space to engage in activities that have nothing to do with COVID-19.  Limit your exposure.

 

We have all quickly become familiar with the term of social distance. Social distance helps limit the spread of the virus but can also cause feelings of disconnection. Use technology and social media to preserve and promote social connections.  Applications and platforms such as Facebook Live, Zoom and FaceTime promote connection through face to face communication. Share stories, pictures and stay connected.

 

Traumatic events can make us feel powerless. One way to feel empowered is to help others. Even doing something small can help. Remember, doing good things for others feels good.  Another way to help feel empowered is by creating your own plan on how to respond in times of crisis.

 

Michael Orth, Commissioner Department of Community Mental Health reminds residents, “If the anxiety and stress becomes overwhelming, reach out. The Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health is here to help. Through our direct services and partnerships with our community based providers, together, we are here to support you.  Reach out to our office at 914-995-1900.”

 

The Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health will be offering a free workshop on Mindful Work-Life balance & practical steps to integrate mindful moments and Guided Meditation for all residents on Thursday, April 16 from 2 to 2:45 p.m.   To join the live streamed workshop please click on this link https://zoom.us/j/195176745  Meeting ID: 195 176 745.  The workshop will be taped and made available on the county website for those who are unable to participate. For additional information contact the Department of Community Mental Health at (914) 995-1900.