Bellone: Federal government telling states to bear burden of COVID-19 is 'unacceptable'

County Executive Steve Bellone said during his COVID-19 briefing Saturday that it was “unacceptable” for the federal government to make states and local governments “bear the burden” of the virus, which has caused unimaginable distress to workers and the economy.
He said the federal government is the only entity equipped to handle a crisis of the current magnitude and is the only way local and state governments will survive.
“It is the only level of government that has the ability to spend money to prop up the economy in a time of crisis like this. The states can't do it," said Bellone.
The county executive also spoke about a Newsday special report on mortgages. According to the report, “Long Island homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages say they have asked lenders about federal and state mortgage reprieve programs, only to learn any missed payments would be due all at once in a few months.”
Bellone said he will highlight banks that help during the crisis, and those that do not. He also asked homeowners who have been dealing with issues to reach out to the county.
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There were more than 1,200 new positive cases of COVID-19 yesterday in Suffolk. The overall total number of confirmed cases reached 26,702. He says hospitalizations, ICU admissions and intubations are down, and 123 people were discharged from Suffolk hospitals on Friday.
The number of fatalities in the county was not immediately available from the state. It was the second consecutive day that the numbers were not available.
Notes on the briefing are below:
  • Bellone salutes employees and residents who are following the state's face covering order.
  • Face coverings are an important part of not allowing a spike in cases to happen.
  • Bellone on Newsday's mortgage report: Calls it disturbing. He says he is aware of the "economic devastation" caused by COVID-19.
  • He says there are state and federal program that can provide help on mortgage payments.
  • Bellone asks residents who are having issues with mortgage payments and have been unable to get relief from their bank to reach out to the county.
  • Bellone says he will highlight those who helped residents and those who did not.
  • Bellone urges Congress and the president, before putting any more money into the Payroll Protection Program, to make sure that it is working appropriately." Make sure that those dollars are getting to the small businesses and the Main Street businesses that desperately need it."
  • Bellone: If we learning anything in this crisis, it's that "government does matter."
  • "We need states and local governments to be able to function...The only level of government that can do this is the federal government. It is the only level of government that has the ability to spend money to prop up the economy in a time of crisis like this. The states can't do it."
  • Bellone says the message it sends when the federal governments doesn't fund local governments is, "you take care of it yourself. You bear the burden...That's wrong. That's unacceptable."
  • Bellone thanks Sen. Charles Schumer who he says has been fighting to get resources to Suffolk.
  • There were more than 1,200 new positive COVID-19 cases yesterday in Suffolk County. The overall total is 26,702 confirmed positive cases.
  • "Hospitalizations are down once again, which is a very good thing." The number is now 1,538, down 24 patients. Bellone says ICU admissions and intubations are also down. There were 123 discharges over 24 hours.
  • Bellone acknowledges 911 dispatchers for their service.