Gov. Cuomo: State to withhold funds from those not enforcing public health laws
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says state funds will be withheld from local governments and schools that do not enforce red zone COVID-19 enforcement orders.
The governor says the problem with enforcement of public health law has been prevalent at religious gatherings and yeshivas in Rockland and Orange counties and Brooklyn.
He laid out three ways he is dealing with the issue in a conference call Wednesday morning.
- Gov. Cuomo says he is sending a notification to local governments that says they must enforce public health law or they won’t receive state funds.
- The governor says a letter is being sent to all schools in the red zone that says if they are open, they face losing funding.
- To the schools that were open this week in the red zones, they will be served with an order to close Wednesday, and funds have already been withheld until the “matter is resolved to our satisfaction.”
“We could impound all funds,” says Gov. Cuomo. He says he would rather local enforcement enforce the rules. “I guarantee a yeshiva gets closed down, and they lose funding, you will see compliance.”
News 12 was in Monsey on Wednesday where cameras showed bus after bus dropping students off at homes in the red zone. Some of the school buses were packed with kids in nearly every row. Some of the children were also not wearing their masks properly.
United Talmudical Academy and Congregation Bnai Yoel in Kiryas Joel both remained open Wednesday. Orange County inspectors found a third school, Sheri Torah Goldberger, open in the red zone this week but it appeared closed Wednesday.
A number of school buses News 12 saw Wednesday had the names of the schools on them, which News 12 found to be located in the red zone.
According to YAFFED, a Jewish Education activism group, yeshivas receive millions in state funding each year for various programs. Many yeshivas in New York also operate as child care for younger children and receive $120 million in separate subsidies for that service.
Yossi Gestetner, a cofounder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, says Gov. Cuomo keeps changing the rules and targeting his community.
Gestetner says the governor in July said schools would close if a region's infection rate goes over 9% using a 7-day rolling average. According to the state Department of Health, the Mid-Hudson region's 7-day average is currently 2%.
According to the state's latest numbers, Rockland's infection rate's 7-day rolling average 4.2%.
Next highest is Chemung County at 5.1% and Steuben County at 4.5%. No clusters zones have been named there.
The crackdown promises fines up to $15,000 for schools that aren't complying with efforts to lower soaring infection rates in hot spot communities.