Written by the Press-Republican on April 19, 2020
SARATOGA — North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) has taken steps to advocate for direct relief to local governments, nursing home funding and development of high-speed broadband in rural communities.
She and fellow members of New York’s Congressional Delegation signed onto two letters sent Thursday.
One, to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leadership, requested that the next phase of COVID-19 legislative relief include expansion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act state stabilization fund to allow for direct funding to local governments and counties, regardless of population.
While North Country local governments are providing critical resources and services during the crisis, their budgets have been significantly strained and they need immediate direct financial relief, Stefanik said in a statement.
“Their response to the COVID-19 crisis has been swift and strong, and we must ensure they can continue providing their vital services to the North Country.”
In another letter, the representatives urged U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to prioritize funding for nursing homes, particularly those in COVID-19 “hot spots.”
They cited state Department of Health data that say at least 2,000 nursing home residents in New York State have died from the disease, and that may continue in the face of staffing shortages exacerbated by the crisis, shortage of personal protective equipment and lack of available testing.
“As the representative for the highest population of seniors in New York State, ensuring they are protected is a top priority,” Stefanik said.
“I will continue to work with our North Country public health officials and nursing homes to meet the needs of our most vulnerable.”
On Friday, Stefanik announced that she was co-sponsoring the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act.
The legislation would ensure rural communities have access to Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants for development of high-speed broadband access during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release from Stefanik’s office.
It would further eliminate barriers for broadband projects under EDA grants and thus ensure North Country communities are able to work with the private sector on broadband projects.
“Rural communities like the North Country that suffer from lack of broadband access are even more vulnerable during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stefanik said.
“During this time when so many are working and completing schooling from home, access to high-speed broadband is critical.”
The legislation will support efforts to strengthen broadband access, attract new businesses to the region and support struggling businesses, she continued.
“Measures like this will lay the groundwork for economic recovery in the North Country as we combat and ultimately beat COVID-19.”
You can read the full article at https://www.pressrepublican.com/