ALBANY – During a briefing on the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus.
The Governor also confirmed 32 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 76.
Additionally, the Governor directed the New York State Department of State’s Consumer Protection Division to launch an investigation into reports of unfair price increases of consumer products such as household cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, and launched a toll-free hotline – 1-800-697-1220 – for New Yorkers to report suspected price gouging.
“As we continue to provide essential updates and encourage people to act upon the facts on coronavirus instead of the hype, I have officially done a declaration of emergency which gives us certain powers to help local health departments that are very stressed,” Governor Cuomo said. “As the local health departments continue to monitor and quarantine people, we have a more expedited purchasing protocol to get them all the tools they need to contain the virus spread. In the meantime we are cracking down on price gouging which continues to be a problem, and I want businesses to be aware that you could lose your license because we are very serious about this.”
This state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:
• Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources
• Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing
• Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment
• Expedited personnel onboarding
• Expedited leasing of lab space
• Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals
• Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation
The 32 new cases identified today are located in New York City and Westchester and Saratoga counties. Of the 76 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
New York City: 11
In addition, the Division of Consumer Protection has also created an online consumer complaint form, where New Yorkers can report suspected price gouging or concerns about improper delivery of quantity. Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.
All credible complaints will be referred to the New York State Attorney General’s office.
At a briefing yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage when making travel plans that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Department of Financial Services issued guidance allowing travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS received consumer complaints that such polices were not available in New York State. This new action is designed to provide reassurance to New York businesses and residents who are seeking to make plans that may involve travel to locations that are not currently under travel advisories due to COVID-19.
Six global and national insurance companies have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason” coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.
DFS also directed New York State travel insurance issuers to proactively reach out to individuals and businesses who bought their policies to let them know what is covered.
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