Saturday, July 18, 2020

NYS Office of the Comptroller DiNapoli: June Tax Receipts Down 17.3% From Last Year

NYS Office of the Comptroller Banner
State tax receipts in June were down $1.5 billion or 17.3 percent from the previous year, according to the monthly state cash report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“As steps toward an economic reopening continue, state tax revenues remain far short of pre-pandemic levels,” DiNapoli said. “Currently, state spending is well below projections, as the Division of the Budget withholds some payments in response to fiscal uncertainty. All eyes are on Washington. New York and its localities badly need more federal aid if they are to respond fully to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Other items of note in the report:
  • June tax receipts were $475 million below DOB’s latest projections, with shortfalls in personal income, consumption and business taxes.
  • For the combined “measurement period” of May and June, as defined in this year’s enacted budget, State Operating Funds tax receipts were 93.7 percent of the level projected in the Enacted Budget Financial Plan, while State Operating Funds disbursements were 69.2 percent of the anticipated amount.
  • All Funds spending through June was $6.3 billion below Financial Plan projections, with Local Assistance disbursements representing $5.7 billion of that total.
  • Unemployment Insurance payments in June totaled just under $13.5 billion, compared to $135.6 million a year earlier.
  • The General Fund ended the month with a balance of $6.9 billion, $5.1 billion higher than the latest projection by DOB.
Find out how your government money is spent at Open Book New York. Track municipal spending, the state's 170,000 contracts, billions in state payments and public authority data. Visit the Reading Room for contract FOIL requests, bid protest decisions and commonly requested data.

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Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers On State's Progress During Covid-19 Pandemic

Hospitalizations Down to 743—New Low Since March 18

1.08 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive

11 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

Confirms 754 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 406,305; New Cases in 46 Counties

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at

"As New York continues to show progress combatting COVID-19 with low hospitalizations and a low rate of positive cases, we remain alarmed by spikes in much of the country and the risk of a lack of compliance at home as the state pursues a phased, data-driven reopening," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers' vigilance, courage and adoption of basic behaviors—mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing—has driven our ability to control the virus, and we have to continue on that path to success. I urge everyone to stay New York Tough and New York Smart."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Patient Hospitalization - 743 (-22)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 65 (-6)
  • Hospital Counties - 31
  • Number ICU - 172 (-7)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 100 (+2)
  • Total Discharges 72,064 - (+94)
  • Deaths - 11
  • Total Deaths - 25,035

Third Co-Founder Of Cryptocurrency Company Pleads Guilty For Leading Role In ICO Fraud Scheme

  Ilan T. Graff, Attorney for the United States, Acting Under Authority Conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, announced that SOHRAB SHARMA, a/k/a “Sam Sharma,” pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger to conspiring to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a scheme to induce victims to invest more than $25 million dollars’ worth of digital funds in Centra Tech, Inc. (“Centra Tech”), a Miami-based company he co-founded and which purported to offer cryptocurrency-related financial products.  SHARMA, a leader of the scheme, and his co-conspirators used material misrepresentations and omissions to solicit investors to purchase securities, in the form of digital tokens issued by Centra Tech, through, among other means, an initial coin offering (“ICO”) beginning in approximately July 2017.  In connection with his plea agreement, SHARMA has also agreed to forfeit 100,000 Ether units, consisting of digital funds raised from victims who purchased digital tokens issued by Centra Tech based on fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions.

Mr. Graff said:  “As he has now admitted, Sharma and his co-conspirators lured victims into investing digital currencies worth millions of dollars based on false claims about their company and its purported products.  Sharma and his co-conspirators concocted a fake CEO, fake partnerships, and fake licenses.  Fraud is fraud, whether it occurs in digital securities markets or over traditional exchanges, and Sharma now faces a federal sentence for his role in this fraudulent scheme.”
According to the Superseding Information, and other filings and statements at public court proceedings in the case:
In or about July 2017, SHARMA, along with co-defendants Raymond Trapani and Robert Farkas, founded a company called Centra Tech that claimed to offer cryptocurrency-related financial products, including a purported debit card, the “Centra Card,” that supposedly allowed users to make purchases using cryptocurrency at establishments accepting Visa or Mastercard payment cards.  From approximately July 2017 through October 2017, SHARMA and his co-defendants solicited investors to purchase unregistered securities, in the form of digital tokens issued by Centra Tech (“Centra tokens” or “CTR tokens”), through, among other means, a so-called “initial coin offering” or “ICO.”  As part of their fundraising efforts, SHARMA and his co-defendants in oral and written offering materials that were disseminated via the internet, represented: (a) that Centra Tech had an experienced executive team with impressive credentials, including a purported CEO named “Michael Edwards” with more than 20 years of banking industry experience and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University, (b) that Centra Tech had formed partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, and Mastercard to issue Centra Cards licensed by Visa or Mastercard, and (c) that Centra Tech had money transmitter and other licenses in 38 states, among other claims.  Based in part on these claims, victims provided millions of dollars’ worth of digital funds in investments for the purchase of Centra Tech tokens.  In or about October 2017, at the end of Centra Tech’s fundraising efforts, those digital funds raised from victims were worth more than $25 million.  At certain times in 2018, as the defendants’ fraud scheme was ongoing, those funds were worth more than $60 million.
The claims that SHARMA and his co-conspirators made to help secure these investments, however, were false.  In fact, the purported CEO “Michael Edwards” and another supposed member of Centra Tech’s executive team were fictional people who were fabricated to dupe investors, Centra Tech had no such partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, or Mastercard, and Centra Tech did not have such licenses in a number of those states.
SHARMA and his co-defendants were well aware of the falsity of such claims.  For example, with respect to Centra Tech’s purported CEO “Michael Edwards,” SHARMA text messaged Trapani and Farkas on or about July 29, 2017, that they “Need to find someone who looks like Michael,” “Team photos,” “He’s real lol,” “Everyone real,” “Except Jessica,” “And Mike.”  Similarly, SHARMA later wrote during that same exchange:  “Gonna kill both Ceo and her,” “Gonna say they were married and got into an accident.” 
With respect to Centra Tech’s purported partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, and Mastercard, SHARMA engaged in a cellphone text message conversation with Trapani and Farkas on or about July 31, 2017, in which they discussed Centra Tech’s lack of actual partnerships with banks or credit card companies.  Similarly, on or about September 29, 2017 –  the date on which the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that it filed a civil complaint charging a company, among others, with defrauding investors in an unregistered offering of securities styled as an initial coin offering – SHARMA asked via a group text message conversation with Trapani and Farkas that they remove certain materials from Centra Tech’s website that contained “fufu,” or fake information, about Centra Tech’s purported relationship with Visa because, according to SHARMA, “I rather cut any fufu,” “Off right own,” “Now,” “Then worry,” “Anything that doesn’t exist current,” “We need to remove.”  Later that day, SHARMA text messaged Trapani and Farkas:  “I want a product page like [another company],” “Theirs is so nice.”  Trapani wrote “Lol yeah no real product,” to which SHARMA responded “Yea but it doesn’t say much,” “And looks good,” “We don’t have a real product either right now,” “So I wanna tighten up ship asap.”
With respect to Centra Tech’s purported money transmitter and other licenses in 38 states, SHARMA had a text message conversation with Trapani and Farkas on or about August 30, 2017, about applying for state licenses that Centra Tech had previously represented it already held in 38 states.  For example, SHARMA wrote in one message on or about August 30, 2017, to Trapani and Farkas:  “Gotta apply for all licenses,” “Should I even say this.”
On or about May 2018 and October 2018, this Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) seized, pursuant to judicially authorized seizure warrants, 100,000 Ether units, consisting of digital funds raised from victims who purchased digital tokens issued by Centra Tech based on fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions. 
SHARMA, 29, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  SHARMA will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield on a date to be determined.
Mr. Graff praised the work of the FBI, and thanked the SEC for its assistance.

IRS unveils "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for 2020; Americans urged to be vigilant to these threats during the pandemic and its aftermath

 The Internal Revenue Service today announced its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams with a special emphasis on aggressive and evolving schemes related to coronavirus tax relief, including Economic Impact Payments.

This year, the Dirty Dozen focuses on scams that target taxpayers. The criminals behind these bogus schemes view everyone as potentially easy prey. The IRS urges everyone to be on guard all the time and look out for others in their lives.
"Tax scams tend to rise during tax season or during times of crisis, and scam artists are using pandemic to try stealing money and information from honest taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "The IRS provides the Dirty Dozen list to help raise awareness about common scams that fraudsters use to target people. We urge people to watch out for these scams. The IRS is doing its part to protect Americans. We will relentlessly pursue criminals trying to steal your money or sensitive personal financial information."
Taxpayers are encouraged to review the list in a special section on and be on the lookout for these scams throughout the year. Taxpayers should also remember that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. Consumers can help protect themselves by choosing a reputable tax preparer.
The IRS urges taxpayers to refrain from engaging potential scammers online or on the phone. The IRS plans to unveil a similar list of enforcement and compliance priorities this year as well.
An upcoming series of press releases will emphasize the illegal schemes and techniques businesses and individuals use to avoid paying their lawful tax liability. Topics will include such scams as abusive micro captives and fraudulent conservation easements.

Here are this year's "Dirty Dozen" scams:


Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a tax bill, refund or Economic Impact Payments. Don't click on links claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites − they may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
IRS Criminal Investigation has seen a tremendous increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts and links. These phishing schemes are using keywords such as "coronavirus," "COVID-19" and "Stimulus" in various ways.
These schemes are blasted to large numbers of people in an effort to get personal identifying information or financial account information, including account numbers and passwords. Most of these new schemes are actively playing on the fear and unknown of the virus and the stimulus payments. (For more see IR-2020-115, IRS warns against COVID-19 fraud; other financial schemes.)

Fake Charities:

Criminals frequently exploit natural disasters and other situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic by setting up fake charities to steal from well-intentioned people trying to help in times of need. Fake charity scams generally rise during times like these.
Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, text, social media, e-mail or in-person using a variety of tactics. Bogus websites use names similar to legitimate charities to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information. They may even claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
Taxpayers should be particularly wary of charities with names like nationally known organizations. Legitimate charities will provide their Employer Identification Number (EIN), if requested, which can be used to verify their legitimacy. Taxpayers can find legitimate and qualified charities with the search tool on

Threatening Impersonator Phone Calls:

IRS impersonation scams come in many forms. A common one remains bogus threatening phone calls from a criminal claiming to be with the IRS. The scammer attempts to instill fear and urgency in the potential victim. In fact, the IRS will never threaten a taxpayer or surprise him or her with a demand for immediate payment.
Phone scams or "vishing" (voice phishing) pose a major threat. Scam phone calls, including those threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn't pay a bogus tax bill, are reported year-round. These calls often take the form of a "robocall" (a text-to-speech recorded message with instructions for returning the call).
The IRS will never demand immediate payment, threaten, ask for financial information over the phone, or call about an unexpected refund or Economic Impact Payment. Taxpayers should contact the real IRS if they worry about having a tax problem.

Social Media Scams:

Taxpayers need to protect themselves against social media scams, which frequently use events like COVID-19 to try tricking people. Social media enables anyone to share information with anyone else on the Internet. Scammers use that information as ammunition for a wide variety of scams. These include emails where scammers impersonate someone's family, friends or co-workers.
Social media scams have also led to tax-related identity theft. The basic element of social media scams is convincing a potential victim that he or she is dealing with a person close to them that they trust via email, text or social media messaging.
Using personal information, a scammer may email a potential victim and include a link to something of interest to the recipient which contains malware intended to commit more crimes. Scammers also infiltrate their victim's emails and cell phones to go after their friends and family with fake emails that appear to be real and text messages soliciting, for example, small donations to fake charities that are appealing to the victims.

EIP or Refund Theft:

The IRS has made great strides against refund fraud and theft in recent years, but they remain an ongoing threat. Criminals this year also turned their attention to stealing Economic Impact Payments as provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Much of this stems from identity theft whereby criminals file false tax returns or supply other bogus information to the IRS to divert refunds to wrong addresses or bank accounts.
The IRS recently warned nursing homes and other care facilities that Economic Impact Payments generally belong to the recipients, not the organizations providing the care. This came following concerns that people and businesses may be taking advantage of vulnerable populations who received the payments. These payments do not count as a resource for determining eligibility for Medicaid and other federal programs They also do not count as income in determining eligibility for these programs. See IR-2020-121, IRS alert: Economic Impact Payments belong to recipient, not nursing homes or care facilities for more.
Taxpayers can consult the Coronavirus Tax Relief page of for assistance in getting their EIPs. Anyone who believes they may be a victim of identity theft should consult the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft on

Senior Fraud:

Senior citizens and those who care about them need to be on alert for tax scams targeting older Americans. The IRS recognizes the pervasiveness of fraud targeting older Americans along with the Department of Justice and FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), among others.
Seniors are more likely to be targeted and victimized by scammers than other segments of society. Financial abuse of seniors is a problem among personal and professional relationships. Anecdotal evidence across professional services indicates that elder fraud goes down substantially when the service provider knows a trusted friend or family member is taking an interest in the senior's affairs.
Older Americans are becoming more comfortable with evolving technologies, such as social media. Unfortunately, that gives scammers another means of taking advantage. Phishing scams linked to Covid-19 have been a major threat this filing season. Seniors need to be alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information.

Scams targeting non-English speakers:

IRS impersonators and other scammers also target groups with limited English proficiency. These scams are often threatening in nature. Some scams also target those potentially receiving an Economic Impact Payment and request personal or financial information from the taxpayer.
Phone scams pose a major threat to people with limited access to information, including individuals not entirely comfortable with the English language. These calls frequently take the form of a "robocall" (a text-to-speech recorded message with instructions for returning the call), but in some cases may be made by a real person. These con artists may have some of the taxpayer's information, including their address, the last four digits of their Social Security number or other personal details – making the phone calls seem more legitimate.
A common one remains the IRS impersonation scam where a taxpayer receives a telephone call threatening jail time, deportation or revocation of a driver's license from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Taxpayers who are recent immigrants often are the most vulnerable and should ignore these threats and not engage the scammers.

Unscrupulous Return Preparers:

Selecting the right return preparer is important. They are entrusted with a taxpayer's sensitive personal data. Most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but dishonest preparers pop up every filing season committing fraud, harming innocent taxpayers or talking taxpayers into doing illegal things they regret later.
Taxpayers should avoid so-called "ghost" preparers who expose their clients to potentially serious filing mistakes as well as possible tax fraud and risk of losing their refunds. With many tax professionals impacted by COVID-19 and their offices potentially closed, taxpayers should take particular care in selecting a credible tax preparer.
Ghost preparers don't sign the tax returns they prepare. They may print the tax return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the ghost preparer will prepare but not digitally sign as the paid preparer. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on returns.
Unscrupulous preparers may also target those without a filing requirement and may or may not be due a refund. They promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits, including education credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and others. Taxpayers should avoid preparers who ask them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at the taxpayer's records or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund.
Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of their tax return, regardless of who prepares it. Taxpayers can go to a special page on for tips on choosing a preparer.

Offer in Compromise Mills:

Taxpayers need to wary of misleading tax debt resolution companies that can exaggerate chances to settle tax debts for "pennies on the dollar" through an Offer in Compromise (OIC). These offers are available for taxpayers who meet very specific criteria under law to qualify for reducing their tax bill. But unscrupulous companies oversell the program to unqualified candidates so they can collect a hefty fee from taxpayers already struggling with debt.
These scams are commonly called OIC "mills," which cast a wide net for taxpayers, charge them pricey fees and churn out applications for a program they're unlikely to qualify for. Although the OIC program helps thousands of taxpayers each year reduce their tax debt, not everyone qualifies for an OIC. In Fiscal Year 2019, there were 54,000 OICs submitted to the IRS. The agency accepted 18,000 of them.
Individual taxpayers can use the free online Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool to see if they qualify. The simple tool allows taxpayers to confirm eligibility and provides an estimated offer amount. Taxpayers can apply for an OIC without third-party representation; but the IRS reminds taxpayers that if they need help, they should be cautious about whom they hire.

Fake Payments with Repayment Demands:

Criminals are always finding new ways to trick taxpayers into believing their scam including putting a bogus refund into the taxpayer's actual bank account. Here's how the scam works:
A con artist steals or obtains a taxpayer's personal data including Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and bank account information. The scammer files a bogus tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer's checking or savings account. Once the direct deposit hits the taxpayer's bank account, the fraudster places a call to them, posing as an IRS employee. The taxpayer is told that there's been an error and that the IRS needs the money returned immediately or penalties and interest will result. The taxpayer is told to buy specific gift cards for the amount of the refund.
The IRS will never demand payment by a specific method. There are many payment options available to taxpayers and there's also a process through which taxpayers have the right to question the amount of tax we say they owe. Anytime a taxpayer receives an unexpected refund and a call from us out of the blue demanding a refund repayment, they should reach out to their banking institution and to the IRS.

Payroll and HR Scams:

Tax professionals, employers and taxpayers need to be on guard against phishing designed to steal Form W-2s and other tax information. These are Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Business Email Spoofing (BES). This is particularly true with many businesses closed and their employees working from home due to COVID-19. Currently, two of the most common types of these scams are the gift card scam and the direct deposit scam.
In the gift card scam, a compromised email account is often used to send a request to purchase gift cards in various denominations. In the direct deposit scheme, the fraudster may have access to the victim's email account (also known as an email account compromise or "EAC"). They may also impersonate the potential victim to have the organization change the employee's direct deposit information to reroute their deposit to an account the fraudster controls.
BEC/BES scams have used a variety of ploys to include requests for wire transfers, payment of fake invoices as well as others. In recent years, the IRS has observed variations of these scams where fake IRS documents are used in to lend legitimacy to the bogus request. For example, a fraudster may attempt a fake invoice scheme and use what appears to be a legitimate IRS document to help convince the victim.
The Direct Deposit and other BEC/BES variations should be forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) where a complaint can be filed. The IRS requests that Form W-2 scams be reported to: (Subject: W-2 Scam).


This is a growing cybercrime. Ransomware is malware targeting human and technical weaknesses to infect a potential victim's computer, network or server. Malware is a form of invasive software that is often frequently inadvertently downloaded by the user. Once downloaded, it tracks keystrokes and other computer activity. Once infected, ransomware looks for and locks critical or sensitive data with its own encryption. In some cases, entire computer networks can be adversely impacted.
Victims generally aren't aware of the attack until they try to access their data, or they receive a ransom request in the form of a pop-up window. These criminals don't want to be traced so they frequently use anonymous messaging platforms and demand payment in virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
Cybercriminals might use a phishing email to trick a potential victim into opening a link or attachment containing the ransomware. These may include email solicitations to support a fake COVID-19 charity. Cybercriminals also look for system vulnerabilities where human error is not needed to deliver their malware.
The IRS and its Security Summit partners have advised tax professionals and taxpayers to use the free, multi-factor authentication feature being offered on tax preparation software products. Use of the multi-factor authentication feature is a free and easy way to protect clients and practitioners' offices from data thefts. Tax software providers also offer free multi-factor authentication protections on their Do-It-Yourself products for taxpayers.

COVID Rent Relief Program Application Period Begins

Two-Week Application Period Is Open; 4 Months of Rent Relief Available for Eligible Households
The two-week application period for New York State households seeking assistance under the COVID Rent Relief Program. 

Passed by the Senate on May 28, 2020, and sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh, S8419 was signed into law by the governor and established the COVID Rent Relief Program. The program provides a one-time rent subsidy paid directly to landlords of applicant households. Applicants will not be required to repay this assistance. 
The program will cover the difference between a household’s rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden during the months for which the households apply for rent assistance. Households can apply for up to four months of relief.
Applications will be accepted throughout the two-week application period and eligible households with “greatest economic and social need” accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness will get priority consideration.
For assistance, eligibility details and to access the application, visit the HCR website.

Comptroller Stringer Investigation Finds Insufficient Preparedness and Coordination Hindered NYC H+H Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Letter to Governor Cuomo highlights need for improved coordination across all parts of the healthcare system and better planning and preparedness
Findings show we must address underlying inequities in access to health care that resulted in a disproportionate death rate among the City’s most vulnerable populations and strained H+H capacity and systems
  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo providing the results of a review into NYC Health + Hospital’s (H+H) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The review identified several deficiencies in preparedness and execution at all levels, from the federal government down to individual hospitals, including inadequate access to needed supplies and equipment, confusing and medically inappropriate guidance, a lack of systems and procedures for managing patient loads across hospitals, and insufficient protocols for deploying staff.
Comptroller Stringer’s review also showed that H+H’s challenges arose due in part to insufficient support, assistance, and guidance from the City, State, and federal governments. The Comptroller stressed that H+H’s ability to deliver proper health care to communities that need it the most requires the assistance of all levels of government, including sufficient funding, established coordination policies and procedures, and the support of its governmental and private partners.
As a result of the review, Comptroller Stringer outlined recommendations to better prepare for and manage a potential resurgence of COVID-19 patients, as well as future public health emergencies, including establishing formal coordination and guidance mechanisms among all parts of the healthcare system; improved protocols for staff training and deployment of resources; and identifying and remedying supply chain weaknesses.

Governor Cuomo Announces New York City Cleared by Global Health Experts to Enter Phase Four of Reopening Monday, July 20th

Every Region of New York State Will Now Be in Phase Four of Reopening

Governor Cuomo: "New York City will enter Phase Four on Monday. That is a hallmark for us. Every region of the state will now be in Phase Four. There are no more phases. Then Phase Four, so we are all in the final phase of reopening. And that's great. Every region has made it through the four phases without having to close. And the numbers are consistent through all phases of reopening. And this is what we said from day one, reopen smart, and if you reopen smart and you reopen in phases, and you follow the data, it's actually a better way for the economy to reopen because if you rush the reopening then you risk the probability of a viral increase."

Cuomo: "The Phase Four allows schools to reopen pursuant to the State guidance. It allows low-risk outdoor activities and entertainment at 33 percent capacity. It allows outdoor professional sports without fans and that is happening as you know. It allows media production. In New York City as I announced yesterday we're not going to have any indoor activity in malls or cultural institutions and we'll continue to monitor that situation and when the facts change we will let you know."

Cuomo: "What we're really looking at now is the potential of a second wave - not the second wave that we originally discussed. The second wave that we originally feared was from the theory of the 1918 pandemic where there was Phase One and then the virus mutated and came back in Phase Four. That's not what we're looking at here. This second wave would be man-made, not made by Mother Nature. It would not be mutation of the virus. It would be a wave that comes from the West and the South, a southwesterly wave that comes back to New York from the increase in the other states. We are painfully aware now that an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere."

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the team of global health experts advising New York State's reopening strategy has thoroughly reviewed the data for New York City and has cleared it to enter Phase Four of reopening without any additional indoor activity, such as malls and cultural institutions, beginning Monday, July 20th. Every region of New York State will now be in Phase Four of reopening. New York Forward guidance for Phase Four reopening can be found here.

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for Extreme Heat This Weekend

High Temperatures and Increased Humidity Could Pose Danger to At-Risk Populations, Including the Elderly and Small Children

Utilities Suspend Planned Outage Work to Ensure Electric Capacity Will Meet Customer's Needs

State Beaches and Pools Remain Open with Density Reduction Requirements In Effect

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers statewide to take precautions ahead of potentially dangerous heat conditions that are expected to begin early Saturday and last through the weekend. Heat index values ranging from the low-90s to 100 degrees are possible throughout the entire timeframe and across much of the state. New Yorkers should monitor local weather forecasts for the most up-to-date information. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

"Forecasts are calling for a wave of extreme heat in the coming days and I am urging all New Yorkers to make sure they are taking all necessary precautions," Governor Cuomo said. "This type of weather can be especially dangerous for young children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions. Be sure to check on neighbors and limit outdoor activity to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy through the extreme temperatures. And if you do visit beaches and pools, be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing."

On Saturday, temperatures are expected to be in the high 80s in the Western New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, with rest of the state experiencing even hotter weather with temperatures in the 90s. On Sunday, temperatures will intensify with the entire state forecast to experience temperatures in the 90s, with the possibility of some areas reaching as high as 100.

This period of hot weather will result in an increased risk of heat stress and heat-related illness. People who are susceptible to heat related illnesses - including young children, the elderly, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work, and those who have respiratory diseases such as asthma - should take necessary steps to stay cool as temperatures rise.

During this high-heat period, the State's utilities are suspending any planned outage work to ensure enough electric capacity is available to meet customer's needs. Customer conservation and voluntary reduction communications will also be a focus. The New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) will be monitoring electric system conditions and overseeing utility response to any situations that may arise.

If necessary, DPS will activate the Peak Load Reduction Program for all New York State agencies.  In addition, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) will activate their voluntary Emergency Response Demand Program to curtail load as necessary.

State Parks beaches and pools also remain open. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, density reductions of 50 percent of total capacity are in place. Prior to making a trip, potential visitors should check for capacity alerts and closure announcements.

Heat Tips
Excessive heat is the leading cause of preventable, weather-related deaths each year, particularly among the elderly. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat causes more than 600 preventable deaths in the United States yearly. To help New Yorkers stay safe during excessive heat the Governor offered the following tips:

The following people are most at risk:
  • Elderly persons and small children are mostly affected
  • Persons who are overweight/obese
  • Persons on certain medications or drugs

Be Prepared:
  • Avoid strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Exercise and activity should be done in the early morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Drink plenty of water and noncaffeinated beverages.
  • Stay out of the sun and try to cool off in an air conditioned building for a few hours during the hottest part of the day. The sun heats the inner core of your body, resulting in dehydration. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, or go to a public building with air conditioning
  • If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body.
  • Do not leave children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or vehicle during periods of intense summer heat. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill within a matter of minute.
  • Make an effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are elderly, have young children or have special needs. Make sure there is enough food and water for pets

Know the Signs of Heat Related Illness
Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. Call 911 if you or someone you know shows signs or symptoms of heat illness, including:
  • Headache
  • Light headedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
For more information on how to stay safe during periods of excessive heat, click here.

New Yorkers Urged to Conserve Electricity
Taking smart steps to reduce energy use, particularly during periods of peak demand, not only helps to lower the state's peak load, it will save consumers money when electricity is the most expensive. To reduce energy use, particularly during peak periods, the public is encouraged to take some of the following low- or no-cost energy saving measures:

  • Close drapes, windows and doors on your home's sunny side to reduce solar heat buildup.
  • Turn off air conditioners, lights and other appliances when not at home and use a timer to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home. Use advanced power strips to centrally "turn off" all appliances and save energy.
  • If purchasing an air conditioner, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. ENERGY STAR air conditioners use up to 25 percent less energy than a standard model.
  • Fans can make rooms feel five to 10 degrees cooler and use 80 percent less energy than air conditioners.
  • Set your air conditioner at 78 degrees or higher to save on your cooling costs.
  • Place your air conditioner in a central window, rather than a corner window, to allow for better air movement.
  • Consider placing the unit on the north, east or the best-shaded side of your home. Your air conditioner will have to work harder and use more energy if it is exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Seal spaces around the air conditioner with caulking to prevent cool air from escaping.
  • Clean the cooling and condenser fans plus the coils to keep your air conditioner operating efficiently and check the filter every month and replace as needed.
  • Use appliances such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and ovens early in the morning or late at night. This will also help reduce humidity and heat in the home.
  • Use energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs instead of standard incandescent light bulbs, and you can use 75 percent less energy.
  • Microwave food when possible. Microwaves use approximately 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Dry clothes on a clothes line. If using a clothes dryer, remember to clean the dryer's lint trap before every load.
  • Be mindful of the different ways you're consuming water throughout your home. Instead of using 30 to 40 gallons of water to take a bath, install a low-flow showerhead, which uses less than 3 gallons a minute.
  • Lowering the temperature setting on your wash machine and rinsing in cold water will reduce energy use.
Additional tips on how to conserve energy is available on NYSERDA's website here.

Water Safety
Boaters should make sure to take proper safety precautions when enjoying the many boating opportunities New York State has to offer. The State Parks Marine Services Bureau offers the following safety tips.

Boaters are reminded to practice safe and responsible boating, including:
  • Wear a personal floatation device whenever they are on the water. State law requires that children under age 12 wear a personal flotation device while on a watercraft;
  • Complete a safe boating course;
  • Properly equip and inspect their vessel;
  • Maintain a prudent speed;
  • Refrain from mixing alcohol with boating; and
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out on the water to learn about potential storms and seek immediate shelter on shore if thunder is audible.

People paddling canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards should know their abilities and take precautions when there are high or steady winds creating large waves, or when they are in strong currents. Paddlers in waters where there are motorboats should keep close to shorelines and out of main channels.

For more information about boating safety, including listings of boating safety courses, and marine recreation in New York State, click here.

Ritchie Torres - Let's turn the page on hate, once and for all

Last month, this campaign stood proudly on a platform of inclusiveness and equality. We came together to reject the hateful views of my opponent — and now New York is on a path toward a better future.
I’m proud of the role that we played in the turning of the page here in New York City. Because of you, the hateful ideology of Ruben Diaz, Sr. will soon be a thing of the past on the NYC Council — and it won’t be representing us in Congress. 

Statement from Congressman Eliot Engel - Concession to Democratic Candidate Jamaal Bowman

 The numbers are clear, and I will not be the Democratic nominee for the 16th Congressional District seat in the fall election. Serving the people of the Bronx and Westchester in Congress has been the greatest privilege of my life, and what a remarkable 32 years it has been. We have made so much progress together, and faced so many challenges. Throughout those years, I have always worked as hard as humanly possible to represent my constituents as a progressive Democrat in Washington and as an involved, informed and present public servant in New York. I take particular pride in always showing up, always being present, always listening, and always caring deeply about those whom it's been an honor to serve as their Congressman.

I wish Mr. Bowman well as he begins this new chapter in his life. Here in New York's 16th District, where I have lived since I was a young boy in Eastchester Gardens, we desperately need Washington's resources at this critical time, and we must continue to fight for them.

I want to thank, first and foremost, my wife, Pat, and my three children, Julia, Jonathan, and Philip, whose love and support carried me every single day I've been in Congress. I want to thank my incredible campaign staff for all of their hard work this past year, and all of the amazing volunteers and supporters who stuck with us during the campaign.

For these three plus decades, I have had the very best government staff working for me in my three district offices in New York, my Washington office, and on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Their work - from crafting legislation to helping people with problems big and small - has been exemplary from the very beginning. They made me look good, and I want to personally thank them from the bottom of my heart for all of their hard work and support.

I honestly cannot tell you how touched I have been by all the kind words and love we received from every corner of the district. I want to thank my colleagues in government for their steadfast friendship and partnership over the years. We are so blessed here to have elected officials at every level of government who care deeply about helping the community and are always willing to work together to improve conditions for our shared constituencies. I have no doubt they will continue that outstanding work and make NY16 even better! 

Finally, I want to thank the voters in New York's 16th District, who 16 times decided to renew my two-year contract and send me back to Washington - what an honor to be the longest-serving Congressman in the history of the Bronx. I never for a minute thought of this as my seat. It's the people's seat, and it is a true honor that you put your trust in me to represent you in the greatest legislative body in the world.