Saturday, June 4, 2022
Governor Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation declaring that special elections to fill the vacancies in the 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts will be held on Tuesday, August 23. The special elections will fill the vacancies created by the resignations of Antonio Delgado and Tom Reed.
"With the resignations of Congressmembers Delgado and Reed, I am declaring a special election to fill these vacancies and ensure continued representation for the residents of the 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts," Governor Hochul said. "I look forward to developing a productive relationship with the next representatives from the 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts as we work together to deliver for New York in our nation's capital."
This week in Albany, the New York State Legislature concluded its legislative session for the year. After months of drafting policy, meeting with advocates, and negotiating bills, we wrapped up the session and gaveled out for 2022.
I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish this year. While there is always more work to be done, I believe that we made significant strides– from the Legislative budget, to reproductive rights, and sexual harassment. My office will be sending out a comprehensive legislative mailer in the near future which will provide in-depth information regarding our legislative wins from this session.
As I close out my final chapter in Albany, I can’t help but look back at how much we have been able to accomplish since I started my position in 2019. While there have been many ups and downs along the way, I am incredibly proud of all of the progress that we have made in the last few years. New York is a better state for it, and I am very optimistic for the future of our state.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced today that she has reached an agreement with Verizon to ensure that the company takes swift and comprehensive action to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease in New York state. Legionnaires’ disease is often deadly and can be spread by poorly monitored or operated building cooling towers. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that since 2017, there were at least 225 alleged violations of city and state laws at 45 of Verizon’s cooling tower locations throughout the state, with the company failing to conduct testing, address positive test results, and clean and inspect the cooling towers by required deadlines. As part of the agreement, Verizon will adopt official policies and procedures to ensure full, ongoing compliance with the law and pay a $118,000 penalty for the violations, which will be used by OAG to address the health impacts of air pollution.
“Legionnaires’ disease remains a deadly presence in areas across our state, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color,” said Attorney General James. “It is essential that companies such as Verizon are taking the necessary actions to avoid the spread of this preventable and lethal disease. This agreement will protect New Yorkers' public health and slow the spread of Legionnaires' disease.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a harmful form of pneumonia that is contracted by inhaling water droplets that contain Legionella bacteria. Symptoms of the disease include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, and muscle aches, and presents greatest risk for people 50 years of age or older, current or former smokers, and those with a chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems. Rooftop cooling towers, which are part of some buildings’ cooling systems, are considered a significant source of public exposure to Legionnaires’ disease. If not maintained and monitored properly, they can provide an ideal environment for the growth of Legionella and can expose and infect nearby communities due to the mist of water emitted into the air.
Between 200 and 800 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are diagnosed in New York state each year, although the actual number of infections may be higher as many go undiagnosed or unreported. New York City has seen a series of lethal outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in recent months, with 24 people infected in the Bronx, leading to two confirmed deaths and several hospitalizations. The Bronx previously experienced an outbreak in 2015 that sickened 120 people and led to at least 12 deaths. Following the 2015 outbreak, both the state and city adopted laws designed to prevent Legionella growth in cooling towers and required building owners to adhere to a suite of safety, maintenance, and reporting requirements related to their cooling towers, with civil penalties for non-compliance.
In 2019, OAG began an investigation into several owners of cooling towers in New York state, including Verizon, that appeared to have significant gaps in reporting requirements under state law. The investigation revealed that since 2017, approximately 225 alleged violations of state and city cooling tower laws had occurred at approximately 45 buildings throughout New York state with cooling towers owned by Verizon. The company maintains and manages its cooling towers within the state through contractors and vendors. The violations identified at Verizon-owned buildings included alleged failures to timely test water samples from cooling towers for Legionella and other bacteria, failures to properly take corrective action in response to positive test results, and failures to timely complete cleaning, disinfection, and inspection of cooling towers. The OAG found several causes for the alleged violations, including disorganized accountability, communication and tracking failures, and a lack of central policies and procedures within the company.
Under the agreement, Verizon must establish a range of practices and procedures that will increase accountability and tracking, including:
- Ensuring that building managers, whether Verizon employees or third-party contractors, report to and are accountable to environmental health and safety compliance personnel with regard to cooling tower compliance responsibilities;
- Maintaining a centralized tracking system for cooling tower compliance deadlines, including corrective action deadlines as they may arise;
- Notifying senior Verizon management about any violation at a cooling tower, or when any laboratory report is received showing Legionella or other bacteria test results above specified concentrations; and
- Performing an annual audit for compliance with these policies and procedures.
Additionally, the agreement requires Verizon to pay a penalty of $118,000 to be used by OAG to fund projects that prevent, abate, mitigate, or control air pollution or its health impacts.
The OAG’s investigation into other cooling tower owners in New York state for compliance with anti-Legionnaires’ disease laws is ongoing.
Defendant Pleaded Guilty to Arson
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for pouring lighter fluid into a bedroom window and then lighting it on fire. Inside the home was the mother of the defendant’s child and their infant child-in-common, as well as the victim’s father and his two minor children.
District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant got into an argument the night before with one of the victims, the mother of his child, then lit their home on fire. Luckily no one inside the home was injured, which included an infant and two other children who were rescued by their adult relatives who pulled down the burning curtains and put the flames out with a bucket of water.”
District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Kamal Kerr, 34, was sentenced June 2, 2022 to seven and a half years in prison by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Marsha Michael. The defendant pleaded guilty to third-degree Arson on May 5, 2022.
According to the investigation, in the early morning hours of October 15, 2019, after getting into an argument with one of the victims the previous evening, the defendant went to the victims’ home at Bronx Boulevard in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx after picking up a jug of lighter fluid. He then went to the back of the home and poured the fluid into the bedroom window. Kerr then took debris from the backyard, ignited it, and left it in the window, starting the fire. The surrounding curtains erupted in flames while the family was inside the home.
District Attorney Clark also thanked Fire Marshal Craig Gundersen and retired Fire Marshal Stephen Laureno from the FDNY Special Investigations Unit for their assistance in the investigation.
Statewide 7-Day Average Case Rate Has Dropped Approximately 58 Percent Since Recent High
COVID-19 Hospital Admissions Down Nearly 20 Percent Over Last Week Versus Prior Seven Days
25 Counties Now Considered "Low" per CDC Community Level Map, Previously Just 9; NYC Moved to "Medium", Previously was "High"
Governor Encourages New Yorkers to Keep Using the Tools to Protect Against and Treat COVID-19: Vaccines, Boosters, Testing, and Treatment
22 Statewide Deaths Reported Yesterday
Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.
"While we continue to see numbers head in the right direction, we aren't letting our guard down when it comes to boosting our preparedness for any potential surges later this year," Governor Hochul said. "I encourage New Yorkers to keep using the tools we have available to us to keep each other safe and healthy. Be sure to keep up to date with vaccinations and booster doses to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness and hospitalization. Test often, especially if you are experiencing symptoms, and if you test positive, talk to your doctor about available treatments."
Today's data is summarized briefly below:
- Cases Per 100k - 40.31
- 7-Day Average Cases Per 100k - 29.84
- Test Results Reported - 128,887
- Total Positive - 7,877
- Percent Positive - 5.63%**
- 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 6.53%**
- Patient Hospitalization - 2,332 (-77)
- Patients Newly Admitted - 377
- Patients in ICU - 221 (+2)
- Patients in ICU with Intubation - 85 (+5)
- Total Discharges - 308,426 (+414)
- New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 22
- Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 56,151
** Due to the test reporting policy change by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and several other factors, the most reliable metric to measure virus impact on a community is the case per 100,000 data -- not percent positivity.
The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.
Important Note: Effective Monday, April 4, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is no longer requiring testing facilities that use COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to report negative results. As a result, New York State's percent positive metric will be computed using only lab-reported PCR results. Positive antigen tests will still be reported to New York State and reporting of new daily cases and cases per 100k will continue to include both PCR and antigen tests. Due to this change and other factors, including changes in testing practices, the most reliable metric to measure virus impact on a community is the case per 100,000 data -- not percent positivity.
- Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 71,670
This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.
- Total vaccine doses administered - 38,974,246
- Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 17,279
- Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 100,522
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 92.6%
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 84.1%
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 95.0%
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 87.5%
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 12-17 with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 83.7%
- Percent of New Yorkers ages 12-17 with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 73.6%
- Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 82.2%
- Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 74.5%
- Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 90.7%
- Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 77.5%
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Thursday, June 2, 2022