EDUCATION AND CHILD CARE
— The requirement for schools to be open for 180 days a year to receive state aid has been put on hold.
— Laws that mandate that the only cleaning products that schools and the state can purchase are those that “minimize adverse impacts on children’s health and the environment” are suspended to make it easier to sanitize schools. Similarly, the procurement guidelines on buying these products have been relaxed.
— A law mandating that child care providers undergo criminal background checks has been suspended.
— Day care facilities that operate out of elementary or secondary schools are no longer exempt from oversight by the Office of Children and Family Services.
— Twenty-one other sections of Social Services regulations and a couple of sections of Social Services law dealing with day care have been put on ice. These suspensions will end capacity limits for day care facilities, let children of any age attend them and eliminate mandatory staffing minimums.
— Petitioning requirements for candidates seeking office this year have been slashed to 30 percent of what they normally would be. So rather than the 1,250 signatures usually required of congressional candidates, for example, the new minimum will be 375. Candidates will have had to complete their petitioning by Tuesday, March 17 rather than the original date of April 2.
— The village elections that were scheduled across the state for March 18 have been suspended until April 28, the current date of the presidential primary.
— For the rest of March, voters will be allowed to cast absentee ballots by mail for any reason. The state constitution restricts absentee voting to instances when an individual is ill or out of the county in which they live, but “the potential for contraction of the COVID-19 virus” has been labeled a type of illness.
The village cancellations, coupled with New York City’s cancellation of a Queens borough president contest, means there won’t actually be any races to which this applies. But if the state decides to go ahead with the April 28 contests, it’s a safe bet this executive order will be reupped.
— Individuals who do not work for boards of elections are now allowed to help residents of nursing homes fill out absentee ballots.
— A wide number of safeguards surrounding the awarding of state contracts have been suspended “to allow the purchase of necessary commodities, services, technology, and materials” in a more expeditious manner.
— Several restrictions on appointing public officers, such as residency requirements, have been suspended.
— The state’s revolving door ban, which prohibits individuals who work for state government from immediately lobbying it upon their departure, does not apply to “volunteers or contractors” who come on board to help in the coming months.
— The anti-bribery statute does not apply to executive officials who are “facilitating contributions or donations to assist New York State in its response to the declared emergency.”
Similarly, the ban on giving gifts to officials does not apply if the gift in question “is made to the State and is administered by a state agency in furtherance of the response effort.”
— The Open Meetings Law has been adjusted to allow some agencies to meet without a quorum.
— All public bodies can now hold meetings by telephone if they wish, so long as their meeting is recorded and eventually transcribed.
— Courts have been given the authority to let defendants participate in hearings and trials remotely.
— Every state or local law dealing with construction, energy conservation, or building codes can be suspended by the Commissioner of Health when creating new hospitals or extensions to existing ones.
— Hospitals will no longer need to seek the state’s approval before making changes to their physical plants such as temporarily increasing their bed capacities.
— The health commissioner will have the power to unilaterally issue emergency regulations on any subject having to do with hospitals. And he’ll also be able to approve construction projects for extensions to hospitals without waiting on the approval of entities such as the Public Health and Health Planning Council.
— Department of Health regulations governing the discharge of patients have been suspended. Hospitals, for example, will no longer need to explain to a patient or a patient’s family member why a decision has been made to remove them from a bed.
— The requirements for assessing patients entering long-term care have been relaxed. So have the requirements for screening patients entering nursing homes.
— A regulation requiring patients entering nursing homes to have gotten approval from a physician first is no longer effective, and initial patient visits with individuals receiving home care no longer need to occur immediately.
— A massive section of regulations on the “minimum standards” governing hospitals — dealing with everything from patients’ rights to the maintaining of records — has been suspended “to the extent necessary to maintain the public health with respect to treatment or containment of individuals with or suspected to have COVID-19.”
— Regulations governing the physical space occupied by clinical laboratories is no longer effective “to the extent necessary to permit [them] to operate temporary collecting stations to collect specimen from individuals suspected of suffering from a COVID-19 infection.”
— The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities can now increase the occupancy of residential facilities for the disabled without going through an approval process or notifying local governments.
These facilities will no longer need to create written treatment plans for individuals who have newly come under their care if they need to focus on providing immediate treatment.
Facilities can take actions that limit their developmentally disabled residents’ ability to receive visitors or go on community actions. They can also “temporarily deviate from an individual’s service plan” if doing so protects that individual.
OPWDD can now “take emergency action” to revoke the operating certificates of facilities, circumventing the process for revocation spelled out in statute. And people hired to work in OPWDD facilities can receive “abbreviated training.”
— The formula used to determine which categories of care patients are eligible for has been suspended “to the extent necessary to allow patients affected by the disaster emergency” to be transferred to other facilities.
— The Department of Health can issue guidance on any subject relating to nursing homes that supersedes any existing state regulation or local rules.
— The Commissioner of Health will be able to establish a new training program that will let individuals who are not currently registered as nurses engage in tasks that one currently needs to be licensed for. They’ll be able to “collect throat or nasopharyngeal swab specimens” from potentially infected individuals and will generally be able to perform all other tasks “otherwise limited to the scope of practice of a licensed or registered nurse” as long as they’re being supervised by a nurse.
— A series of regulations dealing with nursing supervision is suspended to let “visits for personal care services provided to individuals affected by the disaster emergency” occur more quickly than they otherwise would be.
— Individuals with disabilities will no longer need to be “accompanied by same gender staff” while being transported from state facilities. This will “permit providers to utilize staff members in the most effective means possible.”
— People who are not licensed in the state as clinical laboratory technicians, but do “meet the federal requirements for high complexity testing,” will be allowed to preform Covid-19 tests.
— Doctors and nurse practitioners will be able to give nurses blanket authority to perform Covid-19 tests without supervision.
— Physicians who are licensed anywhere in the country are now eligible to practice in New York without getting a state license. The same goes for nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and nurses.
And individuals applying to work at hospitals can skip much of the rigorous screening process mandated by law if they’re already credentialed to work at a hospital in another state.
— The sections of law governing the Child Health Insurance Program are suspended “to the extent necessary to waive or revise eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, or premium contributions; modify covered health care services or the scope and level of such services set forth in contracts; increase subsidy payments to approved organizations, including the maximum dollar amount set forth in contracts; or provide extensions for required reports due by approved organizations in accordance with contracts.”
— Every state law and rule dealing with telemedicine is suspended to make it easier for these visits to occur. In-person visits are no longer required of patients hoping to participate, and more physicians will be allowed to participate. Additionally, patients no longer have the right to refuse treatment by telemedicine.
— The Commissioner of Health will have the power to make emergency changes to the State Sanitary Code, which governs everything from migrant labor camps to the maintenance of lists of communicable diseases that the public should be concerned about. That’s usually dealt with by PHHPC.
— Entities providing various home health care functions do not need to immediately produce assessments of visits, and they have been given the authority to conduct in-person visits “through indirect means, including by telephone or video communication.”
— Medical Indemnity Fund enrollees can now be reimbursed for the costs of cleaning and disinfection of primary residences.
— Home care workers will have more time to submit information to the Home Care Registry.
— A section of public health law detailing the approval process needed for giving a patient a drug that’s not on the state’s preferred list is suspended “to the extent necessary to allow patients to receive prescribed drugs, without delay.” So is a section of the Social Services Law that requires managed care providers to consult with prescribers before deciding whether to cover some drugs.
LABOR AND BUSINESS
— The one-week waiting period for qualifying for unemployment insurance has been waived for all applicants whose need “arises directly out of closings of schools or other workplaces in which claimants were employed, or out of claimants’ isolation or quarantine in connection with COVID-19.”
— Corporate boards previously needed the unanimous consent of their members to make decisions without holding a meeting. That requirement has been put on hold, letting more decision-making occur remotely.
— The hearings that are required when utility companies decide to raise rates or close customer service centers can now be held by conference call.
Public comments on the proposed siting of facilities for utility transmission and electric generation no longer need to be in person; written comments will suffice.
— Various limits on what kinds of vehicles can be on New York roads are being suspended, to let those “validly registered in other jurisdictions” participate in preparedness and response efforts.
— Restaurants and bars might no longer be allowed to serve patrons on their premises. But they’re now allowed to deliver alcoholic beverages or serve them to-go.
— Social workers can now conduct more screenings of individuals applying for public assistance by telephone.
— Agencies will no longer need to conduct assessments of seniors receiving meals delivered to their homes via state nutrition programs.
The state can temporarily let care plans for the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program continue indefinitely, rather than dedicating the resources needed to renew them every year.
— Several eligibility requirements for receiving child care assistance have been suspended, including those dealing with financial eligibility.
— When an individual challenges a decision made by an agency on their eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Home Energy Assistance Program, their hearings can now be conducted by “written, telephonic, video or other electronic means.