It’s great to be home
Over the past three weeks, I’ve had an exciting time back in the district meeting with constituents and community leaders, stopping by our local small businesses, and helping to bring Rockland County’s first state-run COVID-19 mass vaccination site into existence. It’s been great to be back home talking with and hearing from so many of you. As we wrap up this District Work Period, I want to share a few highlights.
Securing Rockland’s First COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site
For months, as New York State opened dozens of state-run mass vaccination sites all across New York, Rockland County was left behind. Folks had to drive across the Hudson River to Westchester County, into the city, or upstate just to get vaccinated.
After repeated calls for Governor Cuomo to take action, Rockland finally received a state-run mass vaccination site late last week. It is unacceptable that the people of Rockland, which has the overall highest rate of COVID-19 infection in the state, were forced to go this long without their own vaccination site. I said this to Governor Cuomo directly by phone in early February, and my staff has been working hard for months to convey to the Governor’s staff the urgent need for Rockland to have its own mass vaccination site.
I’m grateful for the partnership of my colleagues at the state and local levels in our fight to correct this injustice, and I’ll keep working to ensure an equitable and efficient vaccination effort across our congressional district and beyond.
The Rockland vaccination center is now open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, seven days a week. Eligible residents can schedule appointments by visiting New York State’s 'Am I Eligible' website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at (833) 697-4829.
Supporting Our Small Businesses
This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Ossining and Port Chester, where I spoke to the owners of small businesses, including First Village Coffee, Theater O, HealthSmart Pharmacy, and Risko Music, as well as local restaurants, including Tandoori Taste of India and Inca & Gaucho, many of which have received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help keep their businesses afloat.
The business owners I spoke with told me how vital the PPP and other relief programs have been to keeping their doors open and their employees on payroll. That’s why the American Rescue Plan, which I helped pass into law last month, authorized an additional $7.25 billion in funding for the PPP, as well as $15 billion in additional Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small businesses and nonprofit organizations experiencing lost revenue, along with $28.7 billion for a new Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a Small Business Administration (SBA) program to assist restaurants with expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, and supplies.
Funding Our Community Health Centers
Throughout the past year, our community health centers have gone above and beyond to keep the people of Westchester and Rockland safe and healthy.
Now it’s our turn to help them, which is why I’m proud to have helped secure more than $70 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan for three community health centers in Westchester and Rockland. This past week, I stopped by one of them, Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining, which will receive $14 million to expand its COVID-19 vaccination and treatment operations.
Our health centers have been on the front lines of this crisis in our communities, and are well-suited to reach many of our most marginalized community members. This funding will help ensure that they can.
Fighting for Our Public Schools
I am thrilled that the American Rescue Plan provides hundreds of millions of dollars to our congressional district’s various school districts. It is no exaggeration to say that this money will be transformative for students, teachers, and staff in high-need school districts like the East Ramapo Central School District, which earlier this year had announced the need to lay off more than 30 staff members and combine classes. But this funding will only have the desired impact if it is spent according to the requirements in the American Rescue Plan, which is why this week I announced the creation of the East Ramapo Public Schools Advisory Task Force, which I will co-chair alongside ERCSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Ray Giamartino to help ensure the money is spent to further public school education.
This task force, which will meet regularly and consist of a diverse array of stakeholders from the public school community, will help advise Dr. Giamartino and school district staff on the distribution of this historic level of funding. To ensure this task force truly reflects the interests of public school students in East Ramapo, the group will include representatives from local community groups like the Spring Valley NAACP, the PTA, and the student body itself.
As always, my office is here to serve you. If you or your family need assistance with federal agencies or in response to COVID-19, please call my office at (914) 323-5550.
Member of Congress