New Yorkers freed from COVID-19 state of emergency as governor cancels order

Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Monday that a COVID-19 emergency order she has twice extended will expire tonight for New Yorkers.

Updated: September 12, 2022 - 10:45pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Monday that a COVID-19 emergency order she has twice extended will expire tonight for New Yorkers.

According to multiple media reports, the Democrat made the statement after an event at the National Urban League’s headquarters in New York City. Critics and analysts quickly pointed to the Nov. 8 election against Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, and his rally into her once significant-sized lead.

Hochul twice has extended the emergency, one of many for the state, first put in place by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She succeeded him in office after his resignation in August 2021.

Among the actions Hochul took with the order was a suspension of the state’s finance law dealing with the “purchase of necessary commodities, services, technology, and materials without following the standard notice and procurement processes.”

Hochul’s decision comes four days after the Albany Times Union reported that a company founded by a donor to her gubernatorial campaign sold 52 million home-use COVID-19 tests for $637 million. The $12.25-per-test rate was significantly higher than other vendors, with some receiving around $5 per test.

“We’re feeling comfortable that we can suspend them,” Hochul said Monday, according to Gothamist. “We have been following the normal procurement rules for some time, but this allowed us some other extraordinary measures that we won’t need right now.”

Zeldin, congressman from the 1st District since 2015, didn't miss an opportunity.

He tweeted, "Today, Kickback Kathy Hochul’s self-claimed COVID emergency powers finally come to an end. This should have happened a VERY long time ago. With this power, she suspended NY's competitive bidding laws & awarded an overpriced $600M+ COVID testing contract to one of her top donors."

Hochul has recently taken other steps regarding the pandemic, including ending the requirement for masks to be worn in public transportation settings such as airports, taxis, subways and buses. Masks are also no longer required at homeless shelters and jails.

It was unclear whether other orders, such as one dealing with health-care staffing shortages, would also be allowed to expire on Sept. 27. A message to the governor’s office was not immediately returned Monday evening.

The governor’s office did announce Monday afternoon that 30 deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported. New York’s death total due to the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, now stands at 73,897.

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