Coronavirus & Our Local Communities

A message from Vision Long Island and
the Long Island Main Street Alliance…

Helping Main Street through Coronavirus

Day 11 of shutdown – Thursday March 26, 2020

So we are at day 11 of the shutdown and a great deal of confusion continues.

Vision & the LI Main Street Alliance participated in a webinar with 500 Long Islanders on grants to local government and not-for-profits.  There are calls tomorrow for info on how to apply for SBA Disaster loans as well.  Links for all of those calls are below.

The layoffs continue but some clarity on the Coronavirus stimulus package from the federal government is starting to emerge.

We are also seeing some more community to community level philanthropy, which continues to be just beautiful.  Unfortunately, we have also seen continued hoarding and strange to bad behavior from folks.  Crisis brings out the best and worst in people and we are still early in this, so hopefully some behavior can be corrected.

The Governor’s call for manufacturing masks and ventilators is being met with creativity from many small businesses, and the donation drives for personal protective gear for front line providers is yielding results.

It goes without saying that the front line providers in health care, police, ambulance, food services and many others are working around the clock and are the true heroes in this.

As we head into the weekend, please think about supporting your local businesses at least once if not multiple times.  We have spoken to nearly 270 in over 40 downtown communities and they need your help too.

So here are some updates for today:

• Unemployment Numbers are trickling in, and they don’t tell the full story

Over 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment in the past week alone. That number includes 80,000 in NY, but there are many more as folks can’t navigate to the website as it keeps crashing due to volume. 

That is not simply an eye catching statistic, but real people with lives upended. For the folks that are still working, Vision hopes that you are:

1) Humble, sober and aware of the fact that right now millions of Americans are in pain.
2) If you have the resources are attempting to help local folks by patronizing open small businesses in an effort to limit further job losses.
3) Donating to local food pantries.
4) Donating other resources directly to real people you may know who are currently in need.
5) Looking to local groups to donate resources if you are able as they are the ones on the ground and giving help where it’s needed most.

• Folks are answering Governor Cuomo’s call for ventilators, masks:

The Business Incubator Association has created an invitation to ventilate.   

The LI Racing Association folks have a gofundme page to increase production of their reusable n95 masks.

A Long Island Distillery is making hand sanitizer.

• The NYS Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has weblinks for assistance here.

• Folks can check out this stimulus calculator that tells you what you might receive in the form of a direct payment from the Federal government.

• The LI Main Street Alliance encourages small businesses and not for profits to register for a free webinar held by the Queens Chamber of Commerce on how to apply for the SBA Economic injury disaster loan.   

Newsday and the LIA will be doing a business resource call as well.   You can register here.

The free New York State business advisement services of the Small Business Centers at Stony Brook University and Farmingdale are also available to assist.

• Gary Labarbara from the NYS Building Trades Council speaks about safety for construction workers.

• Some tips on bills you need to pay and some that you don’t as this crisis gets prolonged.

• Facebook has grants for small businesses

• Kiva has grants for small business

• Folks need Food: If you are in need of food Island Harvest has their food locater and is working round the clock to continue supplies to those in need

• Blood is needed:
The New York Blood Center said it is in urgent need of donors, since coronavirus concerns have resulted in “critically low blood and platelet appointments” across Long Island.  The NYBC has six centers in Nassau and Suffolk and said safety protocols are in place as they urge healthy individuals, who have not been exposed to coronavirus, to donate.  The NYBC said if you are unsure if you can donate, you can ask their experts at 800-688-0900.

• Domestic Violence is up 10%:
Many experts in the area of domestic violence prevention have pointed out lately that Isolation and unemployment are a recipe for disaster in a household with a history of intimate partner violence.  If you need help, contact the Safe Center 24/7 at 516-542-0404 or the NY Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 800-942-6906.  If you are in any personal crisis, you can also call the Long Island Crisis Center 24/7 hotline at 516-679-1111.

• How is your mental health?

A mental health hotline is available to New Yorkers who need it. We can’t underestimate the impact this pandemic is having on mental health. Over 6,000 mental health professionals have volunteered their time to help with New York’s Coronavirus response. For free emotional support, consultation and referral to a provider, call 1-844-863-9314

• National Grid is having virtual hearings on short and long term energy supply solutions

• PSEG has a Coronavirus page that is updated regularly

• The IRS has created a Q&A page with information on what you need to do with your taxes.

• Nassau County and Suffolk County are surveying small businesses:
The Nassau County survey is here.
The Suffolk County survey is here.

• New York State has a Coronavirus hotline and website for information or to schedule a test.  Please call 888-364-3065, or navigate to here.

• 30,000 New Yorkers have responded to the call for retired nurses and doctors along with medical school students.   If you want to serve you can go here.

• NYS is supplying their hand sanitizer to front line providers on an as need basis.  Here is the request form.

• Nassau & Suffolk County need Emergency Personal protective Equipment – Drive is underway.   Info is here.

• If someone is looking for a procurement opportunity through the state you can fill out this form.

• We are starting to see some Corporate Philanthropy develop that has been missing through this crisis.   Stay tuned for a more thorough report…

– Pink Tie and the LI Nets have developed a Pink Tie delivers program – more on that in the coming days.
– Trader Joe’s has been making donations to local food pantries
– A number of grants for displaced local artists are starting to emerge
– Anna Wintour has set up a fund for folks in the fashion industry who are displaced.
– Bank of America has dedicated a $100 million fund nationwide.
– The Long Island East End Group purchased 15,000 masks for distribution to front line providers.
– In addition the United Way, The Townwide Fund of Huntington and the 1763 Foundation are all raising money to distribute to folks that meet their guidelines. 

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks stay tuned daily for updates on the range of actions taken to get us through this public health and economic crisis. 

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.  

 

Previous Messages

Day 1 of shutdown – Monday, March 16th, 2020

We have been getting many calls these last two weeks and talking to a number of small businesses in our downtowns.   Simply put the real experiences folks are going through range from not great to potentially life altering.

So the world has changed radically in the last two months. At our LI Main Street Alliance meeting in late January there were updates from 20 communities that were experiencing or looking forward to investments in their downtowns and many more revitalization plans on the way. The local businesses were functioning well even through the winter which is always a tough time for any business.

With the advent of Coronavirus we have seen and are hearing a 40-50% reduction in most restaurants, bars and local services. The grocery store and pharmacies may be mobbed but the independent small businesses you love may not be there or radically restructured in the coming months.

We recognize that the major focus of our national media coverage has been – correctly – the health impacts of the virus and things we can do to limit its spread. Where it has veered into economics it’s been a discussion of the stock market on Wall Street.

What hasn’t been covered much is the economic impact to real people on Main Street of the shut down efforts to date and those that are upcoming.

It is really simple the bulk of our economy is centered around residents and business owners spending money and the supply chains that follow. If folks aren’t out downtowns have trouble functioning.

Tonight at 8pm the first wave of quarantine efforts will commence which will shut down restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theatres and limit gatherings of more than 50 people. 

We will be getting into more details in the coming days on ways that Main Street businesses can survive this crisis and what you can do to help them before any further governmentally imposed quarantine is put in place.

What folks can be doing to help their Main Street right now before large scale quarantine’s are in place is to:

1)  Regularly select take out or delivery services to independent small businesses.   Where possible order services or products from their websites in the absence of showing up at their door. 
  
2) Purchase gift certificates from your local stores or restaurants in order to get them desperately needed cash given the pending shut down of day to day activities.

3) Lobby for the Federal government to fast track SBA loans without red tape.  If this requires partnering with local government, who know these communities better, to help administer them make it happen.  Loans of up to $2 million  are available but need to be implemented quickly.

4) Lobby to create small grants and other resources for our local Main Street businesses.  A Small Business Stabilization Fund, like the one created in Seattle as part of their Coronavirus response, provides grants of $10,000 and is a helpful stopgap measure to keep smaller operations running.     The Federal or NYS government should put an aid package together that will help keep the lights on for medium scale local businesses, those that might not be small enough for a grant but may not qualify for an SBA loan.   

5) Lobby to pass the NYS Small Business Savings Accounts legislation that has stalled in Albany for the last five years.   If that was passed five years ago local businesses now under a State of Emergency could access those tax free accounts that are in the form of an IRA to make payroll and operational costs through this difficult time.   The entire idea, sadly ahead of its time, was to have these stores access capital in times of emergency or recession. 

In the coming weeks Vision and the Long Island Main Street Alliance and our local partners will be working to ensure that the impact to our local downtowns is minimized and resources come forward to help local businesses and communities through this crisis. 

Seven and a half years ago we worked successfully with our friends on the South Shore as their lives were turned upside down through Sandy.   We will work now to ensure that the same concerns from last time – lack of consistent information, glacially slow public response/support from government programs and lack of private resources moving directly to real impacted people is not repeated.   There are good, professional staff within government and volunteers outside government in the private sector looking to assist.

We will get through this but it will require our collective support from the community level on up.   Please contact us to join the LI Main Street Alliance and tell us if you are willing to help at ea@visionlongisland.org

Day 3 of shutdown – Wednesday March 18, 2020

The last month of the Coronavirus public health and  economic crisis and resulting shutdowns of the last few days have been devastating to Main Street businesses, workers, associated industries and varying supply chains. 

We have communicated with over 120 independent small business and have heard their experiences as they were down on average 40-50% before the shutdown this week.   Of the business that are still open many are now over 80% down.  Some small businesses are temporarily closed and some considering permanent closure.   Unconfirmed projections of tens of thousands have been laid off this week due to the forced closures.   The March unemployment report will start to tell the story of the folks seeking fast tracked unemployment insurance.

Here are a few brief notes on what is going on around the island in response to the shutdown:

The very good news is that larger government entities that had been battling in a polarized fashion for years now have been working together in a bipartisan manner to bring resources from Washington.   NYS has also mobilized to put multiple testing sites in Jones Beach, Stony Brook with more to come. 

The other bit of good news is that the media is now starting to focus on the impacts to our downtowns, local businesses and workforce in addition to public health needs and the status of Wall Street.  This is happening because local businesses are stepping up to tell their story as our the many folks who patronize these establishment.  The “Shop Local” spirit that has been emerging for many years is rallying at this point.

The more we can get information out from local communities to the broader public and to policy makers of the real needs, resources and the experiences of residents and local businesses the better the wide ranging governmental decisions will be.

Residents and business owners are overwhelmed during this time but Vision and the members of the LI Main Street Alliance are looking to keep you updated with links, resources and real people to assist in pulling together through this unprecedented crisis.  

You can help by patronizing small businesses by takeout, delivery  or gift certificates.  You can also help many in need by donating to a local food pantry.  You can also ask larger national and regional companies that do business on Long Island what their commitment is to corporate philanthropy during this time of need. 

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available to folks.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org.  

Stay healthy, safe and while we can be physically distant let’s keep our communities and Main Streets together!

Day 4 of shutdown – Thursday March 19, 2020

A whirlwind of community activity, lots of conflicting information and folks looking for answers to many questions they have about their present situation and of course deep anxieties about the future.  

Here are some updates as we learn them:

Details are emerging on the prospect of applying for SBA Loans: Not for profits are also eligible for these disaster loans. NYS applied for disaster declaration earlier this week and and the Federal government just approved them so the portal should be open to apply.

The Office of Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, Small Business Development Center in Farmingdale, Nassau County IDA, Suffolk County IDA, the Town of Babylon IDA, and Town of Brookhaven IDA have also all issued memorandums with tip sheets that help guide people through the Federal process.

In short, folks should get their paperwork together and apply for these loans if it makes sense for your business or non-profit.

No word yet on any grants available like the limited ones other cities have put in place.

Communities are banding together in ways we have not seen since Sandy which is beyond heartening. 

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks.   We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.  

Day 5 of shutdown – Friday March 20, 2020

The hits just keep coming….

So the day started with a shutdown of barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors for 8pm on Saturday night.    By noon the notice was a complete shutdown of all businesses for all but essential services by 8pm on Sunday night.  Thankfully there is a multipage guidance document on essential services that includes a number of business categories with food delivery from restaurants and bars allowed. 

Lots of misinformation and confusion today from all corners as local communities brace for more regulations. 

Projections have that 500,000 jobs have or soon will be lost to this public health crisis.    Very possible that more lives will be destroyed by the economic impact of these measures than that of the virus.

For now we have to recognize that we are all moving forward with a public health crisis and an economic crisis disproportionately impacting small businesses simultaneously.

Vision has now spoken with over 160 independent small businesses in 25 communities and the ones still open share that they are close to 90% down. 

Here are some of the actions today to be reported:

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks.  

We will be getting video information out to people in the coming week so stay tuned.

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.   

 

Day 8 of shutdown – Monday March 23, 2020

Ok so Monday, day 8 of the Coronavirus economic shutdown shows a real can-do approach from local community and small business leaders across Long Island who are helping each other by supporting local shops where possible and mutual aid all around.

There is much more communication between local leaders and the larger government response with lots of conference calls and virtual meetings, which is heartening.

We have now spoken to close to 225 small businesses in downtowns across Long Island and the damage is extensive.

Folks were critical that our first four community updates were Nassau downtowns (Hicksville, Farmingdale, Westbury & Mineola), so we now have updates from four Suffolk ones – Kings Park, Northport, Lindenhurst and Babylon.   Watch for more in the coming days.   

Here are some recent highlights from:

• The Treasury, IRS and Labor Dept. announced a plan to implement Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave.

• The Small Business Association announced an automatic deferment for loans from previous disasters.

• The most confusing issue over the weekend was what businesses are considered essential and which ones aren’t.  With rumors circulating and information changing this guidance document from NYS is very helpful.   
To request an exemption of get clarification from your potential nonessential status please fill out the form here.

• The Federal Center for Disease Control set up a website to combat rumors on the Coronavirus.

• Governor Cuomo continued his daily updates from with a discussion of federal coordination on hospital beds, medical equipment, number of cases, new testing opportunities and lots of other information.  The Governor also discussed a more refined governmental strategy in response to help the economy.

• Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is holding a virtual Town Hall on his Facebook page at 6:30 this evening.   Watch it live here.

• SUEZ – who manages Nassau’s major sewage treatment plants in Cedar Creek and Bay Park is urging residents to NOT flush wipes down the toilet but instead place in garbage.  

• Two hospitals on Long Island are selected as temporary hospitals.

• All NYS Department of Motor Vehicles licenses, ID’s and registrations are extended.   All offices closed and transactions are shifted to online service.

• NYS has put out a call for health related emergency personnel.

• National Grid has canceled their public meetings on short and long term energy supply options but holding them in a virtual format.

• Communication on the local level is happening:

Nassau County held a conference call to discuss their study on the economic impact of the Coronavirus.   The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers held a conference call to coordinate with local small businesses.

The Long Island Main Street Alliance is having conference calls with leaders of local downtown revitalization efforts to assess impacts.

Stay tuned for updates….

• Town of Hempstead Town Hall is closed with a hotline open to answer questions and concerns.

• The Town of Huntington closes parks and asks public to report violations of social distancing behavior.

• Dining Bonds created to help local small businesses.

• Folks are at home with their families and children for extended periods.   It’s important to know how to talk to your kids about Coronavirus so they don’t think we are living in an episode of Walking Dead.  Here is some guidance from PBS.

• Thomas Friedman wrote a thoughtful opinion piece on how to get the economy back on track without sacrificing public health.

• Celebrities have time on their hands and are letting us know how they feel including Danny Devito, Robert Deniro and Madonna encouraging folks to stay home.  Sean Penn was looking to send in the military.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was telling folks to stay home while smoking a cigar in his hot tub, Neil Diamond even wrote a song called “Hands Washing Hands” sung to the tune of Sweet Caroline..  

• We are starting to see some Corporate Philanthropy develop that has been missing through this crisis.   Stay tuned for a more thorough report.

– Pink Tie and the LI Nets have developed a Pink Tie delivers program – more on that in the coming days.
– Trader Joe’s has been making donations to local food pantries
– A number of grants for displaced local artists are starting to emerge
– Bank of America has dedicated a $100 million fund nationwide
– In addition the United Way, The Townwide Fund of Huntington and the 1763 Foundation are all raising money to distribute to folks that meet their guidelines.  

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks.  

We will be getting video information out to people in the coming week so stay tuned.

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.

Day 9 of shutdown – Tuesday March 24, 2020

So Tuesday, day 9, of the Coronavirus economic shutdown gave us a clearer picture of what is happening in local communities.  

We held two conference calls, one from each county with chamber, civic, and local government leaders to hear about 40 community updates.   There is a tremendous amount of local effort and organizing in each community to help folks move through this crisis.  Food is getting out to seniors and schoolkids, communication through local villages and networks is occurring virtually with a rally around the small businesses that are open for takeout, delivery and other services. 

We will have a complete writeup from most of these downtowns for tomorrow’s edition but for now here is some important news for folks:

• Governor Cuomo held his daily briefing on the increased numbers and desperate need for hospital beds in New York State. As cases of the virus spike, the state’s response is quickly reaching a critical point with over 25,000 confirmed positives currently in NYS with a statewide death toll of 210.  Almost 15,000 of the confirmed cases are currently located in New York City.  3,324 patients are currently hospitalized for treatment, with 756 of those being located in intensive care units.  The rate of hospitalization is now at 23%.
• New York State has a Coronavirus hotline and website for information or to schedule a test.
• 30,000 New Yorkers have responded to the call for retired nurses and doctors along with medical school students.   If you want to serve you can go here.
• NYS is supplying their hand sanitizer to front line providers on an as-need basis.   Here is the request form.
• Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will be doing a Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday March 25th at 6:30pm
• Nassau & Suffolk County need Emergency Personal protective Equipment – Drives are underway.   Info is below in the links and here.
• Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin provided a video update on essential services.
• Island Harvest continues their work and has a food locater on their website – folks should check that out.
• The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers has resources on their website so folks should check that out.    Nassau Chambers is updating theirs as well so another resource.
• If you are stir crazy with kids at home the Cradle of Aviation uses a video service to bring the museum to residents.
• We are starting to see some Corporate Philanthropy develop that has been missing through this crisis.   Stay tuned for a more thorough report…..

– Pink Tie and the LI Nets have developed a Pink Tie delivers program – more on that in the coming days.
– Trader Joe’s has been making donations to local food pantries
– A number of grants for displaced local artists are starting to emerge
– Bank of America has dedicated a $100 million fund nationwide.
– The Long Island East End Group purchased 15,000 masks for distribution to front line providers.
– In addition the United Way, The Townwide Fund of Huntington and the 1763 Foundation are all raising money to distribute to folks that meet their guidelines.  

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks.  

We will be getting video information out to people in the coming week so stay tuned.

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.  

Day 10 of shutdown – Wednesday March 25, 2020

The big news today was the final agreement on a multitrillion dollar aid package which will have at least $40 billion go to New York.  Of course this is heartening and we are hopeful these resources will go to the right places particularly to help people truly dislocated from their jobs, small businesses restart and the front line providers through this crisis.

We have connected with over 250 small businesses in over 40 downtowns with lots of community activity emerging and there will be more on that tomorrow but for now here are some updates.

• The Federal government agreed on a $2 trillion Coronavirus rescue bill.

• NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo provided another of his daily updates on the ongoing health crises in NYS while speaking from the Capitol Building in Albany.  The major bit of bad news was an additional 5,146 confirmed cases of Coronavirus across New York.

But a particular good bit of news was the recent success from New York’s call for volunteer health workers to help out with surging COVID-19 cases.  He noted that 40,000 healthcare workers have answered that call, including students and retirees, and will work on the front lines of the ongoing crises.  Meanwhile, more than 6,000 mental health professionals have signed up to provide free online mental health services to New Yorkers.  People can call 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment if they find themselves in need.

You can view the entire press conference here.

• Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will be doing a Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday March 25th at 6:30pm

• Due to the large influx of NYC residents seeking to isolate on the east end the Supervisors of Southold and Southampton have requested a travel ban be put in place for only essential personnel.  

• The Town of Huntington is planning for remote meetings

• The LI Main Street Alliance encourages small businesses and not for profits to register for a free webinar held by the Queens Chamber of Commerce on how to apply for the SBA Economic injury disaster loan. 

• Freddie Mac is prohibiting evictions on properties where their loans are in place.

• There is an unprecedented number of unemployment applications.  The website has been overloaded and call times are very long.

• The IRS has created a Q&A page with information on what you need to do with your taxes.

• Nassau County and Suffolk County are surveying small businesses on COVID-19’s impact:

The Nassau County survey is here.

The Suffolk County survey is here.

• New York State has a Coronavirus hotline and website for information or to schedule a test.  Please call 888-364-3065, or navigate to here.

• 30,000 New Yorkers have responded to the call for retired nurses and doctors along with medical school students.   If you want to serve you can go here.

• NYS is supplying their hand sanitizer to front line providers on an as need basis.  Here is the request form.

• Nassau & Suffolk County need Emergency Personal protective Equipment – Drive is underway.   Info is here.

• If someone is looking for a procurement opportunity through the state you can fill out this form.

• We are starting to see some Corporate Philanthropy develop that has been missing through this crisis.   Stay tuned for a more thorough report…

– Pink Tie and the LI Nets have developed a Pink Tie delivers program – more on that in the coming days.
– Trader Joe’s has been making donations to local food pantries
– A number of grants for displaced local artists are starting to emerge
– Anna Wintour has set up a fund for folks in the fashion industry who are displaced.
– Bank of America has dedicated a $100 million fund nationwide.
– The Long Island East End Group purchased 15,000 masks for distribution to front line providers.
– In addition the United Way, The Townwide Fund of Huntington and the 1763 Foundation are all raising money to distribute to folks that meet their guidelines.  

There is still a dearth of real community level information and tons of questions from folks.  

We need you out there to tell is what is happening and what resources are available.   No matter what please join the LI Main Street Alliance by emailing us at ea@visionlongisland.org or call 631-804-9128.