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Budget deadline down to the wire, as lawmakers struggle with coronavirus fallout

The deadline for the state budget is midnight March 31, and lawmakers, facing a massive deficit, are meeting at the State Capitol, which is off-limits to the public. Meanwhile, yet another legislator has tested positive for the coronavirus. The latest to become sick is Sen. Jim Seward, a Republican from Oneonta who's the ranking minority member on the Finance Committee. Seward, who is receiving cancer treatments, has had mild symptoms from COVID-19 and will be discharged from the hospital...

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The deadline for the state budget is midnight March 31, and lawmakers, facing a massive deficit, are meeting at the State Capitol, which is off-limits to the public.

Meanwhile, yet another legislator has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Instead of filing into courtrooms, judges, attorneys, and litigants in some civil and criminal cases are now logging onto Skype.

It's way to keep legal proceedings moving in the age of coronavirus.

The 7th Judicial District, which covers all the state, county, town, and village courts in Monroe and seven surrounding counties, went virtual on Monday.

That means only a handful of people are in an actual courtroom for legal proceedings. The rest are on a video conference call and only for cases that are deemed essential.

A new poll by Siena College shows a big change of fortune for Governor Andrew Cuomo, with 87% approving of his handling of the coronavirus.

In addition to high ratings on how Cuomo’s dealing with deadly virus, Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg says the Governor’s favorable rating, which for years has hovered in the mid 40% to around 50%, (in February of 2020 his approval rating was just 44%), is now much higher.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses and ban on gatherings in New York for another two weeks, through April 15. That time period includes the Passover and Easter holidays.

Cuomo says he knows it will be difficult, but as the rate of the virus in New York continues to climb, it seems necessary to extend the ban through the spring holidays.

“It’s hard,” Cuomo said.

But he says in the City of New Rochelle, New York’s first coronavirus hotspot, people attending religious services helped spread the virus.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says that 51 people have been released from the county jail, at the direction of the New York State Division of Parole.

Baxter says that none of them had flu-like symptoms and there are no COVID-19 cases in the jail.

New York will be moving its presidential primary due to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that the April 28 primary will move moved to June 23, when a number of other federal, state and local elections are being held.

He said it just makes sense when officials are trying to limit the spread of the virus.

“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote. A lot of people touching one door knob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the new device on the ballots,” Cuomo told reporters.

As hospitals work to make room for an anticipated wave of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, some parts of their operations have become eerily empty.

In the pediatric emergency department at Golisano Children’s Hospital, there’s still a dull hum of machinery under the intermittent beeps of monitors. But Dr. Elizabeth Murray says it’s a far cry from the usual cacophony.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing a state budget deadline in less than a week, is out with a new proposal to try to cope as the state faces a multibillion-dollar budget gap and much uncertainty, with the economy shut down due to coronavirus.

Both Wegmans and Tops have added some additional safety measures at their stores, or are in the process of doing that now.

Wegmans and Tops are both putting plexiglass shields on at front end registers and pharmacy counters because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wegmans says its shields were first tested at the Chili store and have now been rolled out the other 100  locations.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package “the exact kind of medicine” that the nation and the state needs. 

During a conference call with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday, Schumer said nearly every New Yorker will likely be touched by the aid package.

“We can tell New Yorkers that help is on the way,” said Schumer. “It's quick aid and large aid, big aid.”

The package includes billions for state and county governments, including $128 million for Monroe County, and funding for transit systems like RTS, hospitals, small businesses, nonprofits, Native American reservations, and extended unemployment payments.