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‘Dangerous and divisive’: NY Officials slam Gov. Cuomo for singling out Jews in new COVID-19 orders

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A group of four New York officials sent a letter Tuesday condemning the State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for singling out the Orthodox Jewish community in his renewed lockdown orders amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. State Senator Simcha Felder, State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, City Councilman Kalman Yeger, and City Councilman Chaim Deutsch all signed onto the letter and said they’re “appalled by Governor Cuomo’s words and actions.”

“He [Gov. Cuomo] has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,” the officials wrote. “His administration’s utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic, and particularly recently as we face this uptick.”

“Though we are representative of ‘hotspot’ neighborhoods, we have been disincluded from conversations with the governor and his leadership team as they made devastating decisions affecting the people we serve.”

Gov. Cuomo spoke with members of the Orthodox Jewish community Tuesday after earlier threatening to shut down synagogues and defends that he’s taken action ‘out of respect and love’ for them. However, the community leaders argue that it’s just a “duplicitous bait-and-switch.” And a number of the members of the community took to the streets Tuesday night to protest Gov. Cuomo’s orders.

“The governor informed Jewish leaders in a conference call that synagogues in ‘red zones’ would be permitted to operate at 50% and he requested community cooperation (which he was assured would happen),” the group said in Tuesday’s letter to Cuomo.

“Outrageously, just hours later, Governor Cuomo announced a draconian return to restrictions that would shutter thousands of New York businesses and limit houses of worship to a maximum capacity of 10 (no matter the maximum capacity of the building.”

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The officials also noted that the community is made up of “Holocaust survivors and their descendants for whom his language was reminiscent of past verbal attacks on Jewish communities.”

On Monday, when Gov. Cuomo threatened to shut down synagogues, he used a picture to show the Jewish community gathering that happened to be fourteen years old. He later apologized, saying it was “a staff error” that was corrected “during the last 10 minutes” of his press conference.”

To the lawmakers representing those communities, the mistake was “outrageous” and they said it “left the implication that Orthodox Jews alone are responsible for rising COVID cases in New York State,” adding there’s no data to support such a claim.

The leaders said they have made efforts to encourage mask wearing and social distancing in the communities they represent and that instead of joining in that effort, the governor has chosen to pursue “threats and aggresive enforcement.”

“That said, it is disgraceful that Governor Cuomo would impose these restrictions targeting our community in the midst of our Jewish holidays. Because of his unilateral and irresponsible acts, our community is rightfully shocked, angered, and highly frustrated. Americans are constitutionally permitted to worship freely, and Governor Cuomo may be assured that we intend to exercise that right without the interference. G-d Bless America,” the letter concludes.

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Healthcare

CA to provide all low-income illegal immigrants health care at a cost of ‘$2.7 billion a year’

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On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $307.9 billion operating budget “that pledges to make all low-income adults eligible for the state’s Medicaid program by 2024 regardless of their immigration status” reports the Associated Press.

The guarantee of free health care for low-income immigrants here illegally, is a “move that will provide coverage for an additional 764,000 people at an eventual cost of about $2.7 billion a year” adds the AP.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care nonprofit, people living in the country illegally in 2020 accounted for roughly 7% of the population nationwide, or about 22.1 million people. The border crisis and number of migrants entering the United States illegally has skyrocketed to historic levels since 2020 when President Joe Biden took office.

Medicaid nationwide is the current combination of federal and state governments assisting Americans and low-income adults and children to receive free health care, but the federal government does not cover those living here illegally.

“Some states, including California, have used their own tax dollars to cover a portion of health care expenses for some low-income immigrants” reports the AP. “Now, California wants to be the first to do that for everyone.”

“This will represent the biggest expansion of coverage in the nation since the start of the Affordable Care Act in 2014,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a statewide consumer health care advocacy group. “In California we recognize (that) everybody benefits when everyone is covered.”

While 92% of Californians currently have some form of health insurance, “that will change once this budget is fully implemented, as adults living in the country illegally make up one of the largest groups of people without insurance in the state” the AP concludes.

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