Written by Michael Goot in The Post-Star on March 30, 2020

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is asking Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to consider retrofitting old hospitals and facilities across upstate New York to increase capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stefanik co-authored a letter with U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, making the request.

“We are particularly concerned with the shortage of hospital beds, certain medical supplies and personal protective equipment, and facilities to accommodate patients. We strongly encourage you to consider Upstate New York when deploying these resources, including communities across New York’s 21st and 22nd districts,” they wrote.

Supporting rural hospitals

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is co-sponsoring a bill to provide relief to rural hospitals to help address the coronavirus crisis.

The Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act would provide a one-time grant to these hospitals equal to $1,000 per patient per day for three months. It would also increase Medicare reimbursement by 20% for patients in rural hospitals and use the swing bed program that allows rural hospitals to provide some beds for acute care, according to a news release. It also would provide a one-time grant to all providers and ambulatory surgery centers equal to their total payroll from Jan. 1, 2019 through April 1, 2019.

Rural hospitals are those facilities that are not located in a metropolitan area.

“We must continue to equip our hospitals and health care professionals with the funding and supplies they need to keep our communities protected and healthy,” she said in a news release.

Seeking protection for correctional officers

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement safety precautions and provide additional personal protective equipment to state and federal prisons in the North Country in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The leader of the union representing New York corrections officers and numerous other prison staffers has tested positive for COVID-19 virus, the union said Monday.

Stefanik is seeking more personal protective equipment for correctional officers, as well as enhanced information sharing between both federal and state prisons and county public health offices.

“Our correctional officers and prison officials do important work that must continue during the COVID-19 crisis, and the lack of PPE is unacceptable. As it stands right now, correctional officers are not allowed to bring their own PPE from home,” she said in a news release.

Helping farms

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is seeking help from the federal government in making sure that migrant workers have the ability to access the H-2A visa program.

Farms depend on these laborers during the growing season.

The letter is signed by members of the New York congressional delegation and requests information on federal efforts that will be undertaken in the coming weeks to maintain accessible guidance for participants in work-based immigrant visa programs.

“Our farmers are facing an unprecedented challenge in keeping America’s food supply chain secure during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Stefanik said in a news release. “The farms and businesses in the North Country who rely on work visa programs to fill their labor gap need answers. I have heard from many farmers about the strain that uncertainty in the workforce will place on their ability to have successful growing and planting seasons.”

Warren County judge race

There will be a Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring Warren County Court Judge John Hall.

Seeking the Democratic line are Glens Falls City Court Judge Nikki Moreschi and Queesnhury lawyer Greg Canale.

The primary will take place on June 23. It may occur by mail-in ballot because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Moreschi and Rob Smith, principal court attorney for Hall, are vying for the Independence Party line. Smith has the Republican nomination. Moreschi is unopposed on the Working Families Party, Green Party and Libertarian ballot lines.

Saratoga Family Court judge race

Supporters for the challenger running against the incumbent Saratoga County Family Court Judge Jennifer Jensen Bergan have filed objections seeking to knock her off the Republican primary ballot.

Supporters of Ballston Republican Committee member Amy Knussman have filed the objections on March 23. Jensen Bergan said in news release that she has not filed any objections to her opponent’s petitions.

“The fact volunteers are so committed to a candidate’s success that they would risk their own health and possibly that of their loved ones by collecting signatures is not something anyone should disrespect,” she said in a news release.

Jensen Bergan has served in the court for almost 10 years and resolved more than 17,000 cases.

Knussman did not return a Facebook message seeking comment on the objections filed by her supporters.

Reach Michael Goot at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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