New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suspends student, medical debt during coronavirus crisis

(NEW YORK) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has temporarily suspended all medical and student debt owed to the state amid the coronavirus crisis.

The collection of medical and student debt will be halted for at least a 30-day period, through April 15, according to a statement released by Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday.

“Countless New Yorkers have been impacted — directly or indirectly — by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business,” the statement read. “In an effort to support these workers and families and ease their financial burdens, the OAG will halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the OAG for collection from March 16, 2020 through April 15, 2020.”

The decision on whether to extend the suspension will be assessed during that time period.

In addition, New York will also be accepting applications for the suspension of all other types of debt owed to the state and referred for collection.

“As the financial impact of this emerging crisis grows, we are doing everything we can to support the thousands of New Yorkers that are suffering due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cuomo said. “This new action to temporarily suspend the collection of debt owed to the state will help mitigate the adverse financial impact of the outbreak on individuals, families, communities and businesses in New York State, as we continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Cuomo urged New Yorkers to practice “kindness” in times of chaos.

“Be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative,” he said during a news conference. “And we will get through this time.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a press conference at the White House Tuesday that that the administration is looking at sending checks directly to American households to ease the financial burden caused by the outbreak.

“What we heard from hardworking Americans, many companies are now shut down, whether bars or restaurants — Americans need cash now and the president wants to get them cash now,” he said. “I mean now in the next two weeks.”

Washington state is also looking into a debt-relief program for residents, as state governments grapple with the virus’ economic fallout.

Washington’s program would include deferred bills, no-interest loans, debt and late-penalty forgiveness for companies and workers, and favorable credit terms for firms that encounter cash-flow programs during the crisis, according to a statement on the governor’s website.

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