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Thousands in NYC Line Up at Food Pantry as Stay-at-Home Order Is Extended

Brian Ach/AP Images for NYC Healthcare Heroes

Just one day after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state-wide stay-at-home order would be extended until at least June 18, more than 3,000 residents in the Queens borough of NYC lined up at a food pantry. 


Despite early morning rain and chilly temperatures, New Yorkers desperate for food amid the economic collapse of their city showed up at St. Bartholomew’s Roman Catholic Church on Whitney Avenue before 5 a.m., five hours before the neighborhood food pantry was set to open at 10 a.m. 

New York was set to reopen at the end of May as the original stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Cuomo was due to expire on the 28th. On Thursday, however, Cuomo announced that most of the Empire State would phase an extended lockdown that will prevent much of the state from returning to work and life as normal. 

"The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, the North Country, and Central NY are ready to begin Phase 1 of reopening tomorrow," Cuomo said in a tweet on Thursday night. "The others can be UN-PAUSED the moment they hit their benchmarks."


The governor referred to a state dashboard with data showing the slowing spread of the Wuhan coronavirus throughout the state of New York. That dashboard reflected significant drops in all regions the state, not just the rural counties he allowed to enter phase one, which is still very restrictive. 

Catholic Charities has reported an approximately 200% increase in requests for donated food in the New York area since the end of March when most businesses across the state were forced to close. Millions of New Yorkers have filed for unemployment as businesses closed across the state and for many, unemployment benefits are still on hold. One New York woman said her husband, who owns a small business, hadn't gotten anything. 

"We filed for unemployment on March 21 and, however many weeks it’s been, just on May 8, we received notification on the unemployment website that he was approved, but we haven’t received any money since then," Heather Kes said to WGRB News. 

The New York Department of Labor has claimed that they have given out nearly $7.5 million in unemployment benefits to struggling residents. As the shutdown continues across the nation, more than 35 million Americans have applied for some sort of unemployment relief. More than 100,000 small businesses are estimated to have closed their doors permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Both Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have been the subject of intense criticism for their response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in New York. Cuomo has most recently been under fire for sending COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes where they infected many vulnerable, older New Yorkers. 

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