State lawmakers should show up to work this week to work on the state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said, a day after two members of the Assembly were found to have tested positive for coronavirus.
"Government is an essential operation," Cuomo said at a press briefing when asked if lawmakers would be coming to work this week. "Everybody is going through this, everywhere," Cuomo added, and said of lawmakers, "They're not doing a high-risk occupation."
The U.S. Congress has closed the Capitol to visitors and continues to work, Cuomo noted.
Still, the state Capitol has been closed to visitors and underwent a deep clean. Cuomo has also urged private businesses to shut down or keep their employees home by having them work remotely.
State government workers in the New York City metropolitan region -- from Rockland County on south -- will be asked to work from home starting Monday if they are deemed non-essential, Cuomo on Sunday said, about half the state workforce.
State workers in Albany, however, will be expected to report to work.
In more normal times, lawmakers would be gearing up for the final two weeks of the budget negotiations. Before the spread of coronavirus took center stage in the life of the nation and the world, the Legislature was debating issues like marijuana legalization, changing the state's bail law and whether to allow paid gestational surrogacy as well as close a $6.1 billion budget gap.
It's not clear yet if those issues will be completely discarded for a more bare-bones form of a budget that deals almost exclusively with funding the response and fallout to the pandemic.
Some have spoken of potentially getting a budget done as quickly as possible this week and having the Legislature leave Albany immediately.
Cuomo and top lawmakers in the Assembly and state Senate are discussing a paid sick leave law for up to seven days and measures to mitigate the effect the virus will have on unemployment insurance.
At the same time, some lawmakers are calling for pushing back the state's presidential primary from April 28 to June when party primaries are held.
The state budget is due by April 1.