I wish all who celebrate a happy and meaningful Passover. I know that celebrating this year will be different, but there is a lesson of hope we can all take from Passover. This holiday is about recognizing the past and learning from it. It's about remembering the lessons of history and teaching a new generation those lessons. We will learn lessons from these challenging times and I believe we will come through it stronger than we were before.
Here's what else you need to know tonight
1. To honor those we have lost to COVID-19, I am directing all flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff. Every single New Yorker we have lost to this vicious virus is in our hearts. The flags will remain lowered while New York remains on PAUSE.
2. I will issue an Executive Order to ensure New Yorkers can vote by absentee ballot in the June 23rd elections. No one should have to choose between their health and their civic duty. I previously issued an Executive Order to move the presidential primary election from April 28 to June 23rd, aligning it with the congressional and legislative primaries in New York.
3. Today, I launched a social media campaign to encourage people to stay home to protect the ones we love. The campaign encourages New Yorkers to share who they are staying home for and want to protect. Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Romeo Santos, and Giancarlo Stanton are among those who have joined the campaign. Share an image and story of who you are trying to protect on social media with the hashtags #IStayHomeFor and #NewYorkTough and tag your friends to spread the word.
4. The State Department of Labor will immediately make $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits available to all New Yorkers. New York is also extending the period covered by unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks, for a total of 39 weeks. A reminder for those who have difficulty enrolling for UI: any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid all benefits due.
5. New York received 2,400 brand-new BiPAP machines as a donation from Mercury Medical. The BiPAP machines — which are assisted breathing machines that can be used as ventilators — are being flown to New York from Florida for free by JetBlue and will be transported on the ground for free by the company Southern Glazer's. We thank these companies for their generous support.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United are offering free travel to New York for COVID-19 medical workers. To date, more than 90,000 health professionals, including more than 25,000 out-of-state individuals, have signed up to serve as part of the state's surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to these airlines for supporting our frontline workers.