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Politics and Government
Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Schumer: City of Syracuse to receive $126 million from COVID relief package; more vaccine coming

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at Syracuse City Hall Tuesday

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was in Syracuse Tuesday to tout the COVID relief package that is expected to pass in the House Wednesday.

Standing in front of Syracuse City Hall, Schumer said that all New Yorkers will get over $22 billion in direct payments. That includes just over 700,000 thousand central New York households that will receive almost $1.8 billion in stimulus checks. Schumer also came bearing funds for local governments.

“The city of Syracuse, Mayor Walsh will be getting $126 million. That will help them not only this year but next year,” Schumer said. “This will probably be the last rescue package we have, so this money will go for this year and next year."

Walsh said the funds will be used to undo some of the austerity measures brought on by the pandemic, rebuild the city’s savings account, and allow for one-time strategic investments in city government and the community. He says it is welcome at a time when city finances continue to be precarious.

“The revenue losses we’ve seen over the past two years, we expect in some cases to continue. So it’s hard to say how far we’ll be able to extend that $126 million,” Walsh said. “But given where we are now, it’s significant, it’s appreciated and it’ll be put to good use."

One area that Walsh is looking at is improving the city’s infrastructure.

“Infrastructure investments like water, sewer, broadband, technology infrastructure are all eligible costs,” he said. “And we know in each one of those cases it has a direct impact on the lives, health and safety and livelihood of our constituents.  So those are all fair game.”

Schumer also announced Tuesday that within the next month, the federal government would be opening vaccination centers across the region to allow anyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with no eligibility restrictions.

“They will remove all the requirements and people can just line up and get the vaccine,” Schumer said. “It is our hope that by June, enough people will have the vaccine that we can go back to life that is close to normal, and by September at the latest, we’re certain life will be back to normal.”