Local officials and business leaders today called for the declaration of the Coronavirus as an Act of Terrorism in order to allow insurance claims based on business disruption to be paid.
Speaking at a live-streamed press conference at his office in Riverhead, state Assemblyman Tony Palumbo said it was revealed that China knew about the dangers posed by the virus early on, yet did nothing to stop its spread.
"It is clearly an act of terrorism to intentionally conceal a deadly virus that can infect millions and cause economic devastation around the world, according to Palumbo. China should not be allowed to avoid responsibility. With this declaration we can not only sue China for damages, we will also gain access to hundreds of billions of dollars for our businesses under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Fund."
Insurance companies can quickly provide much-needed cash to save businesses from going under and get reimbursed through the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, said Assemblyman Joe DeStefano. Small business owners dont have any time left. This is a quick, easy solution to the problem of getting money into the hands of those who need it most.
After the 9-11 attack, Congress required insurance companies to establish the fund for terrorist acts and currently there is nearly $1 trillion to help our businesses and get the economy back on its feet, according to DeStefano.
In a letter to President Trump and Governor Cuomo requesting the declaration, the assemblymen said, These are unprecedented times and the people are counting on their elected leaders to pursue every measure possible to get them through. By declaring the contagion an act of terrorism due to the negligence of the Chinese government, you will initiate the flow of billions of dollars to business owners who desperately need it.
Gary Pollakusky of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce said, Our businesses are in crisis and we are counting on the President and Governor to do everything they can to make sure we survive. Pollakusky, who also serves on the Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency, added, If this virus isnt a clear-cut case of businesses disruption, I dont know what is.
Businesses are on life support due to the virus, said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. They pay high insurance premiums and need the companies insuring them to be there for them. This declaration will help these businesses survive. The Councilwoman stressed that smaller businesses cannot be forgotten as resources are allocated to help get the economy back on track.
Palumbo, whose East End district includes many restaurants, wineries and other establishments, said local businesses took a devastating blow as the Government shut them down. These businesses are a key part of the Long Island economy and must be held harmless for a situation they did not cause, Palumbo noted. By a simple declaration by our federal and state leaders, many businesses will get the life-saving cash infusion they deserve.
For those of us who purchased business disruption insurance, a quickly-processed claim could mean the difference between staying in business or closing down after the virus winds down, said Tim McCarthy of the Suffolk Restaurant and Tavern Association. If the President of the United States and the Governor of the State of New York have to step in to make this right, then thats what needs to happen. The economy of the East End and all of Long Island depends on it.
Robert Gerety, owner of Tobins II Pub in Ronkonkoma, said many businesses have only a week or so before closing their doors for good. We need relief now, within days, or we will see our lifes work disappear. This will ripple through the economy like a tidal wave. We need our elected leaders to act right now.