NY Attorney General suspends collection of medical, student debt amid coronavirus

NY Attorney General suspends collection of medical, student debt amid coronavirus
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The New York governor and attorney general offices on Tuesday announced the suspension of the collection of state medical and student debt as the coronavirus continues to rock the country.

Attorney General Letitia James (D) posted on Twitter that the suspension would be “effective immediately” for state medical and student debt owed to the state and referred to her office.

“In this time of crisis, I won't add undue stress or saddle NYers with unnecessary financial burden, this is the time to support residents,” she tweeted.

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A release from both offices says the delay will last at least 30 days. Currently, more than 165,000 matters match the criteria for debt collections being suspended.

"This new action to temporarily suspend the collection of debt owed to the state will help mitigate the adverse financial impact of the outbreak on individuals, families, communities and businesses in New York State, as we continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a statement.

The move follows Cuomo’s announcement Monday that bars and restaurants would be closed to in-person diners and would be open for takeout and delivery only. Movie theaters, casinos and gyms were all ordered closed.  

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In the meantime, public health officials are encouraging people to continue social distancing and stay home. But these decisions made to prevent the spread of the virus will affect people’s incomes and ability to pay bills, in a further economic setback.

An S&P Global analysis released Tuesday shows the U.S. could already be starting a recession because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

New York state has reported 1,374 positive cases of the virus, with 644 in New York City alone, according to the state’s health department.

Updated at 3:13 p.m.