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New York’s COVID-19 policy review delayed: Won’t be released until mid-2024

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  • Staff Report 

The Olson Group, tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of New York’s COVID-19 response under a $4 million state contract, has announced a delay in its report, now expected by mid-2024.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

The Virginia-based firm, which began its review in January, is behind schedule, having completed only half of the projected 32,000-hour analysis. Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her frustration over the delay, emphasizing her eagerness for the findings, which she had requested to understand the effectiveness of the state’s pandemic policies.

The scope of the review includes evaluating the impact of decisions made by state leaders on schools, businesses, nursing homes, and other sectors during the pandemic. The final report is set to offer insights and recommendations for handling future public health emergencies.

Despite the delay, the cost of the project remains unchanged at $4.3 million. Colin Brennan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DSHES), the overseeing agency, attributed the extended timeline to the project’s extensive scale and scope.

Critics have raised concerns about the independence of the review, given the involvement of DSHES Commissioner Jackie Bray, a member of Hochul’s cabinet, in regular communications with the Olson Group.

To date, the state has paid $500,000 of the total budget for the project. The review, initially expected to scrutinize policies implemented mostly under former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, seeks to provide educational insights for state leaders on managing public health crisis.