New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James said that the suspension will be for at least 30 days, effective immediately.
The spread of the new virus, which originated in China and causes the potentially deadly COVID-19 disease, has forced countless New Yorkers to lose income and business, the officials said in a press release.
“In this time of crisis, my office will not add undue stress or saddle New Yorkers with unnecessary financial burden,” James said in a statement.
“New Yorkers need to focus on keeping themselves safe and healthy from the coronavirus, and therefore can rest assured that state medical and student debt referred to my office will not be collected against them for at least 30 days.
Cuomo said that state officials “are doing everything [they] can to support the thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
After the initial period, which goes through April 16, James’s office will reassess the needs of state residents. She might order an extension.
The Office of the Attorney General typically collects debts owed to the state via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the state and state agencies.
More than 165,000 matters are being suspended, including patients that owe medical debt to one of the state hospitals and students who owe debt from attending the State University of New York.
Earlier Tuesday, Cuomo and other state officials said models show the peak of cases in the state will arrive in about 45 days, requiring a rapid boost in hospital beds, particularly those in intensive care units.
New York has the most cases cases in the country with 1,374, along with 12 deaths. Nineteen percent of the patients are hospitalized. Tests have been done on 10,049 people.