Governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany legislators are working under challenging conditions to complete their budget before the April 1st deadline. On Wednesday they passed a law to provide paid sick leave to quarantined New Yorkers by voting in small groups in order to obey social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

But there’s still a big divide over whether to roll back the state’s new bail law.

Cuomo has said he wants to give judges more discretion to determine when to set bail. Currently, only those accused of violent felonies are eligible—meaning the vast majority of defendants walk free.

"I met with district attorneys and criminal justice experts to talk about bail reform this morning,” Cuomo said on Wednesday. “I said to them that I am very proud of what we did on bail reform. I think we made a significant difference. Obviously there are people who have different opinions on what needs to be done now, and it was just a general conversation without a conclusion.”

But he added, “It will be concluded in the budget."

District attorneys throughout the state have criticized the law and the NYPD’s top brass blamed it for a recent uptick in crime. There were also high profile cases throughout the state involving defendants who were rearrested after being released without bail, including a mentally ill woman who’s accused of assaulting Jewish women in Brooklyn.

Listen to reporter Beth Fertig's radio story for WNYC:

But criminal justice advocates say it’s too soon to draw any conclusions, and continue to argue the law has helped thousands of defendants work and care for their families without spending a night in jail just because they’re too poor to pay bail.

Now, they argue the spread of COVID-19 provides another reason to keep the bail law the way it is, without any changes.

“One extra good thing our bail reform has done is keep more people out of that pot of bubbling contagion,” said Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.

In recent days, a correction officer and an inmate at Rikers were diagnosed with COVID 19, according to the officers’ union.

"If anything we should be doing more right now to lower jail and prison populations,” said Scott Roberts, a campaign director with the group Color of Change, who joined other supporters of the new bail law during a conference call with reporters.

One of those on the line was Bobby Cohen, a member of the New York City Board of Correction who was also director of the Montefiore Rikers Island Health Services. He said the state should be expanding bail reform by releasing older, sicker inmates and those held on technical parole violations. As of Monday, he said, there were 923 people over age 50 in city jails, and there were 56 in the men’s infirmary on Tuesday.

Reducing the jail population, Cohen said, “will allow beds to be separated by 6 feet rather than 3 feet” and slow the spread of the virus.

State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins has indicated she wants to change the bail laws. Her office did not return a request for comment about whether her position has changed due to the threat of COVID-19. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his position on bail hasn’t changed.

“I’d say we are open to looking to some of the concerns that were raised but our position has not changed in terms of going to total judicial discretion.”

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter covering immigration, courts, and legal affairs at WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethfertig.