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COVID Newsletters

COVID weekly newsletter (3/22)

Friends,

As a reminder, after today’s edition our Monday events newsletter will start being posted online instead of being emailed; we’ll post to our social media accounts (Twitter.comFacebook.com, and Instagram.com— follow us there under “@galeabrewer”!) when that events listing is published. On Thursdays, we’ll email a COVID-only edition so you can stay abreast of public health information. Once the City Charter-mandated pre-election blackout period is over following the 6/22 primary, we’ll go back to a twice-weekly e-blast featuring COVID and non-COVID news and events.

Here are the bullets for NYC according to nonprofit news site TheCity.nyc’s COVID-19 tracker, the New York State COVID testing dashboard, and the NYC Dept. of Health (since we’re publishing a few days early, the statistics don’t reflect the typical full week of new data):

Manhattan:

  • 117,904 cumulative confirmed cases (+3,199 since last Thursday, 3/18)

  • 4,103 cumulative deaths (+26 since last Thursday)

  • 2.7% seven-day positivity average (down from 2.8% last Thursday)

  • 223,473 adults (16%) partially vaccinated

  • 251,408 adults (18%) fully vaccinated

NYC:

  • 796,139 total cases (+20,149 since last Thursday)

  • 30,564 total deaths (+158 since last Thursday)

  • 6.6% seven-day positivity average (up from 6.42% last Thursday)

  • 913,734 adults (14%) partially vaccinated

  • 882,310 adults (13%) fully vaccinated

The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s weekly “reference scenario” hasn’t been updated since the last newsletter; it estimates 60,627 more deaths nationwide through July 1 (a projected cumulative total of 596,201).


COMMENT

I’m excited to announce my four new reports about important issues around the borough:

The “Land Use and Zoning Action Guide for Religious Facilities” is a primer for religious congregations facing land use issues for the first time as they consider how to stay in place, redevelop, or find adequate space. Bedrocks of neighborhood life and identity– and lifelines during the pandemic– religious institutions have a range of options to be able to remain in the community when facing financial pressures.

The Future of Open Streets” visualizes six ways to redesign Open Streets, the program that closes streets to traffic to allow more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and restaurant goers, born of New Yorkers’ desire to safely spend time outdoors during the pandemic. Now that the City has made Open Streets permanent, the program must be improved to offer communities streets that cater to what they need today. The report uses cases studies of current Open Streets on University Place, Avenue B, Restaurant Row, Broadway, Pearl Street, and Pleasant Avenue.

The report from my Sustainable Affordable Housing Development Task Force presents thoughtful, workable strategies for developing affordable housing during the pandemic and current economic downturn. The recommendations include using zoning and land use tools, distressed property acquisition, and new financing strategies as methods for producing housing that truly meets the needs of New Yorkers.

Saving Manhattan Small Business: A Roadmap for Recovery” outlines how local government can play a key role in supporting and strengthening our small business sector, especially storefronts, inspired by my 2019 Small Business Task Force. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate chronic struggles small businesses face, the task force’s recommendations are especially relevant.

All the reports I’ve published as Borough President can be found here, including the recent “Steps to a more Age-friendly Manhattan” and “Police Reform Toolkit.”

My staff and NYC Test and Trace will be tabling this week to sign people up for a vaccine appointment. We will not be vaccinating on site, but you will be signed up for a vaccine appointment at a nearby location in the following days. Anyone who is eligible can sign up:

  • Wednesday (3/24), 11:30 am – 4 pm at Essex and Delancey Sts., in front of Regal Cinema

  • Wednesday (3/24) and Thursday (3/25), 11:30 am – 4 pm at 137th St. and Broadway

If you can’t make this sign-up event and need help registering for a vaccine appointment, call Junior Martinez in my office at (212) 531-1609.

Save the date for my Women’s History Month event with historian Pam Elam and a Q&A with sculptor Meredith Bergmann at the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument on Central Park’s Literary Walk at 68th St. Join us Monday, 3/29 at 1 pm (rain date Wednesday, 3/31 at 1 pm).

   

I joined Coler Nursing Home residents for their one-year anniversary COVID vigil last Monday (3/15). It was a moving tribute to those lost to COVID at Coler and other congregate facilities as well as residents’ prolonged isolation throughout the pandemic.

 


NEW FACTS/INFO

New Yorkers 50+ will be eligible for the COVID vaccine starting Tuesday (3/23), the Governor announced. They can begin making appointments at 8 am.

Pharmacies are now vaccinating people with an underlying conditions, in addition to people who are 60+, P-12 school faculty and staff, and childcare workers.

The opt-in period for in-person learning will reopen for all students from this Wednesday (3/24) through Wednesday, 4/7, the Mayor announced. To opt in, select “Blended Learning” in the Learning Preferences Survey or call 311. Students in 3K, pre-K, and elementary grades (including in District 75) who opt in will return to the classroom in April. Return dates for newly opted-in middle and high schoolers have not yet been announced. The City is reopening the opt-in period following new CDC guidelines that say students can be spaced three feet apart, instead of six, meaning classrooms can now fit more students.

On Saturday (3/20, Gov. Cuomo announced that the first known case of the more transmissible and severe COVID variant known as P.1, first identified in Brazil, has been found in a Brooklyn resident in their 90s with no known travel history. This further reinforces the need for us all to keep taking the steps that we know work: masking, distancing, and hand-washing. As State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “This is a race between the vaccine and the variants.”

There’s also a “New York Variant” now, B.1.526, and it’s spreading at “an alarming rate” according to epidemiologists at Columbia and Caltech, who published separate studies last Tuesday (3/16) and Thursday (3/18). It’s not good news, because the mutation has traits that weaken the effectiveness of vaccines.

First identified in November, it now accounts for about 25% of the samples compiled in a researchers’ genetic sequencing database. Dr. David Ho, co-author of the Columbia study, said:

“We see cases in Westchester, in the Bronx and Queens, the lower part of Manhattan and in Brooklyn. So it seems to be widespread. It’s not a single outbreak.”

Read more here and here.

New York State has matched the IRS in extending the tax filing deadline to May 17. When it comes to filing this year, the pandemic may bring opportunities for deductions to two kinds of people:

  • Those who had high out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income, and

  • Many teachers, who bought personal protective equipment to do their jobs. The $250 “Educator Expense Deduction,” which has always included classroom materials for K-12 teachers, has been expanded to include PPE items.

There’s a thorough rundown of these two situations from personal finance columnist Susan Tompor here.

The application launch for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant has been delayed a week to Thursday, 4/8. Companies and nonprofits that operate live-performance venues, talent/management agencies, and others can apply for up to $10 million in relief from the Save our Stages Act in the December stimulus bill via the U.S. Small Business Administration. ​The SBA will host a webinar next Tuesday (3/30) at 2:30 pm about how to apply, necessary application documents, and what the application process will look like. Register here.

The CDC has taken steps to extend the federal eviction moratorium, set to expire 3/31. The CDC has not said when an extended moratorium would expire.

Since this is the last emailed edition of our Update that will carry voter information until after the 6/22 primary election, we thought it would be useful to highlight the following news organizations covering the primaries for Mayor, Comptroller, Borough President, and City Council. Gothamist, the online news site affiliated with WNYC public radio, has done some useful explainers:

What does the Mayor of New York City do?

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Current NYC Mayoral Contenders

What Does A Borough President Actually Do?

Who’s running for Manhattan Borough President?

The nonprofit news site TheCity.nyc has created a “Civic Newsroom” to encourage and inform engagement in local politics and the electoral process. Here are some useful primers from them:

What You Need to Know Now About the 2021 Elections in New York City

What You Need to Know About New York’s District Attorney Races in 2021

What You Need to Know About the Borough President Races

Do You Know Who’s Running for City Council in Your District?

We Received 63 Questions About Ranked Choice Voting. Here Are Some Answers.

And Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com offers this:

What We’re Watching In The New York City Mayoral Race


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Shakespeare in the Park is returning after taking last summer off, the Public Theater announced. Beginning in July and running for eight weeks, “Merry Wives,” a 12-actor, intermission-free version of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” will be set in Harlem and imagine Falstaff as an African-American seeking to woo two married women who are immigrants from West Africa. Current state regulations would allow 500 audience members in the outdoor theater if everyone presents proof of a negative COVID test.

Schools can get free U.S. maps from the Census Bureau. Contact Joli Golden at joli.r.golden@2020census.gov or 862-336-2911 to order.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subway Ridership in New York City” is a new report from the NYS Comptroller’s office. The report features an interactive map demonstrating COVID-19’s disparate impact on the subway system across different neighborhoods.

Substance abuse recovery program The Pillars is hiring certified recovery peer advocates (full and part time) and community responders to public opioid overdoses (must be a Harlem resident). Learn more here.


EVENTS

Tonight (3/22) at 6:30 pm, Bike New York’s “Cycling: How Women Make it Work” is the next panel in the “Spoke Series,” virtual events designed to bring bike lovers, street users, and change makers together for conversations that inform and inspire. Click the title to register.

Through Friday (3/26) from 8 am – 6 pm, New Yorkers who are 60+, are essential workers, or have an underlying medical condition can get vaccinated at Vision Urbana’s pop-up site (266 East Broadway co-op community room space). Make an appointment here.

Tuesday (3/23) at 10 am, virtual seminar “Theologies of Bricks and Mortals” discusses  theological and practical implications of houses of faith serving their larger communities, hosted by Judson Memorial Church’s Brick and Mortals and the New York State Council of Churches as part of their “Who is My Neighbor” series. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (3/23) at 3:45 pm, the NYC Youth Climate Summit features a virtual panel discussing career paths in sustainability, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Education’s Office of Sustainability. Click the link to register. Thursday (3/25) at 1 pm, the Office continues its “Meet the Experts” series with “Why Food Matters,” featuring Stephen O’Brien of the DOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (3/23) at 4 pm, “Fierce Women Podcasters” discusses emerging Afro-Latinx podcasting voices in the U.S. working to create more visibility for their communities and experiences, hosted by New York Women in Film and Television. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (3/23) at 5 pm, “Supporting Families with Stress Management During Remote Learning” is the topic of the weekly virtual “Parent Guide to Remote Learning” series from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and the NYC Dept. of Education. Register here.

Tuesday (3/23) at 5:30 pm, virtual tour “Bloomingdale in 1940: A Tour of Our Neighborhood Then and Now” is sponsored by the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group. Click the title to join the Zoom.

Tuesday (3/23) and Thursday (3/25) at 6 pm, parents are invited to a virtual info session about the Gifted & Talented program, for which applications close Friday, 4/9. Join the Zooms here, or click here for information about Russian, Koren, French, Bangala, Mandarin, and Spanish translation.

Tuesday (3/23) at 6:30 pm, virtual forum “Health Disparities: COVID-19, Vaccinations & Maternal Mortality” is hosted by Community Board 4 (covering Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen). Click the title to register.

Tuesday (3/23) at 7 pm, the Upper West Side’s Community Board 7 hosts a virtual forum on hate crimes and human rights, in collaboration with the Hate Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit, the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, and the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Register here.

Wednesday (3/24) at 9:30 am, the Health and Housing Consortium hosts “COVID19 Town Hall: Vaccinations for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness in NYC and Beyond” on Zoom, featuring a panel of doctors from city agencies, hospitals, and community organizations. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (3/24) at 4 pm, Battery Dance hosts a virtual kids introductory improvisational dance class. Register here.

Wednesday (3/24) at 6 pm, join the first public meeting of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Battery project. The meeting will discuss reconstructing the deteriorating wharf promenade, which will also help protect the Battery from rising seas in coming years. Register for the Zoom here, sponsored by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and NYC Parks.

Wednesday (3/24) at 7 pm, learn or brush up on your local tree species identification skills during “Reacquainting Yourself with the Native & Urban Trees of Roosevelt Island with Master Naturalist Carey Russell,” presented by iDig2Learn. Click the title to register for the Zoom.

Wednesday (3/24) from 10 pm to midnight, the Uptown Wagon is hosting a free store for those experiencing homelessness, located outside my Northern Manhattan Office (431 W. 125th St.). Clothing, blankets, and toiletries are available. Donations are still needed– learn how to donate here.

Thursdays through 4/22 at 10:30 am, public school teachers and students are invited to Ice Theatre of New York’s virtual ice show and skating clinic. Email justice@icetheatre.org to register ASAP.

Thursday (3/25) at 11 am, partners who serve NYCHA developments affiliated with MAP (Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety) can get trained virtually on how to connect residents to NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) benefits through ACCESS HRA. Register here. Thursday and Friday (3/25-26) from 2:30-7:30 pm, MAP NYCHA development residents can get virtual assistance on food, rent, and living expenses from HRA. The Manhattan NYCHA developments affiliated with MAP are Polo Grounds, St. Nicholas, and Wagner. Register here or by calling 929-221-0050.

Thursday (3/25) at 6 pm is a virtual commemoration of the 110th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Register here.

Thursday (3/25) at 6 pm, kids are invited to a virtual interactive challenge, “Jessie and Bo Peep’s Carnival Quest: The Big Toy Rescue,” hosted by Bloomingdale School of Music. Click the title to register.

Thursday (3/25) at 6:30 pm, the NYPD 33rd Precinct Police Community Council (covering Washington Heights) hosts a virtual meeting. Join the Zoom here.

Thursday (3/25) at 7 pm, the virtual “Envisioning Alternatives to Policing” series continues with a session about potential changes to mental health interventions, hosted by the Museum of the City of New York. Click the title to register.

Thursday (3/25) at 7 pm, Hi-ARTS hosts a Q&A about the COVID vaccine for people of color, featuring a Black medical professional, Dr. Risha Irvin. Register here or stream on YouTube or Facebook.

Thursday (3/25) at 7 pm, Clio (formerly WH SeniorLink) hosts a virtual comedy benefit show to celebrate the organization’s one-year anniversary connecting older New Yorkers to the friendly support and essential resources they need to stay independent. Register here.

Saturday (3/27) from 10 am – 4 pm, trade in guns anonymously for prepaid gift cards at Convent Avenue Baptist Church (420 W. 145th St.). Get $200 for operable handguns and assault rifles and $25 for rifles, shotguns, and airguns. The buyback is hosted by the Manhattan District Attorney, the NYPD, and Community Board 9.

Saturday (3/27) at 3:30 pm, a “know your rights” workshop for immigrants will be hosted at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine (701 Fort Washington Ave.), presented by Cabrini Immigrant Services.

This year’s Passover dinners are being done virtually; here is a roundup of the ones I’ve heard of: