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COVID Newsletters

COVID weekly newsletter (4/1)


It’s Thursday, April 1, 2021. Welcome to my weekly COVID-19 newsletter.

Here are the bullets for NYC according to nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker, the New York State COVID testing dashboard, and the NYC Dept. of Health:


  • 123,363 cumulative confirmed cases (+4,377 since last week)

  • 4,209 cumulative deaths (+63 since last week)

  • 3% seven-day positivity average (up from 2.7% last week)

  • 223,473 adults (16%) partially vaccinated

  • 349,177 adults (25%) fully vaccinated


  • 832,259 total cases (+28,819 since last week)

  • 31,209 total deaths (+416 since last week)

  • 6.64% seven-day positivity average (up from 5.68% last week)

  • 946,738 adults (14%) partially vaccinated

  • 1,268,476 adults (19%) fully vaccinated

The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s weekly “reference scenario” estimates 50,745 more deaths nationwide through July 1 (a projected cumulative total of 600,195). While this is up from last week’s prediction (596,201 total deaths), it’s down dramatically from mid-February predictions of more deaths in a shorter period (630,881 total deaths by June 1).

As of Tuesday (4/6), all New Yorkers 16+ will be eligible for the vaccine (only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 16 and 17 years old). Scheduling for this age group will open at 8 am on Tuesday (4/6). Already eligible are everyone 30+, in certain employment sectors, in congregate housing, or with a qualifying underlying condition (full list here).

Getting a vaccine is getting easier as the supply expands– but it’s far from streamlined. I’ve compiled this checklist (also accessible on my website) to help you know about every possible option.

  • Use the NYC COVID Vaccine Finder.

  • Check availability on NYC Vaccine List or TurboVax, which aggregate available appointments at many State, City, pharmacy, and private sites.

  • Call the NYC vaccine hotline (877-VAX-4NYC or 877-829-4692) 8 am – 9 pm.

  • Contact providers listed in the NYS eligibility survey.

  • Call the NYS vaccine hotline (833-NYS-4VAX or 833-697-4829).

  • For fully homebound individuals, fill out this form or call 877-829-4692 to request in-home vaccination.

  • Check hospital networks: Northwell HealthNYU Langone (for current patients only and must create a MyChart account to be notified about an appointment); Hospital for Special SurgeryFort Washington Armory (216 Fort Washington Ave.), run by NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine (create a Connect account).

  • Check SOMOS vaccine sites.

  • Pharmacies can vaccinate people 30+, P-12 faculty or staff, child care workers, or those with an underlying condition: CVS (800-SHOP-CVS), Walgreens (800-WALGREENS), RiteAid (800-RITE-AID), and the East Harlem Costco.

  • NYCHA resident-only sites (call 332-240-3330 to make an appointment and bring proof of NYCHA residency to appointment):
    Johnson Community Center (1833 Lexington Ave. btwn 112th and 115th Sts.): Open Thursday-Sunday through 6/20, 8 am – 6 pm. Serves residents of Johnson, 131 St. Nicholas Ave., Carver, Clinton, Corsi, East River, Jefferson, King Towers, Lehman Village, Lexington, Metro North Plaza, Morris Park Senior Citizens Home, Rehab Program (Taft Rehabs), Taft, UPACA (Sites 5 & 6), Wagner, Washington, White, and Wilson.

    St. Nicholas/Central Harlem Senior Citizens Center (210 W. 131st St.): Open Thursday-Sunday. Serves residents of Saint Nicholas, Drew-Hamilton, Grant, Lincoln, Manhattanville, Robinson, and Samuel (City).

    Gompers Community Center (80 Pitt St.): Open Thursday-Sunday. Serves residents of Gompers, Baruch, Baruch Houses Addition, Bracetti Plaza, Campos Plaza II, First Houses, Hernandez, LES I Infill, LES II, LES III, LES Rehab (Group 5), Meltzer Tower, Riis I, Riis II, Stanton Street, and Wald.

  • If you need help making an appointment, contact Junior Martinez in my office at 212-531-1609 or

More vaccine sites are opening soon. I’ll share details as soon as I have them.

  • Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 W. 138th St.) – opening Friday (4/2)

  • Yeshiva University – opening Wednesday (4/7)
  • Convent Avenue Baptist Church (420 W. 145th St.) – opening TBD

Friday (4/2) from 11:30 am – 4 pm, my staff and NYC Test and Trace will be signing people up for vaccine appointments at Essex and Delancey Sts. 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.

JCC Harlem is hosting a pop-up vaccine site Friday (4/2) from 10 am – 5 pm. As of press time, all the appointments are booked, but you can keep checking this link to see if anything opens up.

Wednesday (4/7), a new vaccine site will open at Fulton Community Center in Chelsea (119 9th Ave.) and will operate Tuesdays through Saturdays. It’s a partnership between Hudson Guild, Google, and Daybreak Health. NYCHA Fulton and Chelsea-Elliott Houses residents, especially seniors, will be prioritized. Starting Monday, 4/12, the site will expand eligibility to all New Yorkers 16+ and can be accessed through or 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).

Bodega associations will receive 1,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson to vaccinate bodega workers this month. Members can email United Bodegas of America ( or the Yemeni American Merchants Association ( to register for an appointment. Once the 1,000 appointments are gone, bodega workers can click here to see how to register for an appointment at a City, State, pharmacy, or private site.

More than 3,200 fully homebound New Yorkers have been vaccinated in their homes by a three-person team made up of a TLC driver, an FDNY EMT, and a nurse. The City is working to schedule appointments for more than 14,000 homebound individuals. To request an in-home vaccination appointment, fill out this form or call 877-829-4692. FDNY personnel will then call to confirm eligibility and schedule the appointment. If there are other vaccine-eligible individuals in the household (family or home health aides), they can also request an in-home appointment during that call.

I’ve asked the City to clarify what “fully homebound” means, and they’ve said it means New Yorkers who can’t leave their homes to get vaccinated and don’t already have access to an in-home vaccination program.

The State’s new digital vaccine and testing passport, Excelsior Pass, was released this week in the hopes of venues and businesses using it to further reopenings. Similar to airline boarding passes, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test can be uploaded online and printed or stored on smartphones. Participating venues and businesses would then use a companion app to scan the QR code and verify patrons’ COVID-free status.

Pfizer says its vaccine shows 100% efficacy in kids 12-15, per clinical trial data released this week. None of the vaccinated adolescents developed COVID, and blood tests revealed a strong immune system response a month after the second dose. Pfizer says it will submit its results to the FDA and European Medicines Agency as soon as possible to expand authorization from the current floor of 16 years old. The company is running trials in kids 2-11 and eventually in kids as young as 6 months. Moderna has begun its clinical trials for children 6 months – 17 years old, and Johnson & Johnson is moving toward a trial for minors.

The CDC extended the eviction moratorium through 6/30, just days before it was set to expire on 3/31. At-risk tenants looking to head off eviction must fill out this CDC form and give it to their landlord (keep a copy for your records).

It’s just unacceptable that there is no mass vaccination site in East Harlem, a neighborhood that has some of the highest rates of infection and death compared to the rest of the city. During a Tuesday (3/30) press conference, I called on the City and State to work with community organizations to open a mass vaccination site there as soon as possible. Only 33% of residents have gotten at least one shot, while a few blocks south, almost 60% of Upper East Siders are vaccinated. True vaccine equity means that East Harlemites don’t have to travel out of their community to get the vaccine.

During this week’s Manhattan Vaccine Task Force meeting, we discussed concerns with equity amid the major eligibility expansions and how to better inform residents about the NYCHA-only vaccine sites (NYCHA vaccine site details are in the bulleted vaccine checklist at the beginning of the newsletter). Representatives from Mt. Sinai spoke about now being allowed to vaccinate beyond health care workers and about their visiting doctor program vaccinating 100 homebound patients per week.

Dr. Julian Watkins of the NYC  Dept. of Health clarified questions about getting vaccinated. He said that the two-dose shots should be from the same brand (no mixing and matching Pfizer and Moderna); to wait two weeks after any other immunization before getting vaccinated for COVID; to wait until after quarantine to get vaccinated if exposed to COVID; and that any former COVID patients should wait three months after monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma treatments before getting vaccinated.

Council Member Mark Levine suggested ways to ensure marginalized communities aren’t crowded out of appointments, including by adding walk-up vaccine sites in Manhattan like Citi Field. Chelsea Cipriano at the Vaccine Command Center noted that City-run sites are reserving a portion of appointments for those 65+ and people from the 33 hardest-hit neighborhoods. If you’d like to join these weekly discussions about vaccines and reopening, email

The City is providing free transportation for those 75+ to three vaccine sites that don’t require an advance appointment for the elderly: Citi Field, Bathgate Contract Postal Station (4006 3rd Avenue, Bronx), and Brooklyn Army Terminal. Call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) to reserve a free ride. The site will also vaccinate one eligible companion. (I’ve asked the City to open similar walk-up sites in Manhattan).

I’ve been distributing boxes and boxes of masks and sanitizer across Manhattan. If your school or organization needs PPE, contact my staffers Shawn Jean-Louis ( or Jessica Mates (

Ryan Health is looking for qualified volunteers– physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, and other licensed medical providers– to administer the COVID vaccine at centers across Manhattan. Email to volunteer.

Due to COVID, the IRS and NYS delayed Tax Day to May 17. But that extra month does not apply to small business owners or gig workers who must pay estimated taxes on a quarterly basis– April 15 is still their deadline.

New nursing home rules allow visitors at all times for all residents, replacing a February rule that allowed visitors only if nursing homes were COVID free for two weeks. There are limited exceptions for unvaccinated residents in areas with high community spread and low resident vaccination rates. Limits are placed on residents who have COVID or are quarantining.

Nursing home residents will be able to designate two essential caregivers who can visit no matter the infection level, per a new State law that goes into effect Thursday, 5/13.

The City and State are both hiring for vaccine-related positions. The City’s Vaccine for All Corps is looking to hire people particularly from hard-hit communities and industries. No health care experience is necessary for roles in vaccine site management, operations, and client services; the Corps is also hiring for clinical roles. Click the link above to apply through the Dept. of Small Business Services.

The State is hiring for clinical and non-clinical roles at vaccine sites. See openings here.

The NYC Dept. of Health hosts weekly COVID vaccine “train the trainer” sessions, aimed at helping community organizations, faith-based groups, and city agencies best address vaccine inquiries and concerns with their constituents. Click the link above to register for upcoming sessions:

  • Tuesday (4/6), 11 am – noon

  • Thursday (4/8), 3:30-4:30 pm

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9 am – 4 pm, free walk-in COVID testing is available at the Riverside Church, in collaboration with Dr. Sampson Davis (490 Riverside Dr. between 120th and 122nd Sts.).

FEMA will reimburse funeral costs for those lost to COVID since 1/20/2020. Although the application isn’t yet open, this FAQ explains what documents to prepare.

Donating blood won’t have any effect on a vaccinated person and won’t transfer any of the benefits of the vaccine, according to the Washington Post. There’s no need to wait to donate blood after getting vaccinated, and donating blood won’t weaken your post-vaccine protection. Even though COVID immunity wanes over time, blood donation won’t affect that. Unlike with pregnancy or breastfeeding, a pint of donated blood would contain only a negligible amount of antibodies– not enough to make an impact on a blood recipient.

Sign up here to donate blood at a New York Blood Center drive. I don’t agree with the FDA policy excluding gay men from donating blood unless they have been celibate for three months, but those who are eligible to donate should, in order to help save lives. Our region’s blood supply is critically low.

Next week, we’ll run a breakdown of the federal COVID relief money headed to NYC from last month’s American Rescue Plan.

COVID News Clippings

Why It Pays to Think Outside the Box on Coronavirus Tests
Universities and other institutions looking to protect themselves from Covid-19 may benefit from sharing their testing resources with the wider community, a new study suggests.
By Emily Anthes, NY Times, March 24, 2021

See Who Has Been Vaccinated So Far in New York City
An interactive map
By Matthew Bloch, Larry Buchanan, and Josh Holder, NY Times, March 26, 2021

‘Real world’ study by CDC shows Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective
The study followed nearly 4,000 health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers in eight U.S. locations as the first Covid vaccines were rolled out starting in December. Participants were tested weekly to look for all cases of Covid infection, even asymptomatic ones. This study was among the first to measure vaccine effectiveness against any infection — including asymptomatic cases. Of 2,479 fully vaccinated people, three were infected.
By Helen Branswell,,  March 29, 2021

New York Must Offer Vaccine to All Prisoners Immediately, Judge Rules
By Troy Closson, NY Times, March 29, 2021

Why Are COVID Cases Going Up in New York City?
By Chas Danner, New York Magazine, March 30, 2021

‘It Felt Like Deception’: An Elite NYC Hospital Charges Huge Virus Test Fees
Insurers are stuck with the big bills from Lenox Hill, but the public ultimately pays through higher premiums.
By Sarah Kliff, NY Times, March 30, 2021
[The Times is collecting COVID medical bills to better understand how the pandemic is changing health care. If you’re willing to help, submit your testing or treatment bill here.]

The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different.
A deadlier and more transmissible variant has taken root, but now we have the tools to stop it if we want.
By Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, March 30, 2021

Virus Surge in Michigan Is a ‘Gut Punch’ to Hopes of Pandemic’s End
By Julie Bosman, NY Times, April 1, 2021

Stay safe.