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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (10/15)


It’s Thursday, October 15, 2020. Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter.

At press time, nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker showed the following:

  • Manhattan has 34,569 confirmed cases and 3,185 deaths (518 more cases and 2 more deaths since last week).
  • The city as a whole has 251,766 cases and 23,905 deaths (3,766 more cases and 32 more deaths since last week).

Experts say seven-day averages are a more reliable indicator:

  • Manhattan’s seven-day positivity average as reported by the New York State COVID testing dashboard is .6% (click the link, click on New York County, and hover over the end of the graph).
  • The seven-day citywide positivity average as reported by the NYC Dept. of Health is 1.5% (click the link, scroll down to the “virus tests” section, and hover over the end of the graph).
  • The seven-day moving average-per-thousand for cases in the city as reported by the NYC Dept. of Health is 278 (click the link, scroll down to the “daily counts” section, and hover over the end of the graph).

(The number of infections recorded in Europe is now at seven million, after rising by a million in 10 days. This is going to get worse before it gets better.)



Late Tuesday (10/13), the Supreme Court ruled that the Census count can be ended early. So the Census Bureau is doing just that– stopping data counting at 11:59 pm Hawaii time tonight, or 5:59 am Eastern Daylight Time Friday, 10/16.

If you haven’t answered the 10 Census questions at yet, or by phone at 844-330-2020, please do so NOW!

Every household that goes uncounted costs New York City in federal funding and representation in Congress. It’s important.

Here’s a good summary of the state of play: The Census, the Supreme Court and Why the Count Is Stopping Early. And here’s another that explains in better detail what’s coming up (published before the Supreme Court decision): Two Huge Questions Loom as 2020 Census Winds Down. The most chilling part of the second piece is:

…For decades, the Census Bureau has calculated the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives with its fresh population totals. The process has been walled off from partisan influence, its methodology set by law and its results available for anyone to double-check.

But this time, court documents indicate that, as one Justice Department legal filing stated, the bureau “will provide the President with information” for the calculations.


“The only interpretation I can give you is that the Census Bureau itself will not control the allocation of population numbers for apportionment,” Kenneth Prewitt, a Columbia University professor who ran the bureau during the 2000 census, said. “The Census Bureau is simply not in charge of what it has been in charge of.” He added: “I hate the word unprecedented, but this is an unprecedented situation.”

(Yesterday (10/14), I testified before the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations about Manhattan’s Census response rate and community partners’ Census outreach efforts. Read my testimony here.)

Make a plan for voting, either by absentee ballot (request by Tuesday, 10/27), in person at an early voting site starting Saturday, 10/24 (any of which will also accept completed-and-signed absentee ballot envelopes*) or in person at your local polling site on Election Day, Tuesday, 11/3.

Use to identify your early voting site and its hours (or even your Election Day site– they’re likely two different locations!). You can even preview the ballot for your location at to reduce the amount of time you’ll spend in a polling place.

It’s important to know that the hours at early sites vary, to accommodate the widest range of voters:

Saturday, 10/24: 10 am – 4 pm

Sunday, 10/25: 10 am – 4 pm

Monday, 10/26: 7 am – 3 pm

Tuesday, 10/27: 12 pm – 8 pm

Wednesday, 10/28: 12 pm – 8 pm

Thursday, 10/29: 10 am – 6 pm

Friday, 10/30: 7 am – 3 pm

Saturday, 10/31: 10 am – 4 pm

Sunday, 11/1: 10 am – 4 pm

*For those absentee voters who are skittish about even entering an early voting poll site to drop their ballots in the drop boxes there, there’s a solution: Invisible Hands, a nonpartisan volunteer group that’s done amazing work running errands for the homebound, will pick up sealed absentee ballots from seniors and deposit them in the drop boxes at early voting sites. Homebound seniors (or whoever) can request a volunteer to pick up their ballot here. And if you’d like to volunteer for Invisible Hands to do ballot runs, complete the volunteer form here.

Also, you should know that its legal to gather sealed ballot envelopes on your own and deliver them to ballot drop boxes.

Have you requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received it yet? Use the Board of Elections’ Absentee Tracker to see where your request is in the process.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has an FAQ about voting rights for people with a criminal record.

Joyce Dinkins, the wife of former Mayor David Dinkins, died last Sunday, 10/12. She was always “Mrs. Dinkins” to me, and to everyone who had the honor of working in the Dinkins administration; she deserved that respect. She worked her entire life, raised two wonderful children, was an inestimable help to her husband– and through it all was always a pleasure to be with. Mayor Dinkins liked to tell the story that his wife once told him that she could have married anyone she chose, even a ditch digger, because her influence was such that her husband would have done well! Mrs. Dinkins did not share this fable, the Mayor did, and we always laughed, even if we heard it over and over. So true. Mrs. Dinkins will be sorely missed by Mayor Dinkins and by all of us who will cherish her memory. Rest in peace.


It’s more important than ever to get a flu shot, and several elected officials and I are cosponsoring free flu shot clinics throughout Manhattan. This week’s dates are:

Gov. Cuomo added Michigan, Ohio and Virginia to the self-quarantine list if their residents visit New York State.


The enforcement of the State’s plastic bag ban (the 5-cent fee charged to customers who choose to use store-provided non-plastic bags) begins this Monday (10/19). Avoid the fee and help save the environment by bringing reusable bags.

Respond by Tuesday (10/20) to the RFP from Strengthening Communities through Recovery COVID-19. Community emergency networks in East Harlem, Central Harlem, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Inwood and Washington Heights are eligible to apply.

Pathways to Apprenticeship is recruiting for its next Direct Entry Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship class, with priority for West Harlem residents. The six-week class will be four days a week from 8 am – noon via Zoom and one day a week from 8 am – 2 pm in person. You must attend an information session– fill out this Small Business Services Community Hiring intake form and register for a session here (Tuesday, 10/20 at 2 pm or next Thursday, 10/22 at 5:30 pm).

Lighthouse Guild’s new podcast series, “On Tech & Vision,” holds interviews about how technology can improve life for people with vision loss.

Today’s (10/15) episode of the Inwood Art Works “On Air” podcast features Calliope Brass, an all-female brass band. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Blubrry.

Register by Wednesday (10/21) for Concerts in Motion’s 10/28 fall virtual salon, featuring a performance by the Emeril String Quartet.

Register by Friday, 10/30 for the Salvation Army’s Holiday Assistance. Bring a photo ID and proof of residency, household and income to the Salvation Army at 175 E. 125th St.

PBS has made available for free the documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America” through Tuesday, 11/10.



Tonight (10/15) at 6:30 pm, I’m being interviewed at Goddard Riverside’s “Social Justice Never Sleeps” series. Register here.

Tonight (10/15) at 6:45 pm, I’m delighted to be honored at Community Impact’s Sharing our Stories. Register here.

Tonight (10/15) at 7:30 pm, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance continues its Thursdays with NoMAA series with jazz legend Marjorie Eliot. Watch on Zoom or Facebook.

Tomorrow (10/16), The Shed reopens with artist Howardena Pindell’s video exhibition “Rope/Fire/Water.” Reserve free timed-entry tickets here.

Tomorrow (10/16) at 9 am, Kripsy Kutz Barbershop and PCNY are distributing 70,000 pounds of free produce and milk at 500 E. 117th St.

Tomorrow (10/16) from 9 am – 5 pm, Silicon Harlem hosts a virtual summit, “Advancing Humanity” (I’m speaking at 4:30 pm). Click the title to register.

Tomorrow (10/16) at 3 pm, the South Street Seaport Museum hosts “Inside Schermerhorn Row: A Virtual Tour of the Seaport Museum’s Landmark Buildings.” Register here.

Open House New York Weekend has gone virtual this year. Saturday (10/17) and Sunday (10/18), OHNY hosts virtual and self-guided experiences to connect people to historically and culturally significant New York buildings.

Saturday (10/17) and Sunday (10/18), the Museum of Chinese in America opens its “Windows for Chinatown” exhibition (3 Howard St.). Reserve free timed-entry tickets here.

Saturday (10/17) at 10 am, the Broadway Mall Association hosts a community clean-up of 110th – 122nd Sts. (meet at the Columbia University gate at 116th St. and Broadway). Register at

Saturday (10/17) at 10 am, the Kips Bay Neighborhood Association hosts “It’s My Park Day” in Bellevue South Park (btwn E. 26th/28th Sts. and 2nd Ave./Mt. Carmel Pl.). Volunteers will plant and clean up the park.

Saturday (10/17) from 10 am – 4 pm, the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney host a gun buy-back program at Bethel Gospel Assembly (1832 Madison Ave.). Get a $200 prepaid cash card for handguns and assault rifles and a $25 card for rifles, shotguns and airguns.

Saturday (10/17) at 11:30 am, Connectemonos hosts “It’s My Park,” a clean-up of Juan Bosch Plaza (Amsterdam Ave. and W. 190th St.). Click the title to register.

Saturday (10/17) at noon, Art in the Park hosts a beautification of Alice Kornegay Triangle (E. 128th St. and Lexington Ave.). Register here.

Saturday (10/17) at noon, Riverkeeper and Friends of Inwood Hill Park host “Dyckman Street Pier Cleanup” (meet at the Dyckman Marina, 348 Dyckman St.). Click the title to register.

Saturdays at 7 pm through October, the Open Street at E. 101st St. and Lexington Ave. screens film shorts from the 10th Annual International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival.

Saturday (10/17) at 8 pm, Metropolitan Playhouse hosts a reading of “Representing T.A. Buck,” a short story by Edna Ferber, and a talkback. Watch on YouTube.

Sunday (10/18) at 11 am, Hell’s Kitchen Litter Legion hosts a neighborhood clean-up. Meet at 51st St. and 9th Ave.

Monday (10/19) from noon – 3 pm, Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, State Senator Robert Jackson and Council Member Helen Rosenthal host the “Annual Free and Safe Shred Event” at 97th St. and Amsterdam Ave. Register at 212-866-3970 or

Monday (10/19) at 7:30 pm, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance hosts “Sound Waves and Brain Waves– Our Musical Memories,” a series about jazz and science. Watch on Zoom.

Tuesday (10/20) from 8 – 10 am, Earth Matter NY launches its weekly food scrap drop-off at Bowling Green Greenmarket (Broadway and Whitehall St.). The scraps will be processed as compost on Governors Island.

Tuesday (10/20) at 4 pm, HarlemYES hosts “Many Faces of Bullying,” a virtual discussion. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (10/21) at 4 pm, the NYC Dept. of Finance hosts “Homeowner and Renter Benefit Presentation,” explaining how to lower your property tax bill and freeze your rent. Register here.

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the Jewish Coalition on Criminal Justice Reform kicks off the six-part series “Reimagining Criminal Justice in New York City Today.” Register here.

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the New Pride Agenda hosts “Civic Engagement During A Pandemic,” a virtual town hall. Register here.

Wednesday (10/21) at 7 pm, the Morris-Jumel Mansion hosts “Historic House Museums and the Paranormal.” Register here.

Next Thursday (10/22) at 10 am, Goddard Riverside distributes free fresh food boxes at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (250 W. 65th St.).

Next Friday (10/23) at noon, BetaNYC hosts “Open Data Journeys 003: Tenants, Housing and Displacement.” This is a Brooklyn-centric event, but we can still learn about housing and how to use data for good. Click the title to register.