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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (10/22)


It’s Thursday, October 22, 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 35,249 confirmed cases and 3,192 deaths (680 more cases and 7 more deaths since last week).

  • The city as a whole has 256,046 cases and 23,949 deaths (4,280 more cases and 44 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 1.2%, up from the .6% reported in our last edition (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 1.7%, up from the 1.5% reported in our last edition (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 342, up from the 278 reported in our last edition (click the link, scroll down to the “daily counts” section, and hover over the end of the graph).


In-person early voting starts this Saturday (10/24). 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.

Hours at early sites vary, as follows:

  • 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

Next Tuesday (10/27) is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot. 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.

Early voting sites have drop boxes that accept completed, sealed-in-envelope absentee ballots. For those absentee voters who are skittish about even entering an early voting site to drop their ballots, contact Invisible Hands, a nonpartisan volunteer group that will send a volunteer to pick up sealed absentee ballots from seniors and take them to the drop boxes at early voting sites. (Also, you should know that it’s legal to gather sealed ballot envelopes on your own and deliver them to ballot drop boxes.)

Request a volunteer from Invisible Hands to pick up your ballot here. Volunteer to do ballot runs here.

Translation services are provided at select poll sites– call 866-VOTE-NYC to find out which sites offer which languages. The NYC Civic Engagement Commission will offer additional translation services.

When Census counting ended last week, Manhattan’s self-response rate came to 63% (compared to 2010’s 66.2%). New York City’s 2020 self-response rate of 61.8% virtually tied its 2010 rate.

Self-response rates don’t include Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) efforts, which include Census enumerators who canvassed neighborhoods. NRFU data isn’t yet available for cities or counties, but New York State’s Census total response rate (the combination of self-response and NRFU totals) is 99.9%. Check out Census response data down to the tract level at

This summer, when many Dyckman St. storefronts were boarded up, local artists painted the plywood with extraordinary murals of hope, healing and activism. The murals were temporarily moved to Inwood’s RING garden’s fence when stores reopened.

Today (10/22), I joined the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, GreenThumb and NYC Parks to help move the murals into temporary storage that I obtained so the panels can be preserved instead of just disposed of. I want to find a long-term home for them– any ideas? 

Thank you to Bill LoSasso of GreenThumb; Anthony Borelli and Lenny Lazzarino of Edison Properties; Susana Osorio of Mama Sushi; Niria Leyva-Gutierrez and Martin Collins of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance; artists Danny Bonilla, Robin Alcantara, Danny Peguero and Jesus Santana; Maggie Clarke of RING; and NYC Parks staff.

On Monday (10/19), a state judge delayed the move of the Lucerne Hotel’s Project Renewal clients to the Financial District. Read the affidavit I submitted.

After touring the South and North Outer Roadways of the Queensboro Bridge with Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, several elected officials and I wrote to the Mayor, for support to convert the South Outer Roadway to a pedestrian-only walkway. We hope to receive a response from the Mayor’s office soon.

This Monday (10/26), I’m testifying before the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection in support of Int 1966-2020, a bill that would codify a pilot program to test the city’s wastewater treatment plants for COVID RNA. This testing can identify the location of COVID outbreaks days in advance of a flare-up identified solely by testing. The City has been conducting these tests since the spring at my urging (when the bill was first introduced) but passing the legislation ensures the necessary funding to sustain ongoing research and analysis.

This fall, I have 21 fantastic interns, ranging from high school freshmen to master’s degree candidates (a few even working remotely from California). They spearheaded my first day of school Day of Action and the map of public restrooms in Manhattan. They’re currently surveying the lighting and sidewalk conditions of all Central Park transverses and researching Manhattan’s vaccine infrastructure to assess the borough’s readiness to distribute a COVID vaccine.


Bad news as the weather gets cooler and we spend more time indoors: This week, the Centers for Disease Control expanded its definition of “close contacts,” after a study suggested COVID-19 can be passed in brief interactions. Previously, the CDC defined close contact as someone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious. Now, the agency says it’s someone who spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious over 24 hours, even if the time isn’t consecutive, news site explained.

Yesterday (10/21), Nature magazine issued its second progress report on the pandemic, looking at the key factors involved in making vaccines safe, effective and welcomed by the public: “Why decoding the immune response to COVID matters for vaccines.”

And Wired magazine this week published “It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again,” an informative (and reassuring) look at what’s called “fomite spread” of COVID-19.

“Ride the New York subway, and there is a good chance it is using equipment dating to World War II. But open up the system’s new map on a phone and you will be whipped into the 21st century. The new map, which transit officials unveiled this week and say is the first of its kind in North America…” —Finally, a Subway Map With Real-Time Train Locations and Delays

The MTA’s new live subway map gives real-time updates about train arrivals, service changes and elevator and escalator outages. It’s not yet available on the MyMTA app, only on web browsers, so bookmark it:

There’s a new map from the NYC Dept. of Education too. The DOE’s Daily COVID Case Map shows closed public school classrooms and entire school buildings due to COVID cases.

Downtown Alliance’s new Lower Manhattan COVID recovery dashboard includes data about real estate, transportation, sanitation and public safety.

Gov. Cuomo extended the COVID-related commercial eviction moratorium through January 1, 2021, when the residential eviction moratorium expires.

Restaurateurs participating in Open Restaurants can schedule a free virtual compliance consultation with the Dept. of Small Business Services to help understand reopening guidelines. No non-compliance fines will be issued.

Restaurants can apply by Friday, 11/6 for a $5,000 DoorDash Local Restaurant Grant to help offset outdoor heating costs.

This week (starting Monday, 10/19), the statewide plastic bag ban went into effect. Shoppers will be charged a 5-cent fee to use store-provided paper bags; SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) recipients are exempt from the fee. To report stores still offering plastic bags, email this form to or call the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8706.

Congratulations to NY Sun Works’ Greenhouse Project, recipients of a Manhattan Community Award Program grant from my office allowing them to grow fresh vegetables for the community. Thank you for your generosity in donating 40 pounds of fresh food last week to clients of The West Side Commons, a youth and family organization serving the Upper West Side.


Saturday (10/24) at 10 am, Community Board 9 and I are hosting “Team Up to Clean Up West Harlem.” Click the title to register.

Manhattan Borough Historian Dr. Robert Snyder joined the “Immigration and the New York Experience” episode of the podcast “Rediscovering New York with Jeff Goodman.” Click the title to listen.

Find pharmacies and clinics offering flu shots through the NYC Health Map. You can sort for free shots and for locations covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Register by tomorrow (Friday 10/23) for a Little Island paid internship information session on Wednesday (10/28) at 6 pm.

Former Summer Youth Employment Program Bridge participants who attend a “Career Ready Work, Learn, Grown” high school can apply by next Friday (10/30) for the NYC Dept. of Youth and Community Development’s Career Ready WLG program, earning college credit and completing a paid internship.

East and Central Harlem minority-owned businesses can apply by Friday, 11/6 for a $10,000 LISC Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund grant through Uptown Central and Harlem Park to Park.

Organizations led by and serving women of color can apply by Monday, 11/9 for a $50,000 grant from the Survivor Safety and Securing Democratic Futures Funds.

Apply by Monday, 11/9 for a $1,500 Community Change Grant from America Walks for projects that create healthy, active and engaged places to live, work and play.

Organizations and companies that support West Harlem can apply by Friday, 11/13 for a $60,000 grant and ongoing technical assistance from the Osborne Association Capacity Building Incubator.

Nonprofits and government agencies can apply by Tuesday, 11/24 for a grant from Robert Wood Johnson’s Policies for Action: Public Policy Research to Advance Racial Equity and Racial Justice program.



Now through next Saturday, 10/31 is Harlem Restaurant Week.

Tomorrow (10/23) at 11 am, Housing Conservation Coordinators hosts a Zoom discussion, “What is Life Like for Older Adults During Covid-19.” Register at

Tomorrow (10/23) from noon – 5 pm, East Harlem nonprofit Union Settlement hosts a virtual hiring fair to meet candidates interested in positions as a psychotherapist, maintenance worker and education specialist. Register here.

Tomorrow (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.

Tomorrow (10/23) at 7 pm, Bloomingdale School of Music continues its faculty concert series with “Music with a Voice.” Click the title to register.

Tomorrow (10/23) through next Thursday (10/29), Baruch Performing Arts Center and Opera Omaha debut the opera “dwb (driving while black).” Register for free (or donate-what-you-can) tickets here.

Saturday (10/24) at 10 am,, hosts a “Story-a-thon.” Share stories of women who worked (or are working) to create a better world, and those stories will be permanently preserved by the City’s Municipal Archives, to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Saturday (10/24) at 10 am, Broadway Mall Association hosts a clean-up of Broadway from 135th – 155th Sts. (meet at Harlem Public at 149th St. and Broadway). Register at

Saturday (10/24) at 10 am, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez hosts a “Community Park Clean-Up.” Meet at Broadway and Dyckman St.

Saturday (10/24) at 10 am, the Horticultural Society of New York hosts a harvest share– giving out free herbs, squashes and mini pumpkins at the greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park (679 Riverside Dr.).

Saturday (10/24) at 10 am and 1 pm, Borough of Manhattan Community College hosts a virtual open house. Register here.

Monday (10/26) at 6 pm, the Dept. of City Planning hosts an information session about how to participate in the public review process of the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan. Register here.

Monday (10/26) at 6:30 pm, Community Education Council 5 (covering Central Harlem) hosts a town hall with NYC Dept. of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza. Register here.

Tuesday (10/27) at 4 pm, the Dept. of City Planning hosts a Zoom workshop for Upper Manhattan and the East Side about the next NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Platform. Register here.

Tuesday (10/27) at 7 pm, Manhattan Together and South Bronx Churches host “Stop Mold and Leaks” for NYCHA residents to hear from the independent mold ombudsperson. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (10/27) through next Thursday (10/29) at 7 pm, Mark DeGarmo Dance hosts “Virtual International Arts Festival for Social Change.” Click the title to register.

Wednesday (10/28) at 11:30 am, the COVID-NYC Documentary Project hosts a panel, “Documenting the Pandemic Experience in New York City.” Watch on Zoom.

Wednesday (10/28) from 4 – 8 pm, East Harlem community partners and I host the annual Wagner Houses Halloween event, featuring pumpkin painting and a costume contest at the MAP Green Space Area (50 Paladino Ave.).

Next Wednesday (10/28) and Thursday (10/29) at 6 pm, the NYC Dept. of Education, ImmSchools and Access NYC host virtual “Immigrant Family Forums” to explain resources for immigrant students and families. Wednesday’s forum will be entirely in Spanish, and Thursday’s will be translated into Mandarin and Haitian Creole. Click the title to register.

The City of New York, NYPD, Urban League, FPWA and Robin Hood have begun a Reform and Reinvention Collaborative listening tour. The remaining sessions of phase 1 of the listening tour for Manhattan are Wednesday (10/28) at 7 pm for Northern Manhattan residents and next Thursday (10/29) at 7 pm for Southern Manhattan residents. Click the session date to register.

Next Thursday (10/29) at 9:30 am, the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York hosts “Racial Equity Advancement Labs – Justice Equity Event,” a webinar about mass incarceration. Register here.

Next Thursday (10/29) from 11 am – 3 pm, Children’s Rescue Fund– a shelter service with locations in Manhattan– hosts a job fair at 1520 Brook Ave., Bronx, for open positions on its staff.

Next Thursday (10/29) at 1 pm, law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan hosts a virtual panel, “Leveraging PropTech Innovation to Help Meet Climate Mandates.” Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (10/29) at 5 pm, NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge hosts “Looking Ahead: Enhanced Democracy by 2030 Through Digital Innovation.” Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (10/29) at 6 pm, the Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative hosts “Know Your Rights!” to teach youth under 30 about their rights in police encounters and what to do in the event of police misconduct. Register here.