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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (11/19)


It’s Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Welcome to the weekly edition of my COVID newsletter. At press time, nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker showed that Manhattan has had 40,908 confirmed cases and 3,214 deaths (1,902 more cases and 14 deaths since last week), and the city as a whole has had 287,022 cases and 24,149 deaths (10,046 more cases and 50 more deaths since last week).

But experts say seven-day averages are a more reliable indicator (and that’s the measure that the Mayor is using to close schools):

  • Manhattan’s seven-day positivity average as reported by the New York State COVID testing dashboard is 1.9%, up from the 1.5% reported in our last edition.

  • But the seven-day citywide positivity average as reported by the NYC Dept. of Health is 3%, up from the 2.4% reported in our last edition.

It’s getting bad everywhere. On Sunday (11/15), the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. reached 11 million; back in the spring, it took 100 days to reach 1 million cases; it just took six days to get from 10 million to 11 million.

Mayor de Blasio said today (11/19) that “It’s only a matter of time” before New York City is in an orange zone. Orange zone restrictions will likely include the closure of gyms and personal care services; the end of indoor dining; and the reduction of capacity at houses of worship.

In Manhattan, we have a hotspot in the 10040 zip code, in Inwood and Washington Heights, where the positivity rate is 4.2%. This morning (11/19), I helped distribute masks and COVID information at 191st St. and St. Nicholas Ave. with the folks at NYC Test and Trace Corps.

Tuesday (11/24), my staff will run a special pop-up COVID testing site in Washington Heights outside 4738 Broadway (which is Compton Eye Associates, run by former CB 12 member Jason Compton, so a BIG thanks to him!). We’ll be there from 10 am to 4 pm, and my staff and I are being trained this week to oversee the self-tests that will be used, and the Test and Trace Corps will be on hand for those who test positive.

This week, I joined uptown elected officials in calling on hospitals to continue to partner with us in providing additional testing to help tamp down this spike in positivity. I’m also working with city and state partners to increase rapid-testing in the hottest zip codes. I keep distributing masks and sanitizer bottles– yesterday (11/18) on a walk with CB 9 throughout West Harlem.

If you test positive for COVID, you can request a “Take Care Package” from a contact tracer, which includes enough PPE for two weeks, a thermometer, at-home testing kits for contacts and a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels. Test and Trace will also walk your dog if you’re self-isolating. Call the COVID hotline at 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) to find out more.


Apply now to join your Community Board, the most grassroots form of local government. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. Applications close Monday, 2/1/2021.

I joined the Hunts Point Produce Market to distribute 500 bags of Thanksgiving produce to Upper Manhattan families in need yesterday (11/18), part of the annual “Hunts Point Gives Back” event. HUGE thanks to them! 

I kicked off the Harlem Holiday Lights with my VIP lounge on Monday (11/16). These lights will be up through New Year’s Eve, thanks to the 125th St. Business Improvement District and Community Boards 9 and 10.

Tonight (11/19) I’m helping celebrate the five-year anniversary of the “Fair Chance Act,” legislation I cosponsored with then-Council Member Jumaane Williams. It bans public and private employers in NYC from asking about criminal records on job applications, which has the effect of preventing applicants with even minor, nonviolent criminal records from even being considered for a job.

The “ban the box” movement was begun in NYC by former Mayor Bloomberg, who eliminated it from city job applications with no ill effects. With the city’s unemployment rate now at 14%, this “ban the box” policy matters more than ever before.

Tomorrow (11/20), I will submit testimony in support of a bill I’m cosponsoring (Intro 1797-2019) with Council Member Mark Levine to direct the Dept.of Consumer and Worker Protection to coordinate with the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide paid sick leave informational materials to pharmacies, doctor’s offices and the city’s Health and Hospital locations. During this time of rising COVID concerns and the onset of the flu season, it’s more important than ever to inform New Yorkers of their right to use the paid sick leave to which they are entitled.

Four links you might find interesting:

My No. 1 Thanksgiving tip: Don’t gather this year

by Megan McArdle, Washington Post,  November 17, 2020

It’s Time to Hunker Down

A devastating surge is here. Unless Americans act aggressively, it will get much larger, very quickly.
By Zeynep Tufekci , The Atlantic, November 14, 2020

How the Swiss Cheese Model Can Help Us Beat Covid-19

No single solution will stop the virus’s spread, but combining different layers of public measures and personal actions can make a big difference.

By Nicholas Christakis, The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2020

The Swiss Cheese Covid-19 Defense

posted by Jason Kottke,, November 16, 2020

Virologist Dr. Ian Mackay of the University of Queensland, Australia, has visualized the Swiss cheese Covid-19 defense in a wonderful way (pictured above). There’s even a “Misinformation Mouse” in the middle which opens more holes in the cheese!

“Each layer of cheese represents a personal or shared intervention — like mask wearing, limiting your time indoors w/ crowds, proper ventilation, quarantine, vaccines — and the holes are imperfections. Applied together, these imperfect measures work like a filter and can vastly improve chances of success.” 


As families pivot to fully remote learning through at least Thanksgiving, here are some childcare and food resources:

Learning Bridges sites– free childcare locations for 3-K through 8th grade students and run by local nonprofits– will remain open, and there are still seats available throughout Manhattan. If you apply and are assigned a location that is too far from you, you can request a different site.

Free Grab & Go meals are still available to students and their families at any school building Monday – Friday, 9 am – noon. From 3 – 5 pm, members of the community can pick up meals at Grab & Go locations across the city. See for more details.

Attend one of two virtual information sessions to learn about grants available from my office for schools and nonprofits and get your questions answered by my budget staff. These projects enrich the community and city as a whole.

If you have questions before the session, visit the capital funding page of my website or contact Director of Budget and Capital Projects Vanessa Díaz-López at

Open Restaurants are subject to new regulations pertaining to roadway barriers, snow and dining enclosures, per the Dept. of Transportation.

The Dept. of Parks has canceled all athletic permits until further notice (see the “Programming Service Changes” section).

Winter is coming! Apply now to earn up to $22.50 an hour removing snow and ice as a snow laborer with the Dept. of Sanitation. You must be 18 or older and eligible to work in the U.S.

Learn new job skills and earn certificates to advance your career through 4,000 free online courses offered by the state Dept. of Labor and Coursera, such as “How to Manage a Remote Team” and “Entrepreneurship.” View the course catalog.


St. Nicholas Houses residents can get a free turkey or food basket by registering for the Harlem Children’s Zone 9th Annual St. Nicholas Thanksgiving Giveaway. Click this link tomorrow (11/20) to register– the first 100 people get a turkey and the first 300 get a food basket. Turkey and basket pick-up will be Tuesday (11/24) from 3-7 pm at 245 W. 129th St.

Morningside Heights and West Harlem organizations can apply for grants of up to $20,000 through the Morningside Heights Community Fund request for proposals. The grants will fund new or existing programs that invest in the community or focus on COVID relief. Applications close Monday, 11/30.

Give your feedback on voting absentee, early in person and on Election Day during the NYC Campaign Finance Board’s Voter Assistance Advisory Committee virtual hearing on Wednesday, 12/9 at 5:30 pm. I hope that parents who were upset about the use of public schools for early voting sites will participate. Register here.

Apply by Friday, 12/4 to the Neighborhood Commons fellowships in policy, design, engagement and communications, sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space and the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services.

Applications (or nominations for others) for the David Prize close Friday, 12/4, which awards $200,000 to five visionary New Yorkers seeking to better the city through transformative projects.

Black college sophomores can apply to a paid, six-week internship with JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program. Attend a virtual information session Wednesday, 12/2 (5-6:45 pm) or Tuesday 12/8 (noon – 1:45 pm). Apply here by Sunday, 12/20.

Take the Upper Manhattan Strength and Needs Assessment survey, sponsored by workforce development organization Grant Associates and the Riverside Church, which want to better understand the needs and priorities of the community. Complete the survey to be eligible to win a $100 gift card.

Applications are open for the Youth Leadership Council of the East Harlem nonprofit Concrete Safaris. Learn more about the Council and apply here.

Concrete Safaris is also collecting canned goods (through Wednesday, 11/25) and toys (through Wednesday, 12/23) at their office (158 E. 115th St., suite 144, 10 am – 5 pm).

Donate holiday gifts to clients of Services for the Underserved. Learn more here or by emailing Minjung Park, volunteer and community relations manager.

Dancers can apply by Thursday, 12/3 to perform in the “Virtual Salon Performance Series” hosted by local dance nonprofit Mark DeGarmo Dance.

Schedule a free book fair for your organization’s clients, hosted by the Fresh Air Fund Young Women’s Giving Circle, which has 20,000 English and Spanish children’s books to distribute. For more information, contact Kristin Short at or 212-897-8919.



Tonight (11/19) at 6 pm, Fathers Forward hosts a virtual financial literacy conversation with a comedic twist, “My Money is Funny But I’m Not Laughing.” Click the title to register.

Tonight (11/19) at 6 pm, parents and students in Community School District 5 (covering Central Harlem) are invited to a virtual hearing about the St. HOPE Leadership Academy Charter School’s requested charter term extension, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Education. Register here to watch and comment.

Tonight (11/19) at 6 pm, “Embodying Sanctuary: Faith, Activism, and Creativity at Judson Memorial Church” discusses the meaning and call of sanctuary, presented by Village Preservation. Register for the Zoom here.

Tonight (11/19) at 6pm, SAGEVets explores the military’s history of purging queer service members and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Register for the virtual event here.

Tonight (11/19) at 7 pm, eCornell hosts “Racism in America: Education and Housing,” a discussion moderated by Atlantic writer Adam Harris. Click the title to register.

Tonight (11/19) at 8 pm, “A Concert for the New Moon” features local musicians playing works by J.S. Bach, Leonard Bernstein and Giacomo Puccini, hosted by Metropolitan Playhouse. Watch here.

Tomorrow (11/20) from 11 am – 6:30 pm, get help with applications for benefits like rental assistance and SNAP at the Wagner Houses “Human Resources Administration One Shot Deal,” sponsored by the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. Meet at the MAP Green Space area at 50 Paladino Ave.

From 8 am Saturday (11/21) to 11:59 pm Sunday (11/22), shop at the Goddard Riverside virtual book fair. All books are at least 50% off, and all proceeds benefit Goddard Riverside. Sign up to get a reminder when the fair link goes live.

Saturday (11/21) at noon, Black and Latinx students can connect with more than 50 private colleges in New York at the virtual “2020 College Access Fair,” hosted by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York. Click the title to register for the fair and for workshops in English and Spanish.

Saturday (11/21) at noon, plant tulips with the West 13th St. Alliance. Meet in front of the Lenox Health Greenwich Village Hospital entrance at 200 W. 13th St.

Saturday (11/21) at 8 pm, I’m joining Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s State of the District address. Tune in to hear about 2020 in Washington Heights and Inwood. RSVP here.

Saturday (11/21), Art on the Ave launches its exhibition of local artists’ work in vacant storefronts along Columbus Avenue (btwn 68th and 77th Sts.). As you explore the art, scan the QR code next to each piece with your phone to listen to a recording by the artist. The art will be on display through Sunday, 1/31/2021.

Starting Sunday (11/22), runners can participate in Harlem Run’s weeklong virtual Turkey Trot. Click the title to register.

Sunday (11/22) at 3 pm, virtual harvest-time summit “From Resilience to Regeneration” hosts experts on the environment, culture, food, health and well-being, sponsored by CUNY’s Musical Seeds Project and Summer on the Hudson. Register here.

Monday (11/23) at 6 pm, I’m cosponsoring a virtual Tenants Resource Fair with the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, tenant organizations and local elected officials. Learn about tenant protections during the COVID-19 pandemic, including ongoing protections for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and those in rent-regulated apartments. Also learn more about the City’s affordable housing lotteries using the “Housing Connect” portal. Use this link to register for the Zoom meeting (download the Zoom application for Windows, MacOS, Android or iOS here).

Monday (11/23) at 6 pm, biographer Jonathan Alter speaks about his new book, “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life,” hosted by Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Click the title to register for the Zoom.

Tuesday (11/24) from 10 am – 4 pm, my staff will run a special pop-up COVID testing site in Inwood outside 4738 Broadway (which is Compton Eye Associates, run by former CB 12 member Jason Compton, so a BIG thanks to him!). My staff and I are being trained this week to oversee the self-tests that will be used, and the Test and Trace Corps will be on hand for those who test positive.

Next Thursday (11/26) from noon – 3 pm, pick up a free Thanksgiving dinner from Goddard Riverside Community Center (593 Columbus Ave.).

Stay Safe