Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (12/3)


It’s Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Yesterday the country recorded an all-time high of hospitalizations– over 100,000– and the single-worst daily death toll since the pandemic began: 2,760 (last April 15, it was 2,752). And the impact of Thanksgiving travelers has not yet been felt.

The differences between now and then are significant. In April, the cases and deaths were centered in the Northeast, large swaths of the country were locked down, and easier outdoor activities were coming with warm weather. Now, the cases and death counts are more widely dispersed and growing geometrically (the national hospitalizations were less than half of yesterday’s 100,000 just four weeks ago).

As Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, put it in the NY Times, “This is a much worse situation. Summer is not going to bail us out. Things are not shut down.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC, predicts that there could be 200,000 more dead by February unless more people make an effort at curbing the contagion. “It’s not a fait accompli,” he said. “We’re not defenseless. The truth is that mitigation works. But it’s not going to work if half of us do what we need to do. Probably not even if three-quarters do.”

There is some good news. Fewer people with the virus are dying because doctors have learned best practices in treatment. And vaccines are close to being approved (Great Britain approved Pfizer’s yesterday); Gov. Cuomo said 170,000 dosages could arrive and begin to be administered to health care workers and nursing home residents on Dec. 15 if the FDA grants emergency authorization next week. (However, it’s unlikely that vaccines would be widely available to the public at large until late spring 2021, and that only begins an eventual return to what we know as normal life.)

Manhattan has had 46,328 cumulative confirmed cases and 3,228 deaths, and the city as a whole has had 317,746 total cases and 24,297 total deaths, according to nonprofit news site’s COVID-19 tracker.

Those raw numbers don’t really tell the full story; experts say seven-day averages are a more reliable indicator of the course of the pandemic:

  • Manhattan’s seven-day positivity average as reported by the New York State COVID testing dashboard is 2.2%, with the borough’s top hotspots in zip codes 10034, 10040 and 10030. (I’ve been handing out masks and sanitizer all across these zip codes.)

  • The seven-day citywide positivity average as reported by the NYC Dept. of Health is 5.19%.

The need for testing before Thanksgiving created many of the long lines we saw at almost every facility (and prompted the City to create more testing sites). But the holiday itself resulted in a slight dip in testing and cases.

Several useful articles in understanding where we are: “How much did Thanksgiving contribute to Covid-19 spread? It’s wait and see for now” from on Sunday (11/29) and “The Virus Chart that forecasts the future” from NY Times’ “The Morning” newsletter on Monday (11/30) (sign up here).

Finally, “The New York City Department of Health has conducted a large-scale study of New Yorkers that shows household contact and gatherings of 10 or more people as the two main drivers of coronavirus infections.

Officials at the CDC yesterday (12/2) warned Americans not to travel over the holidays saying that with cases rising, “the safest thing to do is to postpone travel and stay home,” and that even a small percentage of infected travelers could “translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections.” Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of the travelers health branch at the CDC, said, “Travel is a door-to-door experience that can spread the virus during the journey and into communities where travelers visit or live.”


I know that the holidays may not look the same as they have in the past, but New Yorkers giving the gift of hope and love is something this pandemic can’t take away from us.

This holiday season, I’m partnering with The Sled, an organization begun last year by moms who collected toys for students at P.S. 188 on the Lower East Side and P.S. 76 in Harlem after reading a NY Times article about the lives of students who attended these schools, many of whom live in temporary housing.

This year, The Sled has expanded their operation to also include P.S. 111 in Hell’s Kitchen, P.S. 145 in Manhattan Valley, P.S. 676 in Brooklyn and six family homeless shelters. 1,300 children at these schools and shelters have chosen the specific gift they want, and you can purchase one or more– or gift cards for the older kids– online at this link.

The selection deadline for the gifts to be delivered in time is 12/15. Staff from my office (the “Brew Crew”) will volunteer to assist the moms in wrapping and distribution.

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.

Since the pandemic, the City has relied on nonprofit service providers more than ever to deliver food to homebound seniors, host Learning Bridges sites for children, open socially distanced cooling centers and provide home care services, just to name some. Last week, I testified before the City Council about how the City should expand, not rescind, its support of these organizations. The City has held back 40% (!) of the funding already promised to them under the Indirect Cost Rate Funding Initiative.

Next week, I’m sponsoring 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.

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

For over a year, I’ve participated in a working group to develop consensus on a plan to provide $366 million to fund capital improvements at the Fulton, Chelsea-Elliott and Chelsea Addition NYCHA developments. That group will be presenting some of its preliminary proposals at virtual engagement sessions this month:

We want to hear from residents of these developments in particular, so if that’s you, please attend and provide your very valuable feedback.

A few months ago, I shared that the volunteer tutoring group Stuyvesant Study Society was looking for schools to partner with. They say that as a result of being featured in this newsletter, they’re now at full capacity! If you have a need for volunteers or participants in initiatives that can be featured here, please let me know at


Monitor COVID testing wait times at NYC Health + Hospitals locations by refreshing this dashboard or checking Health + Hospitals’ Twitter.

Starting today (12/3) the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be available for viewing in five-minute increments by timed admission at entrances at 49th and 50th Sts. at both 5th and 6th Aves. (The Rink at Rockefeller Center will be accessible on 49th St., between 5th and 6th Aves.).​ Virtual queuing will be activated to manage lines. Guests can scan a QR code near Rockefeller Center to see wait time and receive a text to return to the line.

The tree will be lit from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. Masks are mandated at all times, and six-feet social distancing will be enforced. Guests will be directed to delineated “pods,” spaced six feet apart, with no more than four people in one pod (groups of more than four people will be separated into multiple pods).​

The tree will also be available to view in its 50,000-multi-colored LED glory at Rockefeller Center’s website.

The 2021 alternate side parking calendar is now available.

Parents can now access free courses, events and activities through the NYC Dept. of Education’s new Parent University.

Applications are now open for the Home Energy Assistance Program, a City subsidy for fuel, utility sources, heating equipment replacement and repairs. Click the link to determine your eligibility and apply.

All in NYC: Bookstores promotes shopping at independent booksellers. Rediscover your favorite bookstore and find special offers through the All in NYC: Neighborhood Getaways program at


The Section 8 waiting list is now open for Lakeview Apartments at 4 E. 107th St. Download an application, due Wednesday, 12/16.

The High Line has changed its opening hours. Visitors are welcome on weekdays 7 am – 7 pm without reservations and weekends 10 am – 6 pm with reservations. Enter at Gansevoort St., 23rd St. or 30th St.

The State of Black New York” report from the New York Urban League is now available.

The Alliance for Positive Change’sHoliday Gift Drive” is accepting donations of children’s toys, warm clothes, toiletries and food to support low-income people living with chronic illnesses. Donations can be dropped off or shipped to Alliance Midtown Central, 64 W. 35th St.

WARM’s holiday toy drive runs through Friday, 12/18. Drop off toys at WeWork Harlem (8 W. 126th St., 3rd floor) Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.

Find a coat drive drop-off location through this New York Cares map.

Eligible storefront businesses can apply for an interest-free NYC LMI Storefront Loan of up to $100,000, from the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services and Pursuit.

The Interest Rate Reduction Grant reduces the interest expense owed on an existing business loan with select Community Development Financial Institutions. Click the link to find participating CDFIs and more information.

The 400 Foundation is offering free 40-hour OSHA site and safety training for those interested in working construction. Contact Japheth Parrish-Wright for more information.

Jumpstart a career in home health care, nursing, accounting/bookkeeping, solar technology or security training through free courses from vocational training school Alliance Computing Solutions, funded by New York State. Register here.

Non-tenured religion scholars of color can apply for a $40,000 First Book Grant from the Louisville Institute, to assist with completing a major research project on an issue in North American Christianity. Apply by Friday, 1/15.

Artists are invited to apply for the Experimental Projects Residency Program from Alfred University’s Institute for Electronic Arts. Apply here.

Nominate your favorite teacher or counselor for the NYC Dept. of Education Big Apple Award, which recognizes inspirational educators. Nominations close Sunday, 1/10.

Borrow free equipment for community clean-ups from the Dept. of Sanitation by calling 311, emailing or submitting this form.


Music group MasterVoices has recorded a choral “Tribute of Gratitude to New York.” Watch here.

East Village Public Art and Monuments” is Village Preservation’s newest virtual bike tour.

For Diabetes Awareness Month, SUNY College of Optometry released the article “What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Vision Health.”



Tonight (12/3) at 6 pm and Saturday (12/5) at noon and 6 pm, the NYC Mental Health Film Festival screens films about people living with mental health concerns. Reserve free tickets here.

Tonight (12/3) at 7 pm, take a “Virtual Holiday Candlelight Tour” of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden. Click the title to register.

Now through Monday (12/7), submit an edible entry to the “Preservation Bake-off,” hosted by Landmark West! and other preservation groups. A panel of celebrity architects and bakers will determine the winning baked-good building.

Saturdays through 12/19 at 9:30 and 11:15 am, 3-K through 12th grade students can take free virtual enrichment classes, sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers. Register here.

This weekend, the “15th Annual West Side Tenants Conference,” hosted by Housing Conservation Coordinators and the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, kicks off with a keynote Saturday (12/5) at 10 am, and I’m speaking on the older adults panel at 11:15 am. The conference continues Sunday (12/6) at 1 pm with a mayoral candidate forum on housing and homelessness. Click the title to register.

Saturday (12/5) at 10 am or Sunday (12/11) at 4 pm, take a virtual walking tour of Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill, hosted by Broadway Mall Association. Register by emailing

Saturday (12/5) at 10 am and 2 pm, teens can take a free virtual fashion design workshop through the Met, “Fashion of the Future.” Click the title to register.

Saturday (12/5) at 11 am, the Dept. of Education hosts the Manhattan session of the “Career and Technical Education Virtual High School Fairs” series, available in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin. Click the link to access the Zoom.

Every Saturday before Christmas from 3-6 pm, get your holiday treats, trees, and wreaths to go from the East Harlem “Walk Up or Drive By Pop-up Holiday Market” under the tracks at 116th St, hosted by Uptown Grand Central and The Best of Harlem.

Saturday (12/5) at 5:30 pm, stream the West Harlem Piers Park annual tree lighting “Holiday on the Hudson.” Watch on Facebook— I’ll be speaking.

Monday (12/7) at 12:30 pm, “Writing for NYC Children’s Media” is a virtual panel about opportunities to write for NYC-based children’s productions, sponsored by the Sesame Workshop and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Click the title to register.

Monday (12/7) and Wednesday (12/9) at 5:30 pm are MTA public hearings about proposed fare and toll changes. Information about joining the hearings, future hearing dates and submitting comments is available here.

Monday (12/7) through Wednesday (12/9) at 5:30 pm, families interested in 3-K, pre-K and kindergarten in Community School District 6 (covering parts of Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood) are invited to attend an “Early Childhood Virtual Fair.” Click the links to register for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday’s sessions.

Monday (12/7) at 7 pm, asylees and resettled refugees are invited to a virtual information session about NYU’s “Advanced Professional Communication-ESL,” a free, twelve-week course. Register for the Zoom info session here. Placement tests will be Wednesday (12/9) and Thursday (12/10) at 7 pm on Zoom.

Tuesday (12/8) from noon – 5 pm, donate toys to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s annual toy drive. Drop off new, unwrapped toys at 224 W. 30th St., suite #1206.

Tuesday (12/8) at noon, Black college sophomores are invited to a virtual information session about JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program, a paid, six-week internship. Apply to the fellowship by Sunday, 12/20.

Tuesday (12/8) at noon, eCornell hosts “Innovators in Food and Agriculture: Meet the Top Startups From the Grow-NY Competition.” Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/8) at 12:3o pm, “Faith and the Biden-Harris Administration” convenes faith communities and the Biden-Harris transition team over Zoom, hosted by Union Theological Seminary and Faith 2020. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/8) at 12:30 pm, “State Human Rights Laws As Laboratories of Democracy” celebrates the NYS Dept. of Human Rights’ 75th anniversary. Click the title to register for the Zoom.

Tuesday (12/8) at 4 pm, virtual forum “Vision for Life” discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of people who are visually impaired and how Lighthouse Guild has responded.

Tuesday (12/8) at 6:30 pm, comment on the Dept. of City Planning’s draft scope of work for the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan at the virtual land use committee public hearing for Community Board 2 (covering Greenwich Village, Little Italy, SoHo, NoHo, Hudson Square, Chinatown and the Gansevoort Market). Wednesday (12/9) at 6:30 pm, CB 2 will discuss its response to the draft scope of work.

Wednesday (12/9) at 3 pm, attend a virtual information session about free ESL classes through SUNY Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center.

Wednesday (12/9) at 5:30 pm, 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. I hope that parents who were upset about the use of public schools for early voting sites will participate. Register here.

Wednesday (12/9) at 6 pm, attend a virtual “Tenant Resource Fair” for information about rent, discrimination protections and housing lottery processes, hosted by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Stonewall Community Development Corporation and the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development. Register here.

Wednesday (12/9) at 7 pm, the City of New York, NYPD, Urban League, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and Robin Hood Foundation will host another virtual Reform and Reinvention Collaborative listening session (offered in 10 languages). Register here.

Next Thursday (12/10) throughout the day, volunteer to distribute masks on subways and buses with the MTA Mask Force. Sign up here.

Next Thursday (12/10) at 5 pm, “Celebrating Women’s Activism” is an online table talk focusing on the work of archival project WomensActivism.NYC’s goal to collect 20,000 stories about exceptional women by the end of 2020, hosted by WomensActivism.NYC and Women Creating Change. Register here.

This month, sharpen your Zoom knowledge with free classes about the virtual platform from the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.

Stay Safe.