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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (2/18)

Friends,

It’s Thursday, February 18, 2021. Welcome to my weekly COVID-19 newsletter.

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

Manhattan:

  • 97,877 cumulative confirmed cases (+4,242 from last week)

  • 3,784 cumulative deaths (+91 since last week)

  • 2.8% seven-day positivity average (down from 3.1% last week)

NYC:

  • 668,341 total cases (+28,324 from last week)

  • 28,493 total deaths (+544 since last week)

  • 7.17% seven-day positivity average (down from 8.14% last week)

The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s weekly “reference scenario” estimate is DOWN from last week– they estimate 141,527 more deaths nationwide between 2/12 – 6/1 (a projected cumulative total of 614,503 deaths). Last week’s scenario estimated 630,881 deaths for the same period.

The NYC Dept. of Health is now recommending that New Yorkers wear two tightly fitted masks– a disposable surgical mask under a cloth mask. This graphic posted by Council Member Mark Levine explains proper double masking. KN95 masks are recommended for high-risk individuals and their household members/caregivers, but because KN95s provide better filtration, they should be worn alone. This piece in the NY Times explains how to buy trustworthy KN95s.

The Dept. of Health has also finally started providing vaccination data broken down by ZIP code.

Starting Tuesday (2/23), NewYork-Presbyterian says the Fort Washington Armory will reserve 60% of its vaccine appointments for seniors 65+ living in Northern Manhattan and the West Bronx; the remaining 40% of appointments will be open to seniors in the rest of Manhattan and the other boroughs. Make an appointment at vaccinetogetherny.org.


COMMENT

Community Board applications close this Monday (2/22) at 5 pm. Don’t wait until the last minute– apply now to make a difference in your community.

My newest report, based on over 1,000 responses from senior New Yorkers, “Steps to a more Age-friendly Manhattan,” proposes dynamic solutions for addressing the needs of our older adults, researched and written in partnership with The New York Academy of Medicine.

The report is part of my office’s Age-friendly Manhattan initiative, covering everything from transportation to housing to community support and health services.

As NYAM President Dr. Judith Salerno said, “Manhattan’s 65+ population is on track to increase 19% by 2030. We need to listen to and address the needs of this population. In partnership with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, The New York Academy of Medicine and our Center for Healthy Aging are working to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy everything that Manhattan has to offer.”

(All of my past reports are available here, including the recent “Police Reform Toolkit” and “Broadway Storefront Vacancy Survey.”)

I’m thrilled to announce the appointment of Hope Bell to Harlem’s Community Education Council 5. A native New Yorker, Ms. Bell has long been a champion for equity and family and community engagement in NYC public schools. While on the School Leadership Team at her son’s elementary school, she participated in parent leadership workshops and galvanized her community around civic participation. Now, she is poised to bring those experiences to her seat on CEC 5 and continue her advocacy for families and communities to be full partners in their children’s educational experiences.

Thanks to the efforts of my staff and arts advocates, the City’s “Open Culture” program added 10 uptown streets to the new outdoor arts and culture initiative. Applications open Monday, 3/1 for permits allowing roadway arts and culture performances through Sunday, 10/31. See the full list of streets here. Performing artists have been nearly wiped out by the pandemic, and this is an effort to help get the arts community back on its feet. (And these artists should be paid!)

I testified to the City’s need for a better vaccination plan for seniors and homebound adults before the City Council Committees on Health, Aging, and Technology. Online and phone scheduling technology must be centralized, accessible, and multilingual. Vaccine sites should be in the hardest-hit ZIP codes and co-located in senior housing. And the City should use its infrastructure of EMT networks, Visiting Nurse Services, and home delivered meal programs to vaccinate New Yorkers who can’t travel to a vaccine site.

All NYC high school sports should be able to resume, I wrote to the Mayor this week, citing examples of “high-risk” sports made safe across the country– including as nearby as Westchester. I was inspired by the Rally to Restart High School Sports on Saturday, 2/6, where student athletes shared how important school sports are for student morale and how they are often the only pathway to afford college– no sports mean no athletic scholarships.

I’m seeking public input on my annual Borough Board Budget Priorities Report– a statutory requirement of the City Charter. By March 16, please fill out this short survey about what budget issues are important to you– and you can submit additional comments to mbpobudget@gmail.com. Responses to the questionnaire will remain confidential and will be added to my final report to the Mayor, City Council, and Office of Management and Budget.

Applications close this week for capital funding from my office for Manhattan schools, nonprofits, and other organizations that serve New York City. Visit my website to learn more about the requirements.

  • Schools should apply via my Grants Portal Schools Application. The application deadline is THIS Sunday, 2/21 at 5 pm.

  • Parks, gardens, libraries, NYCHA developments, H+H hospitals, etc., can apply via my Grants Portal City Application. This deadline is also THIS Sunday, 2/21 at 5 pm.

  • Nonprofits should apply via the NYC Office of Management and Budget Capital Grants portal. These applications are due Thursday, 2/25 at 5 pm.

My budget staff is available to meet with your group virtually if you have questions, want to share your project ideas, or missed the December capital funding workshops. Make an appointment here. You can also review the capital funding training videos and materials.

I was deeply saddened by Harlem housing advocate April Tyler’s sudden death this week. Ms. Tyler was devoted to creating and preserving affordable housing in New York, especially through her work as an HDFC Coalition leader and the Community Board 9 Housing, Land Use, and Zoning Committee chair. She will be greatly missed, but she leaves behind a legacy that uplifts New Yorkers.


NEW FACTS/INFO

The subway will be closed from 2-4 am beginning Monday (2/22), shifting from the 1-5 am closures the MTA has insisted on since May. I’ve long maintained that the subway should resume 24-hour service so that essential workers can travel, and it’s even more important now that oftentimes the only available vaccine appointments are in the middle of the night, far from where people live.

Obamacare/ACA enrollment was reopened as part of the COVID relief package passed in December; the NYS deadline has now been extended to Saturday, May 15, 2021 (instead of the 3/31 deadline we reported in last week’s newsletter). Apply through the New York State marketplace or directly through insurers. If you have questions, make an appointment with a local marketplace navigator, who can help individuals, families, and small businesses choose an affordable plan.

Career Discovery NYC is a free, online career resource portal with info sessions, coursework, and occupational training programs. Training for cable installers, commercial drivers, data analysts, and post-production personnel has just been added to the site, an initiative of the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services.

SBS also offers small business owners and employees free training on technology tools and COVID-19 safety through “NYC Means Business: Training Your Employees” to help bridge the digital divide. Zoom and Google Workspace trainings are also available in Spanish and Mandarin. Apply for the program here.

The Central Park Conservancy Winter Guide is filled with tips on how to take advantage of the park this season.

COVID News Clippings

CDC: Double-masking helps reduce exposure to the coronavirus
By Brianna Ehley, Politico, Feb. 10, 2021.

The coronavirus is airborne. Here’s how to know if you’re breathing other people’s breath.
In a major new pandemic trend, people are turning to carbon dioxide monitoring devices to help assess ventilation quality
By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Feb. 10, 2021

If double-masking is hurting your ears, try these tips to relieve the pain
By Allyson Chiu, Washington Post, Feb. 10, 2021

The loneliness of an interrupted adolescence
By Ellen McCarthy, Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2021

What you’re feeling is grief
By Nylah Burton, Vox.com, Updated Feb. 11, 2021

US could have averted 40% of Covid deaths, says panel examining Trump’s policies
By Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian, Feb. 11, 2021

CDC offers road map for safely reopening schools
By Laura Meckler, Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2021

Why vaccine production is taking so long
By Joann Muller and Alison Snyder, Axios.com, Feb. 12, 2021

 How well will vaccines work?
Covid-19 may become endemic. Governments need to start thinking about how to cope.
The Economist, Feb. 13, 2021

3 Million Vaccine Shots a Day
Averting a wave of new COVID-19 fatalities could require some dramatic, untested, and controversial strategies.
By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, Feb. 13, 2021

Symptomatic Covid-19 Cases Dropped 94% With Pfizer Vaccine, Israeli Data Show
By Dov Lieber, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 15, 2021

Covid-Linked Syndrome in Children Is Growing and Cases Are More Severe
The condition, which usually emerges several weeks after infection, is still rare, but can be dangerous. “A higher percentage of them are really critically ill,” one doctor said.
By Pam Belluck, NY Times, Feb. 16, 2021


EVENTS

Tonight (2/18) at 6:30 pm, “The COVID-19 Vaccine: A Town Hall Conversation” discusses the science behind the vaccines, the need for fairness in distribution, and FAQs. The virtual town hall is hosted by Healthy Equity Research at the Icahn School of Medicine, the CUNY School of Public Health Harlem Health InitiativeMask Transit, and Kappa Sigma. Click the title (first link) to register.

Tonight (2/18) at 7 pm, the South Street Seaport Museum hosts the webinar “Sing in Rhyme, Work in Time: Sea Chanteys and Workers’ Voices.” Register here.

Watch the documentary “Black Men in White Coats” and then tune into a panel discussion featuring Black physicians from NYC Health + Hospitals. The film is free to screen anytime today through Monday (2/18-22); the virtual panel is next Thursday (2/25) at 6 pm. Register for film and panel access here.

The New York Housing Conference will host conversations with mayoral candidates. Attendees must be Housing Conference members, so email brendan.cheney@thenyhc.org to join for free and register for the events:

  • Friday (2/19) at 11 am: Scott Stringer

  • Monday (2/22) at 1 pm: Loree Sutton

  • Tuesday (2/23) at 11 am: Dianne Morales

Sunday (2/21), artists are invited to “Sunday Salon @ the Children’s Art Carnival” to discuss and receive feedback on their artwork. Click the title to register for the virtual event.

Monday (2/22) at 1 pm, NYCHA hosts a virtual town hall about the Blueprint for Change, with a presentation by Chair Greg Russ and a Q&A. Translation is available in Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. Register here.

eCornell is hosting several webcasts with Cornell faculty and industry experts (click the titles to register):

Monday (2/22) at 6 pm, I’m hosting an Education Councils elections virtual info session for public school families, with a presentation from the NYC Dept. of Education’s Office of Family and Community Empowerment. Register here.

Monday (2/22) at 6:30 pm, virtual arts performance “Black Lives Inspire, Create, Collaborate, Matter” features dance, visual arts, and spoken word, sponsored by Clark Center NYC. Click the title to register.

Monday (2/22) at 8 pm, the “Harlem Chamber Players’ 13th Annual Black History Month Celebration” features music by Harlem Renaissance and contemporary Black composers, presented by the Greene Space and the Brooklyn Public Library. Register for the virtual concert here.

Tuesday (2/23) at 10 am, virtual forum “Nonprofit Mergers and Strategic Partnerships” explores merger case studies, transaction guidance, and best practices, hosted by Nonprofit New York and the NYS Office of the Attorney General. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (2/23) from 11 am – 2 pm, schedule a 15-minute consultation with a NYC Dept. of Buildings representative to discuss any building issues during virtual office hours, sponsored by Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Contact 212-564-7757 or speakerjohnson@council.nyc.gov for an appointment.

Tuesday (2/23) at 11 am, “COVID-19 Impact Panel: Amplifying the Experiences of Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian Populations” discusses the pandemic’s effect on immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities, sponsored by the Arab-American Family Support Center. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (2/23) from noon – 4 pm, I’m hosting a free COVID self-testing site at Word Up Bookshop (2113 Amsterdam Ave. at W. 165th St.) in Washington Heights. Results will be emailed to you approximately 48 hours later. Children age four and older can be tested with a parent or guardian present.

Tuesday (2/23) at 4 pm, middle school teachers are invited to a virtual workshop about early relationship abuse prevention, sponsored by Rising Ground’s STEPS to End Family Violence. The course is eligible for one Continuing Teacher and Leader Education credit. Register here.

Wednesday (2/24) at 1 pm, “Town Call on Health Coverage” offers media and entertainment professionals information about accessing affordable health plans, services, and prescriptions, sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (2/24) at 1 pm, “Virtual Tenement Talk: The African Family Experience in Early New Amsterdam” is co-sponsored by the Tenement Museum and the African Burial Ground National Monument. Watch on YouTube.

Wednesday (2/24) at 1 pm, “Black Farmers’ Pathways to Success Webinar Series: Reimagining Urban Food Systems” spotlights the Black Yard Farm Cooperative at Corbin Hill Food Project. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (2/24) at 6 pm, “Honoring Black History: The Parks Naming Project” is a virtual panel discussion focused on the ongoing effort to name park spaces in honor of the Black experience, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Parks. Register here.

Wednesday (2/24) at 6:30 pm, comment on the renovation plans for Highbridge Park’s Dyckman Rest during a virtual community input meeting with the NYC Dept. of Parks. Register here.

Wednesday (2/24) at 7 pm, “Violence Prevention” is the kick-off discussion for the virtual “Envisioning Alternatives to Policing” series from the Museum of the City of New York. Register here.

Wednesday (2/24) at 7 pm is the 3rd annual “Dominicans on the Hill,” which recognizes the growing civic engagement throughout the Dominican-American community, hosted by Rep. Adriano Espaillat. Dr. Anthony Fauci will join for a fireside chat, and there will be sessions on remote learning, economic recovery, and health and wellness. Click the title to watch on Facebook Live.

Next Thursday (2/25) from 4-8 pm, stop by the virtual open house for the “FiDi Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan,” hosted by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/25) at 5 pm, parents and caregivers of students with disabilities can get remote learning support during the weekly virtual “Parent Guide to Remote Learning” series from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and the NYC Dept. of Education. Register here.

Next Thursday (2/25) at 6 pm, I’m co-sponsoring “Stand Up Against Street Harassment,” a virtual forum on how to safely handle harassment in public spaces, with dozens of community groups and elected officials. Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (2/25) at 6:30 pm, Hunter@Home discusses “The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety” with author and child psychiatrist Harold S. Koplewicz. Register for the virtual talk here.

Stay safe.