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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (3/23)


It’s Monday, so there’s a weekend’s worth of news to catch up on.

Including the fact that last night, Sam from NYCHA’s Douglass Houses (the amazing 20-year-old singer who I told you about last week) made it to the next round on American Idol!

There’s some movement toward closing some streets to cars to enhance recreational space and social distancing– especially since parks are so crowded (and nevermind that children’s playgrounds aren’t able to be cleaned!). I support closing carefully-chosen streets, prioritizing those in park-starved neighborhoods.

I also support Local 32BJ’s efforts to get help to laid-off airport workers. It’s crazy that we’re about to bail out large airlines with few restrictions and lower-level workers, affected just as much by the near-halt in air traffic, aren’t part of the relief effort.

Here’s an interactive map for finding soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, or SNAP enrollment sites.

The United Way has established a COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund; they will help with bills, rent and food. Call 1-866-211-9966 and give them your ZIP code. The Robin Hood Foundation has done something similar at

Bloomberg Philanthropies and a number of foundations have created a $75 million NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to support New York City-based social services and cultural organizations that have been affected by the crisis. The fund will provide grants and interest-free loans to small and mid-size nonprofits (with priority given to direct social service providers, such as those supporting essential healthcare and food insecurity)  to help them respond to emerging needs, cover losses associated with the disruption of their operations, and help them continue their critical work. To be eligible, each organization must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, based in New York City, already be a recipient of City and/or State government funding, an operating budget of under $20M/yr and have a track record of robust programming and services for New York residents.  Interested organizations can get more information and apply here.

The City’s SBS (Small Business Services) agency has this webpage for small businesses suffering during the shutdown.

And the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) federal disaster loan program has been approved for all counties in NYS and is available for applications.  Low-interest loans for working capital are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and most private non-profit organizations suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout New York State. Information on the program, how to apply, and a webinar can be found on the Empire State Development Corporation’s website.

The State of New York has these helpful links for manufacturers/suppliers:

  • The State of New York has these helpful links for manufacturers/suppliers:
  • To submit information regarding Personal Protective Equipment procurement, please complete this form:
  • Please note for any new business idea or for information on adapting your business, you should email or call 212-803-3100.
  • For information on making a donation of goods, services, and space, please visit
  • For questions, contact their hotline at 646-522-8477 from 9 am – 5 pm EDT or email with the subject line “QUESTION RE:”

For non-supply related information, call the general COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

The Census is truly important and and especialy important for residents of urban centers like New York City, because they are often undercounted. The Mayor’s Census Office is asking for volunteers to phone bank and text fellow New Yorkers to ask them to complete the census online. They’re calling it the “Count Out”. By volunteering in your virtual Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee you’ll be able to receive phone  numbers to reach out to and remind them to get counted. As you can see below, Manhattan is doing great so far, but I suspect we will loss that top spot to Staten Island in the next couple of days unless we get an extra push. Please sign up to help here:

Manhattan’s 16.4% completion rate in Census respondents for the first full week means our borough leads both New York City and New York State.  If you’re a statistics geek you might have some fun keeping track yourself with the Census completion map at

Here are the numbers as of last night:
Manhattan       16.4%
Staten Island    14.6%
Bronx               13.1%
Queens             13.1%
Brooklyn            11.9%
NYC                   13.6% // NYS                   16.3% 

Today the Dept. of Education opened Regional Enrichment Centers (REC) for children of health care workers, police, fire, emergency management, and some transit workers. DOE has created this enrollment form for those first responders to complete this form.  RECs will be open Monday-Friday from 7:30am – 6:00pm. Students will be provided three hot meals a day and technology for remote learning, as well as art and PE classes. Each location will include a nurse and isolation rooms, in case anyone displays symptoms. There are 15 centers in Manhattan as of Friday.

Also today, rear-door boarding officially went into effect on City buses. Operators have been explicitly instructed to accommodate anyone requesting to board through the front doors. Bus operators must also continue to assist and secure customers on the bus who use a mobility device, when needed. Customers boarding and exiting through the front door may sit at the front of the bus. From New York City Transit: “This policy has just gone into effect and we appreciate any feedback on how it is working. If customers find that an operator is not allowing them to board at the front, if they can share the bus number, route, location, and time we can more fully look into the incident. ”

DOE is committed to making three free meals available daily for all NYC children.  Families can learn the location of the nearest meal hub by texting FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877. The “find a free meal location near you” feature on the DOE website is now available, so families can search for the meal hub nearest to them.

The DOE has set up as a resource for Parent Coordinators. They will be continuing to build out the site this week, so please send them your feedback on any additional information/resources that should be added.

Girls Who Code has launched #CodeFromHome, a series of free resources, available at and updated weekly. These activities are designed to inspire girls to create solutions around the issues they care about, and enable them to continue working their bravery muscles through this tough time. All are invited to access.

The city’s Dept. for the Aging (DFTA) is phasing in a direct meal delivery system that will gradually replace the current Grab and Go model of food distribution at senior centers. The first phase will begin this Wednesday, March 25. Grab and Go meals will continue at many centers and even overlap as the new system is implemented. My office will continue to track and share the changes. DFTA recommends contacting the centers directly before going to the center to confirm timing and availability. In New York City, senior services are considered essential and some centers may need assistance from volunteers in providing these critical meals to clients. If you’re interested, please contact my office at

1. Here’s a collection of CNBC work-from-home set-ups, from @marfgilbert on twitter:
(Could someone please do this for NY1 reporters’ home setups, please?)

2. Pictures of public emptiness, courtesy of New York magazine:

3. This week is all-Wagner week on the nightly Met Opera streams, including the full Ring cycle. Access the streams at or through the Met Opera on Demand apps .

4. The NYPL has expanded its online offerings to those with library cards (which can also be obtained online). Parents of pre-K to 3rd graders who miss story time at their local branch will be interested in Bookflix, which offers read-alouds to learn about science, music, history, and more (and is also available in Spanish) Adults might be interested in online access to, JSTOR’s academic research database, and the New York Times archives. Learn more from their latest online newsletter.

5. Audible, the audiobook company, has also opened its children’s book library, in six languages, to the non-subscriber public:

6. TIME for Kids will be launching a free digital library for students, families and teachers around the world, including a complete collection of all 2020 editions of TIME for Kids and Your $, our financial literacy magazine for children. The featured issue at launch provides a special report on COVID-19, including interviews with health experts and a look at how this pandemic is affecting schools, the economy and more. Each week, this digital library will update with four grade-specific editions, including K-1, 2, 3-4, and 5-6. Visit: is deputizing low-risk people to deliver shopping or goods to high-risk people. Visit thier website to volunteer, or request a delivery.

Serious eats: Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide. (Serious Eats)

The doctor who helped defeat smallpox explains what’s coming.  (Wired magazine)

The Washington Post has a page with fascinating graphic simulations for four different quarantine scenarios  demonstrating how viruses spread and how to slow the infection rate. And they have translated that page into many other languages; all are free to access.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is announcing a website DeliveryTLC. This new service will connect TLC drivers for paid work during the current crisis and can deliver to anyone, including senior citizens. Drivers can sign up to be paid $15/hour by the City of New York and they will be reimbursed for gas mileage and tolls. When I have the link I will post it.

I reported last week that NYC’s municipal hospitals had set up by-appointment-only testing sites in tents outside many of its locations. They’re not accepting appointments anymore, instead using the tents for diversion from the ERs.

It sounds minor, but with so many people biking instead of taking mass transit, I urged the Mayor and Governor to classify bike repair shops essential, just like auto repair shops, during the…  what are we calling this? The “NonessentialStayathomeShutdown”?  Anyway, the Mayor yesterday included bike repair personnel in the “essential” category.

The ULURP clock has been paused for another week on all land use issues.

In case you missed it (or don’t have NY1) I’ve been working to get NYC’s garment center involved in manufacturing medical gowns and masks, as I explained to NY1’s Michael Scotto:
New York City’s Fashion Industry Might Start Producing Crucial Medical Gear