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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (3/26)


It’s Friday, March 27, 2020– the end of Week II.

The Johns Hopkins COVID case tracker currently shows New York City has 25,573 confirmed cases and 366 deaths. Chillingly, it shows zero recovered cases.

One of those deaths was Judy Richheimer, and I am devastated. I first met her when I was a member of the City Council and she was a union leader of the Tour Guides. She was twice elected President of Chelsea Reform Democrats, and always delightful to work with. I will miss her terribly.

This morning, the Governor (finally) declared “non-essential construction” to be subject to the stay-at-home edict.  Yesterday, the New York Times wrote about the conditions at most construction sites (“Virus Rules Let Construction Workers Keep Building Luxury Towers“) and I wrote him asking that construction be stopped.  I’m under no illusions as to which item the Governor read first, but I’m glad this danger to public health (and the sanity of neighbors listening to a cacophony while they are cooped up at home) was stopped. (The Parks Dept. clarifies that only the 80 most-trafficked basketball courts will have their hoops removed).

Applications are open now for the Small Business Continuity Fund here. The Fund, a public-private partnership between Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Tapestry, Inc.’s Coach Foundation and Pursuit, offers loans of up to $75,000 to small businesses in New York City as they deal with various challenges in response to the novel coronavirus. To qualify, businesses must:

  • Be located within the five boroughs of New York City
  • Demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in revenue
  • Employ 99 employees or fewer in total across all locations
  • Demonstrate ability to repay the loan
  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements

As part of the application, businesses will be required to demonstrate a revenue decrease by providing documentation such as: point-of-sales reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings, 2019 tax returns, or CPA-certified profit & loss statements. Goldman Sachs Foundation will provide a grant to support technical assistance and capacity-building for the Small Business Continuity Fund.

NY Presbyterian Hospital has committed $10 million over the next two years to a Northern Manhattan Recovery Fund to help its communities recover. In the first phase, the fund will provide emergency relief totaling up to $2 million, disbursed to small businesses, non-profits and partnerships recommended by a Recovery Fund Advisory Group comprised of community members. In the second phase, an additional $8 million will be made available with efforts centered around the long-term sustainability of our community.  The fund was created in partnership with Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who pushed for the creation of the fund, and will be administered by the Hispanic Federation. Northern Manhattan small businesses and nonprofits can access the application at

I suggested to the Mayor that the City hire drivers from the hired-car community to deliver food to homebound New Yorkers in need. The TLC has now established the NYC Food Delivery Driver Portal at
Drivers who register to participate in the NYC Food Delivery program must:

  • Be licensed TLC Drivers
  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Be eligible to work in the United States
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Be able to perform heavy physical labor

I’m glad this is being put in place, and to have had a small role in getting it going.

ThriveNYC’s new guide to mental health services New Yorkers can access while staying home (online or by phone) is now posted. phone or online. The guide includes information on how City agencies are modifying mental health services during the COVID-19 crisis and identifies resources for all New Yorkers– seniors, veterans, students and young people, as well as thoise harmed by violence, crime or abuse. All services are free to New Yorkers, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status.

Like every other museum, the American Museum of Natural History has closed its doors, but has ramped up their online virtual offerings. Visit to learn of AMNH’s learn-at-home resources on their own website and these resources on social media:

  • Facebook: The Museum is featuring an Exhibit of the Day as well as previously recorded tours with tour guides on Facebook Live on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 pm
  • Instagram: The Museum is featuring an Exhibit of the Day daily and hosting the video series Shelf Life, about stories from the Museum’s scientific collections, on IG TV.
  • Twitter : The Museum is featuring an Exhibit of the Day and an #AMNHDailyLesson highlighting an educator resource
  • YouTube: the Museum is planning YouTube Premieres to stream previously produced videos featuring live chats with scientists.

On Sunday, March 29, at 7:00 pm, the National Action Network (NAN) is hosting a Virtual Town Hall Meeting to answer questions and concerns about COVID-19, and my Northern Manhattan Office Director Athena Moore will be on hand to provide resources. The webinar is free and open to the public, but you must register at

Monday morning a little after 7:30 am, I’ll be on WPIX 11 Morning News.

On Monday, March 30, I will moderate a “virtual” Town Hall at Columbia University (and cosponsored by the NYC Dept of Education) on “Meeting Student Needs during COVID-19” for Manhattan parents, students and teachers. We’ll discuss resources and best practices for K-12 remote learning during the pandemic. Panelists include Dr. Detra Price-Dennis and Dr. Roberta Lenger Kang from Teachers College, Marisol Rosales from the NYC Department of Education. Visit to watch on youtube a little before 6:30 pm this coming Monday, March 30.

Starting Monday, March 30, the DOE is consolidating Regional Enrichment Center (REC) sites in order to ensure high-quality programming and closing the following sites in Manhattan (among others in other parts of the city): J.H.S. 56 (220 Henry St.), P.S./I.S. 89 (201 Warren St.), P.S. 125 (425 W. 123 St.), and P.S./I.S. 210 (501-503 W. 152 St.). If you are a first responder or medical worker and want to have your child attend a REC center, sign up here.

Verizon is matching Spectrum and other cable providers’ offer for free internet for households with school-age children (which was, ahem, strongly suggested by the FCC). They are also going one better, with other learning tools and some premium TV channels offered to customers at no additional cost. Read the release:

Con Ed has halted all meter reading and installation of smart meters; stopped shutoffs of electric, natural gas or steam service due to non-payment resulting from the health crisis; waived new late-payment charges; and suspended the fee charged to a customer who is unable to grant access to their property. They WILL continue to shut off service when there is a safety issue. As you can imagine, customer service walk-in centers are shut. Residential customers can choose one of the alternate ways to pay their bill, including online at My Account, by mail with a check or money order, or by phone at 1-888-925-5016.

The nonprofit will reimburse SNAP participants $50 after they use their EBT card for approved purchases and submit a receipt. They are allocating these funds to help families in need purchase essential groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s no “catch” and the money is directly deposited into the participant’s bank account. If anyone’s interested in this assistance, visit for more information.

Folks with time on their hands might benefit from‘s free personal development online courses:

The New York Peace Institute is offering free telephone-based mediation and conflict coaching services to those experiencing conflict in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Visit for more information.

Today’s FreshDirect Five Borough Food Drive dropoff was at Baruch Houses downtown. Each weekday FreshDirect (and their partners BoarsHead and Poland Spring) are dopping off 10-lb boxes of food at NYCHA locations that my office helps coordinate with local tenants’ associations. FreshDirect is delivering to The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, too. It’s great that these companies have stepped up to provide food to families in need.

Don’t forget to donate blood; the New York Blood Center has three locations open for donors:
Port Authority Midtown Donor Center 625 8th Ave. @ W 41st St., South Wing
Grand Central Donor Center 200 Park Ave., Lobby Level
Upper East Side Donor Center 310 East 67th St.

That’s it for Friday. Please keep sending me useful links, or feel free to call me with any urgent problems or concerns: (212) 669-8191.